A HISTORY OF ZIONISM by Walter Laqueur


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A well-documented history of Zionism culled from ""the shelves of the Zionist Archives in Jerusalem, which stretch for two miles."" Though Zionism as a political movement dates from Herzl's 1896 Der Judenstaat, Laqueur properly begins with the Jewish question after the French Revolution. He points out that anti-Semitism rose and fell according to the ups and downs of the business cycle, noting, for example, that during the early-19th century expansion of world capitalism the Jews of Western Europe gained social acceptance and tended toward assimilation. ""Could it be,"" Laqueur asks, ""that modern anti-Semitism was a socio-economic phenomenon? . . . sometimes the coincidence seems striking. . . but such explanations leave question marks. . . ."" He takes for granted the existence of Zionism and anti-Semitism and assumes the first is a sound response to the second; and in an anti-Marxist polemic Kautsky's historical treatment of the Jewish question is misrepresented. The transition to the Jewish state is uncritically documented with a good deal of fascinating material: Herzl's clumsy efforts at winning the Sultan's favor by offers of fantastic loans and a Turkish university where students would be safe from ""dangerous revolutionary ideals,"" and his deal with the Czar, promising that Zionism would collaborate with the autocracy. There is also a thorough discussion of the Palestinians from the point of view of various Zionist political perspectives, although the Palestinians' status as the Jews of the Middle East is an irony not noted. Western imperialism in the Middle East and Zionism's cooperation with it are not mentioned though founders like Ben Gurion were never shy on this point and in fact assumed that this collusion was a precondition for a Zionist state. The history goes up to 1948: to have gone further Laqueur would have had to resolve the questions he begs, ""What is a Jew?"" and ""What is anti-Semitism?

Pub Date: Sept. 21st, 1972
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston