כ"ט אלול התשע"ו
02/10/2016

Towards a Homeland: Understanding Jewish Nationalism

מאגר מידע » Zionism » Zionism General
 

What is Jewish nationalism and its relationship to Judaism? How can an understanding of Jewish nationalism help us understand the meaning of being a Jew in today's world?

 
There is a lack of understanding in the world today of the concept of Jewish nationalism. Both in ancient times and in the Middle Ages the Jewish people was unique in its culture, its religion and its fates, and puzzled detached observers. But in modern times Jewish nationalism has become enigmatic to Jew themselves, while for the non-Jewish observers it is no longer a mystery to be probed but a blunder odd, ridiculous or abhorrent best ignored and silently distained. There's the rub. Though it be an enigma to its own people, Jewish
Nationalism refuses to disappear from the worlds and in its fight for survival it compels the surrounding nations to pay it a high degree of troublesome attention, far in excess of' what "should" be paid to this nation, considering its small size and strength. Apparently, the hostility demonstrated against Zionism, even in the thinking of loyal Jews, stems largely from the incomprehensibility of Jewish nationalism judged within the context of historical experiences or philosophies that bear no relevance to it.
 
The setting of this lack of comprehension is to be traced mainly within the interim period between the Middle Ages and the modern era both in the history of Europe and in the history of Israel. However, an historical analysis will not be attempted in this article. Our concern here is to examine the various approaches that today determine what is generally called "public opinion" and which directly or indirectly influence the fate of our people. This is vitally necessary not only for the sake of informing non-Jews but primarily to fortify our own people, so that the Jew, put to a grave physical and spiritual test, is absolutely sure of the ground on which his very existence stands.
 
II
 
Three groupings in the world today maintain a conception of Judaism which affects the fate of the Jewish people. The first is the Christian Church (Catholic and Protestant); the second, which is roughly designated as the "left" in Europe and the United States, is crystallizing an adversely radical secularist opinion. vis a-vis the Christian one; and the third is confined to the new nationalist movements mainly in the Arab world. In the first part of our discussion we must examine how Jewish nationalism, as expressed in
 
Zionism appears in the opinions characterizing each of these groupings.
 
Characteristic Christian thought with respect to Judaism as a religion and as a national culture has been determined by an ancient historical fact; Christianity, is linked with Judaism by its origin, but it presumes to disdain it or to replace it with a more lofty faith and way of life. Thus, the ambivalent relationship to a Judaism which stubbornly persists in surviving and in denying Christianity is common knowledge and no longer requires proof. On the one hand Christianity cannot deny outright the historical importance of Judaism or the truths it contains. But on the other hand, Christianity could not accept the survival of Judaism after the gospel of the New Testament was revealed. That is to say Christianity can only respect Judaism and admit its authenticity when it no longer exists and since Judaism refuses to disappear: the respect and the admission find expression in a vigorous hostility and out of all proportion to Judaism's social, political and economic strength or to its actual, capacity for harming the Christian Church or hindering its growth. From the religious aspect, then Christianity has striven to squeeze the life out of Judaism and keep it prostrated to its last gasp; from the nationalist aspect, to ignore it completely. Christianity expanded and consolidated itself as a supra- national religion which appeals to all men individually. In addition, ecclesiastic leaders and philosophers saw, this fact the essence of its superiority to Judaism, which is restricted to one people, exclusive and aloof, whereas Christianity brings the gospel of truth to everyone, and to each individual singly. Christianity spread throughout the world as a Church that forcibly imposed on many peoples a religion which they had not created and which did not express their culture, suppressing the national religions and hence the national cultures of those peoples. That being the case, the universal appeal and opposition of nationality as a basis of culture and religion are factors intrinsic to Christianity. True, this applies mainly to Catholicism. But even Protestantism, which became reconciled to the political Establishments of the various nationalities in Europe and even served them as a religion expressing a faith and a way of life is not segregated within the sphere of a particular nationalism and does not express a national culture. Even in Protestantism the appeal of religion is universal and individual. Judaism on the other hand is a national religion: Its religious laws (Torah) were given to the people of Israel alone and there are no attempts to spread them throughout the world; and even if there had been schools of thought in Judaism imbued with the belief in a universal mission of the Jewish people, they generally have not advocated conversion but teaching the truth and the need to affirm it. In any case, from the Christian viewpoint the national character of Judaism is clearly a peculiar anachronism and even morally and religiously of inferior value.
 
