The Making of Modern Zionism: Intellectual Origins of the Jewish State

The Making of Modern Zionism: Intellectual Origins of the Jewish State

The Making of Modern Zionism: Intellectual Origins of the Jewish State

The Making of Modern Zionism: Intellectual Origins of the Jewish State

Excerpt

At the root of zionism lies a paradox.

On the one hand, there is no doubt about the depth and intensity of the bond between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel: there had always been a Jewish community, albeit a small one, living in Palestine, and there had always been a trickle of Jews coming to live and die in the Holy Land. Moreover, during eighteen centuries of exile, the link to the Land of Israel always loomed large in the value system of Jewish communities all over the world and in their self-consciousness as a group. Had this tie been severed and had the Jews not regarded the Land of Israel as the land of both their past and their future, then Judaism would have become a mere religious community, and would have lost its ethnic and national elements. What singled out the Jews from the Christian and Muslim majority communities in whose midst they have resided for two millennia was not only their distinct religious beliefs but also their link—tenuous and nebulous as it might have been—with the distant land of their forefathers. It was because of this that Jews were considered by others— and considered themselves—not only a minority, but a minority in exile.

On the other hand, the fact remains that for all of its emotional, cultural, and religious intensity, this link with Palestine did not change the praxis of Jewish life in the Diaspora: Jews might pray three times a day for the deliverance that would transform the world and transport them to Jerusalem, but they did not emigrate there; they could annually mourn the destruction of the Temple on Tish 'ah be-Av and leave a brick over their door panel bare as a constant reminder of the desolation of Zion, but they did not move there. Here and there individuals did go to Jerusalem; occasionally messianic movements swept individuals or even . . .

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