Research Blues

I have to submit a proposal for a research paper tomorrow. I am thinking about writing on Zionism, socialism, and Marxism. So far I have been unable to formulate a good thesis on this issue, although I have been looking at some material for some time. The library catalogue is miserable. I mean, how many books on Zionism do they have at the library? Not even a few hundred. They don’t even have Herzl’s The Jewish State, the most basic reading in Zionism! They only have Herzl’s diary, which I borrowed from the library but don’t think it will be of much use for my paper. Now the Herzl text is not a problem, since it can actually be found on a website, the Jewish Virtual Library, that can be cited in a research paper, but when it comes to Socialism, Marxism, etc., I could not find much except for Ze’ev Sternhell’s book The Founding Myths of Israel. It was exactly what I was looking for. Unfortunately, I cannot find any other books like this. I cannot even find Ber Borochov’s, Katznelson’s, Syrkin’s, or Moses Hess’s writings, not even in an anthology! Actually, Borochov’s writings can be found on a website, but it is by no means a citeable website. I have been trying to search in the Institute for Palestine Studies library catalogue online (which has an impressive and huge collection of books on zionism, Palestine, Israel, etc., probably more than my university does on all topics combined), but my wireless is driving me crazy!!! I think it’s because of the weather. It’s really windy at the moment. I think we’re going to have one of those sucky weather weeks. There is actually a song in Armenian that goes something like “They call this crazy month, March”. Getting back to the research issue, I was actually looking at the Jafet Library (AUB) website trying to figure out if I could use the library not being a student and all, and my eyes almost literally popped out. Apparently, if you are a graduate student at another university, you can access books in the building (i.e. can’t take out books) if you have the following: 1) a letter from the dean of your university; AND 2) 350,000 LP (more than $230) for 6 month’s access. No thanks, I think I will stick to my dear old crappy library, because I just can’t afford to pay another $230! That’s almost 1/6th of what I get paid to work from March until June! (call it whatever you want, I still think professors are using cheap labour). I am actually frustrated about work too. Nobody in this country knows what WORK HOURS means!!! I am supposed to put in 8 hours / week. Yes, that’s 8 hours. Not less (I don’t run away from work anyway) and definitely NOT more!! I have been putting double that amount of time. I’ve been doing at least 4 hrs / day, at least 4 days a week. That makes it 16 hours, double the hours that I’m supposed to be working. Moreover, I am supposed to be doing one thing for one professor. I am not the department’s computer technician, nor am I professors’ personal editors! You know, I love working, but at the same time I don’t like being used and abused by my employers. As if I didn’t have enough issues to rant about, the chairman of the department apparently (mistakenly or otherwise) changed the hours of the workshop that I will be doing, without even telling me about it.

I was reading Edward Said’s “Zionism from the Standpoint of its Victims”. It is a long read and somewhat redundant in my opinion, but still interesting. I will be writing a short review and opinion piece on it, also due tomorrow. At the moment I am more concerned about the proposal than anything else. Actually, I wanted to mention that I was informed of a talk today organized by an activist group. The guest speaker is supposedly an activist from USA. She is also a professor in sociology. My co-worker (who also happens to be a graduate student and leftist activist) seems to be in a human-worshipping mood for the past few days. He has been telling me how great she is. Yesterday I asked him “is she an anarchist?” He shrugged. I asked him, “what is she?” He said he didn’t know, but that he thought she was a Marxist. How can you worship someone based on his/her “fame” as an activist? What about that person’s opinions, positions on certain issues, reasons for taking certain positions, etc.? First of all I am very critical of intellectual activists. I call them armchair activists. True, activism is much more than protests and rallies, but there seems to be a trendy movement of “activists”, a la Chomsky. How many books has Chomsky released lately?? I have heard of at least 5. It seems that modern academia has turned into a redundancy machine. Moreover, where have the likes of this “activist” been on the front lines of our struggle? Not that getting the beating of one’s life is a prerequisite, but has she even been on the front lines? In rain, snow, freezing weather? I am not so sure about that. And yet, what if she has? Does it mean that she should be worshipped? I have been on the front lines too. I have been beaten up, arrested, beaten up again, and what does that make me, a goddess? Admiring people, that I do not have a problem with. I admire many people. But in Lebanon there is a culture of worshipping (literally) people. The petty sectarian masses worship the elites. And the leftists (or at least the mainstream leftists) worship activists. Moreover, people seem to think that an American activist is superior to a Lebanese one. Let me say something on that. Activist life in North America is very easy compared to activist life in Lebanon. There you have contacts, lawyers willing to get you out of jail without charging you anything for your case in courts, advocacy groups that follow your case and work on getting you bailed out. The situation here is quite different. If anyone should learn, it is the North American activists. This is yet another issue that needs to be addressed. The hierarchy of activism. Activism in North America is different from activism in the Middle East. To think that your methods are universal is to imply the superiority of your culture, much like Marx’s world view was inherently biased in favour of Western civilization and thought.

