The Problem: An Imperfect Jewish State
The Ideal and the Real
When most Israelis hear the term a “Jewish State,” they think of religious marriage and divorce, the Sabbath, and army exemptions for the Haredi sector. Few people associate the term “Jewish State” with a set of basic, moral obligations between the Israeli government and its citizens. Few think to ask what should a Jewish State do about:
Zionism has changed the face of Judaism and the course of Jewish history. Was the development of Zionism a revolution – a break with all Jewish ideology that went before it, the birth of a new Jew as master of his own destiny? Or, was it a realization of the unbroken loyalty the Jewish people held for their ancestral land? Was it a Jewish manifestation of nineteenth century state nationalism or a yearning for socialist utopia? Or maybe it was just another way to survive? Its origins, like Zionism itself, are complex and varied. In this lesson we will study the different ingredients and personalities that gave rise to modern Zionism and ask ourselves: did Zionism/the State of Israel provide the solutions to the problems its originators envisioned.
From the very beginning, Zionism meant very different things to different people. This lesson examines three of the major fault lines: a) between those who saw Zionism as a rebellion against Judaism and those who saw it as the fulfillment of Judaism; b) between those who saw in Zionism the hope for creating a socialist utopia and those who sought “normalization;” and c) between those who anticipated the ingathering of all the exiles and those who saw the state as a sustaining center for a revitalized world Jewry.