A Just Zionism: On the Morality of the Jewish State

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The legitimacy of the Zionist project—establishing a Jewish homeland in Palestine—has been questioned since its inception. In recent years, the voices challenging the legitimacy of the State of Israel have become even louder. Chaim Gans examines these doubts and presents an in-depth, evenhanded philosophical analysis of the justice of Zionism.

Today, alongside a violent Middle East where many refuse to accept Israel's existence, there are two academically respectable arguments for the injustice of Zionism. One claim is that the very return of the Jews to Palestine was unjust. The second argument is that Zionism is an exclusivist ethnocultural nationalism out of step with current visions of multicultural nationhood. While many therefore claim that Zionism is in principle an unjust political philosophy, Gans seeks out a more nuanced ground to explain why Zionism, despite its manifest flaws, could in principle be just. Its flaws stem from the current situation, where exigencies have distorted its implementation, and from historical forces that have ended up favoring an extreme form of Jewish hegemony. For Gans, the justice of Zionism and of Israel are not black-and-white propositions. Rather, they are projects in need of repair, which can be achieved by reconceptualizing the Jews' relationship with the Palestinian population and by adhering to a significantly more limited version of Jewish hegemony.

Ultimately, A Just Zionism offers a concrete, historically and geographically rooted investigation of the limits of contemporary nationalism in one of the world's most fraught cases.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"There are an awful lot of books dealing with the politics of Israel/Palestine, written mostly in defense of one side or the other. A Just Zionism, however, presents the first systematic philosophical analysis of the Zionist enterprise as a whole, in each of its historical moments and in all its moral/political aspects. The arguments are meticulously developed, and the book is very carefully constructed. Any reader who is caught up, as I am, in the Israel/Palestine debates will find it intellectually engaging."—Michael Walzer, Professor Emeritus, School of Social Science, Institute for Advanced Study, and author of Just and Unjust Wars

"Chaim Gans deals with a very tough topic: the moral justification of Zionism. He presents all positions in the best of light. He is passionate when possible and dispassionate when necessary. A discussion on the moral justification of Zionism would look very different and far better if those involved in the debate would take heed of this engaging book."—Avishai Margalit, Professor, School of Historical Studies, Institute for Advanced Study

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195340686
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 6/23/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 176
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Chaim Gans is Professor of Law at Tel Aviv University and a political philosopher. The author of The Limits of Nationalism, he focuses on the philosophical analysis of politics and public affairs.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Zionism as an Ethnocultural Nationalism
1. Zionism, Ethnoculturalism, and Civic Nationalism
2. "Bad" Nationalism and "Good" Nationalisms
3. Cosmopolitan and Neutralist Objections to Nationalism
Chapter 2: The Jews' Return to the Historical Homeland
1. Interpretations of Historical Rights
2. Historical Rights and Selecting the Site for Self-Determination
3. The Persecution of the Jews
4. Responding to Arab Opposition to Zionism
Chapter 3: A Jewish State: Self-Determination and Hegemony
1. Jewish Hegemony and the Right to National Self-Determination
2. The Prevalence of Nation-States, the Persecution of the Jews, and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Chapter 4: Dividing Up the Historical Homeland
1. Demography and the Palestinian Right of Return
2. The Issue of Territorial Division and the 1967 Borders
Chapter 5: Jewish Hegemony in Immigration and Other Domains
1. Nationality-Based Immigration and Racism
2. Self-Determination and the Nationality-Based Priorities in Immigration
3. Immigration to Israel: All Jews and Only Jews
4. Principles for Nationality-Based Priorities in Immigration
5. Other Means for Achieving Demographic Objectives
6. Hegemony in Areas Other Than Demography

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