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A nation without borders? Modern European emancipation as negation of galut.


This essay examines the concept of shelilat hagalut (negation of exile/Diaspora) and argues that in many ways, the political and structural changes entailed in the granting of citizenship to Jews in modern Western nation-states can be viewed as already constituting a negation of galut well before the emergence of Zionism. Through comparison to traditional rabbinic conceptions of Jewish communal-national status, we will see that the modern insistence upon national identification with a geographically bounded nation-state constituted a direct undermining of previous theopolitical conceptions of Israel as a geographically unbounded "nation in exile." In light of this reframing, the usage in contemporary discourse of "center" and "Diaspora" is shown largely to constitute a false binary that generates unproductive and interminable dispute between "diasporists" and classical Zionist "centralists." By contrast, clarifying the ways in which ideologies of European emancipation and of Zionism have both been complicit in negating galut can aid in producing better understandings of the relation between past and present Jewish culture and conceptuality, and in enabling more fruitful intellectual efforts to engage presently unresolved conflicts in the spheres of Jewish politics, culture, and identity.


In this essay, I argue that current discourse, both popular and scholarly, (1) concerning the pairings of "center and disapora" in the context of modern and contemporary Jewish culture functions to occlude and obfuscate core previous historical Jewish self-conceptions and self-understandings. In order to elaborate this claim, I will examine the phrase shelilat hagalut (negation of exile/ Diaspora), which played a prominent role in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Zionist thought. The operating assumption in this normative goal of "negation" was that the exilic condition had not yet been negated, and that it was the task of Zionism to bring about this change. By contrast, I will argue here that, relative to previous Jewish communities' self-understanding and conception of galut, a fundamental "negation of galut" in Jewish culture had already taken place through the process of European emancipation in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. (2) As such, it will be shown that many of the features of Zionism's "negation of galut" can already be found in the earlier program of Jewish integration into European society, and thus that the Zionist goal was in many ways not new, and furthermore had already been achieved in important ways even prior to its explicit formulation. (3)

To anticipate the basic thrust of the argument that is to follow, we will see that from the classical rabbinic period until the coming of modernity, rabbinic Judaism understood the community of Israel in terms of a "nation in exile," retaining features of a landed national-political polity on a theoretical level, while also viewing many of those landed features as having been suspended in practice by God in this period prior to the future messianic redemption. This notion of galut results in an affirmation, for the present premessianic era, of a national geographic universality, entailing a need for a degree of self-distancing from all present geographically particular polities. (4) This geographic universality likewise carries with it a presumption against directly engaging in the wars and battles that are waged between the geographically particular nations. As we will see through a focus on the example of modern French emancipation, notions of nationality and of citizenship linked to the boundaries of modern nation-states produce, in relation to previous Jewish conceptions, a fundamental negation of exile. The very structure and ideology of the modern nation-state proves incompatible with the geographic universality that characterized previous understandings of galut.

This reframing of the European emancipation as a "negation of galut" prior to Zionism also carries with it implications for our understanding of twentieth- and twenty-first-century disputes generated by the Zionist notion of "negation of galut!' In response to the classical Zionist affirmation of "negation of exile/disapora," various voices--including Zionists, non-Zionists, and anti-Zionists--have arisen as affirmers of the continuation of the Diaspora. In such disputes, the affirmers of Diaspora often present themselves as in greater continuity with previous Jewish tradition, and criticize the classical Zionist "negation of galut" for undermining core aspects of traditional Jewish identity. However, when we expand the comparison to include the premodern rabbinic notion of galut, we can discern important similarities between "diasporists" who have continued to affirm the place of Jews in the various modern nation-states, on the one hand, and the classical Zionist "centerists" who rejected core premises of European emancipation and instead sought a separate nation-state for Jews, on the other. As we shall see, the stances of both parties in the modern and contemporary disputes in fact tend to be characterized by a profound "negation of galut" Their basic commonalities can therefore be said to outweigh their differences, and the failure to recognize these commonalities generates unclarity and unfruitful dispute and friction in contemporary discourse. By coming to recognize the ways in which contemporary usage of both "Diaspora" and "center" negates traditional Jewish notions of galut, greater clarity can be achieved with regard to understanding the relation between past and present Jewish culture and conceptually, as well as with regard to presently unresolved conflicts in the spheres of Jewish culture, politics, and identity.

