• anno 1922
  • jewish_questions_and_the_global_south

Events:

Guest lecture by Prof. James Loeffler, University of Virginia "Antisemitism and Genocide: Theorizing the Connection in Raphael Lemkin's Thought". Chair: Dr. Rebekka Grossmann, Jacob Robinson Institute. Thursday, July 7, 2022 at 17:00, Mount Scopus Campus, The Maiersdorf Faculty Club, Room 505 - further information and registration 

 

International Conference "Jewish Questions and the Global South: Between Sovereignty and Human Rights", 16-18.05.2022, Mount Scopus, The Maiersdorf Faculty Club, Room 405 / Online - read more

 

News:

The Jacob Robinson Institute is delighted to congratulate Dr. Eran Shlomi for receiving his Ph.D from Tel Aviv University! His research portrays the story of the Zionist diplomatic representation in Geneva, the seat of the League of Nations, during the interwar period. read more

 

On 22.06.2022, Prof. Dan Diner has delivered the Jacob L. Talmon Annual Memorial Lecture. read more

 

On 11.05.2022, Dr. Iris Nachum has participated in a Facebook Live and Zoom Webinar on "Voyages: Property and Reparations" with Prof. Gideon Reuveni and Prof. Nathan Schneider - read more

 

Dr. Yehudit Dori Deston has published "Gabriel Bach and the Prosecution of Nazis in the State of Israel" in "Tel Aviv University Law Review" (Iyunei Mishpat) - read more

 

Prof. Dan Diner has published a new book "Dire Times" (Magnes Press) - read more

 

Call for Papers:

"Anno 1922: Central Europe Between Old and New Order", 11-13.12.2022, Jerusalem and Beer-Sheva - read more


About

 

The Jacob Robinson Institute was established in 2020 and is dedicated to investigate the relationship between individual and collective human rights in the domains of general and legal history, philosophy, anthropology, political science and other disciplines.

In doing so, the Institute follows the spirit of its namesake, the Jewish jurist and minority rights activist Jacob Robinson (1889-1977) who stands for the implementation of universal human rights and the preservation of collective Jewish rights. In accordance with Robinson’s legacy, the Institute pays special attention to reparations studies.

The Institute belongs to the Faculty of Humanities and the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. It is funded by the Alfred Landecker Foundation.

 

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Robinson' head shot
(C) Photo by courtesy of Osteuropa Journal

 

Jacob Robinson (1889–1977)

Jacob Robinson was a brilliant Jewish jurist and zealous minority rights activist of Lithuanian birth. He served as member of the Lithuanian parliament from 1923 until its dissolution in 1927, as delegate to the Congress of European Nationalities from 1925 to 1930, and as legal advisor to the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry representing his country in the intriguing Memel case (1932). After his emigration to New York in 1940, he acted as Founding Director of the Institute of Jewish Affairs which documented the fate of the Jewish minority in Nazi-occupied countries, advocated for human rights as a means for defending the rights of the Jewish people, and promoted the idea of restitution and reparation for Nazi crimes.

Moreover, in 1945-1946, Robinson worked as advisor to the chief U.S. prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials and was closely involved in designing the 1946 UN Commission on Human Rights. After the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, he served as legal adviser to its UN mission in New York until 1957 and played a key role in drafting the UN Refugee Convention in 1951. The following year, he co-drafted the Reparations Agreement between West Germany and Israel. Robinson acted as special advisor to Israel’s Attorney General at the Eichmann trial in 1961 and helped establish the research branch of Yad Vashem. Besides his manifold legal and public commitments, he has published widely in the fields of minority rights and Holocaust studies. Robinson died in 1977 at the age of 88 in New York.

READ MORE (Article by Omry Kaplan-Feuereisen)

Research

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Moving Worlds: Jewish Humanitarian Activism beyond the Imperial Age | Dr. Rebekka Grossmann

Moving Worlds: Jewish Humanitarian Activism beyond the Imperial Age

Dr. Rebekka Grossmann

This project is located at the intersection between international Jewish negotiations of modern selfhood and global processes of decolonization. It traces the encounters between Jewish journalists and intellectuals and anti-colonial leaders to explore their impact on both international Jewish humanitarian engagement and emerging “Third World” discourses during the Cold War.

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Eran's Illustration

Stateless Diplomats: Zionist Diplomacy at the League of Nations, 1919-1939 | Eran Shlomi

Stateless Diplomats: The Zionist Diplomacy at the League of Nations, 1919-1939

Dr. Eran Shlomi

The research portrays the story of the Zionist diplomatic representation in Geneva, the seat of the League of Nations, during the interwar period. It includes an analysis of the activities and working methods of the principal professional Zionist diplomats in Geneva, Victor (Avigdor) Jacobson (1869-1934), followed by Nahum Goldmann (1895-1982). Moreover, the research explores the square relations between the British, the Zionists, the Arabs, and the League of Nations, and offers an international perspective on Zionist historiography and British Mandate scholarship.

