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New Left Review 62, March-April 2010



A Reply to Zeev Sternhell

I am very grateful to Zeev Sternhell for the seriousness with which he has approached my book, The Returns of Zionism, and for the lengthy review essay he has written on it. [1] Zeev Sternhell, ‘In Defence of Liberal Zionism’, nlr 62, March–April 2010. Sternhell’s has long been the most consistent social-democratic Zionist voice in Israel’s public life. His Founding Myths of Israel is an outstanding critique of the ideology of Labour Zionism in general, and of A. D. Gordon, the Second Aliyah’s father figure and ideological mentor, in particular. [2] Published in English as The Founding Myths of Israel: Nationalism, Socialism and the Making of the Jewish State, Princeton 1998. Sternhell was born in Poland in 1935, and sent to the Ghetto with his family in 1941. He was later smuggled out, and survived the Shoah—in which his mother and sister perished—with the help of false papers. In 1946 he left for France, attending the lycée in Avignon, and emigrated to Israel in 1951, where he studied at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; he wrote his doctoral thesis on Maurice Barrès at Sciences-Po. His work on right-wing ideology includes Neither Right nor Left: Fascist Ideology in France, Princeton 1986; and, newly published in English, The Anti-Enlightenment Tradition, New Haven 2010. It delivered an authoritative, scholarly coup de grâce to any lingering universalist pretences that Labour Zionism may still have had when Sternhell was writing it. In dozens of Haaretz articles, he has indefatigably attacked the post-1967 Occupation and the illegal settlement project in the Occupied Territories, as well as the Israeli manifestation of neo-liberal globalization and dismantling of the welfare state. It is testimony to his courage and integrity that, on 24 September 2008, an Israeli settler placed a bomb on the doorstep of his home. Sternhell was injured by the explosion.

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Gabriel Piterberg, ‘Settlers and their States’, NLR 62: £3

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