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