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Assessing Zionism and the State of Israel as a Dramatic Break with the Jewish Religious Tradition

Allan C. Brownfeld
Fall 2016

By Yakov M. Rabkin,  
Pluto Press, 240 Pages, $27.00  
In recent days many respected Jewish academics, authors and religious  
leaders have expressed their dismay with Zionism and the State of Israel,  
which they once embraced.  
Writing in Haaretz (Aug. 1, 2016), Professor Hasia Diner, director of New  
York University’s Center for American Jewish History, notes that she stopped  
being a Zionist in 2010. She criticizes Israel’s occupation of the West Bank  
and declares that, “The Law of Return can no longer look to me as anything  
other than racism,” referring to the Israeli law that bestows automatic  
citizenship on immigrants with at least one Jewish grandparent.  
In the article, written with Babson College history professor Marjorie Feld,  
Diner argues that their renouncing of Zionism signals a broader trend in the  
American Jewish community. More and more Jews, in their view, reject the  
idea of Israel as a “Jewish homeland.” They declare: “Though we certainly do  
not claim to speak for all American Jews, as scholars we know we are part of  
something much larger, something that … should be shaking the foundation of  
American Jewish leaders. There is a growing gap between these leaders and  
the people for whom they claim to speak.”  
Rabbi David Gordis, a former executive of the American Jewish Committee and  
former president of Hebrew College and Vice President of the Jewish  
Theological Seminary, wrote in Tikkun (Feb. 23, 2016) that Israel is “a  
failure,” and the Zionist dream has “curdled into Jewish selfishness.” He  
states that, “After a life and career devoted to the Jewish community and to  
Israel, I conclude that in every important way, Israel has failed to realize  
its promise for me … Present day Israel has discarded the rational, the  
universal, the visionary. These values have been subordinated to cruel and  
oppressive occupation, an emphatic materialism … and distorted by a fanatic  
obscurantism and fundamentalist religion which encourages the worst behavior  
rather than the best.”  
Zionism Is a Break with Judaism  
Voices such as these are growing in number. Yakov Rabkin, professor of  
history at the University of Montreal, in his thoughtful new book, shows us  
that Zionism was conceived as a clear break with Judaism and the Jewish  
religious tradition and has historically been opposed by the majority of  
Jews, Orthodox, Conservative and Reform. He shows that it must be seen in  
the context of European ethnic nationalism, colonial expansion and  
geopolitical interests, rather than as an incarnation of Biblical,  
prophecies or a culmination of Jewish history. He also points to the  
Protestant roots of Zionism, explaining the particular support for Israel  
among evangelicals in the United States, the United Kingdom and other  
Western countries.  
“Political Zionism,” Rabkin writes, “is part and parcel of the history of  
late 19th-century ethnic nationalism. The nationalism that led to the  
creation of Israel is essentially and profoundly European, drawn up by  
Europeans to solve the ‘Jewish question,’ itself strictly European in nature  
… The collapse of multinational empires in the wake of the First World War  
released powerful nationalist feelings … The United Kingdom, which not only  
kept its empire, but also sought to extend it to the Middle East, expressed  
in 1917 by way of the Balfour Declaration its support for the idea of a  
‘Jewish national home in Palestine.’ In this sense, Zionism is an integral  
part of the European colonial history. Colonialism at the time had no  
negative connotation; the principal financial arm of the Zionist movement  
was then officially known as the Jewish colonial trust.”  
The religious idea of a Jewish return to Palestine had nothing to do with  
the political enterprise of Zionism. “Jewish tradition,” writes Rabkin,  
“holds that the idea of return must be part of a messianic project rather  
than the human initiative of migration to the Holy Land. It then becomes  
much easier to understand why the Zionist enterprise, reflecting as it did  
Christian motifs, was rejected by the overwhelming majority of Jews at the  
turn of the 20th century. There was little room for Jewish tradition in the  
Zionist scheme, which not only originated among Protestants but was also  
sustained by individuals of Jewish origin who were atheists or agnostics.”  
Idea of “Jewish nationality” Has No Basis  
Considering Israel’s place in Jewish tradition, Rabkin shows that the  
Zionist notion of “Jewish nationality,” has no legitimate basis. Jehiel  
Jacob Weisberg, a rabbinical authority who developed a creative synthesis of  
Lithuanian Judaism and German Orthodoxy, pointed out that, “Jewish  
nationality is different from that of all nations in the sense that it is  
uniquely spiritual, and that its spirituality is nothing but the Torah … In  
this respect we are different from all other nations, and whoever does not  
recognize it, denies the fundamental principle of Judaism.”  
