Theodor Herzl is the figure most associated with Zionism – the movement to establish a Jewish national home in the Holy Land. Herzl was a renowned journalist and playwright in late-19th-century Vienna when the anti-Semitism of Europe jolted him into political activity. For the rest of his short life (he died at 44), he crisscrossed the Continent to make the case for a Jewish state. It is due in large part to his efforts that Israel exists today.
And yet more than a century after his death, Herzl remains an elusive figure. What prompted his transformation from apolitical commentator to national visionary? How did he envision his hoped-for Jewish state interacting with its Arab neighbours? The veteran Israeli policymaker and scholar Shlomo Avineri has authored the first biography on Herzl in a generation, one that re-examines his life and demonstrates his lasting impact on the issues affecting the region today.
The Middle East is now at a crossroads. The Arab uprisings are challenging the regional map drawn by European powers after World War I – a map that forged modern states out of the provinces of the defeated Ottoman Empire and laid the groundwork for a Jewish national home in Palestine. Meanwhile, six decades after its founding, Israel remains in seemingly intractable conflict with its Arab neighbours.
By kind invitation of the Lord Bew, The Henry Jackson Society is pleased to invite you to a meeting with Shlomo Avineri, Professor of Political Science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and former Director-General of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Prof. Avineri will discuss his book Herzl and demonstrate how, more than a century after his death, Herzl’s complex legacy continues to shape the world’s most volatile region.
Professor Shlomo Avineri was born in Bielsko, Poland, and came to Israel with his parents in 1939. He received all his degrees at the Hebrew University – BA in History and Political Science (cum laude, 1956), MA in Political Science and History (summa cum laude, 1960) and PhD (1964).
For many years he studied European political theory, focusing on the thoughts of Hegel and Marx, as well as on Zionist thought and the processes of democratization in post-communist societies. His books have been translated into ten languages.
At the Hebrew University he served as Chair of the Department of Political Science, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Founding Director of the Eshkol Institute and Director of the Center for European Studies. He held visiting appointments at many universities – among them Yale, Cornel, University of California, Oxford, Australian National University. He served as Fellow at some of the best research institutes abroad to which he was invited as one of the leading scholars of political theory, Zionist thought and democratic transformation. In the last decade he is a recurring visiting professor in the Nationalism Program at the Central European University in Budapest and member of the European Academy of Arts and Sciences.
During 1975-77 he served as Director-General of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In the 1990′s he participated in international commissions which accompanied the first democratic elections in Eastern European countries after the collapse of communism.
His studies have earned him many prizes and distinctions, among them the Rubin Prize (for hisThe Social and Political Theory of Karl Marx), the Peretz Naphtali Prize for Social and Economic Sciences, the American Jewish Committee Prize (for his The Making of Modern Zionism), the Israel Prize and the Life Award of the Israel Political Science Association. He is the holder of a doctor honoris causa from the Weizmann Institute, and also received decorations from the Italian President and the Senate of the Czech Republic. He is member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities.