Page 80 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 15

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
their common yearnings for future salvation. As the Diaspora
drew itself out, however, new groups developed which deprecated
the national body and insisted only upon sustaining the Jewish
spirit. To counteract this influence, the political Zionist extrem­
ists came into being. These two divergent viewpoints, foreign to
our nature, will again be supplanted by the prophetic and the
Pharisaic concepts. “I f . . . Israel is destined to have a third
commonwealth, it must establish as a basic principle neither the
domination by materialism of the spirit nor the destruction of
matter in the name of the spirit, but the elevation ot matter by
spirit.”
Applying this principle to modern Palestine, Ahad Ha Am
maintains that the national spirit has to be bound up with the
soil which must become “a refuge not for Jews but for Judaism.”
A national center is the first condition for a national spirit. To
create language, literature, religion, morals, mores, a congenial
environment is essential. These two factors are inseparable and
interdependent. Ahad Ha'Am indicts political Zionists for forcing
them into separate categories. The Uganda-Zionists failed to
understand the spiritual impulses underlying the Palestine-
centered movement. “In any other place, our people can share in
the culture of their neighbors . . . but they cannot create a new
culture . . . Therefore they must wander to . . . lands which have
already attained a high state of development and which permit the
stranger to partake of some branches of culture already prepared
for him . . . On the other hand, if they were to settle in a desolate
place, they would not succeed . . . for they would lack the neces­
sary moral strength . . . . Removed from the cultural life of the
world . . . . lacking an historical ideal . . . they would be overcome
by disintegration. They would capitulate to the people which
gave them a refuge in some remote place, and would mimic its
language, customs and way of life. We cannot prove the truth of
this judgment by factual data, but it is our faith. Though we
have analogies for this in our history and in our spiritual develop­
ment, its basis is in our
inner recognition
. . .” Ahad Ha'Am’s
most forceful analogy is the prophetic period when ethical mono­
theism flourished in Palestine under the spiritual leadership of
prophets who were intensely devoted both to their people and to
their land.
The second paradox Ahad Ha'Am attempts to resolve is that of
universalism and particularism. He anticipates the challenge —
how can universal values like absolute justice be concentrated in a
given people or place? To him, nationalism in its highest sense is
a reduced-scale counterpart of universalism. It is a concrete mani­