Chapter Four

From: The Postzionism Debates by Laurence J. Silberstein. Reproduced by permission of Routledge, Inc. Copyright 1999.

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     As we saw in the previous chapter, throughout the relatively brief life of the state of Israel, critics continually raised problems concerning the nature of Israeli collective identity, the relationship of Israeli culture to the larger Jewish world, the relationship of Israel to the Palestinian Arabs, and the ongoing viability of zionism in a post-state era. Yet until the late 1970's when the hegemony of labor zionism came to an end and Menahem Begin was elected Prime Minister, the issues raised by these critics remained marginal in Israeli culture.[1]  However, groups like Mazpen and the Canaanites, notwithstanding their marginal position, succeeded in keeping alive the discussion of issues such as Israel's relation to the Palestinians, and the relation of Israeli identity and culture to Judaism and the world wide Jewish community. In the final analysis, however, neither Mazpen nor the Canaanites seriously threatened the domination of zionist discourse.[2] 

     However, beginning in the mid 1980's, a new form of critique emerged, one that continues to gain currency in Israeli culture. This critique, known as postzionism, has not been framed, as had earlier ones, purely in ideological terms. Instead, it has been framed in the discourse of the academy. Its beginnings may be traced to a group of scholarly writings that, beginning in the late 1970's, began to challenge the prevailing scholarly representations of Israeli history and society.[3]  In the context of the debates precipitated by these studies, the issue of postzionism emerged. Postzionism is the most recent and to date the most effective effort within Israel to problematize zionist discourse and the historical narratives that it had produced.

     Postzionism, like zionism, is in constant motion. The boundaries of postzionist discourse, like those of zionism, are in a constant state of flux. Comprised of nomadic concepts that assume different meanings in different contexts, postzionism lacks a distinct structure or organization, and its boundaries are often blurred.[4] 

In the words of one observer, the debate over postzionism reflects

an identity crisis of a society that stands on the threshold of a period of peace, in which the national consensus, previously build upon threats to survival and security problems, clears a space for a debate across the society and its culture (Pappe, 1995b, 45).

     Whether or not it is useful to speak of the identity crisis of an entire society, there is no doubt that Israel, since the 1960's, has been shaken by a series of events that have generated a a widespread sense of disillusionment, instability, and uncertainty, particularly among intellectuals and academicians. Evidence of this is found in numerous comments in the writings of a younger group of scholars, most of whom were born around or immediately following the establishment of the state, and who grew to maturity during a time in which Israel ruled over a resisting population of more than one million Palestinian Arabs.

As described by one scholar, Gershon Shafir, the author of one of the more important studies subsumed under the rubric "new historiography:" his interpretation:

     was engendered by the dislocating experience of growing into maturity as part of the Israeli generation of 1967. For me, the aftermath of the Six Day War revealed the gap between the evidence of Israeli society's gradual by definite transformation through its manifold relationships with the Palestinian Arabs who came under Israeli occupation, and the Palestinians' invisibility in historical and sociological accounts of the early formation of Israeli society. (Shafir 1989, xi)

     For Gershon Shafir, as for many others of his generation, the Israel-Palestinian conflict became the key to understanding the history of the state and the social forms that it assumed: At the time, Israel's overwhelming victory during the June 1967 war had appeared to many to signal the beginning of a new era in the life of the young state. The dramatic sounding of the ram's horn at the Western Wall by the chief rabbi of the Israeli Defense Forces proclaimed to all Israelis that Jerusalem, a divided city since the establishment of the state, was reunited, never to be split again. An emotion-laden photograph of a young praying soldier, head resting on his arm against the wall, his Uzi submachine gun at his side, was distributed throughout the international community. And at many pubic Jewish gatherings throughout the world, the recently composed "Jerusalem of Gold" displaced the outmoded zionist anthem "hatikvah" (the hope).

     While some viewed the war in messianic terms, others framed it in the secular zionism's discourse of normalization and the fulfillment of a mission. (Hagshamah) Yet there were some dissenting voices. Amos Oz warned of the destructive effects on Israel were they to retain control of the captured West Bank and Gaza with its population of more than one million Palestinians.[5]  Eloquently expressing the ambivalent feeling of many young Israeli soldiers, Yizhak Rabin, the commanding general of the Israeli forces, spoke at the Hebrew University campus on Mount Scopus, recently freed from Jordanian control, of the uncomfortable feelings that they felt being part of a conquering army.[6] 

     For the most part, however, Israelis were euphoric, seeing only the benefits that their victory had brought: defeated Arab armies; wider, more secure borders; the recovery of areas lost to Arab Armies in the 1948 War, and the reunification of Jerusalem. What few anticipated, however, was the extent to which the victory and the ensuing occupation of captured territories would be transformed into one of the glaring fault lines, dividing the country as it had never been divided before, and ultimately resulting in the assassination in 1995 of Prime Minister Yizhak Rabin by a religious extremist who believed that he was ridding Israel, and the Jewish people throughout the world, of a traitor.

     In terms of our discussion, what has been labeled postzionism would most likely never have emerged, certainly not in its current forms, were it not for the Israeli victory in 1967. The ensuing occupation and the demands that it placed on young Israelis serving in the military sent a series of shock waves throughout the nation. result of this was the growing disillusionment among Israeli intellectuals with zionism. Ironically, the event that to many was the ultimate confirmation of the zionist dream, turned out for many to be the beginning of its demise.

     Among the unanticipated outcomes of the 1967 War was the emergence of a strong form of Palestinian nationalism that eventually gained the international recognition that had previously been denied to them. Resisting the Israeli occupation with its accompanying oppression and daily indignities, the Palestinians demanded and attained legitimacy for their nation, and for its claim to a national homeland. Ironically, the Israeli victory in 1967 eventually won for the Palestinians what they were not able to win for themselves, that is, recognition as a distinct national group with legitimate national claims.

     Strongly affected by the strength of the emerging Palestinian nationalism, and experiencing the difficulties ruling over a resisting population, Israeli intellectuals and academicians slowly came to the realization that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict stood at the center of Israeli history and the formation of Israeli society. As Shafir comments:

     Although throwing off mental habits is always a slow process, I came eventually to the conclusion that, during most of its history, Israeli society is best understood not through the existing, inward-looking interpretations but rather in terms of the broader context of Israeli-Palestinian relations.(Shafir 1989, xi)

     The sense of disillusionment with the prevailing interpretations of Israeli history is also conveyed by one of the more prominent new historians, Benny Morris. Morris, in an article in the Israeli daily Haaretz, reports on the powerful effect that his study of recently declassified documents relating to the exodus of Palestinians in 1948 had on him:

     From the new documents of that period it became clear that much of what had been told to the people--to children at school and adults in newspapers-in the memoirs and historical writings--was in the best instances distortion, and in many other instances, simply the ignoring of facts and plain lies. [Morris 1994a, 40).[7] 

     Morris's sense of betrayal was shared by other Israeli scholars, such as Dani Rabinowitz, a young anthropologist at the Hebrew University. Like Morris and Shafir, Rabinowitz, whose work I shall discuss in chapter six, was shaken by the realization that the representations of Israeli history and society transmitted to him by his teachers, was extremely biased and flawed. Accordingly, in a 1994 public debate with one of Israel's leading social scientists, Rabinowitz, in the words of a colleague:

     attributed his own radicalization to the realization as an adult, that the educators and authority figures responsible for his socialization had distorted and lied about the essential features of Israeli society and history. (Shalev 1996,187-188, n.15)[8] 

     As significant as it was, the Israel-Palestinian conflict was by no means the only factor contributing to the disillusionment for Israeli scholars whose academic careers began in the 1970's and 1980's. Recounting what he describes as "one of my formative experiences as a sociologist," Shafir tells of attending a lecture by the Israel's leading sociologist, Shmuel Eisenstadt of the Hebrew University. Speaking on social differentiation within Israeli society, Eisenstadt, as one questioner reminded him, had made no mention of the recent demonstration of the 'Black Panthers,' described by Shafir as "a group of Mizrahi youth, mostly from broken homes in the Musrara quarter of Jerusalem, [who] launched highly visible protests to object to the 'social gap' between Mizrahim and Ahskenazim in Israel." It struck Shafir that there was no room for "'social gap' or the attendant social conflict" in the functionalist sociological discourse that then prevailed in Israel.(Shafir 1996,189). This led him to conclude that: "a counterview of Israeli society was required, one in which social conflict and the contenders themselves would be accepted as a legitimate part of social analysis." (Shafir 1996, 189)

     Unknown to Shafir at that time, a group of radical Israeli sociologists had begun to produce a critique of the Eisenstadt dominated sociology in the late 1970's and early 1980's. In a series of articles published in the journal "Mahbarot....., sociologists like Shlomo Swirski, Deborah Bernstein, and others, taking issue with the dominant sociological discourse of adaption and integration, analyzed what Shalev describes as:

     not just cynical manipulation of the Mizrachim (sic!) For political purposes...but deep conflicts of interest between olim (new immigrants) and vatikim (veteran citizens), the privileged power position of the latter in the working out of these conflicts, and the role of Oriental immigrants ( of middle Eastern origin. ljs) in the dirty work of constructing a modern economy in Israel for the benefit of its "state-made" capitalists and salariat.(Shalev 1996, 185n.11)

     Alongside the 1967 War, the ensuing occupation of the captured territories, and the growing realization of social gaps and conflicts within Israeli society, other factors contributed to the growth of a widespread sense of skepticism towards the dominant Israeli historical narratives and social representations. While some of these are unique to the Middle-East, others result from processes that were occurring in many nations across the globe. Within Israel, a spreading militancy among Israeli religious and right wing secular groups advocating expanded settlement of the occupied territories led to a rethinking of the relation of zionism to the exercise of power. The intensification of national identity among Palestinians both in the occupied territories and in Israel forced Israelis to rethink their relation to the Palestinians. With the eruption of Palestinian resistance at the end of 1987, this issue acquired an urgency not previously felt.

     The nearly disastrous outcome 1973 War, revelations of Israel's unpreparedness and the negligence of its leaders were among the factors contributed to the end of Labor Zionism's hegemony. The Likud victory in the 1977 elections opened the way to the rising power of such previously excluded groups as Jews of middle-Eastern origin, their religious leaders, and Haredim (ultra-Orthodox Ashkenazi Jews).

     Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982, and the ensuing sense of shock, disillusionment and demoralization led to the emergence of peace groups previously unknown in Israel. In the wake of that war, many Israelis came to feel a previously unknown skepticism concerning Israel's officially stated commitment to fighting only defensive wars and to pursuing peace on all fronts. The trauma of Lebanon became the equivalent of the trauma of Vietnam in the United States of the nineteen sixties and seventies.

     In the meantime, the effects of the long years of occupying territories conquered in the 1967 War and controlling a hostile and restless population rendered problematic the dominant representations of zionism as a humane, progressive movement. For many Israeli youth serving in the occupied territories, zionist discourse appeared ill-suited to come to grips with their daily confrontation with angry, fearful and hostile Palestinians. (Grossman, Yellow Wind). This feeling was greatly exacerbated by the Palestinian uprising that erupted in 1987. Confronted with angry, rebellious women and children, Israeli soldiers found themselves called upon to carry out acts of violence and repression that tested their moral limits. Service in the military, previously considered to be an obligation and a source of great pride, now appeared much more complicated to many young Israelis and their parents. In the wake of the Intifada, the encounter of young Israeli intellectuals and academicians with their Palestinian counterparts led them to question the stereotypical representations of Palestinians which pervaded Israeli society, and which found their way into school curricula.

     Besides the events and conditions that are specific to Israel and the Middle-East, processes that were occurring globally also played a major role in subverting the truths generated by zionist discourse and opening space for the emerging postzionist discourse. Like so many other countries in Asia and Africa, Israel, in recent decades, has experienced far-reaching demographic, economic, and cultural processes analyzed by University of Chicago anthropologist Arjun Appadurai. (Appardurai 1996) These include large influx of new populations, the rapid expansion of the media and technology, rapid financial growth, and the infusion of new ideas.[9]  Within a relatively short period, the socialist structure of labor zionism had been dismantled and was being rapidly replaced by a privatized, market driven, consumer oriented economy. This contributed significantly to undermining labor zionism's collectivist pioneering ethos.

     Israeli society in the 1980's-1990's was also the scene of a massive influx of new ethnic groups, particularly from the former Soviet Union, a process referred to by Appardurai as an ethnoscape. Relatively few of these new immigrants had been motivated to emigrate by zionism. Nor was Israel necessarily the first choice for many of them. Their decision to emigrate was often based not on the desire to live in the Jewish homeland or to experience an intensive Jewish cultural environment. Rather, what drove most of the immigrants from the Soviet Union was their intense desire for freedom from the oppressive Soviet system and for greater social and economic opportunities. Among the immigrants from the former Soviet Union there were many non Jews, as well as Jews whose Jewish credentials were challenged by the rabbinic authorities. This period also saw the influx of Thai laborers who were being used to replace Palestinian workers. When these new groups are combined with the large number (20%) of Israelis who are Palestinians and the increasingly activist anti-Zionist haredi community (ultra-Orthodox), the challenge to zionism's hegemony in Israeli culture becomes evident.[10] 

     The Israeli cultural landscape has also felt the effects of a rapidly expanding mediascape (Appardurai )[11]  Until recently, the media in Israel had been controlled solely by the state, with little or not choice available to the viewer. However, with the arrival of cable and satellite television in the nineteen nineties, this situation was radically altered. As the amount of non-government controlled media space expanded, Israelis who only a few years ago depended on the government for news of domestic and external events, now had other options. One result was the growing availability of non-Israeli perspectives on daily events, both in Israel and abroad. Thus, like so many others throughout the world, Israelis have been experiencing a time/space compression that gave them immediate access to other places and other cultures. This, in turn, produced the desire for expanded cultural options.