It is not the physical geography of the Biblical land of Israel which is  
essential for Jews, Rabkin writes, but “the obligation to follow the  
commandments of the Torah that have traditionally been the hallmark of the  
Jews and that makes them a ‘chosen people,’ a concept that implies moral and  
ritual responsibilities rather than intrinsic superiority … According to the  
Pentateuch, the Jews … did not originate in the land of Israel. As a group,  
they emerged in Egypt, having been consecrated as a distinct people near  
Mount Sinai only by their acceptance of the Torah. Spiritual purification,  
essential for entry into the Promised Land, took place — obviously — outside  
the land, during 40 years of wandering in the desert … the Holy Land cannot  
sanctify the Jews, but their transgressions can profane the land, which in  
turn will ‘spew’ them out (Leviticus 18:28).”  
To the question of whether Jews constitute “a people,” Yeshayahu Leibowitz,  
the Orthodox Jewish thinker and Hebrew University professor, provides this  
assessment: “The historical Jewish people was defined neither as a race, nor  
a people of this country or that, nor as a people that speaks the same  
language, but as the people of Torah Judaism and its commandments … The  
words spoken by … Rabbi Saadia Gaon (882-942) more than a thousand years  
ago: ‘Our nation exists only within the Torah’ have not only a normative,  
but also an empirical meaning. They testified to a historical reality whose  
power could be felt up until the 19th century. It was then that the  
fracture, which has not ceased to widen with time, first occurred: the  
fissure between Jewishness and Judaism.”  
Jewish Nationalism Is “Invented”  
Rather than representing Judaism and Jewish tradition, notes Rabkin, “… a  
mere handful of assimilated Jews in Central Europe invented Jewish  
nationalism in the second half of the 19th century. Frustrated, despite  
their best efforts as individuals to assimilate, these Jews did not feel  
entirely accepted by their non-Jewish environment. As a remedy to their  
frustration they sought collective assimilation: to become a nation like all  
other nations … Their movement, which took the name of Zionism, touched off  
a profound sense of rejection among the majority of Jews.”  
Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, leader of modern Orthodoxy in Germany,  
encouraged Jews to integrate into the surrounding society. In Hirsch’s view,  
Jewish nationalism could only be a transcendent idea, contingent neither on  
possession of land, nor upon political sovereignty. “The Torah does not  
exist for the state but the state for the Torah,” he declared. In the midst  
of Europe, rife with many varieties of nationalism, Hirsch was restating the  
classic concept that the Torah, and only the Torah, makes the Jews a  
collective entity.  
Growing anti-Semitism at the end of the 19th century, writes Rabkin, “was to  
act as a catalyst … to rally a handful of Central European intellectuals to  
the Protestant notion of the physical ingathering of exiled Jews in the Holy  
Land. In such a form, Jewish nationalism proved to be conceptually  
compatible with anti-Semitic principle, for it also postulates the  
impossibility for a Jew to become a full member of European society, History  
has shown that the attractiveness of Zionism increases with the intensity of  
Bringing About the Return of Jesus  
The Jews, Rabkin shows, came to Zionism long after the Christians. The  
translation of the Bible into vernacular languages during the Reformation,  
and particularly into English, encouraged the belief that the concentration  
of the Jews in the Holy Land should be considered an event of supreme  
importance for Christianity. Such an occurrence would bring about the return  
of Jesus to earth, precipitating the Apocalypse and the ultimate triumph of  
Christianity, which would be signaled by the mass conversion of the Jews. It  
was a notion first promoted in England. The Puritans spread these ideas in  
North America. In the 18th century, Joseph Priestley, a prominent scientist  
and philosopher, attempted to convince British rabbi David Levi to organize  
a transfer of Jews to Palestine. The rabbi rejected the idea of reinstating  
the Jews in the Holy Land by material means and affirmed that the Jews must  
accomplish their mission in their countries of residence.  
In the 19th century, an Anglican priest, John Nelson Darby, launched the  
Christian proto-Zionist movement in Plymouth, where he formulated a doctrine  
that he termed “dispensationalism.” Drawing on a literal reading of three  
biblical verses, he affirmed that the Second Coming of Christ was possible  
only if the land of Israel belonged exclusively to the Jews. This doctrine  
was favorably received by many in the U.S. where, in 1908, the Scofield  
Reference Study Bible was published.  
