May. 30, 2021


Prof. Paula Kabalo (pictured below), Director of BGU's Ben-Gurion Research Institute for the Study of Israel and Zionism has won the 2020 Yonathan Shapiro Best Book in Israel Studies Award.

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The Shapiro Prize is given for the best book in Israel Studies published during the last calendar year. This award honors the memory of Yonathan Shapiro (1929-1997), one of Israel's most distinguished and influential sociologists, by recognizing outstanding scholarship in the history, politics, society, law, economics, state, and culture of Israel and also pre-1948 Jewish community in Palestine.

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The award committee wrote, “Prof. Paula Kabalo's book Israeli Community Action: Living Through the War of Independence (Indiana University Press) is the winner of the Yonathan Shapiro Award for Best Book in Israel Studies: “Kabalo's work provides an original and innovative examination of the 1948 War of Independence, a central and major topic of inquiry in Israel Studies. Unlike conventional works that focus on the international, political and military aspects of the War, Kabalo attempts to understand how the efficacy of citizens' organizations helped Israeli society deal with the traumas, dislocations and challenges of the War. Based on careful and critical reading of new archival sources, Kabalo paints a picture of this formative moment in Israel history that will be read with interest not only by historians but also by scholars in other cognate disciplines."

Prof. Paula Kabalo is currently the director of the Ben-Gurion Research Institute for the Study of Israel and Zionism at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Between 2011–2017, she was the founding chair of the Woodman-Scheller Israel Studies International MA program. Since 2017, she has also been the founding head of the Azrieli Center for Israel Studies at BGRI, a complex of research hubs that aim to decode core themes related to the Israel phenomenon and the Zionist Idea. Prof. Kabalo was historical consultant for the Ben-Gurion: Epilogue documentary and is a member of the steering committee of the Ben-Gurion Archives exhibition hall, under construction.

Her research focuses on the history of citizen associations and civil society in Israel and David Ben-Gurion's relations with various strata of society in Israel and the Jewish world. Prof. Kabalo mapped, reviewed, and illuminated the role of common people in central historical junctions. Her book Shurat Ha'Mitnadvim – The Story of a Civic Association (Am Oved and Tel Aviv University, 2007) is a case study for understanding the evolution of Israel's democracy.

Her most recent book, Israeli Community Action: Living Through the War of Independence (Indiana University Press, 2020), portrays patterns of community resilience and self-help organizations during Israel's War of Independence.  In addition, she has published dozens of articles on the patterns and roles of civic associations in Israel's early history (pre- and post-1948), the history of Israel's youth, state–citizen relations in Israel, and David Ben-Gurion's leadership through the prism of leader–follower theories (LMX and others).

Currently, she is researching community organizations and local leadership in Israeli urban neighborhoods in an ISF grant project that focuses on neighborhood committees.