Origins of the Israeli Polity: Palestine under the Mandate

By Dan Horowitz; Moshe Lissak | Go to book overview

6
The Ideological Dimension

In the study of the Zionist movement and the Yishuv, it is common to overemphasize the importance of ideological debates and of changes occurring over the years in the ideological positions of the various Zionist parties and movements. Thus, there is a tendency to reduce the history of Zionism to an account of the realization of ideology and tension between imperatives of ideology and the limitations imposed by reality. Although this approach results in a lop- sided image of the history of Zionism, it is accurate in that it reflects the central position of ideology in the consciousness of the political elite of the Yishuv. The history of the Yishuv was indeed marked by intensive ideological controversies and debates, and idealistically inspired attitudes were actually conceived as legitimate criteria to assess the success or failure of political and social endeavors.

The preoccupation with ideological issues and controversies is related to the fact that the Yishuv as a society with its own distinct collective identity arose out of an ideological impulse. Zionist immigration to Palestine was propelled by ideological motivation. The tendency of the Yishuv to segregate itself to the point where it became an autonomous social entity also arose out of ideological imperatives. Even the common cultural basis of the Yishuv

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