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 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.
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 ...
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 essay analyses Alfred Zimmern's scheme for a global British Commonwealth. A prominent British liberal internationalist and leading early scholar of International Relations, Zimmern developed an anti-racial account of empire and international order. In conceptualizing a British Commonwealth, he sought to replace “race” with “nation” as the basic ontological category of world ordering. The idea of cultural Zionism, formulated by Ahad Ha’am, played a key role in Zimmern's attempt. Ahad Ha’am's account of non-statist Jewish nationalism served as a useful ideological (...) device for Zimmern to theorize a multinational Commonwealth without acknowledging colonial demands for self-determination. The essay also shows that Horace Kallen's notion of American cultural pluralism helped Zimmern to consolidate his project for the post-racial empire. (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)
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)
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 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.
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)
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)
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 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)
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 5 August 2022. 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).
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)
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)
Judith Butler follows Edward Said's late suggestion that through a consideration of Palestinian dispossession in relation to Jewish diasporic traditions a new ethos can be forged for a one-state solution. Butler engages Jewish philosophical positions to articulate a critique of political Zionism and its practices of illegitimate state violence, nationalism, and state-sponsored racism. At the same time, she moves beyond communitarian frameworks, including Jewish ones, that fail to arrive at a radical democratic notion of political cohabitation. Butler engages thinkers such (...) as Edward Said, Emmanuel Levinas, Hannah Arendt, Primo Levi, Martin Buber, Walter Benjamin, and Mahmoud Darwish as she articulates a new political ethic. In her view, it is as important to dispute Israel's claim to represent the Jewish people as it is to show that a narrowly Jewish framework cannot suffice as a basis for an ultimate critique of Zionism. She promotes an ethical position in which the obligations of cohabitation do not derive from cultural sameness but from the unchosen character of social plurality. Recovering the arguments of Jewish thinkers who offered criticisms of Zionism or whose work could be used for such a purpose, Butler disputes the specific charge of anti-Semitic self-hatred often leveled against Jewish critiques of Israel. Her political ethic relies on a vision of cohabitation that thinks anew about binationalism and exposes the limits of a communitarian framework to overcome the colonial legacy of Zionism. Her own engagements with Edward Said and Mahmoud Darwish form an important point of departure and conclusion for her engagement with some key forms of thought derived in part from Jewish resources, but always in relation to the non-Jew. Butler considers the rights of the dispossessed, the necessity of plural cohabitation, and the dangers of arbitrary state violence, showing how they can be extended to a critique of Zionism, even when that is not their explicit aim. She revisits and affirms Edward Said's late proposals for a one-state solution within the ethos of binationalism. Butler's startling suggestion: Jewish ethics not only demand a critique of Zionism, but must transcend its exclusive Jewishness in order to realize the ethical and political ideals of living together in radical democracy. (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)
This article examines the Depo-Provera Affair—where Israeli doctors administered the contraceptive Depo-Provera to newly immigrated Ethiopian Jewish women—to argue that the Israeli settler colonial project depends on these forms of gendered anti-Black violence, through the management of Black African bodies. In 2013, then Israeli Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman admitted that they had administered Depo-Provera to Ethiopian immigrant women without their consent, after reproductive and civil rights activists in Israel called for an investigation after a drop in the birthrate among (...) Ethiopian women: close to 50 per cent within the previous decade. The demarcation of Blackness as a political tool necessary to advance Israeli modernity and the situating of Black bodies as antithetical to the state of Israel are not contradictory but rather illuminate Israel’s deployment of anti-Blackness through the racial and reproductive violence necessary to become part of the superior, European West. (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)
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)
The paper focuses on the problematic relationship between Talmon's liberalism and Zionism. My argument is that Talmon's nationalism —historicist, romantic, visionary—lived in permanent tension with his liberalism—empiricist, pluralist, pragmatic. His critique of totalitarian democracy, reflecting his British experience, emerged independently from his Zionism, grounded in Central European nationalism. The two represented different worlds. Talmon lived in both, serving as an ambassador in-between them, without ever bringing them together.The essay's first section describes the political education of the young Jacob Talmon and (...) the making of The Origins of Totalitarian Democracy. It demonstrates the independence of Talmon's Cold War liberal project from his Zionism. The second section places Talmon in the context of Cold War liberal discourse, showing how integral his critique of revolutionary politics was to contemporary liberalism. The third illustrates the tensions between Talmon's view of Jewish history and his liberalism, between his Zionism and his critique of revolutionary politics. Focusing on Talmon's analyses of nationalism, it highlights the ambiguity of his Zionism. (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)
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)
This article discusses an aspect of Hannah Arendt’s treatment of the conflict between the Zionists and the Palestinians that has thus far been overlooked in scholarship: her justification of Zionism through the achievements of the Jewish pioneers in cultivating the land, in contrast to the Palestinians’ failure to do so. The inability of natives to cultivate their land was a familiar argument in the history of colonialism, used to legitimize the colonialists’ right to settle a land and often to (...) displace the natives. How should we understand Arendt’s use of this argument? I show that Arendt’s argument should be understood in the context of, first, the recurrence of this argument in Western political thought and practices. Second, the Zionists’—Arendt included—need of legitimizing Jewish settlements in Palestine. And third, the influence of Arendt’s own political philosophy on her understanding of culture in general, and Palestinian culture in particular. (shrink)
Rabbi Chaim Hirschensohn was a religious Zionist thinker and one of the founders of the “Mizrachi” movement. The present article aims to trace his approach towards work: did he see work as a need, an obligation imposed upon the human being to sustain his household, or did he, perhaps, associate work with a religious value as an integral part of the theology which he steered by? The conclusion is that R. Hirschensohn's approach towards work is both a must for a (...) livelihood and part of Jewish and national identity, to the point where Redemption itself depends upon it. Work is also part of religious Zionist theology, one of whose proponents and founders Chaim Hirschensohn was. (shrink)