Who are the American Jews behind many of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank? This is the question that Dr. Sara Hirschhorn, Research...

Who are the American Jews behind many of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank? This is the question that Dr. Sara Hirschhorn, Research Lecturer at the University of Oxford, seeks to answer in her new book City on a Hilltop: American Jews and the Israeli Settler Movement (Harvard University Press, 2017). By analyzing archival documents along with periodicals, internet sources, and a wealth of self-conducted interviews, Hirschhorn concludes that many American-Israeli settlers are not the messianic, ultra-right-wing fanatics that stereotypes suggest. Instead, the majority come from liberal American backgrounds, are highly-educated, and have conservative—but rarely Orthodox—Jewish backgrounds. What is more, she argues, their actions, motives, and self-conceptualizations are reflective of the evolution of American and Israeli Jewish identities over time.

Sara Hirschhorn is University Research Lecturer in Israel Studies at the University of Oxford and Sidney Brichto Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies.


Robin Buller is a PhD Candidate in History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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