Early American Zionist Responses to the Israeli Demand for Aliya

Early American Zionist Responses to the Israeli Demand for Aliya Introduction In its larger framework, this article explores the American Jewish responses to an image of Israel as being essentially different, and perhaps superior, in its Jewish characteristics from the Jewish diaspora.1 Often, some Israeli speakers present this difference as one between an all-embracing Israeli Jewish vitality and a partial, artificial and stagnant, hyphenated diaspora Jewish existence.2 My goal is to suggest some basic patterns of American Jewish copings with this condescending and hierarchical Israeli stand—a stance that becomes especially challenging for those who regard identification with Israel as an essential component of a long-term and vital diasporic Jewish continuity. This article will explore this larger issue by focusing on one concrete case: American Zionist responses to the Israeli demand for Aliya (immigration to Israel) during the early years after the foundation of the State of Israel. During this period, the ideological importance attributed by the Israeli leadership to Aliya was seen by many American Zionists as a challenge to the very viability of Jewish life outside of Israel, undermining the legitimacy of their long held Zionist belief of which Aliya was never a significant component. A focus on the responses to the calls for Aliya during this period reveals two basic archetypal patterns. While the two approaches starkly differed from one another, they both strove to reframe the Israeli demand for Aliya in a way that, rather than challenging the legitimacy and viability of Jewish life outside of Israel, would support and even empower American Jews in the complex endeavor of preserving Jewish distinctiveness while being an integral part of their American surroundings. To demonstrate this claim, this article will include a comparative analysis of two books, one written by Mordecai M. Kaplan, the other by Ben Halpern, during the period immediately following the foundation of Israel.3 These responses to the challenge of Aliya may be indicative of a continuous question that even today remains crucial to the understanding of the dialectic nature of diasporic identification with Israel: how to preserve Israel as a focus of Jewish identification while, at the same time, transforming its Israel-centered agenda into a diaspora-building enterprise? The Challenge of Aliya before the Foundation of Israel This article focuses on the immediate years following the foundation of Israel. However, the questions guiding it are rooted in Abba Hillel Silver’s response to the challenge of Aliya during the pre-Holocaust years of the 1930s.4 A succinct layout of the dilemmas and questions raised by Silver thus serve as an important introduction to this research. Silver was an American Zionist leader and Reform rabbi who was known for his Zionist activism, especially when he led American Jewry in a quite militant and adamant manner in the struggle for Jewish statehood during the second half of the 1940s. Despite Silver’s militant Zionist reputation, throughout the 1930s and prior to the campaign for Jewish statehood, he consistently opposed the Aliya of German Jews to Eretz Israel. Thus, in a sermon he gave in 1936 he warned against the perception of Aliya as the ultimate Zionist solution for the “Jewish problem”: Even if we get two or three million Jews out of the countries of Europe and settle them in Palestine that does not solve the problem for the rest of the Jews who are going to remain in the diaspora… The Nazis prepare destruction for the Jewish people, but there is a law of history which … says that in the long last, bigotry, intolerance and hate do not win the day.5 Silver was on sabbatical from his prestigious Cleveland Reform synagogue “Tifereth Israel” (known as “The Temple”) when he visited Germany and witnessed first-hand Nazi persecution and Hitler’s rise to power.6 When, several months later, he was interviewed by the American press about the situation in Germany,7 he described the German persecution of the Jews as more evil and dangerous than the pogroms of tsarist Russia. For Silver, the real threat posed by Nazism was that of Jewish exclusion from German society. As he saw it, the social isolation of the Jews was a spiritual death sentence, one that surpassed in wickedness all of the pogroms that had ever been perpetrated against the Jews throughout history.8 In a mass rally that took place in Chicago in December 1933,9 Silver identified the Nazi threat to Jewish survival as unprecedented in terms of the denial of social participation. He maintained that, for the first time in history, Jews were being confined within a medieval-style ghetto not by a backward, dictatorial society but by a society that, on the face of it, had already passed the point-of-no-return in establishing its attendant democratic institutions. Should the Nazi precedent come to fruition then American Jews would no longer be able to take their civil status for granted; they would have to resign themselves to permanent marginality. As Silver saw it, calls by Jewish groups for Aliya of German Jews were a dangerous legitimization of this very threat of social exclusion. In a Purim sermon given in 1936,10 Silver called upon the Jews of Germany to remain in place, lest their immigration be perceived as abandoning the principled liberal struggle for democracy. He continued to call upon the German Jews not to flee from Germany in a number of additional sermons given during that period.11 In his eyes, the supreme collective interest of the Jewish people did not lie in immigration to Palestine, but rather in the struggle for equal participation of the German Jews in all realms of life in their non-Jewish surroundings. He feared that the attempts to bring the Jews of Germany to Palestine would convey a message of despair concerning the ability of the Jews in Germany or any other country to fully participate in their non-Jewish surroundings. In his view, this peril of surrendering to the antisemitic demand to push Jews out of civil society was liable to reinforce deterministic assumptions of despair at the promises of emancipation. In a speech at the B’nai B’rith convention of May 1937,12 he called for a shift from a “negative” emphasis on anti-Jewish hostility to a “positive” emphasis based on a Jewish life that was integrated with its non-Jewish surroundings. We ought to stop thinking of ourselves apprehensively as an isolated camp in the midst of a hundred and twenty millions of other people … We ought to continue to think of ourselves … as being integrally and essentially part and parcel of this great America.13 Responding to the implicit pessimistic message that he saw in the call for Aliya, Silver preached a Diaspora-Zionist struggle which emphasized the shared interest of all enlightened forces in the existence of a society in which every individual and every group—Jews and non-Jews alike—had the right to equal participation. However, as the situation deteriorated and the danger of the annihilation of European Jewry began to materialize, it became extremely implausible to focus the struggle against Jewish exclusion on the demand for equal participation of Jews in German and European civil societies. Silver’s consequent tendency to focus his efforts on promoting a Zionist campaign for a Jewish State, rather than on combating Nazism and antisemitism, offered him an efficient means of solving this dilemma. Framing the adamant Zionist demand for Jewish statehood as being a basic and legitimate American Jewish demand, provided him with a context for aggressively opposing Nazism and antisemitism without highlighting Jewish otherness. On the contrary, it projected images of indigenousness and belonging that connected Jews with American society as a whole, and legitimized their integration within that society. As has been previously shown,14 Silver’s public strength during the later years of the 1940s lay in his success in using Zionism as a way to transform American Jewish particularistic concerns into a determined demand on behalf of American Jewish citizens for the rectification of Jewish marginality. During this period, he based his Zionist stance on an idealized hyphenated American-Jewish identity—one that affirmed the reciprocal relationship between an affirmative call for Jewish solidarity and American patriotism, and one that stood in contrast to the demand for Aliya and the implicit suspicious approach of many Zionist leaders in Europe and the Yishuv toward their non-Jewish surroundings. As long as the campaign for Jewish statehood was the one unifying expression of an American Zionist struggle against Jewish exclusion and marginality, the implicit challenge posed by the call of Aliya could be put aside. However, with the successful termination of this campaign the challenge of Aliya was destined to become potent again. Soon after the foundation of Israel, Ben Gurion and other Israeli leaders presented Aliya as the only legitimate way for diaspora Jews to express their alliance with the Zionist struggle to overcome Jewish marginality. Silver and core parts of American Jewry critiqued this approach as reinforcing a negative Jewish attitude regarding the prospects of vital Jewish diasporic existence. Similar to the pre-Holocaust years, there was again a danger that rather than combating Jewish marginality and victimhood, Zionist identification would reinforce a pessimistic Jewish stance regarding the prospects of a vital Jewish diasporic existence fully integrated within its non-Jewish surroundings. The way American Zionists coped with this renewed challenge during the 1950s, and its long-term impact on the role of Israel in the eyes of American Jews, is the focus of this article. The challenge of Aliya after the foundation of Israel—historical and sociological contexts Drawing on Silver’s objection to the Aliya of German Jews during the 1930s, two points are in order. First, it is my claim that the challenge presented by the Zionist call for Aliya during the period of the 1950s should be explored in the context of the continuous diasporic doctrine of American Zionism, as it was formulated already at the beginning of the twentieth century by leaders like Louis D. Brandeis, Horace Kallen, and Abba Hillel Silver. This diasporic Zionist doctrine not only negated the presentation of Aliya as the sole expression of Zionism, but also presented Zionist identification as a positive for an all-encompassing hyphenated American-Jewish identity:15 in the words of Brandeis, “To be good Americans, we must be better Jews, and to be better Jews, we must become Zionists.”16 American Zionist leaders of the 1950s mostly identified with this diasporic doctrine, and if not, they at least had to treat it as their reference point. Two American Zionist leaders who during the 1950s represented two distinct patterns of American Zionist identification17 were Mordecai Kaplan, who supported the classical Kallen–Brandeis type of hyphenated Zionist identification, and Ben Halpern, who signified an oppositional stance to this line of American Zionist thinking.18 As I will attempt to demonstrate, despite the stark differences between them, both Kaplan and Halpern saw in Aliya, i.e., in the doctrine of the “negation of the Exile,” a fundamental challenge to their most basic beliefs regarding the nature of American Zionism. Kaplan’s A New Zionism (1955) rejected the idea of “negation of Exile” outright, especially its implied pessimistic conclusion regarding the intrinsic marginal Jewish status in the diaspora. Instead, he presented Zionist identification as an inner Jewish educational tool, whose aim was not the encouragement of Aliya but rather the transformation of Jewish life in both Israel and the Diaspora into a model of pluralism and inclusiveness. In this context, the diasporic model of hyphenated identity (or as Kaplan termed it: “life within two civilizations”) was portrayed as a positive and most essential asset. Differently from Kaplan, Halpern’s The American Jew: A Zionist Analysis (1956) adopted the classical Israeli-Zionist claim that in every Diaspora, even within a pluralistic American society, Jews would not be able to fully overcome the endemic cultural antisemitism characteristic of every Christian society. The role of the idea of the “gathering of the exiles” as the core of Zionist identification was that it should be a central and constant reminder to American Jews of their distinctiveness, and to help them cope with the built-in hostility against them. Paradoxically, as I will attempt to demonstrate, this apparent acceptance of the Israeli stance regarding the centrality of Aliya became in Halpern’s writing a tool and a rationale for the building up of a vital and creative Jewish life that would be an integral part of American society. The second point I want to make relates to my focus in this article on the early years subsequent to the foundation of Israel. The need to express and further develop an American Zionist counter claim to the call of Aliya became more urgent during times when the Yishuv’s demand for Aliya, with its Israel-centric and “negation of exile” undertones, seemed most credible and pressing. This was especially true in the 1950s. During this period, American Jews had to contend with the deterministic and pessimistic “negation of exile” conclusion that was now—even more so than in the 1930s—considered by many Israeli Zionists as an irrefutable lesson of Jewish history. In the eyes of many, the Holocaust gave credence to the view of Aliya as the only realistic response to the inherent inability of diaspora Jews to overcome the anti-Jewish hostility of their non-Jewish neighbors. In the same vein, Aliya was often presented as the sole solution for the chronic Jewish problems of marginality and victimhood. This conclusion became even more challenging with the advancement of Aliya by Ben Gurion and other Israeli leaders as the sole prospect that might enable an individual Jew to participate in the renewal and transformation of the Jewish people. The need to cope with this message became more urgent as identification with the newly born Jewish State became more central to most American Jews, Zionist, and non-Zionist alike. The following 1954 article by Ben Gurion demonstrates the enormity of the challenge which the Israeli demand for Aliya presented to devout American Zionist ideologists like Kaplan and Ben Halpern. In contrast to Ben Gurion’s willingness to reach a practical agreement with non-Zionists like Jacob Blaustein of the American Jewish Committee, he remained adamant in his outright rejection of any ideological compromise within the Zionist camp19 Not even a single Zionist leader in the Exile abandoned his comfort and possessions, neither in America, in England or in any other free and wealthy country…… not one personally joined in the titanic efforts imposed upon the young and tender State…… The Zionists in Exile, headed by the Zionists in America, are insulted and hurt when they are lumped together with all the Jews who wish for the good of the State…… But they……. regard themselves as an integral part of the American people…… the fact is that American Zionism, both of the rank-and-file and of the leaders, offers nothing but assistance from afar to the State of Israel……. it is impossible for us to escape the conclusion that the Zionist organization is no longer capable, after what happened to European Jewry, of raising the burden of Aliya, and that it is only an organization of distant friends of the State…… The Zionist Movement which has eliminated the duty of Aliya is only a misrepresentation of the idea of redemption…… Without the duty of Aliya…. the term Zionism loses its creative, revolutionary, redemptive content, and is only a polite term for a friend of the State for Israel. For there is no difference between a “Zionist” who claims to abide in his place in the exile and any ordinary Jew who also loves the State of Israel and desires it to be successful. The main challenge of American Zionists when “translating” this Zionist vision of Aliya was how to reframe positively the call for mass immigration, or any other Israeli Zionist vision which might imply the demise of the American Jewish community. In a period when the demand for Aliya became more credible and the need to cope with it more urgent, American Zionism could not afford to ignore this demand, nor interpret it as only suitable for a small group of “experts” and zealots, or alternatively, other, non-American diasporas. Rather, there was a growing need to reframe in positive terms the underlying Israeli-Zionist