Michael Brenner: In Search of Israel: The History of an Idea

Princeton University Press, 2018, pp. 372, Price: $29.95
  • Hilary Falb KalismanEmail author

In the twenty-first century, the triumph of the nation-state has proved tenuous at best. Globalization, transnational movements, NGOs and international conglomerates have led scholars to re-evaluate political alternatives: federations, multiple nationalities, autonomy under foreign rule and others. Michael Brenner’s In Search of Israel: The History of an Idea uses the question of whether Israel could or should be either normal or an exceptional “light unto the nations” (9) to explore a range of Zionist roads-not-taken. This work sheds new light on the history of Zionism, disrupting linear narratives connecting the Bible to Herzl to the modern nation-state of Israel.

Chapter 1 contextualizes political Zionism as one of many options for late nineteenth century European Jewish thinkers, competing with the socialist Bund, Autonomism, and assimilation. Brenner argues that although proposed solutions to the “Jewish question” sought to render Jews normal and therefore safe from rising modern...

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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Colorado BoulderBoulderUSA

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