Unformatted text preview: The Harbingers of National redemption
The Harbingers of National redemption
More or less in the same time span, in different countries, dissimilar cultures and languages and from disparate ideological convictions emerge exponents of a rather comparable idea: Jewish national redemption.
What was common to all scenarios? (groups/individuals writing and operating in isolation from each other):
1. The Jews as historically cohesive social entity.
2. Diagnosis of what’s wrong with the current situation.
3. Prognosis: what should be the solution.
4. Pragmatic prognosis: the means to realize the goal. 1.
1. 2. 3. 4. The Jews as a Cohesive Social Unit the Jews are a distinctive collective sharing attributes and characteristics that render them unified and interconnected. (Religious/Secular basis?)
Diagnosis: what’s wrong? What needs change The Diaspora is detrimental and harmful. The dispersion afflicts Jews and it must be terminated.
Prognosis The Solution. All precursors agree on the scenario of returning to the Promised Land. They differ on the type and format of the new entity after immigration and settlement are concluded: religious and cultural autonomy or fullfledged sovereignty?
Prognosis The Means. Despite nuances and emphases, all harbingers agree on selfhelp, revival of culture and morale, settlement of the Land of Israel and gaining international recognition. Who were the Precursors of Zionism?
Who were the Precursors of Zionism? There were always messianic dreamers, philosophers, poets, self
proclaimed redeemers, both Jews and Christians, who prayed and yearned for the return of the Jews to the Land of their Forefathers. But without the 3 components what’s wrong, what’s the answer and how to implement it, they can’t be termed Zionists (Yehuda Halevi, 11th century).
The first thinkers and writers of Jewish nationalism preceded the Zionist Movement and hardly used the term. However, they became a source of inspiration and became to be known as protoZionists, or the original, rudimentary types of the idea. As such they were an inspiration and stimulation to all other Zionist leaders who pursued them. Indeed, all the period between the early 1880 and the rise of Hibbat Zion and the establishment of the Zionist movement by Herzl in 1897 can be termed the protoZionist period. The three leading protoZionist are considered to be, Kalischer, Alkalai and Hess. Zvi Kalischer Yehuda Alkalai Moses Hess (17951874) (17981878) (18121875) Kalischer An orthodox Ashkenazi Rabbi from Prussia, who was one of the first to encourage activism and selfhelp for Jews in Europe. He believed Jews should redeem themselves and return to Zion as part of God’s plan. In his text Derishat Zion (Quest for Zion, 1862), he called for the settlement of Zion, the establishment of an agriculture school and a formation of a Jewish military guard to defend the settlers.
Alkalai An Orthodox Sepharadi Rabbi from Sarajevo, Bosnia. He believed that the coming of the Messiah would be hastened by settling the Holy Land. In Minhat Yehuda (Gift of Judea, 1843) he urges for adoption Hebrew as a national language, purchase of land in Palestine and encouragement of national unity.
Hess Philosopher and a socialist from Bonn, Germany. Changing his view from class struggle to race and nations’ struggle as the main feature of politics, he wrote in Rome and Jerusalem (1862): Race struggle is primal . and class struggle secondary Conversion could never release from anti
Semitism. The only redemption is building ourselves anew in our historical Hibbat Zion (the Love of Zion) the 1880’s: A loose association of Hibbat Zion (the Love of Zion)
different Jewish groups in East Europe, mainly in Russia and the Ukraine, sharing a vision of solving the predicament of the Jews by returning to the land of their forefathers.
Several processes and intentions converged to produce this huge wave of Oriented Nationalism:
Economic Hardships stimulate a massive urge to emigrate from Russia and Eastern Europe. How? Where to? these questions remain debatable.
Internal Power Struggle 3 elites vie for power and influence in the Jewish population: the traditional, the economic, and the intelligentsia. The first prefer Eretz Israel on religious grounds, the second prefer staying in Russia and the third emigration, to Eretz Israel, the US or anywhere. A public debate ensues.
Philanthropy Intervenes Organizations and private citizens from Western Europe fund and encourage migration: the Alliance of Paris, the AngloJewry’s Mansion House Fund, the Hebrew Emigrant Aid Society, Baron Hirsch Foundation and the Rothschild Fund. Each attempts to wield power and influence. 4. Emigration or Assimilation? the Jewish Maskilim 4. (Enlightened) in Russia started the debate. They were split into the merchant elites and the intelligentsia. The former advocating to stay, the latterto leave.
5. Why Stay? Because economics, culture, language, daily life bring people together. We succeeded in that. Why leave? Because the Russians will never accept the Jews as equals (both right and left).
