Today, Zionism is understood as a national movement whose primary historical goal was the establishment of a Jewish state. However, Zionism's association with national sovereignty was not foreordained. Zionism and the Roads Not Taken uncovers the thought of three key interwar Jewish intellectuals who defined Zionism's central mission as challenging the model of a sovereign nation-state: historian Simon Rawidowicz, religious thinker Mordecai Kaplan, and political theorist Hans Kohn. Although their models differed, each of these three thinkers (...) conceived of a more practical and ethical paradigm of national cohesion that was not tied to a sovereign state. Recovering these roads not taken helps us to reimagine Jewish identity and collectivity, past, present, and future. (shrink)
The ArgumentWhereas eugenics aspired to redeem the human species by forcing it to face the realities of its biological nature, Zionism aspired to redeem the Jewish people by forcing it to face the realities of its biological existence. The Zionists claimed that Jews maintained their ancient distinct “racial” identity, and that their regrouping as a nation in their homeland would have profound eugenic consequences, primarily halting the degeneration they fell prey to because of the conditions imposed on them in (...) the past. Some Zionists believed in a Lamarckian driven eugenics that expected the “normalization” of Jewish life styles to change their constitution. Others believed that transforming conditions would shift selective pressures exerted on the Jewish gene pool. (shrink)
ArgumentThis article gives the background to a public lecture delivered in Hebrew by Edmund Landau at the opening ceremony of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in 1925. On the surface, the lecture appears to be a slightly awkward attempt by a distinguished German-Jewish mathematician to popularize a few number-theoretical tidbits. However, quite unexpectedly, what emerges here is Landau's personal blend of Zionism, German nationalism, and the proud ethos of pure, rigorous mathematics – against the backdrop of the situation of (...) Germany after World War I. Landau's Jerusalem lecture thus shows how the Zionist cause was inextricably linked to, and determined by political agendas that were taking place in Europe at that time. The lecture stands in various historical contexts - Landau's biography, the history of Jewish scientists in the German Zionist movement, the founding of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and the creation of a modern Hebrew mathematical language. This article provides a broad historical introduction to the English translation, with commentary, of the original Hebrew text. (shrink)
This review-essay looks at a recent trilogy of works on Israeli history, the political history of the relationship between the United States and Israel, and the effect of the Israel lobby on the relationship between the two states. While the books attempt to construct a narrative that essentially blame the lobby for close to one hundred years of American malfeasance in the Middle East, they falter due to their idealism, their weak grasp of regional political economy and American capital accumulation, (...) and their conspiracism. Instead, this review proposes a reinterpretation of regional political economy, materially grounding the lobby and the Special Relationship while situating the two within the patterns of accumulation pushed by Jonathan Nitzan and Shimshon Bichler’s ‘weapondollar-petrodollar coalition’, the main determinant of American foreign policy in the Middle East. (shrink)
This book offers a unique perspective on Zionism. The author, a geneticist by training, focuses on science, rather than history. He looks at the claims that Jews constitute a people with common biological roots. An argument that helps provide justification for the aspirations of this political movement dedicated to the return of the Jewish people to their homeland. His study explores two issues. The first considers the assertion that there is a biology of the Jews. The second deals with (...) attempts to integrate this idea into a consistent history. Both issues unfolded against the background of a romantic national culture of Western Europe in the 19th century: Jews, primarily from Eastern Europe, began to believe these notions and soon they took the lead in the re-formulation of Jewish and Zionist existence. The author does not intend to present a comprehensive picture of the biological literature of the origins of a people and the blood relations between them. He also recognizes that the subject is emotionally-loaded. The book does, however, present a profound mediation on three overlapping questions: What is special or unique to the Jews? Who were the genuine Jews? And how can one identify Jews? This volume is a revised and edited English version of Tzionut Vehabiologia shel Hayehudim, published in 2006. (shrink)
This study is a pioneering exploration of how rabbis in the religious Zionist community in Israel constructed a body of Jewish law on war. It focuses on five leading rabbis in this camp and how they dealt with a number of key moral issues that the waging of modern war raised.
