Within the complicated politics and wars of the Middle East, one issue is particularly contentious: the 60,000 Jewish Americans who have settled in the territories captured by the State of Israel during the Six Day War of 1967. As this year sees the 50th anniversary of that conflict, scholar Sara Hirschhorn unsettles the stereotypes surrounding the issue, examining the motivations that led the settlers to leave the US and form their own communities and the politics that they brought with them.
Now we welcome Sara Hirschhorn to share her new book City on a Hilltop with a wide ranging discussion on these settlers. In this deeply researched, engaging work, Hirschhorn shows that the 1960s generation who moved to the occupied territories were not messianic zealots or right-wing extremists but idealists engaged in liberal causes. They did not abandon their progressive heritage when they crossed the Green Line. Rather, they saw a historic opportunity to create new communities to serve as a beacon—a “city on a hilltop”—to Jews across the globe. This pioneering vision was realized in their ventures at Yamit in the Sinai and Efrat and Tekoa in the West Bank. Later, the movement mobilized the rhetoric of civil rights to rebrand itself, especially in the wake of the 1994 Hebron massacre perpetrated by Baruch Goldstein, one of their own.
As the Israeli-Palestine conflict continues, Hirschhorn illuminates the changing face of the settlements and the clash between liberal values and political realities at the heart of the complicated politics of the Middle East.
Introducing Sara on June 25th will be Lara Friedman, President of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, and Mark Bilsky, Assistant Executive Director for Planning & Development at Americans for Peace Now.
About the Author
Sara Yael Hirschhorn is University Research Lecturer and Sidney Brichto Fellow in Israel Studies, Faculty of Oriental Studies and Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies at the University of Oxford.