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Zionism and the Roads Not Taken

Rawidowicz, Kaplan, Kohn

Noam Pianko

Publication Year: 2010

Today, Zionism is understood as a national movement whose primary historical goal was the establishment of a Jewish state. However, Zionism's association with national sovereignty was not foreordained. Zionism and the Roads Not Taken uncovers the thought of three key interwar Jewish intellectuals who defined Zionism's central mission as challenging the model of a sovereign nation-state: historian Simon Rawidowicz, religious thinker Mordecai Kaplan, and political theorist Hans Kohn. Although their models differed, each of these three thinkers conceived of a more practical and ethical paradigm of national cohesion that was not tied to a sovereign state. Recovering these roads not taken helps us to reimagine Jewish identity and collectivity, past, present, and future.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Series: The Modern Jewish Experience


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pp. vii-x

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1. Breaking the Sovereign Mold: Nation beyond State in Modern Jewish Thought

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pp. 1-25

“What will become of the Jewish people?” Israeli novelist and Zionist provocateur A. B. Yehoshua’s answer to this question stunned a crowd of American Jewish leaders who had gathered at a major conference of the American Jewish Committee in 2006. Yehoshua argued that he saw quite a limited future for Jews in the diaspora. Even more infuriating to his audience,...

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2. “Sovereignty Is International Anarchy”: Jews, World War I, and the Future of Nationalism

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pp. 26-60

“Sovereignty is international anarchy” is not a claim one might expect to hear from an American Zionist writing a book about the post–World War I political order in 1918. Yet, one year after the Balfour Declaration promised a “national home for the Jewish people,” public intellectual and Zionist Horace Kallen vehemently objected to the premise of national self-determination...

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3. Text, Not Territory: Simon Rawidowicz, Global Hebraism, and the Centering of Decentered National Life

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pp. 61-94

In 1954, Simon Rawidowicz exchanged a series of confrontational letters with Prime Minister David Ben Gurion about his decision to name the state “Israel.” Rawidowicz exclaimed, “‘Israel’ cannot be reserved exclusively for the State and shared by the State and outside the State alike. . . . As long as the State of Israel and the Diasporas of Israel have not clarified this matter for themselves and the world, the confusion becomes more serious from day ...

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4. Making American Democracy Safe for Judaism: Mordecai Kaplan, National Civilization, and the Morality of Zionism

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pp. 95-134

The book Who Are We? The Challenges to American National Identity (2004) by international relations theorist Samuel Huntington makes it clear that the debate about what it means to be an American is still very much alive today.1 Huntington expresses concern that the “substance” and “salience” of the “Anglo-Protestant” cultural core of American national identity has been ...

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5. From German Zionism to American Nationalism: Hans Kohn, Cultural Humanism, and the Realizationof “the Political Idea of Judaism”

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pp. 135-177

On December 21, 1931, Mordecai Kaplan met Hans Kohn at a small gathering of American Zionists who had invited the visiting scholar to speak about the history of Arab nationalism in the Middle East.1 Although Kohn agreed to speak to the group on the condition that he would not directly discuss the impact of Arab nationalism on Zionism, he eventually was compelled to address this issue directly. Kaplan’s journal entry from that evening ...

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6. Zionism, Jewish Peoplehood, and the Dilemmas of Nationality in a Global Era

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pp. 178-209

In 1955, only a few years after the establishment of the State of Israel, Mordecai Kaplan lamented the absence of a “concept of a uniting bond which so far has not received official recognition, nor achieved general understanding.”1 In order to address this pressing problem, Kaplan urged those reading his book A New Zionism to heed his call for a future world conference ...


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pp. 211-249


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pp. 251-261


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pp. 263-277

E-ISBN-13: 9780253004307
E-ISBN-10: 0253004306
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253354556

Page Count: 292
Illustrations: 3 b&w photos
Publication Year: 2010

Series Title: The Modern Jewish Experience
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OCLC Number: 646066515
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Zionism and the Roads Not Taken