claim that only in Israel, within a sovereign Jewish majority, was there the possibility for long-term development of a vital and all-inclusive Jewish life. As I will attempt to demonstrate, both Kaplan and Halpern attempted to design a new American Zionist doctrine, capable of transforming the call for Aliya into a positive component of American Jewish identity. Kaplan: The Foundation of Israel as a Crisis in Zionism Mordecai Menachem Kaplan (1881–1983) was without doubt one of the more prominent and influential Jewish thinkers within the American Jewish community of his time. Although his main contribution was in the field of Jewish philosophy and religion,20 his original ideas in the field of Jewish nationalism were no less central and influential within the American Zionist discourse; most prominent in this context was his association with the concept of “Jewish peoplehood.” In this article, I don’t presume to present the whole complexity and richness of Kaplan’s Zionist advocacy. This has been done eloquently by various researchers who have written extensively about Kaplan’s lifelong mission to define Jews as a national group, and how this definition challenged the exclusive role given to territory and sovereignty in mainstream Yishuv/Israeli Zionist discourse.21 Nevertheless, these ideas and the challenge they presented to territorial Zionism are most relevant to our discussion; they depict Kaplan, not only as a distinctive representative of the Kallen–Brandeis brand of hyphenated Zionist identification, in the words of Arthur Hertzberg, the one who stands as “the summary of American Zionism,”22 but also as an authentic representative of a widespread spiritual and ideological crisis felt by many American Zionist activists in the early post-1948 period when coping with the Israeli-centered agenda.23 A short quotation from Kaplan’s 1956 “A New Zionism,” may demonstrate that deep feeling of crisis and disappointment: The Situation in Zionism is far from encouraging. The World Zionist movement is on the wane. The very need for the continuance of Zionism is being questioned…… As long as Zionism was merely a dream, it suffered none of the disheartenments which have come with its realization. Like a newborn infant, the State of Israel was no sooner born than it contracted all the possible diseases of an infant state.24 Surely, this feeling of inner crisis, caused by the foundation of Israel and felt by people who often devoted their whole careers to Zionist advocacy, is not uncommon in situations when a life-long vision is being realized. There is certainly an inherent challenge in any attempt to continue and implicitly redefine the pursuit of a vision after its realization. In such situations, the very definition of what should be the ultimate vision and what it seeks to achieve may become controversial and a source of an inner ideological crisis. In the context of our discussion, the importance of this feeling of crisis and disappointment is that it enables us to better assess the challenge presented by the foundation of Israel as it was perceived by contemporary American Zionist activists. This is well demonstrated by Kaplan’s attempt to answer the challenge presented by the Israeli call for Aliya in the early days after the foundation of Israel. In the opening chapter of his 1956 manuscript, Kaplan expresses this sense of impending ideological crisis when presenting the foundation of Israel as belonging to a rare category of unprecedented events that might offer humanity great opportunities, but at the same time, if this opportunity is not fully appreciated, may turn into a source of existential threat. He likens the foundation of Israel to the discovery of nuclear power that can offer humanity enormous and unprecedented advantages, but at the same time can turn into a catastrophe because of man’s inability “to master the inexhaustible power which he has learned to release from the atom.” Taking into account the fact that Kaplan made this allusion to the atom bomb in the midst of the Cold War and a widespread American fear of an imminent unconventional world war that might bring total destruction upon human civilization, one may perhaps begin to grasp the enormity of the catastrophe that he feared a wrong interpretation of the foundation of Israel might bring upon Judaism: One might likewise formulate…… a philosophy of Jewish history, beginning with the Exodus from Egypt, which found our ancestors unprepared for entry into the Promised Land, down to our own day, when we Jews find ourselves unprepared as a people to avail ourselves fully of the opportunity presented us by the establishment of the State of Israel.25 Explaining what he meant when talking about the danger of a missed opportunity, Kaplan turned back to the identity crisis caused by Jewish emancipation a century and a half before. With emancipation, he maintained, came, “limitless opportunity to enlarge our horizons of human knowledge and endeavor. But we were caught frightfully unprepared. That accounts, in large part, for the heavy price we have been paying in the defection of our most talented and gifted men and women.” The foundation of Israel, as Kaplan saw it, offered Jews a renewed opportunity to finally take advantage of emancipation in a way that, rather than destroying and disintegrating Judaism, would strengthen and empower it. According to Kaplan, the creation of the State of Israel provided the opportunity to turn Jewish emancipation into a constructive and empowering force that would now be tantamount to a metamorphosis and the regeneration of the Jewish People. Most importantly, he believed that the main obstacle to the realization of this spiritual regeneration were internal Zionist calls that, like the exclusive demand for Aliya, had “negation of exile” implications. These calls, rather than unifying and revitalizing the Jewish people, might de-legitimize the very existence of the Jewish diaspora: At the present time, the issue over which Zionists are divided threatens…. to disintegrate further the unity of the Jewish People. The issue is the negation of the Diaspora vs. the affirmation of the Diaspora…. A resolution of that controversy is far more urgent now than it has ever been, because the State of Israel is now a living reality…. We must not omit from our reckoning the impact of the State of Israel on the will to Jewish survival. We should not ignore as irrelevant to Zionism the ominous reports that reach us from Israel.… If those trends continue to make headway, that would certainly be the end of Zionism, and in all likelihood, also of Judaism.26 Among the ominous reports that according to Kaplan came from Israel,27 the call for Aliya assumed in his eyes a most prominent role. He saw this call as part of a dangerous process during which the immediate pressing needs of Israel took center stage, and the more strategic goals of Zionism—those that presumed to redefine and transform modern Jewish living—were being neglected. While understanding the pressing economic and military needs of the newly born state, he warned American and Israeli Zionists alike not to permit those immediate tasks “to blur the larger Zionist perspective.” Responding to the Israeli Labor Zionist activist, Eliezer Livneh, who warned that without an adequate influx of settlers from Western countries “The entire edifice that has been created is in danger of collapse,”28 Kaplan maintained that such calls encouraged contempt and alienation towards the most existential needs of the Jewish diaspora, and by doing so undermined the higher strategic Zionist goal of spiritually transforming the whole Jewish people, Israelis and diaspora Jews alike. The above attitude of Israeli Jews to Zionism is part of a far more serious condition that is developing in their relation to the Jews of the Diaspora. They have had it drilled into their minds by the Zionists leaders in Israel that Jews of the Diaspora who fail to respond to the call to come and help rebuild the land are like the Israelites in the Wilderness who preferred the fleshpots of Egypt to freedom and national independence…. If the Jews in the Diaspora countries are to…. have a stake in the survival of Israel…. the last thing in the world.… that should be done to them is to alienate them by making them feel delinquent in their duty as Jews, because they do not wish to migrate to Israel.29 Kaplan rejected calls, like those of Livneh, that portrayed the needed transformation of American Zionism as one that used American Jewish communal machinery to instill in American Jews the need for “an all-embracing effort toward ultimate transfer of the Jews to Eretz Yisrael,” and a new awareness that genuine Jewish solidarity was tantamount to Aliya.30 He objected to such calls, declaring that, “to expect American Jews to subscribe to this narrow interpretation of Zionism is quixotic and harmful,” and that “the average American Jew would not take seriously a philosophy of life that asks him to contemplate a future in which he would be expected to renounce his American citizenship.” Most irritating to Kaplan was the implied Israeli assertion that American Jews have not struck roots in America. For him, the “wholeheartedness Americanism” of American Jews was an authentic feeling that must be acknowledged as an essential and legitimate part of American Zionism. In our day, the Jews of the Diaspora cannot help feeling perfectly at home in those countries where they are accorded full civil rights. Denouncing their reluctance to emigrate to Israel as disloyalty to the Jewish People would not help. On the other hand, urging them not to get out of touch with the vital center of Jewish life, nor to lose the sense of Jewish destiny, might help. That, however, would require placing their participation in the up building of Eretz Yisrael in an altogether different category. 31 Kaplan maintained that only a Zionist movement that was intent on bringing about a spiritual or religious revival of all Jews throughout the world would be entitled to ask the Jewish communities of the free world to provide their quota of men and women to come to Israel, either to live there permanently, or at least to devote several years to its service. Only as part of a spiritual movement would it be possible that, “the demand for halutizim would no more be resented than the demand of the churches for missionaries to go to the ends of the earth to spread the Christian gospel.”32 Following this last quotation it is fair to say that although Kaplan did not negate Aliya in itself, he certainly strove to reframe and completely change its context. Rather than accepting the Israeli depiction of Aliya as the sole legitimate diasporic Zionist expression, he portrayed the call for Aliya as tantamount to the demand of the church to spread the Christian gospel; Aliya was thus to become one means, among others, in the realization of a spiritual Jewish transformation that, rather than negating the exile, strove to normalize and legitimize the post-emancipatory status of diaspora Jewry. Indeed, not only Aliya but the State of Israel itself was to be viewed as only a means to the implementation of the higher Zionist goal of actively transforming and adjusting Judaism to the contemporary modern world: So long as the corporate character of world Jewry remains an enigma, it will be impossible to determine whether the Jews outside of the State of Israel are in exile or merely in a condition of dispersion. If the former, it is their Jewish duty to look forward to migration to Israel as their ultimate goal. If the latter, they may look forward to self-fulfillment as Jews outside of Israel…. All this leads to one inescapable conclusion: Zionism should henceforth treat the establishment of the State of Israel only as the first indispensable step in the salvaging of the Jewish people and the regeneration of its spirit.33 The full content of Kaplan’s program of how to regenerate the spirit of the Jewish people, and how to implement it in the context of Israel-diaspora relations,34 is beyond the scope of this article. For the purpose of this discussion on Kaplan’s coping with the challenge of Aliya, it is sufficient to note that it was based on a complete reversal of the idea that there can be no future for Judaism outside of Israel. Rather, according to Kaplan, the new role given to Aliya, indeed to Zionist ideology as a whole, had “to be redefined, so as to assure a permanent place for Diaspora Judaism.”35 Although it was based on Kaplan’s original religious-cultural outlook, in its core this re-definition of the role of Aliya belonged to the Kallen-Brandeis brand of Zionist discourse, one that emphasized the needed positive impact of Zionism on the hyphenated American-Jewish reality. Kaplan explained that differently from pre-modern society, where the surrounding world only touched Jewish life peripherally, now that the non-Jewish world penetrated all realms of Jewish life there was a need for a new kind of Zionist outlook, one that understood that segregation was out of the question, and that used the American Jewish experience to devise a new positive role for the unavoidable trends of integration in empowering and strengthening Jewish identity. Thus, rather than being de-legitimized by the Jewish State, the hyphenated American-Jewish experience was to become an essential component of the “New Zionism,” side by side with the all-encompassing autonomous Jewish experience of Israel. According to Kaplan, the role of Zionism could not be limited to the formation of a renewed feeling of native Jewish identity and belonging. Rather, it had to transform the tension between the parallel feelings of Jewish and American belonging into a positive force within a new vitalized and dynamic Judaism: If the integration is not to mean being swamped by the surrounding world, then it must give rise to a style of living which may be termed living in “two civilizations”.… Eretz Yisrael has to be reclaimed as the only place in the world where Jewish civilization can be perfectly at home. But also other lands where Jews have taken root have to be rendered capable of harboring that civilization. The one purpose cannot be achieved without the other. Should Jewish civilization fail to be at home in Eretz Yisrael, it will disappear everywhere else. Should it disappear everywhere else, it is bound to give way to some new Levantine civilization in Eretz Yisrael.36 Ben Halpern: The Power of Aliya in Sustaining Jewish Life in America In the words of his biographer, Ben Halpern was the most un-American of the American Zionist thinkers.37 One might add that within the wide spectrum of American Zionist opinions, Halpern was among the closest in his thinking to the Zionist leadership of the Israeli Labor government. These assessments seem to be substantiated by the central role Halpern gave to the idea of Exile, both as a heritage and a living reality, in empowering collective and personal Jewish identity. This was no doubt a very different Zionist outlook from Kaplan’s strong belief in the possibility of living within “two civilizations.” Rather than calling for the turning of the Jewish perception of being at home in America into the essential basis of a “New Zionism,” Halpern concentrated on the feeling of estrangement from the outside non-Jewish society. Still, despite this significant difference, both Halpern and Kaplan based their response to the Israeli call for Aliya on a clear understanding that for the foreseeable future most American Jews would remain in the United States, and therefore it was their Zionist obligation to devise their answer to Aliya in a way that rather than further negating the Diaspora and its legitimacy, would strengthen the vitality of a Jewish community that was highly integrated within its American surroundings. The following demonstrates Halpern’s commitment to this approach: The situation, let us recall, is one in which, after the establishment of the Jewish State, the Ingathering of the Exiles seems fated to remain incomplete and major Diaspora communities seem destined to persist. The specific question we must answer is this: How do we view the situation, or what do we propose, in regard to the great community of American Jews who are, and no doubt will remain, unaffected by the Ingathering into Zion? 38 Halpern’s book grappled with this shared question by engaging with two contradictory discourses: the first chapter, titled “America is Different,”39 celebrated 300 years of successful integration and acceptance of American Judaism by the Judeo-Christian American civilization; the rest of the book focused on the lingering exilic feeling of Jewish victimhood and marginality. Rather