Item description for The Jewish State: The Struggle for Israel's Soul by Yoram Hazony...
Overview A compelling history and a passionate call to defend Israel's mission as the state of the Jewish people. Yoram Hazony graphically portrays the cultural and political revolt against Israel's status as the Jewish state. Examining ideological trends in academia, literature, media, law, and the armed forces, Hazony contends that Israelis are preparing themselves for the final break with the Jewish past and future.
Publishers Description This volume is a history of and a passionate call to defend Israels mission as the state of the Jewish people. In what may be the most controversial book on Zionism and Israel published since the 1980s, Yoram Hazony graphically portrays the cultural and political revolt against Israels status as the Jewish state. Examining ideological trends in academia, literature, media, law, the armed forces, and the foreign policy establishment, Hazony contends that Israelis are preparing themselves for the final break with the Jewish past and the Jewish future. In a dramatic new reading of Israeli history, Hazony uncovers the story of how Martin Buber, Gershom Scholem, Hannah Arendt, and other German-Jewish intellectuals bitterly fought against the establishment of Israel, and later used the Hebrew University as a base for deposing David Ben-Gurion and discrediting Labor Zionism.
Citations And Professional Reviews The Jewish State: The Struggle for Israel's Soul by Yoram Hazony has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Wilson Public Library Catalog - 12/31/2008 page 1180
Wilson Public Library Catalog - 01/01/2004 page 936
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Studio: Basic Books
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.5" Width: 5.5" Height: 1.1" Weight: 1.05 lbs.
Release Date May 4, 2001
Publisher Basic Books
ISBN 0465029027 ISBN13 9780465029020
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More About Yoram Hazony
Yoram Hazony is the founder and former president of the Shalem Center, where he is currently a senior fellow. He is the author of The Dawn: Political Teachings of the Book of Esther (Shalem Press, 1995) and The Jewish State: The Struggle for Israel's Soul (New Republic/Basic Books, 2000), and has written for newspapers and magazines including The New Republic and The New York Times. Hazony received his B.A. from Princeton University and his Ph.D from Rutgers University, and served as a member of the Israeli delegation to the Madrid Peace Conference. He lives in Jerusalem with his wife and children.
Reviews - What do customers think about The Jewish State: The Struggle for Israel's Soul?
A masterfully written book with a powerful message Nov 26, 2007
If you think that modern Israeli books, songs, movies, newspapers, and daily TV represent Jewish values and Israeli interests - don't read this book.
If, on the other hand, you wish to understand why, when, and how the mainstream Israeli cultural and educational establishment degraded to active support of anti-semitic propaganda - this book's for you.
In this encyclopedic in its historical perspective book, Hazony tells us that anti-Zionism, this sickness of Israeli society did not start in Oslo. Zionism and anti-Zionism were born together, half a century ahead of Holocaust.
"If you will it, it is no dream."
And if you will not - it may turn into a dream again.
A masterfully written book with a powerful message.
Yuval Lirov, Practicing Profitability - Billing Network Effect for Revenue Cycle Control in Healthcare Clinics and Chiropractic Offices: Collections, Audit Risk, SOAP Notes, Scheduling, Care Plans, and Coding
EVERY JEW ALIVE TODAY IS A MIRACLE Jul 8, 2007
Check it out on YouTube. I love the message of this 7 minute, 39 second recording. The narrarator quotes Napoleon and Mark Twain as the jews' infinitesimal history is told within this time frame. I can't help but think of Daniel chapter 2 and 7 as Mark Twain writes of how the ancient empires of Egypt, Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome, "made a vast noise" but "faded into dreamstuff". Mark Twain asks, "All things are mortal but the jew...What is the secret of his immortality?"
There is virtually little mention of Islam or muslims in this book which at first seemed a little surprising to me, except that a jewish acquaintance of mine once told me a joke which I think of and chuckle at still. He told me that if you put 2 jewish men in the same room, you will get 3 different opinions! Imagine, if true, what it's like in the Knesset, where there seems to be at least 4 parties and several hundred men and women!
I can't recommend this book enough, especially since I mark myself as an ardent, christian, zionist. I loved Hazony's book about Esther. He writes very clearly and beautifully in English. I highly recommend this!
Zionism began as an idea, in the modern age, amongst mostly russian and european jews in the 1880's. At that time there had been terrible pogroms amongst russian jews and anti-semitic injustices on the european continent as evidenced by the Dreyfus affair in France. Amidst such persecution, the idea of a permanent state for jews was advanced most notably by Theodor Herzl who wrote a book entitled The Jewish State.
