State and Counterstate
The Question of Zion
by Jacqueline Rose
Princeton University Press, 208 pp., $19.95
The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere
edited by Eduardo Mendieta and Jonathan VanAntwerpen Columbia University Press, 137 pp., $19.95
Between Jew and Arab: The Lost Voice of Simon Rawidowicz
by David N. Myers
Brandeis University Press, 320 pp., $27.95
Zionism and the Roads Not Taken: Rawidowicz, Kaplan, Kohn
by Noam Pianko
Indiana University Press, 292 pp., $25.95
A little more than a decade ago, Yoram Hazony caused something of a stir with the publication of The Jewish State: The Struggle for Israel's Soul. Hazony, founder of the Jerusalem-based Shalem Center, denounced the post-Zionists in the Israeli academic world for conducting a "systematic struggle . . . against the idea of the Jewish state, its historic narrative, institution, and symbols." He also controversially traced this trend back to Martin Buber and a number of other Central European-born Jewish intellectuals associated with the Hebrew University and Brit Shalom who advocated for a binational Arab-Jewish state from the 1920s through the 1940s. Hazony neither portrayed these people very accurately nor proved that they had the influence that he attributed to them. But whatever its failings as intellectual history, his book seems to have had an influence on at least some post-Zionists. In the years since Hazony's book was published, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of people celebrating Buber and similar figures for their prescient criticisms of political Zionism, and their dreams of something better.
The latest professorial antagonists of Zionism do not, to be sure, give full credit where Hazony thought blame was due, but they often see Buber and the others as being in some sense forerunners of their own line of thinking. In The Question of Zion, for instance, the British scholar Jacqueline Rose prefaces a brief treatment of some contemporary Israeli adherents of the binational idea with an expansive and sympathetic account of Martin Buber, Hannah Arendt, Hans Kohn, and Ahad Ha'am as the proponents of a Zionism that "had the chance of molding a nation that would be not an ‘expanded ego' but something else." Rose maintains that their associates in the Zionist movement had the opportunity to adopt this model and laments the fact that they "did not take it."
Why not, she does not immediately explain, thus leaving the impression that the fault lay entirely with the deluded and power-hungry political Zionists she devotes most of her book to psychoanalyzing. Rose makes no mention in this context of the complete lack of interest on the part of the Palestinian Arabs in anything that her heroes had to offer. Only once, toward the very end of the book, does she briefly note that the Arabs too played a part in rendering binational coexistence impossible.