Israel versus Judaism




The term “Zionism” is also one of those subjects which are often discussed, both by adherents and opponents, but little understood.

To be sure, the writings of the fathers of Zionism are nowadays part of the obligatory curriculum of studies in Israeli schools (including at least a major part of the religious schools) to a far greater extent than, “lehavdil”, the “Chumash”, and even than mathematics and history. In the communities of the diaspora, “Zionism” is also a household-name that is very broadly used. Yet very few, including even the highly educated, know what it really means. The name of this movement (which, incidentally, has recently lost its popularity and has become a derisive synonym for monotonous nonsense in the lingo of Israel's young generation) is misleading: “Zion” is, in fact, merely one of the goals of Zionism, and by no means an essential one. Not only in present-day America and Western Europe, but also in the other countries of the diaspora before the war, there were many loyal and enthusiastic Zionists who never thought of migrating to “Zion”. There was a time when even official Zionist policy had been prepared to drop “Zion” out of its program altogether or, at least, to regard it even openly as “non-essential”. The Sixth Zionist Congress, as many will know, adopted a resolution sponsored by none other than Dr. Herzl himself in favour of renunciation “for the time being” of the idea of establishing the “Judenstaat” in Palestine and of the establishment of a Jewish State in Uganda, East Africa. (Interestingly enough, “Mizrachi”, the religious Zionist party, was among those who voted in favor of that proposal of Dr. Herzl.) If this project was later abandoned this was done mainly because it was felt that the original Palestine project would have a greater appeal to the masses.

We would not have mentioned this half-forgotten episode were it not for the need to prove that “Zion” does not even constitute a condition sine-qua-non of Zionism and that there had been a period when Zionism almost entirely abandoned, for practical purposes, the whole issue of “Zion”, i.e. migration to Palestine and the establishment of a Jewish state in its boundaries. Yet even then it remained “Zionism”, and not unjustly so. For, in the Zionist concept, “Zion” really constitutes a means and not an end. The real aim of Zionism is the one stated innumerable times by the various Zionist thinkers and ideologists from its earliest conception until this day. From the essays of Achad Haam to the speeches of Ben Gurion, we can hear definitions of the one goal, in various versions and phrases but with a never-changing content :


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