Writing Jewish history

David Vital*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The contemporary proliferation of Jewish studies notwithstanding, the history of the Jews in modern times is still far too widely seen as an offshoot ‒ if not a function ‒ of the history or histories of others. And yet, if their evolving history is to be taken seriously, the Jewish side of things needs to be examined before all else in the light of what the Jews themselves ‒ and most especially their own leaders ‒ did, or failed to do, in the light of what were arguably their own collective interests. And this, most especially, in what deserves to be reckoned the political sphere of things. For while the old fundament of relations between Jews and non-Jews was slow to change, the affairs of the Jews and the trend of opinion among them began to undergo unprecedented change internally. Their mental and material affairs took on an authentically autonomous character. An unprecedented striving for change ‒ limited in some cases, but in others thoroughgoing in its craving for actual self-rule ‒ has come to mark them, albeit incompletely, but in total import ever more strongly; and to set a stamp upon their recent history that has proved to be no less than revolutionary.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-269
Number of pages13
JournalIsrael Affairs
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2 Apr 2016


  • Jewish history
  • Jewish politics
  • anti-Semitism
  • the Jewish people


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