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Israel's Dead Soul

Authored by Steven Salaita

Publication Year: 2011

In his courageous book, Israel's Dead Soul, Steven Salaita explores the failures of Zionism as a political and ethical discourse. He argues that endowing nation-states with souls is a dangerous phenomenon because it privileges institutions and corporations rather than human beings.

Asserting that Zionism has been normalized--rendered "benign" as an ideology of "multicultural conviviality"—Salaita critiques the idea that Zionism, as an exceptional ideology, leads to a lack of critical awareness of the effects of the Israeli occupation in Palestinian territory and to an unquestioning acceptance of Israel as an ethnocentric state.

Salaita's analysis targets the Anti-Defamation League, films such as Munich and Waltz with Bashir, intellectuals including Cornel West and Michael Eric Dyson, gay rights activists, and other public figures who mourn the decline of Israel's "soul." His pointed account shows how liberal notions of Zionism are harmful to various movements for justice.

Published by: Temple University Press


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pp. xi-xiv

I am immeasurably grateful for the living souls of my wonderful friends and colleagues. No book is created by an individual. They all grow out of tension and dialogue. Israel’s Dead Soul is a product of intense and invigorating dialogue that has occurred and continues to occur with intelligent and compassionate people who are more than just names on a page to me. ...

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pp. 1-12

Israel’s soul has been the subject of much anguish. Writers and politicians have been lamenting its demise for decades. Shalem Center senior fellow Daniel Gordis believes that policy should invoke “something incredibly powerful and positive about the Israeli soul.”1 For decades, novelist David Grossman complains, settlers “have operated in the gray areas of the Jewish-Israeli soul.”2 ...

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Chapter 1. Israel as Cultural Icon: The Vacillating Boundaries of Jewish Identity

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pp. 13-40

On an ordinary day in the spring of 2008, I was navigating throngs of thirsty and hungry students between classes at Virginia Tech’s Squires Student Center, in pursuit of a watery but much-needed cup of coffee. After emerging from the energetic and impatient crowd, I saw that I had a bit of time before my next class and decided ...

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Chapter 2. Is the Anti-Defamation League a Hate Group?

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pp. 41-70

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has a long and distinguished history. It was founded in 1913 by Chicago lawyer Sigmund Livingston to combat rampant anti-Semitism in the United States, which at the time entailed quotas on university admissions, the exclusion of Jews from various social and political communities, and even lynching. Nearly a hundred years later, Livingston might be surprised that his vision has grown into the powerful organization it is today. ...

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Chapter 3. Ethnonationalism as an Object of Multicultural Decorum: The Case of Cornel West and Michael Eric Dyson

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pp. 71-94

In this chapter I examine the work of two intellectuals whose scholarship is rooted in socially liberal traditions of black Christianity. Both intellectuals, Cornel West and Michael Eric Dyson, are prolific writers and public figures. Both have produced seminal theoretical and philosophical work. Both comment frequently on issues of broad debate (using points of view considered radical by corporate media standards). ...

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Chapter 4. Sexuality, Violence, and Modernity in Israel: The Paradise of Not Being Arab

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pp. 95-116

Much of Zionism’s humanistic discourse relies on affirmation through negation: Iran is irresponsibly nuclear (implying that Israel deserves its nuclear weapons even though it still hasn’t confessed to having them), Arabs and Muslims are irrationally violent (implying that Israel is peaceable or uses violence judiciously), Arab states are backward and Third World (implying that Israel is cosmopolitan and European). ...

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Chapter 5. The Heart of Darkness Redux, Again

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pp. 117-140

Since the advent of Western colonization, it has been remarkably difficult for white subjects in the metropole to access their deepest psychological sensibilities. All too frequently they need to enter into worlds so alien and exotic that they have no choice but to undertake agonizing introspection. Such was the fate of legendary figures like Marlowe, Dances with Wolves (Lieutenant Dunbar), and Albert Camus. ...

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Epilogue A Eulogy to Israel’s Dead Soul

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pp. 141-142

The anxious chattering guardians of national consciousness, composed of liberal writers and eager do-gooders, killed Israel’s soul. They did not kill it through violence, however. They killed it by inventing it. This death isn’t tragic. It is to be celebrated. Israel’s soul needed to die if the many peoples of the Near East are to continue living. ...


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pp. 143-156


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pp. 157-161

E-ISBN-13: 9781439906392
Print-ISBN-13: 9781439906385

Page Count: 159
Publication Year: 2011