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Obligation in Exile

The Jewish Diaspora, Israel and Critique

Ilan Zvi Baron

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Explores the complex relationship between Israel and the Diaspora Jewish identity

Combining political theory and sociological interviews spanning four countries, Israel, the USA, Canada and the UK, Ilan Zvi Baron explores the Jewish Diaspora/Israel relationship and suggests that instead of looking at Diaspora Jews’ relationship with Israel as a matter of loyalty, it is one of obligation.

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1: The Limits of Political Obligation
2: Power and Obligation
3: Between Zion and Diaspora: internationalisms, transnationalisms, obligation and security
4: From Eating Hummus to the Sublime
5: Obligation and Critique
Conclusion: Obligation in Exile, Critique and the Future of the Jewish Diaspora

About the Author

Ilan Zvi Baron is Lecturer in the School of Government and International Affairs at Durham University.


At once a thought-provoking account of transnational political obligation and a sure-footed consideration of the fraught terrain on which Jewish-Israeli relations unfold. Not all will find Baron's notion of obligation persuasive; yet the book opens fresh ground for academics seeking to balance normatively-inflected political analysis against critical self-reflection, and – it is to be hoped – among Jews and Israelis seeking to reflect upon, and make sense of, their own affiliations and ambivalences.

- Daniel J. Levine, Department of Political Science, The University of Alabama

In an era of narrowing scientification this book is a marvel. Analysing the relations of Jewish ‎Diasporas with Israel, Dr Baron courageously adopts a multidisciplinary perspective. He skilfully combines political theory, sociology and international relations theory to illuminate ‎contemporary empirical and theoretical concerns like identity, power, transnationalism, obligation and critique.

- Piki Ish-Shalom, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

The book presents an impressive multidisciplinary approach which includes, among others, a critical reading of the philosophical literature on political obligation, an analysis of Arendt and Foucault on power and identity, an engagement with the burgeoning transnationalism literature in international relations (IR) and ethnographic interviews with Jews in North America, Europe and Israel.

- Lior Erez, University of Cambridge, Political Studies Review