Hence, Christianity tends by its very nature to reject Judaism both as a religion and as a nationalism. In the Middle Ages, this rejection found expression in decreeing an inferior social and/political position for the Jews, and in efforts at conversion and persecution. In modern times religious hatred perhaps does not always manifest itself directly in acts of discrimination and persecution. But opposition remains strong as ever and the hostility is far from being on the wane; indirectly it still supports many actions of discrimination and persecution. Besides, it seems as though the peculiarity of Judaism in Christian eyes is most lucidly expressed precisely among those Christian thinkers who aspire to understand Judaism and demonstrate "good will" towards it. This is simple to understand. Direct criticism is at least aimed at the controversial point whereas the desire to evince sympathetic understanding towards a phenomenon intrinsically different and peculiar is liable to reveal how diametrically opposed it is to the norm. Take, for example, those small, marginal Christian sects which enthusiastically welcomed the endeavours of the Jews to return to the Land of Israel and restore their national independence there. It is a known fact that Zionism gained the support of such Christians who attributed Messianic significance to the redemption of the Jewish people in this land. The thorn in the flesh was that all these good people regarded the return of the Jews to their land only as one stage towards the true redemption that would follow after the Jewish people finally accepted Christianity. In other words, the Messianic confirmation of Zionism was only an outcome of the effort to redeem the Jewish people by dissolving Judaism as a religion. Another example is the attempt of liberal Christian leaders and intellectuals particularly in the United States, to recognize Judaism as a legitimate religion, to admit the wrongs that have been done to the Jews in the name of Christianity and to atone for these by adopting an attitude of fairness and equality to the point of ceasing all missionary activity among the Jews.
 
Their arguments run in the following way: religion is indeed a revelation of the truth of salvation appealing to all men; but there are different methods of reaching this truth and these do not conflict with but complement, one another. The groups using these methods should work together, respecting each other within a liberal progressive society in order to realize their common mission. This undoubtedly is an enlightened and daring approach. It openly and emphatically shuns the classical views of Christianity, and it may well improve the relations between Jews and Christians in Europe and America. But, there again something is amiss. Liberality towards Judaism as a religion is bound up with an inability to comprehend the obstinacy of the Jews in confining themselves to a separate nationality. To put it differently: if Judaism is a legitimate religion of universal content, "then, like Christianity it should be a religion only, while as far as nationhood goes" the Jew should relate to the peoples among whom he lives without regard to his religion. It appears that .liberality towards Judaism as a religion entails according to the conception intrinsic to Christianity, the negation or Judaism as a nationality.
 
These approaches do indeed reveal a total lack of understanding: affirming Jewish nationalism while attempting to destroy its religious distinctiveness demonstrates not only a lack of understanding for the Jewish religion but it also constitutes a lack of understanding for Jewish nationalism which is based on religion; accepting the existence of the Jewish religion, while at the same time refuting its national character manifests not only a lack of comprehension of Jewish nationalism but also of the Jewish religion, which is national in its very essence. In order to achieve accordance in understanding the believing Christian must therefore overcome the fundamental assumption of his "religious philosophy" and at present time only a few individuals possessed of remarkable moral courage are ready to do this.
 
III
 
How is Jewish nationality seen from .the viewpoint of the secular Left? Amazing as it may seem at first glance, the secularist view corresponds exactly to the religious Christian view. Obviously, the members of the Left are not prepared to approve of Judaism as a religion more than they approve of Christianity. As they see it, religion in general is an anachronism, and how much more so does this apply to the Jewish religion, which presumably has become petrified. But what about the national element in Judaism? Here the analogy to the Christian view is in complete accord, for the secular Left is no less universalist in tendency than is Christianity. Nationalism in general, according to the view prevailing in these circles, is an anachronism. Even if there was something to be said for it in the past, its day has passed, and all the more so if even at the outset it was essentially a negative phenomenon. For nationalism creates barriers between men, fosters the totalitarian state, encourages colonialist expansion and leads to world wars which threaten to destroy us ell. Nevertheless, the Left finds no fault with the nationalist movements of peoples who are fighting for their freedom. This is because these peoples are demanding the same rights, to which they are initially entitled, from both foreign and home rulers. In other words, peoples who fight against colonial oppression and against a totalitarian regime supported from abroad are fighting for progress even if they do so under the banner of rationalism. This is not the case with the Jewish people. In the light of cultural developments, most of the Jewish people belong to Europe. They presumably no longer need to express themselves via nationalism but can find their place among the European peoples amongst whom they live, and particularly among that element that is fighting for the establishment of a just human society which will destroy all barriers blocking human cooperation. If such a people tries to express itself nationally, it retreats from its position and thrusts itself into one of dominating other people, depriving the latter of its national rights -and this is an entirely negative phenomenon. One can even say that just as Christianity, once so close to Judaism. eventually because extremely critical of it, so the Left, close to a certain circle of Jews and even evincing sympathy for their suffering, reached an extremely critical attitude towards Jewish nationalism. True, a relative closeness also provides an opening for attempts at "understanding". Left intellectuals who are familiar with Jewish literature are likely to admire it greatly for the character of its thought, such as its inspired ethics, which are fundamentally universal. On the other hand, there are men of conscience among the Left who have sympathy for Jewish people because of what it has suffered and for its part in the war waged by the oppressed classes in Europe for their rights. These are prepared to admit the right of the Jewish people or, rather, the right of the persecuted Jews to a secure political haven. There's the rub again.
 
