The Idea of Israel by Ilan Pappe, book review
Thursday 20 February 2014
When I first visited Israel, crossing the border in the south of the country from Jordan, the burly (and as ever, heavily armed) guard at passport control asked, rather bizarrely it felt at the time, how we had heard of Israel. An odd question perhaps, but in retrospect, he probably meant what were our views on the Jewish state: whether we supported the Zionist project or whether our sympathies lay with the occupied Palestinians.
Professor Ilan Pappe’s book – The Idea of Israel - takes this line of enquiry somewhat further, questioning the progression of Zionism; looking at its evolution and the institutions that have supported it, and indeed, how this central principle of modern Jewry has increasingly come under scrutiny, not just from the usual, external, protagonists, but also increasingly, from within Israel itself. And whether crucially, these institutions have helped to shape set of norms by which the state is able to shape realities.
Modern Israel, and its relationships with other states, remains one of the most complex diplomatic conundrums on Earth, and in truth there is rarely a binary answer to many of the questions that persist about Israel. Inside the country, this is equally true. Rarely are elections fought (with the 2013 ballot possibly being an exception) on questions other than security and Israel’s standing in the rest of the world.
What Professor Pappe’s book explores is whether Zionism as the cornerstone of Israel has in fact been manipulated by the state and institutions such as universities and the media to provide a justification for the reality on the ground.
The book comes at an interesting time for Israel and its neighbours. John Kerry’s peace process refuses to die, despite elements on both sides seemingly united only in their opposition to it, and realities in a turbulent Middle East mean that Israel and traditional foes, especially those in the Persian Gulf, find themselves in rare agreement, especially in relation to the thorny issues of Syria and a nuclear Iran.
Zionism has long dictated how Israel deals with these situations. Professor Pappe’s book serves to remind policy makers and readers that ideology can and often is transformed to suit serve a particular narrative. It is an academic book at its core, and assumes a fair amount of knowledge, but nonetheless explores original ideas that will challenge readers and decision makers alike.
Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'music
Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Hilary Mantel 'should be investigated by police' over Margaret Thatcher assassination story, says Lord Bell
- 2 Stamford Hill council removes 'unacceptable' posters telling women which side of the road to walk down
- 3 Kim Kardashian 'nude pictures' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence 'The Fappening' scandal
- 4 Alex Salmond: 'The rocks would melt with the sun before I'd ever set foot in the House of Lords'
- 5 Free U2 album: How the most generous giveaway in music history turned into a PR disaster
Friends 20th anniversary: Alison Jackson photographs reunited cast
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written
Friends 20th anniversary: The highs and lows of the cast's careers since TV series ended in 2004
Friends 20th anniversary: Six things we wouldn't have without influential comedy series
Doctor Who, Time Heist, review: Keeley Hawes is marvellous but the Doctor is the real villain
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Plebgate MP Andrew Mitchell called officer a 'little s**t', claim court documents 'exposing ex-Chief Whip's 'record of abusing police'
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God