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Unlike other national movements throughout europe, zionism sought to construct a nation out of a people that were rather dispersed and did not know prior autonomy, the jewish people “lacks most of those attributes which are a hallmark of a nation” and “is everywhere a guest and nowhere at home” (hertzberg, 183).
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Zionism was a special case of nationalism based on the circumstances that it was founded on and the peoples it united. Most national movements revolve around a like minded group of people with either a shared culture, language or even territory that they originate from. The Jewish people however only have religion that binds them and the persecution that surrounds said religion. Zionism is the national movement that prescribed the Jewish people to form their own autonomous state to escape the confines of persecution. The works of Smolenskin and Leo Pinsker do a great job at describing the Jewish people as a “spiritual nation”, as the one binding factor of the people is their dedication to the religion whose “Torah was the foundation of its statehood” (Hertzberg, 7). Unlike other national movements throughout Europe, Zionism sought to construct a nation out of a people that were rather dispersed and did not know prior autonomy, the Jewish people “lacks most of those attributes which are a hallmark of a nation” and “is everywhere a guest and nowhere at home” (Hertzberg, 183). Surrounding the Zionist movement in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, Europe was undergoing severe social and political change with national movements arising everywhere. Unfortunately, the Jewish people were often subject too much persecution during this era, due to national upheaval such as the Russian pogroms which inspired the works of Pinsker and Smolenskin. Zionism called for the Jewish emigration of Europe to form an independent nation state elsewhere, predominately in Israel, a place of spiritual significance to the core of Judaism. This was the goal of Zionism as anti-semitism and “Judeophobia”, as Pinsker describes it, was on the rise everywhere in Europe. As Pinsker describes it Zionism was a movement concerned with the “duty to devote all of our remaining remaining moral force to re-establishing ourselves as a living nation” (Hertzberg, 27). Zionism was a special case of nationalism. The circumstances surrounding the movement were quite different than other movements, such as that of the French Revolution, which sought for advanced political liberty and social equality of France. Instead Zionism called for the mass exodus and the need for the entire Jewish people to rally around the necessity to develop a unique autonomous nation state that can be free from the evils of Europe. Eventually this goal would be realized, with the help of the British and their Balfour declaration, Israel was able to become a center for the Jewish people, which was extremely important given the mass emigration of the Jewish people that would follow World War Two.
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