Book talk – “The Movement and the Middle East: How the Arab-Israeli Conflict Divided the American Left”


Dr. Michael R. Fischbach, Professor of History at Randolph-Macon College


  • A light snack is served at 12:30 p.m. Livestreamed talk begins promptly at 1:00 p.m.


The Arab-Israeli conflict constituted a serious problem for the American Left in the 1960s: pro-Palestinian activists hailed the Palestinian struggle against Israel as part of a fundamental restructuring of the global imperialist order, while pro-Israeli leftists held a less revolutionary worldview that understood Israel as a paragon of democratic socialist virtue. This intra-left debate was in part doctrinal, in part generational. But further woven into this split were sometimes agonizing questions of identity. Jews were disproportionately well-represented in the Movement, and their personal and communal lives could deeply affect their stances vis-à-vis the Middle East.

The Movement and the Middle East offers the first assessment of the controversial and ultimately debilitating role of the Arab-Israeli conflict among left-wing activists during a turbulent period of American history. Michael R. Fischbach draws on a deep well of original sources—from personal interviews to declassified FBI and CIA documents—to present a story of the left-wing responses to the question of Palestine and Israel. He shows how, as the 1970s wore on, the cleavages emerging within the American Left widened, weakening the Movement and leaving a lasting impact that still affects progressive American politics today.


Copies of the book will be available for purchase. 


Biography of Speaker

Michael R. Fischbach is Professor of History at Randolph-Macon College, and the author of numerous publications and books including, Black Power and Palestine: Transnational Countries of Color (Stanford University Press, 2018), Jewish Property Claims Against Arab Countries (Columbia University Press, 2008), The Peace Process and Palestinian Refugee Claims: Addressing Claims for Property Compensation and Restitution (United States Institute of Peace Press, 2006), and Records of Dispossession: Palestinian Refugee Property and the Arab-Israeli Conflict (Columbia University Press, 2003; American University of Cairo Press, 2004). He was awarded grants by The MacArthur Foundation and the United States Institute of Peace, and has presented at numerous academic and diplomatic settings in sixteen countries on four continents.










Bookings are no longer available for this event.