This book's content is about the anti-state sentiment prevalent within many Israeli jews and jews elsewhere in the world. The book begins with Hazony telling of his tour of duty within the Israeli army and how enthusiasm for the jewish nation has flagged and lacks the spirit of earlier pioneers like Ariel Sharon, Moshe Dayan, Menachem Begin, Golda Meir, etc. From thence, he begins a retelling, a modern Hagaddah, of the history of zionism and its earliest critics, until the present time. In explaining the generation gap among Israelis, Hazony brings to mind Turgenev's plot in "Father's and Sons". Hazony sees the mostly german or ashkenazi/european professors at jewish universities as having greatly influenced the thinking among Israeli youth. I could readily understand how such thinking could have reached a climax amongst european jews during the decades immediately preceding WWII. Having seen the abuse of power of fascist states, like Italy and Germany in the 1930's, the european jews would without a doubt be extremely wary of any state, jew or otherwise, having any power. They could easily find, I add, biblical evidence to support their claims. Though, I also add, there is biblical evidence to support it. I do love Ahad Ha'am's writing and thinking, mainly that the spiritual state is and should be preeminent over the physical. The reality, however, is, I'm ever more convinced after reading this book, that whether Israel is bi-national or not, there must be a physical, jewish state for the jews to remain alive and breathing on this planet. Although I'm beginning to understand why some jews might be anti-state, given the very recent past and immediate present climate within the international community, it seems to me that these views expressed by jews are very damaging to their own kith and kin and gives ammunition, figuratively and literally, to their murderous foes. Having such a large, critical majority within their own ranks, I find it EXTREMELY UNLIKELY that a totalitarian state could ever emerge from amongst the jews. And if it ever did, there would be a swelling of ranks amongst them of zealots and maccabees. I, frankly, cannot see it (a naziesque state) happening.
Hazony ends his book on a positive note, seeing that even amongst the jews, once the idea for the state is amply fleshed out within the realm of ideas, the support for the jewish state will be amply manifested, and freely embraced. One so often forgets the lessons of one's own life or the life of his or her people. I watched a documentary recommended by an this site friend called, "The Refugees of Silence" about jews in palestine, many of whom had managed to survive the holocaust, who immediately thereafter were herded into refugee camps, having been denied residence in all other countries of the world. The jews there were still powerless to do anything for their own relatives, in their own backyards. Such stories were totally new to me. But, as Hazony reveals in this book, even at times when support for the State of Israel was greatest, as that in May 14, 1948, the critics against it, within their own people, began to loudly voice their views. So, I still believe my jewish friend was right-for every 2 jews, at least 3 opinions! The war for the state amongst them in the realm of ideas continues today too as in my favorite YouTube selection which ends with these thoughts:
"Once you know who you are, where you come from, what meaning the past has for your future, you bring great meaning into your life. And when you do that, you bring great meaning into the world."
Israel's soul & those who want to trade it May 28, 2007
Yoram Hazony knows how to tell a story. He is not the arrogant intellectual who speaks from his ivory tower. He introduces himself so we know his family background and his personal stand of the Jewish question. The introduction is worth the whole book. There he succintly summarizes the book, points to Israel's troubles, gives names, origins and main developments. Puts the main characters on the scene, and we follow them through the years of Israel's modern making. It's the zionists vs the anti-zionists; the intellectuals (who nevertheless benefit from, and are accomplices of the Israel state they so decry) vs the common people who want to live free (specially if that means as a Jew). It's a tale that has become wide spread over the western world: the fight to win the minds and hearts of the people through the influence on the mass media. The tactics are detestably simple, but nonetheless they work, in the name of peace and justice the Israelis (Jewish and non-Jewish) are to give themselves up to their Arab neighbors, short of leaving the country or committing suicide directly. The book is comprehensive in its scope, and I wished it would be a little more succint in some developments that detract from the main story, but it definitely makes its point by not leaving any thread missing. Forceful and convincing.
Martin Buber epitomizes the intellectual anti-zionist from the ivroy tower (the Chomsky of the Israeli state). On the other side stand (or stood) the Founders of modern Israel, standing above all Ben-Gurion. With the Founders, of course, are the people, fewer every year because, bottom line: common-sense is the least common of the senses when challenged by the deafening noise of the professors and their billionaire friends (See Gore & Soros) and the media. It's sad to the point of upsetting to see how Buber and his clique wouldn't even have the refugees from the Holocaust when they were stranded in European camps come to Israel, while the university professors where safe and partying in Tel Aviv.
A last point I want to mention is that the very survival of Israel through all these years is nothing but a miracle, and you don't have to be a theist to see it. Surrounded by enemies within and without, reduced to a tiny territory, a speck in the back of the threatening Arab Empire, Israel lives, and flourishes.
Essential Reading Jan 9, 2005
This book takes you through the evolution of Zionism over the last 100+ years. It is essential reading for anyone wanting to learn about the unending problems of the land of Palestine.