6. If emigration, where to? A) the New World: equal, fair progressive, open (Am Olam). B) anywhere possible, as long as not here (the territorialists). C) Eretz Israel: only there Jews have connection and reason to be.
7. Among the Eretz Israelis: an interesting coalition of traditionalists (Mohilever), nationalists (Lilienblum) and culturalists (Smolenskin), different motivations, same goal. Rabbi Samuel Mohilever (18241898): “the messianic Rabbi redemption process requires a natural stage of settlement in the Holy Land first”. Moshe Leib Lilienblum (18431910): “the only answer is to return to Eretz Israel to which we have an historic right which was not lost when we lost rule of the country, anymore than the peoples of the Balkans lost their rights to their lands”. Peretz Smolenskin (18421885): ”a nation is not distinguishable from nation by the fact that the blood of its forefathers flows in its veins but rather commonalities shared by members of a society, manners, aspirations, temperaments, qualities, beliefs, historical development…and in all these respects there is no people in the world as deserving of the name nation as Israel. Germans living in Rome are Germans, Italians in Austria are Italians, and Jews wherever they are, are Jews”. The Eretz Israel Coalition: The Eretz Israel Coalition: Sources of Inspiration and Motivation
1) Leo Pinsker’s AutoEmancipation (Sept. 1882): The first seminal work about Jewish nationalism.
Main idea: Jews should not seek emancipation but self help, autoemancipation, to free themselves.
The pamphlet had a powerful impact clearly presenting the problem (diagnosis) and a solution (prognosis).
“The essence of the problem lies in the fact that in the midst of nations where Jews reside, they form a distinctive element which cannot be assimilated nor be readily digested. Since the Jew is nowhere at home, he remains an alien, never a legitimate child of the fatherland.” (diagnosis)
“Perhaps the Holy Land will again become ours. If so, all the better, (but) the goal of our present endeavors must be not the ‘Holy Land’ but a land of our own.“ (prognosis)
Interesting position: more of a territorialist than Eretz Israeli 2) The Kattowitz Conference
2) The Kattowitz Conference Pinsker’s book was a catalyst and an inspiration for the inchoate uncoordinated and Hibbat Zion cells and their activists called Hovevei Zion who were spread all over the “pale of settlement” (17911917). Pinsker urged them to unite and collaborate, to arrange a national congress and to elect a directorate.
In November 1884 the first Hovevei Zion conference was held in the city of Kattowitz. 34 delegates from all over eastern Europe arrived. Guidelines and principled were determined. 3 lines of operation: immigration to Zion, effort to persuade world leaders and raising funds. Pinsker was elected chairman and Mohilever the president of the movement. 3) BILU Beit Iaakov Lechu Unelcha 3) BILU Beit Iaakov Lechu Unelcha (House of Jacob come ye and let us go, Isaiah 2:5) The most intense, practical and Eretz-Israel oriented group of all the
Hovevei Zion branches was a small cell of high- schoolers and
university freshmen called BILU. They were formed in 1881 in the
city of Kharkov, more specifically in the veterinary institute of
Kharkov University. In May 16, 1882, they published their manifesto:
“ The enlightened progress of the 19th century brought nothing but scorn
and humiliation to the Jews. We remain aliens. The only path to
salvation is the path to Zion, Zion, Zion! The land of our forefathers,
Eretz Israel. We are ready to devote all our vigor to the great task of
national restoration in Zion”.
The BILU members themselves didn’t fare well. They never exceed 500
members, and they disbanded after 4 years. Only 60 moved to Zion
and only 15 stayed permanently. However, their achievement has
been psychological: they composed the first wave of Aliya, or ascent
to Zion, established the first settlements (Gadera and Rishon Le-Zion)
and became a symbol and a role model for the Zionist movement.
and The Ultimate Trigger: Pogroms and the May Laws
The Ultimate Trigger: Pogroms and the May Laws
All the groups, aspirations and intentions above would not have been materialized had it not been for the March 1881 assassination of Tsar Alexander the 2 nd.
The May Laws (Announced in May 15, 1882 by Tsar Alexander III): "As a temporary measure, and until a general revision is made of their legal status, it is decreed that the Jews be forbidden to settle anew outside of towns and boroughs exceptions being admitted only in cases of existing Jewish agricultural colonies." "Temporarily forbidden are the issuing of mortgages and other deeds to Jews, as well as the registration of Jews as lessees of real property situated outside of towns and boroughs; "Jews are forbidden to transact business on Sundays and on the principal Christian holy days; the existing regulations concerning the closing of places of business belonging to Christians on such days to apply to Jews also." ...
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- Fall '11
- Zionism, Zion, Eretz Israel, History of Israel