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Research The Groningen Research Institute for the Study of Culture (ICOG) Research Research centres Research Centre for Historical Studies (CHS)

CHS guest lecture - YEAR WALLACH (SOAS London): 'The racial logic of Palestine partition'

When:Th 07-03-2024 16:00 - 17:30

This is a guest lecture hosted by the Centre for Historical Studies.

Moderator: Karène Sanchez Summerer and Clemens Six.


The partition of Palestine was first proposed more than eight decades ago. It remains a consensus international approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Why was Palestine the only settler-colonial context outside Europe in which partition became a dominant “solution”? Yair Wallach will contextualize one main explanation, found in European racial attitudes towards Jews and Arabs in the first half of the twentieth century. British and international policy makers regarded (European) Jews as a non-European, Semitic race. This led them to view Jewish Zionist migrants and native Palestinian Arabs as somewhat comparable groups. Rather than a clash between European settlers and Arab natives, they saw in Palestine a conflict between two nations living side by side. Reading through key documents – the Balfour Declaration, the Palestine Mandate, and the Partition Reports of 1937 and 1947 – I show how this racial logic informed the framework of partition.

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