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New York City

Liberalism, Conservatism, and Zionismעברית

November 14, 2016 - November 18, 2016

Instructors: Peter Berkowitz and Asael Abelman
Stipend: $1,000 (NYC area residents); $2,000 (Domestic US); $3,000 (International)


Is Zionism a revolutionary idea or a retrieval of an ancient heritage? The visionaries of modern Zionism described it alternatively as a progressive revolution and as an enterprise of conservative recovery. Throughout the broader West, progressive Zionists labored in the name of utopian idealism, socialist ambition, and a “New Jew” liberated from the depravity and shame of the shtetl. Conservative Zionists worked to recover a Jewish nationalism that fulfilled ancestral promises, and saw Jewish pride in the resumption of sovereign freedom in the land of their fathers. For them, bearing the burdens of tradition went hand in hand with hard-headed realism in security and economics. In Israel today, these two spirits inform two shifting political coalitions, a progressive left and a conservative right.

In the United States and Europe, progressives and conservatives view Israel in different ways, each finding an echo of their own ideological commitments in the complicated realities of Israeli public life. These complicated realities are understandable given Israel’s simultaneously universalist and particularistic founding ideals. Israel’s irrepressibly modern Declaration of Independence promises to “ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race, or sex.” At the same time, the new state was conceived as the homeland of the Jewish people and dedicated to giving new life to ancient theological propositions.

This advanced institute will probe the history of Zionist achievements and representative selections of Zionist writings against the backdrop of the Western political traditions of liberalism and conservatism.

Join Hoover Institution political philosopher Peter Berkowitz and Herzog College intellectual historian Asael Abelman to examine the foundations of Israel’s own political traditions, its unique left and right, and why the left and right in the United States and Europe view Israel the way they do. How should the national movement of the Jewish people organize the Jewish state in the land of Israel and uphold its devotion to the rights of all its citizens? How do Israel’s unique liberal and conservative traditions address the concrete policy challenges that face decision makers today?

Alumni of the Tikvah Advanced Institutes are not eligible to apply for the Fall 2016 institutes, but may ask to audit.