Panel 1I

Jewish Migration and Identity

10.45 – 12.45
Chair: Saeko Yazaki, University of Glasgow

Studying Judaism through Studying Islam: A.S. Yahuda and Wissenschaft des Judentums

Saeko Yazaki, University of Glasgow

This paper examines the scholarship of A.S. Yahuda in the context of the study of Islam and Sephardic Jewry in Wissenschaft des Judentums, the nineteenth/twentieth-century scientific study of Judaism. Yahuda was born in Jerusalem to Baghdadi Jewish parents. After his doctoral study at Strasbourg/Heidelberg, Yahuda held an academic post at Lehranstalt für die Wissenschaft des Judentums in Berlin until 1913, and then went to Madrid as a royal chair of the Hebrew language and the literature of medieval Spain. In 1912 Yahuda published an Arabic edition of “The Right Guidance to the Religious Duties of Hearts”. This is a popular work among Jews on ethics and spirituality originally written in Judaeo-Arabic. Yahuda’s edition presents not only the first complete Arabic-script version of this medieval Andalusian text, but also a detailed analysis of the Islamic influence on its teachings. Through exploring Yahuda’s examination of Muslim-Jewish relations in the “Guidance”, as well as Jewish literary and religious creativity as seen in his other scholarly works, this paper attempts to contextualise Yahuda’s scholarship within the ethos of the Wissenschaft, which has not been explored thoroughly. The growing awareness of the importance of the study of Islam and medieval Spain in the history of Judaism in order to understand the context of Hebrew language and culture was part of the Wissenschaft achievement. While Yahuda’s work appears to mirror some of its important characteristics, this paper also suggests that his understanding of Jewish culture is oriented by his strong sense of belonging to Eastern Jewry.

The Consequence of Zionist Immigration in the Haifa Sub-District during the British Mandate Period

Endika Rodriguez Martin, University of Exeter

The settler colonial framework provides the Palestinian Studies with a new useful tool that opens new lines of inquiry that lead to new fields of study. The Zionist political thought of transfer of population has been part of the Zionist movement since the beginning of the settler colonial project. The social and political situation during the British Mandate did not allow the Zionist movement to transfer such a big number of population as they did during the 1948 War.   During the British Mandate the only tool that appears to be feasible for the purpose of becoming a demographic majority was to purchase the necessary land to create physical space for the new migrants to ensure the survival of the settler colonial project. This paper, using the settler colonial theories and demography, aims to propose new tools to deal with settler colonial cases, not only in Palestine during the British Mandate, but also any other colonial cases throughout the world.  This paper is based on four demographic sources used during the British Mandate to determine the consequences of the land purchases and immigration in the Haifa sub-district; through the 1922 census, the 1931 census, the 1938 Village Statistics and the 1945 Village Statistic. The analysis of the growth rates of all the communities and villages will eventually show the consequences of the Jewish immigration. This paper discusses the replacement of population and the importance of population and the access to land for the Zionist settler colonial enterprise.

Forced Migration of Jews from Edirne in 1934: What Explains the Silence of Turkish State?

Burak Basaranlar, Binghamton University, SUNY

Approximately a decade after the foundation of Turkish Republic, thousands of Jews in Edirne for centuries were forced to migrate from the city as a result of increasing Turkish nationalist fervor in the region. Even though it was not the Turkish state that initiated the expulsion of Jews, it did not take any tangible step to stop the attacks towards Jews either. The relatively few studies focusing on this incident explained this silence of the Turkish state with reference to its Turkification policy, which either aimed to assimilate the non-Turkish citizens or to exile them altogether in various ways. Turkification policy is indeed necessary to understand the political context in which Jews were forced to migrate but not sufficient alone to explain why Turkish state silently approved what was happening. I alternatively explain the pacifism of the state with a closer look on the local political dynamics in Edirne and argue that the forced migration of Edirne’s Jews occurred due to a series of contingent local, economic, and geo-political factors. I demonstrate that at a time when the state encouraged domestic agricultural production with its import substitution oriented economy policy, the central position of Jews as creditors in the local economy became an obstacle for farmers to maximize their agricultural production due to high interest rates. This concern was further supplemented by the petitions from local authorities and farmers, who demanded the replacement of Jewish creditors with a state-controlled bank providing credits with lesser interest rates. Disturbed by these tensions in Edirne, a border city under a real threat of attack from Bulgaria, the best possible solution in the eyes of Kemalists was to silently ally with radical nationalists whose attacks toward Jews not only complied with local producers but also served the state’s economic agenda in the post-Great Depression era.

Narratives of Redemption: The International Meaning of Afforestation in the Israeli Negev

Yoav Galai, University of St Andrews

A political project will be considered legitimate if the narrative that frames it is. This article explores the legitimising function of narratives as well as they ways in which the narrative form can travel across borders, contexts and discourses. The new afforested landscape of Israel is the result of an intensive campaign of planting of almost a quarter of a billion trees. Forests often cover the remains of Palestinian villages demolished after they were abandoned in 1948. Nevertheless, through the work of narrative, the afforested landscape is instilled with a sense of the recovery of an imagined afforested biblical landscape associated with ancient Jewish ownership of the land. This basic narrative of ‘redemption’ has been carried over to frame new forests that similarly overwrite land claims by indigenous inhabitants. However, the new forests are presented as celebrations of international cooperation by involving foreign actors. However, the particular designations of these forests, which are international in nature, still comply to a basic narrative of ‘redemption’.