Acceptance of Judaism's prophetic idea automatically entails a negation of its national particularism while acceptance of the Jews' endeavours to find a political haven affirms Jewish nationality, but refutes its spiritual distinctiveness. Thus, from the viewpoint of the secular Left, too, it is precisely the "understanding" attitude that embodies a fundamental lack of understanding.
 
IV
 
The third grouping which embraces a form of the new nationalism is found mainly in the Arab countries. This is a nationalistic movement apparently similar to the nationalist movements that were active in Europe in the 19th century and it is just because it sees itself in this light that it regards Jewish nationalism, whose origin is assumed to have been in Europe, as a deteriorating historical process that already crystallized with the attainment of its legitimate goals. The Jewish people is regarded as belonging to Europe. It found its place in the national frameworks existing there, and its demand for separate national self-determination outside Europe is merely an old echo of the colonialist tendencies that developed within European nationalism. But this still does not explain the core of the difficulty and that lies in the basic difference between the nationalist movements of Europe in the 19th century and contemporary nationalist movements in Africa and Asia. The nationalist movements in Europe fought against the supra-national regime that was expressed by the Empire and the Church. But the nationalist movements in Asia and Africa crystallized as a war against colonial rule. The significance of the difference is this: in 19th century Europe nationalism stood up against a non-national and supra-national conception of government, whereas in Asia and Africa today local nationalism is directed against a foreign national government. This explains, first of all, how the leaders and, supporters of the Left in Europe can present it as the ally of movements fighting fanatically against nationalism, since the negation of European nationalism, as it crystallized in aggressive political entities, implies the negation of colonialism and the negation of colonialism necessarily leads to the support of the nationalist movements that are fighting against it.
 
Against this background, at any rate, Jewish nationalism obviously is given a false and distorted character. It is, as already noted, identified with the established European nations and with their proclivity for oppression and exploitation. To make matter worse, the majority of the people involved in this nationalism do not live in the homeland they claim, and even those who do are new to the land, their settlement there dating back only to the time of the reawakening of Arab nationalism. It was against this background that the conflict emerged between the claim of the national right of the Jews to the Land of Israel and the claim of the national right of the Palestinian Arabs to the same country. And from this point of view Jewish nationalism is, of course, identified with Western colonialism and is defined as a negative phenomenon by its very nature, a phenomenon that should be fought by all possible means in order to remove it from the face of the earth. But even from this point of view a willingness to reach an understanding is nevertheless conceivable. Arabs capable of judging from a distance, like Bourguiba of Tunisia, may arrive at a "'realistic" viewpoint, based on an admission of the firmness of the Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel and on a readiness to come to terms with it as a solid fact. As proponents of a nationalistic viewpoint they can also understand the attachment of the Jews of Israel to their land and regard the fanatical aim of annihilating them as immoral. But here again a difficulty arises; such a limited "understanding" embodies a fundamental lack of understanding because it is based on differentiating between Israel and the Jewish people.
 
If it recognizes the national right of the Israelis within their political-geographical territory and the need to integrate them into the wider Arab region, it does not thereby recognize that the Land of Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people and that the State of Israel is the state of the entire Jewish people. The connection between the. Jews of the Diaspora to their land and their State is defined, even by moderate Arab nationalists, as colonialism and discrimination-against the rights of the Arabs, and the price they demand for acquiescence in the existence of the State of Israel is therefore the renunciation of Zionism. But from the viewpoint of Jewish nationalism, the renunciation of Zionism is in effect a renunciation of the unique national character of the Jewry, of the Land of Israel and of the historical justification for the creation of the State. So here, too, the apparent understanding embodies a basic lack of understanding.
 
