“Zionism was not the only program on offer to ameliorate Jewish disability”

Zionism was not the only program on offer to ameliorate Jewish disability. It was one set of answers to the multiple crises of politics, culture, and religion that wracked European Jewry through the 19th century. Others included liberalism, socialist revolution, Jewish diaspora nationalism, assimilationism, and, in its own way, Orthodoxy, in which a more or less organic tradition was reconfigured as one ideology competing with others within the distinctively modern dispensation by which society and history are not givens, but artifacts, to be unmade and made anew. These ideological possibilities mixed and matched within Zionism itself, yielding varieties of Zionism — secular and religious, left and right, universalist and nationalist — in staggering array, too often lost in the fog and willed forgetfulness on all sides of contemporary polemics. The Holocaust raised the stakes of all these arguments to a pitch of unnerving intensity.

Yehudah Mirsky, “What Is A Nation State For?”, Marginalia (11 March 2015) [http://marginalia.lareviewofbooks.org/nation-state-yehudah-mirsky/]