Knowing Too Much

sub-heading:
Why the American Jewish Romance with Israel is Coming to an End

“Mr Finkelstein makes this argument crisply and convincingly… [his] research is certainly thorough. His characterisations, too, can be brilliant, and he spares nobody...”

The Economist

“[Finkelstein’s] place in the whole history of writing history is assured.”

—Raul Hilberg, author,The Destruction of the European Jews

“A very impressive, learned and careful scholar.”

—Avi Shlaim, professor, International Relations, Oxford University
$25.00
$20.00

Use coupon code DEBATE at checkout to get 20% off till the end of February.

Adding to cart… The item has been added
  • 470 pages
  • Paperback ISBN 9781935928775
  • E-book ISBN 9781935928782
  • Publication June 2012

about the book

Traditionally, American Jews have been broadly liberal in their political outlook; indeed African-Americans are the only ethnic group more likely to vote Democratic in US elections. Over the past half century, however, attitudes on one topic have stood in sharp contrast to this group's generally progressive stance: support for Israel.

Despite Israel's record of militarism, illegal settlements and human rights violations, American Jews have, stretching back to the 1960s, remained largely steadfast supporters of the Jewish “homeland”. But, as Norman Finkelstein explains in an elegantly-argued and richly-textured new book, this is now beginning to change.

Reports by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the United Nations, and books by commentators as prominent as President Jimmy Carter and as well-respected in the scholarly community as Stephen Walt, John Mearsheimer and Peter Beinart, have increasingly pinpointed the fundamental illiberalism of the Israeli state. In the light of these exposes, the support of America Jews for Israel has begun to fray. This erosion has been particularly marked among younger members of the community. A 2010 Brandeis University poll found that only about one quarter of Jews aged under 40 today feel “very much” connected to Israel.

In successive chapters that combine Finkelstein's customary meticulous research with polemical brio, Knowing Too Much sets the work of defenders of Israel such as Jeffrey Goldberg, Michael Oren, Dennis Ross and Benny Morris against the historical record, showing their claims to be increasingly tendentious. As growing numbers of American Jews come to see the speciousness of the arguments behind such apologias and recognize Israel's record as simply indefensible, Finkelstein points to the opening of new possibilities for political advancement in a region that for decades has been stuck fast in a gridlock of injustice and suffering.

About The Author / Editor

Photograph of Norman Finkelstein © Charles Eshelman Norman G. Finkelstein received his doctorate in 1988 from the Department of Politics at Princeton University. For many years he taught political theory and the Israel-Palestine conflict. Finkelstein is the author of eight books besides this one, which have been translated into more than 40 foreign editions: What Gandhi Says: About Nonviolence, Resistance and Courage (OR Books, 2012); This Time We Went Too Far: Truth and Consequences of the Gaza Invasion (OR Books, 2010, expanded paperback edition, 2011); Goldstone Recants: Richard Goldstone Renews Israel’s License to Kill (OR Books, 2011), Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History (University of California Press, 2005, expanded paperback edition, 2008); The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering (Verso, 2000, expanded paperback edition, 2003); Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict (Verso, 1995, expanded paperback edition, 2003); with Ruth Bettina Birn, A Nation on Trial: The Goldhagen Thesis and Historical Truth (Henry Holt, 1998); and The Rise and Fall of Palestine: A Personal Account of the Intifada Years (University of Minnesota, 1996).

Read An Excerpt

Recent surveys strongly suggest that American Jews are “distancing” themselves from Israel. The data do not however yield a single causal factor for this estrangement. Judging by these surveys as well as the historical record, the interplay of a trio of factors—ethnicity, citizenship and ideology—have shaped the contours of the American Jewish relationship with Israel.

One can observe these factors at play in poll findings of Jewish opinion. When asked in a 2009 J Street survey to name “the single biggest reason” they support Israel, the most frequent replies of American Jews divided into the three classes of ethnic belonging (“I am Jewish and Israel is the Jewish homeland”), state loyalty (“Israel is an American ally in the Middle East and strengthens our national security interests”), and ideological affinity (“Israel is a democracy which shares my values”). Or, when asked whether a notorious anti-Arab politician joining the Israeli cabinet would affect their feelings towards Israel, fully one in three American Jews replied on the basis of ideology that it “weakens my personal connection to Israel because [his] positions go against my core values.”

