The Zionist Absurd: Israel's Politics of Fear, Freedom, and Bad Faith

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


“If you have your ‘why?’ in life, you can get along with almost any ‘how?,’ ” argued Friedrich Nietzsche. Does the same apply to societies seeking meaning to ensure their collective existence? This chapter submits that it does, engaging contemporary Israel. The author argues that the political pursuit of moral meaning amounts to existential legitimation, or “nomization,” which can boost the nation’s resilience but, if failed, may end in an impasse of meaning, a political absurd. Israel has grown strong in many respects but existential fears, which have characterized Zionism from its onset, have not subsided. These existential fears and freedom—the realization of Zionism as but one solution to the modern Jewish condition—prompted Zionists to seek existential legitimation to the Jewish state. However, a growing sense that “the whole world is against us no matter what” has engendered the “Zionist absurd,” believing all Israel’s legitimation efforts are doomed, and thus substituting bad faith—essentialism, determinism, and fatalism—for freedom.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFinding Meaning
Subtitle of host publicationAn Existential Quest in Post-Modern Israel
EditorsOfra Mayseless, Pninit Russo-Netzer
Place of PublicationNew York, NY
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)9780190910372
ISBN (Print)9780190910358, 9780190910389
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2021


  • Nomization
  • Zionism
  • bad faith
  • existential fears
  • existential legitimation
  • existentialism
  • meaning-making
  • political absurd
  • political legitimacy
  • politics of freedom

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology

RAMBI publications

  • rambi
  • Israel -- Politics and government
  • Political culture -- Israel
  • Zionism -- Israel


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