New Book: Baron, Obligation in Exile

Baron, Ilan Zvi. Obligation in Exile: The Jewish Diaspora, Israel and Critique. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press 2015.



Combining political theory and sociological interviews spanning four countries, Israel, the USA, Canada and the UK, Ilan Zvi Baron explores the Jewish Diaspora/Israel relationship and suggests that instead of looking at Diaspora Jews’ relationship with Israel as a matter of loyalty, it is one of obligation.

Baron develops an outline for a theory of transnational political obligation and, in the process, provides an alternative way to understand and explore the Diaspora/Israel relationship than one mired in partisan debates about whether or not being a good Jew means supporting Israel. He concludes by arguing that critique of Israel is not just about Israeli policy, but about what it means to be a Diaspora Jew.


Table of Contents


  • Introduction
  • 1. the Limits of Political Obligation
  • 2. Power and Obligation
  • 3.Between Zion and Diaspora: Internationalisms, Transnationalisms, Obligation and Security
  • 4. From Eating Hummus to the Sublime
  • 5. Obligation and Critique
  • Conclusion: Obligation in Exile, Critique and the Future of the Jewish Diaspora




New Article: Shavit, Zionism as told by Rashid Rida

Shavit, Uriya. “Zionism as told by Rashid Rida.” Journal of Israeli History (early view, online first).





Muhammad Rashid Rida, the editor of al-Manar and one of the preeminent Muslim thinkers of the twentieth century, published between 1898 and 1935 dozens of reports, analyses, and Quran exegesis on Jews, Zionism, and the Palestine question. His scholarship greatly influenced the Muslim Brothers and still reverberates in the Arab political discourse today. Based on the first systematic reading and contextualization of al-Manar‘s pertinent texts, this article examines and explains the radical shifts in Rida’s views: from describing Zionism as a humanitarian enterprise of a virtuous nation to depicting it as a plan for ethnic cleansing; from expressing doubts about the ability of the Arabs to prevail against the Jews to proclaiming certainty that they would; and from condemning French anti-Semitism to embracing hateful theories about Jewish conspiracies and vices.

Reviews: Rosenkranz, Einstein Before Israel

Rosenkranz, Ze’ev. Einstein Before Israel: Zionist Icon or Iconoclast? Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011.


Cite: Afsai, Historical Fabrication and an Anti-Zionist Myth

Afsai, Shai. “‘The bride is beautiful, but she is married to another man’: Historical Fabrication and an Anti-Zionist Myth.” Shofar 30.3 (2012): 35-61.





According to a frequently repeated story, during the early years of the Zionist movement a number of European Jews were sent to Palestine to investigate its suitability as a location for a Jewish state. They reported back, the story concludes, that "the bride is beautiful, but she is married to another man"—Palestine is an excellent land, but it belongs to others. While its details vary with the telling, the story’s central point is often the same: already in the early years of the Zionist movement, Jews recognized that it would be unjust and immoral for them to try to claim Palestine; despite this awareness, the Zionists proceeded with their plans for Jewish statehood there; from the outset, therefore, the establishment of the state of Israel was an act of severe and willful injustice.

Reviews: Yakira, Post-Zionism, Post-Holocaust

Yakira, Elhanan. Post-Zionism, Post-Holocaust. Three Essays on Denial, Forgetting, and the Delegitimation of Israel. Trans. M. Swirsky. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Yakira cover




Rodman, David. “Review.” Israel Affairs 17.4 (2011): 655-656

New Publication: Einstein Before Israel

Einstein Before Israel: Zionist Icon or Iconoclast?

by Ze’ev Rosenkranz.

Princeton University Press

Cloth | 2011 | $35.00 / £24.95 |  364 pp. | 6 x 9 | 24 halftones.




Albert Einstein was initially skeptical and even disdainful of the Zionist movement, yet he affiliated himself with this controversial political ideology and today is widely seen as an outspoken advocate for a modern Jewish homeland in Palestine. What enticed this renowned scientist and humanitarian, who repeatedly condemned nationalism of all forms, to radically change his views? Was he in fact a Zionist? Einstein Before Israel traces Einstein’s involvement with Zionism from his initial contacts with the movement at the end of World War I to his emigration from Germany in 1933 in the wake of Hitler’s rise to power. Drawing on a wealth of rare archival evidence–much of it never before published–this book offers the most nuanced picture yet of Einstein’s complex and sometimes stormy relationship with Jewish nationalism.

