The Last Resistance by Jacqueline Rose Verso, HK$240 From Baruch Spinoza to Hannah Arendt, there's a long tradition of celebrated Jewish thinkers ostracised by the Jewish world. British cultural critic Jacqueline Rose entered this lineage in 2005, when The Question of Zion was published to a mostly hostile reception from Jewish critics. In the introduction to her previous collection of essays, On Not Being Able to Sleep, Rose identified shame as her overarching concern. The same holds true of her writings on Zionism. The Question of Zion mounted a compelling case for reading Zionism as a form of messianism, which draws its force from the humiliation felt by the Jewish people after the Holocaust. The Last Resistance pulls together conference papers, academic articles and essay-length reviews from The London Review of Books, mostly about Israel-Palestine. They reflect the preoccupation with psychic fantasy that has pervaded Rose's diverse work, whether writing on children's fiction, Sylvia Plath, South African apartheid, feminism, sexuality or, as now, Zionism. The Last Resistance sounds like a polemic, but psychoanalysis suggests a more nuanced meaning. Rose isn't writing political manifestos but critiquing the psychological resistances that bar Jews from recognising how their anxieties are acted out in the oppression of the Palestinians. Resistance, in its psychoanalytic valence, becomes a source of tyranny rather than an answer to it. Rose crosses disciplinary borders as effortlessly as she collapses the boundaries of nation and self, drawing on literature, politics and psychoanalysis to tap the repressed paradoxes of the Zionist imagination. The essays with a narrower focus, such as her introduction to Freud's Mass Psychology, will be of more limited appeal. Yet her detailed survey of Freud's work on social psychology offers a valuable riposte to the notion that psychoanalysis applies to individuals, not groups. Examining Freud's belief that Moses was an Egyptian rather than a Hebrew, she explores how psychoanalysis opens up identities to their complex and conflicted pasts. The Israeli writers Rose draws on, Shulamith Hareven and David Grossman, give voice to the private insecurities sidelined by patriotism. For Hareven, Zionism is 'not only an ethos, but almost a religion' that forces the individual into 'absolute silence regarding his own hardships'. Grossman offers a humanist vision that resists the impulse of Jews to retreat inside their national identity, arguing that the Shoah (Holocaust) shouldn't be seen as a specifically Jewish event. Most provocatively, Rose reads the fiction of Ze'ev Jabotinsky - father of right-wing Revisionist Zionism and poster-boy of Israel's Likud party - as casting doubt on the militant nationalism of his political crusade. Fiction, for Rose, provides a forum akin to psychoanalysis, in which identities unravel and ambiguity reigns. Writing on J.M. Coetzee's Elizabeth Costello, Rose analyses our ethical aversion to identifying with perpetrators of atrocity - responsible for making Arendt a pariah, when she sought to understand Adolph Eichmann as a human being rather than a monster. Rose undertakes a similarly courageous feat in Deadly Embrace, where she urges us to empathise with suicide bombers (which is not to exonerate them). Just as her call for understanding suicide terrorists has been widely misinterpreted as venturing a justification, so the late Edward Said worried that, in her resolve to enter the Zionist psyche, Rose risked apologising. Rose has elsewhere answered to the charge of Jewish self-loathing by stressing that self-hatred and self-love are inextricable in psychoanalysis, which seeks to erode defensive self-idealisations that block the psyche's passage to freedom. As she writes here: 'Ambivalence, one might say, is the true hallmark of love.' Might psychoanalysis reveal another meaning of Jewish self-hatred - one that shows the allegation to be less pernicious than it seems? Dogmatism - that perennial danger of psychoanalytic writing - is absent from Rose's work. She offers diagnoses without suggesting cures, believing it unwise to expect too much of psychoanalysis - to play saviour is to contradict the sceptical spirit of Freud. Rose's sentences are an unusual mixture of the conversational and the formal, displaying the clarity for which Freud's literary gifts are still justly renowned. The essays are informed by Rose's deep theoretical learning, but worn so lightly that it never obtrudes on readability. It's exhilarating to watch the quiet control with which she explodes basic assumptions, zeroing in on single words and images to reveal them as less stable and self-evident than they appear. There's no vocabulary better suited than psychoanalysis to conveying the paradox of a wounded people inflicting grave trauma on another population; and no contemporary writer more adept at wielding this tool than Rose.