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Dear Palestine: A Social History of the 1948 War

Photo for Dear Palestine: A Social History

Book cover for Shay Hazkani's "Dear Palestine: A Social History of the 1948 War"

A discussion about Dr. Shay Hazkani's book, which offers a new history of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War through the examination of hundreds of personal letters by Jewish, Palestinian, and Arab volunteers who fought in the war, or became its victims.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022
1:30 PM - 2:30 PM (Pacific Time)
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 About the Book & Discussion

In 1948, a war broke out that would result in Israeli independence and the erasure of Arab Palestine. Over twenty months, thousands of Jews and Arabs came from all over the world to join those already on the ground to fight in the ranks of the Israel Defense Forces and the Arab Liberation Army. With this book, the young men and women who made up these armies come to life through their letters home, writing about everything from daily life to nationalism, colonialism, race, and the character of their enemies. Dr. Shay Hazkani offers a new history of the 1948 War through these letters, focusing on the people caught up in the conflict and its transnational reverberations.


Dear Palestine: A Social History of the 1948 War (Stanford University Press, 2021) also examines how the architects of the conflict worked to influence and indoctrinate key ideologies in these ordinary soldiers, by examining battle orders, pamphlets, army magazines, and radio broadcasts. Through two narratives — the official and unofficial, the propaganda and the personal letters — Dear Palestine reveals the fissures between sanctioned nationalism and individual identity. This book reminds us that everyday people's fear, bravery, arrogance, cruelty, lies, and exaggerations are as important in history as the preoccupations of the elites. This event is co-sponsored by the UCLA Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies, the UCLA Center for Near Eastern Studies, and the UCLA Department of History.


 About the Speakers

Dr. Shay Hazkani is an Assistant Professor of History and Jewish Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park. His research and teaching focus on the social and cultural history of Palestine/Israel, and Middle Eastern Jews. He is the author of Dear Palestine: A Social History of the 1948 War (Stanford University Press, 2021). Shay received his Ph.D. in History and Judaic studies from New York University, his Master’s in Arab Studies from Georgetown University, and his BA in Middle Eastern Studies from Tel Aviv University. He has been involved in various struggles over archival declassification policies in Israel. In 2019, he petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court together with the Association for Civil Rights, to compel the Israeli domestic intelligence service, the Shin Bet, to open its archives to the public. Prior to his academic career, Shay worked as a journalist covering the West Bank and the Israeli military.


Dr. David N. Myers is the Sady and Ludwig Kahn Professor of Jewish History at UCLA, where he serves as the director of the UCLA Luskin Center for History and Policy. He is the author or editor of more than fifteen books in the field of Jewish history, including most recently American Shtetl: The Making of Kiryas Joel, a Hasidic Village in Upstate New York (Princeton) with Nomi Stolzenberg. Myers also serves as President of the New Israel Fund.



Avery Weinman (moderator) is a Ph.D. student in the UCLA Department of History and the UCLA Nazarian Center for Israel Studies Harry C. Sigman Graduate Fellow. Generally, she studies modern Jewish history in the Middle East and North Africa. Specifically, she researches youth radicals in Zionist paramilitary organizations in British Mandatory Palestine. She also works as a host for the New Books Network series in Israel Studies, Jewish Studies, and Middle East Studies.





DISCLAIMER: The views or opinions of our guest speakers and the content of their presentations do not necessarily reflect the views of the UCLA Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for Israel Studies. Hosting speakers does not constitute an endorsement of the speaker's views or opinions.


Sponsor(s): Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for Israel Studies, Center for Near Eastern Studies, Department of History, UCLA Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies