There is a dangerous pitfall in the trendy relativism that infects so much of academia, where all "narratives" and all "historiographies" are held to be equally legitimate and acceptable, no matter how outlandish. When it comes to Israel, outlandish theories seem to proliferate. Israeli Historic Revisionism has two main weaknesses: it deals with the New Historians as though they were a serious group of scholars, and it wrongly asserts that historic revisionism is as common on the Israeli Right as on the Left.
In the opening essay, Michael Walzer relates how as a child he believed certain myths, and then as he matured, he learned they were myths or partial truths. He uses this as metaphor to insist that all national movements create myths that are then amended with national maturity.
A long essay by Daniel Gutwein tries to establish the symmetry found in the title of the book. Gutwein holds that ideologues of Israel's radical Left and its neoconservative Right are essentially and equally "post-Zionists" and "New Historians" who reject Zionism. The representation of the thinkers of the Right in this way is as remarkable as it is false. Gutwein argues that traditional Zionism was closely bound with notions of utopian socialism, central planning, and a vague hostility to religion, therefore thinkers from the Israeli Right, especially those associated with the Shalem Center, should be seen as post-Zionists because they reject these underpinnings of Zionist thought. That is a bit like saying that today's historians at Harvard are anti-American because they do not wear wigs and ride horses with muskets.
Mark Lilla, like Gutwein, focuses on the Shalem Center's Yoram Hazony and makes interesting points about "counter-intellectuals," individuals who promote ideas that are hostile and radically opposed by the intellectual elites in their countries. Penslar has a shallow piece on Zionist oppression of Israeli Arabs. Uri Ram, a sociologist, says that Jews have no more right to Palestine than the British to India and all Israeli establishment historiography is but myths to hide the crimes and injustices of Israel's creation. And so on.
But not all is lost. Anita Shapira, a first-class historian, describes the emergence of historic revisionism in Israel coolly and objectively. Historian Yoav Gelber, in the collection's best piece, documents the errors of Israel's revisionist historians and explains the dangers to Israel from such nonsense. Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin writes well on the politicization and distortion of history in school texts and in the Israeli curriculum. They are the main reasons for not consigning the book to the paper shredder.