My book’s done, now back to blogging

Dear Blog: I missed you.

Yes, it’s true. I gave up blogging temporarily while I worked intensively on my book, an exploration of my engagement with Zionism and Israel going back 50 years. Much of the last four or five months has been taken up with editing my original completed manuscript: turning a 207,000-word behemoth into a slim, streamlined, cool-looking 99,000. At the beginning of the process, when someone said ‘It’s like tearing off your own flesh’ I was dismissive. ‘Oh, I’ve been an editor for years and I don’t mind cutting my own writing.’ Well, I eventually made it, but it was bloody painful at times. It reminded me of the conundrum of the flea hopping across a table half-way and then each further hop is half the distance of the one before. How long will it take to get to the other side? It gets closer and closer all the time, tantalisingly so, but will never ever reach its destination. That’s how I felt cutting my ms.

At one point I thought I’d never get there, but I did, and the breakthrough came when I’d reached about 127,000 working on screen, printed out the whole thing and worked on the hard copy. Although it sounds ridiculously mechanical, I started to set myself a target of cutting one-fifth from each page, on average, but the discipline worked–together with the fact that having a better visual sense of its shape seemed to open up more possibilities of what could be omitted.

I finally submitted the completed ms to my publishers, Pluto Press, last week and publication is planned for summer/autumn. There will still be more work to do, but the ship has been launched, as it were, with just the full fitting out to complete before the passengers can see inside. I won’t reveal the title here until Pluto’s July-December catalogue appears.

So, while I’m not exactly at a loose end, I plan to re-enter the blogging pit in a gradual fashion over the coming weeks. I’ve often wanted to enter the fray in the past months, but knew that I had to stay focused on the book. I plan to comment on matters both small and large, from the exaggeration of the level of antisemitism in Scotland to the Asian-style authoritarianism that has taken hold in Israel; from those terribly aggressive secularists marginalising religion in the UK to the ideological underpinnings of the Cameron Tory Party; from the far right and the slippage of its sanitising makeover to the further decline of the idea and dream of Europe.

But I also intend to explore other ways of expressing my views and, as you’ll understand, using whatever outlets I can to publicise my book. And I’m also hoping to revamp the look of my blog and make it more connected to the wider world of comment and information-providing.

And then there’s just a small matter of the next book . . .

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2 Responses to My book’s done, now back to blogging

  1. Paul Schloss says:

    Good to have you back! I have to say, I find you one of the most interesting commentators on this subject area.

    One question that I’d be interested in you exploring is Israel’s relation to the Diaspora. In particular, how much of its policy is directed against it? A peaceful Israel, reasonably well integrated into the region, and not forever threatening Iran, nor constantly exaggerating the rise of anti-Semitism, would not only reduce anti-Israel feeling but Jewish racism too. However, this could lead to the Diaspora taking it for granted; and reducing its interest in the country, with the possible effect (or the perceived effect) of a lessening of Israel’s political influence in the West – both through an engaged community and the well-funded lobbyists. An aggressive Israel on the other hand keeps up anti-Zionist feeling, and increases anti-Semitism, and makes the Diaspora uneasy and insecure; which in turn encourages support for Israel; both out of loyalty and fear – the country becomes like an insurance policy. If there is such a policy it seems to be backfiring, because it has gone too far; but that’s not to say it doesn’t exist; only badly handled…

    I’m not suggesting it is the main determinant of Israel’s actions. But I have wondered how much, if any, such ideas influence government strategy. I’d be interested in what you think.

    • Paul: Thank you for your kind words and your interesting question/comment. I am in broad sympathy with the thrust of your remarks, although I would explain Israel’s relations with the diaspora today more in terms of Israeli governments wrapping themselves in the blanket of the diaspora whenever they feel the need to export their internal crisis–in other words when they face strong international opposition or involve themselves in military or security action that provokes strong negative reaction on the part of the country’s traditional supporters in the international community. This policy, which governments turn on and off as and when they do or do not need diaspora support, is invariably couched in terms of Zionist ideology. This stresses that while an eternal bond exists between diaspora Jews and Israel, Israel ‘knows what is best for the diaspora’–which means that the diaspora has to accept and support anything and everything that Israeli governments choose to do. This approach is both damaging to the interests of diaspora Jews, but also serves to prevent Israel’s full integration into the region, without which there will never be a secure and just peace.

      There is much more to say about this issue and I will certainly return to it in a future blogpost, I do actually have quite a lot to say about Israel-diaspora relations in my forthcoming book, the publication date of which I will announce on this blog and on Twitter (follow me: @tonylerman) as soon as I know it.

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