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Derek Jonathan Penslar, FRSC (born 1958) is a comparative historian with interests in the relationship between modern Israel and diaspora Jewish societies, global nationalist movements, European colonialism, and post-colonial states.

He was raised in Los Angeles, attended Stanford University for his first degree, and then took his graduate degrees at the University of California at Berkeley.[1] Penslar taught at Indiana University in Bloomington from 1987 to 1998, when he moved to Toronto to assume the Samuel J. Zacks Chair in Jewish History at the University of Toronto (U of T). Between 2002 and 2008 he directed U of T's Centre for Jewish Studies.

Between 2012-2016, he was the inaugural holder of the Stanley Lewis Chair of Israel studies at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. He is a member of the Department of Politics and International Relations and the School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies, and a fellow of St Anne's College [2] where he continues to be an honorary fellow.

Penslar's areas of research expertise include modern European Jewry, Zionism and Israel. Historian Michael Berkowitz calls Penslar "one of the most trenchant [analysts] of how Zionism functioned on the ground in Palestine in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries."[3]

In 2011, he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.[4]


  • Zionism and Technocracy: The Engineering of Jewish Settlement in Palestine, 1870-1918 (1991, Hebrew version 2001)
  • In Search of Jewish Community: Jewish Identities in Germany and Austria, 1918-1933 (1998, co-edited with Michael Brenner)
  • Shylock's Children: Economics and Jewish Identity in Modern Europe (2001)
  • Orientalism and the Jews (co-edited with Ivan Kalmar, 2004)
  • Contemporary Antisemitism: Canada and the World (2005)
  • Israel in History: The Jewish State in Comparative Perspective (2006)
  • Israël face à son passé, with Shlomo Sand, Avi Shlaïm, Les éditions arkhê, 2010, online =
  • The Origins of Israel 1882-1948: A Documentary History (co-edited with Eran Kaplan, 2011)
  • Jews and the Military: A History (2013)


  1. ^ Derek Penslar 1991 "Acknowledgments" in Zionism and Technocracy: The Engineering of Jewish Settlement in Palestine, 1870-1918. Indiana University Press 1991
  2. ^ Vasagar, Jeevan (26 May 2011). "Oxford University appoints Israel studies professor with £3m donation". The Guardian. United Kingdom. Retrieved 27 May 2011. 
  3. ^ Nationalism, Zionism and Ethnic Mobilization of the Jews in 1900 and Beyond, By Michael Berkowitz, BRILL, 2004, p. 7
  4. ^ "Class of 2011: List of New Fellows" (PDF). Royal Society of Canada.