German Antecedents of the Department of Geography
at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem: Historical Perspective
By: Prof. Yoram Bar-Gal
Department of Geography
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem was founded in 1925, during
the early years of British Mandate period in Palestine, and an
important symbol of Zionism, reflecting the Jewish People's aspiration
for political independence. According to Zionist historiography,
the idea of a university for the Jews originated in articles published
between 1882 and 1884 by Zvi Herman Shapiro (1940-1898), who was
a professor of mathematics at the University of Heidelberg, Germany.
Discussions, decisions, and fund-raising efforts continued for
several decades, until the Hebrew University was officially opened.
However, the Department of Geography at the Hebrew University,
which was the first of five geography departments existing at
universities Israel, did not open until 1949/50, an entire generation
after the Hebrew University was founded. In honor of the 50-year
jubilee of geography as an academic discipline in Israel, the
current paper explores the development of the geography department
in Jerusalem, and reveals its German antecedents. The paper presents
a historical survey of the founding of the geography department,
without discussing the development of Israeli geographic thought,
which is a topic in itself (Bar-Gal, 1999).
We will begin by providing background on the establishment of
the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which sheds light on the academic
decisions taken from 1925 to 1950. In the initial years, the Hebrew
University focused on research rather than on teaching. At that
time, the president of the Hebrew University was Dr. Judah Magnes,
who immigrated to Israel from the United States in 1923. The first
research institutes included the Institute of Jewish Studies,
the Institute of Chemistry, the Institute for the Study of the
Nature in Palestine. Following political debates on the nature
of the Hebrew University, i.e., whether the University should
focus on research or teaching, the first faculties were established:
The Faculty of Humanities (in 1928), and the Faculty of Natural
Sciences and Mathematics (1935). Both faculties engaged in teaching
as well as in research (Hebrew University, 1948).
From an ideological perspective, there was an intense conflict
revolving around the mission of the university ("which should
not be like other universities"). The founders of the Hebrew University
wanted research and teaching to focus on the Hebrew aspect, as
reflected in the University's name. Therefore, they concentrated
on teaching Hebrew, and gave priority to Jewish studies, i.e.,
Bible and Hebrew literature, as well as to the country's natural
resources. Of course, there was also the universal scientific
aspect, i.e., chemistry, physics, and medicine. It should also
be noted that during that period the academic and personal atmosphere
at the Hebrew University was strongly influenced by German institutions,
to the point that the University became, in effect, an overseas
extension of German higher education. In various disciplines (e.g.,
history, natural sciences, and math), the scientific language
and professional world view of the teachers and researchers during
the 1920s and 1930s was oriented toward the German world (Katz
& Heyd, 1997).
Since the founders of the Hebrew University understood the importance
of crystallizing a national identity, they were careful to develop
fields that promoted Zionism and the Zionist enterprise besides
focusing on basic research. Therefore, there were those who advocated
a universal approach toward research, while others advocated local
and particularistic research, which played an important role in
strengthening national identity. Apparently, this ideological
tension affected the nature of geographic research and influenced
the department, besides the personal and organizational issues
involved in the development of the discipline in Jerusalem.
Attempts to Establish Geographic Research Institutes, 1925
Until the establishment of the Department of Geography in
1950, a few courses in geography were offered occasionally in
various settings. The first lessons were taught by Prof. Shmuel
Klein (1886-1940), who was among the founders of the Hebrew University.
Born in Hungary, Klein attended university as well as a rabbinical
seminary in Berlin. He received his doctoral degree from the University
of Heidelberg in 1910, and his research focused on the relationship
between Jewish historical sources and Palestine. Essentially,
those studies were toponomic in nature, i.e., they attempted to
identify names of ancient places, mainly through historical and
linguistic interpretation. Klein, like other scholars in the Faculty
of Humanities at the Hebrew University in the 1920s and 1930s,
considered geography a tool for describing and explaining the
texts of the Bible and the Talmud. Therefore, the founders of
the Hebrew University perceived Klein as a geographer-historian,
and he taught courses such as "The Land of Israel in the Biblical
Period," and "The Land of Israel in the Hellenistic-Roman Period"
(Hebrew University, 1942, pp. 30-31).
