Internationally acclaimed author YAKOV M. RABKIN on What is Modern Israel?

2016 10 Nov
7:00pm - 9:00pm
Internationally acclaimed author YAKOV M. RABKIN on What is Modern Israel?

Usually, we think of the state of modern Israel, as well as the late nineteenth-century Zionist movement that led to its founding, as a response to anti-Semitism which grew out of cultural and religious Judaism. In What Is Modern Israel?, however, Yakov M. Rabkin turns this understanding on its head, arguing convincingly that Zionism, far from being a natural development of Judaism, in fact has its historical and theological roots in Protestant Christianity. While most Jewish people viewed Zionism as marginal or even heretical, Christian enthusiasm for the Restoration of the Jews to the Promised Land transformed the traditional Judaic yearning for ‘Return’—a spiritual concept with a very different meaning—into a political project.
Drawing on many overlooked pages of history, and using on a uniquely broad range of sources in English, French, Hebrew, and Russian, Rabkin shows that Zionism was conceived as a sharp break with Judaism and Jewish continuity. Rabkin argues that Israel’s past and present must be understood in the context of European ethnic nationalism, colonial expansion, and geopolitical interests rather than—as is all too often the case—an incarnation of Biblical prophecies or a culmination of Jewish history.

7 PM
Thursday, November 10 2016
Octopus Books
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"Rabkin stresses the importance of the Russian dimension within the Zionist movement and highlights the fact that modern-day Israel cannott be properly understood without accounting for the Jewish Russian influence. Jews from the Russian Empire formed the backbone of the Zionist colonial settlement enterprise in Palestine. Although there has nott been any significant emigration from the Soviet Union to Palestine/Israel from the 1920s until the end the 20th Century, over 60 percent of Knesset members in the 1960s were of Russian origin or descent.

That is why it is no coincidence that the Netanyahu government gets along so well with Russian President, Vladimir Putin, and in particular, Moldova-born Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. It should be added that common interests, smart diplomacy, and the esteem of the role of the nation-state are shared values between Israel and Russia." - by Dr. Ludwig Watzal:

About the Author

Yakov M. Rabkin is professor of history at the University of Montréal, Canada. He is the author of A Threat from Within: A Century of Jewish Opposition to Zionism, which was nominated for the Governor General's Literary Award and for the Hecht Prize for Studies of Zionism.

"In A Threat from Within, I had examined the reasons why Zionism was initially rejected not only by rabbis but also by the vast majority of Jews. In the present book I had to go further. I had to spell out the origins of Zionism, including religious ones, to look at the evolution of Israeli society and its relations with world Jewry, as well as at the roles played by Jews from Russia. The Russian dimension explains many aspects of contemporary Israel that remain otherwise puzzling."  
- Yakov M. Rabkin in an interview with Tyler Levitan, Campaigns Coordinator for Independent Jewish Voices - Canada:

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