than resolving the contradiction, Halpern suggested that the growing Jewish feeling of being at home in America must be seen as the new and most relevant context in which American Jews should understand their persistent and never-to-be-resolved exilic Jewish experience. It is my claim that one must understand this complex stand as reflecting a new post-1948 reality that was brought about by the foundation of Israel—one that did not herald an end to the Jewish self-perception of being a minority within the larger American society but rather signified a major shift in American Jewish self-perception from a homeless to a homeland minority, emphasizing simultaneously Jewish marginality and a feeling of being at home within the larger non-Jewish society. Halpern’s book may be one of the first post-1948 attempts to grapple with this complex change by simultaneously using both the terminology of belonging and being an integral part of the American majority, and the language typical of a self-conscious marginalized minority. Examining Halpern’s book through its first chapter, titled “America is Different,” this manuscript was one of many essays in which American Jews celebrated the tercentenary of the arrival of the first Jews in North America in 1654. Indeed, to this day, this first chapter is often seen as representing a wide-spread Jewish feeling of “American Exceptionalism,”40 one that regarded the United States as the first successful application of a new principle in human affairs, and one that understood its own Jewish experience through this perspective.41 Halpern himself cogently characterized this perspective as part of a post-War triumphant atmosphere (characteristic of American society as a whole), and as an American Jewish declaration that “America is different,” because unlike the Old World, American Jews were no longer outsiders, European-style antisemitism was foreign to the democratic American spirit, and catastrophes on the order of the Holocaust were neither likely nor even possible on American soil.42 The rest of Halpern’s manuscript, however, belongs to a quite different discourse, one that rather than using American Exceptionalism as its context adopted a particularistic Jewish perspective that concentrated on “The American Jewish Problem” (as indeed indicated by the title of Halpern’s second chapter). While the first “America is Different” perspective focused on the uniqueness of the American Jewish experience in comparison with the Old World exile, the second perspective concentrated on the uniqueness of the American Jewish feeling of marginality in comparison with the non-Jewish American surrounding. For an accurate understanding of the American Jewish problem, it is essential…. to trace it to its specifically American conditions. We must understand American Jewry in terms of its difference from other, and specifically from Continental, Jewries. But at the same time, the most essential element of the American Jewish problem is the way in which Jews are different from other Americans.43 In direct opposition to Will Herberg’s “triple melting pot” theory, which claimed that to be an American means to be either a Protestant, a Catholic or a Jew,44 Halpern maintained that according to the American Protestant-Catholic consensus, “religion is, of course, completely free and private in America, so that all religions must be tolerated [but] it hardly needs stating that America is really a Christian country.”45 As indicated in his first chapter, it is important to note that despite his skepticism regarding the Judea-Christian consensus, Halpern did not deny the authenticity of American Jewish feelings of acceptance and integration within Christian America. On the contrary, he repeatedly portrayed the American version of the antisemitic phenomena as one that, in stark difference from Europe, “never emerged as an issue of importance in our political history or in the revolutionary and ideological struggles that shaped our national Way of Life.”46 That, however, made coping with the cultural and endemic antisemitism that persists in America much more difficult. In the midst of their social and cultural success, American Jews—according to Halpern—were destined to painfully find out that anti-Jewish hostility is a central and pervasive theme, an integral part of America’s highest values and traditions as a Christian society: The awe and dread of Ahasuerus, of the Cain people, have contributed to the beauty, the sublimity, the pathos of the whole range of Western religion, folklore, poetry, drama, music, art. It is in Shakespeare's Shylock, Dickens' Fagin, the power of the Oberammergau Passion Play; it is in Chaucer, in Grimm's fairy tales, in the great chorales of Bach–and even in the queerly ambivalent Jew-apotheosis of Leon Bloy. Nor is it something a Gentile can escape by “emancipating” himself, by becoming a liberal or a socialist - or, obviously, a fascist.47 Paradoxically, it was the uniqueness of the American Jewish experience of belonging that, according to Halpern, made the persistence of antisemitism inexplicable and consequently more difficult to cope with. Unlike Old World societies where Jews were fully conscious of their distinctiveness vis-à-vis the institutionalized hostility against them, in America, “the effect of increasing Jewish absorption in their local American situation dulled their intuition not only of Exile, but of the anti-Semitism with which it is inseparably coupled.”48 Stripped of their Old World awareness of being “strangers,” American Jews found themselves in a sort of “invisible ghetto,” one that they had no means of understanding or coping with. In America today…. we lack the prerequisites for a Jewish-Christian “understanding” regarding the state of Exile. There is not even a real tradition of the ghetto here, for the immigrant “ghetto” we know of is something altogether unrelated to the permanent status of segregation, subjection, and alienhood which this word historically signified…. Particularly in America, with its Protestant ideal of the individual conscience.… as the true subject, of all “religious experience,” there can be no public understanding regarding a status for the Jews based on the idea of a collective Exile.49 This inability of American Jews to cope with the “invisible ghetto” in which they found themselves was problematic, not only because of its personal psychological effects but also because the most dangerous consequences were to be found in its impact on the collective Jewish consciousness. According to Halpern, any collective Jewish endeavor that ignores the Christian anti-Jewish characteristics of the “American Way” must result in an anemic and unsustainable Jewishness. In direct opposition to Kaplan,50 Halpern warned that any such attempt would result in a Judaism that is based on the internalization of the hostile and anti-Jewish viewpoint of Christian America: While the “Judea-Christian consensus” is proposed as something intimately related to the American Way, the proposed relationship…. becomes false as soon as it attempts to be pertinent…. In all Christian countries, and in America too, Christian tradition regards the Jews as a people rejected of God, who must eventually disappear when God lets them be reconciled to Him. In the meantime they exist as a people under a ban, who should not be molested, but who are fundamentally alien in the Christian world…. Consequently, whatever influence “Hebrew ideas” had on social organization, it could not have been through the rejected doctrine of Judaism but solely through Christianity.51 The only way to avoid the danger of such misunderstanding and its corresponding sense of alienation was for Jews in contemporary America to emphasize the relevance of the notion of “Exile” rather than attempting to ignore or subordinate it. This was exactly the role that Halpern ascribed to the concept of the Ingathering of the Exiles in American Jewish identification. Unlike Ben Gurion and the Israeli leadership, Halpern did not call upon American Jews to personally make Aliya. Instead, he urged them to be emotionally and spiritually involved in this process which he described as, “the most significant movement in the contemporary course of Jewish history.” By taking part in this process, even as a vicarious experience, American Jews would finally become aware of their paradoxical situation of feeling “at home in Exile;”52 and basing their Jewishness on this self-awareness, they would be empowered to consistently and continuously combat this negative situation. Halpern believed that a viable Judaism in American could only be sustained by those “who see Exile as a personal problem…. who cannot take seriously the compromises American Jews are compelled to devise in order to live with it.”53 Just as the emotional and political participation in the struggle for Jewish statehood during the second half of the 1940s enabled American Jews to build a self-conscious and confident Judaism in America, so their indirect emotional and spiritual participation in the “Ingathering of the Exiles” would strengthen the structure of the American Jewish community: They argue that the doctrine of Exile is a pessimistic doctrine which cannot encourage Jews to build Judaism in America. As we have seen, this was certainly the reverse of the truth in the period before the State of Israel was founded. Precisely in the concept of Exile, by which the Jewish problem is conceived on a historic scale transcending contemporary America, and in the enthusiasm of trying at long last, to overcome Exile through Zionism, did Jews find the confidence to swim against the stream of American pressure and build a Jewishness more authentic, if less convenient, than we now dare to hope for.54 The Ingathering of Exiles was for Halpern a means to build an assertive and positive diasporic Judaism—one that was not tempted by the welcoming American atmosphere to repress its sense of Exile and to adopt the anti-Jewish values of the dominant Christian culture as though they were its own. Rather, a strong Zionist identification with the collective Jewish efforts of the ingathering was supposed to become an effective force for a more authentic and self-conscious Jewishness in America. Halpern maintained that, “No Jewishness that can be taken seriously is possible in America without going counter to convenience, and without grasping the Jewish question in a historic frame that transcends the contemporary American situation.”55 In advocating this message he directly and openly opposed Kaplan’s two-civilization approach. “Mordecai M. Kaplan does not care to hear the word ‘Exile’ applied to American Jews,” Halpern told his readers, “but he implicitly concedes the point, when he looks to contemporary Israel for the substantial secular values.…which can provide a model of authentic Jewishness for the sustenance of a reconstructed Jewish cult in America.56 Indeed, the last quotation demonstrates the starkly different Zionist answers that Kaplan and Halpern gave to the Israeli ideological stand regarding Aliya. At the heart of their disagreement were the opposing roles they gave to American Jewish identification with the newly founded Jewish State. While Halpern saw this role as one that made American Jews better aware of their inherent outsider status despite their day-to-day insider experience, Kaplan advocated a “New Zionism” that would enhance and legitimize the insider experience of American Jews as the positive basis of a vitalized diasporic Judaism. Still, in a more general sense, both Kaplan and Halpern represented a shared American Jewish answer to Aliya, one that was different from the Israeli perspective, and one that, rather than rejecting the hyphenated American Jewish status, saw the role of Zionism as enabling to cope with the inherent hyphenated insider-outsider tension experienced by American Jews of that period. Kaplan, Halpern, and the Demand for Aliya in Retrospect The shared quest of Kaplan and Halpern to cope with the insider–outsider status of American Jews was not coincidental. To a large extent it was characteristic of the 1950s, and a result of the influx of American Jews into the suburbs. This generation of American Jews, most of them American born, were torn between the insular Jewish atmosphere of the urban Jewish neighborhoods in which they grew up, and their new suburban American middle-class environments. To a large degree the unresolved insider–outsider tension was the most dominant experience of that generation.57 No wonder that both Kaplan and Halpern understood the Israeli call for Aliya as directly tipping the delicate balance between the two parts of their American-Jewish hyphenated identity. Whether their answers to Aliya prescribed a solution that concentrated on the outsider or the insider status of American Jews, the desired role of Israel, in their eyes, was to enable the simultaneous pursuit of Jewish distinctiveness and Jewish integration into middle class America. Future research that examines a large number of American Jewish and Zionist intellectuals and their responses to the challenge of Aliya during the early years after the foundation of Israel may show whether indeed the two responses of Kaplan and Halpern represented broader patterns characteristic of that period.58 The question remains as to how relevant are Kaplan’s and Halpern’s answers for today’s generation that to a large degree takes its American belonging for granted and therefore experiences the insider–outsider tension in a very different and perhaps less acute manner. Specifically, to what extent are the current Israeli calls for Aliya, even if presented only in a subtle manner, still viewed as a potential challenge that must be transformed in a way that would empower American Jewish diasporic life?59 The answer to these questions is beyond the scope of this article; it demands a thorough analysis of the changes that occurred in the Israeli calls for Aliya,60 and the credibility of the challenges these calls represent in the eyes of today’s American Jewry. Put in a larger context, one needs to define the two approaches set by Kaplan and Halpern in such a manner that would enable a further examination of their relevance. Perhaps such definitions should transcend the particular question of Aliya and the challenges it presents and concentrate instead on the complex role of Israel vis-à-vis the hyphenated reality of Jewish diasporic life: a dual role that even today simultaneously serves as a focus of inner diasporic Jewish solidarity and as an inner Jewish threat to the very legitimacy and vitality of Jewish diasporic existence. Consequently, identification and ambivalence towards Israel should be viewed as interconnected and part of the same diasporic coping pattern with the challenge that Israel presents to the hyphenated diasporic Jewish reality. This interconnection between identification and ambivalence may be demonstrated through the tendency of many contemporary American Jews to follow a “Halpern pattern,” namely, to see the pursuit of Jewish distinctiveness as a most important tool in the battle for diasporic Jewish continuity, and to identify this battle with a continuous defensive mode against what they perceive as persistent expressions of combined anti-Jewish and anti-Israel hostility.61 Often, however, the very calls which assign Israel such an important role in the battle for Jewish distinctiveness against a hostile world, also advocate a self-sustaining Jewish diasporic hyphenated identity that is independent of Israel, and must deal with starkly different challenges from those faced by the all-embracing majority Jewish society of Israel.62 A parallel duality may be seen among contemporary American Jews who follow the “Kaplan pattern,” especially those who concentrate on the ability of Israel to contextualize the question of Jewish distinctiveness in a way that corresponds with the individualistic and universalistic “Tikkun Olam” ethos of the American-Jewish hyphenated experience. Observing the current role of Israel through this perspective they often tend to adopt a critical view of the particularistic values associated with the current policies of Israel, emphasizing a growing and perhaps unbridgeable conflict between Israel’s particularism and the liberal ethos of American Jewish identity; frequently connecting this perceived gap with the issue of the “distancing” of American Jews—particularly the younger generations—from Israel.63 In some cases, however, (most pronounced in the field of Jewish philanthropic attitudes toward Israel) the critical views of Israel’s particularism may be interpreted as “critical engagement”—an important component of Jewish attachment to Israel and personal involvement in its affairs, and implicitly, an important part of diasporic Jewish vitality.64 One may conclude by saying that the two patterns represented in this essay by Kaplan and Halpern may have a much wider relevancy than the relatively limited discussion of the American Zionist responses to the challenges of Aliya during the 1950s. They may help us understand the gap between the hyphenated and the all-encompassing viewpoints of the Jewish American diaspora and Israel as the source for a simultaneous American Jewish attachment and ambivalence about Israel, indeed for an inherent interconnection between these two seemingly contradictory attitudes. In this context it is important to note that the image of Israel as representing an all-embracing Jewish society does not necessarily represent the sole reality of Israeli society. Rather, this image and the challenges it presents are also relevant for various hyphenated identities within Israeli society, and thus further research may also examine the relevancy of the Kaplan and Halpern patterns to the understanding of inner trends within Israeli society itself.65 Notes 1. It is important to note that this diasporic image of Israel as representing an all-embracing Jewish society does not necessarily represent the sole reality of Israeli society. 