Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies
Volume 21, Number 2, Winter 2003
pp. 66-81 | 10.1353/sho.2002.0140
No idea is more fundamental to the Zionist sense of mission than the ending of exile for the Jewish people. But the in-gathering of Jews in their homeland acquired its meaning as an antidote to exile rather than as an act with its own defined essence. This essay analyzes how exile functioned not only as a contrast to the society created in Palestine during the period of British rule but also and more importantly, as a controlling metaphor of Zionist discourse. Exile was a powerful linguistic tool justifying a particular distribution of resources and legitimizing a political hierarchy. Exile's rhetorical force often had a profoundly unsettling impact on many immigrants unprepared for the experience of living in a Jewish homeland only to be told that they had not yet been liberated from the undesirable effects of exile.