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'A Dutch Lawrence of Arabia?'

Jacob Israël de Haan - A man of contradictions and controversies

Summer exhibition Synagogue Groningen - 6 June - 13 October 2024


Jacob Israël de Haan, a man with many faces and even more stories. The son of a Jewish cantor in the small village of Smilde became a journalist, poet, writer, teacher and lawyer! He was the author of Pijpelijntjes, the first Dutch autobiographical homosexual novel. Although De Haan lived to be only 42, he made a lasting impression. In 1919, he left for Palestine, where he was murdered on June 30th 1924 - exactly 100 years ago this year - for his sharp criticism of political Zionism. This exhibition pays attention to the man considered by some to be 'a Dutch Lawrence of Arabia'.


This exhibition brings to life a vanished and forgotten world. You will experience the surprising, turbulent and multifaceted Mandate Palestine through the eyes of Jacob Israël de Haan and the camera of his contemporary Frank Scholten. De Haan's life story is told from an artistic, historical and political perspective. Discover why De Haan was and still is significant to many people. Is he a Dutch Lawrence of Arabia? You, the visitor, are invited to gain your own insights about Jacob Israël de Haan and share them with us. The exhibition will be on view from 6 June to 13 October.


Cultural Programme

21 & 23 juni - Eer de Haan

Synagoge Groningen is organising several special activities concerning this exhibition. On 21. June and 23. June, Synagoge Groningen hosts the performance 'Eer de Haan'. 'Eer De Haan' is a musical theatre performance about the life but especially the work of Jacob Israël de Haan. One hour of feasting on the adventures, dreams, ambitions, talents and remorse of an extremely important Dutchman.

26 juni - 20.00 uur - Jacob Israel de Haan and the first gay activists

This evening, Mattias Duyves and Maurice van Lieshout will provide a duo lecture. Duyves will talk about Jacob Israël de Haan as Holland's first militant gay activist who went through a complete metamorphosis in his prose and poetry between 1904 and 1924. Van Lieshout talks about other gay activists during De Haan's lifetime in the 1911 Dutch Scientific Humanitarian Committee, including Arnold Aletrino. Gentlemen who had a lot to do with each other...

And more...

During the exhibition period, themed tours will be offered. In September/October, lectures will be offered on Frank Scholten and other Dutch travellers in the 'Holy Land', contemporaries of Jacob Israël de Haan.


This exhibition is a collaboration between the Synagogue Groningen and the Department of Middle East Studies at the University of Groningen. Without the RUG's Public Engagement Seed Project, this would not have been possible. The Netherlands Institute for the Near East (NINO) made Frank Scholten's extensive collection of photographs available.

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