During the 1930s, Shmuel Klein was among the senior professors
at the Hebrew University. Therefore, he was on all of the committees
that dealt with planning study programs in geography at the Hebrew
University. Klein and his colleagues in the Faculty of Humanities
did not consider geography an independent discipline, but rather
a scientific branch that must serve other fields. This perspective
is reflected in a protocol written in 1931, which discussed the
possibility of inviting Dr. Abram Jacob Brawer to teach a course
on the Geography of Palestine. Brawer (1884-1975) was the first
Jewish geographer to arrive in Palestine. Born in Galicia, he
immigrated to Palestine in 1911 and began teaching at the Teachers'
College in Jerusalem. He received his training in geography and
history at the University of Vienna, where he also attended a
rabbinical seminary. During the first decade of the 20th century,
the geography department at the University of Vienna was one of
the most prominent in Europe, and its faculty members included
some of the founding fathers in the field in Germany, such as
Eugen Oberhummer and Albrect Penck. Brawer's colleagues also included
prominent geographers such as Hugo Hassinger and Norbert Krebs.
In later years, his colleagues also had some influence on the
development of Israeli geography (Karmon, 1984).
During World War I, Dr. Brawer stayed in Istanbul. After the war,
he returned to the University of Vienna and collected a wealth
of literature on Palestine. In the early 1920s, Brawer returned
to Jerusalem and published his well-known book Ha'aretz (The Land
of Israel) in 1927, which became the basic regional textbook of
Israel. Concurrently, as mentioned, when the Hebrew University
of Jerusalem opened, it looked as if Abram Brawer would be invited
by the administration to establish an Institute of Geography.
Brawer did not wait for an invitation. Instead, he sent letters
and documents to the Chancellor of the University, Dr. Judah Magnes,
in which he proposed to open an Institute of Geography. In one
of his letters, he wrote to the Chancellor: "I asked you to appoint
me to a general Chair of Geography, focusing on the study of Eretz
Israel [The Land of Israel] and its neighborhoods […] There is
no need to further elaborate on the value of this discipline to
you or to the members of the council. I believe I can make a considerable
contribution, not only toward understanding the current situation,
but toward advancing topics in the general field of history, and
particularly in the area of biblical and Talmudic topography …".
The document indicates that even though Brawer had the field of
general geography in mind, he intended to develop a regional geographic
approach, which he adopted from his teachers in Vienna. He based
his book on that approach, which he adapted to the special situation
of the Hebrew University from two perspectives: The particularistic
orientation toward research on Palestine and the Near East as
a supplementary field of biblical history and topography.
About three years after Brawer sent his proposal, the "Teachers'
Council" of the Faculty of Humanities discussed it. . That academic
group was the first forum to decide on opening new courses, and
recommended those courses to the heads of the University administration.
Brawer did not wait for the results of the discussions at the
University. He immediately initiated efforts to raise funds for
the establishment of the Institute, and asked for letters of support
from prominent scholars at universities in Europe and the United
States. These initiatives angered the heads of the Faculty of
Humanities, as evidenced in the above-mentioned discussion. The
minutes of the meeting held by the "teachers' council" reveal
their approach toward the discipline of geography. No mention
was made of geography as a general discipline, but rather as a
supplementary field of Eretz Israel Studies. They argued that
the proposed course could be offered once every three years. In
addition, it was clear personal that some of the participants
in the discussions harbored personal antipathy toward Brawer,
including Chancellor Magnes. Even though they ultimately decided
to recommend inviting Brawer to teach the course on the "Geography
of Eretz Israel," the recommendation was vetoed by the other academic
groups at the University.
Beyond the personal considerations for rejecting Brawer, the nature
of his work and publications, which focused on a broad range of
geographic and historical topics, also affected the decision.
