Backdrop to Tragedy: The Struggle for Palestine

By William R. Polk; David M. Stamler et al. | Go to book overview

13. RELIGION AND THE STATE

The establishment of the Maccabean state in the second century B.C. acted as a catalyst upon Jewish life. In that period were sown the seeds of those forces which were to create the "classical" Judaism as it is understood today. At that time too there began to emerge the spiritual power of the early Hasidim and Pharisees, groups which, when properly understood, can be seen to have influenced almost every concept of western culture and of its social system. It was with hopes for a similar revival that many Jews looked to Zionism in its early days and look to the State of Israel today. It is both futile and mistaken to dismiss this as a mere pious wish totally divorced from the issues of practical politics. It is often the intensity and passion of such "pious wishes" which, for good or ill, influence the very course of political events. While today it is too early to attempt to evaluate the spiritual potentialities of Israel, some understanding of the religious problems confronting the modern republic is necessary for an appreciation of the lines along which the state is developing.

One of the questions facing the State of Israel at the time of the making of its constitution, was whether Israel was to be a secular or a religious state. It was a question upon which every Jew had the strongest feelings. For the very few, a totally secularized state with no religious background whatsoever was the desired policy. For many, even for those who personally had few religions convictions, some integration of religious thought into the fabric of the State was the only logical justification for much of Jewish history and of Zionist endeavor. For them "a Jewish state organized permanently as a secular policy with no constitution to bind it to the authentic Judaism of the Torah, a state dependent upon political rivalries and the ephemeral interplay of political parties and their coalition, a Jewish state whose supreme source of law is a secular parliament, is a logical absurdity. . . .

-219-

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Backdrop to Tragedy: The Struggle for Palestine
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vi
  • Maps viii
  • Tables ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Important Dates in the History of Palestine xiii
  • Part 1 - THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND 1
  • 1 - Out of the Past 3
  • 2 - The Coming of Islam 8
  • 3 - The Crusades 22
  • 4 - The Ottoman Empire 29
  • 5 - The Great Powers in the Middle East 34
  • 6 - The Sick Man of Europe 47
  • 7 - The First World War and Its Spore 55
  • 8 - Emir Feisal and Dr. Weizmann 64
  • 9 - Establishment of the Mandate 70
  • 11 - The Wisdom of Solomon 94
  • 12 - From War to War 106
  • 13 - Inquiries, Reports, and Plans 110
  • 14 - The Mandate's Last Bitter Days 126
  • Part II - JEWISH INTERESTS IN PALESTINE 131
  • 1 - The Age-Old Longing 133
  • 2 - The European Background 139
  • 3 - The Birth of Political Zionism 148
  • 4 - The Land of Promises 159
  • 5 - Internal Conflicts 170
  • 6 - The Seeds of Conflict 175
  • 7 - The War and the Biltmore Program 179
  • 8 - Anglo-American Reactions 185
  • 9 - Postwar and Economic 187
  • 10 - A United Nations Solution: the State is Born 194
  • 11 - East and West 197
  • 12 - Politics in Israel 205
  • 13 - Religion and the State 219
  • Part III - THE ARABS AND PALESTINE 223
  • 1 - "The Existing Non-Jewish Communities" 225
  • 2 - The Arab Gentry 241
  • 3 - The Arab Element in Arabism 246
  • 4 - Modern Arab Nationalism 254
  • 5 - The Reaction to Zionism 265
  • 6 - Pan-Arabism 273
  • 7 - War, Refugees, and Humiliation 286
  • Part IV - THE ECONOMIC FRAMEWORK OF THE PALESTINE PROBLEM 305
  • 1 - Introduction 307
  • 2 - The Mandate Period 309
  • 3 - The Land and Its People 312
  • 4 - Immigration and Land 324
  • 5 - Land and Capital 329
  • 6 - Economics of the Refugee Problem 336
  • 7 - The Economy of Israel 342
  • 8 - Economic Relations Between Israel and the Arabs 352
  • Part V - CONCLUSION 365
  • Conclusion 367
  • SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY 375
  • Index 387
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