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Gabriel Bach (credit - Michael Bach)

Gabriel Bach and the Prosecution of Nazis in the State of Israel | Dr. Yehudit Dori Deston

Gabriel Bach and the Prosecution of Nazis in the State of Israel

Dr. Yehudit Dori Deston

The research reviews the main contributions of prosecutor and Justice Gabriel Bach regarding four legal affairs in which the Holocaust and its perpetrators were prosecuted in the Israeli court: the appeals proceeding in the Gruenwald-Kastner trial (1957), the Eichmann trial (1960-1962), the efforts to prosecute and extradite Gustav Franz Wagner (1978-1979), and the Demjanjuk trial (1993). The research proposes an historical and legal explanation of Bach's actions and attitudes towards bringing Nazi criminals to trial and to present a credible picture of the evolution of Israel’s legal efforts vis à vis Nazi criminals and their collaborators over the years.

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The Paper was published in: Tel-Aviv University Law Review (Iyunei Mishpat) on 31.03.2022.

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A Survivor, A Legislator and A Jurist: Joseph Lamm’s Legal Legacy in relation to the Nazis and Nazi Collaborators Law (1950) | Dr. Yehudit Dori Deston & Dr. Dan Porat

A Survivor, Legislator and Jurist: Joseph Lamm’s Legal Legacy in Relation to the Nazis and Nazi Collaborators Law (1950)

Dr. Yehudit Dori Deston & Prof. Dan Porat

The research examines Joseph Lamm's (born in Austria, 1899) part in the enactment of the Nazis and Nazi Collaborators Law of 1950, and the ruling based on it in the Israeli court. The research claims that Lamm's experience as a prisoner in the Dachau camp shaped his legal worldview on the issue of judging Jews accused of collaboration with the Nazis, as reflected both in his role as legislator and judge.

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A Trial without a defendant

A Trial Without a Defendant

Dr. Yehudit Dori Deston

The research reveals the records of a mock trial which was conducted in 1985 in Jerusalem for SS officer, Josef Mengele, in the absence of the accused. At the heart of the proceedings stood the testimonies of 30 Auschwitz survivors, which were intended to constitute evidentiary material that would serve as proof of Mengele’s crimes when he would be brought to a "real" criminal trial. The research seeks to examine the difference of a criminal proceedings versus other stages, including semi-legal proceedings, for the purposes of documentation, commemoration and shaping the collective memory of the Holocaust.

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honor court

Law and Emotions in Transit: The Central Court of Honor in Munich (1946-1950)

Law and Emotions in Transit: The Central Court of Honor in Munich (1946-1950)

Dr. Rivka Brot

The research deals with the Munich Central Court of Honor (Erngericht, Yiddish). Established by Jewish Displaced Persons (DPs) in the ​​American zone of occupation in Germany (1946-1950), the Court was authorized to resolve disputes between DP officials. The research offers a textual analysis of court records, arguing that the records reflect the challenging living conditions of Holocaust survivors in the immediate postwar period.

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“Hast thou murdered, and also taken possession?” Nazi Wrongs and the West German Equalization of Burdens Law

“Hast thou murdered, and also taken possession?” Nazi Wrongs and the West German Equalization of Burdens Law

Dr. Iris Nachum

The project investigates how the West German Equalization of Burdens Law (Lastenausgleichsgesetz, LAG) coped, in theory and in practice, with cases involving Nazi wrongs. The LAG was enacted by the West German legislature on August 14, 1952 and intended to financially compensate those Germans who had suffered economic harm due to World War II.

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publications

Dire Times

Dan Diner

Dire Times, Magnes Press, Jerusalem 2022.

This book collects rewritten articles and essays by the author related first and foremost, but not exclusively, to the catastrophe of the Holocaust as an epistemic crisis – qualified as a “rupture in civilization”, i.e. the destruction of concepts deeply rooted in a common anthropology of humankind, while focusing on methodological as well as conceptual questions.

The composition of the volume runs roughly chronologically along several layers of interpretation – embracing questions of German constitutional law, the formation of Continental expansionist geopolitical thinking, the epistemology of the Holocaust, the assertion and transformation of paradigms of historical interpretation in the second half of the 20th century, especially the turn from social history to memory studies, as well as the turn from a Western- and Eurocentric approaches into the direction of colonial and global history.

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Dan Diner

Ein anderer Krieg: Das jüdische Palästina und der Zweite Weltkrieg 1935-1942 (The Other War: Jewish Palestine and World War II, 1935-1942), Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Munich 2021.

