Should a Russian sculptor have chosen to carve Herod rather than Ivan the Terrible?
In 1897, the great Zionist writer Aḥad Ha’am argued that Jewish culture, not politics, was the best avenue to bring about a new Jewish state. This week’s podcast revisits his important ideas.
Ahad Ha’am would agree.
A Jewish state or a new Jew?
Despite the failure of his cultural Zionism, the two main pillars of his thought remain central to Jewish life—and to arguments about Jewish life—today.
To its shame, the movement led by Ahad Ha’am missed the extreme urgency of the Jewish situation in Europe. Thankfully, the revival of his thought in today’s Israel is another matter.
The Zionist debate between the two men is old but still urgent. Can their disparate visions be reconciled? Do they need to be?
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.
The unresolved rivalry between the great Zionist thinker and the great Zionist strategist still shapes the contending outlooks of many 21st-century Jews.