The New American Zionism

229 pages

November, 2013

ISBN: 9780814760864

$39

Cloth

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Author

Theodore Sasson is Professor of International and Global Studies at Middlebury College and Senior Research Scientist at the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies. He is also Visiting Research Professor of Sociology at Brandeis University and a consultant to the Mandel Foundation.

All books by Theodore Sasson

In The New American Zionism, Theodore Sasson challenges the conventional view of waning American Jewish support for Israel. Instead, he shows that we are in the midst of a shift from a "mobilization" approach, which first emerged with the new state and focused on supporting Israel through big, centralized organizations, to an "engagement" approach marked by direct and personal relations with the Jewish state. 
 
Today, growing numbers of American Jews travel to Israel, consume Israeli news and culture, and focus their philanthropy and lobbying in line with their personal political viewpoints. As a result, American Jews find Israel more personally meaningful than ever before. Yet, at the same time, their ability to impact policy has diminished as they no longer speak with a unified voice.

Reviews

  • “Theodore Sasson challenges the often facile and sensational claims of the `distancing’ of American Jews from Israel in this well written, deeply researched and original book.  He persuasively argues that a new and vital pluralism distinguishes the current relationship between American Jewry and the Jewish state, contesting the fashionable prophets of despair with a view of how passionately and directly American Jews actually engage with Israel. . . . An essential study of a highly contested and emotional issue and an important contribution to the field of Diaspora-homeland studies.”

    —Ilan Troen, Director, Schusterman Center for Israel Studies, Brandeis University

  • “Offers bad news for Israel's critics by providing good news about American Jews' relationship with Israel. Sasson's thoughtful, subtle, compelling analysis of American Jewish public opinions provides a rich and readable look at the multidimensional and ever-evolving ties Jews have with the Jewish State.”

    —Gil Troy, author of Why I am A Zionist: Israel, Jewish Identity and the Challenges of Today

  • "Sasson’s well-documented report may be a partial antidote to the recent Pew Report showing decreased religious affiliation among Jews. Despite the drop in centralized funding, overall giving to Israel has increased, and engagement by Americans with Israel is alive and well."

    Publishers Weekly

  • "But the partisanship of American Jews comes at the price of political influence.  As American Jews divide their support among rival and competing causes, their influence, in both Washington D.C. and Israel will wane.  The failure of the big establishment groups to stop the interim agreement with Iran--an agreement that Israel deemed dangerous--may be the first solid evidence of this new reality."

    —, Forward

  • "Theodore Sasson's new book - The New American Zionism - is a serious book.  That is to say that in a field filled with the ignorant, the manipulative, and the charlatanic, Sasson offers a fact-based and measured analysis of the uneasy relationship between American Jews and Israel.  That the release of this book did not make huge waves in the world of punditry is therefore just as unsurprising as it is unfortunate: Sasson doesn't hyperventilate a catchy theory of doom, and doesn't project a new era of flourishing relations.  He paints an accurate, if complicated, picture of a changing relationship - changing for good and for bad and, at times, in ways yet to be decided."  

    —Shmuel Rosner, Jewish Journal

  • "...the challenge is how to engage the growing population of young adults who grew up in intermarried homes.  This is a population that feels itself a part of the Jewish world but typically knows little of it.  How Jewish organizations address this challenge will determine--more than inexorable laws of demography--the future character of American Jewry."

    —Theodore Sasson, Tablet