I’ve mentioned before how grateful I am to be taking a noncredit course on “Zionist Thought & Statesmanship” this spring. Among other benefits, the seminar has provided me with an excellent reading list. Most recently, I finished reading A Safe Haven: Harry S. Truman and the Founding of Israel, by Allis Radosh and Ronald Radosh. (It is worth noting that May 14 will mark the 65th anniversary of the United States, under President Truman’s leadership, becoming the first nation to recognize the State of Israel.)
Published in 2009, the book won the Washington Institute’s Book Prize (for nonfiction books on the Middle East). It received widespread attention; rather than give you a summary/review myself, I’ll point you to some existing analyses.
“Zionist in the White House,” by Jonathan Tepperman (New York Times Book Review)
Review by Walter Russell Mead (Foreign Affairs)
“Success Has Many Parents,” by Daniel E. Levenson (New Vilna Review)
But wait–there’s more. Bonus material that I’ve located online includes an excerpt and a video (which I hope to have the opportunity to watch in the near future myself) that features the authors discussing their book at the YIVO Institute.
Have any of you already read the book? What are your thoughts?
If you follow me on Goodreads, you know that not long ago, I was reading George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda.
Today’s edition of Jewish Ideas Daily features some reflections on that reading.
In the beginning, there was Theodor Herzl. Or so I thought. I have a Ph.D. in European history, but I have long been aware of the deficiencies in my knowledge of Jewish history and my Israel literacy. So when I discovered the opportunity to take a non-credit course on Zionism here in New York, I jumped at the chance.
Once enrolled, I learned just how much Zionist history there was before Herzl. Our initial sessions were devoted to a variety of Zionist forerunners and an extensive documentary legacy that anticipated Herzl’s visionary 1896 pamphlet, The Jewish State.
I was dutifully taking notes during our second class meeting when our professor mentioned another text that expressed Zionist sentiments well before Herzl took up his mission. But unlike the writings of Rabbis Yehuda Alkalai and Zvi Hirsch Kalischer, or those of Leon Pinsker and Ahad Ha’am, this text was written in English, and by a woman who wasn’t even Jewish. Somewhat surprisingly, it wasn’t a polemic or a pamphlet. It was a novel by George Eliot (the pen name of Mary Anne Evans), Daniel Deronda, published in 1876, 21 years before Herzl convened the First Zionist Congress.
To read the rest of my essay, please click here.
This just in…
(NB: I’m pretty sure that this is a nonpaying opportunity.)