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The Origins of Israel, 18821948
A Documentary History
Edited by Eran Kaplan and Derek J. Penslar

Sources in Modern Jewish History
David Sorkin, Series Editor

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“There is no comparable volume available today that
allows English readers direct access to such an array of primary sources.”

—David Engel, author of Zionism: A Short History of a Big Idea

In 1880 the Jewish community in Palestine encompassed some 20,000 Orthodox Jews; within sixty-five years it was transformed into a secular proto-state with well-developed political, military, and economic institutions, a vigorous Hebrew-language culture, and some 600,000 inhabitants. The Origins of Israel, 1882–1948: A Documentary History chronicles the making of modern Israel before statehood, providing in English the texts of original sources (many translated from Hebrew and other languages) accompanied by extensive introductions and commentaries from the volume editors.

This sourcebook assembles a diverse array of 62 documents, many of them unabridged, to convey the ferment, dissent, energy, and anxiety that permeated the Zionist project from its inception to the creation of the modern nation of Israel. Focusing primarily on social, economic, and cultural history rather than Zionist thought and diplomacy, the texts are organized in themed chapters. They present the views of Zionists from many political and religious camps, factory workers, farm women, militants, intellectuals promoting the Hebrew language and arts—as well as views of ultra-Orthodox anti-Zionists. The volume includes important unabridged documents from the origins of the Arab-Israeli conflict that are often cited but are rarely read in full. The editors, Eran Kaplan and Derek J. Penslar, provide both primary texts and informative notes and commentary, giving readers the opportunity to encounter voices from history and make judgments for themselves about matters of world-historical significance.


Eran Kaplan is the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Professor in Israel Studies at San Francisco State University and author of The Jewish Radical Right, also published by the University of Wisconsin Press.

Derek J. Penslar is the Samuel Zacks Professor of Jewish history at the University of Toronto. His most recent book is Israel in History: The Jewish State in Comparative Perspective.




“An invaluable resource to anyone interested in the istory of Zionism, the development of Zionist enterprise in Palestine, and the transformation of what was initially a small and marginal jewish community into the State of Israel. For teachers of history, this collection of documents will be an invaluable and essential resource.”
—Arieh Saposnik, author of Becoming Hebrew: The Creation of a Hebrew National Culture in Ottoman Palestine



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Black and white image of a group of farmers carrying implements in an early Israeli farm

December 2011
LC: 2011018955 DS
312 pp.   6 x 9
6 maps

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Paper $32.95 S
ISBN 9780299284947
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