Eliyahu Stern Examines Zionism’s Roots at Rogoff Memorial Lecture
While Zionism has been interpreted in many different ways, it is generally understood as a form of Jewish nationalism promoting the formation of a Jewish nation in the land of Israel. However, in a February 25 talk titled “Zionism and the Battle over Judaism” delivered at Yeshiva University’s annual Hillel Rogoff Memorial Lecture, Dr. Eliyahu Stern questioned a view of the movement he felt was becoming all too common—that an ideology formulated by Jews must be Jewish.
“In recent years it has become fashionable in both academic and political circles to attribute religious, messianic origins to the modern Jewish nationalist movement called Zionism,” said Stern, a graduate of both Yeshiva College and YU-affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary and an assistant professor of modern Jewish intellectual and cultural history at Yale University. Citing scholars such as Columbia University’s Gil Anidjar, who see racial overtones in a movement founded on religious principles, Stern said, “The assumption behind Anidjar’s claims is a kind of guilt by association—since Zionism draws on religious motifs, either Jewish or Christian, its goals must be inherently messianic, and thus exclusionary, anti-ethical and racist.” Read the rest of this entry…