Zionist "Negation of Galut" and Premodern Jewish Conceptions

Let us first lay out some core features of the Zionist notion of "negation of galut." (5) In opposition to Jewish thinkers who argued that Jews should seek to pursue their Jewish lives and identity in the context of citizenship within the modern nation-states in which they lived, Zionist thinkers argued that this approach led to a detrimental undermining of Jewish cultural vitality, and also placed Jews in a socially precarious and vulnerable position. Accordingly, robust Jewish life in those other countries was viewed as no longer viable. Instead, Jews ought to put their efforts into establishing a "landed center" of their own, in which to pursue their own distinctive national culture. In this context, "negation of exile" meant the ideological promotion of the establishment of such a landed center, and the corresponding ideological denigration of Jewish life lived outside and apart from such a center. In putting forth the idea of a "Jewish state" or "Jewish homeland," the Zionist thinkers saw their goal as one of moving to a context of "self-determination" from one of "lack of self-determination." Whereas Jews were seen as not having a "homeland of their own," Zionism will bring about a major change in establishing such a homeland. In many streams of Zionist thought, this notion of a "homeland of their own" also went along with the notion of a "fatherland of their own"--to have a nation-state of one's own, like all the other "normal nations," for which one can live and for which one can sacrifice one's life in battle. These elements were seen as being part of a "healthy" national culture, which Jews as an "exilic community" were seen as currently not yet possessing. Thus, the establishment of such a homeland or nation-state would constitute a "negation of galut" that would bring about a major transformation of Jewish culture. In this framework, the Jews of the envisioned homeland and center would constitute a new "nationalized" Jewish culture, in contrast to the non-nationalized Jewish cultures of the "Diaspora."

In putting forth their criticism of contemporary Jewish life in "exile," the Zionist thinkers inherently and in many cases explicitly aligned themselves against the traditional rabbinic approach to galut. (6) In the traditional notion, Israel is called by God to endure the current situation of galut faithfully, up until the arrival of the messianic future in which God will redeem Israel and the world as a whole. The Zionist thinkers correctly saw core elements of this traditional rabbinic theology as standing in conflict with the "national activism" that Zionism sought to promote. However, as we will see, the traditional rabbinic conception stands in conflict not only with the ideology of Zionism, but also with the ideology of modern European emancipation. By highlighting the features of this latter conflict, the important theological and political commonalities between proponents of Zionism and proponents of Jewish integration in the modern European nation-states will come to the fore.

A key core element of the traditional rabbinic conception of galut involves a conception of Israel as a "nation in exile." (7) That is to say, in their conception of Israel, there is strong emphasis placed both on "nation" and on "in exile." (In my asserting that the rabbis viewed Israel as a "nation," however, it should be noted that the very idea that Israel continues to be a nation while in galut, even after the destruction of its state structures, entails a significantly different conception of "nation" from the modern notion of a nation defined by a nation-state. (8)) In the rabbinic theological narrative, Israel's distant past and its ideal messianic future are conceived of as linked to a "landed center," involving a king, Temple, and centralized judiciary. (9) In this sense, the ideal future conception of Israel's life, which draws many of its components from a reading of the biblical past, appears to share certain (though not all) basic features in common with the notion of "sovereign national state." (10) However, for the present era, God has decreed a status of galut for Israel, and so those centralized political (or theopolitical) elements are all held to be normatively suspended." While in future era of redemption, Israel's normative task will be to engage in those centralized political institutions, its normative task for the present is specifically to accept the suspension of those institutions and thus to refrain from those activities. (12) Yet, in important ways, the rabbinic approach retains a strong sense of "national patriotism." While Israel's own centralized institutions are suspended for the time being, they are not rejected or abrogated; as such, Israel should retain its commitment those "Israelite" structures and so should not transfer its allegiance to the parallel centralized institutions any other nation or state. While Israel should accept God's dccree and therefore not rebel against the current situation of having to live under the "sovereignty of the other nations," (13) they are nevertheless to retain their own separate communal structure and should refrain from identifying themselves with the state identities of their conquerors. Thus, while in one sense Jews should "make themselves at home" in the various places where they currently live, they should simultaneously uphold a separation from and nonidentification with the ruling "powers that be." (14)

As an illustrative textual representation of this orientation of separation and nonidentification, consider the following parable from Lamentations Rabbah (15):

"This I call to my mind; therefore I have hope" (Lam. 3:21). R. Abba bar Kahana said: It is like a king who married a woman and wrote her a large marriage settlement. He wrote her: So many bridal chambers I am building for you; so much jewelry I make for you; so much gold I give you. Then he left her for many years and journeyed to the provinces.

Her neighbors used to taunt [or: chide, rebuke; meqanterot] her and say to her: Hasn't your husband abandoned you? Go! Marry another man. She would weep and sigh, and afterward she would enter her bridal chamber and read her marriage settlement and sigh [with relief).

Many years and days later the king returned. He said to her: I am amazed that you have waited for me all these years! She replied: My master, O king! If not for that large wedding settlement that you wrote me, my neighbors long ago would have led me astray.

