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Imagining Zion

Imagining Zion: Dreams, Designs, and Realities in a Century of Jewish Settlement

S. Ilan Troen
Copyright Date: 2003
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 368
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  • Book Info
    Imagining Zion
    Book Description:

    This timely book tells the fascinating story of how Zionists colonizers planned and established nearly 700 agricultural settlements, towns, and cities from the 1880s to the present. This extraordinary activity of planners, architects, social scientists, military personnel, politicians, and settlers is inextricably linked to multiple contexts: Jewish and Zionist history, the Arab/Jewish conflict, and the diffusion of European ideas to non-European worlds.S. Ilan Troen demonstrates how professionals and settlers continually innovated plans for both rural and urban frontiers in response to the competing demands of social and political ideologies and the need to achieve productivity, economic independence, and security in a hostile environment. In the 1930s, security became the primary challenge, shaping and even distorting patterns of growth.Not until the 1993 Oslo Accords, with prospects of compromise and accommodation, did planners again imagine Israel as a normal state, developing like other modern societies. Troen concludes that if Palestinian Arabs become reconciled to a Jewish state, Israel will reassign priority to the social and economic development of the country and region.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-12800-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xiii-xviii)

    The return of Jews to their homeland is a central event in contemporary history and a continually vexing issue in world affairs. While there has been a small but constant Jewish presence in Palestine, the center of Jewish life, culture, and learning moved for nearly two millennia from one Diaspora community to another. In 1900, less than one-half of 1 percent of world Jewry, or only approximately 50,000, lived in theYishuv(the Jewish community in Palestine). In the course of the twentieth century, the Yishuv increased a hundredfold, to nearly 5 million. By the end of the first decade...

  5. PART I: The Zionist Village

    • CHAPTER 1 Covenantal Communities
      (pp. 3-14)

      From the 1880s, Jews who swam against the stream and returned to Palestine came with increasingly precise and practical conceptions of how the country could be settled. The first generation of pioneers and planners imagined a land filled with villages in imitation of the Europe they had known before emigration. They assumed that the European experience could be applied directly to changing European Jewry into a Middle Eastern peasantry. Jewish agricultural colonization did transform Palestine from a poorly developed and backward country into a land that supports hundreds of villages and boasts one of the most modern and efficient agricultural...

    • CHAPTER 2 Trial and Error in the Village Economy
      (pp. 15-41)

      Miniature commonwealths—moshava, kibbutz, or moshav—could not survive without a solid economic basis. Achieving this was far more difficult than the first generation of sponsors and settlers imagined. Crucial debates began in earnest in the 1920s over which economic system was best suited for Zionist villages. During that decade, both the moshav and the kibbutz models were refined, and assumed their now recognizable form of social and economic organization. By the early 1930s, there were attempts to combine the advantages of the kibbutz and the moshav in themoshav shitufi(smallholder’s settlement). In subsequent decades, further modifications took place,...

    • CHAPTER 3 The Economic Basis for Arab/Jewish Accommodation
      (pp. 42-61)

      Zionism achieved international recognition and legitimacy on the eve of Britain’s conquest of Palestine. The Balfour Declaration proclaimed in November 1917 that “His Majesty’s Government views with favour the establishment in Palestine of a National Home for the Jewish people.” The way appeared clear for the expansion and development of the Yishuv (the Jewish community in Palestine). However, the Balfour Declaration also maintained that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.” The Covenant of the League of Nations reiterated the Balfour Declaration’s commitment that a Jewish “national home” would...

    • CHAPTER 4 The Village as Military Outpost
      (pp. 62-82)

      Although earlier designs of Jewish villages did not seriously or effectively take self-defense into account, this concern became paramount in the 1930s. Responding to the increasing outbreaks of conflict and growing competition with the country’s Arabs, planners gave unanticipated preference to the kibbutz as the instrument for expanding settlement. For approximately twenty years, from the mid-1930s through the early 1950s, the kibbutz was the spearhead of Zionist settlement policy. After the establishment of the state when an army was available to defend borders, the moshav displaced the kibbutz, again becoming the preferred model. Thus, the colony of 100 families was...

  6. PART II: Urban Zion

    • CHAPTER 5 Tel Aviv: Vienna on the Mediterranean
      (pp. 85-111)

      The discussion of urban Zionism properly begins with Theodor Herzl’sAltneuland(Old-New Land) (1902), a suggestive blueprint for Zionist colonization thought. Written between 1898 and 1902,Altneulandis a political tract in the form of a utopian novel, and immediately recognizable as a contemporary, political/literary genre. The primary purpose of the book was to suggest possible solutions to the practical problems that had stymied colonization efforts in Palestine over the past twenty years. The novel’s pervasive optimism regarding colonization is articulated in a phrase that has since echoed through Zionist discourse: “If you will it, it is no legend” (Wenn...

