The research project breaks with the frequently adopted perspective of whence and whither, or the analysis of push and pull factors, instead placing the migration processes of Jewish immigration to Palestine at the center of the investigation. Thus, questions about the actors and the structures that determined the migration take precedence. In addition, the periodization from 1920 to 1938 sets a focus beyond previous research emphases, which primarily considered the years 1880 to 1914 or 1933 to 1945. The interwar period, which has been largely neglected to date, thus constitutes the chronological core of the study and uncovers Jewish migration history to Palestine in this “intermediate phase.” By focusing on the ship as a translocal place and a transnational space all its own, the study also challenges national historiographies and looks closely at the European dimension.
Through this research approach, the protagonists or shapers of “ship” as a space move to the center of attention, i.e., the European shipping companies and the Zionist organizations. In particular, the study elaborates on their motives, strategies, and scope for action in the context of the Jewish migration movement to Palestine. Elements taken into account include the development of the European shipping companies, their economic and socio-political interests in shipping to Palestine, but also the concepts and efforts of the Zionist organizations to conquer the sea and the “ship” as a space – entirely along the lines of a national regeneration – as well as the real experiences of the emigrants and travelers on board.
In this way, the project picks up on previous research, expanding it under specific aspects and at the same time setting new accents in Jewish migration research. Notably, the focus on the ship aims at making it possible to elaborate on the transnational characteristics of the Jewish migration movement, to contour the decisive protagonists of the migration processes in terms of personnel and organization, and to uncover a central part of Jewish and European history.