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Syllabus: The Genesis of Political Zionism

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					                     POLITICAL ZIONISM FROM ITS GENESIS UNTIL 1903

                                          Rabbi Kohn paid us a visit and asked about my plans for the
                                          future. I told him that I wanted to become a writer, whereupon
                                          the rabbi shook his head with the same disapproval with which
                                          he was later to regard Zionism. Writing, he said, was not a
                                          proper profession.

                                                          THEODORE HERZL, “An Autobiography” (1898)
Instructor
Jeffrey L. Burghauser
                                                 Overview
This course will cover the genesis of political Zionism from the years leading up to the First Zionist
Congress in 1897 until 1903. Many pivotal events occurred around 1903, which marked the movement’s
transition from a fantasy generated by writers and intellectuals to a credible political force. David Ben-
Gurion and Vladimir Jabotinsky joined the Zionist movement. These leaders would advocate ideas that
defined the contours of contemporary Israeli political life. The Uganda Programme, whereby the British
offered the Jewish People territory in East Africa, was the first signal that the great powers were inclined
to take Zionism seriously.

But before 1903, political Zionism was nothing more than a dream—a dream shared, formed and fought
over by an unlikely array of eccentrics, rebels, sages and lunatics. Through the study of primary sources,
we will analyze this dream.

                                                   Units
1.   Introduction
         • The State of Late 19th C. European Jewry: Emancipation, Aspiration, Migration and
            Assimilation
         • Eastern versus Western European Jewry
                  Stefan Zweig, selections from The World of Yesterday (1943)
                  Roman Vishniac, selections from A Vanished World (1983)
         • The Birth of Modern European Nationalism
         • The Dreyfus Affair
2.   The Modern Moses
         • Theodore Herzl, The Jewish State (1896)
         • Theodore Herzl, Old New Land (1902)
         • Selections, Diaries of Theodore Herzl
3.   Every Moses Needs an Aaron
         • Max Nordau, selections from Degeneration (1892)
         • Max Nordau, “Address Before the First Zionist Congress” (1897)
4.   The Unlikely Author of “Hatikvah”
         • Herard H. Wilk, “The Bohemian Who Wrote ‘Hatikvah’: The Career of Naphtali Herz
            Imber” (1951)



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         •   Naphtali Herz Imber, selections from Treasures of Two Worlds: Unpublished Legends and
             Traditions of the Jewish Nation (1910)
5.   Visions of Zionism
         • Cultural Zionism / Achad Ha’am, selected writings
         • Socialist Zionism / TBA
         • Jewish Territorialism / Israel Zangwill, selected writings
         • Religious Zionism / Abraham Isaac Kook, selected writings / Mizrachi Party / TBA
         • Jewish Homeland versus Jewish Nation / TBA
         • Incrementalism versus Maximalism / TBA
6.   Non-Jewish Zionists
         • William Henry Hechler, selected writings
         • Laurence Oliphant, selected writings
7.   The Yishuv, circa 1897
         • Settlement Activity / TBA
         • Financial Support from the Diaspora / TBA
8.   The First Zionist Congress
         • Israel Zangwill, selections from Dreamers of the Ghetto (1898)
         • Rosa Sonneschein, “The Zionist Congress” (1897)
         • Selections, Diaries of Theodore Herzl
         • Selections, Congress transcripts (ed. Chaim Orlen)
         • Assorted New York Times articles from the summer of 1897

                                       Final Essay Prompts
Select and respond to one of the following essay prompts. More specific writing guidelines will be
offered on a supplementary handout.

     1. In modern-day Israel, people advertize their political sympathies, aspirations and grievances with
        bumper stickers. What bumper sticker do you think any of the early Zionists we’ve covered
        would have put on their horse-drawn carriage? Explain.

     2. Pretend that Israel had turned out exactly as Theodore Herzl dreamed in Old New Land. Write a
        travel booklet persuading recently graduated Jewish high school students to spend a year there
        before college.

     3. Were our readings and discussions a waste of time—or even dangerous? It’s a legitimate
        question, especially in an age when Israel’s future is imperiled by so many dire external threats.
        Do we require idealized images of a nation’s founders in order to support it?





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