Exiled in the Homeland
Zionism and the Return to Mandate Palestine
Publication Year: 2009
Published by: University of Texas Press
To state that this is a book my education at Brandeis and Columbia prepared me to write might appear merely to state the obvious. But the idea for this topic began in a question I put to my beloved Brandeis teacher, Ben Halpern, about how Zionist pioneers managed to survive the hardships they encountered in the land of Israel. His answer: It was like “summer camp.” The ...
When the Roslan dropped anchor at the port of Jaff a in late December 1919 following its month-long journey from Odessa, Zionist leaders heralded the ship’s arrival as the dawn of a new age. They deemed its 670 passengers “pioneers” and portrayed them as absolutely dedicated to the Zionist aim to remake the Jewish people. The trouble with this view...
One: Dispossession, Displacement, and Dreams: The Meanings of Auto-Emancipation
No idea was more fundamental to Zionism than the ingathering of Jews in the land of Israel and the ending of their exile.1 Those who came to live in the land of Israel were thought to have embarked on a transcendent journey interpreted by Zionism as not simply leaving the lands of their birth but rather as rejecting them and the oppressive conditions they ...
Two: Great Britain’s Colonial Venture: The Starting Point
Great Britain declared its support for the establishment in Palestine of a Jewish national home certain that such a policy would justify its incorporation of the Eastern Mediterranean coastline into its empire, but uncertain about every other implication of Foreign Secretary Arthur J. Balfour’s 1917 Declaration. What was a Jewish national home? What obligations did ...
Three: Making Concessions: Zionist Immigration Politics
Zionists could not imagine their way toward independence without immigration, yet they could not function easily with it. Because the World Zionist Organization had to embrace Great Britain’s support for the development of a Jewish national home, it also had to be integrated into a process of policy-making with regard to immigration that frequently ran counter ...
Four: Mishnah Impossible: Zionist Attempts to Transform the Jewish People
The heroic efforts to transform the Jewish people grew out of the ashes of the First World War, with many young Zionist activists projecting their utopian visions as unquestioned articles of Zionist faith. Even as they denounced as moribund and doomed to extinction the religion of their parents, Zionists could not imagine their collective future without an ...
Five: No Kaddish for Exile, No Path to Redemption
In his essay “Despite all,” Yosef Chaim Brenner wrote that Jewish life in the land of Israel “possessed little to attract people,” and further, that the holy land “was settled by people from places where it is possible to do something better.” There is the force of insight in Brenner’s candor about the hardships of life in the land of Israel. Brenner surmised that it was...
Six: Unsung Heroes
Menahem Sheinkin: I do not want to rehearse what is conventionally accepted: that without land and without workers we will not establish our place in the land of Israel. But I will try to shed light on the character of the land purchases and methods of expanding the numbers of workers. Although these two principles almost always appear in word and deed, they have not really ...
Conclusion: Vital Statistics and the Statistics Vital for a Jewish State
Picture Israel’s founding in 1948. The image of a man or woman in overalls behind a plow is likely to come to mind, conjuring up the notion that Israel was built literally out of the backbreaking labor of its dedicated immigrants. Now turn to Tel Aviv. The very words evoke classic urban scenes of men and women strolling along the seaside while Palestine’s Jewish ...