Genius: Spiritual Zionism’s great opportunity

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September 5, 2017 09:29

With the Diaspora shrinking, Judaism splintering, and antisemitism resurging, the Zionist vision that challenged Herzl’s can return as the Jewish nation’s new glue.




Martin Buber (left) and Judah Magnes (center) testifying before the Anglo- American Committee of Inq

Martin Buber (left) and Judah Magnes (center) testifying before the Anglo- American Committee of Inquiry in Jerusalem in 1946.. (photo credit:Wikimedia Commons)

Having learned of the young plan “to gather the Jews of the world together in Palestine, with a government of their own,” Mark Twain cautioned the Ottoman Empire to resist the scheme. The Jews have “the cunningest brains in the world,” the great novelist wrote in Harper’s magazine. It followed, therefore, that if allowed to inhabit one free country “that race will find out its strength,” and “if the horses know theirs, we should not ride anymore.”

The “brains” to which Twain alluded have long been a fixture of Jewish stereotype and reality, intriguing scholars, thinkers, and ideologues, both Jewish and Gentile. “Israel passes over Europe like the sun,” wrote German sociologist (and future Nazi) Werner Sombart in 1911 with a mixture of admiration and fear, “at its coming, new life bursts forth; at its going, all falls into decay.”

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