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Emotion lies at the heart of all national movements, and Zionism is no exception. Historically, Zionism has been anchored in love, but in recent months that feeling has been darkened by trepidation and anguish, as the very bases of the state of Israel appear to be tottering. This talk will set the current crisis against the historical background of the overlapping, competing, and reinforcing emotions that have heretofore fuelled the Zionist project.
Derek Penslar is the William Lee Frost Professor of Jewish History at Harvard University. He has also taught at Indiana University, the University of Toronto, and Oxford University, where he was the inaugural holder of the Stanley Lewis Chair in Modern Israel Studies. Penslar’s most recent books are Theodor Herzl: The Charismatic Leader; (2020), Zionism: An Emotional State (2023), and Unacknowledged Kinships: Postcolonial Studies and the Historiography of Zionism (co-edited with Stefan Vogt and Arieh Saposnik, 2023). Penslar is currently writing a global history of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. He is a Fellow of the American Society for Jewish Research and the Royal Society of Canada and an Honorary Fellow of St. Anne’s College, Oxford.