Elusive Prophet, by Steven J. Zipperstein
Like other creations of the postwar era, Israel has recently been shaken by sweeping political changes. The decline of the socialist ethos, the retreat from state ownership of industry, the rise of militant religious parties, mass immigration from the former Soviet Union, the opening of direct negotiations with the Arab world—these and other factors have broken up the fragile national consensus forged in the generation of David Ben-Gurion, and have forced the opening of debate about national purpose and identity.
It is a time when a nation naturally looks back to the convictions of its founders in order to sort out its future. Yet, unhelpfully, the history of Zionism is long on ideology and short on ideas. There is no lack of the kind of absolute political positions over which controversies rage, commissions are formed, and parties endlessly splinter and recombine. Yet genuine political ideas which possess conceptual nuance and cultural depth, and which can be returned to periodically for perspective on the present moment, are in short supply.
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