V
 
From the point of view of the nations that surround us, Jewish nationalism is then a peculiar phenomenon to be solved naturally and simply by liquidation. But since this simple expedient comes up against the irrational objection of that same peculiar people, the moderates within these groupings are prepared to reduce the extent of this intolerable exception to the rule by "normalizing" it, which means in fact bringing the Jewish religion in accord with the prevailing of Western conception of religion, or adjusting Jewish nationalism to the conception of nationalism that is considered legitimate in the West reading is a readiness from one point to accept the religious uniqueness of Judaism by the normalization of the Jews as equal citizens on the basis of 'cultural and national self-identification with the people in the lands of dispersion; and there is a readiness from another point to acquiesce in the separate national existence of a part, of the Jewish people, while ignoring the attachment of the Jewish people as a whole to the Land of Israel. From both points the aim is thus to dissipate the peculiarity of the troublesome reality. Jewish nationalism is asked to liquidate itself and to leave behind two "reserves" that can be integrated into the accepted "normal" frameworks: a supra-national religion on hand, and Israeli nationalism on the other.
 
We must keep all the foregoing in mind when we come to examine the attitude of contemporary Jews to their nationality, for most Jews in Israel and the Diaspora have been influenced decisively by the European and American environment, accepting the viewpoints of that environment and have been accustomed to judging even themselves from those viewpoints. This would seem to be the reason for the tragic phenomenon that is revealed in various ways among all sections of the people: Jewish nationalism is an unresolved enigma not only to the peoples of Europe and the Arab lands but also the Jews themselves.
 
There are several central factors causing this failure of the Jews to understand their own nationalism. The first is the relation of the other-national to the Jewish national framework. This is the relation typical of a wide stratum of Diaspora Jews who consider themselves citizens of' their countries and as such feel that they nationally belong to their environment. They say: we are English Jews. French Jews, American Jews, etc., and if their nationality is English French or American "they obviously can no longer regard their attachment to Judaism as a national matter. Nevertheless, they are not prepared to renounce their Jewishness, nor to deny the mutual responsibility of all Jewish groups in the world. They are not even prepared to renounce their emotional and practical ties to the State of Israel. But should there be a rejection of their national attachment to Judaism that expresses their independent consciousness, a neutral observer cannot avoid defining their true relationship to Judaism in terms of nationality. A wit would say that their nationalist relationship towards Judaism is revealed in the pathos of their objection to defining themselves as being of Jewish nationality.
 
A second sphere where we display a lack of understanding of ourselves is in the narrow national sense of denying the full scope of the reactions framework. This is an attitude typical of a wide stratum of Israelis particularly those born in the country. They define their nationality in terms of the Jews' direct tie to their land and their state. In this manner they arrive at a distinction between Israelism, which defines the inhabitants of the state (disregarding the non-Jewish inhabitants, of course) and "Jewishness", which remains somewhere outside the national framework.
 
True, there are not many that dare to draw all the conclusions implied in this distinction, the few who do reason thus: there is no national connection between the Jews of the Diaspora and the citizens of Israel. They are different nationalities, and they ought to abandon one another and proceed to their separate fates. However, is even the most extreme exponent of this view prepared to renounce completely the tie with Diaspora Jewry?
 
Pragmatic considerations interfere, of course. The State of Israel would not survive, if it were not for its attachment to the Jews of the Diaspora -this is now an open secret. But apart from the pragmatic element, there exists in full force the historic fact that the national identity of the Israeli is only one of the ways of expressing Jewish nationalism, so that you cannot eliminate the attachment of Judaism without eliminating the attachment to Israelism. We thus can say that the Israeli who defines his nationality on the basis of his attachment to his land, and his state alone estranges himself from his nationality by that very definition.
 