2. See for example: Amos Oz, “Imagining the Other,” in The Writer in the Jewish Community: An Israeli-North American Dialogue, edited by Richard Siegel and Tamar Sofer (Rutherford, NJ, 1993), p. 115–23; Steven Bayme, Leonard J. Fein, Samuel G. Freedman, Erica Yoffle, The A. B. Yehoshua Controversy: An Israeli-Diaspora Dialogue on Jewishness, Israeliness and Identity (American Jewish Committee, August 2006). 3. Mordecai M. Kaplan, A New Zionism (New York, 1954); Ben Halpern, The American Jew – A Zionist Analysis (New York, 1956). Although I will not engage in this article in a further and larger survey of American Zionist intellectuals and their responses to the calls of Aliya during this early period, it is my hope that this comparative analysis may lay the foundation for such an endeavor. 4. Ofer Shiff, “But Mordecai Bowed Not Down: Abba Hillel Silver's Early anti-Nazi Struggle,” Iyunim Bitkumat Israel, Vol. 20 (2010), pp. 413–36 [in Hebrew]. 5. Abba Hillel Silver, “But Mordecai Bowed Not Down,” March 8, 1936, in Therefore Choose Life: Selected Sermons, Addresses, and Writings of Abba Hillel Silver, edited by Herbert Weiner (Cleveland, 1967), p. 113–14. 6. Silver arrived in Berlin on January 22, 1933. 7. Shlomo Shafir, “Abba Hillel Silver and His Attitude towards Germany,” Yalkut Morsehet, Vol. 76 (1994), pp. 35–62. 8. Silver represented in this case a Zionist discourse that was not limited to American Zionism—one that responded to the 1930s wave of antisemitism in Europe by portraying the growing social isolation of European Jewry as an existential threat for both Zionism and Judaism. For example, Dr Nahum Sokolow, President of the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency, repeatedly said (in the 18th World Zionist Congress in Prague (1933) and in the 19th World Zionist Congress in Luzern (1935)), that emancipation and Zionism were inter-dependent. (See for example: “The Current Jewish Situation of the Jews in the World – The Lecture of Nahum Sokolow in the 18th Zionist Congress in Prague,” Davar, March, 27, 1933). 9. A.H. Silver, “Autobiography/Memoirs,” Abba Hillel Silver Papers, Ben Gurion Archive, Sde Boker (hereinafter referred to as AHSP), Series VII (Personal Miscellaneous), Folders 1–12. 10. A.H. Silver, “But Mordecai Bowed Not Down.” 11. A.H. Silver, “The Cauldron of Europe, the First of Two Lectures on Rabbi Silver’s visit to Europe,” November 3, 1935, AHSP Series IV (Sermons), Folder 485; “We Should Not Attempt to Move Jews from Germany,” The Jewish Advocate, March 10, 1936, AHSP Series V (Writings), Folder 346; “Austria and the Jews of Austria,” March 20, 1938, AHSP Series IV (Sermons), Folder 555; “Five Years of Hitler,” February 6, 1938, AHSP Series IV (Sermons), Folder 550. 12. A.H. Silver, “B’nai B’rith Convention,” May 1937, AHSP Series V (Writings), Folder 424. 13. About the “negative” emphasis on antisemitism in Zionist discourse, see: Anita Shapira, “Zionism and Anti-Semitism,” Modern Judaism, Vol. 15, No. 3 (1995), pp. 215–32; Yosef Gorni, “Negation of the Exile and the Return to History,” in Zionism and the Return to History: A Reassessment, edited by S. N. Eisenstadt and Moshe Lissak (Jerusalem, 1999). 14. Ofer Shiff, The Downfall of Abba Hillel Silver and the Foundation of Israel (Syracuse, 2014), p. 80–105. 15. Gideon Shimoni, The Zionist Ideology (Hanover & London, 1995); Allon Gal, “The Mission Motif in American Zionism (1898-1948),” American Jewish History, Vol. 75, No. 4 (1986), pp. 363–85. 16. Louis D. Brandeis, “To Be a Jew,” an address delivered on May 18, 1913 before the Young Men's Hebrew Association of Chelsea, Mass., published in: Brandeis on Zionism: A Collection of Addresses and Statements by Louis D. Brandeis, World Zionist Organization, http://www.wzo.org.il/index.php?dir=site&page=articles&op=item&cs=3276&langpage=heb 17. In an earlier research that focused on the challenges posed by the modern Jewish quest for normalization, Yosef Gorny characterized the approach represented by Kaplan as “distinctive normalization,” and the one represented by Halpern as “Jewish normalization.” Yosef Gorny, The Quest for Collective Identity (Tel Aviv, 1990), pp. 22–56, 79–117. 18. One might refer to Zvi Hirsch Masliansky and Hayim Greenberg as two figures who paved the way in terms of developing this distinctive Americanized conceptual-philosophical framework for Zionism. 19. David Ben Gurion, “Facing the Situation,” Ichud Information, No. 2 (February 4, 1954). It should be noted that the article was published just before Kaplan and Halpern published their own manuscripts. It should also be noted that Halpern, as a Labor Zionist, was a member of the “Ichud Olami.” About Ben Gurion’s emphasis during this period on Aliya as the sole expression of Zionism, see: Yosef Gorny, The Quest for Collective Identity, pp. 79–88. For other examples of the Israeli stand and the American Jewish response, including the Ben Gurion/Blaustein exchanges, see: Zvi Ganin, An Uneasy Relationship: American Jewish Leadership and Israel, 1948–1957 (Syracuse, 2005); Ariel L. Feldstein, Gordian Knot: David Ben-Gurion, The Zionist Organization and American Jewry, 1948-1963 (Sde Boqer, 2003); Gideon Shimoni, “The Ideological Debate in World Zionism since the Establishment of Israel,” in The Challenge of Independence, Ideological and Cultural Aspects of Israel’s First Decade, edited by Mordechai Bar-On (Jerusalem, 1999) pp. 104–32 [in Hebrew]. 20. Among others things, he formulated the idea of “Judaism as a civilization” and was the founder of Reconstructionist Judaism. 21. Among the more recent writings on this subject are the books by Noam Pianko: Zionism and the Roads not Taken: Rawidowiz, Kaplan, Kohn (Bloomington, 2010); and Jewish Peoplehood: An American Innovation (New Brunswick, 2015). 22. The Zionist Idea: A Historical Analysis and Reader, edited by Arthur Herzberg (New York, 1977), p. 536. 23. About the atmosphere of crisis and divisiveness during the fifty-first ZOA convention, held in Pittsburgh in early July, 1948, just a month and a half after Israel had declared its independence, see: O. Shiff, The Downfall of Abba Hillel Silver, p. 115, Emanuel Neumann, In the Arena: An Autobiographical Memoir (New York, 1977), pp. 288–89. 24. M Kaplan, A New Zionism, p. 15. 25. Ibid, p. 11 26. Ibid, p. 13. In an earlier 1948 essay (M. Kaplan, “The Future of the American Jew,” in The Zionist Idea: A Historical Analysis and Reader, edited by Arthur Herzberg, pp. 536–44) Kaplan seemed to be even more critical of the Israeli “negation of exiles” outlook and the danger it posed to Zionism and Judaism: “Whatever deprives us of faith in the possibility of Jewish life in America not only de-Judaizes millions of our people; it demoralizes and degrades us.” (“The Future of the American Jew,” p. 538) 27. Among the worrisome reports from Israel, Kaplan quoted an article from the Jerusalem Post that described how “The Jew of the Galut is looked upon as inferior to the new and vigorous Israeli (Gerda Luft, “The Break with the Past,” The Jerusalem Post, June 5, 1953; quoted in A New Zionism, p. 30). In the same vein, he criticized Ben Gurion for failing to present universal and human values in the new state education curriculum, and for preferring over them values like the primacy of manual labor or the pioneering spirit that are “not likely to produce that type of Jew for whom the Jewish people has waited and hoped the last nineteen centuries.” (A New Zionism, pp. 30–31) 28. Eliezer Livneh, State and Diaspora (Jerusalem, 1953), p. 67 (quoted in A New Zionism, p. 16). 29. M. Kaplan, A New Zionism, p. 18. 30. Eliezer Livneh, p. 37 (quoted in A New Zionism, p. 19). In his earlier 1948 essay, Kaplan was even more blunt in criticizing this type of Zionist education: “This kind of Eretz-Israel-centered education in America is bound to have a ruinous effect on the happiness and character of the child…. the assumption that it is inherently impossible for the Jew to feel at home in a non-Jewish environment…. is a counsel of despair, and we cannot build an educational system on despair.” (“The Future of the American Jew,” p. 541). 31. M. Kaplan, A New Zionism, pp. 20–22. See also “The Future of American Jew,” p. 537–38. 32. For a similar metaphor of Jewish immigrants to Eretz Yisrael as missionaries, see “The Future of the American Jew,” p. 538. In this earlier essay, Kaplan insisted that young Jewish Americans are needed not only as halutizim in Israel, but even more so in the American Jewish community which desperately needs “every available person who has the ability to transmute the cultural and religious values of our tradition into a living creative force.” 33. M. Kaplan, A New Zionism, pp. 25–26. 34. For a discussion of Kaplan’s thought in the context of Israel–Diaspora relations, see: Yossi Turner, “Zion and the Diaspora in the Thought of Mordecai Kaplan and Eliezer Schweid,” In Homeland in Exile: Otherness and Belonging in the Jewish Diaspora, edited by Ofer Shiff, Iyunim Bitkumat Israel Thematic Series, Vol. 9 (2015), pp. 363–94. 35. A New Zionism, p. 41 36. Ibid, p. 42. Kaplan expressed a similar idea in his earlier 1948 essay. Under the subtitle, “No Jewish Homeland without Judaism in the Diaspora,” he asserted that “given the will, the intelligence and the devotion, it is feasible.… within the frame of a democratic American civilization…. that in the long run, we might achieve in our way as great and lasting a contribution to human values as they [the Israelis] are achieving in theirs.” (“The Future of the American Jew,” p. 539). 37. Arthur A. Goren, “Ben Halpern: ‘At Home in Exile’, in The ‘Other’ New York Jewish Intellectuals edited by Carole S. Kessner (New York, 1994), p. 73. Among his roles as a Labor Zionist, a public intellectual, and a scholar, Halpern served as the Executive Secretary of Hechalutz in America, a managing editor of the Jewish Frontier (1943–49), a member of the Labor Zionist Organization’s executive committee, and at the time of the publication of the discussed text (1956), had just finished his term as the associate director of the Jewish Agency’s Department of Education in New York and had entered academic life as a research associate at Harvard University’s Center of Middle Eastern Studies. Most relevant to our discussion, in 1938 Halpern made Aliya and settled in Kibbutz Givat Brenner for a short period of about one year before returning to the States. 38. Ben Halpern, The American Jew – A Zionist Analysis (New York, 1956), p. 155–56. 39. This chapter was published independently at least twice: Ben Halpern, “America Is Different,” Midstream, Vol. 1 (Autumn 1955), pp. 39–52; and in a collection of articles edited by Marshall Sklare, The Jews: Social Patterns of an American Group (Glencoe, 1956). 40. Tony Michels, “Is America ‘Different’? A Critique of American Jewish Exceptionalism,” American Jewish History, Vol. 96, No. 3 (September, 2010), pp. 201–24. 41. For descriptions of this Jewish interpretation of American Exceptionalism, see: Beth S. Wenger, History Lessons: The Creation of American Jewish Heritage (Princeton, 2010), pp. 1–14; Jonathan D. Sarna, “The Cult of Synthesis in American Jewish Culture,” Jewish Social Studies, Vol. 5 (Fall 1998/Winter 1999), pp. 52–79; Arthur A. Goren, “A ‘Golden Decade’ for American Jews, 1945–1955,” Studies in Contemporary Jewry, Vol. 8 (1992), pp. 10–17. 42. B. Halpern, The American Jew, p. 12. 43. Ibid, p. 44. 44. Will Herberg, Protestant, Catholic Jew: An Essay in American Religious Sociology (Garden City, New York, 1955). 45. B. Halpern, The American Jew, pp. 40–41. 46. Ibid, p. 55. 47. Ibid, pp. 50–51. 48. Ibid, p. 58. 49. Ibid, p. 57. 50. In his book, Halpern criticized Kaplan explicitly and extensively. See for example, The American Jew, pp. 131–38 and 150–52. See also: Ben Halpern, “The Idea of the Spiritual Home” (A Critical Essay on Mordecai Kaplan’s ‘A New Zionism’), Hazut, Vol. 2 (1957). 51. Ibid, pp. 42–43. 52. This title, which was used by Arthur Goren for his biography of Halpern, was also the title of a 1933 article by Halpern: “At Home in Exile,” Furrows, Vol. 1, No. 3 (January, 1933), pp. 6–9. 53. Ibid, p. 159. 54. Ibid, p. 148. 55. Ibid, 149. 56. Ibid, 147. 57. Marshall Sklare and Joseph Greenblum, Jewish Identity on the Suburban Frontier: A Study of Group Survival in the Open Society (Chicago, 1979). 58. Further research that examines the compatibility of responses to Aliya of other contemporary American Zionists with either Kaplan’s or Halpern’s approach includes, among others, the responses of Nahum Goldman, Robert Gordis, Hayim Greenberg, Rose Halprin, Horace Kallen, Ludwig Lewinshon, Emanuel Newman, Maurice Samuel, and Abba Hillel Silver. 59. See for example, Shaul Kelner’s discussion of Birthright Israel tours, and his claim that the raison d’etre of these tours is not to encourage Aliya but rather to ensure the continued existence of vibrant, Israel-oriented, Jewish communities abroad. Shaul Kelner, Tours that Bind: Diaspora, Pilgrimage and Israeli Birthright Tourism (New York, 2010). 60. For a discussion of the changes in the implicit Israeli negation of exile doctrine, see: Chaim Gans, “Exile and Diaspora: Two Zionisms” in Israeli Exiles: Homeland and Exile in Israeli Discourse, edited by Ofer Shiff, Iyunim Bitkumat Israel Thematic Series, Vol. 10, pp. 204–31 [in Hebrew]. 61. For contemporary examples of this approach, see: Ruth R. Wisse, “Prologue: Letter to a New Israeli,” in If I am not for Myself – The Liberal Betrayal of the Jews (New York, 1992), pp. 1–20; Alan Dershowitz, “Going on Television: The Pervasiveness of Anti-Jewish Attitude,” Chutzpah (New York, 1991), pp. 93–129. 62. An indication of how complex is the attempt to peruse the Halpern pattern in the very differing hyphenated setting of the American Jewish community is a second 1997 book by Alan Dershowitz in which he responded to the Israeli demand for Aliya in a manner that is reminiscent of Kaplan’s call for a “positive Judaism”—in the words of Dershowitz, “a dramatic transformation of Jewish identity.… from negative to positive, from externally imposed to internally chosen – will require change in the very theory of Zionism.…” Alan M. Dershowitz, “Make Aliyah! The Israeli Solution to the Jewish Question of the Twenty-first Century,” in The Vanishing American Jew: In Search of Jewish Identity for the next Century (Boston and New York, 1997), p. 242. 63. For a contemporary example of this approach, see: Peter Beinart, The Crisis of Zionism (New York, 2013); Michael N. Barnett, The Star and the Stripes: A History of the Foreign Policies of American Jews (Princeton, 2016); Dov Waxman, Trouble in the Tribe: The American Jewish Conflict over Israel (Princeton, 2016). 64. Theodore Sasson, The New American Zionism (New York, 2014). 65. For a discussion of Israeli society through the coping patterns of various hyphenated identities with the dominant all-embracing Israeli Jewish identity, see, for example, the discussion of Talia Shiff regarding the Levantine identity within Israeli society (Talia Shiff, “Between Minor and Major Identity: Jacqueline Kahanoff and the ‘Israelization’ of Levantinism,” Theory and Criticism, No. 37 (Fall 2010), pp. 125–49.) © The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Modern Judaism: A Journal of Jewish Ideas and Experience Oxford University Press

Early American Zionist Responses to the Israeli Demand for Aliya

