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With a new introduction by Adi Ophir: An early and fierce critique of Zionism from a Jewish child of Palestine who argued against nationalism and injustice.
Born in 1893, Moshe Menuhin was part of the inaugural class to attend the first Zionist high school in Palestine, the Herzliya gymnasium in Tel Aviv. He had grown up in a Hasidic home, but eventually rejected orthodoxy while remaining dedicated to Judaism.
As a witness to the evolution of Israel, Menuhin grew disaffected with what he saw as a betrayal of the Jews’ spiritual principles. This memoir, written in 1965, is considered the first revisionist history of Zionism. A groundbreaking document, it discusses the treatment of the Palestinians, the effects of the Holocaust, the exploitation of the Mizrahi Jewish immigrants, and the use of propaganda to win over public opinion in America and among American Jews. In a postscript added after the Six-Day War, Menuhin also addresses the question of occupation. This new edition is updated with an introduction by Israeli philosopher Adi Ophir, putting Menuhin’s work into a contemporary historical context.
Passionate and sometimes inflammatory in its prose, and met with controversy and anger upon its original publication under the title The Decadence of Judaism in Our Time, Menuhin’s polemic remains both a thought-provoking reassessment of Zionist history and a fascinating look at one observer’s experience of this embattled corner of the world over the course of several tumultuous decades.
Moshe Menuhin (1893–1983) was born in Russia to a distinguished, religious Jewish family. When they moved to Palestine, Menuhin was sent to Orthodox Jewish schools. He came to the United States in 1913 to complete his higher education at New York University. After graduating in 1917, the young Menuhin recognized his disenchantment with the developments of political Zionism and decided to remain in the United States. He settled in California with his wife and son. However, Menuhin never lost interest in Middle Eastern politics. As a conscientious Jew, he was particularly concerned about the fate of the uprooted Arab inhabitants of Palestine and the bitter dispute between the Arab countries and “Jewish” nationalists. Menuhin, along with several other prominent American Jews, helped establish Jewish Alternative to Zionism, Inc., to conduct an educational program applying Judaism’s values of justice and knowledge to the Arab–Israeli conflict.