Why should anyone be a Zionist, a supporter of a Jewish state in the land of Israel? Why should there be a Jewish state in the land of Israel? This book seeks to provide a philosophical answer to these questions. Although a Zionist need not be Jewish, nonetheless this book argues that Zionism is only a coherent political stance when it is intelligently rooted in Judaism, especially in the classical Jewish doctrine of God's election of the people of Israel (...) and the commandment to them to settle the land of Israel. The religious Zionism advocated here is contrasted with secular versions of Zionism that take Zionism to be a replacement of Judaism. It is also contrasted with versions of religious Zionism that ascribe messianic significance to the State of Israel, or which see the main task of religious Zionism to be the establishment of an Israeli theocracy. (shrink)
This essay expands on the recent writings on Levinas’s politics by discussing his explicit comments about international relations. Levinas embraces neither a naive idealism nor a cold realism. Instead, he searches far a third way, that is, an oscillation between idealism and realism. There is a place for realism, but the power of the state must be held in check by the ethical responsibility for the Other. This oscillation is examined in relation to Levinas’s writings on “place” and Zionism. (...) Levinas also callsfor an oscillation betweenthe enrootedness to a place or nation and the higher ethical responsibility forthe Other. The essay concludes with a discussion of some very controversial remarks Levinas made about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (shrink)
Zionism needs a fundamental overhaul given both the collapse of the Oslo-initiated peace process and the erosion of liberal values in Israeli society. There is no better guide than Hannah Arendt for such an undertaking. On the one hand, she provided a searing diagnosis of mainstream Zionism’s foundational shortcomings, which persist to the present. One is a creed that assumes an eternal anti-Semitism. Two is a corresponding insular nationalism, which rejects affirmative engagement with the outside. On the other (...) hand, Arendt articulated an affirmative humanist Zionism based on three elements. First, is a Jewish self-determination aimed at cultural enrichment and emancipation. Second, is an outward-oriented Zionism that embraces internationalism. Third, is substantive coexistence with Palestinians based on an innovative alternative to the homogenous nation-state model. This article retrieves and updates Arendt’s humanist Zionism. I emphasize her plea to confront Zionism’s pathologies, break from an insular nationalist mindset, and foster new political channels for attaining genuine reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians. (shrink)
In this volume, Arieh Saposnik examines the complicated relations between nationalism and religious redemptive traditions through the case study of Zionism. He provides a new framework for understanding the central ideas of this movement and its relationship to traditional Jewish ideas, Christian thought, and modern secular messianisms. Providing a longue-durée and broad view of the central themes and motivations in the making of Zionism, Saposnik connects its intellectual history with the concrete development of the Zionist project in Israel (...) in its cultural, social, and political history. Saposnik demonstrates how Zionism offers lessons for a politics in which human perfectibility continues to serve as a guiding light and as a counter-narrative to the contemporary politics of self-interest, self-promotion and 'post-truth.' This is a study that bears implications for our understanding of modernity, of space and place, history and historical trajectories, and the place of Jews and Judaism in the modern world. (shrink)
Zionism: the idea of a territorial concentration of the Jewish people in an autonomous entity as a solution to the Jewish Question. This definition (and the essay that follows) refers to Zionism as conceived by its first leaders and theoreticians — Leo Pinsker, Theodor Herzl, and Israel Zangwill, that is, to what is generally called “political” Zionism (as opposed to the nationalistic-religious trends that now dominate the so-called official “Zionist ideology in Israel). Detective fiction: one narrative in (...) search of another, the first arising from the discovery (or anticipation) of a crime, the second providing the identity of the criminal, his motivations and the modalities of his act. (shrink)
This essay presents an integrated account of Michael Wyschogrod's Zionism as a function of his broader theological anthropology, eschatology, and carnal interpretation of Israel's election. Against Leora Batnitzky, I show that Wyschogrod's Zionism, while definitively messianic, is decidedly not fanatical or fundamentalist. Against Meir Soloveichik, I show that Wyschogrod has maintained this non-fanatical messianism consistently throughout his career, and so his pacific political prescriptions are organically at one with his vigorous calls for Jewish sovereignty over the land.
