The June issue of the London based online journal Fathom includes an interview with me by its editor Alan Johnson.
Here is an excerpt:
Alan Johnson: And why did you want to write this particular book?
Jeffrey Herf: I’ve been thinking about the topic of this particular book since 1978 when I was a graduate student in Frankfurt working on my dissertation at Brandeis University. I met – in my young leftist days – people on the left that were profoundly hostile towards Israel, and I found that very peculiar. I also met and learned from people in Frankfurt/Main who dissented from the anti-Zionist left. So, I began reading and writing about the peculiar anti-Israeli passion that emerged in both the international and West German left. That passion was global but it had added complexities and complexes in Germany after Nazism. I wanted to understand them. In 1990, after the unification of German, I worked in the archives of the former East German government and learned a great deal about the turn of the East German government against Israel in the 1950s. I have thought about this issue ever since, and became aware that although there were many German historians who were working on East Germany, there was no historian writing about East Germany’s hostility toward Israel. I really felt a responsibility to write this book.
You asked about influences. One wonderful thing about being a historian is the invisible college one gathers in the course of a career. I wish my friends Fouad Ajami, Francois Furet and Robert Wistrich were alive today to see the book for they influenced my thinking about. I dedicated it to their memory.