Professor and distinguished historian Michael Brenner spoke on modern Israel at the McClung Museum on Monday night.
Brenner’s lecture titled, “The Idea of a Jewish State from Herzl to Netanyahu,” drew a crowd of around 80 people.
“[It is important for people of all religions to come to the lecture because] Israel is in the press so much,” said Brenner. “There is so much reporting on Israel and people should want to get more background to understand it.”
Among the crowd were at least 10 individuals protesting Brenner’s speech, Almost halfway through the speech, they stood up with a sign that read: “Israel is an apartheid state.”
Brenner said that he has never had anyone protest during his lectures before.
He acknowledged the protestors and said while they had a right to do that, he disagrees with them.
“I think it is wrong—not everything is great in Israel,” said Brenner, “A lot of people think that there are maybe some democratic structures that are in danger. But I think, for now at least, it is far from that situation.”
There is about 20 percent Arab population in Israel, and they have all the rights on paper, but in reality it is way different.
“Obviously one big thing is the army. Arab’s don’t serve in the army, “ said Brenner, “but that’s because you don’t want to create a loyalty conflict. But it’s an agreement between Israelis and Arabs.”
He agrees that not everyone in Israel is equal. According to Brenner, an apartheid state is when the state rates part of the population a second rate and they cannot achieve certain things. He said Israel is not there currently.
“[The most important takeaway from this lecture is that] the idea of a Jewish state is actually an idea that started long before the Holocaust,” said Brenner, “and had there been a Jewish state, many could have been rescued.”
The Jewish state became successful in 1948 and has remained a democratic state since.
The next Judaic Studies lecture on modern Jewish literature will be held on March 9th at 7:30.