Interpreting the Zionist Dream
“The socio-economic structure of the Jewish people differs radically from that of other nations. Ours is an anomalous, abnormal structure.” (Ber Borochov- The Economic Development of the Jewish People 1917)
“You [Jews] lack the right notion of honour, feeling for duty, morality, patriotism, idealism….” (Max Nordau - Address at the 1st Zionist Congress 1897)
“But labour is the only force which binds man to the soil… it is the basic energy for the creation of national culture. This is what we do not have, but we are not aware of missing it. We are a people without a country, without a national living language, without a national culture. We seem to think that if we have no labour it does not matter - let Ivan, John or Mustafa do the work…” (A.D. Gordon, "Our Tasks Ahead" 1920)
Early Zionism was indeed a cheerful dream, it was all about the transformation of the ‘Jew’ into a ‘civilised, respectful and authentic human being’. The founders of Zionism were inspired by the notions of ‘people like any other people’ and ‘nation amongst nations’. Reading early Zionists such as Nordau, Borochov and Gordon provides us with some very contemptuous references to Jewish character and identity that would make Nazi ideology look mildly liberal.