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Gadi Taub, 2009
April 19, 1965|
Gadi Taub (Hebrew: גדי טאוב; born April 19, 1965 in Jerusalem) is an Israeli historian, author, screenwriter, and political commentator. He is a Senior Lecturer in the School Public Policy and the Department of Communications at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Taub is also an internationally noticed voice in the discourse on Zionism.
Taub's maternal grandparents were Zionist pioneers who came from Poland to Palestine, in the 1920s when the country was still under the British Mandate, to participate in the creation of a Jewish state. His father fled Czechoslovakia in 1939 after the Nazi invasion but before the beginning of the Holocaust. He arrived in Palestine and was interned by the British along with his father. He later fought in the 1948 War of Independence, where he was injured. After the war, having lost his ability to work with his hands, Taub's father studied economics and law, and later became deputy to the President of the Bank of Israel.
Gadi Taub grew up in Jerusalem, and did his 3 years mandatory military service in the Israeli Air Force. From 1986 to 1998 he worked as a writer and presenter of children's programs on Israeli radio and television. In the meantime he completed his bachelor's degree in History and General Humanities at Tel Aviv University, wrote a bestselling book of short stories, and an influential book of essays, A Dispirited Rebellion: Essays on Contemporary Israeli Culture, (Hebrew) which was highly critical of the postmodern trend in Israeli literature, popular culture, and academia. From 1998 to 2003 he was a Fellow at Rutgers University, New Jersey, where he received his Ph.D. in American History for his thesis on American liberalism and philosophical pragmatism. Meanwhile, he continued to write prose, including the award-winning novel for young adults, The Witch From 3 Meltchet Street (Hebrew). Since 2003 he has taught at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem where he became a senior lecturer in 2010. In 2007 he published a book about religious settlers, which later saw an English version at Yale University Press. In this book Taub argues that the Settlement movement, far from being a continuation of Zionism, is actually a negation of it. In 2010 he published a short book entitled What Is Zionism, available in Hebrew on the web. In 2009 he published a bestselling novel named Allenby Street, which shed light on some less visible quarters of Israeli society – the backstreets, late night bars and strip clubs of Tel Aviv. Taub was both creator and co-screenwriter (along with Erez Kavel) of a TV series based on his novel. The series was broadcast on Israel's Channel 10 in 2012, and was a major hit. He was also head screenwriter and co-director of a forthcoming prime time series for Channel 2, entitled The Harem, which deals with a polygamous cult.
Since 1996 Gadi Taub has been a regular columnist for daily newspapers in Israel, first in Maariv and later in Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel's largest daily. He now writes opinion pieces for Haaretz. He has written political and cultural commentaries for the American and European press, including The New York Times, The New Republic, Die Zeit, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Corriere della Sera, and others. He was a regular panelist on Channel 10's political show Council of the Wise. He is a member of the academic council of The Metzila Center for Zionist, Jewish, Liberal and Humanist Thought.
Taub sees himself as a Zionist in what he calls the original meaning of the term, that is, a believer in the right of all peoples, including the Jews, for self-determination in their own nation state. For that reason precisely he has always supported the creation of a Palestinian state beside Israel. Taub distinguishes between the original Zionism, which he calls Zionism of Liberty (or Zionism of State) on the one hand, and a new messianic kind of Zionism which emerged among a minority of Israelis after the 1967 war, which he calls a Zionism of Land. Zionism of Liberty of the kind professed by Theodor Herzl and David Ben Gurion, sees Israel as an embodiment of the right of Jews to democratic self-determination, and is deeply democratic, while Zionism of Land is a "blood and soil" type of nationalism, for which the state of Israel is a means in fulfilling a mystical connection between the Jewish People and the Land of Israel. In Taub's view, Zionism of Land is not just an ideological negation of the original Zionism of Liberty, it is also the road to Israel's demise. The occupation of the West Bank not only violates the very right on which Zionism morally stands – the right of all peoples to self-determination as Israel's Declaration of Independence declares – it will also eventually lead to a bi-national state in which neither the Jews nor the Palestinians will be able to exercise self-determination. Therefore, Taub has been a vocal critic of the settlement movement and supports immediate unilateral withdrawal from all occupied territories, with or without a peace agreement. He is also a vocal critic of the extreme post-Zionist left, which does not acknowledge the right of Jews to national self-determination, and which advocates a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.