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English Zionists and British Jews

English Zionists and British Jews: The Communal Politics of Anglo-Jewry, 1896-1920

Copyright Date: 1982
Pages: 376
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  • Book Info
    English Zionists and British Jews
    Book Description:

    Demonstrating that the reaction of the Anglo-Jewish community to modern Jewish nationalism was far more complex than conventionally thought, Stuart A. Cohen argues that the conflict between Zionists and anti-Zionists, although often stated in strictly ideological terms, was also an aspect of a larger contest for community control.

    Originally published in 1982.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5359-5
    Subjects: Anthropology, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xv-2)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 3-22)

    The Zionist Organisation was founded in 1897 in order to secure the establishment (some might have said the reconstruction) of “a Jewish homeland openly recognised, legally secured.” That remained its central purpose until the foundation of the State of Israel in 1948. During the intervening period, two major obstacles impeded the fulfilment of Zionism’s political ambitions. Broadly speaking, one was external: the relevant Great Powers were reluctant to sanction autonomous Jewish control over a portion of the Middle East; the Arab inhabitants of the region were invariably, and often violently opposed to such a prospect. The second was internal: the...

  7. Part One: Opening Moves, 1895-1904

    • 1 The Foundation of the English Zionist Federation, 1895-1899
      (pp. 25-46)

      The initial reception which the Anglo-Jewish community accorded to Herzl provided little inkling of the storm of opposition that the man and his ideas were later to arouse. During his first visit to the country in November 1895 he was neither shunned nor silenced; rather, he was received with courtesy and his proposals given an attentive hearing. For that, much of the credit must go to Israel Zangwill, the Anglo-Jewish author to whom he came armed only with a brief letter of introduction from their mutual friend in Paris, Max Nordau. Considering their differences, Herzl and Zangwill got off to...

    • Illustrations
      (pp. None)
    • 2 The English Zionist Federation and Communal Strategy, 1899-1904
      (pp. 47-76)

      The importance of the demise of the Chovevei Zion Association should not be exaggerated. From the perspective of the Anglo-Jewish community as a whole, that victory was rather marginal. It did not portend a general swing of sympathy toward political Zionism. As far as the upper classes of the community (in particular) were concerned, the resistance and antipathy which Bentwich had originally encountered at the Maccabeans remained the rule. Most particularly was this the case in the supposedly more representative forums of Anglo-Jewry, to whom the Zionists initially attempted to put their case. At the annual meeting of the Anglo-Jewish...

  8. Part Two: The Politics of Zionism, 1904-1914

    • 3 Storm over East Africa and Stress within the English Zionist Federation, 1904-1914
      (pp. 79-123)

      The Balfour Declaration overshadows the early history of Zionism in Britain. Such was the diplomatic and communal impact of that document that, almost inevitably, there exists an impulse to examine and judge the record for the period prior to 1917 in the light of that event. If succumbed to, this temptation attaches importance to whatever manoeuvers and stratagems might have brought about the Declaration—or, more precisely, might have contributed to the decision to work for its attainment; all else might be considered subordinate. It is arguably legitimate to interpret Weizmann’s entire communal and diplomatic strategy after the outbreak of...

    • Illustrations
      (pp. None)
    • 4 The Zionists and Communal Politics, 1904-1914
      (pp. 124-152)

      Eventually, Weizmann’s leadership of the EZF was to inaugurate a period of conspicuous Zionist progress within Anglo-Jewry. During his presidency (which lasted until 1924), the Federation at last began to gain communal prestige. But that development could not have been reasonably foreseen before 1914. Rather, throughout the decade that preceded the outbreak of World War I, the EZF was more often villified than praised. The failings of the organization’s leaders were paralleled by similar deficiencies throughout the local movement. Both official memoranda and personal memoirs have bequeathed an entire dossier of minor squabbles at every level and within virtually every...

  9. Part Three: Anti-Zionism in Theory and Practice

    • 5 Versions of the Past, Visions of the Future
      (pp. 155-214)

      Comparisons between Zionists and anti-Zionists in Anglo-Jewry can never be entirely exact, or entirely fair. Principally, this is because the two parties were so unevenly matched in style, temperament, and intention. The Zionists (and especially the leaders of the EZF) were by and large an overtly ambitious group of men. However glaring their faults, they must be credited with having seized the communal initiative; they insisted that Anglo-Jewry take note of the stirrings of Jewish nationalism and they pestered their coreligionists into some consideration of their proposed solution to the Jewish problem. Moreover, and especially once they had got the...

    • 6 Zionists and Anti-Zionists, 1914-1917
      (pp. 215-240)

      Generals, it is often remarked, tend to plan for the previous war; so too, perhaps, do civilian leaders. At the outbreak of World War I, the Jewish communal Establishment in Britain emulated the patterns of thought and behavior laid down during the Boer War. Anglo-Jewry’s philanthropic institutions and political organizations had managed the strains and stresses of circumstances between 1899 and 1902. The same instruments were presumed sufficiently strong to accommodate the problems expected to arise after August 1914. Most people anticipated that the forthcoming period of dislocation would be brief, that the extent of civilian involvement and damage would...

  10. Part Four: Zionism and the Politics of Anglo-Jewry, 1914-1920

    • 7 Anglo-Jewry and Zionism, 1914-1917
      (pp. 243-276)

      The censure of the Conjoint Foreign Committee’s manifesto by the Board of Deputies has been treated as a milestone in the history of Anglo-Jewish Zionism—perhaps the only such milestone of the community’s own making. Admittedly, the victory then attained by the critics of the committee was not decisive; in fact, they only just scraped home by fifty-six votes to fifty-one, with six abstentions. Nevertheless, the result altered the delicate balance of the triangular relationship among the British government, the Zionists, and the anti-Zionists. Hitherto the latter (as represented by the Conjoint Foreign Committee) had negotiated with the Government from...

    • 8 English Zionists and British Jews, 1917-1920
      (pp. 277-313)

      In the euphoric aftermath of the vote of 17 June 1917, several leading Zionists in Britain overestimated the extent of their communal strength. The clutch of congratulatory resolutions showered on the Board of Deputies later in the month by congregations throughout the country gave them the unwarranted impression that the barriers of hostility and indifference to the movement had begun to fall. Ignoring explicit warnings that the vote against the Conjoint Foreign Committee had not necessarily been a vote for Zionism, leaders of the EZF contemplated further advances. “The successful fight at the Board of Deputies and the open adhesion...

  11. Conclusions
    (pp. 314-324)

    Not quite a quarter of a century separated Herzl’s initial address to the Maccabeans in November 1895 from Weizmann’s triumphant return to London from San Remo in April 1920. During the intervening period, the English Zionist Federation had become one of Anglo-Jewry’s most conspicuous organizations. By any standards, the achievement was immense. On the eve of the twentieth century, political Zionism had appeared to be nothing more than “the harebrained delusion of a few mad fanatics,” the outcome of a kind of delirium which would soon burn itself out. Herzl’s ambitions were hopelessly romantic, his program was altogether impractical, and...

  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 325-340)
  13. Index
    (pp. 341-350)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 351-351)