On Christian Zionism

15966A forthcoming book from the University of Pennsylvania Press, Covenant Brothers: Evangelicals, Jews, and U.S.-Israel Relations, argues that Christian Zionism should not be seen primarily as an apocalyptic, Evangelical movement–the way it is often portrayed by its detractors, especially on the left. The author, Daniel Hummel (University of Wisconsin-Madison) argues that Christian Zionism is more an institutional and interreligious phenomenon. (Of course, it could be all these things simultaneously). Here’s the description from the Penn website:

Weaving together the stories of activists, American Jewish leaders, and Israeli officials in the wake of the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, Covenant Brothers portrays the dramatic rise of evangelical Christian Zionism as it gained prominence in American politics, Israeli diplomacy, and international relations after World War II. According to Daniel G. Hummel, conventional depictions of the Christian Zionist movement—the organized political and religious effort by conservative Protestants to support the state of Israel—focus too much on American evangelical apocalyptic fascination with the Jewish people. Hummel emphasizes instead the institutional, international, interreligious, and intergenerational efforts on the part of Christians and Jews to mobilize evangelical support for Israel.

From missionary churches in Israel to Holy Land tourism, from the Israeli government to the American Jewish Committee, and from Billy Graham’s influence on Richard Nixon to John Hagee’s courting of Donald Trump, Hummel reveals modern Christian Zionism to be an evolving and deepening collaboration between Christians and the state of Israel. He shows how influential officials in the Israeli Ministry of Religious Affairs and Foreign Ministry, tasked with pursuing a religious diplomacy that would enhance Israel’s standing in the Christian world, combined forces with evangelical Christians to create and organize the vast global network of Christian Zionism that exists today. He also explores evangelicalism’s embrace of Jewish concepts, motifs, and practices and its profound consequences on worshippers’ political priorities and their relationship to Israel.

Drawing on religious and government archives in the United States and Israel, Covenant Brothers reveals how an unlikely mix of Christian and Jewish leaders, state support, and transnational networks of institutions combined religion, politics, and international relations to influence U.S. foreign policy and, eventually, global geopolitics.

“Anti-Zionism on Campus” (Pessin & Ben-Atar, eds.)

9780253034076_medTo close out this week’s book posts, here is a new collection of essays from the Indiana University Press on the anti-Israel “Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions” movement taking place on American campuses, Anti-Zionism on Campus: The University, Free Speech, and BDS. The editors are Andrew Pessin (Connecticut College) and Doron Ben-Atar (Fordham). Here is a description from the publisher’s website:

Many scholars have endured the struggle against rising anti-Israel sentiments on college and university campuses worldwide. This volume of personal essays documents and analyzes the deleterious impact of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement on the most cherished Western institutions. These essays illustrate how anti-Israelism corrodes the academy and its treasured ideals of free speech, civility, respectful discourse, and open research. Nearly every chapter attests to the blurred distinction between anti-Israelism and antisemitism, as well as to hostile learning climates where many Jewish students, staff, and faculty feel increasingly unwelcome and unsafe. Anti-Zionism on Campus provides a testament to the specific ways anti-Israelism manifests on campuses and considers how this chilling and disturbing trend can be combatted.

Jacobs, “Jews and Leftist Politics”

Last month, the Cambridge University Press released “Jews and Leftist Politics: Judaism, Israel, Antisemitism, and Gender,” by Jack Jacobs (John Jay College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York).  The publisher’s description follows: 

The relationships, past and present, between Jews and the political left remain of abiding interest to both the academic community and the public. Jews and Leftist 9781107047860Politics contains new and insightful chapters from world-renowned scholars and considers such matters as the political implications of Judaism; the relationships of leftists and Jews; the histories of Jews on the left in Europe, the United States, and Israel; contemporary anti-Zionism; the associations between specific Jews and Communist parties; and the importance of gendered perspectives. It also contains fresh studies of canonical figures, including Gershom Scholem, Gustav Landauer, and Martin Buber, and examines the affiliations of Jews to prominent institutions, calling into question previous widely held assumptions. The volume is characterized by judicious appraisals made by respected authorities, and sheds considerable light on contentious themes.

