Exiled in the Homeland: Zionism and the Return to Mandate Palestine

Exiled in the Homeland: Zionism and the Return to Mandate Palestine

Exiled in the Homeland: Zionism and the Return to Mandate Palestine

Exiled in the Homeland: Zionism and the Return to Mandate Palestine

Synopsis

Offering a new perspective on Zionism,Exiled in the Homelanddraws on memoirs, newspaper accounts, and archival material to examine closely the lives of the men and women who immigrated to Palestine in the early twentieth century. Rather than reducing these historic settlements to a single, unified theme, Donna Robinson Divine's research reveals an extraordinary spectrum of motivations and experiences among these populations.

Though British rule and the yearning for a Jewish national home contributed to a foundation of solidarity,Exiled in the Homelandpresents the many ways in which the message of emigration settled into the consciousness of the settlers. Considering the benefits and costs of their Zionist commitments, Divine explores a variety of motivations and outcomes, ranging from those newly arrived immigrants who harnessed their ambition for the goal of radical transformation to those who simply dreamed of living a better life. Also capturing the day-to-day experiences in families that faced scarce resources, as well as the British policies that shaped a variety of personal decisions on the part of the newcomers,Exiled in the Homelandprovides new keys to understanding this pivotal chapter in Jewish history.

Excerpt

When the Roslan dropped anchor at the port of Jaffa in late December 1919 following its month-long journey from Odessa, Zionist leaders heralded the ship’s arrival as the dawn of a new age. They deemed its 670 passengers “pioneers” and portrayed them as absolutely dedicated to the Zionist aim to remake the Jewish people. the trouble with this view is that it was not entirely accurate: local newspaper reports told a very different story. Contemporaries described Zionism’s so-called Mayflower as filled with a wretched “refuse” escaping the deadly battlefields of civil war Russia and most emphatically not coming to Palestine possessed with Zionism’s visionary purpose. Examining the Roslan’s masthead should have further dampened the enthusiasm of Zionist leaders, who by calling the ship’s landing a milestone may have revealed more about their extraordinary capacity for wishful thinking than for accurate accounting or reporting. Compared to the situation on other ships carrying people to Palestine during 1919, fewer people aboard the Roslan (by about 10 percent) called themselves workers, and very few of those strewn across its almost unlivable decks conformed to the profile of Zionist pioneer: few were in their teens or early twenties; many were children traveling with their parents, and at least 40 percent were married. But despite the abundant evidence, the Zionist narrative that shaped how Israelis understood the origins of their state and society did not incorporate the Roslan’s real story.

Although the gap between Zionism’s national building paradigm and the historical narrative of events—the difference between myth and reality—has drawn considerable scholarly attention, it has not resolved the puzzle of how idealism and balance-of-power considerations mobilized the resources vital for the establishment of a Jewish state. Most analyses . . .

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