Shlomo Sand, The Invention of the Jewish People (Verso, 2009)
However, Sand's concluding chapter argues that the future of Israel is dependent on redefining what it means to be an Israeli. As he notes, Israel is an "ethnocracy with liberal features-- that is, a state whose main purpose is to serve not a civil-egalitarian demos but a biological-religious ethnos that is wholly ficticious historically, but dynamic, exclusive and discriminatory in its political manifestation" (307). His solution is to redefine Israel as a territorial state that includes all of its citizens regardless of their ethnos. As Piterberg points out, "The demand that a modern state be a normally territorial nation-state is, of course, not at all radical or dramatic, but in the context of Israeli and American Zionism, it is heresy." And yet counter-hegemonic texts wager that hegemony can be changed. As Sand writes, "I don't think books can change the world, but when the world begins to change, it searches for different books."
Siri Hustvedt, The Sorrows of an American (Picador, 2008)
Thomas Pynchon, Inherent Vice (Penguin, 2009)
Ronald Aronson, Living Without God (Counterpoint, 2008)
If you only read one book, published in the last few years, about atheism, I recommend Living without God. I will admit that it isn't one of the controversial texts of the New Atheists, such as Dawkins, Dennett or Hitchens, but it's much more compelling. Like Sartre, from whom Aronson derives much of the philosophical framework for this book, Aronson emphasizes human freedom to show how atheists and secularists can live morally and politically within our complex world. What Aronson shares with Sartre on the idea that this freedom should give us courage to act (in fact, what is Being and Nothingness, if not a distended manual on courage?). Compared to the New Atheists, Aronson is much more politically astute (being a student of Marcuse can do that to you) and attuned to the idea that for atheism and secularism to be convincing as a way to live (and not just a lifestyle, wearing the shirt, all that…), it has to inspire some sense of courage and hope that is not just personal but collective.