Zionism's Change from a Passive Notion to an Active Ideology During the Nineteenth Century

analytical Essay
2020 words
2020 words

Zionism's Change from a Passive Notion to an Active Ideology During the Nineteenth Century

Although it has been a precondition of Jewish consciousness to believe

that the emergence of a Modern political Zionist movement can be

attributed to the rampant anti-Semitism suffered by the European Jews,

this does not provide an adequate explanation. The entire history of

the Jews can be defined by the way in which they suffered persecution

under the oppressive hands of others, proving that anti-Semitism was

not a phenomenon unique to the Jews of the nineteenth century. Thus,

and exploration of the transformation of the Jewish world in lieu of

the invention of the modern world as we know it is imperative to the

understanding of the development of Zionism from a passive

consciousness and yearning to the emergence of the first political

Zionist writings marking the beginning of an active ideological

movement advocating mass immigration to Eretz Israel.

The nineteenth century was a dynamic climate in European politics. The

Enlightenment, a Western movement celebrating man's rationality,

centrality, and equality, began in France in the last decades of the

eighteenth century; however it was not until the nineteenth century

that grants of emancipation proliferated across Europe. With the

emancipation of German Jewry by 1871 every European country except

Russia had emancipated its Jews, and the face of "Jewish identity" was

challenged. For centuries the Jews of Europe were locked in their

ghettoes and shtetls, insulated from outside influences by rampant

anti-Semitism. However, with emancipation came the breaking down of

barriers both imprisoning ...

... middle of paper ...


Vital, D. THe origins of Zionism, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975.


[1] "Seeking Zion", by Rabbi Z.H Kalischer 1862 in A. Hertzberg (ed.)

The Zionist Idea: A Historical Analysis and Reader, New York:

Anthenum, 1984


[2] S. Avineri, The making of Modern Zionism: The Intellectual Origins

of the Jewish State (London: Weidenfeld and Nicoldon, 1981) p. 34.

[3] Ibid. pg 33

[4] Ibid. 37

[5] Avineri, p. 11.

[6] Hertzberg p. 125

[7] Avineri, "Modern Zionism", p 38.

