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Gershom ScholemAn Intellectual Biography$
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Amir Engel

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226428635

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226428772.001.0001

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For the Love of Israel: The Turn from the Fringe to the Mainstream of Zionist Thinking

For the Love of Israel: The Turn from the Fringe to the Mainstream of Zionist Thinking

(p.168) Chapter 6 For the Love of Israel: The Turn from the Fringe to the Mainstream of Zionist Thinking
Gershom Scholem

Amir Engel

University of Chicago Press

This chapter sets out to understand Scholem’s transformation from being an acerbic critique of Zionism to expressing rather mainstream ideas about the importance and role of the state of Israel. Scholem never announces this transformation and therefore it is gleaned by carefully reading other, seemingly unrelated, documents. The two most significant sources, which bear witness to Scholem’s turn, are his ongoing debate with Hannah Arendt and an essay about the history of the Star of David, published shortly after the Israel declared independence in 1948. More than anything else, these sources attest to a reluctant acceptance of a state, which was originally undesired but transpired to be a lesser evil. The debate with Arendt shows how the two intellectuals, from a very similar background, grow apart over the questions of Zionism and the State of Israel. And the Star of David essay shows how Scholem reluctantly loads the state with emotional meaning. Although Scholem never explicitly argues so, it is here speculated that this reluctant acceptance was a result of the horrific events during World War Two and the intensification of the violence between Arabs and Jews in Palestine during the 1930’s and 40’s.

Keywords:   Star of David, Hannah Arendt, Zionism, State of Israel, love of Israel, Ben Gurion, Holocaust, Arab Jewish Conflict

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