     Finally, Israel, like many other societies, has been experience a rapid process of Americanization.[12]  This is evident in the rapid growth of shopping malls and the increasing presence of such American franchises as MacDonald's throughout the country. Caught up in the pursuit of the good life, a growing number of Israelis, particularly among the younger generation, increasingly find the collectivist values of labor zionism to be unrelated to the realities of their daily lives.

     Thus, not surprisingly, the rapidly changing cultural, economic, and social landscapes and political conditions have led a growing number of Israelis to regard zionism as irrelevant to the new Israel, This, in turn, has led zionist leaders and representatives to adopt a highly defensive posture. On every front, the Israel of which previous generations had dreamed and for which they had fought seemed to be crumbling before their very eyes.[13]  At the same time, the rapid spread of Gush Emunim's ethos of militant messianic expansionism, the growing power within the government of anti-Zionist haredim, and the increasingly power of Jews from Middle-Eastern countries through such parties as Shas all contributed to the rapid dissipation of the labor zionist dream of a socialist society grounded in European culture and serving as a "light unto the nations."

     On the cultural front, Ahad Haam's dream of a comprehensive, organic humanistic Hebraic culture seemed more and more remote. Increasingly, Jews of Middle-Eastern origins as well as cultural goods imported from the United States were rapidly changing the face of Israeli culture. In literature, film, art and politics, the ethos of labor zionism, which since the establishment of the state had, for the majority of Israelis been identified as authentic zionism, was slowly but surely being eroding.

     Given these complex combination of events, it is not at all surprising that a growing number of Israelis came to increasingly view zionist discourse, a product of late nineteenth century nationalism, as ineffective, irrelevant or obsolete.[14]  The earlier skepticism towards zionism conveyed by the concept of "zionism in quotation marks" (zionut bamerkhaot) grew more intense.[15]  Consequently proponents of zionism, particularly labor zionism, felt besieged on all sides.[16]  From their position, the emerging postzionist discourse was perceived as yet another manifestation of the subversion of zionist culture.

     Nevertheless, one concern shared by virtually all postzionists is the conflict between the zionist foundations of the state and its professed commitment to democracy.[17]  Repeatedly, postzionists raise the question of whether Israel is primarily a Jewish state in which non-Jews, particularly Palestinians, do not share equally in the power, or a state of all its citizens in which the goal is to distribute power equitably among all groups.

     Another major concern shared by most postzionists is to provide a hearing for marginalized minority voices within Israeli culture, including Palestinian Arabs and Jews of Middle-Eastern origins. Postzionists are particularly concerned with rethinking the relationship between the state of Israel and the Palestinian Arabs. Others find Israel's collectivist orientation to be problematic and are concerned with creating a society that respects difference and allows for the nurturing of individual creative energies.

The Scholarly Debates: Questioning Zionism's Historical Narratives and Social and Cultural Representations

     In the 1970's and 1980's, many younger Israeli scholars, pursuing graduate studies abroad, applying different methodological approaches, formulated alternative perspectives on Israeli history and culture. Their writings brought to the surface and highlighted questions that had previously been neglected and gained a hearing for voices previously muted or excluded from the dominant Israeli discourse. As described by one of these younger scholars:

     In the 1970's, in the face of painful evidence of social inequality, political turmoil, and military and economic vulnerability several strands of intellectual insurgency arose to challenge accepted thinking. Much of this work produced revisionist histories which cast the labour movement elite in a quite unflattering light. Critical scholarship was also driven by the search for theoretical alternatives to a sociological orthodoxy which had plainly failed to reckon with the conflicts and inequalities accompanying nation- and state- building and capitalist economic development. Israel's invasion of Lebanon, its continuing occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and the intense political polarization surrounding these issues let a further impetus to the critical social science in the 1980's. (Shalev 1992, 14)

     The writings of these younger scholars taken together with interviews that I conducted in Israel in the Winter of 1995-1996, indicate that much of their academic work was motivated by the disillusionment precipitated by the failure of the prevailing Israeli scholarship's failure to come to grips with the blatant paradoxes and contradictions in Israeli life. While the dominant studies of zionism and the state presented them as humane, progressive, and liberal, all around them the saw evidence to the contrary. Belying Israel's promise to welcome and integrate all Jews into a new secure and productive life, a large portion of Israeli Jews, those of Middle Eastern origin now referred to as Mizrahim, were not being granted an equal opportunity to share in the benefits or the power. Yet with rare exceptions, established Israel social science either ignored or minimized the gaps separating the dominant group of Jews of European origins (Ashkenazim), from the marginalized mizrahi Jews at the lower end of the socio-economic ladder.

     A good sense of the key issues in the academic debates can be gained from the work of Tom Segev, an independent historian and journalist who was one of the first writers to challenge the prevailing scholarly representations of Israeli history and society.[18]  Although academically trained, Segev's 1949: The First Israelis (published in Hebrew in 1984), was aimed primarily at the non-academic reader. Nevertheless, Segev grounded his book in careful historical research. Making extensive use of newly declassified documents, Segev challenged the prevailing scholarly interpretations of Israeli history and society while offering a clear overview of the broader cultural and political issues at stake in the academic debates. In the process, he sought to demonstrate that the conflicts afflicting Israeli society and culture in the 1980's were not abnormal. Rather, these conflicts were endemic to the zionist state.

     Typifying the new scholarship emerging in the 1980's and 1990's, Segev argued that his book "shattered a firmly established self-image and exposed as mere myths a large number of long excepted truisms." (Viii) These "myths," grounded in zionist discourse and produced and disseminated by the state apparatus, provided Israelis with the basic materials out of which they constructed their self understanding as a collective. Additionally, they provided the state with its basic legitimation. Constituting the "common sense" of Israeli culture, they shaped the ways in which most Israelis viewed social, cultural, and political reality.

The "myths" under question included the following: 1)while the Israelis did everything possible to bring about peace in 1948 (and after), the Arabs continually refused all initiatives; 2) the Palestinian Arab refugees had willingly left their homes, deceived by leaders who promised them that they would soon return along with the conquering Arab armies; 3) the primary purpose of the state of Israel was to provide a refuge for persecuted Jews of the world a safe and secure place to which the "exiles" could be gathered; 4) in addition to providing them with a safe haven, Israel provided Jewish immigrants with the opportunity to live freely as Jews, unhampered either by political persecution, or by economic and social discrimination such as had characterized life in "exile"[19] ; and 5)only in Israel could Judaism flourish, functioning as a unifying force for world Jewry.

     Segev related the dispossession of the Palestinian Arabs to the conditions in which the State of Israel was established, the attitude of the state's leaders to peace, and the internal Israeli discourse on what had become known as "the Arab refugee problem." In contrast, the dominant scholarly writings on these topics favorably compared Israel, a state committed to peace, with the Arab nations who were intent on waging war against Israel. In these accounts, Israel was depicted as pursuing every opportunity to bring about peace with its Arab neighbors, while the Arabs sought to subvert all peace efforts.

     In the prevailing Israeli scholarly accounts, the flight of half to three quarters of a million Arabs from the state in 1948 was attributed to the constant urging of the leaders of the Arab states. In these accounts, the Arab leaders promised the Palestinian Arabs that if they fled now, they could return with the conquering Arab armies.

     According to Segev, a careful examination of newly released state documents makes it clear that these Israeli justifications were simply not true. For example, notwithstanding the claims of the Israeli government, these documents called into question the representation of Israel as the zealous pursuer of peace. In addition, they belied the dominant Israeli narrative explaining the flight of the Palestinian Arabs:

     It became apparent that the Arabs had not always refused to discuss peace with Israel and that Israel had not done all it could possibly do to reach peace with its neighbors at all costs. A large number of Palestinian Arabs were expelled from their homes, not only during the war of 1949-1949 but afterwards as well.(Segev 1986, )

     Segev's research further convinced him that the evidence contradicted the dominant zionist legitimation of Israel as the refuge for the Jewish people. In zionist discourse, Israel's primary mission was the "ingathering of the exiles." According to Segev, however,

     It was not the "gathering of exiles" in accordance with the Zionist ideal that was the primary purpose for Israel to encourage Jewish immigration, but rather its own needs for manpower in agriculture, industry and the army. Jewish immigrants from Arab countries have been discriminated against, partly as a result of explicit decisions, and many of them were deliberately stripped of their cultural and religious identity. (Segev 1986, vii)

     Scholarly studies, school texts, and popular literature all represented Israel as a nation striving to achieve a cohesive, integrated society dedicated to eliminating social inequities. Consistent with the zionist conception of Israel as the unifying site for world Jewry, Israelis were represented as comprising a family. This family was comprised of Jews from different parts of the world who had at last returned to their homeland. Freed from the fragmenting, destructive effects of life in exile, Jews, according to the prevailing discourse, would achieve in Israel the long sought unity. Safe from the corrosive influence of foreign values and ideas, Jews could at last fulfill Ahad Haam's vision of a vibrant, creative, homogeneous Jewish culture thriving in its natural habitat.

     However, the Israel represented by Segev was very different. From its inception, Israeli society was ridden with political, religious, social and cultural conflicts. These included the ongoing conflicts between Arabs and Jews, European Jews and Jews of Middle-Eastern origin, and religious Jews and secular Jews.[20]  Challenging the zionist myths of progress and consensus, Segev represented Israeli society in the 1980's as plagued by the same conflicts that inhered at the outset:

     38 years after the Declaration of Independence, Israel still faces the very same problems and conflicts that troubled the first Israelis. It is a country still searching for its principles and its identity (Segev, 1986, viii)

     Segev's book provoked was widely reviewed in the Israeli press and attracted much attention.[21]  However, it did not provoke the widespread soul searching about Israeli identity that we find in the nineteen nineties. Also, insofar as it was not published as an academic book, it did not provoke widespread debate in the academic community. Soon, however, a series of academic books, many of which elaborated on themes presented by Segev, precipitated debates within the academy and without, that eventually turned into debates over the basic character of Israeli identity and culture. The issues first raised by Segev became, within the next decade, a basic part of debates over what came to be known as postzionism.

     One of the most controversial and widely discussed books to emerge in this period was the detailed and comprehensive study, The Origins of the Palestinian Refugee Problem: 1947-1949, by the Israeli scholar Benny Morris (b.1948), a Cambridge University educated historian and, at the time, a writer for the Jerusalem Post .[22]  Morris's scholarly analysis, published in 1987, focused on four premises informing the prevailing Israeli historical narratives surrounding the 1947-48 War: 1) While the leaders of the Israeli state were open to the United Nations partition plan in 1947, it was rejected by the Arab states. 2) The 1947-48 war "was waged between a relatively defenseless and weak (Jewish) David and a relatively strong (Arab) Goliath". (Morris 1988,21) 3) The Arab refugee problem resulted primarily from the actions of the Palestinian Arabs who, encouraged by the promises of their leaders that they would return as victors, fled their homes and villages. 4) "At the war's end, Israel was interested in making peace, but the recalcitrant Arabs displayed no such interest, opting for a perpetual--if sporadic--war to the finish." (Morris 1988, 21) Although, at times, individual scholars challenged one or another of these premises, they were generally accepted as a part of the prevailing knowledge within Israeli culture and widely taught to Israeli school children.[23] 

     Morris's work was distinguished, among other things, by extensive research into the historical records relating to the flight of more than six hundred thousand Palestinian Arabs from over three hundred fifty towns and villages in 1947-1948. Carefully studying newly released records of cabinet sessions, other government documents, and private papers of Israeli leaders, Morris reached conclusions that differed decidedly from the prevailing scholarly consensus. First, in spite of making every effort to uncover evidence supporting the widely disseminated Israeli claim that the primary cause of the mass Arab flight was the encouragement of their leaders. Developing a nuanced, multi-causal explanation, Morris instead concluded that the policies and decisions of Israeli political and military leadership and the actions of the Israeli military forces had played a decisive role in precipitating the flight.

     Morris saw his work as related to that of two other Israeli scholars, Avi Shlaim and Ilan Pappe. Shlaim, who wrote Collusion Across the Jordan (1988) Pappe, the author of The Making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict: 1947-1951 (1992) had, like Morris, done their graduate studies in England. Their studies, like Morris's, also challenged the prevailing Israeli interpretations of the events surrounding the 1947-48 War. In a 1988 article published in the American Jewish journal Tikkun, Morris described the writings of the group as constituting a "new historiography."[24]  The emergence of the "new historiography," argued Morris, was a result of two basic factors. On the one hand, because of Israel's Archives Law, hundreds of thousands of previously closed state papers had become available to researchers in the early 1980's. Among these documents were correspondence, memoranda, minutes of official government meetings and the private papers of Israeli leaders. To Morris and other scholars of his generation born around the time of or soon after the establishment of the state, these documents shed new light on the conditions in which the state came into being.

