What Would Ahad Ha'am Think about Israel Today?

He would likely share more with young men sporting knitted kippot and young women in long skirts than with any other sizable group on the Israeli scene.

Knitted kippot at the Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem. Sophie Gordon / Flash90.

Knitted kippot at the Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem. Sophie Gordon / Flash90.

Response
Oct. 10 2016
About the author

Allan Arkush is the senior contributing editor of the Jewish Review of Books and professor of Judaic studies and history at Binghamton University.


At the beginning of his superb essay on Ahad Ha’am, Hillel Halkin cites his protagonist’s savage takedown of Altneuland, a futuristic 1902 novel by Theodor Herzl—by, that is to say, Ahad Ha’am’s successful rival for leadership of the Zionist movement. The novel imagines the marvels a traveler would find upon visiting a utopian Jewish-state-to-be. Halkin characterizes Ahad Ha’am’s “caustic” treatment of Altneuland as “the most contentious Jewish book review of the century.”

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More about: Ahad Ha'am, History & Ideas, Israel & Zionism, Proto-Zionist Writers