    • CHAPTER 6 Urban Alternatives: Modern Metropolis, Company Town, and Garden City
      (pp. 112-140)

      In the romance of Zionist colonization, European Jews transformed themselves into peasants. Their avowed enthusiasm for life on the land and Zionism’s investment of ideological energies and material resources in rural settlement masks the fact that most Jews went to cities.¹ Some were attracted by cultural and economic opportunities, and others could not find a place in the small and limited farming colonies. However romantic, life on the land generally entailed considerable privation and demanded dedication and personal sacrifice. Zionism had to offer more than the moshava, the moshav, and the kibbutz to attract the numbers that could transform Palestine...

    • CHAPTER 7 “Imagined Communities”: The Zionist Variation
      (pp. 141-160)

      In the modern period, Europeans fixed many of the physical boundaries and much of the social, cultural, and institutional character of future nation-states. The colonies outside Europe were often “imagined communities,” to use the current phrase of Benedict Anderson, a leading scholar of this phenomenon, and Europeans and European ideas were crucial in shaping them. The European imagination also clearly contributed to determining the form of Palestine’s Zionist cities and villages and the societies they contained.¹ But the Zionist imagination was different from that of other European colonizers. In telling the story of Zionist settlement I have detailed the extent...

  7. PART III: Post-Independence Opportunities and Necessities

    • CHAPTER 8 The Science and Politics of National Development
      (pp. 163-183)

      On November 29, 1947, the United Nations resolved to replace the British Mandate with two independent states, Arab and Jewish, in most of Palestine. The area around Jerusalem was to remain acorpus separatumand become internationalized under United Nations control. It was believed that only in this way could a violent civil conflict be averted. According to this plan, the Jewish state was not exclusively Jewish. Nearly 40 percent of the population was to be Palestinian Arab. The Jewish Agency accepted the plan. The Arabs inside and outside Palestine rejected it and immediately inaugurated a campaign of violence to...

    • CHAPTER 9 From New Towns to Development Towns
      (pp. 184-207)

      I srael’s national Master Plan of 1950 is considered an outstanding example of post–Second World War national planning.¹ This thoughtful and carefully formulated document situates physical planning in relation to the development of a national economy, the integration of a multitude of immigrants from diverse cultures, and the possibility that the War of Independence might not be Israel’s final conflict. The plan also reflects new opportunities once the British no longer limited settlement. Blaming the Mandatory authorities for “restrictive political conditions” that inhibited a normal distribution of the Jewish population throughout the country, it called for a radical alteration...

    • CHAPTER 10 Israeli Villages: Transforming the Countryside
      (pp. 208-232)

      In parallel with the post-Independence emphasis on developing cities, Zionist planners continued to be active in the countryside. Indeed, about 400 villages were established in Israel’s first decade; more than at any other period during the first century of Zionist colonization. Statehood provided planners with legal powers, bureaucracies, land reserves, and financial resources. Moreover, the strategic concerns of the new state gave priority to massive settlement of frontiers. From the Lebanese and Syrian borders in the Upper Galilee southward into the Negev, graduates of youth movements, ex-soldiers, and new immigrants established kibbutzim and moshavim. In terms of numbers and pioneers,...

    • CHAPTER 11 Establishing a Capital: Jerusalem, 1948–1967
      (pp. 233-258)

      Jerusalem has been exceptional not only in the history of Zionist planning and but also in twentieth-century urban planning. In setting forth the anomalies of this city, I begin with what it is not: it is not the product of the informed insights of well-trained professionals acting in accordance with modern planning theory; nor is it a consequence of the energizing forces of contemporary finance, commerce, or industry. Rather, it is an ancient city that has undergone a rapid and extensive renaissance for many of the same reasons that brought it into existence 3,000 years ago. Jerusalem is again the...

    • CHAPTER 12 Contested Metropolis: Jerusalem After the 1967 War
      (pp. 259-280)

      The Six-Day War of June 5 through 10, 1967, both deepened and transformed the strategies employed in developing Jerusalem.¹ If Jordan’s King Hussein had not launched an attack on the Jewish section of the city, it is possible that in time Israelis might have resigned themselves to the loss of the Old City and accepted the new Jerusalem they had created to the west of the historic Old City as a spiritual as well as a political capital.² There was always resentment over Jordan’s noncompliance with the armistice agreement that had promised access to the Israeli enclave on Mount Scopus,...

  8. EPILOGUE: Israel into the Twenty-First Century
    (pp. 281-292)

    From the founding of the first Zionist agricultural colonies more than a century ago, Jewish settlement in Palestine and in the State of Israel has been shaped by a shifting balance between ideology, economics, and defense strategy. The configuration of these three factors transformed a variety of imported European ideas and theories as they were adapted to local circumstances. Nearly 700 communities including the kibbutzim and moshavim, garden cities, garden suburbs, new towns, and cities intended as metropolises were established within the rubric of regional, metropolitan, and national plans. With a keen sense that the country might be at a...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 293-324)
  10. Index
    (pp. 325-341)