     A second, but no less important factor contributing to the emergence of a group of "new historians" was generational. Coming of age following the establishment of the state, the new generation of Israeli historians was not burdened by the political and cultural baggage of their elders.[25]  The perspective of the older generation of Israeli historians had been shaped by labor zionist ideology and the trauma of the 1948 War. In contrast, the new generation of historians had experienced a very different set of realities. Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, the Yom Kippur War of 1973, the 1982 War in Lebanon, and, the Palestinian Intifada that erupted in 1987 produced in the younger generation a skeptical attitude towards the truths produced and disseminated by official Israeli discourse. Increasingly, the younger generation found that the zionist discourse, addressing a very different set of circumstances could not provide persuasive explanations of the changing realities.

     Morris's book provoked strong reactions within the academic community. On of the sharpest criticisms was made by Shabtai Tevet, an independent scholar and historian, in a scathing three part critique of the book in the Israeli daily Haaretz.

     The debate spilled over to the United States when Morris published the aforementioned article on the new historiography in American non-academic journal Tikkun, which has a declared left- wing agenda. Tevet published his response to this article in Commentary, a conservative Jewish-sponsored monthly.[26] 

     In Haaretz and Commentary, Tevet denounced Morris and the others for allowing political concerns to contaminate their scholarship. Casting doubt on Morris's scholarly qualifications, Teveth also accused those associated with the new historiography of being sympathetic to the Palestinians, and seeking "to delegitimize Zionism."

     In other words, it is the commitment to the "purposes of peace" that determines eligibility in this new historical club. And what are the "purposes of peace?" While Morris does not attempt to define them, it would appear that one of their essentials is sympathy somewhat inclined to the side of the Palestinians. Another, therefore (sic?) is the desire to delegitimate Zionism.(Teveth 1989b, 24)

These criticisms were to recur frequently in the course of the debates.

     According to Teveth, the writing of history should be independent of political concerns. Tevet argued that it is both possible and essential for a scholar to separate his or her political interests from scholarly analysis, interpretation and writing. The goal of historical scholarship, according to this view, is to get the story "right," that is, to provide an account that corresponds to the objective events.

     Morris concurred in Tevet's apolitical conception of historical interpretation. Identifying himself as a "positivist" historian, Morris agreed that the basic concern of the historian is to uncover the facts, independent of personal political views. Thus, refusing to accept at face value the prevailing Israeli explanations for the flight of the Palestinian Arabs in 1948, Morris argued that he examined the evidence relating to the factors precipitating the flight. Morris acknowledged that he asked questions the answers to which previous generations of historians had taken for granted. These questions, his skepticism towards the accepted explanations, and the alternative narrative that developed out of his archival research produced "truths" Morris regarded as objectively "truer" than the ones presented by previous scholars.

     However, from Morris's claims and Tevet's response, it is clear that far more than scholarly methods and historical accuracy were at stake. Extending far beyond the walls of academe, the questions raised by the younger scholars had the effect of problematizing prevailing notions of Israeli collective identity as well as the trustworthiness of the authorities of the state.

      Is Zionism A Form of Colonialism? Old Critiques, New Arguments

     While the writings of Segev Morris, Pappe and Shlaim focused on the period of the establishment of the state, other scholars extended the critique back into earlier periods of zionist history. In do doing, they challenged widely accepted axioms concerning the character of zionism and, by extension, the state that it helped to produce. Central to two of these studies was the question of whether or not zionism was a form of colonialism.

     In his 1983 study, Zionism & Territory: The Socio-Territorial Dimension of Zionist Politics, Baruch Kimmerling was the first Israeli academic to employ a colonial model. A Hebrew University sociologist and a student of the recognized master of Shmuel Eisenstadt, and his leading disciples Moshe Lissak and Dan Horowitz, Kimmerling took issue with their interpretations. Departing from his mentors, he drew comparisons between "the colonizing process of the Jews in Palestine [and colonial type immigration and settlement movements in the Americas, Africa, Australia, etc." (Kimmerling 1983, 8)

     Kimmerling was fully aware "the entire Arab and Muslim worlds and thereafter ... the Communist bloc and the Third World" regarded zionism "as being part of the colonialist world, as the expansion of the white man into the 'non-white' parts of the world for the purposes of exploitation." (Kimmerling 1983,28) However, Kimmerling avoided "the question of the right of Jewish settlers to settle in Palestine and to transform the territory into an exclusivist national territory." Drawing a sharp boundary between academic fields, he insisted that questions of right and wrong belong to "the realm of philosophy, international law, ideology, theology, or political science." (1983, 29-30) Instead, he focused on the processes of legitimation employed by zionists and their effects on the structure of Israeli society.

     Notwithstanding his hopes of avoiding the political issues, Kimmerling's work brought to the surface a key problematic of Israeli society. Although refraining from challenging the validity of Israeli legitimations, Kimmerling refused to take them at face value. In adopting this stance, he departed from the prevailing Israeli scholarship, raising issues and problems that it preferred to disregard. While not, at this point, openly criticizing zionist practices at this point, by classifying zionist practices as colonialist, he clearly opened the way to a powerful critique of zionist discourse.

     The use of a colonial model to interpret zionist settlement was subsequently expanded and sharpened by another Israeli scholar, Gershon Shafir, now a professor at the University of San Diego.[27]  Kimmerling, basing his analysis on the concept of frontier, had explored the ways in which the boundaries of the Israeli collective were represented and legitimated in Israeli scholarship. Shafir, for his part, focused on economic conditions, economic interests, labor practices and their effects. Acknowledging the impact of the 1967 War and its aftermath on his thinking, Shafir placed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the center of his work:

     During most of its history, Israeli society is best understood not through the existing, inward-looking, interpretations but rather in terms of the broader context of Israeli-Palestinian relations.(1989, xi)

     Rejecting the interpretations that explained Israeli society in terms of the values of zionism, Shafir argued that the most decisive factor was "the conflict between the Jewish immigrant settlers and the Palestinian inhabitants of the land."(1989) This conflict, according to Shafir, also played a key role in the formation of Israeli collective identity: "it was in the context of this national conflict that both the Jewish and Arab sides assumed their modern identities" (1989 5). In shifting the focus of his analysis from the reasons and motivations for zionist settlement practices to their effects on Palestinian Arabs, Shafir departed from the prevailing Israeli academic practices, specifically, he directly challenged the functionalist and elitist interpretive models that dominated Israeli social scientific scholarship.[28] 

     Utilizing, like Kimmerling, a comparative model, Shafir argued that Israel is best understood when compared with other European overseas societies "that were also shaped in the process of settlement and conflict with already existing societies."(Shafir 1989, xi) Shafir acknowledges that, as other scholars have claimed, zionism may be understood as "a variety of Eastern European nationalism, that is, an ethnic movement in search of a state," (Shafir 1989, 8) Nevertheless, he found a colonial model to be more useful in explaining the settlement of the land. Drawing on theories of colonialism developed by historians D.K. Fieldhouse and George Fredrickson, Shafir argues that zionism is regarded "more fruitfully as a late instance of European overseas expansion." (1989, 8) Moreover, zionist settlement is a form of "the pure settlement of European overseas expansion in a frontier region, based on relatively homogeneous or relatively homogeneous population and on separate markets." (1989, 10)[29] 

Tracing the development of settlement and labor market practices back to the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Shafir argues that economic realities combined with zionist ideology and practices to produce a society in which the indigenous Arab population was excluded from the labor market.

     The critical stage in Israeli state building and nation formation took place with the inauguration of the fifth stage in 1905 when the productivization drive of the Eastern European Jewish Enlightenment (Haskalah) was transformed, in Palestine, into "conquest of labor"--an aspiration to monopolize at first all manual labor, subsequently at least skilled jobs by Jewish workers. Already it in the "conquest of labor" phase the boundaries of the Israeli nation were determined. Yemenite, as well as other Mizrahi jews were incorporated into Israeli society but placed in an inferior position in the labor market and social structure, while Palestinian Arabs were definitely excluded even as a labor force. This strategy, though not effective before the first World War, and even later yielding only modest results, left the legacy of Jewish exclusivism. (1989, 188)

     Moreover, like Kimmerling, Shafir criticized Israeli scholarship for focusing on internal conditions and processes while, at the same time, ignoring the wider context. Like Kimmerling, Shafir insisted that "during most of its history, Israeli society is best understood not through the existing, inward-looking, interpretations but rather in terms of the broader context of Israeli-Palestinian relations."(Shafir 1989,xi) Shafir also emphasized the gap separating practical needs related to everyday realities from the ideological legitimations attributed to the settlers.

     When second Aliya members and leaders had to make choices, adopt or reject models, and change strategies of action, they constructed these not so much from the grand cloth of general ideologies as from the simpler materials of concrete methods of settlement. (1989, 3)

     Israeli functionalist social scientists studying the history of the second aliyah (wave of immigration) (1904-1914) had focused on ideological factors while others had focused on political elites. Both groups emphasized "the interests of leaders and the organizations" while minimizing the importance of the economic conditions and the interests of members:

     Both perspectives neglect the impact of economic interests and the structure of production as phenomena in their own right. They see the participants in the process of state and nation formations as possessing greater freedom in the pursuit of their intrinsic designs than the study of economic conditions under which they operated would lead us to believe. (1989, 4)

     Notwithstanding differences in chronological focus and emphasis, Shafir acknowledged the connections linking his analysis to the new historiography. However, unlike those scholars who focused on the myths of the zionist movement, Shafir emphasized the ways in which the ideology of labor zionism concealed "social contradictions behind a facade of harmonious social relations." (Shafir 1996, 4)

Responding to critics in the Preface to the second edition of his book, Shafir elaborated on his colonial mode and answered those who claimed that zionism brought many social and economic benefits to the Arab population.

     Modernization, undertaken by the Zionist movement.... was embedded in a colonial relationship and the goals of Jewish colonization, "conquest of labor," and "conquest of land," and the colonizing institutions that supported them--the Histadrut and the Jewish National Fund, were exclusivistic. "Conquest of labor" aimed at the displacement of Arab workers by Jewish workers in all branches and skill levels. Arab land, once purchased by the JNF, could not be resold to the Arabs, and JNF land was not available for employment of Arab workers. The kibbutzim, that customarily were build on JNF land and had only Jewish members, were the most exclusivistic of all the creations of the Second Aliya, and in that fashion, also thoroughly nationalist! In fact, the Labor Movement's institutions were the ones that were least able to benefit the Arabs of Palestine. (Shafir 1996a, 5)

     Notwithstanding the continued emphasis of Israeli scholarship on the positive, creative, and constructive character of zionism and the benefits produced by its institutions, Shafir persisted in his counter narrative. In the process, he reiterated an interpretation that reveals the underside of values, practices and institutions that, to most Israelis are taken as models of social pioneering.

     Other critics of Shafir have argued in journal and newspaper articles that insofar as there existed a "dual society" and "dual economy," zionism had little or no impact on the Palestinian population. In response, Shafir insisted that

     ...as long as Jewish society was bent on expansion it could never remain self-contained and directly interacted with its Palestinian counterpart through the purchase, and later conquest of part of its land and the uprooting of a share of its sparse population. (1996a, 6)

     A third criticism of Shafir was that while zionist settlement was a form of colonization, it was "colonization without colonialism."[30]  Shafir readily admitted that zionism does not conform precisely to European colonial models. Factors such as the absence of a metropolis, the decidedly nationalist character of zionism, and the secondary role of capitalistic expansion in zionist settlement clearly have distinguished zionism from other colonial undertakings. Nevertheless, zionism remained a movement "aimed at the creation of a homogeneous settler-immigrant population." (Shafir 1996a,7) Moreover, so long as zionist discourse represented the land as "empty," it produced and reproduced a colonialist view of "the native population as being part and parcel of the environment that was to be subdued, tamed, and made hospitable for themselves." (Shafir 1996a, 6)

     The claim that zionism was a colonialist enterprise and Israel a colonial state was not new. As we saw in the previous chapter, such claims had been previously made within Israel by radical leftist groups such as Mazpen, which had openly declared itself to be anti-Zionist. In addition, hostile nations including Arab, Soviet, and so-called "third world" states had repeatedly voiced this accusation in an effort to delegitimate the Israeli state.

     What distinguished the new Israeli scholarly writings linking zionism and colonialism was that the scholars who produced them did not consider themselves to be hostile to the state. Notwithstanding the fact that their writings sharply contested the dominant Israeli representations of zionism as a humane, progressive enterprise, scholars like Baruch Kimmerling and Gershon Shafir considered themselves to be loyal Israelis for whom the legitimacy of the state was not in question. Nor did they identify with or support groups hostile to Israel.

     Kimmerling and Shafir reflected and continue to reflect a growing awareness among Israeli scholars that historical studies of Zionism and the state of Israel must incorporate and treat seriously the previously excluded voices of the Palestinian other. Focusing on the position of marginalized or excluded groups, their studies significantly broadened the boundaries within which Israeli cultural identity is discussed. They thus departed from the dominant historical and sociological representations. Utilizing a comparative approach, both scholars produced work that strongly supported the claim that the zionist settlement of Israel comprised a particular form of colonial settlement. Needless to say, this elicited sharp criticisms from other Israeli scholars, particularly those who identified with labor zionism.