This Article offers a defense of egalitarian Zionism that, unlike Chaim Gans’s argument for this view, does not appeal to the Jewish problem in justifying the Zionist requirement for a state with a dominant Jewish community. The argument extracts from the egalitarian principles that underlie John Rawls’s political liberalism, a conception of global justice according to which members of a scattered nation are entitled to a fair opportunity to establish a new state within which they enjoy the advantage of (...) demographic dominance. (shrink)
Abstract. From the earliest nineteenth-century manifestos through the big, technology-rich development projects of Israel's recent history, science and technology have loomed large in Zionist ideologies. There were several reasons for this. From the start, science and technology fit snuggly with many aims, ideals, and ideologies of Zionism. Science and technology offered means to establish Jewish title to the land. They made plain that Jewish settlement of Palestine was a Western project imbued with Western ideals. Science and technology (and scientific (...) industry) made plain the progressive nature of the Zionist undertaking. They informed arguments that Jewish settlement would even benefit those locals displaced by the Zionists, bringing them culture of universal value, and providing a bridge between these “backward” societies and the “advanced” West. More importantly, science and technology helped meet growing practical needs of Jews building a national infrastructure in Palestine. The imprint of these considerations has remained large and influential in Israeli society until today. (shrink)
In this paper, we explore a specific variant of multicultural education inIsrael that developed within the dominant Jewish cultural identity, that isthe claim of Jews from Islamic countries (Mizrahi Jews) for educational autonomy. This demand arose against the backdrop of an aggressive nationalist ideology â Zionism â that claimed torepresent all Jews, and yet was too ambivalent toward its non-European Jewish subjects. The Mizrahi Jews' dual identity, as Jews and as products of the Arab culture, conflated with the state's (...) problematic self-conception as both Jewish and democratic. This phenomenon, apparently, is evidenced by the two types of multicultural responses that developed within the Mizrahi sector: a critical multiculturalism with a social-democratic character on the one hand, and an autonomist multiculturalism with fundamentalist featureson the other. (shrink)
Posted 30 January 2023. A previous version was published as “A New Approach for Zionists: Conversation,” Palestine-Israel Journal 14, no. 2 (2007): 100–104. For a longer version of the argument, see my “Going Rabin One Further” in Patriotic Elaborations: Essays in Practical Philosophy (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2009).
Revisiting Edward Said's late proposals for a one-state solution, Butler has come to a startling suggestion: Jewish ethics not only demand a critique of Zionism, but must transcend its exclusive Jewishness in order to realize the ethical ...
The legitimacy of the Zionist project--establishing a Jewish homeland in Palestine--has been questioned since its inception. In recent years, the voices challenging the legitimacy of the State of Israel have become even louder. Chaim Gans examines these doubts and presents an in-depth, evenhanded philosophical analysis of the justice of Zionism.
Zionism emerged at the end of the nineteenth century in response to a rise in anti-Semitism in Europe and to the crisis of modern Jewish identity. This novel, national revolution aimed to unite a scattered community, defined mainly by shared texts and literary tradition, into a vibrant political entity destined for the Holy Land. However, Zionism was about much more than a national political ideology and practice. By tracing its origins in the context of a European history of (...) ideas and by considering the writings of key Jewish and Hebrew writers and thinkers from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the book offers an entirely new philosophical perspective on Zionism as a unique movement based on intellectual boldness and belief in human action. In counter-distinction to the studies of history and ideology that dominate the field, this book also offers a new way of reflecting upon contemporary Israeli politics. (shrink)
Postliberal theology has been a topic of considerable theological debate over the past few decades. In his 2011 book Another Reformation, Peter Ochs deploys a postliberal theological model for the purpose of developing a sophisticated understanding of the future of interreligious relations. Ochs argues that postliberal theology is a reparative theology focusing on alleviating human suffering. He argues that the Christian idea of supersessionism may be the most challenging for Christians to confront as they explore avenues for making interreligious dialogue (...) more effective. Ochs critiques the Mennonite theologian John Howard Yoder's understanding of Zionism as Jewish Constantianism for being an instance of an ostensibly postliberal theology losing its way. In this essay, I offer a critique of Ochs's reading of Yoder, claiming that Yoder's view actually mirrors an important intra-Jewish debate about the relationship between political power and piety, and retrieves an ingenious contribution of both early Judaism and early Christianity that is effaced in today's growing Constantinian approach to Christian imperialism and Jewish nationalism. (shrink)
In his early teaching, from the 1920s through the 1950s, Yeshayahu Leibowitz (1903-1994) stands out as one of the most fascinating religious Zionist thinkers. He strives to establish a Jewish democratic state whose democratic aspects will be channeled toward the establishment of an exemplary society, one that can express its religious roots within a modern democratic context. Leibowitz thus attaches enormous importance to democracy in terms of both its political components and its modern Orthodox aspirations. In this respect, he is (...) the most radical spokesman of the Neo-Orthodox notion of Torah with Derekh Eretz , as translated into religious-Zionist terms. (shrink)
Many observers argue that in its very beginning, Zionism was an instance of wrongful settler colonialism. Are they right? I will address this question by examining the vision of Egalitarian Zionism in light of various theories of the wrongfulness of colonialism. I will argue that no theory decisively supports a positive answer.
