Committee memberAlpert, Rebecca T. (Rebecca Trachtenberg)
Permanent link to this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12613/1567
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AbstractThis project explores how and why an Americanized form of Zionism became an effective movement in American Jewish life. In the quest for a just and lasting resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, most scholarly attention has been focused on the state (and people) of Israel and the people of Palestine, and their efforts to resolve the conflict that has held them in its grip over the past century. As a result, we have focused too little attention on the role of support for U.S. nationalism in the American Jewish community in sustaining the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I argue likewise that a critical juncture in this process occurred in the early twentieth century, as the United States emerged as an international power. American Jewish support for Zionism overlaps in many ways with Progressivism. Many of the early leaders of Americanized Zionism, such as Horace M. Kallen and Justice Louis Brandeis, began their careers as Progressive reformers and brought their ideas about social and political action with them into the Zionist movement. Brandeis in particular played a critical role in making Zionism acceptable to American Jews, in no small part by asserting that the Zionism he advocated was required no commitment to emigration. As this Americanized version of Zionism has become normalized in American Jewish life, the principle of Jewish sovereignty has become widely understood among American Jews to be an essential guarantor of Jewish safety. To understand the roots and implications of this stance, I explore the genealogy of the idea of sovereignty, as well as the binary opposition of “Arabs” and “Jews” in Euro-American thought. Americanized Zionism, I conclude, is less a product of Jewish ethnicity or religion than enactment of a commitment to U.S. nationalism as a fundamental aspect of American Jewish identity.
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