Review: Jasmin Habib, Israel, Diaspora, and the Routes of National Belonging

By Theodore Sasson

Association for Israel Studies, Summer 2006

Why, in spite of the conflicts and disagreements, do so many North American Jews continue to express strong attachment to Israel? Anthropologist Jasmin Habib's Israel, Diaspora, and the Routes of National Belonging seeks to answer this question. The research for the book, spanning several years in the late 1990s, entailed participant observation on three Israel Experience tours, participation in roughly 200 Israel-related events (lectures, films, celebrations, etc.) in two Canadian cities, and interviews with the Israel Experience trip participants and other members of the Canadian Jewish community. Habib's analytical goal was to learn how tour guides, lecturers, and community leaders represented Israel to North American Jews, both in Israel and in their diaspora communities, and how North American Jews responded to these representations. The book reads very much like a doctoral dissertation -- it is overly long and detailed for any but the most motivated readers. It also suffers from rather serious methodological and interpretive errors. Still, the importance of the topic and the paucity of alternative treatments justify a careful assessment.

Topic: Diaspora Relations, Israel-Diaspora Relations, Israel Attachment, Israel's Impact on American Jewry, Identity Formation, Zionism

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Genre: Book Review

Coverage: United States

Language: English

Copyright Information: Download for personal use, freely distribute link

Bibliographic Information:
Sasson, Theodore. Review: Jasmin Habib, Israel, Diaspora, and the Routes of National Belonging. Association for Israel Studies. Summer 2006:


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