Eastern Jews vs. Western Jews: The Ahad Ha'am-Herzl dispute and its cultural and social implications

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Abstract

The conflict between Herzl and Ahad Ha'am encapsulated the cultural divide that separated the two, as well as it reflected the political and ideological rift separating East from West. The Eastern block wished Zionism to maintain strong ties to a sense of Jewish continuity (if not necessarily to traditional Jewish practice). The Western one was more cosmopolitan and assimilationist in its bent. From the first Zionist Congress onward, Ahad Ha'am assumed the role of Herzl's chief opponent. At first, he was a voice crying in the wilderness, but within seven years, he headed a united front whose members sought to remove Herzl or at least force him into a minority. The point of no return was reached in a clash known as the "Alteneuland Affair," whose personal side was as strong as its other aspects, if not more so. For after this episode concluded with this defeat and Herzl's victory, Ahad Ha'am bowed out of all active Zionist political life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355-377
Number of pages23
JournalJewish History
Volume24
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2010

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