Likewise: The nations of the world taunt [monin] Israel and say to them: Your God does not want you. He has left you. He has removed his presence from you. Come with us [bo'u 'etzlenu], and we will appoint you to be generals, governors and officers [dukosin ve- 'iparkhsin ve-'istratilitin]

And the people of Israel enter their synagogues and houses of study, and there they read in the Torah "I will look with favor upon you, and make you fertile ... I will establish my abode in your midst, and I will not spurn you" (Lev. 26:9,11), and they console themselves.

In the future, when the redemption comes, the Holy One, blessed be He, will say to Israel: My children! I am amazed at how you have waited for Me all these years! And they will say to him: Master of the universe, were it not for the Torah You gave us, in which we read when we entered our synagogues and houses of study, "I will look with favor upon you ... and I will not spurn you," the nations of the world long ago would have led us away from you. That is what is written: "Were not your Torah my delight, I would have perished in my affliction" (Ps. 119:92). Therefore it says: "This I call to mind; therefore I have hope" (Lam. 3:21).

In this portrayal, Israel (as the woman) had initially been in a "fully enacted" relationship to God (as the king), before he "went away." According to the terms of the relationship, as laid out in the Torah, God will provide Israel with all the appurtenances of a "normal" relational that a nation typically enjoys, including a landed center, centralized worship, kings and judicial courts, and so on. However, God is currently "journeying in the provinces," leaving Israel in a state of galut, without the benefits that God's direct presence in the land and the Temple brings with it. (16) This means that Israel no longer looks like a normal nation. Indeed, those who taunt her say that Israel's God has left them for good, so that they are no longer in the status of a nation at all. Instead, if the remaining Israelites/Jews want the benefits of a "proper marriage" (i.e., the status of a normal nation), they should "marry another man," that is, merge themselves with one or another of the other nations of the world. Moreover, it is important to note that this criticism, to all outward appearance, "makes sense," and need not be seen simply as motivated by negative intentions. In the initial parable of the king and the woman, the verb (meqanterot) used to describe the neighbors' criticism often designates, in rabbinic texts, not "ungrounded mockery" but rather a potentially more justified scolding, chiding, or rebuking. The woman's neighbors may feel that she is putting herself through needless suffering, since her husband is clearly not coming back, and they are rebuking her for her stubborn and foolish hopes. Rather than deluding herself by claiming that she still has a husband, even though he is not currently present and has not been for a good many years, she ought to face reality and marry another man. Likewise, the nations see Israel as deluding themselves by continuing to think of themselves in "national" terms, when the basis for their national self-conception (i.e., God's direct presence in the land and Temple) has removed itself, and, as far as a "realistic" observer can assess, shows no signs of ever "coming back"--particularly not by means of Israel's faithful and patient waiting. As such, Israel should give up its "national" pretentions, and should "face the facts" that its national status lies solely in the past, and as such Israel should throw in its lot with another national community. (17)

However, Israel resists the taunts or rebukes of the other nations. The rabbinic portrayal does, to be sure, agree with the nations that in one sense "the king" has indeed "gone away," and thus Israel currently has no basis for legitimately enacting the elements typical of "normal" national life. At the same time, because of their conviction that this absence is merely temporary, and not permanent, members of Israel also should refrain from "marrying themselves" to another community, with its separate national-level structures, identity, and territory. That is to say, in order to be faithful to God (their husband) while he is "away," Israel must accept the current situation of exile and remain in a state of seeming "nonmarriage," that is, not engaging in or devoting itself to any national-level structures in the present, and instead waiting for the messianic restoration of its own structures "when the redemption comes," in accord with God's promises. By continually engaging in the study of Torah, which vividly portrays Israel's status as a nation and the promised elements that accompany it, Israel can retain its sense of national self-conception and identity even in the context of galut.

Thus, it is precisely by retaining its distinctiveness on a "national" level, vis-a-vis the "other nations," that Israel enacts its still valid relationship to God. Notably, when in the text the other nations encourage Israel to abandon this stance and to "join with them," (18) the text does not emphasize a change in Israel's religious practices as the prominent feature of this proposed change of communal affiliation. Rather, the explicitly indicated feature of the transformation is that the members of Israel will be able to become "generals, governors, and officers," which are specifically state-level positions of governance and military leadership. The implication is that such participation in roles would be tempting, but that in order to do so, they would have to "join with" the other nations and give up their separate "exilic" national self-conception. In other words, though members of Israel may live among the nations of the world, and may participate in various aspects of broader social and cultural engagement, their insistence on maintaining their own national distinctiveness goes along with a separation from and nonparticipation in the specifically "national" roles and activities in the state-level structures under which they live

