Avineri, Shlomo

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AVINERI, SHLOMO (1933– ), Israeli political scientist and educator. Born in Bielsko, Poland, Avineri arrived in Palestine in 1939 with his family who settled in Herzliyya. Avineri studied political science and history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and received his doctorate for a thesis "The Concept of Revolution."

Avineri has served on the academic faculty of the Hebrew University since 1959. In 1974 he became professor and in 1975–76 he served as dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences. In 1999–2001 he was director of the Institute for European Studies and in 2001 became professor emeritus. Over the years he was also a visiting professor in universities in the U.S. and Britain.

His research work was initially an extension of his doctoral thesis, dealing with the social and political thought of Karl Marx. It was connected to the discovery and publication of the philosophical manuscripts of the young Karl Marx. His research addressed the relationship between the philosophical, humanistic, and anthropological writings of the young Marx and his economically-orientated later writings. He claimed there was a degree of continuity in Marx's thought and that the mature Marx cannot be understood without the presuppositions of earlier thought. This research led Avineri to consider the philosophy of Hegel and its relationship with modern totalitarianism (of the left and the right). His research showed that the view presented by Karl Popper of Hegelian philosophy as a form of modern totalitarianism did not present an adequate picture of the Hegelian philosophy and its heritage. Avineri was awarded the Rubin Prize in 1969 for his research, the Naftali Prize in 1971, and the Present Tense Award (American Jewish Communities) in 1982. In 1996 he received the Israel Prize for political science.

In 1970 Avineri published an article in Commentary calling for a dialogue with the Palestinians. In the following year he edited a book Israel and the Palestinians, which explored the possibility of negotiations with the plo. When he was appointed director-general of the Foreign Ministry by Foreign Minister Yigal Allon, the Likud opposition took exception to Avineri's statements calling for the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and tried unsuccessfully to block his appointment by a parliamentary motion.

After his year in the Foreign Ministry, Avineri devoted himself to researching the intellectual origins of Zionism. He tried to place Zionism in the context of 19th-century socialism and nationalistic movements. He has taken a deep interest in recent developments in East Europe where he was one of the first Israeli academics to be invited to give talks in seminars in the Soviet Academy of Sciences in the U.S.S.R., Poland, Hungary, and the former German Democratic Republic. He was an observer to the 1989 elections in Hungary and Czechoslovakia.

His books include several works on Marx and Marxism as well as The Making of Modern Zionism (1982), Moses Hess: Prophet of Communism and Zionism (1985), Arlosoroff: An Intellectual Biography (1989), Communitarianism and Individualism (with De-Shalit, eds., 1992), Jews of the Former Soviet Union: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (with Chelnov and Gitelman, 1997), Integration and Identity: Challenges to Europe and Israel (with Weidenfeld, eds., 1999), and Politics and Identities in Transformation: Europe and Israel (with Weidenfeld, eds., 2001).

[Elaine Hoter /

Shaked Gilboa (2nd ed.)]