Why a Jewish State in the Middle East? Challenges and Objections – WOCMES – Seville, Spain, July 2018


On July 18, 2018, ICMES President, Norton Mezvinsky, and ICMES Board member, Ghada Karmi, participated in a panel session entitled “Why a Jewish State in the Middle East? Challenges and Objections,” at the 2018 World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies (WOCMES), held in Seville, Spain on July 16-22, 2018. Also participating on the panel was Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro of New York City and Yakov Rabkin, Professor of History at Université de Montréal. The panel focused upon Israel’s existence as a Jewish state in the Middle East. The discussion considered and questioned Zionism, the reigning philosophy of the state of Israel, and scrutinized Israeli Zionist policies that affect Jews, Palestinians and others. Dr. Karmi’s presentation, titled “An Arab View,” considered the Zionist proposition to establish an exclusive state for Jews in an already inhabited country, Palestine. Her paper reviewed the history and analyzed the consequences for the indigenous, Palestinian population and the Middle East region. Rabbi Shapiro’s presentation, titled “Why a Jewish State in Israel?” questioned Israel’s referring to itself as the nation-state of the Jewish people and will explore how Zionism incorrectly arrogated to itself the authority to represent the Jewish people. Prof. Rabkin’s presentation, titled “The State in Judaic and Christian Theologies,” examined some of the effects of Zionism on Judaism and Christianity. His presentation also looked at the opposition the political movement evoked in different intellectual, social and religious circles, both Jewish and non-Jewish. Dr. Mezvinsky’s presentation, titled “Definitions of and Reactions to a Jewish State,” considered varying definitions of the Jewish state and specified certain objections to Israel from other parts of the Middle East and the wider world. [read more]