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A Just Zionism: On the Morality of the Jewish State Paperback – July 18, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-0199812066 ISBN-10: 0199812063

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 178 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (July 18, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199812063
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199812066
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 0.6 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,709,308 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"There are an awful lot of books dealing with the politics of Israel/Palestine, written mostly in defense of one side or the other. A Just Zionism, however, presents the first systematic philosophical analysis of the Zionist enterprise as a whole, in each of its historical moments and in all its moral/political aspects. The arguments are meticulously developed, and the book is very carefully constructed. Any reader who is caught up, as I am, in the Israel/Palestine debates will find it intellectually engaging."--Michael Walzer, Professor Emeritus, School of Social Science, Institute for Advanced Study, and author of Just and Unjust Wars

"Chaim Gans deals with a very tough topic: the moral justification of Zionism. He presents all positions in the best of light. He is passionate when possible and dispassionate when necessary. A discussion on the moral justification of Zionism would look very different and far better if those involved in the debate would take heed of this engaging book."--Avishai Margalit, Professor, School of Historical Studies, Institute for Advanced Study

About the Author

Chaim Gans is Professor of Law at Tel Aviv University and a political philosopher. The author of The Limits of Nationalism, he focuses on the philosophical analysis of politics and public affairs.

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Customer Reviews

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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Jeremiah Haber on July 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover
In A Just Zionism: On the Morality of the Jewish State, Tel-Aviv University law professor and moral philosopher Chaim Gans presents a nuanced defence and critique of the right of the State of Israel to continue to exist as it was founded, and of some of Israel's controversial laws and policies, e.g., the law of return. Gans is a liberal nationalist, that is, he believes that nationalism is defensible because a common national heritage has great possibilities for enriching the lives and identities of individuals in a liberal state. So if you're a post- or anti-nationalist, this book won't be up your alley. The book's novel approach is to assume, for the sake of argument, the truth of the Zionist narrative of Jewish history and the legitimacy of liberal nationalism. The author then explores what justifiably follows and does not follow from such assumptions. And his answers will not make make many Israel advocates happy, those who are content with fallacious and self-serving moral arguments.

Here are some lines from the Introduction:

"The purpose of this study is to present a philosophical analysis of the justice of contemporary Zionism as realized by the State of Israel, including Israel's territorial and demographic aspirations and the way it conceives of itself as a Jewish state. Specifically, I will examine the justice of contemporary Zionism in the light of the gap between a particular version of Zionist ideology that oculd be considered just and the situation today, which is a consequence of both current Israeli policies and the Zionist past. I will mainly focus on three components of this situation: the Palestinian refugee problem...; the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By R. Cohen-almagor on December 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover
A Just Zionism is an important and timely book. It is well argued and provides a balanced outlook on recent history. It would be of interest to all who are concerned about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and who are seeking a sustainable and just solution that would seriously take on board the just claims of both Israeli-Jews and Palestinians.

The reading of A Just Zionism is compelling. The reader cannot remain complacent in the face of the arguments. I assume that the book will aggravate many people. People on the Israeli right would not like it. I assume that many Palestinians would not welcome Gans' proposed solution as they are opting for more. People of different persuasions might contend that Gans' argument is much too general, that he avoided many details that would affirm their point of view. I asked Gans about this and his answer was that he indeed wished to avoid the nifty-gritty details, that he aimed to provide the major historical components of the conflict and studied their justifications. Concentrating on each and every detail will not clear the way for solution. Rather, it would compound the argument and sway people to adhere to their old conceptions. Indeed, the book is not written as historical text. It is philosophical with a practical-political agenda.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book quickly establishes the justice of the creation of a Jewish state, and then discusses what implications Israel's right to exist has for the current day. There is however, the usual question of _a_ Jewish state, which has the right to exist, and _the_ Jewish state, which is merely one particular state which may or may not be the optimal one to exist.

While _a_ Jewish state has the right to exist, and _the_ Jewish state which exists in our particular universe also has that right (after all, the author lives and works there), _the_ Jewish state will necessarily change, just as _the_ Irish state or _the_ Polish state changes over time.

After reviewing various contrary claims, Gans concludes that the Jews are a nation with a right to be the majority in a Jewish nation-state. Furthermore, current circumstances give Jews the right to resist violent attempts to remove them from their position in Israel.

The author is particularly insistent on preserving Jewish national rights in the area of demography (policies which maintain Israel's Jewish majority) and defense. Moreover, these national rights extends without time limit for as long as there is a need.

Thus, Gans argues, the Jewish state has the right to provide special considerations to Jews. For instance, it can and should permit Jews to immigrate to Israel from foreign countries without being subject to the same restrictions as potential non-Jewish immigrants. These policies are, he says, desirable in practice because of their beneficial effects on maintaining Israel's Jewish character.

Israel also has the right to maintain an army, and to choose to draft most Jews into that army and exempt most non-Jews from that draft.
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3 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Khaled El-bizri on July 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover
It is difficult to believe that this book was written by a lawyer, let alone a philosopher.

On the one hand, he gives no justification, apart from myth and mythology, for the right of the Jews to Palestine. Words like 'nation' 'national rights' are political words - not sociological imperatives, more so for the Jewish people who include black Jews from Ethiopia and Asian Jews remnants of the Khazar - let alone the vast cultural divide between the Ashkenazim and the majority of the Jews, the Sephardim, particularly the Mizrahim amongst them. This divide we see today in the rampant discrimination that the Mizrahim suffer at the hands of the minority Ashkenazim.

Such a claim is akin to the one which presumes that God is a real-estate agent, allocating Palestine to the self-styled 'chosen people.' As a lawyer the author would surely understand, such arguments do not stand in any terrestrial court, leaving one to suggest that he wants the reader to join him in a 'divine' court, wherever such a court exist.

Consistency, on the other hand, is the stock in trade of the philosopher. If one separates every act committed by the Zionists and defend them individually, which is his claim to 'nuance' the totality of the 'nuances' must be self-consistent in order to provide a consistent philosophic view. Not there.

The book is a poor attempt at refuting material and moral claims that were indefensible in say, the massacres of the old men, women and children Dair Yaseen, in 1948, as attested to by even right-wing Israeli historian such as Benny Morris. These material and moral travesties continue to this very day, as we see in the cold-blooded raid on a civilian ship in the High Seas that netted 9 civilian dead at the hands of the agents of the author's 'nuances.'
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