Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Zionism and Israel’s War with Hamas in Gaza

Zionism and Its Discontents

Roger Cohen, NYT
JULY 29, 2014

My great-grandfather’s brother, Michael Adler, was a distinguished rabbi who in 1916 compiled the “Prayer Book for Jewish Sailors and Soldiers” at the front during World War I. As “chaplain,” he toured battlefields administering last rites. At the end of the war he asked if British Jews had done their duty.

“Did those British citizens of the House of Israel to whom equality of rights and equality of opportunity were granted by the State some sixty years ago, did these men and women do their duty in the ordeal of battle?” he wrote. “Our answer is a clear and unmistakable YES! English Jews have every reason to be satisfied with the degree of their participation both at home and on the battlefronts in the struggle for victory. Let the memory of our sacred dead — who number over 2,300 — testify to this.”

The question for European Jewry was always the same: belonging. Be they French or German, they worried, even in their emancipation, that the Christian societies that had half-accepted them would turn on them. Theodor Herzl, witnessing French anti-Semitism during the Dreyfus case, wrote “The Jewish State” in 1896 out of the conviction that full acceptance for the Jews would never come.

Herzl was prescient. Zionism was born of a reluctant conclusion: that Jews needed a homeland because no other place would ever be home. Scrawny scholars would become vigorous tillers of the soil in the Holy Land. Jews would never again go meekly to the slaughter.

(More here.)

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