It is not always clear however which factor is the operative one. Polls show that a decisive majority of American Jews oppose Israeli settlement expansion. But is this because successive U.S. administrations have been at loggerheads with Israel over the illegal settlements, or because settlement-building violates the liberal precept of respecting international law and resolving conflicts peacefully?

in the media

Knowing Too Much

sub-heading:
Why the American Jewish Romance with Israel is Coming to an End

“Mr Finkelstein makes this argument crisply and convincingly… [his] research is certainly thorough. His characterisations, too, can be brilliant, and he spares nobody...”

The Economist

“[Finkelstein’s] place in the whole history of writing history is assured.”

—Raul Hilberg, author,The Destruction of the European Jews

“A very impressive, learned and careful scholar.”

—Avi Shlaim, professor, International Relations, Oxford University
$25.00
$20.00

Use coupon code DEBATE at checkout to get 20% off till the end of February.

Add to Cart

Adding to cart… The item has been added

about the book

Traditionally, American Jews have been broadly liberal in their political outlook; indeed African-Americans are the only ethnic group more likely to vote Democratic in US elections. Over the past half century, however, attitudes on one topic have stood in sharp contrast to this group's generally progressive stance: support for Israel.

Despite Israel's record of militarism, illegal settlements and human rights violations, American Jews have, stretching back to the 1960s, remained largely steadfast supporters of the Jewish “homeland”. But, as Norman Finkelstein explains in an elegantly-argued and richly-textured new book, this is now beginning to change.

Reports by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the United Nations, and books by commentators as prominent as President Jimmy Carter and as well-respected in the scholarly community as Stephen Walt, John Mearsheimer and Peter Beinart, have increasingly pinpointed the fundamental illiberalism of the Israeli state. In the light of these exposes, the support of America Jews for Israel has begun to fray. This erosion has been particularly marked among younger members of the community. A 2010 Brandeis University poll found that only about one quarter of Jews aged under 40 today feel “very much” connected to Israel.

In successive chapters that combine Finkelstein's customary meticulous research with polemical brio, Knowing Too Much sets the work of defenders of Israel such as Jeffrey Goldberg, Michael Oren, Dennis Ross and Benny Morris against the historical record, showing their claims to be increasingly tendentious. As growing numbers of American Jews come to see the speciousness of the arguments behind such apologias and recognize Israel's record as simply indefensible, Finkelstein points to the opening of new possibilities for political advancement in a region that for decades has been stuck fast in a gridlock of injustice and suffering.

About The Author / Editor

Photograph of Norman Finkelstein © Charles Eshelman Norman G. Finkelstein received his doctorate in 1988 from the Department of Politics at Princeton University. For many years he taught political theory and the Israel-Palestine conflict. Finkelstein is the author of eight books besides this one, which have been translated into more than 40 foreign editions: What Gandhi Says: About Nonviolence, Resistance and Courage (OR Books, 2012); This Time We Went Too Far: Truth and Consequences of the Gaza Invasion (OR Books, 2010, expanded paperback edition, 2011); Goldstone Recants: Richard Goldstone Renews Israel’s License to Kill (OR Books, 2011), Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History (University of California Press, 2005, expanded paperback edition, 2008); The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering (Verso, 2000, expanded paperback edition, 2003); Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict (Verso, 1995, expanded paperback edition, 2003); with Ruth Bettina Birn, A Nation on Trial: The Goldhagen Thesis and Historical Truth (Henry Holt, 1998); and The Rise and Fall of Palestine: A Personal Account of the Intifada Years (University of Minnesota, 1996).

Read An Excerpt

Recent surveys strongly suggest that American Jews are “distancing” themselves from Israel. The data do not however yield a single causal factor for this estrangement. Judging by these surveys as well as the historical record, the interplay of a trio of factors—ethnicity, citizenship and ideology—have shaped the contours of the American Jewish relationship with Israel.

One can observe these factors at play in poll findings of Jewish opinion. When asked in a 2009 J Street survey to name “the single biggest reason” they support Israel, the most frequent replies of American Jews divided into the three classes of ethnic belonging (“I am Jewish and Israel is the Jewish homeland”), state loyalty (“Israel is an American ally in the Middle East and strengthens our national security interests”), and ideological affinity (“Israel is a democracy which shares my values”). Or, when asked whether a notorious anti-Arab politician joining the Israeli cabinet would affect their feelings towards Israel, fully one in three American Jews replied on the basis of ideology that it “weakens my personal connection to Israel because [his] positions go against my core values.”

It is not always clear however which factor is the operative one. Polls show that a decisive majority of American Jews oppose Israeli settlement expansion. But is this because successive U.S. administrations have been at loggerheads with Israel over the illegal settlements, or because settlement-building violates the liberal precept of respecting international law and resolving conflicts peacefully?

in the media