Yochai Avrahami and Doron Tavori’s work is structured as a two-day conference of public lectures, in which the speakers appear on behalf of Laurence Oliphant and other historical figures. Oliphant, as his many books and letters suggest, was a writer, journalist, adventurer, mystic, and businessman. The lectures deal with his idea of the “Land of Gilead,” which he envisioned twenty years prior to Theodor Herzl’s Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State): a colony for Jewish refugees in the Dead Sea and the Jordan Valley, based on the Canadian model of a stream of settlers settling on Indian lands covered with forests and lakes—a model which was then at the height of its economic, industrial, and technological bloom. The lectures and presentations focus on Oliphant’s writings from his trip to Palestine, in which he toured across the land, describing the potential he saw in the area, and the plans he made for realizing his vision. They follow the life Oliphant, who accompanied the British colonial enterprise around the world. Besides Oliphant, lectures also present other historical figures related to the nineteenth century world-colonial project, and its implications for our contemporary lives.
Udi Edelman, Eyal Danon, Ran Kasmy-Ilan