Ben Gurion Chair for Israel and Middle East Studies

Assistant Professor Dr. Johannes Becke

The Ben Gurion Chair for Israel and Middle East Studies focuses on the politics, society and history of the State of Israel and its ties to the Middle East. As a joint professorship (which was endowed by the Bundesland Baden-Württemberg), the Ben Gurion Chair links the Hochschule für Jüdische Studien and Heidelberg University, thereby bridging the gap between two fields of area studies with highly different research traditions and highly specific research gaps: While the German discipline of Middle East Studies (“Islamwissenschaft”) traditionally understands the region of the Middle East as “the world of Islam” only to be complemented with research on the Christian Orient, the Eurocentrism (or rather Ashkenazi centrism) of the discipline of Israel Studies frequently fails to embed research on the Jewish nation state into the historical and cultural space of the Middle East.

Regionally comparative perspectives on Jewish nationalism and Israeli statehood therefore represent a primary research focus at the Ben Gurion Chair, for instance regarding the phenomena of diaspora nationalism, irredentism and state-building projects by ethno-sectarian minorities in the Middle East.

A second research focus concentrates on representations of the State of Israel between Orientalism and Occidentalism, with a special emphasis on the history of science of Israel Studies in German academia and the Arab world.3)


In the past, the following persons have taught at the Hochschule für Jüdische Studien as guest professors at the Ben Gurion Chair for Israel and Middle East Studies:

Prof. Dr. Rakefet Zalashik, 2009-2010

Prof. Dr. Nir Kedar, 2010

Prof. Dr. Nadav Davidovitch, 2011

Prof. Dr. Omar Kamil, 2011-2012

Prof. Dr. Noam Zadoff, 2012-2013

Prof. Dr. Matti Steinberg, 2013-2014

Latest Revision: 2016-07-28