Hebron Jews: Memory and Conflict in the Land of Israel

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9780742566156: Hebron Jews: Memory and Conflict in the Land of Israel

In this first comprehensive history in English of the Jews of Hebron, Jerold S. Auerbach explores one of the oldest and most vilified Jewish communities in the world. Spanning three thousand years, from the biblical narrative of Abraham's purchase of a burial cave for Sarah to the violent present, it offers a controversial analysis of a community located at the crossroads of the Israeli-Palestinian struggle over national boundaries and the internal Israeli struggle over the meaning of Jewish statehood.

Hebron Jews sharply challenges conventional Zionist historiography and current media understanding by presenting a community of memory deeply embedded in Zionist history and Jewish tradition. Auerbach shows how the blending of religion and nationalism―Orthodoxy and Zionism―embodied in Hebron Jews is at the core of the struggle within Israel to define the meaning of a Jewish state.

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About the Author:

Jerold S. Auerbach is professor of history at Wellesley College. His books include Explorers in Eden: Pueblo Indians and the Promised Land, Are We One? Jewish Identity in the United States and Israel, Jacob's Voices, Rabbis and Lawyers, Justice Without Law? and Unequal Justice. His articles and reviews have appeared in numerous journals, including The New Republic, The Nation, Harper's, and The New York Times.

Review:

Auerbach gives a passionate account of the Jewish presence in Hebron, and in reading the book the reader can truly comprehend what lures Jews to that dangerous place....This is a worthwhile achievement. His book is a long-needed contribution of a serious scholar to an ongoing academic debate, in which the Hebron Jews were left without a decisive, unapologetic, systematically argued voice. (Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal Of Jewish Studies)

It has been said that historians are more powerful than the gods because the latter cannot change history. But American historian Jerold S. Auerbach has done something even more powerful; he has demonstrated a clairvoyance which is quite astonishing in a book that he began researching years ago. Hebron Jews...while focusing initially on the coordinates of Hebron from the Biblical era to yesterday opens up a broad and stimulating inquiry on the settler movement in general and its reverberations on the chasm between the right and the left in the current Israeli political spectrum. It is a tribute to the author's competence in matters historical....In this lively literary pilgrimage Auerbach shows what many have forgotten ― that Hebron was a vital Jewish centre comparable even to Jerusalem....Auerbach's book is a model of disinterested research which, through the alchemical process of fine writing and passionate advocacy of the truth, delivers a highly readable sage about the travail of modern Zionism. (Chicago Jewish Star)

Auerbach deftly develops the history of Hebron and examines the motivations of settlers who choose to live there. The reader comes away understanding how significant elements of a peace process that are bandied about as feasible, such as resigning all of Hebron to the Palestinians, impacts on real people with serious historical and political arguments. (Jewish Book World)

Broad and stimulating.... Intriguing and revalatory.... Auerbach's book is a model of disinterested research which, through the alchemical process of fine writing and passionate advocacy of the truth, delivers a highly readable saga about the travail of modern Zionism. (Dr. Arnold Ages Midstream: A Quarterly Jewish Review)

This lyrical, passionate, and engaged volume should be required reading for anyone who seeks to understand the Jews of Hebron on their own terms. Absorbing, sometimes infuriating, and always informative. (Jonathan D. Sarna, Brandeis University)

Auerbach cuts through reams of distortion and misrepresentation to provide an indispensable account of Jews in Hebron from the time of biblical Abraham to the contentious present. Scrupulously researched, the book illumes the contemporary Middle East and the workings of collective memory, all the while engaging the casual reader who is looking for a riveting story. (Ruth Wisse, Harvard University)

A fine, original piece of work, thoroughly researched and beautifully organized. Like Auerbach's earlier books, this one is solidly and intelligently documented, and handsomely written, in a prose style that is lucid, vigorous, and graceful. Auerbach is perambulating a land mine, confronting liberal dogmatisms of the most ferocious kind. Yet he has maintained a delicate balance between his sympathies and his principle of scholarly disinterestedness; to put it another way, he is able to show that good causes sometimes attract bad advocates. Another kind of balance he achieves is to consider simultaneously the Arab-Jewish struggle over Hebron and the religious Zionist-secular Zionist struggle over Hebron. This is an important book, a history at once sympathetic and dispassionate. (Edward Alexander, University of Washington)

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