Zion and State: Nation, Class, and the Shaping of Modern Israel

Zion and State: Nation, Class, and the Shaping of Modern Israel

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Mitchell Cohen

This study explores the struggle between left-and right-wing factions within the Zionist movement, tracing the emergence of modern Jewish nationalism from its origins in the mid-19th century, through the vision of Theodor Herzl, and up to the first 15 years of Israeli statehood. Concentrating on the 1920s and 1930s, Mitchell Cohen discusses the victory of the Zionist Labour movement over the right-wing revisionists, and shows how the growing dominance of Labour in the 1930s made the birth of the Jewish state possible. He shows how Labour's long-term policies were self-defeating, helping to foster a political culture that was more open to individuals on the right, such as Menachem Begin, and made it vulnerable to the more strident nationalism of the 1970s. When the Israel Workers' Party could not win a plurality in the World Jewish Congress after 1933, it formed coalitions with religious and bourgeois parties, which transformed it into a party that considered class, nation and state as separate entities.