History of Zionism: A Handbook and Dictionary

History of Zionism: A Handbook and Dictionary

History of Zionism: A Handbook and Dictionary

History of Zionism: A Handbook and Dictionary

Synopsis

This two-part volume deals with the emergence of Zionism from its earliest precursors to the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. Part One includes a general review of Zionist history based on both primary & secondary sources & examines key historiographical issues raised by studying modern Jewish nationalism. Part Two, the dictionary, provides an alphabetical listing of phrases, organizations, & other significant terms related to Zionism. Major entries include a general overview & tabular data of all material given over to quantification or graphic presentation.

Excerpt

Zionism -- the Jewish movement for national rebirth -- was arguably one of the most successful and, at the same time, one of the least understood examples of modern nationalism. Born in the last third of the nineteenth century, its meaning, goals, and very essence continue to be debated by scholars, politicians, and laypersons from all walks of life. Yet, at its core, Zionism was based on a paradox: an effort to revolutionize Jewry by, in essence, making Jews "like all the nations," Zionism proposed a modern solution to the "Jewish Problem" by restoring Jews to their ancestral homeland. Although tapping into millennia-old traditions of restoration and rebirth, most Zionist thinkers rejected -- or at least redefined -- all elements of the Jewish tradition that did not specifically relate to restoration, notably religious ritual. Zionism was thus, again, paradoxically, an effort to return the Jew to history thorugh national rebirth while rebelling against Jewish history; an attempt to restore Jewish tradition while recasting that tradition; an effort to make Jews like all the nations while highlighting the unique elements in Jewish culture, tradition, and history.

The paradoxes inherent in Zionism derived in part from the unique nature of Jewish nationalism in the premodern era and also from the specific political, social, and economic conditions under which European Jewry (which then represented the bulk of the world Jewish population) lived a century ago. Specifically, the inner tension over the status of Jewish tradition within the national movement (particularly over religion but also regarding language and culture) resulted from the fact that many of the earliest ideologues who created the Zionist movement, derived their ideology from an assimilationist and not a traditionalist orientation toward Judaism. Put another way, many of its fathers saw Zionism as a means to reformulate the Judaism from which they had tried (unsuccessfully) to escape. Their position was a reflection of the sea changes wrought in Western European Jewry by emancipation, the disappointment felt by Eastern European Jewry over the failure of emancipation to take root, the subsequent decline in religious life concomitant with increasing Jewish secularization, and fears for the future (in both Western and Eastern Europe) created by the rise of modern antisemitism.

It would be wrong, therefore, to emphasize only external factors in the rise of Zionism. Although antisemitism played an important role in the origin of some nationalist schemes for the restoration of Jewish sovereignty, the external catalyst could (and in fact did) drive Jews away from Zionism and toward other ideologies that offered -- or seemed to offer -- a solution for the "Jewish Problem." in particular, revolutionary socialism, whether in Jewish garb (as Bundism) or not (communism) attracted many Jews with the siren song of freedom, equality, and justice. Then too modern Jewish nationalism did not necessarily have to identify with the land of Israel: Autonomism and territorialism also sought restoration of Jewish national identity (the latter calling for Jewish sovereignty in a diaspora territory) while jettisoning entirely (or almost entirely) . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.