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


national movements active in Europe during the course of the nineteenth century ( see “ Haskalah and Jewish Culture ” in the Literatures and Arts section ) . It is well-known that ever since the Jews ’ exile from Eretz Israel , whether willingly or under compulsion , they almost never ceased to pray for the renewal of the people’s life in its ancient homeland . Furthermore , the return to Zion , whether individual or collective , did not wait for Hibbat Zion or the Zionist movement . Rather , as with other peoples , the fervent wish for national liberty was not enough . There was a need for the historical circumstances that would facilitate the growth of national liberation movements . The Jewish people lagged behind the peoples among whom it dwelled . The processes of modernization and secularization came late for it , in comparison with the peoples of Western and Central Europe , and the speed of their advance was slower and more hesitant . Moses Mendelssohn was born ( in 1729 ) forty years after John Locke published his Letters Concerning Toleration , and his Jerusalem was published twenty-eight years after the appearance of the first volume of the great French Encyclopedie ( 1751 ) , that aroused the Church’s ire ( its writers included Diderot , Rousseau , and Voltaire ) . The delay , however , in the Jewish national response was much greater than that of the national awakening of other European peoples . In the first phase , the influence of modernization and secularism was felt in the Jews ’ efforts to fell the barriers between them and the host peoples , to take the greatest advantage of the benefits of emancipation , and to realize the processes of acculturation to the culture of the peoples among whom they lived and worked . Modern Jewish nationalism was given the impetus it so sorely needed only by the disappointment with emancipation , the cumulative influence of the liberation ( or unification ) struggles of other peoples , and the rising influence of anti-Semitism . It is therefore not surprising that the national movement of the Jewish people took its first steps almost half a century after the Spring of Nations in 1848 , and under its influence . When we include Rabbis Alkali and Kalischer , who were active during the Spring of Nations , among the leading harbingers of Zionism , the environment underlying their appearance should be highlighted . They did not come to modern national conclusions from learned seclusion within the “ four cubits of Torah , ” but rather because they opened windows in their study halls to gaze upon their surroundings ; they gazed and were captivated . Each was raised and active in an environment rife with national tensions , and each bore witness to national struggles . In Sarajevo , Alkalai witnessed the Serbs ’ war for independence , while Kalischer , in the Poznan region , saw the clash between two national movements - the German and the Polish . Like their neighbors , religious self-definition no longer sufficed for them . They sought tangible expression for their Jewish national self-identity ( see “ Harbingers of Zionism ” in the National and Social Movements section ) . The two were joined by Moses Hess ( see the entry in the Modern Jewish Thought section ) , who published Rome and Jerusalemin 1862 . Herzl said that if he had known of the book , he would not have written The Jewish State . Hess , who had received a traditional education in his youth , would later become a socialist . For several years he was a teacher and shared Marx’s views ; he later opposed him . Following the awakening of the European national movements in the middle of the nineteenth century , he began to ponder the question of Jewish nationalism . The features of the processes discussed above are all present in Hess : the transition from traditionalism to modernity , and from it to secularization ; openness to the influence of the national awakenings and the ability to assess their consequences for the Jewish people ; and his connection to the socialist movement , which , aside from nationalism , was the most influential movement at the turn of the century , when the Zionist movement was constituted .

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