Laor, “The Myths of Liberal Zionism”

This month, Penguin Random House released the paperback edition of The Myths of Liberal Zionism by Yitzhak Laor. The publisher’s description follows:

myths-of-liberal-zionismYitzhak Laor is one of Israel’s most prominent dissidents and poets, a latter-day Spinoza who helps keep alive the critical tradition within Jewish culture. In this work he fearlessly dissects the complex attitudes of Western European liberal Left intellectuals toward Israel, Zionism and the Israeli peace camp. He argues that through a prism of famous writers like Amos Oz, David Grossman and A.B. Yehoshua, the peace camp has now adopted the European vision of “new Zionism” promoting the fierce Israeli desire to be accepted as part of the West and taking advantage of growing Islamophobia across Europe. The backdrop to this uneasy relationship is the ever-present shadow of the Holocaust. Laor is merciless as he strips bare the hypocrisies and unarticulated fantasies that lie beneath the love-affair between liberal Zionists and their European supporters.

Caquet, “The Orient, the Liberal Movement, and the Eastern Crisis of 1839-41”

Last month, Palgrave Macmillan released The Orient, the Liberal Movement, and the Eastern Crisis of 1839-41 by P.E. Caquet (Cambridge). The publisher’s description follows:

the-orient-the-liberal-movement-and-the-eastern-crisis-of-1839-41This book focuses on the Eastern Crisis of 1839-41, closely examining the first instance of coordinated Western intervention in the Middle East during the modern era. Readers can explore topics such as how culture, domestic politics, and ideology shaped diplomacy in this landmark crisis, and the importance role played by religion – including, alongside mainstream Christianity, the Protestant Zionist movement. Highly informative and fully researched, this book suggests that the Eastern Crisis – and its associated diplomatic and military efforts – marked the first of many modern-era attempts to “improve” the region by moulding it in a Western image, providing scholars with a new perspective on this period of history.

Stanislawski, “Zionism”

In December, Oxford University Press will release Zionism: A Very Short Introduction by Michael Stanislawski (Columbia University). The publisher’s description follows:

zionismZionism is the nationalist movement affirming Jewish people’s right to self-determination through the establishment of a Jewish national state in its ancient homeland. It is one of the most controversial ideologies in the world. Its supporters laud its success at liberating the Jewish people after millennia of persecution and at securing the creation of Israel. But to its opponents, Zionism relies on a racist ideology culminating in Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories and is one of the last manifestations of colonial oppression in the world. Since the late 1990s, the centrality of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in the world news has sharpened this controversy, dramatically politicizing any attempt to understand Zionism and its significance as an intellectual and cultural movement.

In this Very Short Introduction, Michael Stanislawski presents an impartial and disinterested history of Zionist ideology from its origins to the present. Sharp and accessible, this book charts the crucial moments in the ideological development of Zionism, including the emergence of modern Jewish nationalism in early nineteenth century Europe, the founding of the Zionist movement by Theodor Herzl in 1897, the Balfour Declaration, the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 under the leadership of David Ben-Gurion, the Six Day War in 1967, the rise of the “Peace Now” movement, and the election of conservative prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Stanislawski’s balanced analysis of these controversial events illuminates why, despite the undeniable success in its goal of creating a Jewish state, profound questions remain today about the long-term viability of Zionist ideology in a rapidly destabilizing Middle East.

Morgan, “Levinas’s Ethical Politics”

In May, Indiana University Press will release “Levinas’s Ethical Politics” by Michael L. Morgan (Indiana University, Bloomington). The publisher’s description follows:

Emmanuel Levinas conceives of our lives as fundamentally interpersonal and ethical, claiming that our responsibilities to one another should shape all of our actions. While many scholars believe that Levinas failed to develop a robust view of political ethics, Michael L. Morgan argues against understandings of Levinas’s thought that find him politically wanting or even antipolitical. Morgan examines Levinas’s ethical critique of the political as well as his Jewish writings—including those on Zionism and the founding of the Jewish state—which are controversial reflections of Levinas’s political expression. Unlike others who dismiss Levinas as irrelevant or anarchical, Morgan is the first to give extensive treatment to Levinas as a serious social political thinker whose ethics must be understood in terms of its political implications. Morgan reveals Levinas’s political commitments to liberalism and democracy as well as his revolutionary conception of human life as deeply interconnected on philosophical, political, and religious grounds.

