Saving the Jews vs. Saving Jewish Character: The Conflict between Political and “Therapeutic” Zionism

In the first of a series of lectures on Zionism’s early thinkers, Micah Goodman contrasts two competing visions within the ranks of its secular adherents. The first, the primarily political approach of Theodor Herzl, focused on protecting Jews from anti-Semitism and the moral decay of assimilation by creating a Jewish state. The second—associated with Nachman Syrkin, Micha Yosef Berdichevsky, and Yosef Ḥayyim Brenner—saw the Jew as spiritually degraded by subjugation to the Gentiles and by Judaism itself, and aspired to create a new, liberated Jew. Goodman proceeds to explore a third alternative, espoused by Ahad Ha’am, that embraced the “therapeutic” version of the second group without advocating a complete break from the Jewish past. (Video, 53 minutes. Audio versions for streaming and download are available at the link below.)

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More about: Ahad Ha'am, Berdichevsky, History & Ideas, Nachman Syrkin, Theodor Herzl, Zionism

Condemning Terrorism in Jerusalem—and Efforts to Stop It

Jan. 30 2023

On Friday night, a Palestinian opened fire at a group of Israelis standing outside a Jerusalem synagogue, killing seven and wounding several others. The day before, the IDF had been drawn into a gunfight in the West Bank city of Jenin while trying to arrest members of a terrorist cell. Of the nine Palestinians killed in the raid, only one appears to have been a noncombatant. Lahav Harkov compares the responses to the two events, beginning with the more recent:

President Joe Biden called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to denounce the attack, offer his condolences, and express his commitment to Israel’s security. Other leaders released supportive statements as well. Governments across Europe condemned the attack. Turkey’s foreign ministry did the same, as did Israel’s Abraham Accords partners the UAE and Bahrain. Even Saudi Arabia released a statement against the killing of civilians in Jerusalem.

It feels wrong to criticize those statements. . . . But the condemnations should be full-throated, not spoken out of one side of the mouth while the other is wishy-washy about what it takes to stave off terrorism. These very same leaders and ministries were tsk-tsking at Israel for doing just that only a day before the attacks in Jerusalem.

The context didn’t seem to matter to some countries that are friendly to Israel. It didn’t matter that Israel was trying to stop jihadists from attacking civilians; it didn’t matter that IDF soldiers were attacked on the way.

It’s very easy for some to be sad when Jews are murdered. Yet, at the same time, so many of them are uncomfortable with Jews asserting themselves, protecting themselves, arming themselves against the bloodthirsty horde that would hand out bonbons to celebrate their deaths. It’s a reminder of how important it is that we do just that, and how essential the state of Israel is.

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More about: Jerusalem, Palestinian terror