Drawing on these ideas, the modern-day authors Tim LaHay and Jerry Jenkins  
wrote the Left Behind series, of which more than 100 million copies were  
printed and which were adapted for the screen. In this series, writes  
Rabkin, “… the State of Israel is clearly presented as the incarnation of  
Darby’s vision. Christian Zionism, which today has become a significant  
force, can thus be seen as part of a several centuries’ long continuum … The  
Balfour Declaration … issued in 1917 … reflected the already well-  
established tradition of using Christian beliefs to advance the imperial  
designs of the European powers.”  
Herzl’s Program of “Protestant Inspiration”  
Well before the Balfour Declaration, William Hechler, a Protestant  
visionary, befriended Zionist leader Theodor Herzl and encouraged him to  
gather the Jews in the Promised Land. “Hechler,” notes Rabkin, “thus became  
the ‘prophet’ who inspired Herzl, the ‘Prince,’ in his project for the  
salvation of the Jews. As the former vice mayor of Jerusalem Andre  
Chourtaqui has noted, Herzl’s program seems to be primarily of Protestant  
The Zionist activists who emerged in Eastern Europe never experienced the  
tolerant variety of nationalism that makes a clear distinction between  
nation, religion, society and the state, the kind of nationalism found in  
countries such as Canada, Australia, the U.S. and other Western societies.  
They both rejected Jewish religious tradition and the idea of a tolerant,  
and diverse society. Unlike the Russian Zionists, who largely rejected  
Judaism as a religion, Theodor Herzl’s “relationship with Judaism was a more  
pragmatic and functional one,” notes Rabkin. “So remote from the tradition  
as to refuse to have his son circumcised, he nonetheless recognized that it  
could serve to attract those Jews ‘still sunk in the old ways,’ precisely  
those who, in spite of their mistrust of the new ideology, were deemed more  
susceptible to Zionist overtures. On the political level, Herzl conceived  
Judaism as a useful tool for state building, very much along the lines of  
clericalism in Christian lands.”  
Herzl’s natural allies in promoting Zionism were ant-Semites who shared his  
goal of removing Jews from Europe. Rabkin provides this assessment: “The  
nationalist conceptualization of the Jews and of their history can be traced  
both to Zionism and to the racial anti-Semitism from which the Jews suffered  
in the 20th century. Herzl counted upon the assistance of the anti-Semites  
to bring the Zionist project to fruition. It must be remembered that both  
Zionism and anti-Semitism originated in Europe, the home of colonialism and  
racial discrimination. The dominant current in the Zionist movement  
continued to take inspiration from European nationalism by encouraging  
settler colonialism that excluded and ultimately dispossessed the local  
population. Zionism succeeded in setting up a state just as the nations of  
Europe were recoiling from ethnic nationalism in the wake of the atrocities  
of the Second World War. Moreover, the Zionists intended to establish  
sovereignty over a territory in which they constituted an immigrant minority  
made up of disparate ethnic groups. For these reasons Zionism can best be  
described as a belated ‘illegitimate son of ethnic nationalism.’”  
Zionism Represented Nothing in Jewish Tradition  
In Rabkin’s view, Zionism represented nothing found in Jewish religious  
tradition but was, instead, an example of Western ethnic nationalism and  
colonial enterprise: “… the Zionist movement sought to colonize with  
Europeans a territory in Western Asia inhabited by a variety of ethnic and  
confessional groups. The first Jewish immigrants, at the end of the 19th  
century, settled on the land in a random manner, employing Arab workers on  
their farms. Unlike them, those who migrated to Palestine in the early 20th  
century practiced a concentrated form of colonization: they set up  
exclusively Jewish settlements, which entailed the displacement of local  
populations. The accent placed on the establishment of ethnically  
homogeneous settlements could not but have created resistance … The Zionist  
movement adopted a policy of separate development that remains in force up  
to the present … A lasting resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict would  
necessarily involve a form of decolonization. Since the Zionist colonialists  
have no country to which they could return … decolonization might follow the  
South African model. There, the leadership of the African National Congress  
recognized the legitimacy of the presence of white colonists in their  
country …”  
When Israel proclaims itself a “democracy,” and is defended as such by its  
American supporters, this is only part of the story. “Israeli society is  
democratic,” notes Rabkin, “but, faithful to its founding principles, in a  
selective manner, so it functions as an ethnocracy. The Law of Return allows  
any Jew to migrate to Israel and acquire citizenship, while the same  
citizenship is often inaccessible to those who have been living in the  
country for generations. The Zionization of the land, that is, its ‘de-  
Arabization,’ much more than simply declaring the state ‘Jewish,’ has  
maintained and reinforced segregation in its various forms, and constitutes  
one of the pillars of the Israeli Zionist identity … A year after the  
unilateral Declaration of Independence, the state of Israel, in association  
with the Jewish National Fund, controlled 93 per cent of these lands, an  
outcome achieved by the expropriation of land belonging to the Palestinian  
refugees whose return was forbidden by the Israeli authorities.”  