 

Epstein, “The Dream of Zion”

Last month, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers released “The Dream of Zion: The Story of the First Zionist Congress” by Lawrence J. Epstein (Suffolk County Community College). The publisher’s description follows:

The Dream of Zion tells the story of the Jewish political effort to restore
their ancient nation. At the First Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland, in August 1897 Theodor Herzl convened a remarkable meeting that founded what became the World Zionist Organization, defined the political goals of the movement, adopted a national anthem, created the legal and financial instruments that would lead to statehood, and ushered the reentry of the Jewish people into political history. It was there in Basel that Herzl, the man some praised and some mocked as the new Moses, became the leader. The book provides an overview of the history that led to the Congress, an introduction to key figures in Israeli history, a discussion of the climate at the time for Jews—including the pogroms in Russia—and a discussion of themes that remain relevant today, such as the Christian reaction to the Zionist idea.

As political debates continue to swirl around Israel, this book opens a window into its founding.

Lichtenstein, “Zionists in Interwar Czechoslovakia”

In March, the Indiana University Press will release “Zionists in Interwar Czechoslovakia: Minority Nationalism and the Politics of Belonging,” by Tatjana Lichtenstein (University of Texas at Austin).  The publisher’s description follows:

This book presents an unconventional history of minority nationalism in interwar Eastern Europe. Focusing on an influential group of 9780253018670_medgrassroots activists, Tatjana Lichtenstein uncovers Zionist projects intended to sustain the flourishing Jewish national life in Czechoslovakia. The book shows that Zionism was not an exit strategy for Jews, but as a ticket of admission to the societies they already called home. It explores how and why Zionists envisioned minority nationalism as a way to construct Jews’ belonging and civic equality in Czechoslovakia. By giving voice to the diversity of aspirations within interwar Zionism, the book offers a fresh view of minority nationalism and state building in Eastern Europe.

Gans, “A Political Theory for the Jewish People”

This month, Oxford University Press will release “A Political Theory for the Jewish People” by Chaim Gans (Tel Aviv University). The publisher’s description follows:

Chaim Gans’s A Political Theory for the Jewish People examines the two dominant interpretations of Zionism, contrasts them with post-Zionist alternatives, and develops a third model. Along with exploring the historiographic, philosophical and moral foundations of each of these approaches, Gans considers their implications for the relationship between Jews and Arabs in Israel/Palestine as well as the relationship between Israeli and diasporic Jews.

Proprietary Zionism, Gans argues, is the version that is most popular among the Israeli Jewish public. It conceives of the land of Israel/historic Palestine as the property of the Jewish people. It also conceives of the entire Jewish people as belonging to Israel. Hierarchical Zionism is common among Israel’s educated elites and interprets the Jewish right to self-determination as a right to hegemony within the Israeli state. It remains silent on the issue of the relationship between Israeli and non-Israeli Jews. Post-Zionist approaches, conversely, thoroughly reject these Zionist narratives regarding Jewish history and critique the rationale for the continued existence of the state of Israel as a Jewish state.

Gans disagrees with all of these approaches, and in their stead advocates egalitarian Zionism, which is based on an egalitarian interpretation of the right to national self-determination and derives from the justifications for Zionism in its early years. As such, it interprets the historical link between the Jews and the land of Israel in terms of identity rather than property. It also views the link between Israel and world Jewry as a matter of choice for individual Jews–not as a matter of necessity, inextricably bound to their essence as Jews. He sees it as preferable to both the dominant strands of Zionism but also to the major contemporary anti-Zionist approaches: first, that of the Israeli post-Zionists offering a civic or post-colonial vision of a non-Jewish state, and, secondly, that of the mostly American post-Zionists who have a neo-diasporic vision for both Israeli and non-Israeli Jews in which the connection to the land of Israel is loose at best. Ultimately, the book argues that egalitarian Zionism is superior to its rivals both in the authenticity of its relationship to Jewish history and in its implications for denizens of Israeland Jews around the world.

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