The Zionist Utopias: Between Building a Future and Shaping a Past

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This article examines Zionist utopian writing from the beginning of national
Jewish thought until the end of the First World War. Unlike most of the body
of research that has focused on Zionist utopianism, this article examines the
connection between the writing of Zionist utopias and the formation of a
national consciousness of the Jewish past. The article indicates that utopian
thought and modern historical thought both flourished during the modern
period. Zionist utopianism played a dual role in creating a vision for a solution
to the “Jewish question” in Europe and forming boundaries of identity and a
national definition based on historical Jewish memory. The utopian literature
that was written in the early days of the Zionist movement reflected the
various positions of the Zionist vision. The shared basis of these utopian
views was that all were based on the modern utopian model. They imagined
the ideal place for the Jews in modern, earthly terms – not in terms of
heavenly dominion. Yet the Zionist utopias relied heavily on religious myths,
Jewish culture, and the Hebrew Bible. Examining Zionist utopias sheds light
on the cultural character of the Zionist movement at its inception.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)69-103
JournalAustralian Journal of Jewish Studies
StatePublished - 2021


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