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The Question of Zion
Jacqueline Rose

Paperback | 2007 | $27.95 | £22.95 | ISBN: 9780691130682
232 pp. | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
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Zionism was inspired as a movement--one driven by the search for a homeland for the stateless and persecuted Jewish people. Yet it trampled the rights of the Arabs in Palestine. Today it has become so controversial that it defies understanding and trumps reasoned public debate. So argues prominent British writer Jacqueline Rose, who uses her political and psychoanalytic skills in this book to take an unprecedented look at Zionism--one of the most powerful ideologies of modern times.

Rose enters the inner world of the movement and asks a new set of questions. How did Zionism take shape as an identity? And why does it seem so immutable? Analyzing the messianic fervor of Zionism, she argues that it colors Israel's most profound self-image to this day. Rose also explores the message of dissidents, who, while believing themselves the true Zionists, warned at the outset against the dangers of statehood for the Jewish people. She suggests that these dissidents were prescient in their recognition of the legitimate claims of the Palestinian Arabs. In fact, she writes, their thinking holds the knowledge the Jewish state needs today in order to transform itself.

In perhaps the most provocative part of her analysis, Rose proposes that the link between the Holocaust and the founding of the Jewish state, so often used to justify Israel's policies, needs to be rethought in terms of the shame felt by the first leaders of the nation toward their own European history.

For anyone concerned with the conflict in Israel-Palestine, this timely book offers a unique understanding of Zionism as an unavoidable psychic and historical force.


"[A] remarkable book. . . . Enormous amounts of news coverage and polemic are devoted to Israel, and the conflict in the Holy Land is the single most bitterly contentious struggle on earth. And yet, as Rose points out, little attention is given to the roots of the Zionist movement and the impassioned debates that once surrounded it. . . . Just what a strange creed Zionism was, and how unlike other nations its out-come, are part of Rose's theme."--Geoffrey Wheatcroft, New Statesman

"Jacqueline Rose has written a timely and courageous book. . . . It could do nothing but good if the force of Rose's argument were to be felt not only in and for Israel but beyond."--David Stimpson, London Review of Books

"Professor Rose's analysis . . . is modestly expressed and methodical. It is also fiercely intellectual. Judaic theology and psychoanalytic theory are wielded like tools, unpicking the minds of Israel's pioneers . . . to the Bible-bashing settlers currently resisting evacuation from Gaza to the West Bank."--Rafael Behr, The Observer

"[A]n original and provocative study, full of arresting insights, that deserves to be widely read in Israel and among diaspora Jews."--Rabbi David Goldberg, Jewish Chronicle

"In some of the most interesting passages of The Question of Zion, [Jacqueline Rose] offers a brilliant account of the psychopathological effects of the holocaust on 'the Israeli mind'. . . . Inspired by Rose's courage and generosity, our field should now engage with much less timidity with the issue of Palestine/Israel."--Bart Moore-Gilbert, Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies

"Rose's highly provocative work raises many important problems and provides many useful insights."--Laurence J. Silberstein, International History Review

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Table of Contents:

  • FrontMatter, pg. i
  • Contents, pg. ix
  • Preface, pg. xi
  • Acknowledgments, pg. xxi
  • Chapter 1. “The apocalyptic sting”: Zionism as Messianism (Vision), pg. 1
  • Chapter 2. “Imponderables in thin air”: Zionism as Psychoanalysis (Critique), pg. 58
  • Chapter 3. “Break their bones”: Zionism as Politics (Violence), pg. 108
  • Notes, pg. 157
  • Index, pg. 189

Another Princeton book authored or coauthored by Jacqueline Rose:

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