New Cross May Meeting: Zionism and Britain

When: Thursday 3rd May 2018, 7.30pm
Where: New Cross (map)

Zionism and Britain: understanding the origins of Israel 

A talk by Gardner Thompson, followed by discussion

The modern state of Israel came into being in May 1948. The circumstances and timing of its birth were determined largely by World War Two and the horror of the Holocaust.

But the origins of the new state lay in the previous history of largely Arab, Muslim, Palestine under British rule after the First World War.

Britain publicly pledged to establish “a national home for the Jewish people” in the 1917 Balfour Declaration and began to facilitate the immigration of European Jews to Palestine. It led to irreconcilable antagonism between immigrant Jews and resident Palestinians, and revolt against the British administration which endorsed Zionism.

Already by 1937, partition of the territory was envisaged (foreshadowing the UN plan of 1947), and the social and political character of the future Jewish state was determined.

Gardner Thompson is an historian and author with particular interest in British colonialism and emerging democracy in former colonies. He taught in Kampala after graduating from Cambridge. Following an MA at the School of Oriental & African Studies, he researched the colonial period in Uganda at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies and was awarded his PhD in 1990. The 2003 publication of ‘Governing Uganda: British Colonial Rule and its Legacy’ led to his election as a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. He taught History and Politics at Dulwich College, from which he retired as academic vice-principal in 2007. ‘African Democracy: its Origins and Development in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania’ was published in 2015.