Writing in the January issue of Harper’s Magazine, Joshua Cohen wrote this at the end of his review of Laor’s book:
It often seems that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is just […] a textual problem. If so, then the muddle of meaning that must be analyzed lies in parsing not Palestinian from Israeli, but “Israeli” from “Jew.” Only once those epithets have been dissevered can some sort of dialogue begin, between two political entities and not between two (or three) religions or Peoples. Until then, “Israel” will continue to be vilified as a word that means something other than what it should, while all critics of Israel will be accused of anti-Semitism.
It is not clear to me from the review how much of this is Cohen, how much of this is Laor and how much of it is Cohen putting into his own words what he agrees with in Laor’s book, but any book that leads to this kind of thinking, to asking these kinds of questions, whether I ultimately agree with the book or not, is a book worth reading. Now, if there were only 36 hours or more in a day. Sigh.
Cross-posted on It’s All Connected.
It’s an English translation of part of Laor’s _Anu Kotvim Otach Moledet_ (“We write Thee Oh Motherland”) whose inner title pg. reads _Narratives Without Natives_ as the preferred English-language title for cites. Laor is in fact a radical anti-Zionist who looks at Zionism as narrative, and he deconstructs quite a few of the leading lights of Left Zionism’s literature in essays such as “The Sex Life of the Security Forces: On Amos Oz”, about Zionism, military force, and masculinity. I don’t really buy theses like S. Yizhar as a co-opted “statist” writer in ’56 but a mourner of the lost bi-national Eretz Israel in ’47-’48, but it will be interesting to see which essays made it into English and whether they were edited, how, and by whom. Gadi Taub (in “A Dispirited Rebellion”) and Gershon Shaked (“Alpayim: 12”) offered Hebrew-language critiques, but there is very little pro or contra Laor in English, except via Gabi Piterberg’s _The Ends of Zionism_.