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Leading Israeli Historian & Journalist Tom Segev to Speak at UC San Diego June 1


  • Dolores Davies

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  • Dolores Davies

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Image: Tom Segev

Tom Segev

The unorthodox historian and journalist, Tom Segev, has been intrepid in exploring and illuminating the tortured history of Israel and the Holocaust, often exposing painful truths that many would rather not have to grapple with. Born in Jerusalem to parents who fled Nazi Germany, Segev is a leading figure among the so-called “New Historians” of Israel, who have continued to challenge many of the nation’s traditional narratives or “founding myths.”

A highly-acclaimed author with eight books published in 14 languages to his credit, Segev will make a presentation on Living with the Holocaust on Wednesday, June 1, at the University of California San Diego’s Holocaust Living History Workshop (HLHW), a collaboration between the UC San Diego Library and the university’s Jewish Studies Program. The event, sponsored by William and Michelle Lerach and Jeffrey and Marcy Krinsk with support from Hillel San Diego, will take place from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Atkinson Hall Auditorium on the UC San Diego campus, preceded by a public reception starting at 4:30 p.m. These events are free but seating is limited so reservations should be made in advance at

Unlike many writers who have accepted the official historical record as the foundation for their work, Segev’s books have questioned many of the leading assumptions of Israel’s official history. In his work, he has often drawn on untapped archives, personal diaries, and declassified documents to deconstruct and shed light on the complex and uneasy relationship between Israel and the Holocaust. As a result, Segev’s books are often packed with fresh and complex narratives, and feature rich, historical details.

One of his most prominent works, The Seventh Million: The Israelis and the Holocaust (1991), has been noted for being one of the first books to clearly demonstrate the decisive impact the Holocaust has had on Israel’s identity, ideology, and politics. This book, along with One Palestine Complete: Jews and Arabs under the British Mandate (2000), has been praised for questioning and overturning previously accepted views about Israel’s history, fueling the author’s reputation as a leader among the “New Historians.”

Segev, who has a Ph.D in history from Boston University and a B.A. in history and political science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, writes a weekly column for the newspaper, Haaretz. He previously worked as a correspondent for the newspaper Maariv, in Bonn, Germany. He has served as a visiting professor at the University of California at Berkeley, where he taught a course on Holocaust denial, as well as at Rutgers University and Northeastern University.

Segev’s other noted works include: 1949: The First Israelis (1986); Elvis in Jerusalem (2002); 1967: Israel, the War, and the Year That Transformed the Middle East (2006); and most recently, Simon Wiesenthal: The Life and Legends (2010).

The Holocaust Living History Workshop (HLHW), established eight years ago, hosts a series of lectures and other events during the academic year to broaden understanding of the past, foster tolerance, and preserve the memories of victims and survivors of the Holocaust. Many of the events are taped and can be accessed on UCTV via the Library Channel or the Library’s YouTube Channel.

In addition to hosting the HLHW events, the UC San Diego Library is one of only three academic libraries on the West Coast to have access to the USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive, which includes 52,000 digital oral testimonies recorded by Holocaust survivors and witnesses. The Archive is a valuable tool for teaching, as well as research, and is used for teaching and educating history students, as well as those from many other disciplines. Members of the campus community and the public can access the testimonies preserved in the Visual History Archive, which represents 40,000 specific geographic locations in languages ranging from Bulgarian and Greek to Japanese and Spanish, from any computer on the UC San Diego campus.

The Visual History Archive was created by filmmaker Steven Spielberg to document the stories of Holocaust survivors for his movie, Schindler’s List. In 1994, Spielberg established the Shoah Visual History Foundation, a nonprofit organization, to collect and preserve firsthand accounts of survivors and other witnesses of the Holocaust. The foundation became the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education in 2006.

For more information about UC San Diego's Holocaust Living History Workshop, contact Susanne Hillman at or 858-534-7661. More information can also be found at here.

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