The contradiction between Judaism and Zionism was set forth by many, in  
Israel and elsewhere, who are cited by the author. Haim Hazaz, an author and  
Zionist ideologue, writes through one of his protagonists: “Zionism and  
Judaism are not the same thing, but are two very different things. In fact,  
there can be no doubt that they are two self-contradictory things. When one  
can no longer be a Jew, one becomes a Zionist. Zionism has emerged from the  
ruins of Judaism, as the people faced exhaustion … One thing is certain,  
Zionism is not a continuation — nor is it the remedy for a sickness. It  
uproots and destroys. On the contrary, it misguides the people, defies it,  
goes against its will and its spirit, empties and uproots and abandons it  
for another path.”  
Zionists Put Palestine before Rescuing Nazism’s Victims  
When the Nazis came to power in Germany and the persecution of the Jews  
began, Rabkin shows that the Zionists placed the establishment of a Jewish  
state in Palestine before any efforts to rescue Jews: “… several planned  
attempts to save the Jews of Hungary and elsewhere appear to have  
encountered resistance from the Zionist leadership. Even before the war, the  
Zionists attempted to block diplomatic efforts, particularly at the Evian  
Conference in 1938, to find a place of exile for Jewish refugees. In  
response to an appeal to come to the aid of the Jews of Europe, Itzhak  
Gruenbaum, prominent Zionist leader and future Israeli minister of the  
interior, replied, ‘One cow in Palestine is more important than all the Jews  
of Poland.’ Another, Sol Meyer, a wartime Zionist functionary, refused to  
save thousands of lives by paying the Nazis, arguing, ‘If we do not have  
sufficient victims, we shall have no right to demand an independent state.’”  
In 1938, following Kristallnacht, which set off a wave of physical violence  
against Germany’s Jews, David Ben-Gurion said: “If I knew that all Jewish  
children could be saved by having them relocated to England, but only half  
by transferring them to Palestine, I would choose the second option, because  
what is at stake would not only have been the fate of those children, but  
also the historical destiny of the Jewish people.”  
Historians, writes Rabkin, “… concur in their assessment that Ben-Gurion and  
his inner circle hindered attempts to save the European Jewish communities  
from extermination. The Zionist leadership, they argue, did its utmost to  
subordinate rescue efforts to their primary objective, which was the  
establishment of a Jewish state and a New Hebrew Man … In so doing, it  
treated human beings as ‘human material,’ reducing the survival and death of  
millions to a matter of political expediency.”  
On his return from a visit to the Jewish communities of Europe prior to the  
Second World War, Rabbi Morris Lazaron, an early leader of the American  
Council for Judaism, protested against the concentration on financing  
projects in Palestine to the detriment of the rescue of Jews threatened by  
the Nazis in Europe. He also protested against the Zionist claim that  
Palestine represented the only place of safety for the Jews and lashed out  
at Zionist propaganda that the world would sooner or later reject the Jews  
because they were Jews. In his view, it was irresponsible to undermine the  
confidence of American Jews by inviting them to forfeit their trust in free  
and democratic Western societies because of events in Germany.  
Affinity between Zionism and National Socialism  
The irony, which few today properly recognize, is, Rabkin writes, that, “To  
a certain extent, there existed a conceptual, if not political, affinity  
between the Zionist movement and National Socialism: both considered the  
Jews as foreign people who could never be assimilated and had no place in  
Europe. Rabbi Joachim Prinz, a Zionist activist in Germany, greeted the  
ascent to power by the Nazis and celebrated ‘the end of liberalism’ in his  
book ‘Wir Juden’ (We Jews), published in Berlin in 1934. From the safety of  
Britain, he later confirmed that the Nazis treated the Zionists like  
favorites, in stark contrast to the treatment meted out to other Jews.”  
