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Holocaust Zionism

Holocaust Zionism

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Published by Jsilverf
Recipient of the Fall 2007 Senior Seminar Achievement Award for best Senior Research thesis from the University of Florida. It explores the role of Zionism in the Holocaust and how the failure of 19th century Jewish Emancipation lead to the Jews fostering a nationalistic ideology. The paper also describes Hitler's rise to power and the crumbling of the Wiemar Republic lead to Nazism's swift emergence and how these factors transformed the role of Zionism to both Eastern and Western European Jews.
Recipient of the Fall 2007 Senior Seminar Achievement Award for best Senior Research thesis from the University of Florida. It explores the role of Zionism in the Holocaust and how the failure of 19th century Jewish Emancipation lead to the Jews fostering a nationalistic ideology. The paper also describes Hitler's rise to power and the crumbling of the Wiemar Republic lead to Nazism's swift emergence and how these factors transformed the role of Zionism to both Eastern and Western European Jews.

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Published by: Jsilverf on Feb 04, 2009
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06/01/2013

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SilverfieldJerusalem stood along the banks of the River Jordan as one of antiquity’s earliestcapitals, being fortified 1800 years prior to the Common Era. The walls first utilized to protect this Israelite municipality from outsiders would eventually become a metaphor for the alienation befalling Jews as the world around them transitioned into an increasinglyhomogenous society. Over the ensuing course of their history, looming convictions of anti-Judaism would emerge in the form of exiles, legislative acts and violence, measuresthat thrust Jews into a mutli-generational struggle for status within oscillating Europeanregimes. Though this battle for acceptance would rage for nearly two millennia, asEurope approached modernity the maturation of enlightened philosophy began the process of altering Europe’s totalitarian landscape through the revolutionary demand for universal egalitarianism. As the winds of change cultivated a shift toward liberalism,social reform bred optimism among European Jews who believed their constant sense of inequity could be alleviated by way of Emancipation; an ideal providing approval in theform of legislative equality. While the eventual adoption of this policy was perceived asan enormous victory for European Jewry, Emancipation’s accords were initially withheldfrom those still suffering in the East, whose mounting persecution under Tsarist rulecaused many to pursue a more drastic solution than their western counterparts. Thisuniquely paradoxical circumstance would create a schism within European Jewry thatgave rise to a pair of conflicting ideologies: one favoring a return to Jerusalem in order toreinstate the Jewish claim to a homeland (Zionism), the other strongly encouraging Jewsto continue their fight for European assimilation (Anti-Zionism). Though the emergenceof these dissimilar theories was at first deemed irrelevant by the majority of EmancipatedJews, the devastation of their civil rights that came at the hands of Nazism would1
 
Silverfieldultimately force Jews to come face-to-face with the reality of unwavering anti-Semitismand the necessity of Zionism’s struggle for Palestine.Far prior to Nazism’s chilling inquiry regarding what should be done aboutEurope’s Jewish population; the Jews themselves had been pondering one of a similar nature: regarding the likelihood of integration within an environment characterized bycross-cultural antagonism. This problem arose in the aftermath of the 135CE JewishDiaspora, an event propagated by the Roman Emperor Hadrian that exiled Israelites fromthe Kingdom of Judah and, in order to avoid their future identification with Israel, forbidJews to return while renaming the area Palaestina, which it would remain for the next1800 years
1
. With their claim to a universal homeland purloined by the mighty RomanEmpire, forced emigration left Jews with no choice but to venture out of Zion and findsolstice in the arduous process of cultural absorption. So began a new chapter of Jewishhistory that spawned communities in areas all across Imperial Europe, societies whosecapability to thrive hinged primarily on Jews’ ability to coexist with often hostileneighbors. For the remainder of their history under such conditions, Jews bore witness tocyclic periods of accomplishment and failure, all but obscuring the overall success of their pre-Emancipation struggle into ambiguity. The next 1700 years of their existencewould be comprised of fluctuating phases of tolerance and prejudice that resulted in ahistorical conglomeration of flourishing Jewish influence (such as 13
th
century MediaevalAl-Andalus) followed shortly by blatant episodes of intolerance, notably the 15
th
centuryIberian Exile. This characteristic ebb-and-flow of Jewish subsistence would continue onits teetering path for centuries, but as autocratic oppression bred enlightenment, the people of Europe would rise-up against despotism, actions that played a crucial role in
1
Yohanan Aharoni,
 
The Jewish People an Illustrated Text 
(Continuum International, 2006) pp. 99-101.
2
 
Silverfieldformulating the ideals of Jewish thinkers who emerged to become the voice of a people persecuted for millennia.Upon the dawn of the 18
th
century Age of Enlightenment, the majority of Jewsstill looked back on their quest for acceptance as neither an overall success nor completefailure; a trend that persisted even as Thomas Paine and Voltaire presented Europeanswith the possibility of universal egalitarianism. This is not to say that the Enlightenmentcompletely omitted European Jewry, rather that the Jews would again face an ambiguousoutcome, some benefiting while others only received harsher stipulations. As philosophicideals became radical action, revolutionary demands for collective equality bredsanguinity among Western European Jews, their French counterparts being granted fullcitizenship on September 27, 1791, yielding a status they had not held since the region belonged to the Roman Empire
2
. At the same time, however, this victory was onlycelebrated regionally as the fear of a similar eastern upheaval caused many Europeanmonarchs to only tighten the authoritative grip held on their masses. This Revolutionary backlash was especially significant for the Jews living under the totalitarian regime of Czar Catherine II, who, following the fall of France’s
 Ancien Régime
, alienated RussianJews by establishing the Pale of Settlement in the 1790’s
3
. Here, over 90% of Russia’sJewish population was forced into isolation, where constant discrimination resulted inJews paying double taxes only to be denied the ability to own property or receive a higher education
4
.Once again it appeared that another historical era had come and gone, stillleaving the whole of European Jewry at idle, but this progressive stalemate was merely a product of the short-term. The Jews of Europe would use the tenets of egalitarianism first
2
Frederic C. Jaher,
The Jews and the Nation
(Princeton University Press, 2002) p. 75
3
Dov Levin
,
The Litvaks: A Short History of the Jews in Lithuania
(Berghahn Books, 2000) p. 66
4
 
Ibid
3

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