Cover image for Nietzsche and Zion
Nietzsche and Zion
Golomb, Jacob.
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Publication Information:
Ithaca : Cornell University Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
xii, 274 pages ; 24 cm
pt. I. Nietzsche and political zionism -- pt. II. Nietzsche and cultural Zionism -- pt. III. Nietzsche and spiritual/religious Zionism.
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DS149 .G5492 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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"Nietzsche's ideas were widely disseminated among and appropriated by the first Hebrew Zionist writers and leaders. It seems quite appropriate, then, that the first Zionist Congress was held in Basle, where Nietzsche spent several years as a professor of classical philology. This coincidence gains profound significance when we see Nietzsche's impact on the first Zionist leaders and writers in Europe as well as his presence in Palestine and, later, in the State of Israel."--from the IntroductionThe early Zionists were deeply concerned with the authenticity of the modern Jew qua person and with the content and direction of the reawakening Hebrew culture. Nietzsche too was propagating his highest ideal of a personal authenticity. Yet the affinities in their thought, and the formative impact of Nietzsche on the first leaders and writers of the Zionist movement, have attracted very little attention from intellectual historians. Indeed, the antisemitic uses to which Nietzsche's thought was turned after his death have led most commentators to assume the philosopher's antipathy to Jewish aspirations. Jacob Golomb proposes a Nietzsche whose sympathies overturn such preconceptions and details for the first time how Nietzsche's philosophy inspired Zionist leaders, ideologues, and writers to create a modern Hebrew culture. Golomb cites Ahad Ha'am, Micha Josef Berdichevski, Martin Buber, Theodor Herzl, Max Nordau, and Hillel Zeitlin as examples of Zionists who "dared to look into Nietzsche's abyss." This book tells us what they found.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Nietzsche's repudiation of anti-Semitism is well known. What has been less well appreciated, until now, is the extent to which founding proponents of Zionism incorporated Nietzschean motifs into their thinking. In this fine study, veteran Nietzsche scholar Golomb (Hebrew Univ. of Jerusalem) examines the presence of the German philosopher's ideas in the thinking of six early Zionists--as these ideas manifest themselves in the political domains (Theodor Herzl and Max Nordau), cultural spheres (Micha Josef Berdichevski and Ahad Ha'am), and spiritual-religious domains (Martin Buber and Hillel Zeitlin). Throughout, the aim of this insightful work is to show how these protean Zionists, who sometimes differed among themselves on matters of conviction and strategy, enlisted Nietzsche to help European Jews recover from, and ultimately flourish despite, the grievous pain and suffering they had endured during a long and bitter Diaspora. At the same time, Golomb is careful to note that the Zionists under discussion did not embrace Nietzsche uncritically. In particular, they were far more concerned with his aristocratic elitism (which privileged individual distinction over social solidarity) than they were with his notorious atheism. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. H. I. Einsohn Middlesex Community College