Jacob Israel de Haan: A Queer and Lapsed Zionist in Mandate Palestine
Mandate Palestine
queer studies
Balfour Declaration
political assassination
King Husayn bin Ali
Muhammad Asad
Sigmund Freud

This essay focuses on a large group of preeminent dissenting intellectual and Orthodox Jewish voices from the start of the twentieth century who were critical of the suitability of Israel as a site of return and who stood in solidarity with Palestinians. It focuses on the victim of Israel’s first political assassination, Jacob Israel de Haan, and raises the then permissible notions of sexuality in Palestine. Since the de Haan’s death in 1924, his journalistic writings, essays, and poems, written over a five-year period in Mandate Palestine, have yet to be published in English or Arabic. The author examines the trajectory of de Haan’s rescinding Zionist attitude as something increasingly common upon arrival in Palestine. De Haan’s work as a litigator uniquely placed him to affect and destabilize the colonial infrastructure in formative Israel, which ultimately led to his murder.

Author biography: 

Nathan Witt, British artist, has been working in Palestine since 2012, with Art School Palestine, Decolonizing Architecture in Bayt Sahur, and Campus in Camps in Dahaysha refugee camp. He has a forthcoming residency with the Birzeit University Museum, and Konrad Adenaeur Foundation and MMAG Foundation in Amman. He is also current Guest Artist at CERN in Geneva.