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The Zionist Idea Essay


Moses Hess attitude towards the Jewish culture changed from time to time. In the early twenties, Moses identified himself with the Germans and suggested that Jews were to be assimilated to the Germans culture. Later on Hess severally expressed compromise for his fellow Jew people. Hess was optimistic of the Jews and argued that the future of the Jewish state lay in acquiring national land, adoption of a legal system and establishing Jewish societies. Hess proposed for a socialist kind of Jewish state.

He argues that Germans do not really despise the Jewish religion as they despite Jews culture. In the book “Rome and Jerusalem”, Hess talks of his return to his culture. Hess had suffered from anti-Semitism and was compelled to look up to his Jewish culture and religion arguing on his principle of race. Hess viewed that the Jewish people should defend their nationality in foreign land while aiming to restore their political system Palestine.

The Jewish religion offered a means for attaining Jewish national identity, and Hess suggested that it ought not to be altered until the Jewish culture was established in Palestine. Hess viewed that the Sanhedrin or the supreme Jewish court was the most powerful and purest conception of Judaism and could enact laws to cater for the needs of the society (Hertzberg, 116).

Leon Pinsker quotes Hillel, saying, “If I am not for myself, who will be there for me. If not now when?” The Jews were not a nation since they did not have a defined national identity, as they did not have national land to be equal with other nations. The Jews lacked a fatherland, though many motherlands; no common destiny, government or formal representation.

The Jews experienced a distinctive feeling while in exile and thus could not assimilate or easily understand other nations. Pinsker says that the Jewish people could never be the same socially with the gentiles so far as the Jews did not own national land and urges the Jewish leaders to meet and deliberate on this issue. Just like Hess, Pinsker believes that universal harmony with other nations cannot be achieved and the Jews should get equality with other nations (Hertzberg, 181).

Theodor Herzl is known as the founder of political Zionism. In “The Jewish State”, Herzl says that anti-Semitism excluded Jews and made them fell like aliens in exile. Herzl proposed that diplomacy was the most viable means of remedying the Jewish state.

The Jews were supposed to be settled in the new state in an organized manner. They were to appreciate whatever was offered to them according to the public interests. The state was to adopt social balances such as working ethics and business ethics, that were modern, complex, and technologically relevant, and European-oriented culture.

Herzl believed in a mixed economy where the state was equally involved in the economy. However, Herzl, like Hess, criticized non-Zionists and assimilationist Jews of Central and Western Europe who believed in the abolition of nationalism and did not regard the Jewish religion. Herzl foresaw the Jewish state as a state of the Europeans who could converse German.

He also envisioned the terrific hostility of ultra orthodox rabbis against the heretical principle of Zionism, this would eventually lead to the religious rule of the Jewish communities through a political and democratic system if the rabbis did not allege and the religious side (Hertzberg, 201).

Ahad Ha’am is referred to as the father of Cultural Zionism and advocated for a state of Jews rather than a Jewish state. In Ha’am writings, he envisioned a secular Jewish religious hub in Palestine. Micha Berdyczewski argues the Jewish people to adopt new way of thinking (secular European culture), to free themselves from traditional Jewish religion, and cultural tenets.

Brenner proposed to the Zionism idea although he contradicted his words by arguing that the national land of Israel was in diaspora and the Jews were living like any other diasporas. Although the three thinkers praise Zionism in representing the individual and group identities, Brenner attempts to show life in a more realistic view by arguing that the Jews do not really attain their identities; Ha’am and Berdyczewski assimilate the traditional Jewish culture to the secular European world (Hertzberg, 250).

Work Cited

Hertzberg, Arthur. The Zionist Idea: A Historical Analysis and Reader. Pennsylvania: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1997. Print.

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IvyPanda. (2019, February 7). The Zionist Idea. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-zionist-idea/

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"The Zionist Idea." IvyPanda, 7 Feb. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/the-zionist-idea/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "The Zionist Idea." February 7, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-zionist-idea/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'The Zionist Idea'. 7 February.

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