The Stiletto Idealist

An exaggerated indictment of Israel's home-grown critics.

Issue: Fall 2000

Yoram Hazony, The Jewish State: The Struggle for Israel's Soul (New York: Basic Books, 2000) 400 pp., $28.

Yoram Hazony, a not yet forty year-old head of a Likud-leaning Israeli think tank, is a believer in the power of ideas. He believes that the idea of Zionism is under concerted attack in Israel by Israelis, that a small group of post-Zionist cultural leaders and intellectuals has succeeded in undermining the very foundations of Israel as a Jewish state. He believes that only the restoration of the Zionist idea can save the state from internal decay and, ultimately, one form of destruction or another. Yoram Hazony is an idealist, and proud of it.

The Jewish State: The Struggle for Israel's Soul is not exceedingly overwritten, but, appropriately enough given the author's last name-derived from the Hebrew word for "vision"-it is a jeremiad. Its emotions are nevertheless generally under control; there is no cant or calumny unleashed here, except by indirection (of which more below), and the author is careful to evince nuance. He does not assert that Israel's cultural extremists are mainstream or that the majority of Israelis agree with post-Zionism, and he is not a Chicken Little announcing the imminent fall of the sky. But the reader nevertheless gets the point: be frightened for Israel's future.

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