Notably, this element of separation and nonidentification also enables Jews to retain a sense of "national identification" with the community of other Jews around the world. Because Israel's "centralized national structures" have been suspended, Jews can retain a conception of their "national community" that is not bound by geographical boundaries. While Jews may absorb and participate in many cultural elements of the specific place where they live, they simultaneously maintain a sense of communal identity with Jews in other parts of the world, with whom they share a structure of halakhic practice (i.e., the "laws of the Israelite nation") and a conception of a future messianic restoration and reuniting. This "national" sense of the rabbinic conception of Israel manifests itself particularly in relation to warfare (as the reference to military roles in the parable above indicates). Because Israel is a nation in exile (with its centralized political institutions suspended), it does not engage in wars under an "Israelite" king or ruler. However, because Israel is a nation in exile, Jews are also structurally precluded, to a strong degree, from engaging in wars under a "foreign" king or ruler. On a theopolitical level, Jews are to remain patriotic to their own sovereign--whether God Himself or Israel's future "king messiah"--and so would be disinclined to give their "allegiance" to any foreign king and to sacrifice their life for him in his wars or carry out his commands to kill his enemies. While Jews are to submit to the rule of the foreign kings, and thus in general to obey "the laws of the land," (19) the idea of voluntarily sacrificing one's life (or the lives of others) for such a foreign king would constitute, from the level of Israel's national conception, a problematic level of identification with and allegiance to a "foreign nation." (20) Furthermore, if Jews were to engage in warfare for foreign kings, this would also conceivably entail the eventuality wherein Jews would be killing other Jews in battle in the name of a non-Jewish king or cause. (21) This in turn would fundamentally undermine the unity of Israel as a "national community," as a basic political-conceptual element of national belonging, both ancient and modern, is that one does not engage in lethal warfare against members of one's own national community.

By contrast, refraining from warfare means that Jews can preserve their geographically universal conception of Israel as a nation in exile and thus retain their national identification with other Jews elsewhere around the world. In this framework, even though Jews would not "fight and die for" the ruler under which they lived, they would nevertheless be structurally "loyal" to that ruler insofar as they also would not "fight and die" for any other competitor-rulers. Thus, the core practical features of the rabbinic conception of galut can be described as follows:

1. Jews retain a "national" (or exilic-national) identification with other Jews around the world.

2. Jews affirm a cultural identification with the place where they live, which creates a bi-cultural identity involving both local customs and universal (not geographically bounded) Jewish-halakhic practices, texts, and forms of study.

3. Jews retain an active nonidentification with elements of the place where they live that would undermine the unity of their national identification with Jews elsewhere. The most salient of these elements is participation in warfare and power politics.

In the premodern period, this orientation did not create inherent conflict with the political norms of the countries in which they lived. (22) There was not a strong demand by premodern rulers that each and every subject of the king must fight and die for the king, and so Jews were permitted to be loyal (or nondisloyal) subjects even without serving in battle against other kings. As such, the rabbinic construction of Israel as a geographically universal nation in exile was compatible with Jewish communal life in a geographically particular locale. Thus, while the rabbinic conception of Israel in galut retained many "national" features, it also differed from the typical national self-conception of other groups and nations in being geographically universal and in being actively distanced from military warfare. Again, these latter two features fit together structurally: if a group seeks to conceive of itself as a nation, it cannot engage in military warfare without undermining its geographically universal nature. Conversely, if members of a group want to engage in military warfare while also retaining a geographically universal group conception, they can do so only by moving away from a "national" conception of the group and instead adopting a more "spiritual" sense of group identity. This latter path can be seen, for instance, as characteristic of Christianity, particularly after its merging with the Roman Empire after Constantine. (23) By contrast, because rabbinic Judaism sought to preserve a more concrete-material sense of Israel as a "national" community, its normatively affirmed geographic universality could be maintained only alongside an active distancing from military warfare.

Modern Jewish Emancipation and the Negation of Galut

Thus, up until the rise of modern Emancipation, a key element of Jewish self-conception, in theopolitical and sociological terms, entailed a rejection of full identification with any present ruling-power structure. Israel's normative self-conception as a nation in galut meant that it did not engage in "patriotic allegiance" either to any present "Israelite state" or to any present "non-Israelite state." However, the rise of the modern nation-state in the context of Western Europe created a drastically transformed cultural-political environment. (24) In relation to this new political structure, the normative conception was that all inhabitants living within the geographic boundaries of the nation-state, qua citizens, should actively identify on a "national" level with a single nation-state.

In describing the "logic of the nation-state" in connection with radical changes brought about by the French Revolution, Rogers Brubaker writes, "By inventing the national citizen and the legally homogeneous national citizenry, the Revolution simultaneously invented the foreigner. Henceforth citizen and foreigner would be correlative, mutually exclusive, exhaustive categories. One would be either a citizen or a foreigner; there would be no third way." (25) The presence of inhabitants within the nation-state who did not wholly identify with the dominant national identity now became seen as highly structurally problematic. Thus, the longstanding Jewish mode of a "nation in exile" now came to be seen as a cultural-politically dangerous status of a "nation within a nation." In the words of Count Clermont-Tonnerre in a 1789 speech to the French National Assembly, "The Jews should be denied everything as a nation, but granted everything as individuals ... Every one of them must individually become a citizen; if they do not want this, they must inform us and we shall then be compelled to expel them. The existence of a nation within a nation is unacceptable to our country." (26) A crucial element here is that the unacceptability of the Jews did not lie in the fact that Jews sought actively to overthrow the nation-state, or that they aligned themselves with an enemy nation-state. Rather, the mere lack of full political identification with the nation-state of their residence would now be enough to make the Jews' presence unacceptable, even if they lived peacefully and in an integrated manner on the level of local cultural engagement. By contrast, prior to the modern era, full identification as citizens was not seen as necessary; it had been sufficient for Jews merely to enact nonrebellion as subjects. (27)

This new political structure was therefore strongly incompatible with the previous Jewish core theological identity and practical self-construction as a "nation in exile." The new form of identification, as demanded by the modern nation-state, called upon Jews to break their national identification with Jews elsewhere, and to transfer this national identification instead to the other citizens of the state in which they resided. From another perspective, it demanded that Jews abandon their geographically universal form of national identification and put in its place a geographically particular form of national identification. Jews may be permitted to retain a geographically universal "religious" identification with Jews elsewhere, but the geographically universal "national" identification must be discarded. (28) Likewise, the new political structure required Jews to shift from identifying with no present ruling-power structure to identifying actively and specifically with the ruling-power structure under which they lived. As such, if Jews were to engage in the transformation necessary for being citizens of the modern nation-state, this would be possible only by an active "negation of galut" by a practical and conceptual abandonment of the previous structure of communal and political identification.

We can explore the dynamics involved in these new pressures by examining the response of the Assembly of Jewish Notables in 1806 to the questions posed by Napoleon. In particular, question number six stated: "Do Jews born in France, and treated by the laws as French citizens, consider France their country [leur patrie]? Are they bound to defend it? Are they bound to obey the laws and to conform to the dispositions of the civil code?" (29) Here, as with all the questions posed to the assembly, there is a clear expectation of a very specific sort of answer. If the Jews give an "unacceptable" answer in the eyes of the French government, they stand at risk of expulsion, as had been stated succinctly by Count Clermont-Tonnere in 1789. Thus, with regard to this particular set of questions, answers of "yes" from the Jewish notables are strongly expected. In terms of the previous Jewish communal identity of "a nation in exile," the third component of obeying the laws and conforming to the civil code would not have been a major problem, and would have been in accord with the principle of submission to the laws of local political jurisdiction as dina de-malchida dina. The first component, of "considering France their country," would have previously been more ambiguous: on the one hand, Jews living in "the French geographic area" would have identified culturally with many aspects of their locality, and so in this sense could easily have said that they consider themselves "French." However, the question of considering France "their country" may also contain aspects of national-political identification, which would have been more problematic. The middle component, of being "bound to defend" France, would have been the most problematic vis-a-vis the conception of Israel as a nation in galut, as it involves an active identification with the local ruling-power regime of sovereignty, as manifested in battle against the enemies of the French nation-state regime.

Bearing this background in mind, we can consider the actual answer given by the assembly to this set of questions:
   Men who have adopted a country [une patrie], who have resided in it
   these many generations--who, even under the restraint of particular
   laws which abridged their civil rights, were so attached to it that
   they preferred being debarred from the advantages common to all
   other citizens, rather than leave it--cannot but consider themselves
   as Frenchmen in France; and they consider as equally sacred and
   honourable the bounden duty of defending their country.

   Jeremiah (chapter 29) exhorts the Jews to consider Babylon as their
   country, although they were to remain in it only for seventy years.
   He exhorts them to till the ground, to build houses, to sow, and to
   plant. His recommendation was so much attended to, that Ezra
   (chapter 2) says, that when Cyrus allowed them to return to
   Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple, 42,360 only, left Babylon; and
   that this number was mostly composed of the poor people, the
   wealthy having remained in that city.

   The love of the country [L'amour de la patrie] is in the heart of
   Jews a sentiment so natural, so powerful, and so consonant to their
   religious opinions, that a French Jew considers himself in England,
   as among strangers [comme etranger], although he may be among Jews;
   and the case is the same with English Jews in France.

   To such a pitch is this sentiment carried among them, that during
   the last war, French Jews have been seen fighting desperately
   against other Jews, the subjects of countries then at war with

   Many of them are covered with honourable wounds, and others have
   obtained, in the field of honour, the noble rewards of bravery.

A number of remarks are in order. The reference to Jeremiah 29 is representative of the profound shift involved in the new Jewish self-construction of identity in modernity: while that biblical passage does indeed indicate an affirmation of integration into the geographic locality of Babylon, Jeremiah's commended activities are specifically "cultural"--building houses, planting crops, raising families--rather than "national-political"; he does not encourage the Jews/Judeans to enlist in the Babylonian army. By contrast, the Assembly's answer elides cultural localism with national-political localism, and goes out of its way to emphasize the extent to which French Jews consider English Jews to "strangers," and that French Jews will passionately fight against other Jews, killing them on the battlefield, for the sake of France. In this sense, the answers fundamentally reject the previous geographically universal construction of Israel as a "nation in galut" While in the previous construction of Jewish identity, Jews from France would indeed likely have found some of the local customs of habits of English Jews to be culturally strange or foreign, and while in various regards they could have had more in common culturally with their non-Jewish neighbors in France, they would not have thematized this local difference vis-a-vis English Jews into a national-political construction of "strangers." Again, however, it must be mentioned that such an answer comes in a context of structural coercion--if the Assembly of Jewish Notables had not affirmed the willingness of French Jews to kill other Jews as "strangers" on the battlefield, they would have put themselves at risk of still being a "nation within a nation" in relation to the structure of the modern nation-state, and thus subject to expulsion.

In light of this drastic realignment of identity, we can now underscore key ways in which this modern shift of integration into the European nation-state anticipates elements of the later Zionist "negation of galut" as described above. Taking the example of France, we can say that prior to the rise of the modern nation-state, Jews were "without a homeland of their own," given that they did not identify with any existing state power structures. Yet, the adoption of French citizenship-identity now means that they have gained a homeland and a fatherland, and accordingly a new form of geographic and patriotic identification. Previously, as mere subjects to the king, Jews lacked an ability to engage in self-determination, but now, as French citizens, Jews now engage in active self-determination, by participating directly in the political-national life of sovereign French nation. Unlike their previous existence, which involved a distancing from the elements of national warfare, they are now able to become "healthy" members of a "normal nation," and can sacrifice their lives on the battlefield for their country to which their hearts and bodies are bound. Previously, Jews lived in a state of galut which lacked a properly "nationalized" identity. While Jews themselves may have conceived of their situation in national terms, as a "nation in exile," this way of life was not seen as properly or truly "national" in the sense of "normal" nations. Now, however, the advent of French citizenship enables Jews to acquire a "nationalized" identity, thus breaking away from the previous exilic "inferior lack" of such identity. As Michael Meyer describes the changed self-understanding of nineteenth-century French Judaism in the wake of emancipation, "Like their German counterparts, French Jews--even the more conservative among them--denied they were in exile." (31)

To be sure, the new nationalized identity gained by French Jews is not a specifically Jewish identity. From the perspective of later Zionism, therefore, French Jews could still be said to be lacking a "nationalized Jewish identity." Yet, when juxtaposed with the previous Jewish construction of Israel as a "nation in exile," the transformation into French citizens of a modern nation-state stands out as already accomplishing many of the major "nationalizing" and "exile-negating" transformations that Zionism later sought to achieve. Thus, one can reasonably state that many aspects of Zionism's desired "negation of galut" were not at all new, but had already been largely attained through Jewish integration into Western Europe nation-states. Jews had already moved from an "exilic" national-political identity to a (normal) "nationalized" identity, and all that was subsequently required was the "small step" of shifting to a specifically Jewish form of "nationalized" identity. However, the major steps of galut-negating transformation had already taken place, and had thus conceptually prepared much of the way for the Zionist ideological approach.

That is to say, while Zionism's own rhetoric presented a sharp contrast between a Jewish nationalized identity in a "Jewish homeland" or "national center," on the one hand, and a "diasporic" form of identification with and integration into the various Western "non-Jewish" nation-states, we can assert that, from another perspective, the supposedly "diasporic" form of modern Jewish identity in fact also constitutes a profound "negation of galut" and indeed a negation that is structurally similar to that put forth in the "centralizing" ideologies of Zionism. It is only from within the specific definitions of Zionist thought that modern life in "Diaspora" is to be viewed as not yet having negated galut. When compared to previous traditional Jewish theological-political understanding, the main negations of galut have already occurred forcefully.

And, while the specific dynamics of emancipation played out in varying ways in different countries apart from the example of France, the main conceptual point remains relevant in those different contexts, namely, that the basic notion of citizenship in the modern nation-state stands in sharp tension to the previous notion of Jewish communal self-conceptions of a nation in galut. It is true that Jews in Eastern Europe did not experience the same level of rights granting and integration into citizenship as did Jews in Western Europe, and thus accordingly had not directly experienced as much pressure to abandon a "national" self-understanding. In this sense, it may be the case that negation of exile had not been imposed to the same practical degree in the Eastern European context. Yet, to the degree that Eastern European Jews, prior to Zionism, had already accepted (at least in intellectual affirmation) the basic notion of the nation-state, a similar negation of exile had also occurred in that context, on the ideological level. (32) In the apt description by David Biale, nineteenth-century Eastern European maskilim "believed that Jews might "negate the exile" (to use the later Zionist term) by finding a home in their European nations." (33) Thus, even if this goal was carried out more successfully in practice in Western Europe, it nevertheless marked an important precedent for Zionism in Eastern Europe as well.

However, in noting Zionism's use of the term "negation of galut" specifically in relation to the pursuit a Jewish nation-state or landed center, it is important also to note the ways in which Zionist thinkers were shaped by their view of the apparent failure of the project of Emancipation. If a key goal of "negation of galut" was linked to a desire to overcome Jews' "abnormal" status of marginalization and nonintegration within the existing European state structures, the rise of modern antisemitism and more exclusivist forms of nationalism in the late nineteenth century called into question the practical feasibility of Jewish "integrationist" efforts within Europe. Hence, if Zionists did not generally portray Emancipation as itself an act of negation of galut, this may in part be because they held that the former had not in fact succeeded in actually negating the situation of galut.

The complex connections between the "earlier" and the "later" negations of exile can be more clearly illuminated by considering the figure of Theodor Herzl. Consider Jacques Kornberg's description of, Herzl's early affirmation of assimilation under the framework of Emancipation: "An added spur was his negative image of Jews as society's perpetual wanderers, emblematic pariahs, despised aliens. Through assimilation, Herzl had sought to terminate what to him was the inferior condition of Jewish marginality." (34) Emancipation and assimilation as citizens constituted a means of "terminating marginality," or in other words, negating galut. Yet, in the face of rising antisemitism, he lost confidence in this mode: "Judging assimilation in its traditional mode a failure, Herzl sought other paths to end Jewish marginality and reintegrate Jews into gentile society." (35) Notably, prior to the idea of Zionism, one of the "other paths" that Herzl sought out was a mass conversion of Jews to Catholicism, which he saw as having greater ability to eliminate Jews' alien status than did the forms of Emancipation in which they retained their "religious" Jewish identity. (36) As Kornberg argues, when he later came to affirm Zionism, he did not see it as a departure from his previous goals and efforts, but rather "as the realization of emancipation and assimilation." (37) In other words, Herzl can be seen as maintain a consistent goal of negating galut throughout his assimilationist, his conversionary, and his Zionist periods. (38)

Yet, in marking the way in which Zionism's negation of galut stood in relation to and continuity with the earlier version, it is also important to emphasize the ways in which it simultaneously constituted a critique of the form of negation of galut contained in the framework of Emancipation. Describing autonomist movements in Europe, as well as early Zionism, Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin writes, "The declaration of Jews as a 'nation' in Europe was a mode of resistance, similar to national identities that arose in the Third World, as a reaction to colonialism. This is true as well of the first stages of Zionism that emerged out of a disappointment with the process of emancipation and resistance to assimilation." (39) Thus, we can say that in one sense, Zionism's initial critique contained the possibility of a reassertion of previous Jewish distinctiveness in the face of the efforts of modern nation-states to negate Jews' previous exilicnational identity. (40) At the same time, by remaining within the basic framework of nation-state conceptuality, the initial critical impulse instead became bound up with an active affirmation of negation of galut, in a permutation that can be described as national assimilation rather than as individual assimilation. (41) In the course of this trajectory, however, Zionist discourse tended to lose sight of the elements of continuity with the earlier negation of galut, and came to view efforts of European Emancipation and integration--in not being based around a Jewish landed center--as themselves remaining in the broader framework of galut, under the new definition given to this latter term in the Zionist framework. This linguistic shift, eliding the galut negation of modern Emancipation, has continued to affect thought about and discussion of Jewish politics, culture and geography up to the present day.