ABSTRACTThis paper explores specific forms that neoliberal discourse and culture in academia today take in the field of Israeli Middle Eastern and Islamic studies. The article applies various textual and contextual interrogation strategies to the language, narratives and the unsaid in interviews with leading scholars in the field, in order to construe what Fredric Jameson calls the ‘political unconscious,’ particularly that arising from the use of market as a conceptual metaphor. Contextualising this field of discourse within neoliberal academia, I deconstruct (...) the work ‘demand’ and ‘interest’ do, and highlight the dialectical dynamics of experts’ dependence on audience. I argue that, in this field, the economic discourse shelters Zionist logics, presuppositions and praxis, such as recruitment logics and fundraising practices that effectively address Jewish and Zionist students and donors. (shrink)
_A lively intellectual history that explores how prominent midcentury public intellectuals approached Zionism and then the State of Israel itself and its conflicts with the Arab world_ In this lively intellectual history of the political Left, cultural critic Susie Linfield investigates how eight prominent twentieth-century intellectuals struggled with the philosophy of Zionism, and then with Israel and its conflicts with the Arab world. Constructed as a series of interrelated portraits that combine the personal and the political, the book (...) includes philosophers, historians, journalists, and activists such as Hannah Arendt, Arthur Koestler, I. F. Stone, and Noam Chomsky. In their engagement with Zionism, these influential thinkers also wrestled with the twentieth century’s most crucial political dilemmas: socialism, nationalism, democracy, colonialism, terrorism, and anti‑Semitism. In other words, in probing Zionism, they confronted the very nature of modernity and the often catastrophic histories of our time. By examining these leftist intellectuals, Linfield also seeks to understand how the contemporary Left has become focused on anti‑Zionism and how Israel itself has moved rightward. (shrink)
Although his ‘Jewish Problems’ article of 1943 would be his only publication on the subject, Michael Polanyi thought, wrote, and lectured about Zionism throughout the 1930s and 1940s. He framed the issues concerning Jewish settlement in Palestine not within the immediate context of the Second World War but within the wider context of assimilation and Jewish encounters with modernity. Specifically, Polanyi engaged the arguments of Lewis Namier, a Manchester colleague and committed Zionist. Polanyi approached Zionism from the perspective (...) of a ‘non-Jewish Jew’ who found common ground with some of the views expressed by Anglo-Zionism as weil as the ‘liberal critics’ of Zionism. The fact that he felt compelled to enter this debate speaks to his identity as a Jewish intellectual who regarded ‘assimilationists’ and their building of in-roads to the modern world as the moral equivalent of the pioneers who settled the Land of Israel and made possible further immigration. (shrink)
Officially inaugurated in 1925, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem was designed to serve the academic needs of the Jewish people and the Zionist enterprise in British Mandatory Palestine, as well as to help fulfill the economic and social requirements of the Middle East. It is intriguing that a university with such practical goals should have as one of its central pillars an institute for pure mathematics that purposely dismissed any of the varied fields of applied mathematics. This paper tells of (...) the preparations for the inauguration of the Hebrew University during the years 1920–1925 and analyzes the founding phase of the Einstein Institute of Mathematics that was established there during the years 1924–1928. Special emphasis is given to the first terms in which this Institute operated, starting from the winter of 1927 with the activities of the director and one of the founders, the German mathematician Edmund Landau, and onward from 1928 when his successors, particularly Adolf Abraham Halevi Fraenkel and Mihály-Michael Fekete, continued Landau's heritage of pure mathematics. The paper shows why and how the Institute succeeded in rejecting applied mathematics from its court and also explores the controversial issue of center and periphery in the development of science, a topic that is briefly analyzed in the concluding section. (shrink)
Underneath the beautiful Sea of Galilee lies a hidden fault-line that runs down from Mount Hermon through the Jordan Valley to the Red Sea, the Arabian peninsula and on to the heart of East Africa. Over thousands of years, earthquakes along this fault-line have devastated countless civilizations.Today there is a human fault-line running through the same land — a fault-line that is largely hidden from view until it erupts in violence. The cause of these volcanic eruptions has to do with (...) the pressure of two peoples, like two tectonic plates, trying to occupy the same land — one the military occupier, the other the occupied. The media present this as a clash between two cultures, Palestinian and Israeli or Oriental and Western. As I hope to show, the convictions of Christian Zionists have made a significant contribution to the Israeli—Palestinian conflict. (shrink)
This paper explores contemporary Jewish identity-formation and the centrality of official Holocaust memory and Zionism – understood as the ongoing settler-colonial project aiming at the formation and maintenance of a Jewish-exclusivist state in Palestine – to this process. It argues that identity politics within the Jewish community are based on an understanding of identity, which assumes it to be static and individual. In doing so, this political approach reproduces the essentialisation of Jewish communities under the banner of Zionism (...) and official state history. The paper aims to show how this process of identification between Judaism, official Holocaust memory and Zionism has been a state-led process, rooted in the historical development of antisemitism and European colonialism. In order to do so, it builds on a critique of classical Marxist analyses of the Jewish question. It finally proposes a more fluid approach to identity, which understands it as socially constructed, contested, and subject to political contestation. (shrink)