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Northwestern Buffett Institute for Global Affairs

World War I and European Intervention with Elizabeth F. Thompson

Israel and Palestine: Joint Speaker Series Exploring Fundamental History

Since this fall, intense attention has turned to Israel and Palestine. Many on campus who are following events find themselves with basic questions about actors, geography, contested narratives and even the words used to describe what is happening. This speaker series aims to help fill some of these gaps. Jointly sponsored by the Middle East and North African Studies Program, the Crown Family Center for Jewish and Israel Studies and the Roberta Buffett Institute for Global Affairs, the initiative seeks to offer the Northwestern University community knowledge on this vital history from the late nineteenth century through the mid-twentieth century. Sessions feature renowned scholars from the U.S. and abroad from a wide range of personal and academic backgrounds, and are open to members of the Northwestern community. Learn more about the series >>

War and its aftermath, in the years 1914–23, were revolutionary for Palestine and Greater Syria. World War I upset social relations between peasants and landlords, citizens and the state, and Muslims, Christians and Jews. Those who suffered from hunger, disease and Ottoman military dictatorship welcomed the arrival of the British army and soldiers of the Arab Revolt in 1917–18. But as soon as the guns fell silent, a new conflict began over what government should replace Ottoman rule. While many Arabic-speaking Palestinians joined in declaring an independent Syrian Arab Kingdom, the British imposed a League of Nations mandate. It was celebrated by Zionists as a Jewish homeland but condemned by most Muslims and Christians as colonial counterrevolution.

In the third talk of this joint speaker series, Elizabeth F. Thompson examined how, emerging from the violent crucible of the Great War, the League of Nations mandate institutionalized an asymmetry of political and economic power between Jews and Arabs that would empower militants over peacemakers over its 25-year history.