Zionism Essay

analytical Essay
2674 words
2674 words

The Jewish people have been in exile for thousands of years. When Jews speak fondly of “Eretz Israel,” the Land of Israel, they are not referring to the contemporary political borders of the state of Israel, but rather nostalgically to the hallowed place of their origin, which is more or less located within the same geography. It is from Eretz Israel that the Temple was destroyed and the Jewish people were expelled by the Babylonians in the 6th century BCE, never to reclaim their homeland. The State of Israel, and its backing concept of Zionism, the idea that Jewish people require a national homeland, are actually products of nineteenth century Enlightenment ideas of utopia, coupled with the Cold War politics of the major world powers. Great Britain was preeminent among the influential powers in the creation of the State of Israel. The influence of this major power began as an ideologically and morally empathetic helping hand and degenerated into a complicated and violent political faux pas. The key events in the history of Great Britain and Zionism, leading to the establishment of the nation of Israel, are the founding of Zionism by Theodor Herzl in 1986-7 and the 1917 Balfour Declaration. Later, the British make a curtain call with their role in the Battle of Jaffa in the 1948 War for Israeli Independence, and their final withdrawal from the Mandate of Palestine in 1976. This paper will not only touch upon these moments as key to understanding the history of England’s complex entanglement with Zionism and the creation of a Jewish homeland, but it will also unpack the philosophical concept of Zionism versus the political manifestation of the concept.
Theodore Herzl, a secular Jew from Hungary who lived in Vienna, is credited wi...

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...logy that changed over time, depending on the needs and interests of the powers involved. Like Zionism, the British interest in a Jewish homeland was contextual, depended on the audience and the actors, and consisted of a thread of beliefs that was never unified but rather dynamic and shifting. Although Britain’s initial involvement with Zionism may seem naïve retrospectively, it was a product of the empathy and nationalistic thinking of the time. The convoluted experience of putting theory into practice changed how the British viewed Zionism, and ultimately led to the withdrawal of Britain from Israel. Still it remains today that the political State of Israel is wrought with controversy, while the concept of Eretz Israel, the Jewish homeland, is for many Jews steeped in the nostalgic utopian imaginary, the return to which remains something to aspire to.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how the state of israel and its backing concept of zionism are products of nineteenth century enlightenment ideas of utopia, coupled with the cold war politics of the major world powers.
  • Explains that theodore herzl, a secular jew from hungary who lived in vienna, is credited with founding the concept of zionism in the late 1800s.
  • Explains herzl's goal of creating a home in palestine for the jewish people. it was rooted in typical enlightenment-era nationalist literature and politics.
  • Explains that britain's first encounter with zionism was with herzl, who tried to lobby for a jewish settlement in british-controlled uganda after failing to get the ottoman empire to agree to allow jews to settle in palestine.
  • Analyzes how chaim weizmann, a jewish russian ex-patriot, rose to prominent influence within the british government during wwi. he transformed arthur james balfour into an ardent zionist.
  • Explains that the u.n. voted to partition palestine along religious lines, but failed to make an agreeable plan for the geography of the new states.
  • Analyzes how the battle of jaffa, which took place the next year, demonstrates that british influence was far from gone in palestine.
  • Explains how the soviets instigated the six day war in 1967 by telling syria that israel was planning to attack them.
  • Explains that the british foreign office in palestine/israel was a major force in the implementation of british foreign policy.
  • Explains that both palestinian nationalism and zionism embody the same principle in concept — both are nationalist movements based on the requirement of a homeland of their own people.
  • Explains that weizmann believed that the british occupation of palestine would benefit everyone in the middle east, including the arabs.
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