University of Sussex
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Colonising nationalism: Zionist political discourse 1845-1948

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posted on 2023-06-08, 14:09 authored by Heba Youssef
This thesis traces the emergence of the Zionist political movement from the mid nineteenth century until the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. The thesis explores the impetus behind the mainstream political movement which led to the establishment of the State, throwing light on the kaleidoscope of spiritual and political Zionisms. However, the ultimate focus is on the statist form of Zionist ideology which marginalised other forms of Zionism rendering them historical curiosities devoid of meaningful political impact. I analyse the texts of some prominent Zionist ideologues through the theoretical framework of nationalist, colonial and post-colonial theories forging the concept of colonial nationalism to interpret and analyse Zionism. I limit my work to Zionist political texts and their anchor in the surrounding milieu of European nationalism and colonialism in the 19th century. The chapters deal with different trends within the then emergent movement from spiritual Zionism and the religious justification of political Zionism through liberal and bi-national Zionisms. Each chapter engages with Zionist political thought offering textual analysis and historical contextualisation of the major forms of the movement. I argue that at its inception, Zionism was anchored in European ethno-nationalism and colonialism and a modern and highly contingent interpretation of the Hebrew biblical traditions. As such it is rendered a reactionary and regressive form of ethno-nationalist colonialism that, as an ideology in the contemporary world, it can only survive when it is premised on ideas of cultural supremacy. Thus post-Zionism with its espousal of a multiplicity of narratives and valorisation of minority rights is, rather than forging a new de-territorialized identity, a return to a model of diasporic Jewish identity where a common cultural heritage is disparate from citizenship and nationality


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University of Sussex

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