[8] Hertzberg pg. 169

[9] Ibid. p.174

[10] Ibid. p. 177

[11] Ibid p. 176

[12] J. Katz., The Forerunners of Zionism', in Reinharz. Y. and

Shapira A. Essential Papers on Zionism, (New York: New York

UniversityPress, 1996.) p. 33

In this essay, the author

  • Argues that the emergence of a modern political zionist movement can be attributed to the rampant anti-semitism suffered by the european jews, but this does not provide an adequate explanation.
  • Argues that anti-semitism was not a phenomenon unique to the jews of the nineteenth century. exploration of transformation of jewish world in lieu of invention of modern world is imperative to understanding the development of zionism.
  • Explains that zionist writings marked the beginning of an active ideological movement advocating mass immigration to eretz israel. the nineteenth century was a dynamic climate in european politics.
  • Explains that grants of emancipation proliferated across europe, and the face of "jewish identity" was challenged. jews of europe were locked in their ghettoes and shtetls.
  • Explains how jews rushed to conquest secular society from which they had been cut off for centuries. from 1835-1914, jewish literary and cultural flourished.
  • Argues that the nineteenth century is regarded in history as the best century the jews had ever known since the destruction of the temple.
  • Explains that the emancipation and the enlightenment encouraged society to free itself from the ties of religious faith and turn the matter of religion into the private.
  • Explains that attending state secular schools based on general citizenship and not religious affiliation required jews to negotiate certain religious aspects and forced them to make hundreds of small choices and compromises
  • Explains that jews of western europe who sought to embrace secular life and discard the burdens of their jewish tradition formed a reform or secularized sect of judaism and became the "maskilim".
  • Analyzes how modernization and fragmentation between 1750 and 1850 successfully divided a linguistically and religiously united people into one of many religious sects and language clusters.
  • Explains that in 1750 almost all european jews practiced traditional judaism. by 1850 the majority of jews in western and central europe did not.
  • Explains that jews were forced to discern their own position amongst this nationalist surge. they embarked on the process of "haskalah" or jewish enlightenment.
  • Explains that modern vernacular and literature was the first step in the journey to try and provide a modern answer to the question of national identity.
  • Explains that self-determination in the post-emancipation world cannot be satisfied with an exclusively religious definition. during the nineteenth century, sentiment was aroused by rumors that the messianic era was at hand.
  • Explains that kalisher and alkalai published works explaining their ideas and encouraging jews to have national aspirations of independence.
  • Narrates how rabbi kalischer appealed to anschel rothschild to purchase the land of israel and rabbi alkalai published minchat yehuda in 1843.
  • Explains that alkalai called for the introduction of the tithe for financing settlement, for international recognition of jewish eretz israel and for a jewish army.
  • Opines that alkali and kalischer's notions based on "religious redemption", did not appeal to the jews embedded in the assimilation process of western europe.
  • Explains that zionism's new entry to the world in the late 19th century brought the adoption of new tactic and techniques to exploit the colonial expansion and national stirrings of europe.
  • Explains that pinsker, hess and lilienblum were influential zionist thinkers who emerged in the latter half of the nineteenth century whose motivation, audience and actions were completely unlike that of religious zionism. they were products of 'general' european education and secular academic success
  • Analyzes how these men were challenged by new definitions of nationalist identity, and motivated to embark on a quest to acquire self-respect in an uprooted society.
  • Explains that moses hess was the first "enlightened jew" to write of the modern idea of jewish national revival, based on the ideas of social justice, and to call for the establishment of an active political zionist movement and of a jewish socialist commonwealth in palestine.
  • Explains that hess was one of the first jewish thinkers to hypothesize that emancipation and secularization would ultimately exacerbate anti-semitism in europe.
  • Opines that the only solution to the jewish problem was the establishment of a national jewish society managed by jews.
  • Explains that hess recognized that the zionist movement would confront many obstacles, such as a difficulty in'reaching' the jews who were now religiously, spiritually and nationally divided people.
  • Opines that the pogroms in southern russia in 1881 deeply stirred public opinion in western europe and america and marked the beginning of a new era in modern jewish history.
  • Explains how the pogroms of russia reawakened the jewish solidarity and prepared the ground for a jewish national idea.
  • Analyzes how lilienblum signifies the shift from passive zionism to active politics as he appeals to the secular political values of jews in assimilated society.
  • Analyzes how lilienblum wrote that progress and civilization during the european enlightenment was doing nothing to eradicate anti-semitic views but "indirectly help them along."
  • Analyzes how lilienblum's main obstacle would be difficulty in gaining the support of "the enlightened people".
  • Explains the efforts of the first political zionist thinkers in the raising of funds, awareness and support were rigorous and revolutionary.
  • Explains that jewish philanthropists such as the montefiores and the rothschilds sponsored agricultural settlements, and immigrants from russia migrated to eretz israel in 1882. their effors led to the establishment of a committee meeting for the colonization of palestine.
  • Explains that the ottoman authorities, lack of funding, and conflicting predicaments imposed on jews during the nineteenth century prevented the work of earlier thinkers from being fully realized.
  • Explains that the various political and religious affiliations and inspiration on "forerunners of zionism" can be found permeating through the later writing of theodore hertzl proving the notion had been building for decades and that these thinkers were a significant and fundamental role in the formation of the ideology.
  • Explains the origins of the jewish state in london, weildenfeld and nicolson, 1981, and hertzberg, a., the zionist idea: a historical analysis and reader.
  • Cites a. hertzberg's the zionist idea: a historical analysis and reader. s. avineri, the making of modern zionism: the intellectual origins of the jewish state.
Get Access