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The Meaning of Jewish Nationalism

For thousands of years, the Jewish people has pursued a unique course among the nations. The Hebrew Bible challenged the imperial order of the ancient world with a new political theory and a new theology. In this online course, Israeli philosopher and author Yoram Hazony will examine the biblical origins of the independent Jewish national state, the later development of this political concept in Protestant Europe and America, and its deployment by the Zionist movement that created the state of Israel.

The course will seek answers to crucial questions surrounding Jewish nationalism both in antiquity and in our own time, including: What was unique about the biblical political concept of the independent Jewish national kingdom, and what purposes was it intended to serve within the context of the non-Israelite political thought of the ancient world? How did the Jewish tradition of national thinking shape the Christian political thought that gave rise to the modern world, and how did it fail to? Does the political founding of the modern State of Israel succeed as an inheritance of classical Jewish political thought in the writings and work of figures such as Theodor Herzl and David Ben-Gurion? And crucially, where does this idea of a Jewish state stand with respect to political right and wrong in today’s world of often quite contrary moral and political ideas? Can this ancient biblical dream still be meaningful for us in our own time, as Jews and as human beings?

Yoram Hazony is President of the Herzl Institute in Jerusalem, and the founder and former head of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem, a research institute that conducted nearly two decades of pioneering work in the fields of philosophy, political theory, Bible, Talmud, Jewish and Zionist history, Middle East Studies and archaeology. He is also the Director of the John Templeton Foundation‘s project in Jewish Philosophical Theology. Dr. Hazony researches and writes in the fields of philosophy and theology, political theory and intellectual history. His most recent book is The Virtue of Nationalism. His previous works include The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture, God and Politics in Esther, and The Jewish State: The Struggle for Israel’s Soul.

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