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The Controversy of Zion: Jewish Nationalism, the Jewish State, and the Unresolved Jewish Dilemma Hardcover – September, 1996

3.5 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In The Controversy of Zion, Geoffrey Wheatcroft, a self-proclaimed agnostic, offers an unbiased analysis of the "Jewish Question." Wheatcroft covers everything from the various outbreaks of European anti-Semitism--including Hitler's Final Solution--to the accomplishments of liberated European Jews, the argument over forming a Jewish state, the countless Jews who immigrated to the United States, and the recent assassination of Yitzak Rabin. Combining factual information with colorful profiles and anecdotes, he examines the suffering, debates, ideas, and victories that have impacted Jewish culture.

From Publishers Weekly

Former literary editor of London's Spectator, Wheatcroft describes himself as "a genuine neutral or agnostic" on the Arab-Israeli conflict, seeing right and wrong on both sides. In this dispassionate yet opinionated history, which sweeps from Theodore Herzl's Zionist dream to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's assassination in 1995, Wheatcroft condemns the 1975 United Nations resolution equating Zionism with racism as gravely malicious, a reflection of the Arab states' malignancy. While praising Israel as "a unique island of constitutional government in the Levant," he echoes the observation of U.S. journalist I.F. Stone that Zionism involved a psychological act of denial along with a physical act of displacement of Palestine's Arab population. A richly detailed chronicle of Jewish nationalist aspirations and of Diaspora Jewry's shifting relationship with Israel, Wheatcroft's study is crammed with incisive profiles of such Jewish figures as Disraeli, Heinrich Heine, Martin Buber, Karl Kraus, Isaac Deutscher, Hannah Arendt, Primo Levi and Robert Maxwell; "self-hating Jews" Karl Marx and Walter Lippmann; part-Jewish Marcel Proust; and Jew-haters Richard Wagner, Hilaire Belloc and Hitler.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 396 pages
  • Publisher: Perseus Books; Edition Unstated edition (September 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0201562340
  • ISBN-13: 978-0201562347
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.2 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,165,255 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Axel on November 16, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book is disappointing. Actually along these 400+ pages I found that all the crucial points of the Zionist ideology were omitted or downplayed.

Well, nothing much different from what the mainstream medias serve daily about this topic. But then, why calling this book "The ***Controversy*** of Zion", if the controversy is omitted ?

Actually I found this book so far away from what its title announces that I'm starting to wonder if Geoffrey Wheatcroft's "Controversy Of Zion" was published (1997) to divert the audience from the original "Controversy of Zion" written by Douglas Reed and published in 1955 that in contrast is deep, higly documented, and addresses extensively the fundamentally controversial aspects of the Zionist ideology.

As often, prefer the original to the copy.
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Format: Paperback
Jewish history is full of different themes. Mr. Wheatcroft has covered one of the larger ones in recent history with a skill and balance that is rarely seen. The story of Zionism is a natural highly emotionally charged subject that usually is written on one side of the
political spectrum or the other. Wheatcroft, an observer from the outside, by way of a
secular Christian background, manages to keep the flow of factual information coming
without falling into the trap of bending the information to a particular point of view. And
he does this in an interesting and informal manner. The author, quite modestly states in the
preface. "All in all this is an amateur work, but in two senses: It is written by someone
who is not a professional authority, but as well in the primary definition of an amateur as
one who is fond of the subject." He may call himself an amateur, but if this is so, let it be
known that he certainly has done his research, as there were very few, if any, inaccuracies
in the book.

By Mr. Whaeatcroft's own admission there were certain omissions to the story. One in
particular was the parallel story of the Arab arguments which Mr. Wheatcroft explains this
way. "I hope I shall not be reproached with ignoring the impact of Zionism on the Arabs,
as though I were unaware how great it was; but that is not my theme." This is to say, that
although the Arab community was very much a part of the story of Zionism, the books
focus was rather the impact that Zionism had on the Jews. Mr. Wheatcroft never deviates
from that plan although I am sure the temptation at times was great.

However, I have two small criticisms which I must note here. One can be attributed more
to the publisher than to Mr.
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Format: Paperback
"The Controversy of Zion" examines the polemics of modern political Zionism from its 19th century origins to the present day. Its conclusion is that the realization of the Zionist ideal may have accomplished many things, but did not solve its central problem: thr so-called Jewish Question.
For all its meticulous research and shrewd observations, it is remarkable that a basic premise is never questioned, namely whether there really is or ever was a Jewish Question. What becomes apparent is that the controversy of Zion was not caused by Zionism but rather by European nationalism. It was the European Problem that disenfranchised Jews in every European state and gave cause to a distinct and actionable Jewish nationalism on what had previously only been a religious hope.
The inescapable conclusion is thereby missed. It was not that Zionism was ever conceived as a perfect solution to a Jewish Question; rather it was an imperfect solution to an intolerable situation created by the European disease. It would be too much to expect it to make everyone happy.
And whereas the past controversy among Jews has little relevance to the future of Israel, European nationalism persists and can certainly be said to influence European attitudes toward the State of Israel and the Jewish people to this day.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
somewhat dated by now, but very even handed look at the Israeli-Arab conflict. Author seems to understand the relationship of Judaism, anti-Semitism and Zionism quite well. The author does get too passionate at times, as if he's pleading for peace and understanding.
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