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Zionism for the 70's

- Abstract

BACK IN THE mid-60′s, in that period which through the violent lurch forward of subsequent events now seems almost at an archaeological distance from us, a young Israeli writer named Ehud Ben-Ezer began to conduct a series of interviews with prominent Israeli intellectuals under the general title, “The Price of Zionism.” The publishing history of Ben-Ezer’s venture is itself an instructive instance of how the Zionist founding fathers managed to create a society which is far more open to scathing self-criticism than most outsiders would believe and yet preserves perennial tender spots of national defensiveness. Ben-Ezer’s interviews appeared in Moznayim, the monthly magazine of the Hebrew Writers Association and thus the staidest of union house-organs, an official instrument of an aging cultural establishment. For several months, one could marvel at the paradox of finding sandwiched in between effusive appreciations of octogenarian third-rate Hebrew literati the most uncompromising statements by the subjects of Ben-Ezer’s interviews on the “fascist mentality” of Israeli leadership, the moral wrongs perpetrated upon the Palestinian Arabs, Israel’s betrayal of world Jewry, the capitulation of the Israeli intelligentsia to the blandishments of the governing clique. When, however, an interview with a leading spokesman of the so-called Canaanite movement produced an assault on the idea of Israel as a Jewish state, the editors of Moznayim balked, and the publication of “The Price of Zionism” was halted. Within a few months the Six-Day War broke out, and the interviews suddenly became historical documents.

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