Religion and Nationalism in the Jewish and Zionist Context

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This chapter explores the relationship between secularism, nationalism, and religion in relation to Zionism. It maintains the centrality of the political-theological aspect in defining and forming the Israeli state, insisting that it is the theological with its apocalyptic dimension that stands at the heart of the definition of Israel as a Jewish state. It argues that to discuss Jews and Zionism in the context of religion and nationalism means to integrate two different perspectives: first, the historical analysis of the Jewish existence as a “problem” for modern secularism. The second perspective is the one provided by Zionism as a project of Westernization of the Jews. Accordingly, it argues that the Zionist theological perspective is unique in its direct relation to Jewish-Christian messianic images and biblical images of Palestine. Thus, the Israeli case stands out due to the relationship between messianism (and its political interpretations) and nationalism. Consequently, the analysis of Zionist discourse reveals the colonial dimension inherent to the process of secularization in the West in general, and nationalization of the Jews in particular. It also tries to point out to options of decolonization to be found in religious terminology.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWhen Politics Are Sacralized
Subtitle of host publicationComparative Perspectives on Religious Claims and Nationalism
EditorsNadim N Rouhana, Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781108768191
ISBN (Print)9781108487863
StatePublished - Jun 2021


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