A third centre where lack of understanding prevails is in determining the connection between nationality and religion in Judaism and there, inevitably between Jews who define their Judaism on the basis of their region, and those who define it on the basis of their nationality. The former do not ignore, a priori, the national character of Judaism, but they conceive nationality as a religious value and they therefore tend to exclude from the national framework those parts of the Jewish people which are not religious. They do not see that in denying the nationality of the secularist Jew they are also undermining the Jewish religion, which applies to the people in its entirety. On the other hand, the secularist Jews likewise do not ignore, a priori, the fact that Jewish nationality in the past was connected with the religion and was preserved by the religion, but they, regard religion as a national value. For that reason they tend to exclude those who define themselves as Jews from a religious point of view from the framework of their national attachment. They do not realize that in so doing they are undermining their nationality which, as far as its cultural heritage is concerted is rooted in religion.
 
A fourth source for our own lack of understanding is that most Jews have a very hazy awareness of their spiritual identity, whether they live in Israel or in the Diaspora; whether they are religious or secularist. It's here where there is most cause for concern, for it leads to all the others: the Jewish people in all its ramifications, finds itself in a tense relationship with all those various spheres in which it attaches itself, so that in most cases its attachment to Judaism is fragmented and partial. The Jews stands with one foot in the domain of the national life and the cultural heritage of Judaism, and with the other in the domain of the social and political life and the cultural heritage of the people of Europe and America. Naturally, in neither of the two is his stance firm and sure. From the Jewish heritage he selects parts in accordance with a European criterion and from the European heritage he selects parts in accordance with a Jewish criterion. He defines his nationality from the standpoint of his environment and he relates to his environment from the standpoint of the fate and culture unique to him as a Jew. Is it any wonder that he cannot define his peculiar identity, except by stating its very enigma?
 
VI
 
The tendency to seek an absolute solution to the unique problem of Jewish nationality by eliminating it is characteristic not only of those who view it from the outside but also exists within the Jewish people. Thus in the Galutit has encountered an attempt at deliberate assimilation, while in Israel it has encountered "Canaanism", which is assimilation in the sense of severing the tie between Israel and the Jews of the Diaspora and striving to be integrated into the Arab world. There are different ways of eliminating the Jewish nationality in the simplest manner. But it would appear that the same tendency is represented in such polarized groups as the Neturei Karta in its style of rabid Orthodoxy and that of the Communist left in its fanatic secularism. True, these extremist seek to remain Jews each according to his lights; but in practice they bring about the elimination of Judaism as a nationality, in the one case, and as a religion, in the other, thus nullifying the distinctive existence of Judaism. If both of the factions would achieve their purpose the absolute rupture between them would lead to the disappearance of Jewish nationality in both of them.
 
However, the tendency to seek an absolute solution by liquidation is typical only of a minority that is on the verge of cutting itself off from the majority. The bulk of the Jewish public that does not yet deny its identity seeks middle ways, the choice of which proves its basic lack of understanding concerning its identity. Let us first consider an example that presents from the outside the problem of the unity of the Jewish people in its dispersions; on what factors is the attachment and who on the other hand concede the unrealistic nature of the vision of the complete Ingathering of the Exiles generally tend to a "compromise" that is expressed in the idea of the "cultural centre". In other words, the Diaspora will render economic and political aid to the State while the State will sustain the Diaspora culturally.
 
In this manner, the unity of the people will be preserved although a large part of it remains in the Diaspora. The difficulty arising here is that a partnership in the cultural life is not affected by a passive acceptance of influence from without for a man cannot be a partner to a culture if he is not among its creators, nor is a partnership of fate forged by philanthropy.
 
Basing the relations between Israel and the Diaspora on the principle of a cultural centre and a periphery will therefore means in practice, a gradual severance of the two, and in this way it constitutes a blatant expression of lack of understanding of the conditions and organic unity expressing Jewish nationalism.
 
The second example we should consider presents the internal problem of the unity and continuity of the Jewish heritage. How shall we instill in young people born in the Land of Israel a deep feeling for the spiritual heritage of their people? How shall we foster "Jewish consciousness" in them? The commonest approach among "secularist" thinkers is that the spiritual-religious heritage of Judaism must be shown to be a means by which Jewish nationality has been preserved throughout the generations, and that a knowledge of it is thus a condition for the unbroken continuity of that nationality. Unfortunately, to conceive of religion as a means destroys its value even as a factor for the preservation of national unity, for if a person does not have a positive attitude towards the content as such he will not use it to determine any relation of belonging. Thus he attempts to compromise again and shows a basic lack of understanding of the nature of the spiritual heritage of Judaism and of the connection between it and Jewish nationalist. It is easily proved that it is because he has imbibed European cultural values that a Jew cannot understand his Jewish identity.
 