Besides publishing scientific papers in journals, Brawer published
articles in the daily press, as well as popular articles and textbooks
(Brawer, 1984). Therefore, the university elite believed that
he was not a serious scientist, and was worthy of a position in
an academic institution. The same views were expressed about another
geographer, Dr. Nathan Shalem, who dreamed of establishing an
Institute of Geography at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem,
and even made a concrete proposal along those lines. Unlike Brawer,
who was affiliated with the Faculty of Humanities, Shalem tried
to establish the Institute of Geography at the Faculty of Natural
Sciences - but his attempt failed.
Dr. Nathan Shalem (1897-1959) was born in Saloniki and immigrated
to Palestine in 1914. After World War I, he traveled to Italy
and completed his doctoral studies in geology at the University
of Florence. Shalem continued specializing in geomorphology and
geography at universities in Italy and Britain during the 1920s
and 1930s. In Palestine, taught at the Gymnasia High School in
Jerusalem and elsewhere. At the same time, he conducted research
focusing on physical as well as on human aspects of geography.
Shalem was an intellectual, who took an interest in various issues
and was well versed in the historical texts, which he read in
their original language. His aspiration to be a geographer of
the Land of Israel affected various aspects of his research and
publications. That is, he wrote about local issues, investigated
the natural resources of Israel, the country's landscape, and
its non-Jewish population. He based his studies on literature
in Hebrew, Greek, Arabic, and Latin in order to reconstruct the
country's geographic history. In addition, he published his own
work in Hebrew, and contributed toward coining new scientific
terms in the language, which he considered an intellectual challenge
and moral obligation (Bentor, 1960; Shalem, 1973).
Various committees at the Hebrew University discussed the issue
of establishing a Department of Geography, and particularly the
candidacy of Nathan Shalem. However, they were unable to accurately
evaluate his complex, pioneering work and his unique worldview.
Unfortunately for him, he attended a university in Italy rather
than in Germany, and he published in Italian, French, and Hebrew
during the 1920s and 1930s. One of the main people to determine
the future of Nathan Shalem and affect the establishment of the
geography department at the Hebrew University was Prof. Judah
Leo Picard (1900-1996), who studied geology in Freiburg and immigrated
to Palestine when the Hebrew University of Jerusalem opened (Picard,
Picard met Nathan Shalem in Florence, and they developed a complex
relationship. Picard advanced at the university, and in the 1930s
he became a member of committees that discussed issues related
to geography. Apparently, he hesitated to recommend Shalem, for
reasons related to differences in their academic, social, and
Shalem attempted to link humanities and natural sciences. Thus,
for example, he examined historical evidence of geological and
geomorphological processes in Palestine and the vicinity, and
earthquakes from the biblical period to the present. Picard, who
specialized in the natural sciences, rejected research approaches
that were not based on empirical measurements in the field.
Like others who came to the Hebrew University from Germany, Picard
preferred familiar scientific approach, and searched for candidates
from the same cultural background. Thus, he "rejected that which
is unfamiliar," i.e., university candidates who were not from
the "right background". In fact, on two occasions Picard even
prevented the Lithuanian historical geographer and Holocaust survivor,
Prof. Avram Melzin, from entering the Hebrew University.
Immigration of the "German Group" to Palestine during the 1930s
In addition to Prof. Picard, who lived in Jerusalem and influenced
decisions related to geography, there was another highly esteemed
scientist at the Hebrew University, Otto Warburg (1859-1938).
Wurburg was a professor of tropical botany in Berlin, and involved
in Zionist activity in Palestine. With the inception of the Hebrew
University, he was appointed professor and director of the Institute
for Research on Natural Resources in Palestine". During the 1930s,
he continued working in Berlin, and also participated in making
academic decisions at the Hebrew University (Katz, 1997).
After the rise of the Nazis in 1933, when it became clear that
Jewish scientists were losing their university positions, many
Jewish scholars immigrated to Palestine, and some found positions
at the Hebrew University. In light of these circumstances, the
standing committee met in February, 1935, and decided to try and
find an appropriate candidate from the German Jewish community
to found the Department of Geography. Prof. Otto Wurburg was informed
of this decision in Berlin, whereupon he sent a letter to a well-known
Jewish geographer at Bonn University, Prof. Alfred Philippson
(1864-1953) (Boehm & Mehmel, 1996; Mehmel, 1999).