Hazony is an excellent writer. The book begins as a slow, lumbering read, hard to get into, but you must get through the Introduction and first few Chapters. Then the book begins to roll and you will find yourself unable to put it down. The only complaint I have of this book is that mine is the paperback edition and the print font is too small. Spend a few extra dollars and get the hardback if you are over 40 and need reading glasses.
Yoram Hazony writes and expresses so clearly what has been on so many of our minds when we see Israel today. The anti-Jewish influence shows up on Israeli TV, in Israeli schoolbooks, Meretz party, and such anti-Zionist newspapers as Ha'aretz. Hazony tells us who these people are and what their background is.
The book describes in great detail, the workings of Herzl, Ben-Gurion and Buber. The inner workings of modern Israeli government are carefully dissected. I strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in the intellectual struggle that is as important to the State as relations with its Arab neighbors. Hazony's unimpeachable scholarship and his fluid writing style makes it an enjoyable must read.
Monty Rainey www.juntosociety.com
A criticism of "post-Zionism" Dec 9, 2004
This book interprets Zionist history as a sort of political battle between what I'll call the Right and the Left. Let me explain what I mean by Right and Left and then tell you where Hazony is in this spectrum.
People on the Right want to, as a priority, help themselves and their close allies. That's what they know they can be good at. When this plan works, they become more productive and the whole society benefits. But there is a risk (that the Right is willing to take), namely that they'll help themselves so much at the expense of others that society as a whole will not benefit. And from there, it is a short step to harming society enough so that they are brought down with it.
People on the Left want to, as a priority, help all of society. That's what they know they can be fair at. When this plan works, the people they help generally reciprocate, and everyone benefits. But there is a risk (that the Left is willing to take), namely that the rest of society may benefit a little, but only by taking advantage of the Left and its allies. And from there, it is a short step to having thugs, not the rest of society, become the ones who truly take advantage of the Left's support, so society as a whole is harmed.
I'm on the Left and Hazony is on the Right. I'm first and foremost a citizen of the world. He's first and foremost a Jewish Israeli. And in this book, Hazony makes some interesting points about those in Israel who have gone too far off course on the Left. But I was always concerned that Hazony was about to go off course to the Right.
Hazony's targets are those who feel that Zionism is no longer needed (as well as those who feel it was never a good idea). I have no problem with that. Hazony describes the Biltmore Conference in May of 1942 at which the delegates voted overwhelmingly (478 to 4) for a Jewish state. There's no doubt that a Jewish state was needed then (both for Jews and for human society as a whole). And there is no reason to believe that it isn't just as necessary today, if only to protect the Jews of Israel. In addition, why aren't those asking for an end to Zionism asking for an end to French nationalism, German nationalism, and an end to all other nationalities?
Hazony discusses Herzl in detail. And he shows how the British wound up adopting the infamous White Paper in May of 1939 that certainly made a Jewish state a necessity, whether one was established or not.
The author shows how Ben-Gurion really tried very hard to establish a Jewish state. And how some on the Left, especially Buber, went overboard and tried to avoid doing anything that might require the use of force.
However, I think Anita Shapira is right to say that Hazony's Ben-Gurion comes across as monolithic, and that Hazony does not discuss the times when Ben-Gurion emphasized that Zionism is simply part of human rights, and that Israelis were to be free people within the family of nations. Clearly, these types of statements, making Israel a state for everyone, sound much better to me than they do to Hazony. I think Hazony ought to have presented a more nuanced and more accurate picture of Ben-Gurion. He should have told us that Ben-Gurion for many years regarded modern Zionism as unconnected to ancient Jewish history. On the other hand, Hazony is correct that once Israel became a state, Ben-Gurion began to talk more about ancient Israel. And this is actually not a big issue for me: we all know that many Israelis take ancient Jewish history very seriously and many do not.
In my opinion, Hazony exaggerates the importance and extent of antizionism in Israel, both historically and at present. Yes, there are a number of people in Israeli academia who present a revisionist and inaccurate view of history. And that is a serious matter. But most Israelis have no trouble telling the difference between the human rights in Israel and lack of human rights, especially for Jews, in neighboring Arab nations.
I think Hazony is not asking the reader to accept Zionism uncritically. And he's certainly not asking Israelis to be greedy or unjust. Far from it. He's asking all of us to reject antizionist lies. And he's asking Israeli Jews to demand their rights as human beings rather than allow themselves to be pressured into adopting the political positions of their Arab neighbors.
The issue of whether Israel is a Jewish state or not is similar to the issue of whether France is a French state or not. Until we're ready to get the French to abandon their flag and national anthem, I see no reason to ask if the Israelis ought to abandon theirs. And that's why I think this book is worth reading.