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Abstract

Introduction In its larger framework, this article explores the American Jewish responses to an image of Israel as being essentially different, and perhaps superior, in its Jewish characteristics from the Jewish diaspora.1 Often, some Israeli speakers present this difference as one between an all-embracing Israeli Jewish vitality and a partial, artificial and stagnant, hyphenated diaspora Jewish existence.2 My goal is to suggest some basic patterns of American Jewish copings with this condescending and hierarchical Israeli stand—a stance that becomes especially challenging for those who regard identification with Israel as an essential component of a long-term and vital diasporic Jewish continuity. This article will explore this larger issue by focusing on one concrete case: American Zionist responses to the Israeli demand for Aliya (immigration to Israel) during the early years after the foundation of the State of Israel. During this period, the ideological importance attributed by the Israeli leadership to Aliya was seen by many American Zionists as a challenge to the very viability of Jewish life outside of Israel, undermining the legitimacy of their long held Zionist belief of which Aliya was never a significant component. A focus on the responses to the calls for Aliya during this period reveals two basic archetypal patterns. While the two approaches starkly differed from one another, they both strove to reframe the Israeli demand for Aliya in a way that, rather than challenging the legitimacy and viability of Jewish life outside of Israel, would support and even empower American Jews in the complex endeavor of preserving Jewish distinctiveness while being an integral part of their American surroundings. To demonstrate this claim, this article will include a comparative analysis of two books, one written by Mordecai M. Kaplan, the other by Ben Halpern, during the period immediately following the foundation of Israel.3 These responses to the challenge of Aliya may be indicative of a continuous question that even today remains crucial to the understanding of the dialectic nature of diasporic identification with Israel: how to preserve Israel as a focus of Jewish identification while, at the same time, transforming its Israel-centered agenda into a diaspora-building enterprise? The Challenge of Aliya before the Foundation of Israel This article focuses on the immediate years following the foundation of Israel. However, the questions guiding it are rooted in Abba Hillel Silver’s response to the challenge of Aliya during the pre-Holocaust years of the 1930s.4 A succinct layout of the dilemmas and questions raised by Silver thus serve as an important introduction to this research. Silver was an American Zionist leader and Reform rabbi who was known for his Zionist activism, especially when he led American Jewry in a quite militant and adamant manner in the struggle for Jewish statehood during the second half of the 1940s. Despite Silver’s militant Zionist reputation, throughout the 1930s and prior to the campaign for Jewish statehood, he consistently opposed the Aliya of German Jews to Eretz Israel. Thus, in a sermon he gave in 1936 he warned against the perception of Aliya as the ultimate Zionist solution for the “Jewish problem”: Even if we get two or three million Jews out of the countries of Europe and settle them in Palestine that does not solve the problem for the rest of the Jews who are going to remain in the diaspora… The Nazis prepare destruction for the Jewish people, but there is a law of history which … says that in the long last, bigotry, intolerance and hate do not win the day.5 Silver was on sabbatical from his prestigious Cleveland Reform synagogue “Tifereth Israel” (known as “The Temple”) when he visited Germany and witnessed first-hand Nazi persecution and Hitler’s rise to power.6 When, several months later, he was interviewed by the American press about the situation in Germany,7 he described the German persecution of the Jews as more evil and dangerous than the pogroms of tsarist Russia. For Silver, the real threat posed by Nazism was that of Jewish exclusion from German society. As he saw it, the social isolation of the Jews was a spiritual death sentence, one that surpassed in wickedness all of the pogroms that had ever been perpetrated against the Jews throughout history.8 In a mass rally that took place in Chicago in December 1933,9 Silver identified the Nazi threat to Jewish survival as unprecedented in terms of the denial of social participation. He maintained that, for the first time in history, Jews were being confined within a medieval-style ghetto not by a backward, dictatorial society but by a society that, on the face of it, had already passed the point-of-no-return in establishing its attendant democratic institutions. Should the Nazi precedent come to fruition then American Jews would no longer be able to take their civil status for granted; they would have to resign themselves to permanent marginality. As Silver saw it, calls by Jewish groups for Aliya of German Jews were a dangerous legitimization of this very threat of social exclusion. In a Purim sermon given in 1936,10 Silver called upon the Jews of Germany to remain in place, lest their immigration be perceived as abandoning the principled liberal struggle for democracy. He continued to call upon the German Jews not to flee from Germany in a number of additional sermons given during that period.11 In his eyes, the supreme collective interest of the Jewish people did not lie in immigration to Palestine, but rather in the struggle for equal participation of the German Jews in all realms of life in their non-Jewish surroundings. He feared that the attempts to bring the Jews of Germany to Palestine would convey a message of despair concerning the ability of the Jews in Germany or any other country to fully participate in their non-Jewish surroundings. In his view, this peril of surrendering to the antisemitic demand to push Jews out of civil society was liable to reinforce deterministic assumptions of despair at the promises of emancipation. In a speech at the B’nai B’rith convention of May 1937,12 he called for a shift from a “negative” emphasis on anti-Jewish hostility to a “positive” emphasis based on a Jewish life that was integrated with its non-Jewish surroundings. We ought to stop thinking of ourselves apprehensively as an isolated camp in the midst of a hundred and twenty millions of other people … We ought to continue to think of ourselves … as being integrally and essentially part and parcel of this great America.13 Responding to the implicit pessimistic message that he saw in the call for Aliya, Silver preached a Diaspora-Zionist struggle which emphasized the shared interest of all enlightened forces in the existence of a society in which every individual and every group—Jews and non-Jews alike—had the right to equal participation. However, as the situation deteriorated and the danger of the annihilation of European Jewry began to materialize, it became extremely implausible to focus the struggle against Jewish exclusion on the demand for equal participation of Jews in German and European civil societies. Silver’s consequent tendency to focus his efforts on promoting a Zionist campaign for a Jewish State, rather than on combating Nazism and antisemitism, offered him an efficient means of solving this dilemma. Framing the adamant Zionist demand for Jewish statehood as being a basic and legitimate American Jewish demand, provided him with a context for aggressively opposing Nazism and antisemitism without highlighting Jewish otherness. On the contrary, it projected images of indigenousness and belonging that connected Jews with American society as a whole, and legitimized their integration within that society. As has been previously shown,14 Silver’s public strength during the later years of the 1940s lay in his success in using Zionism as a way to transform American Jewish particularistic concerns into a determined demand on behalf of American Jewish citizens for the rectification of Jewish marginality. During this period, he based his Zionist stance on an idealized hyphenated American-Jewish identity—one that affirmed the reciprocal relationship between an affirmative call for Jewish solidarity and American patriotism, and one that stood in contrast to the demand for Aliya and the implicit suspicious approach of many Zionist leaders in Europe and the Yishuv toward their non-Jewish surroundings. As long as the campaign for Jewish statehood was the one unifying expression of an American Zionist struggle against Jewish exclusion and marginality, the implicit challenge posed by the call of Aliya could be put aside. However, with the successful termination of this campaign the challenge of Aliya was destined to become potent again. Soon after the foundation of Israel, Ben Gurion and other Israeli leaders presented Aliya as the only legitimate way for diaspora Jews to express their alliance with the Zionist struggle to overcome Jewish marginality. Silver and core parts of American Jewry critiqued this approach as reinforcing a negative Jewish attitude regarding the prospects of vital Jewish diasporic existence. Similar to the pre-Holocaust years, there was again a danger that rather than combating Jewish marginality and victimhood, Zionist identification would reinforce a pessimistic Jewish stance regarding the prospects of a vital Jewish diasporic existence fully integrated within its non-Jewish surroundings. The way American Zionists coped with this renewed challenge during the 1950s, and its long-term impact on the role of Israel in the eyes of American Jews, is the focus of this article. The challenge of Aliya after the foundation of Israel—historical and sociological contexts Drawing on Silver’s objection to the Aliya of German Jews during the 1930s, two points are in order. First, it is my claim that the challenge presented by the Zionist call for Aliya during the period of the 1950s should be explored in the context of the continuous diasporic doctrine of American Zionism, as it was formulated already at the beginning of the twentieth century by leaders like Louis D. Brandeis, Horace Kallen, and Abba Hillel Silver. This diasporic Zionist doctrine not only negated the presentation of Aliya as the sole expression of Zionism, but also presented Zionist identification as a positive for an all-encompassing hyphenated American-Jewish identity:15 in the words of Brandeis, “To be good Americans, we must be better Jews, and to be better Jews, we must become Zionists.”16 American Zionist leaders of the 1950s mostly identified with this diasporic doctrine, and if not, they at least had to treat it as their reference point. Two American Zionist leaders who during the 1950s represented two distinct patterns of American Zionist identification17 were Mordecai Kaplan, who supported the classical Kallen–Brandeis type of hyphenated Zionist identification, and Ben Halpern, who signified an oppositional stance to this line of American Zionist thinking.18 As I will attempt to demonstrate, despite the stark differences between them, both Kaplan and Halpern saw in Aliya, i.e., in the doctrine of the “negation of the Exile,” a fundamental challenge to their most basic beliefs regarding the nature of American Zionism. Kaplan’s A New Zionism (1955) rejected the idea of “negation of Exile” outright, especially its implied pessimistic conclusion regarding the intrinsic marginal Jewish status in the diaspora. Instead, he presented Zionist identification as an inner Jewish educational tool, whose aim was not the encouragement of Aliya but rather the transformation of Jewish life in both Israel and the Diaspora into a model of pluralism and inclusiveness. In this context, the diasporic model of hyphenated identity (or as Kaplan termed it: “life within two civilizations”) was portrayed as a positive and most essential asset. Differently from Kaplan, Halpern’s The American Jew: A Zionist Analysis (1956) adopted the classical Israeli-Zionist claim that in every Diaspora, even within a pluralistic American society, Jews would not be able to fully overcome the endemic cultural antisemitism characteristic of every Christian society. The role of the idea of the “gathering of the exiles” as the core of Zionist identification was that it should be a central and constant reminder to American Jews of their distinctiveness, and to help them cope with the built-in hostility against them. Paradoxically, as I will attempt to demonstrate, this apparent acceptance of the Israeli stance regarding the centrality of Aliya became in Halpern’s writing a tool and a rationale for the building up of a vital and creative Jewish life that would be an integral part of American society. The second point I want to make relates to my focus in this article on the early years subsequent to the foundation of Israel. The need to express and further develop an American Zionist counter claim to the call of Aliya became more urgent during times when the Yishuv’s demand for Aliya, with its Israel-centric and “negation of exile” undertones, seemed most credible and pressing. This was especially true in the 1950s. During this period, American Jews had to contend with the deterministic and pessimistic “negation of exile” conclusion that was now—even more so than in the 1930s—considered by many Israeli Zionists as an irrefutable lesson of Jewish history. In the eyes of many, the Holocaust gave credence to the view of Aliya as the only realistic response to the inherent inability of diaspora Jews to overcome the anti-Jewish hostility of their non-Jewish neighbors. In the same vein, Aliya was often presented as the sole solution for the chronic Jewish problems of marginality and victimhood. This conclusion became even more challenging with the advancement of Aliya by Ben Gurion and other Israeli leaders as the sole prospect that might enable an individual Jew to participate in the renewal and transformation of the Jewish people. The need to cope with this message became more urgent as identification with the newly born Jewish State became more central to most American Jews, Zionist, and non-Zionist alike. The following 1954 article by Ben Gurion demonstrates the enormity of the challenge which the Israeli demand for Aliya presented to devout American Zionist ideologists like Kaplan and Ben Halpern. In contrast to Ben Gurion’s willingness to reach a practical agreement with non-Zionists like Jacob Blaustein of the American Jewish Committee, he remained adamant in his outright rejection of any ideological compromise within the Zionist camp19 Not even a single Zionist leader in the Exile abandoned his comfort and possessions, neither in America, in England or in any other free and wealthy country…… not one personally joined in the titanic efforts imposed upon the young and tender State…… The Zionists in Exile, headed by the Zionists in America, are insulted and hurt when they are lumped together with all the Jews who wish for the good of the State…… But they……. regard themselves as an integral part of the American people…… the fact is that American Zionism, both of the rank-and-file and of the leaders, offers nothing but assistance from afar to the State of Israel……. it is impossible for us to escape the conclusion that the Zionist organization is no longer capable, after what happened to European Jewry, of raising the burden of Aliya, and that it is only an organization of distant friends of the State…… The Zionist Movement which has eliminated the duty of Aliya is only a misrepresentation of the idea of redemption…… Without the duty of Aliya…. the term Zionism loses its creative, revolutionary, redemptive content, and is only a polite term for a friend of the State for Israel. For there is no difference between a “Zionist” who claims to abide in his place in the exile and any ordinary Jew who also loves the State of Israel and desires it to be successful. The main challenge of American Zionists when “translating” this Zionist vision of Aliya was how to reframe positively the call for mass immigration, or any other Israeli Zionist vision which might imply the demise of the American Jewish community. In a period when the demand for Aliya became more credible and the need to cope with it more urgent, American Zionism could not afford to ignore this demand, nor interpret it as only suitable for a small group of “experts” and zealots, or alternatively, other, non-American diasporas. Rather, there was a growing need to reframe in positive terms the underlying Israeli-Zionist claim that only in Israel, within a sovereign Jewish majority, was