David Cesarani OBE (born 13 November 1956) is an English historian who specialises in Jewish history, especially the Holocaust. He has also written several biographies, notably Arthur Koestler: The Homeless Mind.
His academic career includes periods at the University of Leeds, where he was Montague Burton Fellow in Modern Jewish History; at Queen Mary, University of London; the University of Southampton; and, most recently, as Research Professor of Jewish History at Royal Holloway, University of London. Between working at Southampton and Royal Holloway he was Director of Studies at the Wiener Library, Britain's largest Holocaust library.
Recent work and politics on Holocaust
Cesarani is a member of the Home Office Holocaust Memorial Day Strategic Group and has been Director of the AHRC Parkes Centre, part of the Parkes Institute for the Study of Jewish/non-Jewish Relations. He is co-editor of the journal Patterns of Prejudice and the Parkes-Wiener Series of books on Jewish Studies (published by Vallentine-Mitchell).
Cesarani has campaigned against David Irving, the prominent Holocaust denier and controversial writer on Nazi Germany, alongside fellow academic Peter Longerich. At times, his campaigning has itself caused controversy, most notably the occasion he allegedly suggested that the Irving case revealed free speech was something that should be strictly controlled. Journalist David Guttenplan commented Cesarani's remarks were "more dangerous than anything David Irving has ever said or written."
In February 2005, Cesarani was awarded an OBE for "services to Holocaust Education and advising the government with regard to the establishment of Holocaust Memorial Day". Cesarani was strongly critical of Hannah Arendt in his Eichmann biography, but one reviewer argued that his "slur reveals a writer in control neither of his material nor of himself."
Views on the Israeli–Arab conflict
He sees the controversy over the Israeli West Bank barrier as being unimportant, and that it is used as a photo opportunity for the world media. He says about the wall that "it's a concern if land is misappropriated from the Palestinians, or if Palestinian lives become intolerable, but its true significance is in the total disintegration of trust between Jews and Palestinians", though he also believes some reactions to the barrier have been under-reported, for example that "some Arab towns, especially in southern Galilee, have welcomed the wall as a means of preventing Palestinians entering Israeli towns and adding to the unemployment and instability."
Of his experience while working in a kibbutz, he said: "We were always told that the pile of rubble at the top of the hill was a Crusader castle. It was only much later that I discovered it was an Arab village that had been ruined in the Six-Day war."
- Justice Delayed: How Britain Became a Refuge for Nazi War Criminals (1992)
- The Jewish Chronicle and Anglo-Jewry 1841-1991 (1994)
- Arthur Koestler: The Homeless Mind. (1998)
- Eichmann: His Life and Crimes, which was published in the USA under the title: Becoming Eichmann: Rethinking the Life, Crimes, and Trial of a "Desk Murderer" (2006)
- Major Farran's Hat: The Untold Story of the Struggle to Establish the Jewish State (2009)
- The Making of Modern Anglo-Jewry (1990)
- The Final Solution: Origins and Implementation (1994)
- Genocide and Rescue: The Holocaust in Hungary, 1944 (1997)
- Port Jews: Jewish Communities in Cosmopolitan Maritime Trading Centuries, 1550-1950 (2002)
- "Bystanders" to the Holocaust: A Re-evaluation (2002)
- Citizenship, Nationality and Migration in Europe (with Mary Fulbrook 2003, first ed. 1996)
- Holocaust. Critical Concepts in Historical Studies. 6 vols. (2004)
- Guttenplan, David (2002). The Holocaust on Trial: History, Justice and the David Irving Libel Case (2nd Edition). London: Granta. p. 298. ISBN 1-86207-486-0.
- "Professor David Cesarani". United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
- Gewen, Barry (14 May 2006). "The Everyman of Genocide". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
- Crace, John (12 October 2004). "David Cesarani: The making of a defiant moderate". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 April 2011.
- Review of Cesarani's biography of Adolf Eichmann
- Page on Professor David Cesarani at the RHUL History Department website