The Controversy of Zion: Jewish Nationalism, the Jewish State, and the Unresolved Jewish Dilemma

The Controversy of Zion: Jewish Nationalism, the Jewish State, and the Unresolved Jewish Dilemma

The Controversy of Zion: Jewish Nationalism, the Jewish State, and the Unresolved Jewish Dilemma

The Controversy of Zion: Jewish Nationalism, the Jewish State, and the Unresolved Jewish Dilemma

Excerpt

'Some people like Jews and some do not,' Winston Churchill once said. 'But no thoughtful man can deny the fact that they are beyond question the most formidable and the most remarkable race which has ever appeared in the world.' They have also had the most extraordinary story. After their return twice from exile in Antiquity and their generations of greatness in their own land, the destruction of their kingdom by the Romans led to a Third Exile which lasted nearly two thousand years. For most of that time they were spurned and all too often persecuted in the lands where they had been dispersed; they were despised outcasts, sometimes useful to the societies among whom they lived, but never granted equality, in law or of respect. Then, from the Enlightenment and the Revolutionary era onwards, they were slowly emancipated and many of them tried to become what they had never been allowed to be before, loyal citizens of the countries where they lived.

And yet, as the nineteenth century wore on, emancipation increasingly appeared an illusion. The Jew was still a stranger, contemned and disliked if not actually persecuted, his position the more false and humiliating for his attempt to try and shed his identity and change his colours. This was the Jewish Question', to which, at the end of the nineteenth century, a drastic solution was proposed: Jewish nationalism, or Zionism. In 1896, Theodor Herzl unveiled his plan for a Jewish state where the Jews could live as free men and take charge of their own destiny.

His idea startled Jewry, and shocked many Jews. Quite apart from its apparent impracticability, it seemed to threaten the position of Jews who considered themselves faithful Austrians, Frenchmen, Englishmen, Americans, and leave them open to the charge of disloyalty or . . .

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