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Critical Response of Herzl and Pinsker - Essay Example

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Name Questions 4, 6 Herzl's thinking on the Jewish state took an approach that was secular and nationalistic. Although the people he writes about are the Jews, which is to say, the religious community that ascribes to Judaism, the way he refers to them does not focus on religion as the common and binding trait…
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Critical Response of Herzl and Pinsker
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Download file to see previous pages He wanted a Jewish state for the Jews, as if it fell into the very same category. Indeed, the secular approach he championed cleared his ideals of any religious fervor, and left the idea of the Jewish people as something that could only be equated with race and ethnicity. Race also played an important role for Herzl because it defined who the Jews were not. A prime example of this is in the Dreyfus affair, which Herzl does not specifically mention but depends upon because of its historical importance to his audience. Dreyfus was an example of anti-semitism, which Herzl explained was a result of a variety of situations—these being assimilation, success of Jews, and other interactions with Western society. Herzl believed that there was no hope for Jewish assimilation, and this may have contributed to the importance of race in his thinking. Because assimilation was such a problem, race was not just an important factor for Jews, but also was important for non-Jews. The fact that Jews had trouble assimilating into French society, for example, showed that the French race was distinguished from the Jews and thus the religious group was not part of the French racial group. This led to the conclusion that the Jewish people were like a race, separate from European races. Without this establishment of the Jewish people as being racially excluded in Europe, it would be difficult to link the group with Jewish nationalist ideology. After establishing this difference, Herzl could then go on to develop Zionism as a specific nationalistic ideology that exclusively applies to Jews, yet has the same framework as other nationalistic movements that are based off of race and blood. Thus, with no use of religion or language to classify the Jews as a people and a minority, Herzl was left with the concept of race in order to define Jews and bring them together toward a nationalist agenda. In Herzl's writings, the idea of awakening from a sleep as pointed by Anderson in European nationalism is also present in Jewish nationalism. Herzl refers to the history of the Jewish people, and especially stresses that they have a history of weakness which is used a survival strategy. Herzl and Pinsker both discuss the history of the Jewish people, from ancient times to modern times, as one of expulsion and mistreatment. However, these recounts of Jewish history are seen as a point of contrast with what is happening in the modern era, beginning with the hope of Jewish emancipation in Western Europe. The French Revolution, while a great awakening for the Enlightenment movement and for the French people, also showed an example of the Jewish people awakening from not so much a great sleep but a great captivity where they were denied equal status under any governments. Later recognition of their equal status under other states seemed to point to the dawn of a new age. The development of the Jewish state as a solution to the problem of Jewish assimilation and discrimination ushered in a new atmosphere, where Jewish thought suddenly experienced the same sentiment that Anderson mentions. The Jews of Europe underwent an awakening from a deep sleep in their own sense as they began to understand the reason for all their woes and as they began to envision a solution that would bring them out of Europe and into a new land. As Herzl believed that the Jews must be a majority in their own land to finally be emancipated, ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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