Philippson's response indicates that he had been asked to express
his view about establishing a Chair of Geography in Jerusalem,
and to recommend candidates for the position. He claimed that
there is an urgent need to open a department of geography focusing
on research into the natural conditions in Palestine, and that
such research would contribute toward the effort to absorb Jewish
immigrants there. He further indicated that he did not know many
Jewish geographers in Germany, since most of Jewish scholars there
specialized in medicine and law. However, he did mention the names
of three young scientists, whom he recommended that the Hebrew
University consider for the position. One was Alfred Lohnberg,
who specialized in discovering ground water and had already immigrated
to Jerusalem. Another was Fritz Loewe, a meteorologist from the
University of Berlin who specialized in polar regions and lived
in England; and the third was Dr. Friedrich Leyden, a geographer
who had worked at in the German foreign service.
It should be mentioned that from a historical perspective, the
context of Philippson's letters to Wurburg reflects the fate of
the Jewish scientists in Germany after 1933. Some of the scientists,
such as Fritz Loewe, immigrated to Anglo-Saxon countries and carried
on with their scientific work. Others, such as Friedrich Leyden,
remained in Europe and perished during the Holocaust; and a few,
such as Alfred Lohnberg, immigrated to Palestine.
The Jewish immigration from Germany to Palestine from 1933 to
1936 was significant not only in quantitative terms but also in
qualitative terms. Many of the immigrants were professionals with
academic education, who sought to advance in the country's economic
and social system. The Zionist institutions and those of the British
colonial regime offered a unique opportunity to absorb these scientists.
Indeed, the immigrants from Germany included experts in earth
sciences, hydrologists, meteorologists, and geographers (henceforth
the "German group"). Prominent members of this group included
meteorologists who kept abreast of geographic research: Rudolf
Feige, Martin Guttfeld (Mordechai Gilad), Edgar Rosenau (Naphtali
Rosenan). The same group included two geographers: Dr. Horst Kallner
(David Amiran) and Dr. Isaac (Yitzhak) Schattner. As will be shown
below, in 1949/50 Amiran undertook to establish the Department
of Geography at the Hebrew of Jerusalem. Several years later,
he brought Schattner to the department.
When David Amiran arrived in Israel in the summer of 1935, Picard
recruited him for a temporary job at the geology library. As mentioned,
during that period various university institutions discussed potential
candidates for the establishment of the Department of Geography,
and Picard played a dominant role in those sessions. Besides the
two senior candidates, Abram J. Brawer and Nathan Shalem, David
Amiran was also being considered for this position. In the meantime,
Amiran and Picard developed a close and abiding friendship based
on their common language and culture of origin. Since Amiran was
a young scientist and only had a few publications to his credit,
he could not receive an immediate appointment as lecturer at the
Hebrew University. Picard, who was already a well-known geologist,
discovered ground water in various areas of Paletine and helped
Amiran raise funds for research from 1937 to 1940. After World
War II broke out, Amiran enlisted in a survey unit of the British
army, which was stationed in Egypt and Palestine. At the end of
the war, Amiran found employment with the help of colleagues from
the German group who already held senior positions at the Survey
Department and the British Meteorological Service.
A review of decisions related to personnel at the Hebrew University
of Jerusalem from 1937 to 1947, including decisions about the
candidate for founder of the Department of Geography and study
program in that field, indicates that Amiran had already been
targeted for that position. Picard manipulated the decisions so
that the position was reserved for Amiran during the World War
II and the War of Independence (1947/48), while he served as an
officer in the army. As a result, Abram J. Brawer and Nathan Shalem
were constantly rejected as candidates, even though they had lived
in the country longer, acquired more teaching experience in the
field, and published more than Amiran.
David Amiran and German Heritage in Israeli Geography
David Amiran (Horst Kallner) was born in Berlin in 1910. In 1929,
after graduating high school, Amiran decided to study geography
at the University of Freiburg. At the time, two teachers taught
geography courses there - Hans Schrepfer and Hugo Hassinger. Amiran
was strongly influenced by Schrepfer's lectures, field trips,
and research, while Schrepfer was impressed by his student's diligence.