there the possibility for long-term development of a vital and all-inclusive Jewish life. As I will attempt to demonstrate, both Kaplan and Halpern attempted to design a new American Zionist doctrine, capable of transforming the call for Aliya into a positive component of American Jewish identity. Kaplan: The Foundation of Israel as a Crisis in Zionism Mordecai Menachem Kaplan (1881–1983) was without doubt one of the more prominent and influential Jewish thinkers within the American Jewish community of his time. Although his main contribution was in the field of Jewish philosophy and religion,20 his original ideas in the field of Jewish nationalism were no less central and influential within the American Zionist discourse; most prominent in this context was his association with the concept of “Jewish peoplehood.” In this article, I don’t presume to present the whole complexity and richness of Kaplan’s Zionist advocacy. This has been done eloquently by various researchers who have written extensively about Kaplan’s lifelong mission to define Jews as a national group, and how this definition challenged the exclusive role given to territory and sovereignty in mainstream Yishuv/Israeli Zionist discourse.21 Nevertheless, these ideas and the challenge they presented to territorial Zionism are most relevant to our discussion; they depict Kaplan, not only as a distinctive representative of the Kallen–Brandeis brand of hyphenated Zionist identification, in the words of Arthur Hertzberg, the one who stands as “the summary of American Zionism,”22 but also as an authentic representative of a widespread spiritual and ideological crisis felt by many American Zionist activists in the early post-1948 period when coping with the Israeli-centered agenda.23 A short quotation from Kaplan’s 1956 “A New Zionism,” may demonstrate that deep feeling of crisis and disappointment: The Situation in Zionism is far from encouraging. The World Zionist movement is on the wane. The very need for the continuance of Zionism is being questioned…… As long as Zionism was merely a dream, it suffered none of the disheartenments which have come with its realization. Like a newborn infant, the State of Israel was no sooner born than it contracted all the possible diseases of an infant state.24 Surely, this feeling of inner crisis, caused by the foundation of Israel and felt by people who often devoted their whole careers to Zionist advocacy, is not uncommon in situations when a life-long vision is being realized. There is certainly an inherent challenge in any attempt to continue and implicitly redefine the pursuit of a vision after its realization. In such situations, the very definition of what should be the ultimate vision and what it seeks to achieve may become controversial and a source of an inner ideological crisis. In the context of our discussion, the importance of this feeling of crisis and disappointment is that it enables us to better assess the challenge presented by the foundation of Israel as it was perceived by contemporary American Zionist activists. This is well demonstrated by Kaplan’s attempt to answer the challenge presented by the Israeli call for Aliya in the early days after the foundation of Israel. In the opening chapter of his 1956 manuscript, Kaplan expresses this sense of impending ideological crisis when presenting the foundation of Israel as belonging to a rare category of unprecedented events that might offer humanity great opportunities, but at the same time, if this opportunity is not fully appreciated, may turn into a source of existential threat. He likens the foundation of Israel to the discovery of nuclear power that can offer humanity enormous and unprecedented advantages, but at the same time can turn into a catastrophe because of man’s inability “to master the inexhaustible power which he has learned to release from the atom.” Taking into account the fact that Kaplan made this allusion to the atom bomb in the midst of the Cold War and a widespread American fear of an imminent unconventional world war that might bring total destruction upon human civilization, one may perhaps begin to grasp the enormity of the catastrophe that he feared a wrong interpretation of the foundation of Israel might bring upon Judaism: One might likewise formulate…… a philosophy of Jewish history, beginning with the Exodus from Egypt, which found our ancestors unprepared for entry into the Promised Land, down to our own day, when we Jews find ourselves unprepared as a people to avail ourselves fully of the opportunity presented us by the establishment of the State of Israel.25 Explaining what he meant when talking about the danger of a missed opportunity, Kaplan turned back to the identity crisis caused by Jewish emancipation a century and a half before. With emancipation, he maintained, came, “limitless opportunity to enlarge our horizons of human knowledge and endeavor. But we were caught frightfully unprepared. That accounts, in large part, for the heavy price we have been paying in the defection of our most talented and gifted men and women.” The foundation of Israel, as Kaplan saw it, offered Jews a renewed opportunity to finally take advantage of emancipation in a way that, rather than destroying and disintegrating Judaism, would strengthen and empower it. According to Kaplan, the creation of the State of Israel provided the opportunity to turn Jewish emancipation into a constructive and empowering force that would now be tantamount to a metamorphosis and the regeneration of the Jewish People. Most importantly, he believed that the main obstacle to the realization of this spiritual regeneration were internal Zionist calls that, like the exclusive demand for Aliya, had “negation of exile” implications. These calls, rather than unifying and revitalizing the Jewish people, might de-legitimize the very existence of the Jewish diaspora: At the present time, the issue over which Zionists are divided threatens…. to disintegrate further the unity of the Jewish People. The issue is the negation of the Diaspora vs. the affirmation of the Diaspora…. A resolution of that controversy is far more urgent now than it has ever been, because the State of Israel is now a living reality…. We must not omit from our reckoning the impact of the State of Israel on the will to Jewish survival. We should not ignore as irrelevant to Zionism the ominous reports that reach us from Israel.… If those trends continue to make headway, that would certainly be the end of Zionism, and in all likelihood, also of Judaism.26 Among the ominous reports that according to Kaplan came from Israel,27 the call for Aliya assumed in his eyes a most prominent role. He saw this call as part of a dangerous process during which the immediate pressing needs of Israel took center stage, and the more strategic goals of Zionism—those that presumed to redefine and transform modern Jewish living—were being neglected. While understanding the pressing economic and military needs of the newly born state, he warned American and Israeli Zionists alike not to permit those immediate tasks “to blur the larger Zionist perspective.” Responding to the Israeli Labor Zionist activist, Eliezer Livneh, who warned that without an adequate influx of settlers from Western countries “The entire edifice that has been created is in danger of collapse,”28 Kaplan maintained that such calls encouraged contempt and alienation towards the most existential needs of the Jewish diaspora, and by doing so undermined the higher strategic Zionist goal of spiritually transforming the whole Jewish people, Israelis and diaspora Jews alike. The above attitude of Israeli Jews to Zionism is part of a far more serious condition that is developing in their relation to the Jews of the Diaspora. They have had it drilled into their minds by the Zionists leaders in Israel that Jews of the Diaspora who fail to respond to the call to come and help rebuild the land are like the Israelites in the Wilderness who preferred the fleshpots of Egypt to freedom and national independence…. If the Jews in the Diaspora countries are to…. have a stake in the survival of Israel…. the last thing in the world.… that should be done to them is to alienate them by making them feel delinquent in their duty as Jews, because they do not wish to migrate to Israel.29 Kaplan rejected calls, like those of Livneh, that portrayed the needed transformation of American Zionism as one that used American Jewish communal machinery to instill in American Jews the need for “an all-embracing effort toward ultimate transfer of the Jews to Eretz Yisrael,” and a new awareness that genuine Jewish solidarity was tantamount to Aliya.30 He objected to such calls, declaring that, “to expect American Jews to subscribe to this narrow interpretation of Zionism is quixotic and harmful,” and that “the average American Jew would not take seriously a philosophy of life that asks him to contemplate a future in which he would be expected to renounce his American citizenship.” Most irritating to Kaplan was the implied Israeli assertion that American Jews have not struck roots in America. For him, the “wholeheartedness Americanism” of American Jews was an authentic feeling that must be acknowledged as an essential and legitimate part of American Zionism. In our day, the Jews of the Diaspora cannot help feeling perfectly at home in those countries where they are accorded full civil rights. Denouncing their reluctance to emigrate to Israel as disloyalty to the Jewish People would not help. On the other hand, urging them not to get out of touch with the vital center of Jewish life, nor to lose the sense of Jewish destiny, might help. That, however, would require placing their participation in the up building of Eretz Yisrael in an altogether different category. 31 Kaplan maintained that only a Zionist movement that was intent on bringing about a spiritual or religious revival of all Jews throughout the world would be entitled to ask the Jewish communities of the free world to provide their quota of men and women to come to Israel, either to live there permanently, or at least to devote several years to its service. Only as part of a spiritual movement would it be possible that, “the demand for halutizim would no more be resented than the demand of the churches for missionaries to go to the ends of the earth to spread the Christian gospel.”32 Following this last quotation it is fair to say that although Kaplan did not negate Aliya in itself, he certainly strove to reframe and completely change its context. Rather than accepting the Israeli depiction of Aliya as the sole legitimate diasporic Zionist expression, he portrayed the call for Aliya as tantamount to the demand of the church to spread the Christian gospel; Aliya was thus to become one means, among others, in the realization of a spiritual Jewish transformation that, rather than negating the exile, strove to normalize and legitimize the post-emancipatory status of diaspora Jewry. Indeed, not only Aliya but the State of Israel itself was to be viewed as only a means to the implementation of the higher Zionist goal of actively transforming and adjusting Judaism to the contemporary modern world: So long as the corporate character of world Jewry remains an enigma, it will be impossible to determine whether the Jews outside of the State of Israel are in exile or merely in a condition of dispersion. If the former, it is their Jewish duty to look forward to migration to Israel as their ultimate goal. If the latter, they may look forward to self-fulfillment as Jews outside of Israel…. All this leads to one inescapable conclusion: Zionism should henceforth treat the establishment of the State of Israel only as the first indispensable step in the salvaging of the Jewish people and the regeneration of its spirit.33 The full content of Kaplan’s program of how to regenerate the spirit of the Jewish people, and how to implement it in the context of Israel-diaspora relations,34 is beyond the scope of this article. For the purpose of this discussion on Kaplan’s coping with the challenge of Aliya, it is sufficient to note that it was based on a complete reversal of the idea that there can be no future for Judaism outside of Israel. Rather, according to Kaplan, the new role given to Aliya, indeed to Zionist ideology as a whole, had “to be redefined, so as to assure a permanent place for Diaspora Judaism.”35 Although it was based on Kaplan’s original religious-cultural outlook, in its core this re-definition of the role of Aliya belonged to the Kallen-Brandeis brand of Zionist discourse, one that emphasized the needed positive impact of Zionism on the hyphenated American-Jewish reality. Kaplan explained that differently from pre-modern society, where the surrounding world only touched Jewish life peripherally, now that the non-Jewish world penetrated all realms of Jewish life there was a need for a new kind of Zionist outlook, one that understood that segregation was out of the question, and that used the American Jewish experience to devise a new positive role for the unavoidable trends of integration in empowering and strengthening Jewish identity. Thus, rather than being de-legitimized by the Jewish State, the hyphenated American-Jewish experience was to become an essential component of the “New Zionism,” side by side with the all-encompassing autonomous Jewish experience of Israel. According to Kaplan, the role of Zionism could not be limited to the formation of a renewed feeling of native Jewish identity and belonging. Rather, it had to transform the tension between the parallel feelings of Jewish and American belonging into a positive force within a new vitalized and dynamic Judaism: If the integration is not to mean being swamped by the surrounding world, then it must give rise to a style of living which may be termed living in “two civilizations”.… Eretz Yisrael has to be reclaimed as the only place in the world where Jewish civilization can be perfectly at home. But also other lands where Jews have taken root have to be rendered capable of harboring that civilization. The one purpose cannot be achieved without the other. Should Jewish civilization fail to be at home in Eretz Yisrael, it will disappear everywhere else. Should it disappear everywhere else, it is bound to give way to some new Levantine civilization in Eretz Yisrael.36 Ben Halpern: The Power of Aliya in Sustaining Jewish Life in America In the words of his biographer, Ben Halpern was the most un-American of the American Zionist thinkers.37 One might add that within the wide spectrum of American Zionist opinions, Halpern was among the closest in his thinking to the Zionist leadership of the Israeli Labor government. These assessments seem to be substantiated by the central role Halpern gave to the idea of Exile, both as a heritage and a living reality, in empowering collective and personal Jewish identity. This was no doubt a very different Zionist outlook from Kaplan’s strong belief in the possibility of living within “two civilizations.” Rather than calling for the turning of the Jewish perception of being at home in America into the essential basis of a “New Zionism,” Halpern concentrated on the feeling of estrangement from the outside non-Jewish society. Still, despite this significant difference, both Halpern and Kaplan based their response to the Israeli call for Aliya on a clear understanding that for the foreseeable future most American Jews would remain in the United States, and therefore it was their Zionist obligation to devise their answer to Aliya in a way that rather than further negating the Diaspora and its legitimacy, would strengthen the vitality of a Jewish community that was highly integrated within its American surroundings. The following demonstrates Halpern’s commitment to this approach: The situation, let us recall, is one in which, after the establishment of the Jewish State, the Ingathering of the Exiles seems fated to remain incomplete and major Diaspora communities seem destined to persist. The specific question we must answer is this: How do we view the situation, or what do we propose, in regard to the great community of American Jews who are, and no doubt will remain, unaffected by the Ingathering into Zion? 38 Halpern’s book grappled with this shared question by engaging with two contradictory discourses: the first chapter, titled “America is Different,”39 celebrated 300 years of successful integration and acceptance of American Judaism by the Judeo-Christian American civilization; the rest of the book focused on the lingering exilic feeling of Jewish victimhood and marginality. Rather than resolving the contradiction, Halpern suggested that the growing