Six Decades after Opening Its Doors to Jews, Oxford Opened Them to Jewish Studies

In 1871, an act of parliament allowed people of all religions—including Jews and Catholics—into the hallowed halls of Oxford and Cambridge. Martin Goodman explains how this development eventually paved the way for the creation of the former university’s Jewish studies department:

Oxford was slow to encourage study of Jewish culture in its own terms. The outstanding Hebrew collections in the Bodleian Library had long attracted Jewish scholars, . . . but Hebrew and Jewish studies only began to be properly recognized by the university as a serious area of study with the appointments of Cecil Roth as reader in post-biblical Jewish studies (in 1938) and of Chaim Rabin as Cowley lecturer in post-biblical Hebrew (in 1943).

Roth (in the Faculty of Modern History) and Rabin (in Oriental Studies) were intellectually quite isolated in Oxford, despite their considerable impact on the wider world of Jewish studies, but in 1972 the university accepted the arguments of David Patterson, a specialist in modern Hebrew literature, [in favor of] establishing the Oxford Center of Hebrew and Jewish Studies.

Read more at Opening Oxford

More about: British Jewry, Jewish studies, Oxford

Why Arab Jerusalem Has Stayed Quiet

One of Hamas’s most notable failures since October 7 is that it has not succeeded in inspiring a violent uprising either among the Palestinians of the West Bank or the Arab citizens of Israel. The latter seem horrified by Hamas’s actions and tend to sympathize with their own country. In the former case, quiet has been maintained by the IDF and Shin Bet, which have carried out a steady stream of arrests, raids, and even airstrikes.

But there is a third category of Arab living in Israel, namely the Arabs of Jerusalem, whose intermediate legal status gives them access to Israeli social services and the right to vote in municipal elections. They may also apply for Israeli citizenship if they so desire, although most do not.

On Wednesday, off-duty Israeli soldiers in the Old City of Jerusalem shot at a Palestinian who, it seems, was attempting to attack them. But this incident is a rare exception to the quiet that has prevailed in Arab Jerusalem since the war began. Eytan Laub asked a friend in an Arab neighborhood why:

Listen, he said, we . . . have much to lose. We already fear that any confrontation would have consequences. Making trouble may put our residence rights at risk. Furthermore, he added, not a few in the neighborhood, including his own family, have applied for Israeli citizenship and participating in disturbances would hardly help with that.

Such an attitude reflects a general trend since the end of the second intifada:

In recent years, the numbers of [Arab] Jerusalemites applying for Israeli citizenship has risen, as the social stigma of becoming Israeli has begun to erode and despite an Israeli naturalization process that can take years and result in denial (because of the requirement to show Jerusalem residence or the need to pass a Hebrew language test). The number of east Jerusalemites granted citizenship has also risen, from 827 in 2009 to over 1,600 in 2020.

Oddly enough, Laub goes on to argue, the construction of the West Bank separation fence in the early 2000s, which cuts through the Arab-majority parts of Jerusalem, has helped to encouraged better relations.

Read more at Jerusalem Strategic Tribune

More about: East Jerusalem, Israeli Arabs, Jerusalem