     In contrast to the scholarly interpretations that regarded Israel as a unique case demanding unique methodological approaches. Kimmerling and Shafir both argued that the analysis of zionist settlement practices requires a comparative model. Shifting attention away from the intentions and values of zionist leaders and settlers, they emphasized the destructive effects of zionist settlement patterns and practices on the native Palestinian population. In different ways and in to differing degrees, both Kimmerling and Shafir challenged the dominant zionist view that represent the settlement of Palestine as a benign, progressive process that brought the benefits of modernity to Jews and Palestinian Arabs alike.

     Another approach associated with postzionism is that of Ilan Pappe. Pappe is one of the few of these scholars to openly proclaim the relative, perspectival character of historical discourse. Pappe thus diverges from the positivistic position advocated by Morris, who had criticized Israeli historians for getting the story wrong.[31] 

     Pappe agreed that the writings of historians such as Morris are more comprehensive than previous studies. This was, in part, a result of the fact that Morris asked questions that his predecessors had neglected. These included such questions as: 1) To what extent was Yishuv in danger of destruction? 2) What was the level of preparation of Arab armies and the relative strength of the two sides? 3) What was the influence of the Shoah on the diplomatic negotiations? 4) What caused the exodus of Palestinians from Israeli held territory? 5) Who was responsible for the failure of the peace negotiations after the war? (Pappe, 1993d)

     However, Pappe departed from Morris and most of his colleagues by advocating a multi-perspectival approach to history. One of the only postzionist scholars to draw upon recent critiques of objectivity, Pappe rejected the view that objectivity is a matter of the correspondence of interpretation to facts or events.[32]  Given that events and facts are seen differently by different groups, the historian must incorporate into his/her interpretation multiple perspectives and alternative interpretations. In particular, historians of one group or nation must include in their narratives the narrative of the Other.[33]  To demonstrate the cogency of this approach, Pappe edited several collections of scholarly articles of diverse, often conflicting viewpoints on such topics as the Intifada, Jews in the Ottoman Empire, and Islam and peace. Advocating a multi-perspectival "Rashamon" type view of the Arab-Israeli conflict, Pappe argues for a pluralistic position in favor of a "scholarly/research pluralism."(Pappe 1993d, 110)[34] 

     The call for a multi-perspectival approach to Israeli history was supported by Kimmerling, who with an American scholar, Joel Migdal, wrote a pioneering scholarly study of the Palestinians. Their book, Palestinians: The Making of A People (1993) represented the first effort by an Israeli scholar to produce a balanced, comprehensive account of the social and political development of the Palestinian nation. Depicting the prevailing Israeli scholarship as myopic, the authors criticized interpretations of Israeli history for excluding the Palestinian narrative. Adopting a position rare among Israeli and non-Israeli Jewish scholars alike, Kimmerling and Migdal insisted that the narratives of Jews and Palestinians are intertwined:

     Zionists have been absorbed in a nationalist project rendering the Palestinians almost incidental. In the process, they have failed to grasp the extent to which their own society has been shaped by its ongoing encounter with the Palestinians. (Kimmerling & Migdal, xviii)

Consequently, the history of one people cannot be understood without attending to the narrative of the other:

     Challenging the zionist interpretation of history, Kimmerling and Migdal thus seek to provide space within Israeli scholarly discourse for the narratives of the previously silenced Palestinian. Whereas the dominant Israeli scholarship framed the history of Zionism, the settlement of the land, and the creation of the state from a singularly Jewish perspective, Kimmerling and Migdal undertake to represent the Palestinian perspective.[35] 

     As our own account may have suggested, it is impossible to tell the story of Zionism or Palestinism without understanding the impact they had on one another. For the Palestinians, the story centers on Al-Nakba, a catastrophe that produced ironically, a strong collective consciousness transcending all the fractures. (Kimmerling & Migdal, 279)

     Morris, eschewing traditional explanations, Jewish as well as Palestinian, sought to understand the complexity of the conditions that led to the exodus of more than a half million Palestinians from the new state of Israel in 1948. Emphasizing the effects of the attitudes and actions of Israeli political and military leaders, Morris produced a multi-causal explanation in which the actions of both Israelis and Palestinians contributed to that exodus. However, as significant as his work was for broadening and altering the dominant historical representations of the 1948 War, it does not incorporate Palestinian voices [NO?]. Nor is he particularly concerned with the ways in which the narratives of the two peoples were intertwined.

     Kimmerling and Pappe further criticized the discourse of Israeli historians for its political bias. These scholars, using such value laden terms as aliyah (immigration, haluziut (pioneering), geulah (redemption), tekumah (rebirth), and War of liberation/Independence, neither critically analyzed these terms nor placed them in their ideological context. Thus, in using such terms, Israeli scholars actually reproduce zionist discourse and narratives.[36]  (Pappe 1993d) In place of this terminology, Kimmerling and Pappe advocate the use of more neutral terms including "immigration" in place of "ascent," purchase of lands in place of redemption of land; the attempt to actualize utopia in place of pioneering; the War of 1948 in place of the War of Liberation; fighting units of paramilitary groups in place of rioters or conspirators.[37] 

     Kimmerling presented a comprehensive summary of the new critical scholarship in a special (1995) edition of the journal History & Memory. Notwithstanding his refusal to accept the label postzionst, Kimmerling nonetheless provided a lucid and concise statement of the characteristics of postzionist scholarship.[38]  Emphasizing the political effects of scholarly historical and sociological representations, Kimmerling critically assessed the basic principles that inform the dominant Israeli historiography and sociology and suggests alternatives.

According to Kimmerling, the dominant Israeli scholarly discourse is characterized by six practices: 1) periodizing Israeli history/pre-history according to the waves of Jewish settlement, wars, and the distinction between pre/post state; 2) explaining the establishment of the state teleologically; 3) assuming the uniqueness of Jewish history, including the history of Zionism and Israel; 4) using exclusionary, judeocentric/ethnocentric categories to define the boundaries of the Israeli collective; 5)legitimating zionist territorial claims on the basis of the presumed antiquity of Jewish settlement in the land; and 6) analyzing and emphasizing the inner intentions of zionist and Israeli leaders, while ignoring the external effects of policies and actions on the Palestinians.

     Kimmerling asserted that ignoring the significant discontinuities among different waves of Jewish immigration and constructing "a 'reality' common to all the immigrants," significantly limited "the scope and questions of historical research." Moreover, the effects of zionist scholarship are by no means limited to the confines of the academy. Thus, by dividing Israeli history between pre/post state periods, zionist scholarship clearly implies that "the process of state and society building had been concluded by the end of the first five waves of immigration. Subsequent changes were thus regarded as extensions or improvements (or even a worsening) of basic sociopolitical patterns established between 1882 and 1948. (Kimmerling 1995, 51) According to Kimmerling, this has the effect of minimizing the contribution of later, post-statehood immigrants, most of whom were from Middle Eastern countries.

     Kimmerling further argued that treating Israeli history as unique leads scholars to neglect patterns and characteristics that zionist immigration and settlement practices share with other immigrant-settler societies. Were scholars to utilize a comparative approach and refer to settlement processes in North and South America, Australia, New Zealand, Algeria and South Africa, they would, argues Kimmerling, be forced "to deal with Israel's colonial legacy, the very allusion to which is taboo, in both Israeli society and Israeli historiography" (Kimmerling 1995,53).

     Kimmerling reiterated the argument that by focusing on intentions of the zionist settlers rather than on the effects of their practices, Israeli scholars have reinforced the zionist view that Jewish settlement was "a benevolent enterprise that would bring progress and prosperity to all the inhabitants of the land." (Kimmerling 1995, 56) This approach, which excludes the Palestinian perspective, ignores the disempowering, oppressive effects of this settlement on the indigenous Palestinian Arab population.

     Another effect of the dominant scholarly discourse criticized by Kimmerling is its exclusionary effects. Treating Israel as if it were an exclusively Jewish society, Israeli sociologists and historians create "an almost 'exclusive' Jewish bubble which excludes the Arab population and the British state from serious consideration." (Kimmerling 1995,53) This, in turn, legitimates the marginalizing or exclusion of non-Jews, particularly Palestinian Arabs. In this way, Israeli scholarship tends to confirm "the political and legal perception of Israel as the state of the Jewish people residing both within and outside its boundaries, rather than as the state of its citizens (which would also include Arabs.)" (Kimmerling 1995,54)

     In Kimmerling's view, Israeli historians and sociologists are "caught in a cross-fire between their professional commitments on the one hand, and their commitment to the Israeli collective on the other." As a result, their academic discourse is "embedded in an active form of knowledge that shapes collective identity by bridging between different pasts (recovered, imagined, invented, and intentionally constructed) and creating meanings and boundaries for the collectivity." Consequently, historians and sociologists serve as "an ultimate 'supreme court' which deciphers from all the accumulated 'pieces of the past' the 'true' collective memories which are appropriate for inclusion in the canonical national historical narrative." (Kimmerling 1995, 57) Kimmerling called upon his fellow scholars to recognize that they are "part of a sociopolitical hegemony" and that the knowledge that they produce plays a key role in shaping that hegemony. "Only an awareness of those limitations can enable the historian to partially overcome their effect." (Kimmerling 1995, 57)

     Kimmerling claimed that even the discourse used by scholars when referring to the land is politically-laden. Israeli scholars repeatedly use the term "land of Israel" rather than Palestine even when discussing historical periods in which no Jews lived there or in which the land was ruled by other nations. In Kimmerling's view, this has the effect of granting "the Jews an eternal title over the territory, regardless of who populated or governed it, even in a situation when the 'legitimate ownership' was under dispute." (Academic History, 48) Similarly, the use of such ideological concepts as "ingathering of he exiles" has the effect of concealing the effects of settlement activities on the Palestinian "others" who were already living in the land. This discourse also serves to close off discussion of these effects.[39] 

     In addition to emphasizing the power effects of scholarly discourse, the new historians and critical sociologists have also exhibited a concern for marginalized, excluded or subjugated others. Whereas zionist scholarship took for granted the legitimacy of the Jewish claim to the land, postzionist scholars juxtaposed to these claims those of the Palestinians living on the land. Rather than follow the conventional scholarly practice of privileging zionist claims, postzionist scholars sought to formulate a more neutral discourse so as to include the previously silenced voices of the Palestinian "other."

     Pappe is representative of the "postzionist" scholars who, like their critics, readily acknowledged that the issues at stake in the scholarly debates reverberate far beyond the boundaries of the academic community. Like Ram, he saw a clear connection between these debates and the crisis of Israeli collective identity. Torn between democracy and nationalism, which includes religious identity, secular Israelis are experiencing an crisis of identity. (Pappe, 1995c, 447) Although Israel has clearly achieved a type of democracy, insofar as it privileges nationalism over democracy, it diverges from the dominant Western liberal models. [Pappe 1995c, 444ff.] Moreover, by imposing Jewish nationalism on a non-Jewish minority, Israel puts limits on democracy. In the final analysis, concluded Pappe, while maintaining many democratic styles, Israel "is not democratic" (when compared with Western democracies).

     Like others identified as postzionists, Pappe favors a democratic state in which Israeli citizenship rather than religion or ethnic nationality is the primary identifying factor. In his view (Pappe 1995c, 447), even secular Israelis have accepted a religious, i.e., Jewish identity which, based upon the identity of the mother, is biologically grounded. Such an identity, which is genetically determined, runs counter to an alternative, liberal-democratic-secular identity. Instead, Pappe advocates a pluralistic, heterogeneous Israel, whether it be a heterogeneity of east/west, of tradition/modernity, of Jews/Palestinians. (Pappe 1995c, 447) Consequently, Pappe favors rescinding the Law of Return as necessary step for Israel to position that identifies Israel with zionism, and loyalty to Israel with loyalty to zionism. However, like Kimmerling, he eschewed the label postzionist. Pappe preferred instead the label a-zionistic or non-zionist.[40]  (Pappe 1995c,) In this, he differs from Kimmerling who eschews all labels. However, notwithstanding their differing positions with regard to the usage of the term postzionist, Morris, Pappe and Kimmerling have each posed serious challenges to zionist discourse and problematized the scholarship that they identify with it.

Toward A Postzionist Sociology

      A highly significant moment in the formation of postzionist discourse was the publication of a selection of writings by critical social sciences edited by Uri Ram. (Ram 1993) Ram is one of the few scholars who openly embraces the label postzionist. In this volume, he gathered together and put before the public a collection of sociological essays that had previously been published in academic journals. Interestingly, a number of the articles in Ram's book had originally appeared as early as the 1970's. These included essays by Haifa University sociologists Sammy Smooha, Shlomo Swirski, and Devorah Bernstein, each of whom focused on groups considered to be marginal by the dominant scholarship.[41] 

      Ram argued that the social scientists included in this volume laid the foundations for a new, postzionist sociology. Whereas the dominant Israeli social science identified with the discourse of labor zionism, postzionist scholars, producing alternative representations of Israeli society and culture, sought to break free from the effects of zionist discourse. Thus, these social scientific studies paralleled in significant ways the new historiography.

     Rejecting the organic, integrationist model of society, Swirski, Bernstein, and Smooha highlighted the conflicts in Israeli society, along with exclusionary practices and ongoing power struggles. In place of assimilation and integration, they emphasized marginalization and exclusion. Consequently, their representation of Israel society differed significantly from that of the dominant scholarship. While their writings were frequently rejected or ignored by the dominant social science, the publication of Ram's anthology brought them into prominence and positioned them as a new critical school of Israeli sociology.

