chapter  14
18 Pages

The Jewish Political Tradition as a Vehicle for Jewish Auto-Emancipation

WithDan V. Segre

Twenty-eight years after the establishment of the State of Israel, Jews and non-Jews alike are divided on its role. Its viability is still questioned and the Arabs are not the only ones to express doubts about its right to exist. Extreme Jewish Orthodoxy and leftist radicalism join in asking this question—though, of course, for entirely different reasons. The Zionists themselves, though certain the answer is in the affirmative, cannot always quite say why; the fact that any decent person must agree that the UN resolution equating Zionism with racism is a libel does not help Zionism to define itself as a nonracist, national movement acceptable to a “progressive,” anti-Western ideologically dominated world. Russians and Chinese may call each other “Zionists” in their propaganda broadcasts, but Zionists are still uncertain whether their movement is one that creates a refuge for persecuted Jews, for interested Jews, or for all Jews. If the ideal is a refuge, then it makes sense to argue that there is one ideal Zion in Israel and another in America—or Australia—like the two temples of Jerusalem and Leontopolis in Egypt. If the ideal is to have concerned Jews, then perhaps there are more concerned Jews in America than in Israel. Moreover, for every American Jew who has emigrated to Israel there are seven Israelis who have emigrated to the United States.