Whither? I Love Zion, But I Love My People More

Where should Jews live?  That question drives so much of modern Jewish thinking strategy and tactics.  I reviewed Gur Alroey's book Zionism without Zion:  the Jewish Territorial Organization and Its Conflict with the Zionist Organization for my friend Claire Sufrin, who serves as a book review editor for Religious Studies Review.  Alroey tells the story of early Zionism and its struggle over the question of what mattered more in Zionism, saving the Jewish people and or the Jewish resettling of the land of Israel.  Two early leaders in modern Jewish nationalism, Leo Pinsker and Theodor Herzl, gave priority to saving Jews, in the belief that their material lives and their spiritual essence mattered more than a unilateral unconditional commitment to settling Palestine rather than anywhere they might find an internationally sanctioned homeland.

The history of Israel continually seems to focus on the same few issues, and the question of land v. people seems to be one of them.  In the aftermath of the June 1967 war, Israelis revisited this question (cf. Amos Oz's "The Meaning of Homeland" in Zionism:  a Sequel) with the capture of large amounts of territory taken from Syria, Jordan, and Egypt.  The same question reasserted itself: is Zionism about the land of Israel or the people of Israel?  Is Zionism about self-government —Jews governing other Jews— or about governing others?  If Zionism must decide between a greater Israel that is less democratic or a smaller Israel that is more democratic, whither?