Zionism has always displayed a complicated relationship with the Temple Mount. While secular socialist Zionism wanted little to do with the site for pragmatic reasons, right-wing and guerilla Zionist groups considered it, before the founding of the state, as the embodiment of Jewish sovereignty over the Holy Land. And although Religious Zionism, until very recently, shied away from the site, over the past decade tremendous changes in this public’s attitude have taken place, leading to intense interest and activity concerning it. This article surveys past and present attitudes toward the Temple Mount, studying its recent rise as a focal point for ethnonational yearnings, and analyzing these developments vis-à-vis the secularization process.
Ethnocentrism and the Temple Mount
Ernest Gellner notes that the quarrel between himself and Anthony Smith could be summarized by the question: do nations have navels? According to his modernist outlook, while some nations might have navels, others do not, and in any case it is not important; while in Smith's conception, navels constitute an 'ethnic core', essential for nation-building. Yet in the pre–independence nation-building process, what Smith considers Israel's ethnic core—mainly the concepts of the 'Chosen People' and 'Holy Land'—either did not have the same meaning or did not play the important role that Smith attributes to them. Indeed, Smith's account of Zionism is a post–independence invention and in this respect a further corroboration of modernism.
This article deals with the relation of Micha Yosef Ben Gurion (Berdichevski)—one of the central formulators of the Zionist idea and of modern Hebrew literature—to the Zionist political sphere. As a wordly Jewish intellectual, Berdichevski attempted to establish a kind of Zionism that would allow Jewish individuals to engage in it as an act of their desires. In exploring how his carnal inclinations affected his vision of the political, I argue that Berdichevski's perception fails qualitatively by transposing its guiding sensual approach to the formulation of the new Jewish political sphere. As this article will show, Berdichevski's relation to the Jewish political revolution reveals a sometimes limited perception regarding the possibilities of freedom inherent in political activity and often contradicts his own aspiration to nurture the liberty of Jewish individuals.
Urban Zionism in Early Hebrew Cinema
The Zionist ethos is commonly described as pro-rural and anti-urban, with the imagined Zionist space perceived as being rural and the Zionist drama as a reflection of the life of the pioneers in Palestine. Recent studies of early Hebrew cinema shared this view. This article analyzes two Jewish films from inter-war Palestine, Vayehi Bimey (In the Days of Yore) (1932, Tel Aviv) and Zot Hi Ha'aretz (This Is the Land) (1935, Tel Aviv), to suggest a more complex view of the Zionist ethos and spatial imagery in the context of the relationship between the urban and the rural. A thematic and formal analysis of the films shows their sources of Soviet influence and reveals the presentation of the city as a nationalist space.
The present article focuses upon post-Zionism as an emergent counter-hegemonic discourse in contemporary Israel. Offered here are a broad analysis and survey of post-Zionism in the following order: (1) a review of the history of the concept 'post-Zionism' since its emergence in 1993, as well as a retrospective view of its sources; (2) an exposure of manifestations of post-Zionist culture in Israel; (3) an analysis of four dif- ferent theories of post-Zionism; (4) an account of some ideological con- troversies surrounding post-Zionism; and (5) an evaluation of the state of post-Zionism in the mid 2000s and an estimation of its future prospects. In the spirit of critical theory it is argued that post-Zionism should not be weighted in positivistic terms of popularity or effectiveness but rather in terms of an 'immanent' category, which taps undercurrents, and a 'tran- scendent' category, which points to exogenous normative horizons.
An Interpretation of Changing Realities and Changing Histories
This article surveys changes and arguments in the historiography and politics of Israel especially in the post-1977 period, ranging from the New Historians through recent discussions of Mamlakhtiyut (statism), an ideological term for the policies pursued in the early years of statehood by David Ben-Gurion. The article is especially concerned with social democratic or socialist questions, as Mamlakhtiyut subordinated institutions of the Labor movement to those of the state. The article suggests that there were alternatives to Mamlakhtiyut in the 1950s that ought to be reconsidered today. This is especially so given the contemporary political dominance of Labor's traditional foes and new realities faced by states in a “globalizing” world. The article suggests that aspects of recent historiography can be seen as descending from the mental universe of Rafi, the breakaway party Ben-Gurion formed in 1965 after splitting from Mapai. Parallels to other political developments and alternative historiography are suggested. This article revises and expands the “Postface” (Afterword) for the new second French edition (2014) of the author's Zion and State (originally published in 1987), which presented a critique of Mamlakhtiyut.
Rabbi John Rayner was an eminent proponent of ethical Zionism. His views about Israel are related in this article to his views about Judaism and Jewish ethics. The three pillars of Judaism are: truth, justice and peace. Rabbi Rayner personified these values to a remarkable degree. The common thread that runs through his countless sermons and articles was the emphasis on the gentler and more outward-looking values of Judaism. It is by cultivating and exemplifying these values, he believed, that Jews could best help humanity find signposts to justice and peace, not only in the Middle East but everywhere. Ethical Zionism, as understood by Rabbi Rayner, is based on Jewish values. The State of Israel is the main political progeny of the Zionist movement. It follows that the State of Israel ought to reflect Jewish values in its external relations. In the event of a clash between Israeli behaviour and Jewish ethics, Rabbi Rayner invariably came down on the side of Jewish ethics. He consistently placed principle above pragmatism and morality above expediency. He was an honest and courageous man who always spoke truth to power.
Contrasting Representations of Irish and Zionist Nationalism in British Political Discourse (1917-1922)
The Irish struggle for independence (1917–1922) coincided with the beginnings of the mandate in Palestine, by which the British government sought to encourage the establishment of a Jewish National Home. Analogies between these two territories regularly surfaced in the papers of British officials and policy makers. Universally perceived as a paradigm of nationalism and insurrection, the Irish precedent colored the British understanding of Palestine. Essentialist representations of national groups such as the Irish or the Jews were also common as the British government lent support to various nationalist movements in order to further strategic objectives during the Great War. However, British attitudes toward Irish nationalism and Zionism varied widely. A careful examination of Arthur James Balfour’s representations of the Irish and Jewish nations reveals that nationalist ideology, far from relying on a coherent and systematic understanding of national groups, shifted depending on Britain’s geopolitical interests.
Over the last fifteen years Israeli culture has witnessed the development of batey midrash (houses of Jewish studies) modeled after traditional batey midrash, but without regard for halakhah and open to men and women alike. They represent an attempt to connect and reconnect to the sources of Jewish learning and strive to reconcile uni- versalistic and pluralistic aspects of Israelis' identity with their Jewish identity that has been dormant since the establishment of the state of Israel. With a reflective and pluralistic educational approach the batey midrash present opportunities for exploration of students' relationship to tradition, to Israel and Zionism, God, their communities, their own spiritual path, and the 'other' in all its representations. As the continu- ing conflict with the Palestinians renders existence in Israel ever more difficult, more existential questions arise, requiring a deepening of the Jewish connection so that the two sides' worlds are in dialogue.
Jacqueline Rose, The Question of Zion (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005).
Mira Sucharov, The International Self: Psychoanalysis and the Search for Israeli-Palestinian Peace (Albany: SUNY Press, 2005).