In The Question of Palestine and elsewhere, Edward Said locates the “justificatory regime” that Zionism has developed to interpose between its Palestinian victims and itself in the discourse of nineteenth-century British imperialism, by which he means the representation of the land occupied by empire as “terra nullius.” This essay retrieves Said's “Canaanite” reading of Michael Waltzer's Exodus and Revolution, in which the latter invokes, above all, the English Puritan revolution to demonstrate the emancipatory politics of the Old Testament story and reconstellates it into the American context, in which, according to Sacvan Bercovitch in The American Jeremiad, the Puritan founders' figural reenactment of the Exodus story is, in fact, one of conquest and occupation rather than emancipation. Such a retrieval and reconstellation will show that Said's genealogy of the Zionist justificatory regime undergoes a significant modification when, in the 1950s, the United States takes over the sponsorship of the Israeli state from the Old World empires. It will show, specifically, the imperial ideology of the Old World that was the original model of the Zionist justificatory regime vis-à-vis Palestine was displaced by the far more politically “effective” exceptionalist jeremiadic ideology of the “pioneering” New World.
William V. Spanos; Edward W. Said and Zionism: Rethinking the Exodus Story. boundary 2 1 February 2010; 37 (1): 127–166. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01903659-2009-039
Download citation file: