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Great Zionist Speeches

This seminar course will explore the great speeches that shaped and sustained the Jewish state during its formative years. Each class session will focus on a single speech that meets the highest standards for greatness: the speaker was a prominent figure addressing a crucial challenge, the speech was powerful in its arguments and persuasive in its rhetoric, and the speech had a real impact by shaping the thoughts and actions of its listeners (and readers). David Ben-Gurion’s attempt to balance the prophetic vision of Israel with the need to put all resources into war efforts. Golda Meir’s remarks on the role of Diaspora Jewry in supporting the Jewish state. The text of Israel’s Declaration of Independence. Moshe Dayan’s reflection on the indispensable task of Israel’s founding generation. The opening remarks at the trial of the Holocaust villain Adolf Eichmann. In each case, we will examine the background of the speaker as well as the challenge he or she was facing. We will do a close reading of the text, discussing the impact of the speech and its lasting lessons in leadership.