The Land of Israel in Modern Jewish Thought

Print this page Print this page

Kook's son Zvi Yehudah Kook (1891-1982) upped the messianic ante. In the years following the Six Day War in 1968, his followers founded Gush Emunim, which believes that settling all of biblical Israel--including the West Bank and Gaza--is necessary to bring the Messiah. Though most religious Zionist settlers are not affiliated with Gush Emunim, those who sympathize with this movement tend to inhabit the most remote settlements and object to relinquishing any land as part of a peace agreement. There are more moderate religious Zionist groups, though almost all consider the birth of the State to be a sign of a burgeoning redemption. Still, many are willing to evacuate settlements in the interest of peace.

To various degrees, many ultra-Orthodox groups participate as citizens of the State, as well. Neturei Karta and the Satmar Hasidim are exceptions. These Jews continue to assert that Jewish sovereignty prior to the messianic era is absolutely forbidden. Neturei Karta is actively anti-Zionistic, often participating in protests against the State.

In recent decades, a new critical discourse has emerged. In the 1980s, Israeli academics began analyzing recently declassified documents from the early years of the state and writing historical narratives that contradicted the traditional Zionist ones. For example, the historian Benny Morris has shown that many Palestinian Arabs were expelled from their villages during the 1948 war, while traditional Zionist histories claimed that they left their homes on the advice of Arab leaders. Originally, this scholarship was associated with the political left. However, its gradual move toward the centrist mainstream and the outbreak of the second Intifada--which disillusioned many of its lead proponents--have placed this scholarship at the center of social and political debate in Israel. 

Did you like this article?  MyJewishLearning is a not-for-profit organization.

Please consider making a donation today.