Page 29 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 42

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SH A V IT /Z IO N IS T HISTORIOGRAPHY
21
completion o f this multi-volume project, which is to encompass
seven volumes, will provide the re ad e r and resea rche r with a
un ique collection o f docum en ts th a t will illum ine the history o f
“Hibbat-Zion” as “democratic history,” as the history o f a re la­
tively b road collective and no t merely the reco rd o f individual
memoirists and activists.
T h e writing o f Zionist history began p r io r to World War I with
R ichard J . H. Gottheil’s
Zionism
(Philadelphia, 1914), Nahum
Sokolow’s,
History of Zionism,
1600-1918 (2 vols., London , 1919;
new e d i t io n , New Y o rk , 1969), a n d A d o l f B o e hm ’s,
Die
Zionistische Bewegung
(2nd edition, 2 vols., Tel-Aviv, 1935-37).
From tha t time until the publication o f L aqueu r’s book in 1972
no e f fo r t was m ade to o ffe r a summ ary o f Zionist history.
However, as indicated, the fact tha t no works o f summation were
w ritten should no t give rise to any w rong conclusions. Zionism
was intensively involved in writing its own history according to
various approaches and purposes. T h e w riting o f history became
an indivisible p a r t o f the Zionist e ffo rt to dem ons tra te its historic
founda tions , and to dissem inate its ideas among various groups.
Zionist education th rough inculcation o f a knowledge o f Zionist
history became one o f the central ideological and cu ltura l p h e ­
nom ena in Jewish life. From this point o f view, Zionist historiog­
raphy was seen — and is still being seen — as an integral p a r t o f its
developing history, as a propagandistic and didactic national his­
tory o f the first rank.
Th is app roach helps to create a tension between critical Zionist
h istoriography and the tren d which seeks to view history as pa r t
o f the process o f an evolving national, collective consciousness. It
also accounts fo r much o f the sha rp criticism o f the new Zionist
h istoriography by those who accuse it o f slaying “sacred cows”
and und e rm in ing “myths” which are fundam en ta l to the national
consciousness. It sometimes appears as though the new Zionist
h istoriography is seen by its critics in the same m anne r th a t the
“Science o f Jud a ism ” was viewed by its ex trem e opponen ts, as fu l­
filling a des truc tive h istoric role ra th e r th an a construc tive
“my th”-building one.
T h e Zionist historian agrees openly o r tacitly tha t the aims o f
Zionism are historically “ju s t” ones. He does no t set ou t to prove
tha t Zionism was an “historic e r ro r ,” o r th a t it derived from ce r­
tain “negativistic” tendencies o f the 19th and 20th centuries, as
claimed by the de trac to rs o f the movement. For him the basic