A Second Emancipation? “Philosemitism” and the Jewish Condition in Postwar Europe

Pears Institute Lunchtime Seminar

Event Information and Booking

1st March, 2016
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Dreyfus Room, Birkbeck, University of London, 26 Russell Square, WC1B 5DQ
Professor Daniel Cohen, Rice University, Texas

What is “philosemitism” and what role did it play in Western Europe from the end of World War Two to 1989, and in the European Union since its inception?

“Philosemitism” is a concept fraught with ambiguities and often dangerously close to antisemitic discourse. Yet new theological, political and cultural attitudes towards Jewishness in the aftermath of the Holocaust have marked a radical departure from the pre-war past. Understood in this way, “philosemitism” is a central feature of postwar European history. Despite the persistence and recent intensification of antisemitism, Jewishness moved closer to the mainstream of European life. The “Jewish Century”, to follow Yuri Slezkin’s apt formulation, is not merely a triangular story of Zionist, Soviet Communist or American trajectories: postwar Europe is a no less important site of Jewish normalization.

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