Zionist behavior in Palestine, Rabkin points out, also created a tense  
situation with the indigenous Arab population, causing Britain to sharply  
limit Jewish emigration. An Orthodox Jewish leader in Palestine, Rabbi  
Josrph Zvi Duschinsky, declared before the United Nations in 1947 that  
Zionism was responsible for the violence and friction with the Arabs,  
forcing the British government to limit Jewish immigration in the early  
1930s. Zionism stood accused, in his eyes, of making it impossible to save  
millions of Jews from death: “The colossal massacre of millions of our  
brethren might have been averted to a very substantial degree, for many of  
them might have been able to live peacefully in the Holy Land.” He concluded  
that if the traditional leaders, devoid of even the slightest national  
ambition, had continued to run the Jewish communities in Palestine, the long  
history of neighborliness with the Arabs would have made it possible to open  
the doors to the threatened Jews of Europe.  
This was a view expressed before the massacre of Jews in Nazi-occupied  
Europe. In 1937, Rabbi Judah Magnes, president of the Hebrew University in  
Jerusalem, wrote a letter to The New York Times stating, “We have failed. We  
have not known how to make peace … With Arab consent we could settle many  
hundreds of thousands of persecuted Jews in various Arab lands. That is  
worth a real price. Without Arab consent even our 400,000 in Palestine  
remain in jeopardy, despite the momentary protection of British bayonets.”  
The manner in which Palestinians were displaced upon the creation of Israel,  
Rabkin points out, has little to do with Israeli declarations on the  
subject: “More than 800,000 non-Jews left Palestine in 1947-49 … In  
violation of numerous U.N. resolutions, the Israeli government forbade the  
refugees to return to their homes and confiscated their property. Several  
thousand non-Jews who remained within the new country likewise looked on as  
their villages and dwellings were destroyed or confiscated without  
compensation. More than 500 villages were leveled. In the early 1950s, the  
Knesset adopted legislation authorizing the expropriation of land belonging  
to Palestinians.”  
Jewish Opposition to Zionism  
Of particular interest is the chapter on the long history of Jewish  
opposition to Zionism. “Zionism was, at its inception,” Rabkin writes, “a  
marginal movement. Opposition to the Zionist idea was articulated on the  
spiritual and religious as well as the social and political levels. Most  
practicing Jews, both Orthodox and Reform, rejected Zionism, referring to it  
as a project and an ideology that conflicted with the values of Judaism …  
The outlook of the Zionists, and their ideas, were to a great extent foreign  
to Judaism … the respected Israeli intellectual Boaz Evron argues that,  
‘Zionism is indeed the negation of Judaism.’ The words that for decades have  
been inscribed on the walls of the Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) quarter of Meah  
Shearim in Jerusalem echo this basic position: ‘Judaism and Zionism are  
diametrically opposed to each other.’”  
In the case of Reform Jews, writes Rabkin, “Like the majority of streams of  
Judaism at the beginning of the 20th century, the Reform movement stood in  
firm opposition to the new ideology.” Rabbi Louis Grossman, a professor at  
Hebrew Union College, declared in 1899 that, “A sober student of Jewish  
history and a genuine lover of his co-religionists sees that the Zionist  
agitation contradicts everything that is typical of Jews and Judaism.” The  
president of the college, Rabbi Kaufman Kohler said in 1916: “Ignorance and  
irreligion are at the bottom of the whole movement of political Zionism.”  
Opposition to Zionism declined in the wake of the Nazi period. Yet, Rabkin  
points out, the traditional Reform opposition to Jewish nationalism and  
belief in a universal, prophetic Judaism, was kept alive by the American  
Council for Judaism. He writes: “Reform rabbis focused on the priority of  
religious identity and deplored its transformation into a national, even a  
racial, concept … Principled anti-Zionism in the ranks of Reform Judaism has  
survived mainly within the American Council for Judaism … For Reform  
Judaism, Zionism is as much a departure from tradition as it is for Orthodox  
Critics Are Now Seen As Prophetic  
As support for Zionism grew, its critics were treated harshly but, Rabkin  
argues, they have now come to be seen as prophetic: “Those who warned  
against the creation of a Zionist state saw their words treated with  
disdain, or at least with condescension. However, these same Jewish authors  
have proven to be prophetic in identifying early on the trends that have now  
appeared in Israeli society and in Jewish communities around the world. They  
had, in particular, foreseen the upsurge of chauvinism and xenophobia, the  
creeping militarization of society, and the growing popularity of fascist  
ideas. This is why their writings today warrant the most serious attention.”  
