Like any living, vital tradition of thought, Zionism has continued to change over time. In this six-week course we will study recent developments within the tradition of Zionist thought, and also some contemporary critiques of Zionism from outside that tradition. We will be focusing on arguments about the state of Israel, the Jewish people, the Palestinians, and the Middle East more broadly. In addition, we will explore certain currents of thought that inform these arguments, e.g., post-colonialism.
After an overview of the early history of Zionism, and of the continuum of Zionist perspectives, we will move on to examine essential issues and debates that have surfaced in recent Zionist thought. These include: arguments over the status of Zionism as a species of nationalism; different ways of evaluating the particularism of Zionism in an era of “globalism and cosmopolitanism”; important new approaches to understanding the challenges of the state of Israel’s being at once Jewish and democratic; different assessments of the role of Zionism for Jews living in the diaspora; new, and distinct, views of religion in Zionism and in Israeli life; radically divergent Zionist and Palestinian narratives of the history of Israel, and Palestinian critiques of Zionism, and Zionist responses.