Page 27 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 42

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SHAV IT / ZIONIST HISTORIOGRAPHY
19
PLACING ZIONIST HISTORY
T h e Zionist h istorian is faced by the problem o f the place o f
Zionist history within the con tex t o f Jewish history, on the one
hand , and o f its connections with the history o f the new Yishuv in
Eretz Israel, on the o ther. A m ode rn history canno t be a local o r
provincial one, and it must take into account the place and time
o f developments; from the viewpoint o f Zionist h istoriography
this is tan tam oun t, the re fo re , to dealing with a “universal his­
tory .” These issues, are among the abiding concerns o f the seri­
ous historian .3
It would be a mistake to evaluate the deve lopm en t o f Zionist
historiography according to its ability to p roduce a synoptic, com­
prehensive history. Its deve lopm en t should be gauged ra th e r by
its success in analyzing as many aspects as possible o f the Zionist
phenom enon on the basis o f accepted historical m ethods and a p ­
proaches. From this po in t o f view, it may be said tha t the last two
decades have witnessed a real spu r t in Zionist historiography
which is in th e m idst o f a g re a t e ffo resence today. Zionist
historiography , and we have in m ind scientific-historical writings
a n d n o t po lem ical, apo loge tic o r ideo log ical works,4 is an
ins titu tiona lized u n d e r ta k in g which is su p p o r ted by various
funds and academic research facilities. T h e study o f the history
o f Zionism and the new Yishuv are an integral p a r t o f the cu rric­
ulum both in secondary schools and in d epa rtm en ts o f Jewish his­
tory and o f Eretz Israel in all o f the Israeli universities. Zionist
history is the preoccupation no t only o f historians, bu t also o f re ­
searchers from o th e r disciplines, especially political science and
sociology. Th is has given rise to a num be r o f problems which we
shall trea t below.
It should be no ted tha t the deve lopm en t and institutionaliza­
tion o f Zionist research are bu t one aspect o f a th ree fo ld e ffo r t
which is o f wide public interest. Historical research in Israel has
3 These concerns served as the agenda o f a recent conference convened by the
Historical Society o f Israel and the Zalman Shazar Institute, Jersusalem. See
also Israel Kolatt, “Reflections on the Historiography o f Zionism and the
Yishuv,” in
The Jewish Cathedra,
1, Lee. I Levine (ed.), (Jerusalem, 1981), pp.
314-327; and “Social History and the History o f the Yishuv” (Hebrew), in
Stud­
ies in the History ofJewish Society . . . Presented to ProfessorJacob Katz
(Jerusalem,
1980), pp. 397-426.
4 This type o f historiography, which has had perhaps a broader impact on the
public, deserves separate treatment.