Jewish feeling of being at home in America must be seen as the new and most relevant context in which American Jews should understand their persistent and never-to-be-resolved exilic Jewish experience. It is my claim that one must understand this complex stand as reflecting a new post-1948 reality that was brought about by the foundation of Israel—one that did not herald an end to the Jewish self-perception of being a minority within the larger American society but rather signified a major shift in American Jewish self-perception from a homeless to a homeland minority, emphasizing simultaneously Jewish marginality and a feeling of being at home within the larger non-Jewish society. Halpern’s book may be one of the first post-1948 attempts to grapple with this complex change by simultaneously using both the terminology of belonging and being an integral part of the American majority, and the language typical of a self-conscious marginalized minority. Examining Halpern’s book through its first chapter, titled “America is Different,” this manuscript was one of many essays in which American Jews celebrated the tercentenary of the arrival of the first Jews in North America in 1654. Indeed, to this day, this first chapter is often seen as representing a wide-spread Jewish feeling of “American Exceptionalism,”40 one that regarded the United States as the first successful application of a new principle in human affairs, and one that understood its own Jewish experience through this perspective.41 Halpern himself cogently characterized this perspective as part of a post-War triumphant atmosphere (characteristic of American society as a whole), and as an American Jewish declaration that “America is different,” because unlike the Old World, American Jews were no longer outsiders, European-style antisemitism was foreign to the democratic American spirit, and catastrophes on the order of the Holocaust were neither likely nor even possible on American soil.42 The rest of Halpern’s manuscript, however, belongs to a quite different discourse, one that rather than using American Exceptionalism as its context adopted a particularistic Jewish perspective that concentrated on “The American Jewish Problem” (as indeed indicated by the title of Halpern’s second chapter). While the first “America is Different” perspective focused on the uniqueness of the American Jewish experience in comparison with the Old World exile, the second perspective concentrated on the uniqueness of the American Jewish feeling of marginality in comparison with the non-Jewish American surrounding. For an accurate understanding of the American Jewish problem, it is essential…. to trace it to its specifically American conditions. We must understand American Jewry in terms of its difference from other, and specifically from Continental, Jewries. But at the same time, the most essential element of the American Jewish problem is the way in which Jews are different from other Americans.43 In direct opposition to Will Herberg’s “triple melting pot” theory, which claimed that to be an American means to be either a Protestant, a Catholic or a Jew,44 Halpern maintained that according to the American Protestant-Catholic consensus, “religion is, of course, completely free and private in America, so that all religions must be tolerated [but] it hardly needs stating that America is really a Christian country.”45 As indicated in his first chapter, it is important to note that despite his skepticism regarding the Judea-Christian consensus, Halpern did not deny the authenticity of American Jewish feelings of acceptance and integration within Christian America. On the contrary, he repeatedly portrayed the American version of the antisemitic phenomena as one that, in stark difference from Europe, “never emerged as an issue of importance in our political history or in the revolutionary and ideological struggles that shaped our national Way of Life.”46 That, however, made coping with the cultural and endemic antisemitism that persists in America much more difficult. In the midst of their social and cultural success, American Jews—according to Halpern—were destined to painfully find out that anti-Jewish hostility is a central and pervasive theme, an integral part of America’s highest values and traditions as a Christian society: The awe and dread of Ahasuerus, of the Cain people, have contributed to the beauty, the sublimity, the pathos of the whole range of Western religion, folklore, poetry, drama, music, art. It is in Shakespeare's Shylock, Dickens' Fagin, the power of the Oberammergau Passion Play; it is in Chaucer, in Grimm's fairy tales, in the great chorales of Bach–and even in the queerly ambivalent Jew-apotheosis of Leon Bloy. Nor is it something a Gentile can escape by “emancipating” himself, by becoming a liberal or a socialist - or, obviously, a fascist.47 Paradoxically, it was the uniqueness of the American Jewish experience of belonging that, according to Halpern, made the persistence of antisemitism inexplicable and consequently more difficult to cope with. Unlike Old World societies where Jews were fully conscious of their distinctiveness vis-à-vis the institutionalized hostility against them, in America, “the effect of increasing Jewish absorption in their local American situation dulled their intuition not only of Exile, but of the anti-Semitism with which it is inseparably coupled.”48 Stripped of their Old World awareness of being “strangers,” American Jews found themselves in a sort of “invisible ghetto,” one that they had no means of understanding or coping with. In America today…. we lack the prerequisites for a Jewish-Christian “understanding” regarding the state of Exile. There is not even a real tradition of the ghetto here, for the immigrant “ghetto” we know of is something altogether unrelated to the permanent status of segregation, subjection, and alienhood which this word historically signified…. Particularly in America, with its Protestant ideal of the individual conscience.… as the true subject, of all “religious experience,” there can be no public understanding regarding a status for the Jews based on the idea of a collective Exile.49 This inability of American Jews to cope with the “invisible ghetto” in which they found themselves was problematic, not only because of its personal psychological effects but also because the most dangerous consequences were to be found in its impact on the collective Jewish consciousness. According to Halpern, any collective Jewish endeavor that ignores the Christian anti-Jewish characteristics of the “American Way” must result in an anemic and unsustainable Jewishness. In direct opposition to Kaplan,50 Halpern warned that any such attempt would result in a Judaism that is based on the internalization of the hostile and anti-Jewish viewpoint of Christian America: While the “Judea-Christian consensus” is proposed as something intimately related to the American Way, the proposed relationship…. becomes false as soon as it attempts to be pertinent…. In all Christian countries, and in America too, Christian tradition regards the Jews as a people rejected of God, who must eventually disappear when God lets them be reconciled to Him. In the meantime they exist as a people under a ban, who should not be molested, but who are fundamentally alien in the Christian world…. Consequently, whatever influence “Hebrew ideas” had on social organization, it could not have been through the rejected doctrine of Judaism but solely through Christianity.51 The only way to avoid the danger of such misunderstanding and its corresponding sense of alienation was for Jews in contemporary America to emphasize the relevance of the notion of “Exile” rather than attempting to ignore or subordinate it. This was exactly the role that Halpern ascribed to the concept of the Ingathering of the Exiles in American Jewish identification. Unlike Ben Gurion and the Israeli leadership, Halpern did not call upon American Jews to personally make Aliya. Instead, he urged them to be emotionally and spiritually involved in this process which he described as, “the most significant movement in the contemporary course of Jewish history.” By taking part in this process, even as a vicarious experience, American Jews would finally become aware of their paradoxical situation of feeling “at home in Exile;”52 and basing their Jewishness on this self-awareness, they would be empowered to consistently and continuously combat this negative situation. Halpern believed that a viable Judaism in American could only be sustained by those “who see Exile as a personal problem…. who cannot take seriously the compromises American Jews are compelled to devise in order to live with it.”53 Just as the emotional and political participation in the struggle for Jewish statehood during the second half of the 1940s enabled American Jews to build a self-conscious and confident Judaism in America, so their indirect emotional and spiritual participation in the “Ingathering of the Exiles” would strengthen the structure of the American Jewish community: They argue that the doctrine of Exile is a pessimistic doctrine which cannot encourage Jews to build Judaism in America. As we have seen, this was certainly the reverse of the truth in the period before the State of Israel was founded. Precisely in the concept of Exile, by which the Jewish problem is conceived on a historic scale transcending contemporary America, and in the enthusiasm of trying at long last, to overcome Exile through Zionism, did Jews find the confidence to swim against the stream of American pressure and build a Jewishness more authentic, if less convenient, than we now dare to hope for.54 The Ingathering of Exiles was for Halpern a means to build an assertive and positive diasporic Judaism—one that was not tempted by the welcoming American atmosphere to repress its sense of Exile and to adopt the anti-Jewish values of the dominant Christian culture as though they were its own. Rather, a strong Zionist identification with the collective Jewish efforts of the ingathering was supposed to become an effective force for a more authentic and self-conscious Jewishness in America. Halpern maintained that, “No Jewishness that can be taken seriously is possible in America without going counter to convenience, and without grasping the Jewish question in a historic frame that transcends the contemporary American situation.”55 In advocating this message he directly and openly opposed Kaplan’s two-civilization approach. “Mordecai M. Kaplan does not care to hear the word ‘Exile’ applied to American Jews,” Halpern told his readers, “but he implicitly concedes the point, when he looks to contemporary Israel for the substantial secular values.…which can provide a model of authentic Jewishness for the sustenance of a reconstructed Jewish cult in America.56 Indeed, the last quotation demonstrates the starkly different Zionist answers that Kaplan and Halpern gave to the Israeli ideological stand regarding Aliya. At the heart of their disagreement were the opposing roles they gave to American Jewish identification with the newly founded Jewish State. While Halpern saw this role as one that made American Jews better aware of their inherent outsider status despite their day-to-day insider experience, Kaplan advocated a “New Zionism” that would enhance and legitimize the insider experience of American Jews as the positive basis of a vitalized diasporic Judaism. Still, in a more general sense, both Kaplan and Halpern represented a shared American Jewish answer to Aliya, one that was different from the Israeli perspective, and one that, rather than rejecting the hyphenated American Jewish status, saw the role of Zionism as enabling to cope with the inherent hyphenated insider-outsider tension experienced by American Jews of that period. Kaplan, Halpern, and the Demand for Aliya in Retrospect The shared quest of Kaplan and Halpern to cope with the insider–outsider status of American Jews was not coincidental. To a large extent it was characteristic of the 1950s, and a result of the influx of American Jews into the suburbs. This generation of American Jews, most of them American born, were torn between the insular Jewish atmosphere of the urban Jewish neighborhoods in which they grew up, and their new suburban American middle-class environments. To a large degree the unresolved insider–outsider tension was the most dominant experience of that generation.57 No wonder that both Kaplan and Halpern understood the Israeli call for Aliya as directly tipping the delicate balance between the two parts of their American-Jewish hyphenated identity. Whether their answers to Aliya prescribed a solution that concentrated on the outsider or the insider status of American Jews, the desired role of Israel, in their eyes, was to enable the simultaneous pursuit of Jewish distinctiveness and Jewish integration into middle class America. Future research that examines a large number of American Jewish and Zionist intellectuals and their responses to the challenge of Aliya during the early years after the foundation of Israel may show whether indeed the two responses of Kaplan and Halpern represented broader patterns characteristic of that period.58 The question remains as to how relevant are Kaplan’s and Halpern’s answers for today’s generation that to a large degree takes its American belonging for granted and therefore experiences the insider–outsider tension in a very different and perhaps less acute manner. Specifically, to what extent are the current Israeli calls for Aliya, even if presented only in a subtle manner, still viewed as a potential challenge that must be transformed in a way that would empower American Jewish diasporic life?59 The answer to these questions is beyond the scope of this article; it demands a thorough analysis of the changes that occurred in the Israeli calls for Aliya,60 and the credibility of the challenges these calls represent in the eyes of today’s American Jewry. Put in a larger context, one needs to define the two approaches set by Kaplan and Halpern in such a manner that would enable a further examination of their relevance. Perhaps such definitions should transcend the particular question of Aliya and the challenges it presents and concentrate instead on the complex role of Israel vis-à-vis the hyphenated reality of Jewish diasporic life: a dual role that even today simultaneously serves as a focus of inner diasporic Jewish solidarity and as an inner Jewish threat to the very legitimacy and vitality of Jewish diasporic existence. Consequently, identification and ambivalence towards Israel should be viewed as interconnected and part of the same diasporic coping pattern with the challenge that Israel presents to the hyphenated diasporic Jewish reality. This interconnection between identification and ambivalence may be demonstrated through the tendency of many contemporary American Jews to follow a “Halpern pattern,” namely, to see the pursuit of Jewish distinctiveness as a most important tool in the battle for diasporic Jewish continuity, and to identify this battle with a continuous defensive mode against what they perceive as persistent expressions of combined anti-Jewish and anti-Israel hostility.61 Often, however, the very calls which assign Israel such an important role in the battle for Jewish distinctiveness against a hostile world, also advocate a self-sustaining Jewish diasporic hyphenated identity that is independent of Israel, and must deal with starkly different challenges from those faced by the all-embracing majority Jewish society of Israel.62 A parallel duality may be seen among contemporary American Jews who follow the “Kaplan pattern,” especially those who concentrate on the ability of Israel to contextualize the question of Jewish distinctiveness in a way that corresponds with the individualistic and universalistic “Tikkun Olam” ethos of the American-Jewish hyphenated experience. Observing the current role of Israel through this perspective they often tend to adopt a critical view of the particularistic values associated with the current policies of Israel, emphasizing a growing and perhaps unbridgeable conflict between Israel’s particularism and the liberal ethos of American Jewish identity; frequently connecting this perceived gap with the issue of the “distancing” of American Jews—particularly the younger generations—from Israel.63 In some cases, however, (most pronounced in the field of Jewish philanthropic attitudes toward Israel) the critical views of Israel’s particularism may be interpreted as “critical engagement”—an important component of Jewish attachment to Israel and personal involvement in its affairs, and implicitly, an important part of diasporic Jewish vitality.64 One may conclude by saying that the two patterns represented in this essay by Kaplan and Halpern may have a much wider relevancy than the relatively limited discussion of the American Zionist responses to the challenges of Aliya during the 1950s. They may help us understand the gap between the hyphenated and the all-encompassing viewpoints of the Jewish American diaspora and Israel as the source for a simultaneous American Jewish attachment and ambivalence about Israel, indeed for an inherent interconnection between these two seemingly contradictory attitudes. In this context it is important to note that the image of Israel as representing an all-embracing Jewish society does not necessarily represent the sole reality of Israeli society. Rather, this image and the challenges it presents are also relevant for various hyphenated identities within Israeli society, and thus further research may also examine the relevancy of the Kaplan and Halpern patterns to the understanding of inner trends within Israeli society itself.65 Notes 1. It is important to note that this diasporic image of Israel as representing an all-embracing Jewish society does not necessarily represent the sole reality of Israeli society. 