Nation and History

Israeli Historiography between Zionism and Post-Zionism

Gelber, Yoav

During the last 20 years, Israel has reached unprecedented prosperity, yet it is haunted by existential fears for its future, identity, and survival. Israel's legitimacy is under assault from within and without by a coalition of left-wing radicals, Palestinians and their sympathizers, and Muslim fundamentalists. All these groups deny the existence of a Jewish nation and argue that Jews do not need a nation state. Hence, Israel should either disappear completely or become 'a state of all its citizens' devoid of any Jewish symbol or identity. The origins of this campaign are twofold. One derives from the traditional opposition that has accompanied Zionism from its inception. The second is contemporary, articulating the post-ist fads that swamped the West since the 1980s. The past occupies a prominent place in this crusade that aims at the present and future. Traditional historiography, scientific and pseudo-scientific, and the new vogue of memory and narrative, that claims to be the true history of human experience, are equally abused to delegitimize Israel. This book follows these two paths, while avoiding disputes over current political issues. First, it portrays the disciplinary background - the evolution of the modern history discipline. Subsequently, it focuses on the conflicting approaches to the cardinal issue of Zionism's essence: Is it a national liberation movement of European origin that offered a solution to the modern Jewish Question in a world of nationalities? Or is it a colonial movement that oppressed equally Arabs and oriental Jews?

352 pages

Copyright: 2/1/2011