     In his 1995 English study The Changing Agenda of Israeli Sociology: Theory, Ideology, Identity, published in the United States, Ram elaborated on the background and context of the new postzionist social science.[42] 

     While the agenda of Zionist sociology has been congruous with the founding of the Israeli nation-state, the time is now ripe for the formulation of a post-Zionist sociological agenda that would be congruous with the consolidation of a democratic Israeli civil society; a society of free and equal civilians and of diverse identities. Rather than national integration, the focus of such an agenda should be the issue of citizenship in a modern democratic society.(Ram 1995 206)

This integration of scholarly practice with the values of pluralistic democracy and the strengthening of Israeli civil society is a recurring theme among postzionist scholars.

     Ram, in the tradition of Alvin Gouldner's critical sociology, sought to produce "a historically informed critique of [Israeli] sociology as a theory and as a social institution" (Gouldner, cited in Ram, vii). Ram made it clear from the outset that his study is politically engaged and shaped by his "personal, social and political involvement" and participation in "the Israeli left and the peace movement." Contrasting his approach with the prevailing objectivistic Israeli scholarship, Ram described critical sociology as a platform upon which "a new Israeli identity struggles for emergence." (206)

     Ram linked conventional Israeli sociology to zionist ideology on the one hand, and to particular moments in the political, social and cultural life of Israel on the other. To Ram, the academic sociology which first emerged at the Hebrew University with the establishment of the state was a conscripted sociology that both legitimated and reinforced the dominant zionist ideology. In contrast, the writings of the critical sociologists represent a "wider political and cultural process of diversification and pluralization" as well as the "democratization of the public sphere." (Ram 1995a,206) Critical of the positivist tradition that informs conventional Israeli social science, Ram considers "scientific practices to be embedded within cultural traditions and social contexts, and guided by social and cognitive interests."(Ram 1995a,3)[43]  Accordingly, the efforts of objectivist scholars to separate academic discourse from the broader social and cultural discourse have been futile. Declaring his intention to intervene in Israeli cultural debates, Ram considered postzionist sociology to be consistent with the kind of society he wants to see emerge in Israel.[44] 

     Ram's announcement of a postzionist agenda for Israeli sociology appears to be the first instance in which an Israeli scholar openly identified with postzionism. As the scholarly debates over new historiography and critical Israeli social science clearly revealed, the contested issues penetrate to the deepest levels of Israeli culture and society. Understandably the critique of the dominant Israeli scholarship by Ram and others precipitated a major debate among Israeli historians and social scientists. In both scope and intensity, these debates differed significantly from previous debates over zionism.

The Public Debates Over Postzionism:

Defining The Boundaries of Israeli National Discourse

     In 1995, within a matter of months, the controversies over the new scholarship spread throughout the academy. This is evident in the several academic symposia devoted to the new scholarship and to postzionism held at each of the major Israeli universities and in published collections. In addition, the debate was carried forward in such respectable academic journals as History & Memory and Israel Studies.[45]  It was not long, however, before the academic debates flowed out of the restricted spaces of the academy and into the public sphere in such newspapers as Haaretz, Yediot Aharonot, and Davar. What first appeared to be academic debates among scholars were quickly transformed into debates about the character of Israeli society, its past and its future. In the early stages of these public debates, we encounter the increasing usage of the term postzionism as the key concept around which the conflict was framed.

     The early attacks in the press give a sense of the urgency with which the academic debates over postzionism were received by a larger readership. In one of the first public attacks, published in the Israeli daily Davar, Yisrael Landers drew the lines of battle. In an article provocatively titled "The Sins that We Committed in Establishing the State," he wrote:

     What has previously been known in limited academic circles should now be revealed to the community at large: There has arisen a scholarly school among Israeli social scientists that challenge the zionist world view, the zionist settlement of the land of Israel, and the right of the state of Israel to exist. (Landers 1994,8)[46] 

     According to Landers, a new wave of Israeli scholars, believing that "the state of Israel was born in sin," have depicted zionism as "a violent and oppressive movement." To Landers, these scholars, having allowed their ideology to intrude on their academic research, can not be considered zionists. Instead, Landers designated them as postzionists. Clarifying his usage of the term, Landers applied it to those who believe that "Israel should be a normal democratic society without a specifically Jewish mission." (Lander 1994,8;c)[47] 

Bypassing the scholarly issues, Landers emphasized the dangers that he considered the new historians and critical sociologists to pose to zionism and to the state of Israel:

     These critical scholars are presently only a minority among their colleagues in the various social sciences. But owing to their abilities as scholars and debaters, their views are receiving a wider hearing. They are directing generations of students in research, and their subversion of the Zionist narrative will contribute, intentionally or unintentionally, to a delegitimation of the Jewish state at home and abroad.(Landers 1994, 8)

     Landers further accused the postzionist scholars of criticizing the zionist world view and zionist settlement practices. Moreover, they had constructed a counternarrative that located the origins of the state in a series of sinful acts. In representing zionist practices as violent and oppressive, they were, he argued, calling into question the legitimacy of the state.

     Landers thus accused the new historians and critical sociologists of rejecting the zionist conception of the mission of the state. Denying that Israel had a specific Jewish mission, these scholars were guilty of trying to transform the state into a "normal democratic society."

     Shortly after Lander's article appeared, the well known novelist Aharon Megged carried forward the assault on postzionism. In an article in the daily Haaretz entitled:" The Israeli Propensity for Self- Destruction," Megged attacked the postzionist scholars for their suicidal drive:

     Is Zionism approaching the stage of its "Spenglerian" decline? As she stands on the threshold of this stage, is it driven by some blind biological force to self destruction? (Megged 1994, 27)

     Purportedly aiming his criticisms at the 1993 Oslo Accords and the ensuing peace process, Megged focused his attack on scholars such as Morris, Kimmerling, and Pappe. According to Megged, these scholars view zionism as "a kind of evil, colonialistic conspiracy to exploit the people (am) living in Palestine, to subjugate them, to dispossess them." Furthermore, they regard basic zionist values such as "redemption of the land," "conquest through labor," "ingathering of the exiles," and "defense, to be" no more than hypocrisy and "euphemisms" for a depraved, base plot. (Megged 1994, 27) In Megged's view, these "postzionist" scholars attack the very zionist values that provide the state of Israeli with its foundations.

     Taking up a theme that was to recur in other attacks on postzionism, Megged accused the postzionist scholars of abetting Israel's anti-Semitic enemies who seek the destruction of the state. In his view, the interpretations promulgated by the postzionist scholars not really new, but a replay of earlier attacks on zionism and the state that had emanated from the Soviet Union and from other Marxist-Leninist circles.

     What is then the message of the new historians ...whose words many truth-seeking and righteous Israelis are ingesting with masochistic thirst and pleasure? The message is that most of the certainties that are fixed in our consciousness and our experience are lies. (Megged 1994, 27)

     To Megged, the new historians were guilty of casting aspersions on all Israelis, present and past, who, motivated only by the highest moral ideals, had devoted themselves to reclaiming the land and defending the nation. Referring to the moral values, ideals, and motives of the settlers, Megged ignored the effects of their actions on the minority Palestinian population. Instead, he reiterated an argument disseminated by labor zionist discourse. The early zionist settlers, he insisted, never intended "to exploit the cheap labor of the natives, to steal their lands by force, to subjugate them through denying them rights, individually or collectively. Just the opposite: [their goal was] to create an independent economic and cultural system of alongside the Arab system, independent and non-exploitative." Far from seeking to harm the Arab economic system, the labor zionist movement only sought "to develop and advance it." (Megded 1994,28)

     Insofar as they ignored the consciousness and experiences of the zionist settlers, postzionists were guilty of slandering all of those pioneers who fought malaria to clear swamps, established collective settlements, and risked their lives to defend the state. Following Landers, Megged accused Kimmerling and Migdal in their book The Palestinians, of reiterating anti-Zionist attacks that had its roots in Soviet propaganda. In that propaganda, as in the writings of the postzionist scholars, the kibbutz had been represented "not as the realization of an elevated social dream, but rather [as} an economic tool for carrying out numerous oppressive acts against the Arab population." (92)

Identifying Kimmerling and Migdal's position with that of "enemies of the state," Megged sought to discredit the work of the postzionist scholars:

     What motivates these Israeli scholars to distort and make ugly the face of the Jewish national liberation movement, whose only desire was to realize "the hope of two millennia" to return to Zion, where the individual Jew as well as the Jewish People "will return to rebirth"... A movement which, even if it committed many errors on the way and caused many wrongs/injustices, Never was there a national liberation movement in human history that tried like it did to actualize its goals nonviolently, and to guide itself by moral principles. What drove them to portray it before the world as a movement grounded in conspiracies of subjugation and oppression? (Megged 1994,29)

Although acknowledging that there is no purely objective history and that historians can tell the story in a variety of ways, Megged nonetheless denounced those Israeli scholars who,

     ... with great pleasure, demonstrate that our defensive wars were actually wars whose purpose was to destroy the other, and attribute to the Israeli soldier, whom we know very well as our flesh and blood, the countenance of the Kluges S.S (Megged 1994,28)

     Megged also accused postzionists of denying the historical bond linking the Jewish people to its ancestral homeland. In so doing, he insisted, they deny the very connection that had made possible the establishment of the Jewish state, the revival of Hebrew language and culture, and the ingathering of millions of Jews from all parts of the diaspora.

     The articles by Landers and Megged unearthed a stream of impassioned responses by both defenders and critics of postzionism. Defenders of the academic "postzionists" accused Megged of failing to address the scholarly arguments of those whom he attacked. They further accused him of espousing a form of romantic nationalism in which the nation, driven by a biological force, was considered to be mystically tied to the land. They claimed that for Megged and critics like him, the only true Israeli intellectual is one who supports the zionist political establishment.

     Kimmerling, who had been singled out for criticism by both Landers and Megged, denied that he was a postzionist. At the same time, he vehemently defended the position of "postzionist scholars." In his view, the debates over the new historiography and critical sociology are, among other things, a struggle for power. The attacks by Landers and Megged, he argued, reflect the position of senior scholars who, sensing that the ground beneath them is shaking, fear that "their views cannot withstand the changes that are occurring in the social sciences] and in historiography." (Kimmerling 1994a,52) Unable to win their point in the academic forum, these scholars now seek to win over the general public by manipulating public fear.

     According to Kimmerling, Israeli scholars have traditionally been caught in a bind, torn between their commitment to scholarly objectivity on the one hand, and their need to legitimate the state. To support his claim, Kimmerling pointed to the prevailing scholarly interpretations of the 1948 War. While historians and middle-Eastern specialists were well aware of the circumstances surrounding the expulsion of the Arabs in 48, there was, he insisted, a taboo against discussing it. Thus, while claiming to establish an objective scholarship free of ideological bias, scholars committed to zionism produced a "zionist science" that legitimated the zionist enterprise. (1994a 50)

     Kimmerling thus criticized the prevailing Israeli social science for being a "conscripted science" (mada meguyas) that served the interests of labor zionism. Not only did this social science exclude the voices of the Palestinians, it also allowed no space for the voices of Jewish women or Jews of Middle-Eastern origin. In Kimmerling's view, critics like Megged, desiring to perpetuate this conscripted scholarship, yearn for the renewal of a "a 'zionist science,' that is, an ideological science which is actually no science."(1994a 51)

     Kimmerling also criticized Megged for fomenting a general "fear of peace" which, like McCarthyism in the United States, encouraged a search for traitors. Thus, Megged, a non-academician, served as

     a mouthpiece for a highly respected group of senior academicians and [is] part of a growing effort to delegitimate the works of younger scholars who, usually not yet having earned a permanent position in the academic establishment, are vulnerable to being hurt. (Kimmerling, 1994a 54)

     Pappe, denying that he in any way questioned the legitimacy of the state, accused journalists like Megged and Landers of engaging in ideological rather than scholarly criticism. From the perspective of these critics, the only crime committed by postzionist scholars is their refusal to accept "Zionist truth." Taking a more extreme position than Kimmerling, Pappe argued that the zionists had intentionally uprooted the Palestinian population and retroactively legitimated this action by their appeal to the "uniqueness of Jewish history that derives from the Shoah."(1994b 54) Pursuing this line of legitimation, zionist historiography, according to Pappe, "used the unique historical event, the Shoah, as a means of exempting exempt itself from any kind of academic or moral criticism." (Pappe 1994b, 54)

     Landers' critique of the postzionist scholars found a strong supporter in the highly respected Hebrew University sociologist, Moshe Lissak. Lissak, co-author of two highly regarded studies of Israeli social and political life, had received the coveted Israel Prize for his contributions to Israeli scholarship.