I will have to cut my rant short, as I need to do some writings and readings. I will get back to my rant later on.

Edit: I have just finished compiling a tentative bibliography for my paper on Zionism and socialism/Marxism (plagiarizers in my class beware!). I am proud of myself, so I’m going to show off now:


Hertzberg, A. (Ed.). (1997). The Zionist idea: a historical analysis and reader. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society.

Herzl, Th. The Jewish State. Trans. Sylvie D’Avigdor. [Electronic Version]. Retrieved March 7, 2006, from

Hirst, D. (2003). The Gun and the Olive Branch: The Roots of Violence in the Middle East. New York: Nation Books.

Lowenthal, M. (Ed.). (1962). The Diaries of Theodor Herzl. New York: The Universal Library.

Said, E. (1992). The Question of Palestine. New York: Vintage.

Sarig, M. (Ed.). (1999). The Political and Social Philosophy of Ze’ev Jabotinsky: Selected Writings. Trans. Shimshon Feder. London: Vallentine Mitchell.

Shlaim, A. (2001). The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World. New York: Norton.

Sternhell, Z. (1997). The Founding Myths of Israel. Trans. David Maisel. Princeton: Princeton UP.


Avineri, Sh. (1991). Marxism and Nationalism. Journal of Contemporary History, 26(3/4), 637-657.

Ben Porat, A. (1991). Immigration, Proletarianization, and Deproletarianization: A Case Study of the Jewish Working Class in Palestine, 1882-1914. Theory and Society, 20(2), 233-258.

Cohen, M. (1992). Between Revolution and Normalcy: Social Class in Zionist Political Thinking. Modern Judaism, 12(3), 259-276.

Gorny, Y. (1998). Thoughts on Zionism as a Utopian Ideology. Modern Judaism, 18(3), 241-251.

Halbrook, S. (1972). The Class Origins of Zionist Ideology. Journal of Palestine Studies, 2(1), 86-110.

Halpern, B. , & Reinharz, J. (1988). Nationalism and Jewish Socialism: The Early Years. Modern Judaism, 8(3), 217-248.

Lockman, Z. (1976). The Left in Israel: Zionism vs. Socialism. MERIP Reports, 49, 3-18.

Margalit, E. (1969). Social and Intellectual Origins of the Hashomer Hatzair Youth Movement, 1913-20. Journal of Contemporary History, 4(2), 25-46.

Shapira, A. (1989). Labour Zionism and the October Revolution. Journal of Contemporary History, 24(4), 623-656.

Sharif, W. (1977). Soviet Marxism and Zionism. Journal of Palestine Studies, 6(3), 77-97.

Shohat, E. (1988). Sephardim in Israel: Zionism from the Standpoint of Its Jewish Victims. Social Text, 19/20, 1-35.

Weinstock, N. (1973). The Impact of Zionist Colonization on Palestinian Arab Society before 1948. Journal of Palestine Studies, 2(2), 49-63.

Yehiya, E., & Liebman, Ch. S. (1981). The Symbol System of Zionist-Socialism: An Aspect of Israeli Civil Religion. Modern Judaism, 1(2), 121-148.


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