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Wrestling with Zion: Progressive Jewish-American Responses to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Paperback – October 13, 2003


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Product Details

  • Series: An Evergreen book
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; 1 edition (October 13, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802140157
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802140159
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #375,043 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With violence between Israeli Jews and Palestinians continuing and the death toll rising, playwright Kushner and journalist Solomon have compiled a book of thoughts by a progressive and diverse group of notable Jewish writers on the current situation in the Middle East and the prospects for peace. According to the contributors, the media presents an apparent unanimity of Jewish opinion on the conflict, which distorts the real diversity of the community's convictions. To give some historical perspective to the debate, the book begins with the writings of such figures as Ahad Ha'am, Martin Buber and Hannah Arendt; contemporary contributors include Arthur Waskow, Ellen Willis, Susan Sontag, and lesser-known writers. The essays address such issues as how and why American Jews are connected to the land of their ancestors, and how Zionism has influenced Jewish identity. Rather than distancing themselves from controversy, the editors have encouraged contributors to examine the covenant that links the Jewish people and Israel and to let it be "loosened and strengthened, de-mythified, de-fetishized, considered as a dynamic problematic, as is only appropriate to the consideration of a living bond."
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

For left-wing "or progressive" American Jews, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues to present a wrenching predicament. Many are almost genetically sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, viewing Palestinians as oppressed, even colonized, victims. Yet their sustaining identity as Jews will not allow them to abandon Israel, or even Zionism, entirely. Kushner and Solomon have assembled a wide variety of journalists, scholars, and activists who consider the dilemmas and even suggest possible solutions. Some of these articles are thoughtful, provocative, and certainly worthy of further consideration. Some are filled with pointless guilt-mongering and lead nowhere. If there is a common theme here, it is that, given compassionate and reasonable Israeli policies, a comparable Palestinian response will be forthcoming. This is an interesting, useful compilation that offers an alternative to the seemingly unanimous support the Sharon government receives from many "mainstream" Jewish writers. Jay Freeman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Alisa Solomon teaches at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, where she directs the Arts & Culture concentration in the MA program. A theater critic and cultural and political reporter for the Village Voice from 1993 to 2004, she has also contributed to the New York Times, The Nation, Tablet, The Forward, the Daily Beast, howlround.com and other publications. Her first book, Re-Dressing the Canon: Essays on Theater and Gender, won the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism. Alisa also works as a dramaturg, most recently with Anna Deavere Smith on her one-woman show, LET ME DOWN EASY. She serves on the Scholars Council of Theater for a New Audience.

Alisa lives in New York City. She likes to cook and she has been practicing Seido Karate for 30 years.

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mevashir on June 6, 2012
Format: Paperback
Letter to contributors of this book:

Dear Scholars,

have been reading your poignant book, Wrestling with Zion: Progressive Jewish-American Responses to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict by Tony Kushner and Alisa Solomon (Oct 13, 2003).

As someone who left Israel and converted to Christianity seeking a way out of the endless cycle of hatred and violence that characterizes life there, I also have wrestled with Tziyon.

But to my shock I have discovered that much of the impetus for aggressive Zionism came from evangelical Christians in the UK and US, as described in this book: Allies for Armageddon: The Rise of Christian Zionism by Victoria Clark (Nov 28, 2007).

I have attached a study that tries to put Zionism into a larger theological and historical perspective.

I think it might help you deal with the ugly aspects of Zionism that aggrieve many of us by explaining their roots in Christianity and Western Imperialism.

I also was very moved by Judith Butler's essay about President Summers of Harvard attempting to indict all who critique Israel as anti-Semites. Having attended Harvard many years ago, and whose father is a Harvard professor, I can attest that their arrogance and domineering nature is breathtaking. I would suggest that Harvard academics revise Descarte's famous I think because I am to I think because I am at Harvard.

Anyway, as a former Israeli Haredi nationalist who converted to Christianity in 2000 and has renounced all association with Zionism, I too have been subjected to withering attacks. This is a letter I sent to Israeli consulates around the world following the Mavey Marmara atrocity. And this is a dialogue I had long ago with Israeli über-Zionists who denounced me as well.
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful By The Truth Shall Set You Free on April 28, 2007
Format: Paperback
Watch out for reviews from people like Shalom Freedman. It's ironic that this reviewer summons the line "Have you no shame?" while at the same time dismissing all Jews he doesn't agree with as self-hating. Rather than counter their arguments with his own, this type of lazy reviewer seeks to circumvent intellectual discussion altogether with ugly ad hominem attacks. His hateful screeds aren't just directed at books, but at their authors as well. He leaves the same bankrupt reviews for any and every book that dares criticize Israel or Zionism. Mr. Freedman clearly has nothing better to do with his time than bash books and authors whom he has clearly not even bothered to read. Where is YOUR shame, Mr. Freedman?
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35 of 51 people found the following review helpful By John Parelli on October 28, 2003
Format: Paperback
Finally, an account--or rather, many voices adding up to an welcome and complicated account--of American Jewish identity and Jews' relationship with Israel. There are pieces here that touch the political questions that any Jew of conscience is grappling with while considering recent events in Israel, including many--even from less famous people than Susan Sontag or Arthur Miller--whose writing is powerful and beautiful. Some are short, some longer--making this book perfect for the person who wants to dip in or take a brief selection for a syngagogue reading group, or to immerse him or herself in the issues. I am enjoying it immensely, and I wouldn't identify myself as progressive.
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35 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Benjamin L. Alpers on December 9, 2003
Format: Paperback
This important collection of essays presents a wide variety of views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (in fact, at least one of the folks collected here is Jewish-Canadian, not Jewish-American, but that if anything adds to the richness of the collection). The Jewish community does not speak with a single voice on these issues. For an active member of this community such as myself who often feels out of step with national organizations that pretend to speak for me, a book like this is a particular breath of fresh air. I certainly don't agree with everything in it (indeed, as the introduction points out, the essays often disagree with each other). But its mere existence puts the lie to the notion that all American Jews are Likudniks, that the only way to support Israel is to endorse every action taken by its government.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By basha detroit on January 16, 2011
Format: Paperback
The two editors, Kushner and Solomon, are also two of our most cherished writers in the United States, working now. I trust that they both wrestled deeply inside themselves to achieve this rare and vital work. I salute them both and am personally grateful for the book, which offers insights to a history that we tend not to see. Simply, Kushner and Solomon have uncovered a rock, and allowed the creepy crawly feelings to come out and be examined.
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32 of 57 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 31, 2004
Format: Paperback
As sad as it is to say, the truth about the situation in Palestine and the origination of the State of Israel is dark, melicious, and disheartening. It is, however, encouraging to see a group of Jewish intellectuals willing to stand up and face the establishment and speak the truth. Coming from American Jewish mouths, these truths will be quite hard to invalidate or to accuse of being anti-Semitic, the favorite claim of pro-Israeli critics. Of course, I am sure these people will be called "self-hating Jews" or some garbage along those lines because when Zionists run out of accusations, they always turn to "self-hatred," as if it were a real emotion.
There will be reviewers who will give this book a low evaluation and use childish remarks to try and delegitimize its authors and editors; ignore these people. This book is a fundamental collection of works that should be ready by anyone interested in the honest truth behind the bloody establishment of the Jewish State and the consequences of its ever-more-bloody policies.
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