It is not surprising, therefore, that after Amiran's [Kallner's]
first year the University of Freiburg, they published a collaborative
project (Schrepfer & Kallner, 1930). Following changes in the
staff at Freiburg and Frankfurt universities from 1930 to 1931,
Schrepfer moved to Frankfurt and replaced Norbert Krebs, who transferred
to the University of Berlin. Subsequently, Amiran transferred
to the University of Frankfurt, and in 1931 he attended the University
of Berlin for one semester and took a course from Norbert Krebs.
At the end of 1932, Amiran went to Moscow to participate in a
geomorphological survey of the southern Ural mountains. After
Hitler rose to power, he didn't want to return to Germany, and
moved to Switzerland, where he attended the University of Bern
and wrote a doctoral dissertation dealing with river terraces
in Italy. He had been introduced to that topic several years earlier,
during his travels with Schrepfer. After submitting his doctoral
dissertation in summer 1935, Amiran arrived in Jerusalem. .
Since 1937, Amiran's status as research fellow had been established
at the Hebrew University. By the time he enlisted in the British
army he had collected material to prepare the Atlas of Eretz Israel,
with funding from the Zionist movement. In addition, he wrote
several papers with colleagues from the German group, such as
the English language article that about the physiographic division
of Palestine (Kallner & Rosenau, 1938).
Following the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the
academic committees at the Faculty of Natural Sciences continued
their deliberations. Eventually, the committees recommended to
the Senate of the Hebrew University that the Department of Geography
be opened in 1949/50. Following this decision, David Amiran was
invited to present the curriculum and other demands, e.g., for
a library, equipment, and rooms. Before discussing the significance
of these programs, it should be mentioned that in 1952 Amiran
requested approval from the University administration to include
Dr. Yitzhak Schattner on the faculty of the department. In that
way, Amiran and Schattner could share the responsibilities of
research and teaching. Amiran's letter of recommendation reflects
profound esteem for the world of German geography, which he had
left 20 years earlier, as well as his regard for Schattner.
"[Yitzhak Schattner] is a disciple of one of the finest geographic
schools in Europe, the Institute of Geography at the University
of Vienna. At the university, he studied under teachers such as
Machatschek, one of the finest geomorphologists in our generation,
as well as Oberhummer and Hassinger, who are both among the top
German anthropogeographers. Dr. Schattner's superior but stringent
educational background comes through clearly at our Department
It is beyond the scope of the current paper to deal in depth with
the geographic approach and political perspectives held by scholars
who taught Amiran and Schattner. However, as Amiran indicates,
the German teachers clearly shaped the professional image of their
disciples. It can therefore be assumed that the German heritage
left its mark on Israeli geography. In this vein, the current
paper demonstrates how German scholars influenced certain aspects
of the field in Israel. This influence is reflected in the curriculum
of the Department of Geography at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
as well as in the Atlas of Israel, which was the main research
publication produced by the Geography Department at the end of
The Initial Curriculum
The curriculum of the Hebrew University's Department of Geography,
which was designed by Amiran, did not change in content until
the mid-1960s. Like the programs at the University of Vienna,
where his teachers' teachers (Krebs and Hassinger) were educated,
or at the universities of Freiburg and Frankfurt, where he was
educated, geography was based on two foundations: Thematic (physical
and human) geography, and regional geography. Geographers who
were trained according to this approach moved freely between the
two areas of research. Therefore, many of their studies and publications
were more diverse than the work conducted today. The courses Amiran
took at the University of Vienna included: "The Landscape of the
Alps," "Geography of Settlements and Cultural Geography," "Theory
and Practice in Applied Mapping," and the "Regional Geography
of Germany". Besides these courses, the curriculum included weekly
field trips, as well s long trips held during vacations, which
were often outside of Germany.
It is not surprising that Amiran designed the first curriculum
in Jerusalem on the basis of his academic experience, which focused
on the following areas:
Physical geography: Cartography, climatology, geomorphology, and
Anthropogeography: Human races, localities, the impact of landscape
Regional geography: The Land of Israel, the Middle East, all of
the continents, the poles, and the oceans.
