Debating Israel/Palestine: Jewish dissent in English studies

Submitting Institution

Queen Mary, University of London

Unit of Assessment

English Language and Literature

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Language, Communication and Culture: Literary Studies
History and Archaeology: Historical Studies
Philosophy and Religious Studies: Religion and Religious Studies

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Summary of the impact

This case study details impact generated by Jacqueline Rose's research on psychoanalysis and the literary, focusing on her work on the interdependency of the inner world of the psyche and the outer world of politics, especially relations between states and cultures, notably Palestine/Israel. She has pursued a campaign of public engagement through mass media publications (newspapers, magazines), organizing public lectures and discussions, and by co-founding a `speak-out' organization to facilitate debate (Independent Jewish Voices) to encourage dialogue amongst British Jews on the subject of the Middle Eastern conflict. The research has further influenced creative practice by inspiring and supporting new classical music compositions and performances by Mohammed Fairouz, which have had more than 15 performances at venues around the world, reaching an audience in excess of 10,000.

Underpinning research

This case study centres on the research of Professor Jacqueline Rose (QMUL 1991-) in the period 1993-2013. The research engages with the question of literature and the definition of nationhood, both for Israelis and Palestinians, and extends to the analysis of the language of justice. The underlying research premise is that literature plays an important role in transforming the lived history and possible political outcomes of conflict in our times.

The underpinning research begins with States of Fantasy, published by Oxford University Press in 1996. This book began life as the `States of Fantasy' Clarendon lectures at Oxford University, invited lecture series delivered in 1994. Rose's work in 1994 engaged with a collection of essays by the Israeli writer, Amos Oz (The Slopes of Lebanon (1990)), which had advertised the significant dissent amongst Israeli writers and intellectuals to the policies of their government with reference to the Occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights following the Israeli-Arab nations war of 1967. The research assessed the strength of that dissent, the role of the writer in the civic and political life of the nation, and the part literature can play in forging a language of protest against dominant political rhetoric and power. Research on Amos Oz offered the opportunity to understand the complex relations between the literary and the political in a context where both novel writing and public utterance were seen, often inseparably, as having the profoundest impact on the politics of a modern nation. The book extended its research to Israeli and Palestinian writers and thinkers who work between politics and literature, including Amos Oz, Hanan Ashrawi, Muriel Spark, and Felicia Langer, as well as the human rights lawyer and writer, Raja Shehadeh. The book offered analysis of the peace treaties of the Middle East Conflict, examining how their language and rhetoric inhibited the possibility of a solution to the conflict.

Significant underpinning research is also identified in three further outputs. The first is The Question of Zion (Chicago 2005). The Question of Zion pursued research into the roots of the Middle East conflict in early Zionism, using psychoanalysis to explore some of its more intractable dimensions. The Last Resistance (Verso 2007) took up this thread to probe more deeply into the literary and psychoanalytic resonances of this history. The essays in the book engages with Arnold Zweig, David Grossman, Vladimir Jabotinsky and the topic of Jewish nationalism, Zionism, and the formation of the Israeli state, inflected by closer attention to questions of Jewish identity in Europe and the Middle East. The most recent output is Proust Among the Nations — from Dreyfus to the Middle East (Chicago 2012). The new book traces a path, through the work of Marcel Proust and Sigmund Freud, from Europe to Israel-Palestine, examining the place of literature in articulating a hidden dimension of political conflict, so as to uncover Europe's foundational and ongoing role in the Middle East. The Department of English's commitment to research on the interstices of literature and politics in the context of Palestine/Israel, the Middle East, and Jewish literature is evidenced by further research conducted by Nadia Valman, Nadia Atia, Shahidha Bari and Charlotta Salmi.

References to the research

1. Rose, Jacqueline, States of Fantasy (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), 200pp. ISBN: 978-0198183273 — monograph, can be supplied by the HEI on request; quality justification: publication peer reviewed, major international university press, widely reviewed in academic and public press, based on prestigious public lecture series, submitted to RAE 1996. Review of Rose, States of Fantasy (1995) by Edward Said, TLS, 9 August 1996, reprinted as essay in Said, Reflections on Exile And Other Literary and Cultural Essays (London: Granta, 2001).

2. Rose, Jacqueline, The Question of Zion (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2005), 232pp. ISBN: 978-0691130682 — monograph. This book began life as the Christian Gauss Seminars in Criticism delivered at Princeton University in 2003 (an invited seminar series funded by Princeton's Council of the Humanities). Quality justification: publication peer reviewed, major international university press, widely reviewed in academic and public press, based on prestigious public lecture series, submitted to RAE 2008. The Observer (17-07-2005) review stated: `Brave is the scholar who embarks, as Jacqueline Rose has done in The Question of Zion, on a critical analysis of the ideology that created modern Israel. Braver still is the writer who uses this analysis to diagnose that country with a dangerous, possibly fatal pathology contracted at birth. ... Professor Rose's analysis, however, is modestly expressed and methodical. It is also fiercely intellectual'.