     While acknowledging the validity of some of the claims of the postzionist scholars, Lissak nonetheless accused them of being driven by political ideology and allowing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to dominate their scholarly analysis.[48]  Lissak also accused them of having allowed their postzionist dream of a secular, democratic, Israeli society to intrude on their scholarship. Such ideological concerns, insisted Lissak, have no place in the scholarly enterprise.[49] 

     Megged's position was vehemently supported by Shlomo Aronson, a professor of political science at the Hebrew University. Shifting the focus of the debate, Aronson raised the issue of the Shoah, the Nazi destruction of European Jewry. The Shoah, argued Aronson, is particularly troublesome to scholars like Ilan Pappe,[50]  who accuse the zionists of using it as a political weapon to legitimate unjust acts against the Palestinians. Reiterating the accusations leveled by Landers and Megged, Aronson accused the postzionists of denying Israel's right to speak in the name of the dead victims. Consequently, he argued, they are guilty of resurrecting the accusation regularly leveled at Israel by her enemies, namely, that Israel was born in sin. To Aronson,

     the Shoah destroys this claim, insofar as it establishes who were the real victims, how far the tragedy extended, who were the secondary victims, and to what extent they were sealed off from the suffering of others and their right to a piece of land to which their culture was linked for two thousand years.(New Historians, 53)

     In Aronson's comment we find an excellent example of the use of the Shoah in zionist discourse. Privileging the suffering of European Jews over the suffering of Palestinian Arabs in 1948, Aaronson sought to silence critical debate. Aronson further criticizes Pappe for using ideas imported from England, France and the United States, an accusation that was repeated by others, including Lissak. (The New Historians , 52). According to Aronson, Pappe's anti-positivist, narrative approach to history leads him "to view history with Arab, Soviet and Western eyes." (53)

     As Aronson's comment makes clear, the debates over the new scholarship and postzionism revolve around issues of territory and space. The denunciation of those using foreign or imported implies that there are clearly defined cultural boundaries within which the production of meaning may be legitimately carried out. Those, like the postzionists, who draw upon concepts and categories developed outside of Israel are guilty of importing alien ideas and introducing them into Israeli culture. Assuming the unique character of Israeli society, culture and history, Aronson accepts only particularly "local" conceptual frameworks as appropriate and legitimate. Those like Pappe and the other academicians associated with the new scholarship, who apply perspectives "brought in from" such places as Europe and the United States of America are smuggling into Israeli cultural discourse alien products. Given the fact that all Israeli scholarship draws upon scholarship emanating from American and European universities, this accusation appears very strange indeed.

     To critics like Landers, Megged, Aronson, and Lissak, the scholars whom they labeled postzionists had transgressed the legitimate limits of zionist discourse. By calling into question the prevailing representations of Israeli history and society, the new historians and their sociologist counterparts questioned the basic premises of zionist claims concerning the legitimacy of the state.[51]  In the view of the critics, the new historians and critical sociologists, positioning themselves outside the boundaries of legitimate zionist discourse, had provided support to those who sought to destroy the state of Israel.

     It seems clear, therefore, that one of the central issues in the debates over postzionism is that of cultural borders. Aronson appears to be linking ideas and intellectual orientations with specific geographical areas. According to this view, which is subsequently reiterated by the Hebrew University sociologist Moshe Lissak, one can evaluate ideas and scholarly methods according to the places in which they are produced. Conversely, it implies that Israeli history is best interpreted by ideas and methods unique to Israel, a highly problematic claim that significantly parochializes Israeli scholarship.

The Shoah and Zionist Discourse

     In raising the question of the Shoah, Aronson called attention to yet another issue that plays a prominent role in the debates over postzionism. The role played by the Shoah in legitimating Israel's existence is clearly reflected in The Proclamation of the State of Israel;

     The Nazi Holocaust, which engulfed millions of Jews in Europe, proved anew the urgency of the reestablishment of the Jewish State, which would solve the provlem of Jewish homelessness by opening the gages to all Jews and lifting the Jewish people to equality in the family of nations. (Mendes-Flohr & Reinharz 1995, 629)

     The Shoah occupies a distinct and powerful role in Israeli, particularly in relation to the construction of Israeli national identity.[52]  Zionists in Israel have regularly emphasized the contrast between new Hebrews and Israelis on the one hand, and what they regarded as the unproductive, subservient, weak, parasitic diaspora Jew. Not surprisingly, one question that troubled first generation Israelis was the passive behavior of those diaspora Jews who had gone to their deaths "as sheep to the slaughter." [53]  At the same time, many zionists viewed the destruction of European Jewry as confirmation of the zionist axiom that there was no hope for Jewish life in exile.

     As we saw in chapter one, zionism represented itself as a movement committed to providing a homeland which could serve as a refuge to persecuted Jews. For the Herzlian strain, zionism's primary objective was to transform the homeless nation from a defenseless and persecuted group vulnerable to the whims of exile into a nation secure in its own land. Thus, at the heart of the zionist enterprise was the well being of world Jewry.

      To the zionist founders of the state, the destruction of Europe's Jews under the Nazis was the ultimate proof of the truth of zionism's critique of exile. The fact that European Jews, many of whom thought that they were well integrated into the nations in which they lived, could suffer the fate that they did was sufficient confirmation of the inherently unstable, insecure, and life-threatening character of life in exile.

     In recent years, however, a number of scholarly studies have raised questions concerning the attitude and the actions of zionist and early state leaders toward the victims and survivors of the shoah. One of the first to raise this question was Shabtai Beit Zvi, an independent scholar who authored a controversial but pioneering study published in 1973. Exploring the attitudes and behavior of zionist leaders to the survivors and victims, Beit Zvi concluded that in rejecting the option of Uganda as an alternative to a Jewish homeland in Palestine, the zionist movement had privileged the building of a homeland in Palestine over and above the goal of providing a refuge for persecuted Jews.[54]  This claim, and the subsequent scholarship that provided support for it, was considered by opponents to be part and parcel of postzionist discourse.

     Throughout 1994 and 1995, the debates over the new scholarship and postzionism escalated rapidly throughout Israel. It was clear that the issues raised by the scholars labeled postzionists struck a responsive chord among many Israelis. In newspapers, scholarly journals, public forums and academic symposia, the issue of postzionism was repeatedly echoed. In addition to Lissak and Aronson, attacks on postzionist scholars were leveled by Anita Shapira, a historian, and Eliezer Schweid, a professor of Jewish philosophy.

     In these criticisms by academicians there are a number of recurring arguments. In response to the accusation that conventional Israeli scholarship was infused with political interests, the defenders of zionism argue that, in fact, it is the postzionists who are guilty of politicizing scholarship. Zionist scholars claimed that the new historians and critical sociologists had made the mistake of allowing their ideological interests to guide their academic research and determine their conclusions. Another recurring criticism made by Israeli academicians hostile to postzionism is that the new historians were guilty of blurring the lines separating past from present. Viewing past events through the prism of the present, they decontextualized the behavior of zionist leaders and their followers, thereby ignoring those very factors that are central to any historical interpretation.

     These criticisms by Lissak, Shapira and other academicians evoked strong responses from two critical social scientists, Michael Shalev and Gershon Shafir. Their articles, taken together with those of Kimmerling and Pappe and Ram discussed earlier, help to further clarify the gulf separating the younger generation of postzionist social scientists from their zionist elders.[55]  Citing Ram, Shalev and Shafir take issue with those who would separate a researcher's interpretation from his or her social and biographical context. To Shalev, Lissak's attempt to "pose a rigid distinction between defenders of science, like himself, and those who would prostitute it to their political agenda" is "so absurd that it cannot be taken seriously." (Shalev 1996,171) The very efforts of senior scholars to delegitimate the position of the postzionist scholars is a clear example of the politicized character of conservative and radical scholarship alike. (Shalev 1996,187, N.30.) At the same time, these scholars would not consider ideological arguments sufficient. Thus, as Shalev asserts, it is "the responsibility of scholars to justify and debate competing perspectives on theoretical and empirical grounds." (Shalev 1996,183)

However, Shalev refuses to frame the divisions separating the scholars in terms of loyalty to zionism:

     The common denominator of the members of the critical community is not rejection of Zionist premises (some do, others do not). Instead, it can best be described as what I referred to in my own case as the "disappointment" that ensued when myths are shattered (Shalev 1996,173-174).

     While not denying that the issue of zionism and anti-zionism has an appropriate place in the discussion, Shalev refuses to make it the central point. As he sees it, those like Lissak and Landers who make the charge of anti-Zionism are using witch hunting tactics such as those used by Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy in the nineteen fifties:

     I have no intention of playing this game by McCarthyist rules. However, if the political agenda of critical scholars is to be clarified, then the issue of anti-Zionism must be addressed, but in general and not personal terms.(Shalev 1996, 185 n. 13)

     Defenders of the critical social science also contest the adequacy of the previous generation's functionalist approach. Privileging order, consensus and integration, such an approach is inadequate to those "dealing with a context shot through with inequality and conflict." (Shalev 1996,171)[56]  Moreover, those advocating a functionalist approach are themselves clearly influenced by the political context.

     The younger scholars also distinguish between those who engage in a critique of a discourse such as zionism and those who, positioned in the discourse, criticize specific points. Thus, whereas Lissak and others of the previous generation of social scientists might very well have criticized specific government actions or policies, they nevertheless accepted as given the premises of zionist discourse. Thus, the older generation of scholars failed to grasp "the difference between criticism and critique; between an argument over means, conducted within the discourse of the powerful and privileged, and the untried alternative of disputing their very definition of the problem." (172)

     Both Shalev and Shafir also criticize those historians who emphasize intentionality and ideological and neglect concrete effects and material factors.[57]  Reiterating in Israeli Studies arguments they had each made in earlier works, Shafir and Shalev argue that this approach ignores the central role of economic needs and interests of the settlers and the desire of the labor movement to "advance its organizational and political interests."

     Like Kimmerling, both men also criticize the establishment scholars for treating the "Yishuv largely as a self-contained unit." Instead, each argues the need for a comparative approach to the interpretation of zionist settlement practices and economic policies. Of particular concern to them is "the contingent role of the Jewish settlers' economic and political conflicts with the indigenous Arab population in shaping Zionist strategy and Yishuv society." (171)

     The younger scholars also criticize the zionist scholars' narrow concept of colonialism. They thus reject the arguments of those like Lissak and Shapira who insist on the "purity of Zionist intentions." Instead they insist that zionist settlement practices, although distinguished by the specificity of circumstances, clearly conform to models of colonialism utilized by contemporary scholars. Consequently, they argue that scholars like Lissak are "simply unable to conceive of colonialization as a theoretical concept and an empirical variable" (175).

     As mentioned previously, one of the differences between the prior generation of scholars and the younger group associated with postzionism relates to the historical conditions in which they grew to maturity. In contrast to their elders, the perspective of the younger scholars was strongly affected by post-1967 realities. Many of the scholars who identified with labor zionism viewed the post-1967 realities, particularly the expansion of Israeli settlements in the captured territories, as a deviation from labor zionist intentions and practices. To the younger scholars, their examination of those policies and practices led them to the opposite conclusion. In their view, the post 1967 policies and practices are not a deviation from, but rather consistent with the labor zionist practices that predate the establishment of the state.[58] 

The Post In Postzionism: The Problem of Terminology

     As previously indicated, the recurring use of the concept postzionism throughout these debates is by no means consistent.[59]  While some represent postzionism as an approach to scholarly inquiry, others represent it as a political position. Still others tend to integrate the two, denying that one can separate political interests from academic inquiry. The matter is further complicated by the reluctance of some who have been identified with the postizionist camp, such as Morris, Pappe and Kimmerling, to accept the label.

     In an earlier use of the term, postzionism had been used to refer to the fact that the era of zionist hegemony in Israeli society had ended and a new, postzionist era had begun.[60]  To those who hold this position, postzionism may be seen as a stage in the process of normalization that formed part of zionist discourse. Consequently, those who adopt such a view do not consider it necessary to resist and engage in a critique of zionist discourse. Some intellectuals sympathetic to basic postzionist themes fault this form of postzionism for being too conservative. According to these critics, this type of non-critical postzionist ignores the fact that zionist discourse continues to shape the basic mechanisms and structures of Israeli society, politics, and culture.[61]  Consequently, it contributes, intentionally or not, to the reproduction of conditions that are oppressive to Palestinian Arabs and other minority groups.[62] 

     While not organized into a distinct political group, most of those who position themselves within postzionist discourse or are sympathetic to it share a common vision of Israel as a pluralistic democratic state of all of its citizens. Accordingly, they reject the axiom embedded in zionist discourse and materialized in the Declaration of Independence, that Israel is the state of the Jewish people. Yet there is not a consensus among postzionists as to how to realize such a goal. While some, like Pappe, Ram and Kimmerling advocate a repeal of the law of return, others, while advocating full and equal rights for the Palestinian minority, continue to support the law.

     At the same time, notwithstanding the claims of zionist critics, all of the scholars who identify with postzionism or who have been so labeled by critics vehemently reject the attempt to equate postzionism with antizionism. While critical of many aspects of Israeli military policy and actions, the postzionists consider themselves to be loyal citizens of the state who are prepared to risk their life to defend the country.[63]  At the same time, the rejected the claim that loyalty to Israel presupposes loyalty to zionism. The object of their critique, therefore, is not the state of Israel, but the zionist discourse that shapes its policies and positions. Rejecting the continued identification of Israel as a zionist state, they seek to generate an alternative basis for Israeli collective identity.

Postzionism and Postmodernism: A Case of Oversimplification

     A recurring strategy used by critics seeking to discredit postzionism is to identify it with postmodernism. Unfortunately, these critics offer only a schematic, highly reductionistic caricature of postmodernism. Without providing any support from postmodernist writings, they dismiss it as anarchistic, relativistic, and nihilistic. Insofar as they view postzionists as guilty by association, they, too, are vulnerable to the criticism of anarchism, relativism, and nihilism. In the forefront of those who identify postzionism with postmodernism are Hebrew University professors Elie Schweid, Yosef Dan, and Lissak.[64]  Schweid, a professor of Jewish philosophy and Dan, a professor of Jewish mysticism and thought are both highly regarded in their respective fields.