VII
 
The misinterpretation of Judaism as a national entity and as a religious form is thus revealed, both from the external viewpoint of other peoples and from that of the Jew who has adapted the European outlook in his search for different ways of normalization using the yardstick employed by other peoples in his environment. Secular Zionism also adopted this attitude if we judge it not by what is necessarily achieved but by what it set for itself as its ultimate goal. Secular Zionism strove for the normalization of the life of the Jewish people as "normal life" appears on the surface in Europe it strove that is to establish a Jewish state on the European model, in which Jewish nationalism would develop, steeped in the values of European culture. Of course, even the peoples of' Europe differ from one another in their language, literature, faith, and in their way of life and. to the same degree the Jew would also differ from the rest of the nations of Europe, but with Jewish culture retaining on elements it had in common with European culture. If secularist Zionist thinkers also spoke of the absolute distinctiveness of Jewish nationalism and it must be stressed that this could not on any account be ignored even by, the most radical groups of secular Zionists -they tried to interpret even this in terms of European culture. They idealized it and argued that the Jewish State has necessarily undertaken to solve an extraordinary problem, and it will justify its existence if in its reconstruction it ideally practices those moral values which European society is striving for but it is still far from achieving. Take, for example Herzl's vision of a Jewish State representing 19th century liberalism, or that of Syrkin which represents utopian socialism. At first, only isolated thinkers in the Zionist movement used the criterion relevant to Judaism for eva luating its heritage end way of life and demanded that the concept of the "normalization" of the Jewish people be defined by this criterion. The most outstanding of these thinkers were Rabbi Kook and A.D. Gordon.
 
Indeed, despite their great reputations, both of them remained in splendid isolation. Usually in the past, Jews were divided into two groups those committed to Jewish nationalism on the European model and those committed to the Jewish religion with an ambivalent attitude towards its nationalistic frameworks.
 
The striving for normalization outwardly was not and could not have been fulfilled. To be more precise, it is achieved only half of its aims and, thus perpetuated the same peculiar situation from which it sought to escape.
 
This fact helps explain the great gulf that was nevertheless created between the eva luation of other peoples and that of the Zionists concerning the sort of normalization desirable for the Jewish people, despite the fact that both were based on a common premise. The Western countries were prepared in certain political constellations to become reconciled to Jewish nationalist claims as the suffering of the Jewish people became so strong that it was no longer possible to ignore it, when it accorded with their own interests or, at least, did not clash. The Zionist movement was much more far-reaching in its claims, first because naturally it was fully aware of the magnitude of the suffering undergone by the Jewish people, and secondly because it staunchly supported Jewish interests, even when they were in conflict with the fluctuating interests of "friendly" countries. Obviously, then it was impossible to reach agreement to an extent that was desirable and possible on the process of normalizing the Jewish people even when agreeing on this basic principle. But it appears that the inability to agree on just how much the solution should cover points to the fundamental error. Namely, those who laid the foundation of secular Zionism, insofar as they were in accord with the outlook of European nations, expressed a basic lack of understanding of the reasons and longings for Zionism. The Jewish people cannot be "normal" along the lines that non-Jewish friends consider possible and desirable, nor along the lines that seem possible and desirable according to the assumptions of secular Zionism in its classical form, the Jewish people has its own yardstick of "normalization" and the Zionism that wielded this yardstick in its practical aspects must also achieve a clear conscious formulation and continue to direct its work accordingly. Of course, if we regard our task as having been completed, or if we content ourselves with solving only the especially pressing problems we may win a temporary respite. But both of the courses should be regarded as relaxing our efforts in seeking a solution that answers the true needs of the Jewish people. The fate of the Jewish people differs from all other peoples. It also differs from all other peoples in the religious-national distinctiveness of its culture. This creates a tense conflict between the Jewish people and its environment and. gives rise to inner tensions. And this emphasizes more so its very distinctive character and fate. This fact must be recognized in order to strive for the normalization of the Jewish people according to its own concepts.
 
What criterion can be used in the process of normalizing the Jewish people? This is a subject in itself. All we have attempted here is to point out the error that lies at the root of the ideas accepted by the majority of the Jewish people, as well as by the non-Jewish public that takes an interest in the Jewish problem. The most difficult task confronting us is to explain to others, and no less to ourselves, that we are different. For only on the basis of a recognition of the difference is understanding between us and our environment conceivable, and only on this basis is an activity conceivable that will ensure the unity and survival of the Jewish people.
 
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