The Founding Myths of Israel: Nationalism, Socialism, and the Making of the Jewish State

Article/book #: 243
Title: The Founding Myths of Israel: Nationalism, Socialism, and the Making of the Jewish State
By: Ze’ev Sternhell  
Date of issue: 1999
ISBN: 0691009678

Topic(s) addressed: Place(s) mentioned in this item:

  1. English translation of from this book

  2. This article by Yehuda Bar Shalom and others in International Journal of Critical Pedagogy refers to this book
  3. Philip Weiss comments on this book
Commentary (by JB):

Here is the publisher's catalogue entry for this book. One reviewer of this book (Stephen Howe, in The Independent) says that "The central myth Sternhell attacks is that of the socialist, liberal and democratic values of Israel's pioneers."

In 1920 Gordon summed up his nationalist outlook in two articles. In "Building the Nation," an essay that can be counted among the classics of nationalist socialism, he demonstrated his awareness of the deeper implications of his teachings. I do not mean that we must be segregated from all other peoples, but the interaction and hence the comradeship between peoples must be an interaction of complete bodies, like the interaction of celestial bodies. There can be no question of an interaction of parts of these bodies against the other parts. Any union of parts of different bodies against the other parts of those bodies necessarily produces a division in those bodies and harms their wholeness of spirit, vitality, power of creativity, and inspiration. This means that such a union unwittingly destroys in the depths, from within, the subjective spiritual foundation of the structure that this type of unification is intended to create. In the second article, "On the Unification," Gordon gave us another classic example of nationalist socialist doctrine. The socialists can say what they like, but I say quite openly: we are closer to our own "bourgeois" than to all the foreign proletariats in the world. It is with them, with our bourgeois, that we wish to unite, and we seek their resurrection as we seek our own. We shall fight their parasitism: perhaps we shall fight it more than the socialists themselves, just as every one of us would combat his own weaknesses more than the weaknesses of others. But even in the midst of this war, we shall never forget for a moment that they are our own brethren and flesh and blood, whose sins and transgressions are our own, which we have to correct, just as we have to correct our own sins and transgressions.

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