The Divided Self: Israel and the Jewish psyche today
I.B. Tauris, $59 hb, 242 pp
The story is told of how Theodor Herzl and Sigmund Freud once lived, unbeknown to each other, on the same street in Vienna. Thus did the lives of the father of modern political Zionism and the father of psychoanalysis, for one tantalising moment, almost intersect ... Herzl, a man of action in the wake of the Dreyfus Affair, who sought to transport Jews from the dangers of Diasporan life to the safety of a state all their own; and Freud, a thinker whose intellectual achievements were born of the Diasporan experience and who resolutely rejected the overtures of the Zionists to join them in Palestine. Herzl, who famously and passionately declared, ‘If you will, it is no dream’ – a motto adopted by the early Zionist movement – and Freud, who even more famously devised the tools for coolly interpreting dreams. This story, recounted in The Divided Self (and attributed to an Israeli ambassador to London in the 1980s), encapsulates the main purpose of David Goldberg’s spirited survey of the Jewish condition: namely, to defend the superiority of Diasporan Jewish life over its Zionist alternative.