     Lissak argued that the positions of the critical sociologists and their historian counterparts are informed by "post-modernist moods." Without providing any substantiation for his claim, Lissak insists that writings of this kind regard all narratives as equally valid:[65] 

     The idea of the absolute equality of narratives is predominant. No one narrative is preferable to another. Each one can choose from among the "supermarket" of narratives that which most appeals to him. (Lissak 1996, 254)[66] 

     Rather than treat historical narratives as "the focus of research," postzionist scholars, argues Lissak, regard them as "normative-ideological sources which support the researcher in a non-critical way." (254-255)

     Refusing to separate their academic research from their political orientations, critical social scientists, according to Lissak, position theories in the context of "a power field of cultural stances." (254) At the heart of the methodological controversy is the question of "whether or not an objective sociological and historical truth exists, and whether or not it is obtainable." (Lissak, 253) At best, the critical sociologists are skeptical of that such truth is possible; "at worst, they completely negate it." (Lissak, 253) Insofar as they reject functionalist and positivist approaches, the postzionist social scientists transgress what Lissak regards as the boundaries of scientific scholarship. In his view, it all comes down to "the struggle between positivism and anti-positivism." (254)

     Lissak further criticizes the postmodernist postzionist scholars for having roamed far afield into "such areas as social psychology, the collective memory, symbolic anthropology and the like." While acknowledging that these are "weighty areas of study," Lissak faults interdisciplinary studies for their tendency to separate "research and teaching from central questions of Israeli society and politics."

     Responding to the criticism that establishment sociologists were captive to the "zionist dream," Lissak argues that postzionist scholars, too, are captive to a dream. In their case, they "are captive to the dreams of those who are alien to Israeli society." (Lissak 1996,289) Although he does not clarify who those aliens are, it seems clear that by using this term, Lissak, like other critics of postzionism, seeks to establish protective borders around Israeli academic discourse.

     As we saw above, some postzionists have argued that the discourse of zionist scholars is itself ideologically laden.[67]  Accordingly they wish not only to revise historical narratives and social scientific representations, but also to transform the discourse used to construct them. Seeking to reveal the power effects produced by the dominant Israeli scholarship, they raise the issue of the relationship of power and knowledge that is central to postmodern theory.

     Nevertheless, the effort of critics like Lissak, Schweid, and Dan to identify postzionism with postmodernism is highly problematic. First, nowhere in their writings do they make a serious attempt to analyze the premises on which postmodernism is said to rest. Moreover, at no point do they so much as cite writings by theorists of postmodernism. Instead, simplistically identifying postmodernism with anarchy, nihilism and relativism, they attribute postmodernists, and by association postzionists, the position that any historical narrative is as good as any other.[68]  As we shall see in chapter five, they not only distort postmodern critiques of historical discourse, but they completely exaggerate the perspectivalist positions advocated by Pappe, Kimmerling and Migdal. Thus, not only do the critics refrain from engaging postmodernism seriously, they proceed to attack postzionist scholars for positions that they do not hold.[69] 

     Another problem with the efforts of critics to identify postzionism with postmodernism derives from the fact that virtually all of the scholars discussed thus far ground their interpretations in modern rather than postmodern discourse.[70]  With rare exceptions, they understand themselves to be engaged in an effort to produce truer historical and sociological representations that correspond more fully to the "facts."[71] 

     Only rarely do those identified as postzionists display any first hand knowledge of postmodern theory. Although critical of established Israeli scholarship, scholars such as Ram, Kimmerling and Shafir do not problematize the modernist notion that scholars have the ability to render an objective and accurate representation of history and society. Grounded in modern, rather than postmodern theory, none of the postzionist scholars indicate any in-depth knowledge of postmodern theory. In this sense, therefore, there is little to connect the new historiography and critical sociology with postmodernism.[72] 

     Although the identification of postzionism with postmodernism is problematic, the attempt to link the two reflects a deep concern among veteran Israeli scholars over recent changes within Israeli culture. As a result of far reaching demographic, economic, media, and cultural changes discussed at the beginning of this chapter, Israel has been subject to a rapidly spreading individualism, consumerism and careerism. Increasingly, young Israelis value the well being of the individual over the collective well being of the state. To committed zionists, this represents an incursion into Israel cultural space of alien elements that are eroding the zionist foundations on which the state had rested. Defenders of zionism, like Schweid and Lissak, connect these unwanted changes to the critical discourse of the postzionists. Unfortunately, they have yet to produce a rigorous, persuasive theoretical analysis to support this linking.

     Nevertheless, the introduction of the issue of alien methodologies and interpretations by zionist defenders makes it clear that the debates surrounding postzionism constitute a struggle over cultural space. Lissak and his colleagues, designating these methods and positions as imported or alien, seek to establish and protect what they regard as the legitimate borders of Israeli academic and public discourse determined by zionism. Scholars like Kimmerling, Shafir, Pappe, and Ram, utilizing comparative modes of interpretation developed in America and Europe, are struggling to open the spaces of Israeli culture to new methodologies and intellectual positions.


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Notes:

[1] . On the decline of labor zionism's hegemony see Dowty 1998, ch. 6. Return to Text

[2] . According to Kimmerling, "there has been a growing tendency to treat their [groups such as Mazpen] criticism selectively and seriously. This recognition is limited, however, and is usually not expressed by direct reference to their writings." (1992 456).For an account of the ways in which academicians sought to neutralize the arguments of radical critics see Shalev 1996,187 n30. Return to Text

[3] . See Shalev.1992, p. 18, n. 23; and Ram 1993 and 1995a. Return to Text

[4] . The term postzionism was not unknown in Israeli culture prior to the 1990's. However, it was usually used by those questioning the necessity of maintaining a zionist apparatus in a post-state era. Thus, critics such as Menahem Brinker 1981, and Amos Elon 1970, used the term not as indicating the failure of zionism, but rather its success. Having achieved its goal of a Jewish state, they suggested, perhaps zionism could now quietly pass from the scene and allow the state to carry on the fulfillment of its vision. Mordecai Bar On (1996b, n.42) reports that Brinker, in the face of the large immigration from the Former Soviet Union and Ethiopia, recanted and acknowledged that need of the continuation of zionsm. In contrast to Elon and Brinker, Uri Avineri (1968) used the term as a way of talking about the inadequate ways in which zionism addressed the problems of the middle-East. However, Avineri, while engaging in an ongoing critique of zionism, continued to operate within its spaces, serving for a time in the kenesset. For a recent usage of the term in a similar way see Erik Cohen 1995. Return to Text

[5] . Oz 1979,69-108; Oz, 1995,79-101 Return to Text

[6] . For Rabin's speech see Laqueur, Walter and Barry Rubin eds. The Israel-Arab Reader.New York and London: Penguin Books, 1984, 230-232; for the responses of groups of soldiers from kibbutzim, see Avraham Shapira 1970. Return to Text

[7] . The shock and disappointment experienced by many in the current generation upon learning that they had been lied to is a common theme among younger, critical scholars. See autobiographical recollections by Shafir, Israel Studies 1,2, 188; Michael Shalev, preface to 1992 and 1996, n. 14. See also Nahman Ben-Yehuda, The Masada Myth: Collective Memory and Mythmaking in Israel. Madison: University of Wisconson,1995, 3-7. For an expression of disillusionment of a different kind over the changes in Israeli life see Horowitz, 1993. Return to Text

[8] . This sense of shock over learning the "truth" about Israeli history, particularly the 1948 War, was a recurring theme in interviews that I conducted in Israel in December 1995 and January 1996. Return to Text

[9] . I am grateful to Miriam Peskowitz for calling Appardurai's valuable work to my attention. Return to Text

[ ] 10. The discourse of labor zionism has been both challenged and coopted by the militant, expansionist, movement known as Gush Emunim. Rejecting the Western humanist discourse of secular zionists, Gush Emunim seeks to put in its place a religious, messianic, expansionist discourse that often evokes feelings of identification among otherwise secular Israelis. See Lustick 1988 and Sprinzak, 1991(Cf. Oz, Land; Liebman in Religion) Return to Text

[11] . See Gabriel Weimann, 1995 and 1996. Return to Text

[12] . On Americanization see Yossi Mehlman's lively journalistic account in The New Israelis: An Intimate Portrait of a Changing People. New York: Birch Lane Press, 1992, ch.13; and Eric Zakim, "Palimpsests of National Identity: Israeli Culture at the End of the American Century" I am grateful to Eric Zakim for making this unpublished article available to me. Return to Text

[13] . See Benveniste 1986; Oz 1983 193-217. On the far reaching shifts in Israeli society and culture see Serge Schmemann, "Half Century for Israelis: Many Voices in One Land," N. Y. Times, April 6, 1998 Return to Text

[14] . Yael Zerubavel 1997, speaks of the rapid decline of the power of the basic myths that had shaped the collective memory of the Yishuv and the state in its early years, as does Ben Yehuda 1995. An early and important work that significantly contributed to the debunking process is Harkabi 1983. Return to Text

[ ] 15. See Bar On 1994, 266 n.3; Dowty 1998, 108; and Jay Gonen, A Psychohistory of Zionism. New York: Meridian, 1975, 118-119. Return to Text

[16] . See Hillel Halkin in Chronicle of Higher Education. Also, Bein Hazon Lerevisiah. Return to Text

[17] . See comments of Yoav Gelbar and Amnon Rubenstein in the symposium in Haaretz. Margalit 1995. Return to Text

[18] . The Hebrew edition, which appeared in 1984, was followed in 1986 by an English translation. Return to Text

[19] . Shalev succinctly summarizes the critique leveled by critical sociologists at Haifa University at this premise, see Israel Studies, 185, n. 11. See also Ram, Changing Agenda, ch. Return to Text

[20] . These conflicts continue to plague Israeli society. See A.B. Yehoshua in an article written for the 1996 New Years edition of (Musaf) Haaretz, December 29, 1995, reprinted as "Israeli Identity in a Time of Peace." in Tikkun 10,6(November-December,1995). Yehoshua outlines the conflcts confronting Israeli society in a post-Oslo era. The rifts that will continue to divide Israeli society after peace is achieved includes those between religion-secular, Ashkenazim-Mizrahim, and Israelis-diaspora Jewry. Yehoshua, an ardent although often critical defender of zionist ideology, anticipates the ultimate resolution of these conflicts in the context of the zionist state. Oz 1983, discussed above, ch.2, has described these rifts in a different way. For other perspectives on the issues dividing Israeli society see Yaron Ezrahi, 1997; Ehud Sprinzak.1991, Ian Lustick 1988, Horowitz focuses on generational issues, Ezrahi on the conflict between the dominant collectivist ethos and that of liberal Western individualism; Sprinzak and Lustick on right wing settler and militant religious and non-religious groups, particularly Gush Emunim. Return to Text

[21] . See articles in...... Return to Text

[22] . After many years, Morris received an academic position at Ben Gurion University of the Negev, which is home to many of those scholars considered to be postzionists. Return to Text

[23] . Among those who challenged the conventional wisdom was Aaron Cohen 1970, Martin Buber, see above, Chapter 2, and the members of Mazpen, see above, Chapter 3. Return to Text

[24] . In keeping with the terminology regularly used by both sides in the debates, I shall use the terms new historians and critical sociologists to refer to those historians and sociologists who, because they challenged the prevailing interpretations of Israeli history and society, have been accused by their critics as being postzionists. Return to Text

[25] . An interesting study of the stages in the revisioning of Israeli history is Mordecai Bar On, 1990. Bar On elaborates on the forms of such revisions, the different functions they are meant to fulfill, and the variety of factors motivating such historiography. Bar On has recently extended this interpretation in an as yet unpublished paper. I am grateful to Dr. Bar On for making the manuscripts of these articles available to me. Return to Text

[26] . Teveth originally published his critique in a three part series in the Hebrew newspaper Haaretz. A revised English version is "Charging Israel With Original Sin,"(September, 1989), 24-33. Morris responded to Teveth's criticisms in "The Eel and History: A Reply to Shabtai Teveth." 1990 For a convenient summary of Morris's basic historical claims see Morris in Silberstein, ed. 1991, 42-56. For Morris's more recent reflections on the debates see Morris 1994. Return to Text

[27] . Shafir, born and educated in Israel, now lives and teaches in the United States and publishes in English. However, his work has made a strong impact on the debates over postzionism and his name is increasingly included on lists of "postzionist" scholars. Return to Text

[28] . For a broader discussion of the dominant schools of Israeli social science see Ram, 1995a. Return to Text

[29] . In the new Preface written for the second edition of his book (1996), Shafir situates his work in the context of the new historiography. Return to Text

[30] . Shafir was specifically referring Zeev Tsahor, "Colonialist or Colonizer," Haaretz, December 22, 1992 (Hebrew), and Ran Aaronson, Baron Rothschild and the Initial Stage of Jewish Settlement in Palestine (1882-1890), "Journal of Historical Geography," 19,2 1993. Return to Text

[31] . Pappe's multiple-perspective approach to history is often labeled postmodern by his critics. For the postmodern interpretation of historical discourse, see below, Chapter 6. Return to Text

[32] . In addition to the works cited in n. 22, see Richard Bernstein, Beyond Objectivity and ....... Return to Text

[33] . Theory & Criticism, in which Pappe published an early extensive critique of Israeli historiography, is the most important site of a theoretically grounded postzionist discourse. I discuss this journal extensively in Chapter 6. Return to Text

