Jewish and Israel Studies

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Israel, the Diaspora and Jewish Identity


Danny Ben-Moshe is an Associate Professor and Director of the Institute for Community, Ethnicity and Policy Alternatives at Victoria University in Melbourne Australia where he directs a research program into comparative diasporas.

Zohar Segev is Lecturer in Jewish History at Haifa University. He is book review editor of The Journal of Jewish History, and member of the editorial board of the Australian Journal of Jewish Studies.

Investigates the significance, contribution, and role played by the State of Israel – ideologically and practically – in the identity of Diaspora Jews

Explores the extent and way Israel features in Diaspora identity through a range of issues including: anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, Jewish continuity and Israel visits, the peace process, pro-Israel lobbying, philanthropy, religious thought and gender

Examines the place of Israel in the identity of Jewish communities in eight countries and amongst the Israeli Diaspora

A unique feature of this volume is that each chapter is followed by short and insightful viewpoints by Israeli and Diaspora commentators, with the book reflecting a dialogue between these different voices from across the Jewish world

Jews, like everyone else, have multiple identities and Israel is only one aspect of Jewish identity that has to compete and coexist with many other Jewish and non-Jewish factors. This book explores what it is about Israel that resonates or not with Diaspora Jews, leading them to place Israel above, alongside or below competing or complementary considerations in their identity.

Hardback ISBN: 978-1-84519-189-4
Hardback Price: £55.00 / $75.00
Release Date: September 2007
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-84519-242-6
Paperback Price: £25.00 / $35.00
Release Date: September 2007
Page Extent / Format: 320 pp. / 246 x 171 mm
Illustrated: No



Introduction World Jewry, Identity and Israel
Danny Ben-Moshe and Zohar Segev

Part I

1 Danny Ben-Moshe The New Anti-Semitism, Jewish Identity
and the Question of Zionism
Israel commentator Neil Lazarus
Diaspora commentator Jean-Yves Camus

2 David Mittelberg Jewish Continuity and Israel Visits
Israel commentator Alan Hoffmann
Diaspora commentator Gabriel Trajtenberg

3 Chaim I. Waxman Israel in Orthodox Identity:
The American Experience
Israel commentator Eliezer Don-Yehiya
Diaspora commentator Françoise Ouzan

4 Daniel Gordis Conservative Judaism, Zionism and Israel:
Commitments and Ambivalences
Israel commentator Reuven Hammer
Diaspora commentator David Starr

5 Michael Livni The Place of Israel in the Identity of Reform Jews:
Examining the Spectrum of Passive Identification
with Israel to Active Jewish–Zionist
Israel / Diaspora joint commentators
Lisa Grant and Michael Marmur

6 Philip Mendes The Jewish Left, Jewish Identity, Zionism and
Israel Attitudes to the Palestinian Intifada
Israel commentator Avi Katzman
Diaspora commentator Jonathan Freedland

7 Ofira Seliktar The Changing Identity of American Jews,
Israel and the Peace Process
Israel commentator Avi Beker
Diaspora commentator Scott Lasensky

8 Jonathan Rynhold Israel’s Foreign and Defence Policy and
Diaspora Jewish Identity
Israel commentator Amiram Barkat
Diaspora commentator Dov Waxman

9 Elana Sztokman Gender and Israel in Diaspora Jewish Identity
Israel commentator Alice Shalvi
Diaspora commentator Caryn Aviv

10 Steve J. Gold The Place of Israel in the Identity of Israelis in the
Diaspora: An Ethnographic Exploration
Israel commentator Naama Sabar
Diaspora commentator Rona Hart

Part II

11 David Goldberg Canada

12 Colin Shindler Great Britain

13 Graciela Ben Dror Latin America

14 Erik Cohen France

15 Suzanne D. Rutland Australia

16 Robert Wexler United States of America

17 Richard Mendelsohn and Milton Shain South Africa

18 Larissa Remennick Russia

Conclusion Israel in Diaspora Jewish Identity
A Perspective from Israel Gabriel Sheffer
A Perspective from the Diaspora Steven Bayme


A thought-provoking collection of essays in an interesting, effective arrangement, which provides a wide range of perspectives from Israel and the Diaspora. The book explores the question what is “the place of Israel in Diaspora Jewish identity?” Part I, Issues and Themes, includes chapters on “The New Anti-Semitism, Jewish Identity, and the Question of Zionism,” “Jewish Continuity and Israel Visits,” “Israel in Orthodox Identity,” “Conservative Judaism, Zionism, and Israel,” “The Place of Israel in the Identity of Reform Jews,” “The Jewish Left, Jewish Identity, Zionism, and Israel,” “The Changing Identity of American Jews,” “Israel and the Peace Process,” “Israel’s Foreign and Defence Policy and Diaspora Jewish Identity,” “Gender and Israel in Diaspora Jewish Identity,” and “The Place of Israel in the Identity of Israelis in the Diaspora.” Each of the chapters begins with an essay, which is followed by responses from commentators in Israel and the Diaspora. This combination adds breadth to the exploration of the topic and, in some cases, enables a sense of dialogue. Part II, Countries and Regions, includes chapters on Canada, Great Britain, Latin America, France, Australia, United States, South Africa, and Russia. Recommended for academic and research libraries, as well as other libraries with collections on Israel and the Diaspora. Includes glossary, information on contributors, and index.
Association of Jewish Libraries

This work explores attachment to Israel by Diaspora Jews as a measure of Jewish identity. It is published at a time when there is evidence of ‘distancing’ from Israel by Diaspora youth, a time of demographic transition, as Israel moves closer to becoming the world’s largest Jewish community. Essays that analyze present day realities in light of Zionist theories and goals are instructive, prescriptive, and thoughtful. Concerns about assimilation and the survival of Jewish peoplehood haunt the dialogue. The overriding question is, ‘Will Jewry be best served by one center of cultural and religious creativity in Israel or by several centers in the Diaspora and Israel?’ This collection of observations leaves the reader with much to ponder.
Jewish Book World

The perceptions and reactions to Israel of diaspora Jews have in recent years become troubling. The once – correctly – assumed unflagging support of Israel and its policies by Jews abroad has weakened. Does this reflect the policies themselves, Israel becoming the proverbial thorn in the diasporic side? Or, despite its secular majority, has Israel’s increasingly Orthodox religious character in public and political life distanced many Diaspora Jews, while leading to enhanced bonds between Israel and Orthodox Jews in the Diaspora? Has diasporic Judaism acquired an independent focus, especially as this Judaism becomes less an ethnic and more a social and religious body, with converts, lacking roots and family in Israel, achieving prominence in synagogues and Jewish communities? These questions need answering.
Kenneth Stow, Editor of Jewish History journal

Despite the central place of Israel in Diaspora Jewish life, the ancestral country still has to compete with other influences on identity. Ben-Moshe and Segev introduce 18 chapters pairing an Israeli and Diaspora commentator on issues relevant to this complex identity and the future of Jewish peoplehood in specific countries/regions. Issues discussed include Zionism vis-à-vis the current wave of anti-Semitism, the relationship between the different streams of Judaism and Israel, Diaspora views of Israel’s foreign/defense policy, and gender as a factor in this identification.
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