Field trips: Bi-weekly field trips, and field trips lasting several
days during vacations.
This was the basic curriculum taught at the Hebrew University's
Department of Geography until the mid-1960s. Afterwards, the curriculum
was adapted to the American context. For example, the basic course
in Anthropogeography (the German term) became known as "Human
Geography" (the English term). Moreover, the program was based
on an approach that considered regional geography the epitome
of research. In line with this perspective, emphasis was placed
on regional courses, which all students were required to take.
Of these courses, the main one was "Regional Geography of the
Land of Israel". That course was offered in the third year of
the program, and it was portrayed as one of the peak points of
the program. An attempt was made to introduce the possibilist
approach, which conformed with the national perspective of Zionism.
Specifically, the Zionist settlers were portrayed as culturally,
socially, and economically superior to the local inhabitants (the
Arabs). The settlers were capable of developing the land and controlling
natural conditions. This perspective provided the basis for the
first doctoral dissertations written at the Department of Geography
under the supervision of Amiran and Schattner. This perspective
of the region was criticized later, however, on the grounds that
it is based on ideas of European superiority, which also focused
on the superiority of man over nature in general (Godlewska &
At the Department of Geography in Jerusalem, considerable emphasis
was placed on field work and field trips. Every student had to
spend several days in the field in order to study the landscape
and observe changes. The accepted pattern was the regional field
trip, which included a presentation of physical and human aspects
of the region at one and the same time. These kinds of tours were
not only based on educational objectives, but also aimed to instill
values. Specifically, the field trips helped strengthen the students'
connection with the land, and enhanced their national identity
(Bar-Gal, 1999; Ben-David, 1997). From an educational perspective,
the field trips made it possible to present the "order," "organization,"
"scheme," or "dynamics" of the landscape. Field surveys continued
in the context of classroom instruction, and followed the positivist
scientific approach. This approach was reinforced through an essential
methodological tool used in geography, i.e., maps, which were
presented as an objective tool reflecting the essence of scientific
truth. It is not surprising, therefore, that the most important
research project during that period, i.e., The Atlas of Israel
(1956), was based at the Department of Geography in Jerusalem.
The Atlas reflected the Geographic Manifesto of its editors, i.e.,
Amiran and the German group.
The Atlas of Israel
As mentioned, about two years after Amiran arrived in Israel,
Picard arranged a research grant for him to prepare maps for the
Atlas of Eretz Israel. Since Amiran enlisted in the British army,
work on the Atlas was suspended, and only resumed in the 1950s,
after the Department of Geography was established. The scientific
editorial board of the Atlas consisted of Amiran and members of
the German group, who believed in imparting geographic knowledge
for the benefit of the state. With funding from the State of Israel
and the Jewish Agency, they were able to publish a handsome atlas.
In this connection, it is possible that such cooperation aimed
to promote national causes ("achievements of the state", "the
heritage of the fathers"). Thus, the Atlas of Israel is indicative
of a symbiosis between the governmental and academic establishments.
Members of the academic establishment contributed scientific methodology
and classic research instruments that were appropriate for the
task, and the governmental establishment provided financial support
for research and publication. In this way, the Atlas of Israel
continued the trend of conveying political and ideological messages
in maps and textbooks that emphasized Zionism (Bar-Gal, 1993,
Apparently, the name of the Atlas and boundaries of its maps reflect
one of the outcomes of internalizing German national heritage
in Israeli geography. In order to examine this hypothesis, it
is necessary to revert to the post-World War I period. Following
the Versailles Treaty (1919), Germany lost territories that had
clearly been within the domain of national consensus, such as
Alsace-Lorraine or Poznan. The ensuing political tension led some
German geographers to become actively involved in efforts to explain
the significance of the new arrangements that were made in Central
Europe. One of the ideas raised during that period was to distinguish
between three types of regional boundaries: natural, historical-cultural,
and political. Among the German geographers and educators, the
idea took precedence and became an inalienable principle of geographic
thought, particularly after the 1921 Geographic Congress in Leipzig
(Fahlbusch et al., 1989; Schultz, 1989; Sander & Rossler, 1994).
