The Role of Modern Zionism: Where From and Where To?
This week, the last week of November 2022, was the launch of the three volume, Koren edition, in English, of the writings of Theodor Herzl, edited by the inspirational history authority, Professor Gil Troy. Its launch inspired me to share a series of short essays which I will present to readers in the coming months.
These essays began their reflective journey in 1986 when I was asked by two Canadian Jewish Zionist leaders, Neri Bloomfield and Stella Toronto, to write in commemoration of the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of David Ben-Gurion.
Why are these essays appearing here, now? We are approaching the 75th year of the modern State of Israel, the 125th anniversary of the First Zionist Congress in Basle and the 136th anniversary of the birth of the first Prime Minister of the modern State of Israel.
The following will be examined: How did Herzl influence the thinkers and implementers who came after him? What ripple effect did he cause, that persists to this day? How did his contribution play itself out, by his protagonists and antagonists, in and outside of Israel? Where do thinkers and implementers situate themselves,therein today?
Is enough thought given to reflection and implementation of Zionism, in recognition of the practical, stark reality wherein Israel situates itself, and where it is going in its evolution?
In sum, where is the internal and external journey, willingly or unwillingly pursued? Why is such thought essential for present and future generations?
To answer these questions, the past must be examined to prepare for the questions of tomorrow, as best we can. Why? … for history and current life to meet at a rendezvous of crossroads for implementation.
The Yiddish song, “ Volhi Zol Ich Geyn” (transliterated) Where Should I Go, has new relevance on a compass set at the intersection of possible roads, as well as on a barometer that is rising with every interdisciplinary decision that influences day-to-day life.
The voices of the past, together with those of the murdered voiceless, must be heard; none must be stifled. Thus, the voices of today and of yesterday are guided by the moral authority of the ages which is essential to the equation.
In that vein, the following dialogue is offered for Israel’s generations. The dialogue of past and present will be added to the voices of the future, not for an intellectual exercise but for the primordial reality that is and surrounds Israel today.
Therefore, all the various strands of Zionism, and of those in between, from the adherents of Theodore Herzl, Rav Kook, Zev Jabotinsky, Martin Buber, A. D. Gordon, David Ben-Gurion and Menachem Begin, (not necessarily in historical chronology) appear before us.
We must ask ourselves how the adherents of each concretized reflection into implementation. For this, we must recognize the strands of the tapestry that became the State of Israel. Each strand is woven into future essays which reflect where the journey has led and how the song, “Voehi Zol Ich Geyn” takes on a new relevance.