[34] . Pappe 1995a and Pappe & Swirski 1992. Also Pappe,ISLAM AND PEACE: ISLAMIC APPROACHES TO PEACE IN THE CONTEMPORARY ARAB WORLD. (1992) Return to Text

[35] . Morris, eschewing traditional explanations, Jewish as well as Palestinian, sought to understand the complexity of the conditions that led to the exodus of more than a half million Palestinians from the new state of Israel in 1948. Emphasizing the effects of the attitudes and actions of Israeli political and military leaders, Morris produced a multi-causal explanation in which the actions of both Israelis and Palestinians contributed to that exodus. However, as significant as his work was for broadening and altering the dominant historical representations of the 1948 War, it does not incorporate Palestinian voices [NO?]. Nor is he particularly concerned with the ways in which the narratives of the two peoples were intertwined. Return to Text

[36] . Pappe, like Baruch Kimmerling, criticizes zionist historiography for treating zionist/Jewish/Israeli history as unique. This results in a neglect of comparative approaches and little or no concern with broader, non-Jewish context. Criticizing highly regarded historians of zionism such as David Vital, Pappe argues that their studies should compare the history of zionism with that of other nationalist movements and the history of Israel with that of other new nations. (Teoria uvikoret 1993 winter Volume 3). For a recent collection of essays emphasizing a comparative approach see Barnett??? Return to Text

[37] . Kimmerling makes this argument in 1995a. Return to Text

[38] . As indicated above, both Kimmerling and Pappe resist the designation postzionist. See also Margalit 1995. Return to Text

[39] . Kimmerling focuses on the ideologically embedded character of historiography more clearly and incisively than most other Israeli scholars. However, although acknowledging the importance of discourse and practices of periodization, he does not undertake to analyze the processes through which these become inscribed as a part of Israeli hegemonic culture. In contrast, as indicated above, a postmodernist critique would focus on the rhetorical processes by means of which the scholarly discourse is constructed and disseminated. In addition, postmodern critics like Derrida and Foucault would problematize and critically analyze notions such as structure, history, identity, subject, nation, society, continuity, history, agency, context, and representation. Kimmerling sharply criticized the effort by Gideon Aran and Zalman Gorovitz (1994) to critically analyze the discourse of homeland. Aran and Gorovitz sought to demonstrate that rather than being "natural" categories, terms such as homeland and exile are culturally, i.e., discursively constructed and disseminated. Kimmerling's objected to what he perceived as a tendency to "dematerialize" or render "imaginary" the material, physical effects of the Jewish notion of homeland and the practices based upon it on the Palestinians. For the application of postmodern theory to the critique of zionism see below, Chapter 6. Return to Text

[40] . Morris, while openly challenging the prevailing Israeli versions of the 1948 War and its aftermath, nevertheless continues to identify as a zionist. Return to Text

[41] . In contrast to Haifa, one of the younger Israeli Universities, the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, established in 1925, was considered to be the most prestigious. The dominant scholarship, shaped by Hebrew University professor Shmuel Eisenstadt and his disciples, was strongly influenced by structural functionalism. Privileging social integration and cohesion, the dominant school either ignored minority groups such as Jews of Middle Eastern origin, Palestinian Arabs living in Israel, and women, or relegated them to the margins. When they did discuss these groups, the emphasis was on the processes by means of which they were being integrated into mainstream Israeli society and culture, and the factors that impeded this integration. See Ram, Changing Agenda, ch. Return to Text

[42] . The following draws upon/is taken from Silberstein 1996. See also Shalev 1996, 185, n. 11. Return to Text

[43] . Ram acknowledges his indebtedness to the philosopher of science, Thomas Kuhn. His mapping of Israeli sociology is built around seven major theoretical orientations or, as he refers to them, "soft" paradigms." These include structural functionalism (Shmuel Eisenstadt and his disciples); revised functionalism (Moshe Shokeid, Dan Horowitz and Moshe Lissak); Yonatan Shapiro's elitist orientation; the pluralistic model (Sammy Smooha); Marxist sociology (Shlomo Swirski, Deborah Bernstein, S. Carmi & Henry Rosenfeld); feminism (Deborah Bernstein, Marilyn Safir, Barbara Swirski, Dafna Izraeli, and Yael Azmon); and colonization (Baruch Kimmerling and Gershon Shafir).(Ram 1995) In his anthology(1993), Ram also included excerpts from the writings of Ella Shochat, whose critique of Israeli culture is strongly indebted to postcolonial theory, Michael Shalev, and the Palestinian philosopher Azmi Bishara. Return to Text

[44] . The title of his 1995 Epilogue, "Towards a post-Zionist sociology," clearly states his objective, clear, as does the Introduction to his Hebrew anthology (1993). Return to Text

[45] . See Ginosar and Bareli 1996; Weitz 1997. A comprehensive collection of materials appearing in the press and journals which conveys a good sense of the intensity and breadth of the debate over postzionism is Michman 1997. Return to Text

[4] 6. Return to Text

[47] . Landers singled out Kimmerling and Migdal, whom he accused of subverting the Zionist narrative and aiding the crystallization of "an opposing Palestinian narrative." (8) Return to Text

[48] . Lissak agreed that the first generation of Israeli sociologists did not pay sufficient attention to the ways in which the political establishment exploited the new immigrants for political purposes. Lissak also acknowledged that the image of the "melting pot" is flawed. He insisted, however, that the sociologists of the Jerusalem school had been the first to criticize that model. He further argued that the fact that the writings of the Jerusalem group actually helped to bring about changes in government policies and practices indicates that they were not pawns of the political establishment as the critics claimed. Return to Text

[49] . While seeming to imply that the sense of "a jewish mission" formed an appropriate component in Israeli scholarly research, Lissak claimed that advocating the secular democratic character did not. Kimmerling, whose views we shall discuss below, responded to these arguments in "On the Terrible Sins of the Critical Sociologists." (1994c) Return to Text

[50] . A similar connection is made by Yosef Dan in "Postmodernism against The State of Israel."(1994) Return to Text

[51] . In an expansion of his original Tikkun essay, Morris reviews the scholarly controversy and defends himself against the criticisms of such scholars as Asher Susser, Itamar Rabinovich, Michael Oren and Immanuel Sivan. (Morris 1994. 27-48) Return to Text

[52] . On the role of the Shoah in Israeli culture and identity see Segev 1993, and the interesting article by Dan Diner 1995. Return to Text

[53] . See the discussion of martyrdom and resistance in relation to the myth of Masada in Zerubavel 1995, ch.5. Return to Text

[54] . On Beit Zvi see series of articles in Haaretz by Yossi Grodzinski (1994 a-e) and coments of critics.Diner (1995) says that Beit Zvi's work is an "early and ameteurish, but nonetheless important study..." (168, n.6) Return to Text

[55] . While their criticisms were written in direct response to Lissak, they apply, for the most part, to Shapira as well. Return to Text

[56] . Shalev, like Morris and others, cites generational differences as a major factor in the debates. "The generation that grew to maturity when the state was established, versus those like myself who have no personal memories of the heroic period, and for whom Israel has always been a regional power with far greater strength than the competing claimants to this land." (1996 174) Return to Text

[57] . Shalev/Shafir cites the work of Yonatan Shapiro in the 1970's which focused on the hegemonic labor party's political interests and quest for power. For a discussion of Shapiro's contribution see Ram 1995, ch.5. Return to Text

[58] . Shalev points out that the initial expansion of settlements occurred under a labor government. The subsequent expansion by the right wing Likud government was simply a continuation of what Labor had already initiated, a claim often made by Likud leaders. On postzionism as a critique of labor zionism see Shapira 1995, 15-17; see also Hillel Halkin in Chronicle of Higher Education. Return to Text

[59] . The confusion over the meaning of the term is clearly reflected in a symposium edited by Dan Margalit published in Haaretz, October 15, 1995, 4-5b. For a useful overview of the various manifestations of postzionism in Israeli society and culture see Yigal Sheleg 1995. Return to Text

[60] . See above, n. 15. Return to Text

[61] . A useful discussion of the problems connected to "post" terms is Mc Clintock 1995, 9-17. Although her critique revolves around the term postcolonialism, it is relevant to the concept of postzionism as well. On this issue see also Ella Shohat 1992 and the criticisms of Stuart Hall 1996. Return to Text

[62] . The is the position of Amnon Raz Krokotzkin. Interview, December 1995. Return to Text

[63] . Shapira agrees that there are clear differences between "the old anti-Zionism of the Communist or Bundist variety or that of the New Left and 'Matzpen' of the 1970's" and the postzionists of whom she says "Its proponents do not question the existence of Israel, but their attitude toward it is, at best, indifferent and, in more extreme cases, a priori suspicion and critical."(1995 11)Their position is problematized by the fact that some of those who identified themselves as antizionists also served in the military and were prepared to do so in the future. See..... Return to Text

[64] . Shapira also makes this claim, speaking of its "deconstructionist trends" without attempting in any way to clarify how she uses this term. (1995 25-34) Return to Text

[65] . To my knowledge, this position has never been argued by any postzionist scholar or, for that matter, any postmodernist. What they do argue, however, is that there are no absolute, foundational premises upon which the truth claims of a narrative can be based. Nor, they argue, can any metanarrative be considered as universally binding. See on this point, Berkhofer 1995,ch.1. Return to Text

[66] . The only social scientists whom Lissak names are Shafir and Kimmerling. Ignoring their books and numerous articles, he chooses to dwell only on the selections included in Ram's anthology. Classifying Shafir's work as positivist and functionalist, an identification that Shafir vigorously denies, he attributes to him a voluntaristic, somewhat psychological explanatory framework that is nowhere to be found in Shafir. Similarly, in briefly summarizing Kimmerling's position, he makes no reference to such concepts as frontier or legitimation, both of which, as we have seen, are basic to Kimmerling's analysis. Return to Text

[67] . In a fascinating comment on the relationship of politics and historical scholarship, Anita Shapira, a critic of the new historiography, recently explained the reluctance of historians to apply a colonial model to Israeli history by claiming that such a model fed into the hands of Israel's enemies. "Today, with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, which made colonialism the white bogey of the Third World, and with the liberation of that world from the patronage of the West (sic!), there is room for dispassionate thought, free of ideologies, on the subject of colonialism." Thus, in a statement that is indicative of the impact of the postzionist perspective on the Israeli academic establishment, Shapira acknowledges that "defining a movement as settlement-colonialism may well help to clarify the relations between the settling nation and the native one." At the same time, continuing the binary discourse of outsiders/insiders, she argues: "To complete the picture, we need the perspective 'from within' as well." (Shapira 1995, 30). Return to Text

[68] . For example, Lissak asserts, without citing any sources, that "'post-modernism' rebels against every metanarrative and every met-theory and, in practice, encourages spiritual anarchism or nihilism, dissolving all of those rules and ethos which have been created within the frame of the social sciences over the past 100 to 150 years."(Lissak, 1996 253) In addition, claiming that the critical sociologists ignore conceptual-theoretical or metatheoretical issues, he accuses them, without specific references, of "focusing, instead, upon several psuedo-theoretical axioms such as 'relativism.' 'reflexivity,' 'post-modernism (sic!), or 'equality between the narratives." (Lissak, 1996 250). I discuss the claims of the postmodern critique of zionism in Chapter 6. Return to Text

[69] . Schweid writes an extensive article in which he purports to trace the history of postmodernism while never providing any support for his interpretation. As Michael Shalev has pointed out, none of the social scientists included in Ram's anthology "has either expressly or by implication taken a post-modern position" but have, rather, based their work on "traditional scientific practices of analytical reasoning and empirical evidence." (Israel Studies, 1996, 173). Perhaps with the exception of Pappe and this only to a limited degree, the same could be said of the so called "new historians." Return to Text

[70] . As I shall make clear in Chapter 5, with the exception of Ilan Pappe, one finds few connections between the writings of the "new historians" and the critical sociologists and postmodernism or postmodern theory. Only rarely do they display any first hand knowledge of postmodern theory. Moreover, although questioning the established Israeli scholarship, scholars such as Ram, Kimmerling, Shafir do not problematize the notion of the ability of scholars to achieve an objective and accurate representation of history and society, a distinctly modernist position. Overall, as Shalev argues (above,n.68), their methodologies, within which they work are grounded in modern, rather than postmodern theory. Only Pappe, emphasizing a perspectival conception of multiple narratives rejects, in the spirit of Lyotard, the validity of any (meta)narrative. Copied from ch. 4] As I discuss in chapter six, another group of postzionist criitcs are strongly influenced by postcolonial and postmodern theory. Return to Text

[71] . As discussed above, Benny Morris insisted that the new historians succeeded in producing a "truer" picture of past events than did their predecessors.[quote] In his usage, truer clearly means, corresponding more faithfully to the events that occurred. Return to Text

[72] . One possible exception is Pappe, who, rejecting all metanarratives, advocates a multi-perspectival approach to history. Although there is no indication that Pappe's views are connected to postmodernist theorists, there are some indications that he is receptive to selected positions associated with postmodern theory. Moreover, scholars like Kimmerling, who have raised the issue of the political effects of academic discourse, touch on the issue of the relation of discourse, knowledge and power that is a central concern of postmodern theory .However, Kimmerling would clearly reject the label postmodern. See below, Chapter 6, n. 245


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