Ze’ev Rosenkranz sheds new light on Einstein’s encounters with prominent Zionist leaders, and reveals exactly what Einstein did and didn’t like about Zionist beliefs, objectives, and methods. He looks at the personal, cultural, and political factors that led Einstein to support certain goals of Jewish nationalism; his role in the birth of the Hebrew University; his impressions of the emerging Jewish settlements in Palestine; and his reaction to mounting violence in the Arab-Jewish conflict. Rosenkranz explores a host of fascinating questions, such as whether Zionists sought to silence Einstein’s criticism of their movement, whether Einstein was the real manipulator, and whether this Zionist icon was indeed a committed believer in Zionism or an iconoclast beholden to no one.

Ze’ev Rosenkranz is senior editor at the Einstein Papers Project at the California Institute of Technology and a former curator of the Albert Einstein Archives at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His books include The Einstein Scrapbook.



Reviews: Nicosia, Zionism and Anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany

Francis R. Nicosia. Zionism and Anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

24841198.jpg image by montages



New Publication: Pianko, Zionism and the Roads Not Taken

Pianko, Noam. Zionism and the Roads Not Taken. Rawidowicz, Kaplan, Kohn. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2010.






Keywords: Zionism, Philosophy, Simon Rawidowicz, Mordecai Kaplan, Hans Kohn, Zionism: Criticism, Political Theory

Cite: Spanos, Edward W. Said and Zionism


Spanos, William V. "Edward W. Said and Zionism: Rethinking the Exodus Story." Boundary 2 37,1 (2010): 127-166.



In The Question of Palestine and elsewhere, Edward Said locates the "justificatory regime" that Zionism has developed to interpose between its Palestinian victims and itself in the discourse of nineteenth-century British imperialism, by which he means the representation of the land occupied by empire as "terra nullius." This essay retrieves Said’s "Canaanite" reading of Michael Waltzer’s Exodus and Revolution, in which the latter invokes, above all, the English Puritan revolution to demonstrate the emancipatory politics of the Old Testament story and reconstellates it into the American context, in which, according to Sacvan Bercovitch in The American Jeremiad, the Puritan founders’ figural reenactment of the Exodus story is, in fact, one of conquest and occupation rather than emancipation. Such a retrieval and reconstellation will show that Said’s genealogy of the Zionist justificatory regime undergoes a significant modification when, in the 1950s, the United States takes over the sponsorship of the Israeli state from the Old World empires. It will show, specifically, the imperial ideology of the Old World that was the original model of the Zionist justificatory regime vis-à-vis Palestine was displaced by the far more politically "effective" exceptionalist jeremiadic ideology of the "pioneering" New World.




Keywords: Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Zionism: Criticism, Edward Said, Michael Walzer, אדוארד סעיד, מיכאל וולצר

New Publication: Yakira, Post-Zionism, Post-Holocaust

Yakira, Elhanan. Post-Zionism, Post-Holocaust. Three Essays on Denial, Forgetting, and the Delegitimation of Israel. Trans. M. Swirsky. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Yakira cover

This book contains three independent essays, available in English for the first time, as well as a post-scriptum written for the English edition. The common theme of the three essays is the uses and abuses of the Holocaust as an ideological arm in the anti-Zionist campaigns. The first essay examines the French group of left-wing Holocaust deniers. The second essay deals with a number of Israeli academics and intellectuals, the so-called post-Zionists, and tries to follow their use of the Holocaust in their different attempts to demonize and delegitimize Israel. The third deals with Hannah Arendt and her relations with Zionism and the State of Israel as reflected in her general work and in Eichmann in Jerusalem; the views that she formulates are used systematically and extensively by anti- and post-Zionists. Elhanan Yakira argues that each of these is a particular expression of an outrage: anti-Zionism and a wholesale delegitimation of Israel.


Keywords: Zionism: Criticism, Post-Zionism, Holocaust, Holocaust: Denial, Holocaust: Eichmann Trial, Antisemitism, אלחנן יקירה

Cite: Arkush, From Diaspora Nationalism to Radical Diasporism


Arkush, Allan. "From Diaspora Nationalism to Radical Diasporism." Modern Judaism 29,3 (2009): 326-350.




Keywords: Jewish diaspora; Jewish nationalism; Judaism and politics; Israel: World Jewry relations; Zionism: Criticis; Identity; Ideology