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Our Palestine Question: Israel and American Jewish Dissent, 1948-1978

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On Wednesday, January 17th, Dr. Geoffrey Levin from Emory University discussed his new book detailing a new history of the American Jewish relationship with Israel focused on its most urgent and sensitive issue: the question of Palestinian rights.

Organized by the UCLA Y&S Nazarian Center for Israel Studies. Co-sponsored by the UCLA Department of History and the UCLA Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies.

About the Book

American Jews began debating Palestinian rights issues even before Israel’s founding in 1948. Geoffrey Levin recovers the voices of American Jews who, in the early decades of Israel’s existence, called for an honest reckoning with the moral and political plight of Palestinians. These now‑forgotten voices, which include an aid‑worker‑turned‑academic with Palestinian Sephardic roots, a former Yiddish journalist, anti‑Zionist Reform rabbis, and young left‑wing Zionist activists, felt drawn to support Palestinian rights by their understanding of Jewish history, identity, and ethics. They sometimes worked with mainstream American Jewish leaders who feared that ignoring Palestinian rights could foster antisemitism, leading them to press Israeli officials for reform. But Israeli diplomats viewed any American Jewish interest in Palestinian affairs with deep suspicion, provoking a series of quiet confrontations that ultimately kept Palestinian rights off the American Jewish agenda up to the present era. In reconstructing this hidden history, Levin lays the groundwork for more forthright debates over Palestinian rights issues, American Jewish identity, and the U.S.‑Israel relationship more broadly.


Our Palestinian Question: Israel and American Jewish Dissent, 1948-1978 can be purchased here.


About the Speakers

Dr. Geoffrey Levin is an assistant professor of Middle Eastern and Jewish Studies at Emory University in Atlanta and the Director of Undergraduate Engagement at Emory’s Tam Institute for Jewish Studies. Prior to joining Emory's faculty, Levin was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University's Center for Jewish Studies. He holds a PhD in Hebrew & Judaic Studies/History from New York University and studied international relations at Michigan State University, the University of Haifa, and Johns Hopkins University.
Originally from Wheeling, Illinois, Levin is a recipient of the Association for Israel Studies' Kimmerling Prize and co-chairs the Israel Studies Division of the Association for Jewish Studies. His writings have appeared in the scholarly journals Israel Studies Review, Arab Studies Journal, American Jewish History, Israel Affairs, Shofar, and the Journal of Jewish Identities (forthcoming) as well as in The Forward, The Daily Beast, and The Atlantic. Our Palestine Question: Israel and American Jewish Dissent, 1948-1978, published by Yale University Press in November 2023, is his first book.

Professor Dov Waxman (Moderator) is the director of the UCLA Y&S Nazarian Center for Israel Studies. He is a professor of Political Science and The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation Chair of Israel Studies at UCLA. Waxman's research focuses on the conflict over Israel–Palestine, Israeli politics and foreign policy, US–Israel relations, American Jewry’s relationship with Israel, Jewish politics, and anti-Semitism. He is the author of dozens of scholarly articles and four books, most recently The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford University Press, 2019).



DISCLAIMER: The views or opinions of our guest speakers and the content of their presentations do not necessarily reflect the views of the UCLA Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for Israel Studies. Hosting speakers does not constitute an endorsement of the speaker's views or opinions.