If I Am Not For Myself: Journey of an Anti-Zionist Jew

January 18, 2010
Richard Kuper

marqusee New in paperback

From Verso: ISBN 978-1-84467-435-0; 320 pages, £9.99 /$19.99

“A tour-de-force of political and cultural analysis of various aspects of Jewish, Zionist and anti-Zionist history and politics. Marqusee touches on many painful spots … The comparisons he draws between Zionism, Hindu nationalism, and other similar and dissimilar political phenomena are incisive and accurate. He shies away from no controversy, and his account of recent dealings with incidents in and around the anti-war movement – which attracted accusations of antisemitism – are penetrating and intellectually honest…. a manifesto for a whole generation of Jewish radical activists who refuse to be deterred by the threat of being labelled, and libelled, as self-haters.” – Daphna Baram, The Guardian

“When I had finished this book, I wanted to cheer… The personal and the political coalesce, making this book, subtitled “the journey of an anti-Zionist Jew”, a rare and precious work. Its polemical force is anchored in experience…If Jewish adolescents got Marqusee’s book as a barmitzvah present, there might be a chance of avoiding the repetition of history’s mistakes.” – Michael Kustow, The Independent

“The personal story is rich and exciting, ranging from the Bronx to suburbia to Pakistan, Morocco and finally London. The thinking about “what it means to be a Jew in the 21st century” is bold and innovative. No one can read this book without having his or her perspective on the Middle East, religion and the left, expanded.” – John Nichols, The Nation

Erudite and well-argued… he should be lauded for this provocative and timely book, which throws up a host of important questions.” – Times Literary Supplement

“His vigorous voice speaks clearly and decisively for the old Jewish radical tradition.” – Sunday Times

“Marqusee’s thoughtful book blends family memoir and history to bring Marqusee to his own well-informed reservations about Israel and knee-jerk Zionism of any kind. An important book that may be a difficult but salubrious encounter for many Jewish (but also Christian) readers.” – Library Journal

“Superb.” – Mark Thwaite, The Book Depository

“Marqusee’s arguments are beautifully arranged and pulsate with the philosophy of the great rabbis.” – Camden New Journal (London)

“A most personal and deeply felt exploration of the connections between family, Jewishness, nationalism, Zionism and its wrongs. It is a brave endeavour… Marqusee’s book is an important contribution to the debate both within and outside the Jewish community.” – The Spokesman

“Compelling, passionate and hugely impressive in both its depth of historical research and its lucid, life-affirming humanism, this book should be read by everyone, Jewish or not, who wishes to comprehend some of the central issues and problems in today’s world.” – Rab McWilliam, N16 Magazine (London)

“A fascinating, if quirky exploration of the Zionism-versus-anti-Zionism debate, to which it adds fire.” – Julia Pascal, Jewish Chronicle

If I Am Not For Myself is a joyous meander through history, theory and personal memoir… performs the marvellous service of disentangling Jewishness from Israel.” – Mark Steel

“In this extraordinary journey through family memory and New York leftwing history, Marqusee introduces us to unforgettable Jewish heretics and heroes, including his brawling grandfather and the Prophet Amos. In proudly reclaiming the Jewish radical tradition, he reminds us that cultures are not the exclusive franchises of nation-states, and that Zionists and anti-semites share the same sinister, racialized concept of group identity. Both in the eloquence of his writing and the deep humanism of his vision, he stands shoulder to shoulder with the spirits of Isaac Deutscher and Edward Said.” – Mike Davis, author of Planet of Slums

“I was exhilarated by the scope and variety of the story he was trying to tell…Towards the end of his book, in a chapter called ‘Confessions of a “self-hating Jew”, he seems to speak so directly for the cause of pluralism that you want to cheer … There’s nothing I can recall in any book that describes the impulse behind anti-sectarian politics better … a genuinely cosmopolitan writer who looks to the world to understand his place within it.” – Mukul  Kesevan, Biblio (India)

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