During that same period, Abram Jacob Brawer lived in Vienna. He
adopted the idea, and in his book Ha'aretz (1927) he publicly
distinguished between three types of boundaries: Broad historical
boundaries of the Land of Israel ("the boundaries of the 'Divine
Promise'); natural boundaries of the Land of Israel (from the
Mediterranean Sea to the Syrian Desert), and the political boundaries
of Palestine (the British Mandate) determined as a result of historical
circumstances (i.e., the establishment of the Kingdom of Jordan).
This division became a model that was accepted by the Zionist
movement because it strengthened the political claim to a national
home in the territory of "Eretz Israel (the Land of Israel)".
Therefore, when Amiran began preparing the Atlas with the German
group in 1938, he believed it was perfectly natural to produce
the Atlas of Eretz Israel within four natural and historical longitudinal
axes (from West to East: The coast, the mountains, the Jordan
Valley, and the East Bank). It can be assumed that in so doing,
he applied what he had learned from Schrepfer about the national
atlas of Finland (Schrepfer, 1931). That atlas was compiled before
Finland gained political independence, and aimed to facilitate
crystallization of national identity and territorial claims.
Following the establishment of the State in 1948, the political
area controlled by Israel generated tension between the "natural
boundaries," "historical boundaries," and "political boundaries".
Therefore, there was an inherent contradiction in the Atlas of
Israel. The name of the Atlas indicated where it was published.
However, it essentially reflected the perspective of political
Zionism, which was based on Jewish history. The maps in the Atlas
also included some of the area of the Kingdom of Jordan and the
"West Bank," which were part of an independent political entity.
Brawer's trilateral model (i.e., natural, historical, and political
boundaries) seemed to Amiran and the German group to be the sole
geographic truth. They did not see any need to explain the distinction
between the name of the atlas (i.e., "the Atlas of Israel," bearing
the name of the state), and the areas of the maps that it presented
(i.e., "Land of Israel," or the historical region). . In that
way, they strengthened the ideological perspective that the political
boundaries of 1948 are temporary, whereas the natural boundaries
are permanent and objective.
The paper presented the historical developments that led to the
founding of the Department of Geography at the Hebrew University
of Jerusalem in 1949/50, 25 years after the University was established.
During the first years of its existence, the character of the
Department (i.e., the curriculum and research programs) were inspired
by the German environment where the founder, David Amiran, was
born. The scientific ideas that Amiran brought with him from Germany
were consistent with the national crystallization of the Zionist
Movement and the establishment of the State of Israel. Since the
inception of the first Department of Geography at the Hebrew University
of Jerusalem 50 years ago, geography departments have established
at four more universities in Israel with about 100 teachers. Contemporary
geographic research in Israel is more pluralistic, and draws most
of its ideas, concepts, and principles from the American academic
Interpretative research on the development of geography in Israel
during those 50 years will necessarily have to consider the transformation
from the German world to the American world. It can be assumed
that the change in attitudes toward Germany following the Holocaust
expedited the shift of Israeli geography toward the Anglo-Saxon
world during the 1960s. It can be also assumed, however, that
some of the ideas expressed by the founders of the Department
of Geography in Jerusalem, such as the relationship between nationalism,
Zionism, and geography, were expressed in contemporary Israeli
Albert-Ludwigs Universitat, 1929, Ankundigung der Vorlesungen
der Badischen, Albert-Ludwigs Univeritat Freiburg im Breisgau,
Amiran, D.H.K., and Schick, A., 1982 "Isaac Schattner in Memory",
Israel Journal of Science, Vol. 31, pp. 49-52.
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Ministry of Labour, and Bialik Institute, Jerusalem (Hebrew).
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The Case of Israel", Political Geography Quarterly ,Vol.12 , pp.421-437.
Bar-Gal, Y., 1996, "Ideological Propaganda in Maps and Geographical
Education", in J. van der Schee and H. Trimp, Innovation in Geographical
Education, Netherlands Geographical studies, IGU, Commission on
Geographical Education, Hague, pp.67-79.
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