In the wake of the First World War, antisemitic conspiracy theories concerning the allegedly pernicious political aspirations of “World Jewry” gained traction, most famously with the popularization of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. In different countries, antisemitic agitators sought to present Jewish nationalist and socialist activism as a “proof” of antisemitic allegations. This brought to the surface a sensitive question for Jewish political activists over the extent to which their political strategies and self-presentation in the public sphere should be dictated by the fear of how it might be instrumentalized by antisemitic agitators. In this talk, Marc Volovici will discuss different ways in which Jewish writers and activists understood this dilemma and responded to it. He will also consider the relevance of the interwar debate to contemporary political debates on antisemitism and anti-antisemitism.
Marc Volovici is Alfred Landecker Lecturer at the University of Haifa’s Department of Jewish History. He is the author of German as a Jewish Problem: The Language Politics of Jewish Nationalism (Stanford University Press, 2020), and the co-editor, together with David Feldman, of Antisemitism, Islamophobia and the Politics of Definition (Palgrave Macmillan, 2023). Marc served as an academic advisor and co-edited the catalogue for the exhibition Jews, Money, Myth, which was staged at the Jewish Museum London in 2019. He holds a PhD from Princeton’s Department of History, and he served as a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the Birkbeck Institute for the Study of Antisemitism and the Department of History at Birkbeck, University of London.