3. Rose, Jacqueline, The Last Resistance (London: Verso, 2007), 256 pp. ISBN: 978-1844671243 — monograph; quality justification: publication peer reviewed, widely reviewed in academic and public press, submitted to RAE 2008. Reviewed Peter Preston, The Guardian (3 June 2007) < jun/03/historybooks.features>.

4. Rose, Jacqueline, Proust Among the Nations: From Dreyfus to the Middle East (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2012), 256pp. ISBN 978-0226725789 — monograph. This book began life as the Frederick Ives Carpenter lectures, delivered in 2008 at the University of Chicago. Quality justification: publication peer reviewed, major international university press, based on prestigious public lecture series, submitted to REF2014.

5. Rose, Jacqueline, Why War?: Psychoanalysis and the Return to Melanie Klein (Oxford: Blackwell, 1993), 288pp. ISBN: 978-0631189244 — monograph; quality justification: publication peer reviewed, widely reviewed in academic and public press, submitted to RAE 1996.

6. Conversations with Jacqueline Rose (Calcutta: Seagull; Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012), 184pp. ISBN: 978-1906497347 — edited collection; quality justification: submitted to REF2014.

Details of the impact

Rose's analysis of the politics of the Middle East and Jewish dissent in the UK has aimed to challenge cultural values and assumptions, improve the quality of public understanding and discussion of the Middle East conflict, and bring academic analysis into the sphere of human rights and the law.

Public discourse and civil society
Rose has actively pursued a public engagement strategy through publications that reach a general audience, and by organizing events, public lectures and debates. Mass-market editions of her work addressed at the general reader, such as The Jacqueline Rose Reader (Duke UP 2011) and the Verso Radical Thinkers paperback of Sexuality in the Field of Vision, reinforce the claim that she is `a major public intellectual of and for our times' (Clemens and Naparstek). Her work has consistently argued for the need to create a viable forum for in-depth discussion of the Middle East conflict that would inflect the parameters of legitimate argument on this question. In 2007 Rose co-founded with Antony Lerman, Ellen Dahrendoff, Geoffrey Bindman, Gillian Slovo, and Brian Klug (amongst others) a collective `speak-out' network called Independent Jewish Voices (IJV), bringing together academics, human rights activists and lawyers to debate the right to dissent, international law and human rights in relation to Palestine/Israel. The IJV declaration has gathered 681 signatures ( Since then Rose has been chair and organizer of the IJV Steering Group, co-organising its media campaign in public print and online media (including paid advertisements in daily newspapers and contributions to policy discussions), and co-organising 15 public debates and lectures, at for example Hampstead Town Hall, Friends House, and the North London Synagogue, each attracting audiences of 100-300. Rose co-organised the IJV media programme through 17 articles published The Guardian, Haaretz, and The Jewish Chronicle. IJV's innovative influence is shown by the foundation of sister organizations in Canada (2008) and Australia (2009), and the foundation in 2009 of JNews, an alternative news outlet on the Middle East (Rose co-organised a successful funding bid to the Amiel-Melbourne Trust). In addition, Rose wrote and edited important contributions to the public debate, including her essay `On the Myth of Self-Hatred' in her co-edited book A Time to Speak Out — Independent Jewish Voices on Israel, Zionism and Jewish Identity (2008). Rose's own essays (each 3-5,000 words) in newspapers and periodicals include: `"J'Accuse" — Dreyfus in Our Times', LRB (10-06-2010); `Chroniclers of Pain', The Guardian (10-05-2008); and `"We have exiled an exile": rereading S Yizhar's Khirbet Khizeh' in The Guardian (12-03-2011). These publications and public events exploited the research framework of Rose's scholarly publications so as to generate debate, and disrupt the apparent consensus amongst British Jewry in relation to the Middle Eastern conflict.

