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A Surfeit of Mother Countries

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Israeli Exceptionalism
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Zionism abounds in ironies. Not least, it has derived its greatest strength from a deficit that would have killed another colonial project before it got off the ground. Zionism proposed to create a Jewish settler state without a Jewish mother country to bring it to fruition. The ease with which the Zionists have found surrogates for the missing mother country is the result of a curious marriage—in modern times—between two rival tendencies within Western civilization, the Christian and Jewish. The peculiarity of the Zionist colonial project, its durability and capacity to engender widening circles of conflict, derives in no small measure from the manner in which it has produced and continues to reproduce this improbable union between two historical adversaries.

The beginning of the Redemption will come through natural causes by human effort and by the will of the governments to gather the scattered of Israel into the Holy Land.

—Rabbi Kalischer, 1836

I considered it a duty to call upon the free people of this country [the United States] to aid us in any efforts [at restoration] which, in our present position, it may be prudent to adopt.

—Mordecai Noah, 1845

France, beloved friend, is the savior who will restore our people to its place in universal history.

—Moses Hess, 1862

From the first moment I entered the Movement, my eyes were directed towards England, because I saw that by reason of the general situation of things, there it was the Archimedean point where the lever could be applied.

—Theodore Herzl, February 1898

Maybe England will chance upon an empty piece of land in need of a white population, and perhaps the Jews will happen to be these whites …

—Chaim Weizmann, 19141

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© 2009 M. Shahid Alam

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Alam, M.S. (2009). A Surfeit of Mother Countries. In: Israeli Exceptionalism. Palgrave Macmillan, New York.

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