Sara Yael Hirschhorn is currently the Visiting Assistant Professor in Israel Studies at the Crown Family Center for Jewish and Israel Studies at Northwestern University. Her expertise focuses on Diaspora-Israel relations, the Arab-Israeli conflict, and Israeli ultra-nationalist movement. She teaches courses and mentors both undergraduate and graduate students in Israel Studies and related fields. Sara’s first book, City on a Hilltop: American Jews and the Israeli Settler Movement (Harvard, 2017), was the Choice Award winner for the 2018 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature.
Sara Yael Hirschhorn
My new book project, tentatively entitled “New Day in Babylon and Jerusalem: Zionism, Jewish Power, and Identity Politics Since 1967,” is a sequel to the first book, considering the fate of Jewish Zionists who remained in the United States after 1967 and found that the war(s) in the Middle East brought new battles over their own identity home to America.
Today, as Zionism seems increasingly incompatible with other forms of identity politics, this study seeks to trace these developments over the past five decades. With 1967 as its point of departure, the book explores how the Six Day War and its aftermath transformed Zionism from a national liberation movement of the Jewish people to a colonialist enterprise in the Middle East in international eyes and how the Arab-Israel conflict abroad subsequently “disrupted” the construction of Jewish-Zionist communities at home. One of the main arguments of the book is that the Six Day War played a central role in the process of “whitening” of Diaspora Jewry, problematizing the position of Israel’s allies in progressive spaces on the left, promoting an alignment with a new “Judeo-Christian” establishment on the right, and creating profound polarization over Israel ever since. As ‘whiteness’ has evolved into a larger conversation about ‘privilege’ since 1967, questions about ‘Jewish Power’ and Israel seem more pressing and politicized than ever.
The book begins in the summer of 1967 with the earliest confrontations between two duelling transnational movements, “Jewish Power” and “Black Power,” following these clashes over the course of the next decade, culminating in the ‘Zionism is Racism’ debates of the mid-1970s. I then juxtapose this heady chapter of history with contemporary issues, analysing a resurgence of these conflicts in the Women’s March, Black Lives Matter, and the LGBTQIA community (amongst others) and how reanimated discourses may precipitate a wedge in American electoral politics. Of particular interest to this study is the university and educational space, which has been a primary battleground of these contests of identity and questions of “the new antisemitism” for over five decades.
I hope the book will offer a fresh approach to contemporary debates as a transnational history of post-1967 Diaspora Zionism.