Inspiring creative practice and artistic expression
The impact of this research extended further to cultural practice, by inspiring new forms of artistic expression. Rose's research inspired two innovative classical musical compositions by the Palestinian-British composer Mohammed Fairouz (, described by Opera Today as `one of the most sought after composers of the young generation' (September 2010). The first composition, the Double Concerto for Violin, Cello and Orchestra, entitled States of Fantasy, premiered at the Merkin Concert Hall at Kaufman Center, NY (18-09-2010). It was commissioned by Ensemble 212 (, a highly regarded not-for-profit professional New York-based orchestra of 35 musicians lead by Artistic Director Yoon Jae Lee with funding from New York State Council on the Arts, and was performed by Nicholas Kitchen and Yeesun Kim, two principals of the internationally renowned Borromeo Quartet. The work has subsequently been performed five times, including in Houston, Texas, and the Wyoming Seminary, Pennsylvania. This work is inspired by Rose's research in States of Fantasy. Fairouz said in an interview with Opera Today: "The double concerto is based on a wonderful book by Jacqueline Rose, States of Fantasy, which chronicles aspects of the Middle East, aspects of psychology, aspects of her thoughts about Israel as a contemporary Jew." Combining musical themes from Jewish and Arab tradition, Fairouz recreated in music the cross-conflict forms of dialogue and creative engagement that are at the centre of Rose's research in this area. The double concerto, writes Fairouz, "derives from the experience of its generative text while occupying music's distinctive realm." Rose reinforced the impact of the performance by leading a public discussion at Columbia University (17-09-2010) between herself, the composer, and performers, on the relationship between music, politics and literature.

Inspired by this engagement Fairouz composed a second work, a piano sonata called The Last Resistance [Fairouz Piano Sonata #2], based on Rose's book of that title. The work was commissioned by Reach Out Kansas (ROK), an arts charity in Kansas City, for the American pianist Steven Spooner, and was premiered at The Lied Center of Kansas (13-09-2011; audience 1,000). In 2011 and 2012, The Last Resistance was performed at 15 concerts and masterclasses, in states across the USA including Rhode Island, New York, Washington DC, Indiana, and Kansas, and extending to tours of Taiwan, China, South Korea, Indonesia, and Singapore. The total approximate audience for these concerts is 10,080 people. To facilitate the exchange, Rose participated in a public conversation at Columbia (17-02-2012) on the relationship between music, politics and writing. Rose and Fairouz collaborated at a joint residency at the Cogut Center for the Humanities at Brown University (RI), including a performance of the sonata, a panel discussion on the relation of music and literature, and a public dialogue between Rose and Fairouz on Music, Writing, and Critique investigating translation and comparative composition and the politics of analogizing language and music. These collaborative public engagements have sharpened the focus on how Rose's research has ongoing impact on Fairouz's compositions and their performance. These commissions and performances, demonstrate how Rose's research has inspired new forms of musical expression and creative practice beyond the academy.

Sources to corroborate the impact


  1. Co-founder and steering-group member, Independent Jewish Voices: Corroboration of IJV activities, including Rose's foundation, chairing and organization of public events for IJV.
  2. Mohammed Fairouz, composer
    Corroboration of Fairouz's music compositions and performances, and their inspiration by Rose's research publications.
  3. Director, Cogut Humanities Center
    Corroboration of intellectual collaboration between Rose and Fairouz, and public events associated with the performance and interpretation of Fairouz's work.

Other sources

  1. The Jacqueline Rose Reader, ed. by Justin Clemens and Ben Naparstek (Durham, NC and London: Duke University Press, 2011), 440pp. ISBN: 978-0822349785. See especially Justin Clemens and Ben Naparstek, `Reading Jacqueline Rose: An Introduction', pp. 1-24. Corroboration of Rose's status as a `major public intellectual of and for our times'.
  2. Performers websites, with reference to Fairouz compositions:
    Ensemble 212:
    Steven Spooner | Concert Pianist:
    Corroboration of Fairouz's compositions inspired by Rose's research and publications.
  3. Performance of relevant Fairouz compositions archived on Youtube:
    Double Concerto "States of Fantasy" by Mohammed Fairouz; Nicholas Kitchen, Violinist and Yeesun Kim, Cellist lead Ensemble 212; conducted by Yoon Jae Lee in Merkin Hall, Lincoln Center, NY on September 18, 2010. Corroboration of Fairouz's compositions inspired by Rose's research and publications.
  4. Performance of relevant Fairouz compositions archived on Youtube:
    Steven Spooner plays Mohammed Fairouz: Piano Sonata No. 2, I. The Last Resistance, Jan 19 2012 at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall, 57th Street and Seventh Avenue, New York, New York,
    Corroboration of Fairouz's compositions inspired by Rose's research and publications.
  5. Public engagement event archived on Vimeo.
    Panel discussion `Music Writing Critique' (Feb 24 2012, Pembroke Hall, Brown University, RI) Jacqueline Rose and composer Mohammed Fairouz, chaired by Michael Steinberg
    Corroboration of Fairouz's compositions inspired by Rose's research and publications.
  6. Review of Fairouz composition `States of Fantasy', based on Rose book of same title:
    `The music alone was a rich experience; in the greater context of the music's origin, the experience was intellectually and psychically provocative'.
    Phyllis Nordstrom `Borromeo Principals Premiere Fairouz's "States of Fantasy"', Classical Voice of New England, 18 September, 2010
    Corroboration of Fairouz's compositions inspired by Rose's research and publications.