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68 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes the truth causes discomfort, 30 Dec. 2011
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This review is from: The Wandering Who?: A Study of Jewish Identity Politics (Paperback)
A very interesting book.
Courageous, concise and clear.
It is surprisingly easy to read given the gravitas of it's subject.

Gilad, it seems, loves deconstructing ideas, especially accepted orthodox ones.
'We are what we choose to be' is just one of his interesting observations.
The book joins the dots and exposes, among other things, the many and various strands of zionist thought for what they are.
Essentially a con and a fraud.
He also seeks to illustrate that many of the more pernicious among them actually pretend, on the surface, to oppose zionism.
A rather hollow pre tense ?

Of course the Alan Dershowitz's (and fellow travellers) of this world will howl with indignation accusing Gilad of being anti-semitic, a self-hating Jew etc., etc., but hey, what's new ?
These people have been attempting to close down the Palestine debate (for example) for decades with just this sort of ploy, and I have to say the ploy is wearing a bit thin.

The idea that one can somehow neatly separate 'Jewish' and 'zionist' is pure fantasy.
Have people not noticed that Israel is (and always has been) routinely defined by Jews (and others) as 'the Jewish state' ?
Israel was created in May 1948 by Jews, in the name of the Jewish people, and has been nurtured and maintained ever since by the various Jewish communities (and their allies) around the world.
'Jewish' and 'zionist' ARE inextricably intertwined.
I agree that they are not quite the same thing, but there is enormous overlap and since the whole project of Israel was created in the name of 'Jewish', the idea that Gilad (or anyone else for that matter) should wish to explore just what is meant by 'Jewish' seems like both a logical, and indeed necessary project to me.

'Project Israel' was set up as a secular state, supposedly decrying religion,
yet the justification for it's existence is purely biblical !

Without the religious connection there would be absolutely no justification for the 'Jewish State's existence.
How's that for a paradox ?

So the question of just what is meant by 'Jewish' and 'Jewish identity' lays at the heart of the project and consequently is surely a legitimate subject for investigation ?

Also, the roots of the elitist and chauvinistic aspects of zionism lay in classical Jewish theology (talmudic law) so to pretend that the two subjects are quite distinct is dishonest.
Further, to claim to be 'anti-zionist' and then to seek to attack (either verbally or otherwise) someone who seeks to understand 'Jewish identity' is somewhat illogical and indeed absurd ?

Gilad is not the first, and I'm sure he won't be the last to attempt to get to the bottom of this conundrum.
Famous predecessors include Karl Marx who wrote extensively on this subject in 1843.
Marx didn't have many positive things to say, and in attempting to get to the bottom of this thorny question of identity, Marx never once used the word 'zionist' because of course the political movement called zionism hadn't yet been invented.
His musings were aimed fairly and squarely at 'The Jewish Question' and 'Jewish identity'.
One of his famous conclusions was that 'Jewish Internationalism' was 'the Internationalism of the financier' and that as such, lay at the heart of oppression everywhere.
But I'm wandering (though I am not Jewish, much less 'who-ish')

I apologise in advance for my rather poor sense of humour !
One mustn't joke about such subjects, or so it would seem.

Gilad is very clearly on something of a rocky journey toward understanding.
Understanding the central themes that shaped his life growing up in the newly formed Israeli state and seeking to legitimise it's conception (or not), and just like the story of 'the King's new clothes', on seeking he finds that there is curiously little justifiable substance underpinning the whole project.
Jewish identity is, it seems, surprisingly elusive, yet 'Jewish Identity' is the justification for the creation of the Israeli (Jewish) state.

All rather curious when one considers the devastating impact that the creation of 'the Jewish state' (with it's accompanying creed of 'chosen-ness' and the expulsion of the indigenous Palestinians) has had (and continues to have) on the Middle East.

If you like 'thinking outside the box' you will surely enjoy this book ?

An absorbing journey, intelligently articulated.
Not a book for the rigid thinker.
To anyone who finds this book interesting I would also recommend 'Jewish History, Jewish Religion' written by Israel Shahak, a wonderfully warm, intelligent man who sadly is no longer with us.
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Location: London, England

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