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A Secular Messianism

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Israeli Exceptionalism
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Zionism had many fathers, even before its successes could call new ones into existence. The standard Zionist narrative has always explained the creation of Israel as a response to anti-Semitism. Anachronistically, according to one version of this claim, Zionism was a response to the Holocaust, that most horrendous outbreak of the West’s anti-Semitic malaise.

The spirit of the age is approaching ever closer to the essential Jewish emphasis on real life.

—Moses Hess, 18621

Today we may be moribund, but tomorrow we shall surely awaken to life; today we may be in a strange land, but tomorrow we will dwell in the land of our fathers; today we may be speaking alien tongues, but tomorrow we shall speak Hebrew.

—Eliezer Ben-Yehudah, 18802

We must seek a home with all our hearts, our spirit, our soul.

—Peretz Smolenskin, 18813

Palestine is first and foremost not a refuge for East European Jews, but the incarnation of a reawakening sense of national solidarity.

—Albert Einstein, 19214

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© 2009 M. Shahid Alam

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Alam, M.S. (2009). A Secular Messianism. In: Israeli Exceptionalism. Palgrave Macmillan, New York.

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