Middle Eastern intellectual correspondence: Jacob Talmon and Arnold Toynbee revisited

Amikam Nachmani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Jacob Talmon and Arnold Toynbee were among the 20 most influential historians of the twentieth century in a list published by the Dutch journal Intermediair in May 1980. But this is not the only common denominator between them: both faced strong opposition at home - Toynbee was ridiculed and Talmon was considered a 'self-hating Jew'. Following the generally accepted definition that an intellectual is one who attempts to shape history while it is still in progress, they both tried to shape developments in the Arab-Israeli conflict and to ameliorate its consequences. They failed, but their insights and suggestions are still valid today. They differed deeply with regard to major aspects of the Middle East conflict, in particular the right of the Jewish people to statehood. Following the 1967 Six Day War, they corresponded and discussed the Middle East conflict. The article focuses on this correspondence and quotes from their private papers, books and articles over the last 70 years, and from other sources. Sadly, not much has changed in the Arab-Israeli conflict. 'That which has been, it is that which shall be; and that which has been done is that which shall be done; and there is nothing new under the sun'. (Ecclesiastes, 1:9).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)370-398
Number of pages29
JournalIsrael Affairs
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2014


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