The Hebrew Falcon

Adya Horon and the Birth of the Canaanite Idea

By Roman Vater

Subjects: Intellectual History, Israel Studies, Jewish Studies, History
Hardcover : 9781438497662, 395 pages, May 2024

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents

Note on Transliteration and Terminology


1. Adya Horon's Life

2. From Nation to Denomination: Adya Horon's Historiography

3. From Denomination to Nation: Adya Horon's Politics

4. The Hebrew Foundational Myth in a Comparative Perspective

Conclusion What Counts as a Failure?

Appendix A
Appendix B
Appendix C
Appendix D

A pioneering study of a formative chapter in Middle East intellectual history, examining the historical myth that underlies the "Canaanite" brand of Israeli nationalist anti-Zionism.


Adya Gur Horon (1907–1972) was a provocative public intellectual and historical and geopolitical thinker who called for the overthrow of the Israeli non-democratic state-order in favor of an "imperial" Hebrew national vision based on the domination of the whole Levant. Drawing on Horon's private archive, Roman Vater studies the intellectual sources of the mid-twentieth century Hebrew national ideology, known as "Canaanism," contending this vision can only be properly understood in light of Horon's articulation of its historical "foundation myth." The intellectual and political rivalry between Jewish ethnic nationalism and Hebrew civic nationalism, represented by the "Canaanite" challenge to Zionism, continues to inform current debates about Israel’s identity and its relation to world Jewry on the one hand and the Arab world on the other—and largely determines Israel's global political alliances to this day. The Hebrew Falcon is indispensable reading for scholars and students of nationalism, Israel, Zionism, and the intellectual and political history of the modern Middle East.

Roman Vater is a by-fellow of Hughes Hall, University of Cambridge. He holds a PhD in Middle Eastern history from the University of Manchester and has taught Israeli and Middle Eastern history and culture at the universities of Manchester, Oxford and Cambridge.


"This is the best book I've read about Canaanism and its political implications for the state of Israel and the Middle East. Integrating history, archeology, politics, and political science, Vater makes Horon's often complicated ideas easy to understand without losing their nuance.”—Avi Shilon, Taub Center for Israel Studies, NYU and Tel Hai College, Israel

"The Hebrew Falcon is well-researched, well-written, clear, and accessible. Vater has created a valuable contribution to Israeli and Jewish studies and the study of nationalism." — Colin Shindler, Emeritus Professor, SOAS University of London

"This is the first full-length study of Adya Horon, who offered an interpretation of the Hebrew past that stood in contradiction to the Zionist narrative and Jewish historiography. Drawing on both primary archival sources and on secondary literature, and written in a legible, fluent, and clear style, this compelling study will surely attract a prospective readership that extends beyond those interested in Jewish and Zionist history." — David Ohana, author of The Origins of Israeli Mythology: Neither Canaanites nor Crusaders