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Why should anyone be a Zionist, a supporter of a Jewish state in the land of Israel? Why should there be a Jewish state in the land of Israel? This book seeks to provide a philosophical answer to these questions. Although a Zionist need not be Jewish, nonetheless this book argues that Zionism is only a coherent political stance when it is intelligently rooted in Judaism, especially in the classical Jewish doctrine of God's election of the people of Israel and the commandment to them to settle the land of Israel. The religious Zionism advocated here is contrasted with secular versions of Zionism that take Zionism to be a replacement of Judaism. It is also contrasted with versions of religious Zionism that ascribe messianic significance to the State of Israel, or which see the main task of religious Zionism to be the establishment of an Israeli theocracy.Read more
- Presents an original philosophical-theological argument for Zionism
- Critically analyzes previous Zionist theories
- Addresses Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and secular readers - the only book on Zionism to do so
Reviews & endorsements
"Anyone who is serious about the idea that God gave Israel the Torah and the land of Israel must read this book by today’s doyen of Jewish philosophical theology. Those who study it will learn immensely from David Novak’s lifetime of learning, and those who differ with his conclusions, or his premises, will be challenged to see if they can do better in addressing one of the great questions facing Judaism today: how the modern state of Israel can thrive as a Jewish, democratic state at peace with its neighbors, its living heritage and itself."
Lenn E. Goodman, Vanderbilt University, TennesseeSee more reviews
"In Zionism and Judaism: A New Theory, David Novak has presented a much-needed, insightful and truly wise examination of the definitive relationship between Zionism and Jewish tradition. Calling to mind Emmanuel Levinas’ statement that the Jewish state will be religious, or it will not be at all, Novak explores the foundational roots of the Jewish state in Judaism, in the history of the Jewish people, and in the millennial testimony of the Jewish sages. He makes clear the holiness of the Holy Covenantal Land, as well as the basic human rights accorded to its non-Jewish citizens. The book is well organized, coherent and thoroughly researched: Novak’s familiarity with the sources of the tradition, as well as with Jewish thought, is truly encyclopedic. In a time when Israel is enduring an ongoing, unrelenting attack on its very existence, this book is a must. It demonstrates the truth of the teaching of the Maggid of Mezeritch, namely that "Zion is absolute in the world. It is the life of all countries"."
David Patterson, Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies, University of Texas, Dallas
"The subject of Zionism inevitably evokes strong feelings in the twenty-first century. David Novak asks appropriately probing questions of a wide range of interlocutors - secular Zionists, anti-Zionist Jews, even pro- and anti-Israel Gentile observers. Can and should Israel, a state of Jews, be in some sense a Jewish state, as recent Israeli politics has advocated? Novak probes this and related questions critically, historically and theologically, yet from a perspective of sympathetic loyalty. With his characteristically winsome and accessible engagement, Novak leads fellow Jews and others through a masterful examination of the philosophical and religious principles undergirding a moderate Zionist perspective. Whatever your investment in these increasingly poignant questions, this book is a great place to start."
Markus Bockmuehl, Keble College, Oxford
"A book of literally vast (if cleverly hidden) erudition, written by the leading Jewish theologian of our time, David Novak’s Zionism and Judaism is a clearly written superstructure built upon an understructure of deep philosophical sophistication, addressed to all thoughtful people, Jew and Gentile alike, who take theology seriously. Novak, unlike the run of "religious Zionist thought" (which usually means narrowly Orthodox and most often overtly messianic thought) articulates a religious Zionism that takes Jewish nationhood to be rooted in Judaism, not the other way around. The Zionism thus articulated is not a consequence of "push" (anti-Semitism, persecution, alienation) but of "pull" (the natural drive - and right! - of a people not only to survive, but to prosper intellectually and spiritually in the world). Zionism (and not only Zionism, but every national movement, and here one can detect a criticism of many of Israel’s enemies) should point to some transcendent end that attracts it. Without that kind of end attracting it, the whole project is only in the end reactionary. Jews need much more in the world than the world’s rejection of them and Jews’ rejection of the world in return. One finds in Zionism and Judaism a distillation of Novak’s many theologically sophisticated and philosophically acute ruminations on election, covenant, natural rights and the place of Gentiles in Judaism. Everyone who struggles with the questions addressed in this book will be in Novak’s debt."
Menachem Kellner, Shalem College, Jerusalem
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- Date Published: December 2016
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9781107492714
- length: 274 pages
- dimensions: 216 x 140 x 16 mm
- weight: 0.35kg
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
1. Why Zionism?
2. Was Spinoza the first Zionist?
3. Secular Zionism: political or cultural?
4. Should Israel be a theocracy?
5. Why the Jews and why the land of Israel?
6. Can the state of Israel be both Jewish and democratic?
7. What could be the status of non-Jews in a Jewish state?
8. What is the connection between the Holocaust and the state of Israel?
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