The State of Israel as a Modern Jewish Enterprise: An Introduction


erratic ) , the shift in the traditional , militantly anti-Zionist stance of the USSR , dramatically expressed in the speech by its representative to the United Nations , Andrei Gromyko , or perhaps the fact that this occurred at a rare propitious historical moment , in which the American-Soviet rivalry had not yet reached the level that would cause this move to fail . As is the way of great historical occurrences , they cannot be explained by any single factor . They result from the cumulative activity of numerous elements , the hierarchical grading of which would be , in great degree , Sisyphean , and might be superfluous . The repercussions of the Holocaust suffered by the Jewish people undoubtedly aided in recruiting international support for the demand to establish a state , but it would not have arisen if the Zionist movement had not succeeded , over the course of thirty-five years , in laying the groundwork for a state , in the form of the Yishuv , that was the “ state in the making . ” One hierarchic assertion is therefore justified : without a national movement that stuck to its goal and acted with determination to realize it , the State of Israel would not have arisen , as least not when it did . From the Message of the Haskalah to the “ Harbingers of Zionism ” Three individuals are usually - and rightly so - identified as representing the story of the reestablishment of the political sovereignty of the Jewish people in Eretz Israel : Herzl , Weizmann , and Ben-Gurion ( see their entries in the “ National and Social Movements ” section ; and the entry on Gurion in the “ Modern Jewish Thought ” section ) . Herzl , as the founder of the Jewish political national movement , the Zionist movement , and as the one who , in Altneuland , delineated the goal : a Jewish state ; Weizmann , who maintained and fostered the movement , was its president , and acted more than anyone to attain international recognition of the Jews ’ right to a homeland of their own ; and Ben-Gurion , who surpassed all the others in laying the tangible foundations for the future state , who turned the “ Yishuv ” into “ the state in the making , ” who steadfastly adhered to its establishment in practice , and who led it at the difficult hour of its birth . The personal stories of leaders often draw attention away from the political , economic , social , and cultural processes that facilitated the emergence and success of these outstanding individuals . But the opposite might also be possible : a discussion of certain aspects of the personal and political biographies of those individuals , and of others , might shed light on processes and developments that have deep historical roots . The New Jewish Timeencyclopedia seeks to examine the influences of the processes of modernization and secularization on Jewish history over the past two centuries . This perspective should also guide our examination of the historical developments that led to the establishment of Israel and that fashioned its character in the first decades of its existence . From this perspective , a link should be added to this chain of individuals , specifically at its beginning : Moses Mendelssohn ( see the entry in the “ Modern Jewish Thought ” section ) , who symbolized the Haskalah , and Isaac Euchel , the actual founder of that movement , which also paved the way for Zionism . The outstanding scholar of the Haskalah , Shmuel Feiner , who assigns the Haskalah a key role in Jewish modernization , defined the enlightenment revolution that occurred in Jewish society in the eighteenth century as a “ secular revolution , ” not because its advocates sought to detach themselves from Judaism , which was not their aim . Rather , its very appearance weakened the standing of the Jewish religion and its standard bearers , and laid the groundwork for the emergence of secular culture and institutions . The appearance of Zionism would have been inconceivable without the Haskalah , that represented the beginnings of modernization within the Jewish people ; and without the secularization process experienced by Jewish communities following ( and later , concurrently with ) this modernization ; and without the influence of the

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