Shlomo Avineri teaches political science at the University of Jerusalem, served as Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and is the author of books on the Middle East and international affairs.
The first biography of the father of modern political Zionism in 35 years tells the story of the Austrian journalist who made the idea of a Jewish state his life project.
Shlomo Avineri comes from Jerusalem to discuss the life and vision of Theodor Herzl, a daydreamer whose vision changed the Middle East - and world politics - forever.
A careful analysis of Sir Isaiah Berlin's writings and lectures suggests a multi-layered Jewish identity. On the one hand, a deep commitment to Zionism and Israel, growing out of a merciless analysis of the failures of emancipation and assimilation. Yet it is this same insight into the conflicted identities of many Jewish intellectuals which suggest to Berlin the richness and universal significance of the contribution of such people like Karl Marx, Benjamin Disraeli and Moses Hess to the spiritual and political life of European society in the 19th century.
Conventional accounts maintain that the Dreyfus Affair was the turning point in Herzl's life towards Zionism. However, a careful analysis of his writings and voluminous diary suggest a much more complex picture. More than many others in his generation and Viennese environment, Herzl reacted to the major crises in European society and culture at the fin de siècle, which to his mind suggested a descent into nationalistic and xenophobic politics.
In a unique 15 minute film shot in Israel exclusively for our Jewish Book Week audience, the multitalented writer and film-maker Etgar Keret and internationally acclaimed writer Amos Oz opened Jewish Book Week 2008 with a discussion on Israel at 60.
ERETZ-ISRAEL [(Hebrew) - the Land of Israel, Palestine] was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious and political identity was shaped. Here they first attained to statehood, created cultural values of national and universal significance and gave to the world the eternal Book of Books.
After being forcibly exiled from their land, the people kept faith with it throughout their Dispersion and never ceased to pray and hope for their return to it and for the restoration in it of their political freedom.