Israel's Dead Soul explores the failures of Zionism as a political and ethical discourse. Steven Salaita argues that endowing nation-states with souls is a dangerous phenomenon because it privileges institutions and corporations rather than human beings.
Asserting that Zionism has been normalized—rendered "benign" as an ideology of "multicultural conviviality"—Salaita critiques the idea that Zionism, as an exceptional ideology, leads to a lack of critical awareness of the effects of the Israeli occupation in Palestinian territory and to an unquestioning acceptance of Israel as an ethnocentric state. Salaita's analysis targets the Anti-Defamation League, films such as Munich and Waltz with Bashir, intellectuals including Cornel West and Michael Eric Dyson, gay rights activists, and other public figures who mourn the decline of Israel's "soul." His pointed account shows how liberal notions of Zionism are harmful to various movements for justice.
"As unsparing of the liberal multiculturalist embrace of Zionism as it is of the right-wing defense of Israeli violence, Salaita's stinging critique demonstrates how both deploy a demonization of Palestinians that normatizes Zionism and absolves it of its colonial violence. Israel’s Dead Soul is a must read for scholars of the Middle East, anti-racist activists and all those who care about social justice."
—Sunera Thobani, Associate Professor, Centre for Women's and Gender Studies, University of British Columbia
"Israel’s Dead Soul is a densely-packed, sometimes knotty little book, that well repays reading and rereading. Salaita provides us with well-honed tools for diagnosing the errors of organizations and embedded pundits alike, as well as the weapons for combating them."
"In Israel’s Dead Soul , Steven Salaita skillfully examines the many lamentations over the state of Israel’s soul, exploring what these lamentations reveal about the integrity of intellectual debates about the Israel-Palestine conflict.... (It) is an important and original contribution to the existing literature on intellectual debates about the U.S.-Israel-Palestine conflict."
—Journal of Palestine Studies
"Salaita continues his unapologetic campaign against injustice, analyzing the moral contradictions of Zionism that lurk behind cultural assumptions often accepted on American college campuses as part of their multicultural programs.... Salaita complements thoughtful insight with a sense of humor.... Israel's Dead Soul belongs in the backpack of every graduate student concerned with multiculturalism for its abundance of quotable citations, along with its blend of rage, touch of irony, and academic rigor."