In 1938, alluding to Nazism, Albert Einstein warned an audience of Zionist  
activists against the temptation to create a state imbued with “a narrow  
nationalism within our own ranks against which we have already had to fight  
strongly, even without a Jewish state.” Another world-renowned German Jew,  
the philosopher Martin Buber, spoke out in 1942 against the “aim of the  
minority to ‘conquer’ territory by means of international maneuvers.” In the  
midst of hostilities that broke out after Israel unilaterally declared  
independence, Buber cited with despair, “This sort of ‘Zionism’ blasphemes  
the name of Zion; it is nothing more than one of the crude forms of  
One of the objects of the humanistic critique of Zionism, notes Rabkin, is  
“Zionism’s discrimination against non-Jews. This is particularly evident in  
the portable citizens’ rights that the settlers carry with them irrespective  
of their actual physical location. They were able to exercise their right to  
vote in national elections from the Occupied Territories in 1967, while the  
conquered local population was deprived of this political right … Meron  
Benvenisti, former deputy mayor of Jerusalem, characterized this system as  
‘Herrenvolk (master race) democracy.”  
Military Rabbinate Embraces Repression  
In the course of the Israeli operation against Gaza in 2009-10, a new tactic  
used by the military rabbinate was revealed, Rabkin notes, “to use Judaic  
texts to lend weight to calls for merciless repression of the Palestinian  
population. One year later, a rabbi from Itzhar in the West Bank affirmed,  
in a book called ‘Torat-ha-melekh’ (The King’s Torah) that the prohibition  
‘Thou shalt not kill’ (just like ‘You shall love your neighbor’) applies  
only to Jews … It is described as permitted, and even obligatory, to kill  
all those — Jews and non-Jews — who oppose Israeli military operations. By  
identifying the modern state of Israel with the realms of biblical Israel,  
the book advocates the murder of children ‘who will grow up to hurt us.’ …  
Yitzhak Rabin’s assassin Yigal Amir was convinced that his victim had become  
a danger to Israel and that he should be killed without hesitation.”  
While the majority of Israelis today support the policies of the Netanyahu  
government, more and more prominent voices have been heard in opposition. A  
former speaker of the Knesset, Avraham Burg, believes that converting Israel  
into a state of all its citizens, and erasing its distinct Jewish nature, is  
“our only hope for survival.” Prominent poet and intellectual Yitzhak Laor  
argues, “We don’t have to leave this place or give up our lives … we have to  
get rid of Zionism.” Rabkin writes that, “These Jews, many of whom are  
veterans of Israel’s many wars, today feel that they are being held hostage  
to a situation over which they have no control. They are seeking a more  
peaceful outcome, compatible with their sense of decency; despair has  
sensitized them to the arguments put forward for more than a century  
detailing the dangers that the Zionist nature of the state represents first  
of all for the Jews.”  
Sadly, in Rabkin’s view, Jewish organizations around the world have  
substituted what some have called “Israelotary,” a form of idolatry, for  
Judaism: “The official Zionist ideology has made Israel a state without  
borders. In geographical terms, it can be extended with military conquest or  
colonization … This borderless character is also embodied by Israel’s claim  
that it belongs to the world’s Jews rather than to its citizens. This leads  
to the increasingly overt transformation of Jewish organizations around the  
world into Israeli vassals. Moreover, by emphasizing the primacy of an  
ethnically and denominationally defined ‘Jewish nationality,’ the state of  
Israel turns its back on the idea of an ‘Israeli nationality’ that would  
reflect the multicultural society that has taken shape on this land … over  
the last century … The demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a  
‘Jewish and democratic’ state simply affirms the Zionist nature of the state  
in the face of the ‘de-Zionization’ naturally brought about by social and  
demographic realities.”  
An Essential Guide  
Anyone who seeks to understand the nature of Zionism and its dramatic break  
with traditional Judaism, as well as the prophetic critiques of Zionism  
which have been heard from the beginning, and are increasing at the present  
time, would do well to read Professor Rabkin’s carefully researched book. It  
is certain to become an essential guide for those who seek a genuine  
understanding of this divisive subject. Those who are working for peace in  
the Middle East will find in this book a road map showing how we have  
arrived at today’s perilous moment and how we might emerge from it, with  
justice for both Israelis and Palestinians. •

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© 2010 The American Council For Judaism.