The book tells the geopolitical anatomy of the Second World War. An unfamiliar perspective is taken: the narrator looks substantially from south to north, in a subordinate way from west to east. Nevertheless, both horizons are merged into one another, focusing on different forms of violence executed during warfare and beyond, while trying to judge their bearings and repercussions in material reality as well as in public memory. Jewish Palestine, situated at the intersection of European-continental and non-European colonial perception, serves as an insightful hub of understanding and meaning for such an epistemological fusion. Its geographical location at the extreme north-western tip of imperial British rule in Asia always calls India as a reference to the overall spatial narrative that finds its core period in 1935/1942 – between the Italian Abyssinia War and the fateful battles of El-Alamain and Stalingrad.

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Iris Nachum

Nationalbesitzstand und “Wiedergutmachung”: Zur historischen Semantik sudetendeutscher Kampfbegriffe (National Ownership and “Wiedergutmachung”: Historical Semantics of Sudeten German Combat Terms), Veröffentlichungen des Collegium Carolinum, Vol. 142, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2021.

The book deals with the origin of the Sudeten German demands for reparation against Czechoslovakia. Using Reinhart Koselleck’s “history of concepts approach” as well as “historical discourse analysis”, the book presents three new insights: (a) The Sudeten German redress claims against Czechoslovakia/the Czech Republic after 1989 were not a new invention. Rather, Germans in Czechoslovakia had already demanded compensation (Wiedergutmachung) from Prague for damages to their national assets at the end of World War I and throughout the interwar period. (b) The Sudeten German compensation rhetoric is rooted in the conflict over national ownership in the 19 th -century Habsburg Empire and is thus an outcome of the German nationalization project.Among the leaders of the German minority in Czechoslovakia, who demanded compensation from Prague after 1918, were liberals of Jewish origin who identified as members of the (Sudeten) German nation.

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Courses

Human Rights in Ancient Rome | Dr. Matthias Schmidt | Spring Semester 2022

The seminar will deal with the question of existence and meaning of “human rights” and other civil/social/political rights in different periods of Roman history from the Roman Republic and the imperial time till Marcus Aurelius as possible sources of modern universal human rights law. Relevant texts of different authors will be read and analyzed in order to understand different concepts and their development during the change of political systems in ancient Rome. If (and how) modern concepts of human rights might be rooted in Roman civilization, history and thought will be discussed in order to see if the reference to Roman antiquity in human rights law is used to “update the myth of ‘Western civilization’ to suit momentary agendas” (Samual Moyn, Human Rights and the Uses of History, xiv).

Syllabus

Law in Times of Crisis: The Jurist Jacob Robinson (1889-1977) | Dr. Iris Nachum | Fall Semester 2021

The seminar examines the life, work and times of the Jewish jurist Jacob Robinson who was born in Lithuania in 1889 and died in New York in 1977. In doing so, special attention is given to his engagement for the protection of minority rights. The seminar’s approach is multidisciplinary, combining elements from history, law, and political science.

Syllabus

Human Rights: The Greek Experience | Dr. Matthias Schmidt | Fall Semester 2021

The seminar will deal with the question of existence and meaning of “human rights” and other civil/social/political rights in different periods of Greek history in antiquity as possible sources of modern universal human rights law. Relevant texts from different periods will be read and analyzed in order to understand if (and how) modern concepts of human rights might be rooted in ancient Greek civilization, history and thought - or if the reference to Greek antiquity in human rights law is used to “update the myth of ‘Western civilization’ to suit momentary agendas” (Samual Moyn, Human Rights and the Uses of History, xiv).

Syllabus

Ancient Monuments and Places of Memory - Between Science Orientalism Translocation and Restitution | Dr. Matthias Schmidt | Spring Semester 2021

The seminar will focus on prominent representative examples of seizure of cultural goods during colonialism, specific large-scale displacements and translocations as a result of a partition of excavation discoveries and research expeditions and on other displacements of ancient cultural assets from the Greek and Roman World as well as Mesopotamia and Egypt - like Troia, Mykene, Delphi, Athens, Pergamon, Tell Halaf, Uruk, Ninive, Babylon, Armana and the Valley of the Kings.

Syllabus

History of Political Concepts and Ideas | Dr. Iris Nachum | Fall Semester 2020

The seminar examines the historical development of key political concepts and ideas. In doing so, special attention is given to the changing meanings of “justice”, “freedom”, “equality”, and other major terms of Western thought. The seminar’s approach is multidisciplinary, combining elements from history, political science, philosophy, and law.

Syllabus

announcements

contact

The Jacob Robinson Institute for the History of Individual and Collective Rights 
Faculty of Humanities
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Mt. Scopus, 9190501 Jerusalem, Israel