Nationalism, Zionism and Ethnic Mobilization of the Jews in 1900 and Beyond

By Michael Berkowitz | Go to book overview

RECONSIDERING CHAIM WEIZMANN AND
MOSES GASTER IN THE FOUNDING-MYTHOLOGY
OF ZIONISM

James Renton
University College London

Following the work of modernist and postmodernist students of nationalism, 1 a number of scholars have recently given sharp focus to the nature and power effects of the Zionist construction and narration of the Jewish past.2 The aim of this chapter, as a contribution to the wider analysis of how historical narratives are constructed and used as vessels of Zionist discourse, is to examine the relationship between narrative form and content in the shaping of Zionist history. It will be argued that the form of Romantic drama, of fall and

I would like to thank Ilan Pappé for reading an earlier draft of this chapter.

____________________
1
For the modernist school of thought, of particular influence has been, Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger, eds., The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983). For the postmodern approach, see Homi Bhaba, ed., Nation and Narration (London and New York: Routledge, 1990). Although disagreeing with the concept that a nation's history is simply invented, 'perennialist' scholars such as Anthony D. Smith have also highlighted the critical importance of how history is re-shaped to serve the needs of the nation, and that history lies at the centre of the nationalist project. See, for example, Anthony D. Smith, The Ethnic Origins of Nations (Oxford: Blackwell, 1986), pp. 170–208.
2
Uri Ram, “Zionist Historiography and the Invention of Modern Jewish Nationhood: The Case of Ben Zion Dinur, ” History and Memory, Vol. 7 (1995): 91–124; David N. Myers, Re-Inventing the Jewish Past: European Intellectuals and the Zionist Return to History (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995); Yael Zerubavel, Recovered Roots: Collective Memory and the Making of Israeli National Tradition (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1995) pp. 13–36; Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin, “Exile in the Midst of Sovreignty: A Critique of 'Shelilat Hagalut' in Israeli Culture” (Hebrew) Theory and Criticism 4 (Fall, 1993): 23–55; idem, “Exile in the Midst of Sovreignty: A Critique of 'Shelilat HaGalut' in Israeli Culture II” (Hebrew) Theory and Criticism 5 (Fall, 1994): 113–132; idem, “Historical Consciousness and Historical Responsibility” (in Hebrew) in Y. Weitz, ed., Between Vision and Revision: A Hundred Years of Historiography of Zionism (Jerusalem: The Zalman Shazar Centre, 1997): 97–134; Ilan Pappé, “Critique and Agenda: The Post-Zionism Scholars in Israel, ” History and Memory, Vol. 7 (1995): 79–85.

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