2. See for example: Amos Oz, “Imagining the Other,” in The Writer in the Jewish Community: An Israeli-North American Dialogue, edited by Richard Siegel and Tamar Sofer (Rutherford, NJ, 1993), p. 115–23; Steven Bayme, Leonard J. Fein, Samuel G. Freedman, Erica Yoffle, The A. B. Yehoshua Controversy: An Israeli-Diaspora Dialogue on Jewishness, Israeliness and Identity (American Jewish Committee, August 2006). 3. Mordecai M. Kaplan, A New Zionism (New York, 1954); Ben Halpern, The American Jew – A Zionist Analysis (New York, 1956). Although I will not engage in this article in a further and larger survey of American Zionist intellectuals and their responses to the calls of Aliya during this early period, it is my hope that this comparative analysis may lay the foundation for such an endeavor. 4. Ofer Shiff, “But Mordecai Bowed Not Down: Abba Hillel Silver's Early anti-Nazi Struggle,” Iyunim Bitkumat Israel, Vol. 20 (2010), pp. 413–36 [in Hebrew]. 5. Abba Hillel Silver, “But Mordecai Bowed Not Down,” March 8, 1936, in Therefore Choose Life: Selected Sermons, Addresses, and Writings of Abba Hillel Silver, edited by Herbert Weiner (Cleveland, 1967), p. 113–14. 6. Silver arrived in Berlin on January 22, 1933. 7. Shlomo Shafir, “Abba Hillel Silver and His Attitude towards Germany,” Yalkut Morsehet, Vol. 76 (1994), pp. 35–62. 8. Silver represented in this case a Zionist discourse that was not limited to American Zionism—one that responded to the 1930s wave of antisemitism in Europe by portraying the growing social isolation of European Jewry as an existential threat for both Zionism and Judaism. For example, Dr Nahum Sokolow, President of the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency, repeatedly said (in the 18th World Zionist Congress in Prague (1933) and in the 19th World Zionist Congress in Luzern (1935)), that emancipation and Zionism were inter-dependent. (See for example: “The Current Jewish Situation of the Jews in the World – The Lecture of Nahum Sokolow in the 18th Zionist Congress in Prague,” Davar, March, 27, 1933). 9. A.H. Silver, “Autobiography/Memoirs,” Abba Hillel Silver Papers, Ben Gurion Archive, Sde Boker (hereinafter referred to as AHSP), Series VII (Personal Miscellaneous), Folders 1–12. 10. A.H. Silver, “But Mordecai Bowed Not Down.” 11. A.H. Silver, “The Cauldron of Europe, the First of Two Lectures on Rabbi Silver’s visit to Europe,” November 3, 1935, AHSP Series IV (Sermons), Folder 485; “We Should Not Attempt to Move Jews from Germany,” The Jewish Advocate, March 10, 1936, AHSP Series V (Writings), Folder 346; “Austria and the Jews of Austria,” March 20, 1938, AHSP Series IV (Sermons), Folder 555; “Five Years of Hitler,” February 6, 1938, AHSP Series IV (Sermons), Folder 550. 12. A.H. Silver, “B’nai B’rith Convention,” May 1937, AHSP Series V (Writings), Folder 424. 13. About the “negative” emphasis on antisemitism in Zionist discourse, see: Anita Shapira, “Zionism and Anti-Semitism,” Modern Judaism, Vol. 15, No. 3 (1995), pp. 215–32; Yosef Gorni, “Negation of the Exile and the Return to History,” in Zionism and the Return to History: A Reassessment, edited by S. N. Eisenstadt and Moshe Lissak (Jerusalem, 1999). 14. Ofer Shiff, The Downfall of Abba Hillel Silver and the Foundation of Israel (Syracuse, 2014), p. 80–105. 15. Gideon Shimoni, The Zionist Ideology (Hanover & London, 1995); Allon Gal, “The Mission Motif in American Zionism (1898-1948),” American Jewish History, Vol. 75, No. 4 (1986), pp. 363–85. 16. Louis D. Brandeis, “To Be a Jew,” an address delivered on May 18, 1913 before the Young Men's Hebrew Association of Chelsea, Mass., published in: Brandeis on Zionism: A Collection of Addresses and Statements by Louis D. Brandeis, World Zionist Organization, http://www.wzo.org.il/index.php?dir=site&page=articles&op=item&cs=3276&langpage=heb 17. In an earlier research that focused on the challenges posed by the modern Jewish quest for normalization, Yosef Gorny characterized the approach represented by Kaplan as “distinctive normalization,” and the one represented by Halpern as “Jewish normalization.” Yosef Gorny, The Quest for Collective Identity (Tel Aviv, 1990), pp. 22–56, 79–117. 18. One might refer to Zvi Hirsch Masliansky and Hayim Greenberg as two figures who paved the way in terms of developing this distinctive Americanized conceptual-philosophical framework for Zionism. 19. David Ben Gurion, “Facing the Situation,” Ichud Information, No. 2 (February 4, 1954). It should be noted that the article was published just before Kaplan and Halpern published their own manuscripts. It should also be noted that Halpern, as a Labor Zionist, was a member of the “Ichud Olami.” About Ben Gurion’s emphasis during this period on Aliya as the sole expression of Zionism, see: Yosef Gorny, The Quest for Collective Identity, pp. 79–88. For other examples of the Israeli stand and the American Jewish response, including the Ben Gurion/Blaustein exchanges, see: Zvi Ganin, An Uneasy Relationship: American Jewish Leadership and Israel, 1948–1957 (Syracuse, 2005); Ariel L. Feldstein, Gordian Knot: David Ben-Gurion, The Zionist Organization and American Jewry, 1948-1963 (Sde Boqer, 2003); Gideon Shimoni, “The Ideological Debate in World Zionism since the Establishment of Israel,” in The Challenge of Independence, Ideological and Cultural Aspects of Israel’s First Decade, edited by Mordechai Bar-On (Jerusalem, 1999) pp. 104–32 [in Hebrew]. 20. Among others things, he formulated the idea of “Judaism as a civilization” and was the founder of Reconstructionist Judaism. 21. Among the more recent writings on this subject are the books by Noam Pianko: Zionism and the Roads not Taken: Rawidowiz, Kaplan, Kohn (Bloomington, 2010); and Jewish Peoplehood: An American Innovation (New Brunswick, 2015). 22. The Zionist Idea: A Historical Analysis and Reader, edited by Arthur Herzberg (New York, 1977), p. 536. 23. About the atmosphere of crisis and divisiveness during the fifty-first ZOA convention, held in Pittsburgh in early July, 1948, just a month and a half after Israel had declared its independence, see: O. Shiff, The Downfall of Abba Hillel Silver, p. 115, Emanuel Neumann, In the Arena: An Autobiographical Memoir (New York, 1977), pp. 288–89. 24. M Kaplan, A New Zionism, p. 15. 25. Ibid, p. 11 26. Ibid, p. 13. In an earlier 1948 essay (M. Kaplan, “The Future of the American Jew,” in The Zionist Idea: A Historical Analysis and Reader, edited by Arthur Herzberg, pp. 536–44) Kaplan seemed to be even more critical of the Israeli “negation of exiles” outlook and the danger it posed to Zionism and Judaism: “Whatever deprives us of faith in the possibility of Jewish life in America not only de-Judaizes millions of our people; it demoralizes and degrades us.” (“The Future of the American Jew,” p. 538) 27. Among the worrisome reports from Israel, Kaplan quoted an article from the Jerusalem Post that described how “The Jew of the Galut is looked upon as inferior to the new and vigorous Israeli (Gerda Luft, “The Break with the Past,” The Jerusalem Post, June 5, 1953; quoted in A New Zionism, p. 30). In the same vein, he criticized Ben Gurion for failing to present universal and human values in the new state education curriculum, and for preferring over them values like the primacy of manual labor or the pioneering spirit that are “not likely to produce that type of Jew for whom the Jewish people has waited and hoped the last nineteen centuries.” (A New Zionism, pp. 30–31) 28. Eliezer Livneh, State and Diaspora (Jerusalem, 1953), p. 67 (quoted in A New Zionism, p. 16). 29. M. Kaplan, A New Zionism, p. 18. 30. Eliezer Livneh, p. 37 (quoted in A New Zionism, p. 19). In his earlier 1948 essay, Kaplan was even more blunt in criticizing this type of Zionist education: “This kind of Eretz-Israel-centered education in America is bound to have a ruinous effect on the happiness and character of the child…. the assumption that it is inherently impossible for the Jew to feel at home in a non-Jewish environment…. is a counsel of despair, and we cannot build an educational system on despair.” (“The Future of the American Jew,” p. 541). 31. M. Kaplan, A New Zionism, pp. 20–22. See also “The Future of American Jew,” p. 537–38. 32. For a similar metaphor of Jewish immigrants to Eretz Yisrael as missionaries, see “The Future of the American Jew,” p. 538. In this earlier essay, Kaplan insisted that young Jewish Americans are needed not only as halutizim in Israel, but even more so in the American Jewish community which desperately needs “every available person who has the ability to transmute the cultural and religious values of our tradition into a living creative force.” 33. M. Kaplan, A New Zionism, pp. 25–26. 34. For a discussion of Kaplan’s thought in the context of Israel–Diaspora relations, see: Yossi Turner, “Zion and the Diaspora in the Thought of Mordecai Kaplan and Eliezer Schweid,” In Homeland in Exile: Otherness and Belonging in the Jewish Diaspora, edited by Ofer Shiff, Iyunim Bitkumat Israel Thematic Series, Vol. 9 (2015), pp. 363–94. 35. A New Zionism, p. 41 36. Ibid, p. 42. Kaplan expressed a similar idea in his earlier 1948 essay. Under the subtitle, “No Jewish Homeland without Judaism in the Diaspora,” he asserted that “given the will, the intelligence and the devotion, it is feasible.… within the frame of a democratic American civilization…. that in the long run, we might achieve in our way as great and lasting a contribution to human values as they [the Israelis] are achieving in theirs.” (“The Future of the American Jew,” p. 539). 37. Arthur A. Goren, “Ben Halpern: ‘At Home in Exile’, in The ‘Other’ New York Jewish Intellectuals edited by Carole S. Kessner (New York, 1994), p. 73. Among his roles as a Labor Zionist, a public intellectual, and a scholar, Halpern served as the Executive Secretary of Hechalutz in America, a managing editor of the Jewish Frontier (1943–49), a member of the Labor Zionist Organization’s executive committee, and at the time of the publication of the discussed text (1956), had just finished his term as the associate director of the Jewish Agency’s Department of Education in New York and had entered academic life as a research associate at Harvard University’s Center of Middle Eastern Studies. Most relevant to our discussion, in 1938 Halpern made Aliya and settled in Kibbutz Givat Brenner for a short period of about one year before returning to the States. 38. Ben Halpern, The American Jew – A Zionist Analysis (New York, 1956), p. 155–56. 39. This chapter was published independently at least twice: Ben Halpern, “America Is Different,” Midstream, Vol. 1 (Autumn 1955), pp. 39–52; and in a collection of articles edited by Marshall Sklare, The Jews: Social Patterns of an American Group (Glencoe, 1956). 40. Tony Michels, “Is America ‘Different’? A Critique of American Jewish Exceptionalism,” American Jewish History, Vol. 96, No. 3 (September, 2010), pp. 201–24. 41. For descriptions of this Jewish interpretation of American Exceptionalism, see: Beth S. Wenger, History Lessons: The Creation of American Jewish Heritage (Princeton, 2010), pp. 1–14; Jonathan D. Sarna, “The Cult of Synthesis in American Jewish Culture,” Jewish Social Studies, Vol. 5 (Fall 1998/Winter 1999), pp. 52–79; Arthur A. Goren, “A ‘Golden Decade’ for American Jews, 1945–1955,” Studies in Contemporary Jewry, Vol. 8 (1992), pp. 10–17. 42. B. Halpern, The American Jew, p. 12. 43. Ibid, p. 44. 44. Will Herberg, Protestant, Catholic Jew: An Essay in American Religious Sociology (Garden City, New York, 1955). 45. B. Halpern, The American Jew, pp. 40–41. 46. Ibid, p. 55. 47. Ibid, pp. 50–51. 48. Ibid, p. 58. 49. Ibid, p. 57. 50. In his book, Halpern criticized Kaplan explicitly and extensively. See for example, The American Jew, pp. 131–38 and 150–52. See also: Ben Halpern, “The Idea of the Spiritual Home” (A Critical Essay on Mordecai Kaplan’s ‘A New Zionism’), Hazut, Vol. 2 (1957). 51. Ibid, pp. 42–43. 52. This title, which was used by Arthur Goren for his biography of Halpern, was also the title of a 1933 article by Halpern: “At Home in Exile,” Furrows, Vol. 1, No. 3 (January, 1933), pp. 6–9. 53. Ibid, p. 159. 54. Ibid, p. 148. 55. Ibid, 149. 56. Ibid, 147. 57. Marshall Sklare and Joseph Greenblum, Jewish Identity on the Suburban Frontier: A Study of Group Survival in the Open Society (Chicago, 1979). 58. Further research that examines the compatibility of responses to Aliya of other contemporary American Zionists with either Kaplan’s or Halpern’s approach includes, among others, the responses of Nahum Goldman, Robert Gordis, Hayim Greenberg, Rose Halprin, Horace Kallen, Ludwig Lewinshon, Emanuel Newman, Maurice Samuel, and Abba Hillel Silver. 59. See for example, Shaul Kelner’s discussion of Birthright Israel tours, and his claim that the raison d’etre of these tours is not to encourage Aliya but rather to ensure the continued existence of vibrant, Israel-oriented, Jewish communities abroad. Shaul Kelner, Tours that Bind: Diaspora, Pilgrimage and Israeli Birthright Tourism (New York, 2010). 60. For a discussion of the changes in the implicit Israeli negation of exile doctrine, see: Chaim Gans, “Exile and Diaspora: Two Zionisms” in Israeli Exiles: Homeland and Exile in Israeli Discourse, edited by Ofer Shiff, Iyunim Bitkumat Israel Thematic Series, Vol. 10, pp. 204–31 [in Hebrew]. 61. For contemporary examples of this approach, see: Ruth R. Wisse, “Prologue: Letter to a New Israeli,” in If I am not for Myself – The Liberal Betrayal of the Jews (New York, 1992), pp. 1–20; Alan Dershowitz, “Going on Television: The Pervasiveness of Anti-Jewish Attitude,” Chutzpah (New York, 1991), pp. 93–129. 62. An indication of how complex is the attempt to peruse the Halpern pattern in the very differing hyphenated setting of the American Jewish community is a second 1997 book by Alan Dershowitz in which he responded to the Israeli demand for Aliya in a manner that is reminiscent of Kaplan’s call for a “positive Judaism”—in the words of Dershowitz, “a dramatic transformation of Jewish identity.… from negative to positive, from externally imposed to internally chosen – will require change in the very theory of Zionism.…” Alan M. Dershowitz, “Make Aliyah! The Israeli Solution to the Jewish Question of the Twenty-first Century,” in The Vanishing American Jew: In Search of Jewish Identity for the next Century (Boston and New York, 1997), p. 242. 63. For a contemporary example of this approach, see: Peter Beinart, The Crisis of Zionism (New York, 2013); Michael N. Barnett, The Star and the Stripes: A History of the Foreign Policies of American Jews (Princeton, 2016); Dov Waxman, Trouble in the Tribe: The American Jewish Conflict over Israel (Princeton, 2016). 64. Theodore Sasson, The New American Zionism (New York, 2014). 65. For a discussion of Israeli society through the coping patterns of various hyphenated identities with the dominant all-embracing Israeli Jewish identity, see, for example, the discussion of Talia Shiff regarding the Levantine identity within Israeli society (Talia Shiff, “Between Minor and Major Identity: Jacqueline Kahanoff and the ‘Israelization’ of Levantinism,” Theory and Criticism, No. 37 (Fall 2010), pp. 125–49.) © The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com

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Modern Judaism: A Journal of Jewish Ideas and ExperienceOxford University Press

Published: Feb 1, 2018

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