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The Jewish question in the 21st century : an unanswered question? Exploring the Jewish question in literature and politics.

Baron, Ilan Zvi (2014) 'The Jewish question in the 21st century : an unanswered question? Exploring the Jewish question in literature and politics.', Jewish journal of sociology., 56 (1/2). pp. 5-28.


This paper explores the relevance of the Jewish Question in the Twenty-First Century. The Jewish Question, what political space exists for the Jews in the modern world, was seemingly answered by two historic events in 1948. The first of these was the creation of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948. The second was the adoption by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The first of these meant that Jews could live as Jews in their own state as a majority, in control of their own political destiny. The second of these paved the way for the age of minority rights that developed in the 1960s. This development meant that Jews could live a life as Jews in the Diaspora, thereby significantly altering the terms under with assimilation could be understood. Assimilation became integration. Consequently, it would appear that the Jewish Question has been answered and is no longer of significance in contemporary Jewish thought. However, if that is the case, why is it that the Jewish Question is serving a central role in important contemporary Jewish novels. The Question has served as a key plot element in the novels of two award-winning Jewish novelists, Howard Jacobson and Michael Chabon. Why is the Jewish Question featuring so strongly in the works of leading Jewish authors in the Twenty-First Century? Because it has not been answered. Using a combination of Jewish literature and a political sociological framing of contemporary debates regarding Diaspora/Israel relations, this paper explores how the Jewish Question was not answered, and suggests that part of the reason why the Question has not been answered is because we were never clear on what the Question was in the first place.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Jewish question, Political space, Diaspora, Israel, Transnationalism, Michael Chabon, Howard Jacobson.
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Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:08 October 2014
Date of first online publication:2014
Date first made open access:No date available

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