Zeh ‘im ha-panim eleynu was published after the signing of the 1993 Israeli-Palestinian Declaration of Principles, which most of the liberal Israeli intelligentsia unproblematically regarded as heralding the end of the occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Anticipation of this momentous political change and the accumulated weight of the critique of Zionist practice elaborated by the “new historians” and political opponents of the occupation since the late 1970s led some Israeli intellectuals to propose that Israel was entering a post-Zionist phase of development. Post-Zionism, as distinct from anti-Zionism, tends to avoid pursuing the morally difficult questions about Israel's formation and the historical practices of Zionism to the limits of political reasoning. Although its primary advocates have been Ashkenazi university professors, journalists, and authors, post-Zionism has a certain Levantine element. It accepts that the past cannot be undone and tries to make the best of the present and the future without pressing for a fully consistent critique of the Zionist project, which would undermine the viability and potential appeal of post-Zionism to Israeli Jews primarily motivated by a desire for “normalcy” rather than anguish over the fate of the Palestinian Arabs.
The deliberate ambiguity of post-Zionism is unsatisfying for a historian trained to search for causes and effects or for anyone who has tried to make moral sense out of the course of history. It is also inadequate for many Arabs, especially Palestinians, who will not find sufficient attention to their sense of grievance in post-Zionism. Nonetheless, it may turn out to be politically more effective than the absolutist nationalisms it seeks to supplant.
Ronit Matalon's sympathetic portrayal of the contradictory ideological positions of all the members Esther's family suggests a spirit of post-Zionist tolerance and an ability to appreciate the positive qualities of Arab and other neighboring cultures. In an interview in Davar, Matalon seemed to endorse a post-Zionist reading of her novel:
As an Israeli who was born and educated here, I was very surprised by how preoccupied I was with cultural and political options that are not necessarily what Zionism proposes. Zionism and the cultural option it prefers are only one possibility, and not necessarily the most generous one.…As an Israeli, I was very, very attracted to the cultural and moral richness of the wandering Jew, who does not have one nationality or one country, has many languages, is open to everything human, and does not always close himself off from [foreign] influences. In this sense, the Levantine option of live and let live, which in my opinion is the opposite of Zionism, very much attracted me.
Post-Zionism, despite its shortcomings as a historical perspective, offers a sufficiently clear break from nationalist discourse to allow for a critical reevaluation of the heritage of the Jews of Egypt within contemporary Israeli culture. In the early 1990s, the anthropologist Emanuel Marx served as the director of the Israeli Academic Center in Cairo, an institution commonly vilified by Egyptian nationalists as a center for espionage and subversion. After leaving Cairo and returning to his teaching position at the University of Haifa, Marx proposed that if it were not for Operation Susannah, the Jewish community in Cairo would not have been destroyed: “Those responsible for the dirty business (‘esek ha-bish) exploited Jews in Egypt for unimportant purposes. This caused the rupture.”  He went on to suggest that it was possible to renew the existence of a Jewish community in Egypt and criticized the Israeli Embassy in Cairo for opposing this project
because they are prisoners of Zionist ideas according to which all Jews must immigrate (la-‘a lot) to Israel. We live in a post-Zionist era.…Israel has become quite a large state, and it's time we stopped the idiotic activity of encouraging the dissolution of Jewish communities throughout the world.
It is not necessary to share Marx's judgment about the consequences of Operation Susannah or his confidence about the possibility of restoring the Jewish community of Egypt to appreciate the novelty and expansiveness of his perspective in an intellectual environment dominated by Zionism and Israeli nationalism. Marx's ideas are particularly remarkable coming from someone who recently completed a semiofficial mission in Egypt.
Post-Zionism abandons the conviction that Jews can live meaningful lives only in Israel. It relinquishes the fearful conception that because of the mass murder of European Jewry, Jews require an absolute guarantee of physical security that can be provided only by the armed forces of Israel. It allows Jews to appreciate and participate in other cultures without feeling guilty for betraying their heritage and opens the possibility that Israel can become integrated into the Middle East.
Zeh ‘im ha-panim eleynu is a cultural and historical statement constructed on the terrain first valorized by Jacqueline Kahanoff and Yitzhaq Gormezano-Goren. It also expands on the less fully articulated Levantinism and post-Zionist sensibilities implicit in Anda Harel-Dagan's Po’ema qahirit and Maurice Shammas's embrace of Arabo-Egyptian culture expressed through Shaykh shabtay wa-hikayat min harat al-yahud. Matalon proposes a tolerant and expansive vision of her family's past in Egypt and, by extension, the modern history of Egyptian Jews. Her deliberately fragmented literary style is well suited to representing the disparate elements of the community's experiences and outlooks that could easily be homogenized and churned into propaganda by a conventional history. And it allows her to avoid making an unambiguous political statement that might undermine the human dimension of her narrative and its reception in Israel. The production and popular reception of Zeh ‘im ha-panim eleynu suggest that the broad reassertion of Egyptian Jewish identity in post-1977 Israel may open important cultural possibilities that, in favorable political circumstances, could contribute to the long and torturous process of constructing a viable vision for Israel's future relations with its Arab neighbors.