Implications for Contemporary Debates

In contemporary discourse and debates, the classical Zionist idea of "negation of galut" has been critically called into question. Critics have argued that this form of relation to previous Jewish identity contains many harmful and undesirable features, ranging from a devaluation of Jewish life outside of the "geographical center," to constituting an ethically problematic adoption of modern European nationalism, to entailing a sharp departure from previous Jewish theological conceptuality and an assimilation to "Christian" understandings of history and communal identity. In its various forms, this critique of "negation of galut" can be traced from early figures such as Simon Dubnow, through mid-twentieth-century thinkers such as Simon Rawidowicz, through contemporary thinkers such as Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin or Daniel and Jonathan Boyarin. (42) Yet, in many contemporary discussions, the idea of "negation of galut" is often associated specifically with Zionism. Such association tends to be accompanied by an assumption that forms of "diasporism"--rejecting identification with a centralized "Jewish state" and affirming Jewish life in "Diaspora"--constitute an alternative to the orientation of negation of galut. Yet, as the above analysis has argued, when the premodern Jewish understanding of exile is considered, not only does Jewish citizenship in modern Western nation-states not constitute an alternative to negation of galut, but in fact such forms of Jewish identity may in fact represent the original and primary form of negation of galut, even prior to the rise of Zionism. As Yoav Peled writes in a related context, "The sovereignty that destroyed the exilic-communal way of life of the Jews was not Zionist sovereignty, but rather the sovereignty of the modern state in every one of the societies in which the Jews lived." (43) While Zionism's negation of galut may be more outward and obvious, the negation of galut demanded by citizenship in the modern nation-state is just as drastic a shift from previous Jewish "exilic" self-construction.

To take just one representative example of the elision of this earlier negation of galut in contemporary discourse, consider the arguments in favor of "Diaspora" put forth by Daniel Boyarin and Jonathan Boyarin. In affirming the idea of "Diaspora," their work displays a clear awareness of the "messianic suspension" that characterizes the rabbinic orientation towards landed-centralized institutional structures. Thus, they write, "The point is not that the Land was devalued by the Rabbis but that they renounced it until the final redemption; in an unredeemed world, temporal dominion and ethnic particularity are impossibly compromised." (44) In comparison to this traditional rabbinic stance, they argue that "the solution of Zionism--that is, Jewish state hegemony ... seems to us the subversion of Jewish culture and not its culmination. It represents the substitution of a European, Western cultural-political formation for a traditional Jewish one." (45) While this comparison may itself illuminate important aspects of the relation between Zionism and previous Jewish tradition, it is notable that, historically, Zionism was not the only or first instance of a "substitution of a European, Western cultural-political formation for a traditional Jewish one": one could ask whether the structures of modern citizenship more generally, whether in the French permutation or, differently, the American one, could also be accurately described by the same formulation. Yet, although Boyarin and Boyarin do not explicitly claim that the political structures of America or France are inherently neutral vis-a-vis previous Jewish conceptions of galut, they also do not delve into the extent to which such frameworks may or may not constitute a joining with the "structures of the nations," as problematized by the passage from Lamentations Rabbah examined above (46) Put differently, while modern citizenship in France or America may be compatible with a certain contemporary notion of "Diaspora," it is less clear that such frameworks are compatible with the previous theopolitical obligations of galut: (47) By omitting such questions, the implicit upshot is that the negation of earlier Jewish modes of community is primarily a problem of Zionism in particular.

Indeed, by taking for granted the structure of citizenship in modern Western nation-state, discourses that seek to resist the classical Zionist negation of galut may in fact fundamentally reinforce many of the assumptions of the Zionist "nationalizing" project. By treating Zionism's problematic aspect to be its affirmation of a specifically Jewish nation-state, while treating the modern nation-state itself as generally nonproblematic in Jewish terms, the more fundamental problem (from the perspective of previous Jewish conceptuality) of a nondistanced identification with a state power structure remains unaddressed. (48) Put differently, if the previous Jewish conception was of Israel as a "nation in exile," it may be the case that classical Zionism undermines this conception by seeking to negate the "in exile" element; however, the forms of modern Emancipation negate the "nation" element and thereby also negate the traditional conception of "a nation in exile." (49) While the one approach may do a better job of preserving the notion of geographic universality (but only in the form of "religion" and not "nation"), while the other approach may do a better job of preserving the idea of Israel's "national" identity (50) (but in the form of bounded geographic particularity rather than borderless geographic universality), both approaches fundamentally negate the previous Jewish idea of a geographically universal nation. (51) Thus, to the extent that one attempts to criticize the classical Zionist/center-focused notion of "negation of galut" on the basis of its departure of from previous Jewish conceptuality, such critique will necessarily fail if one does not simultaneously criticize the modern Emancipationist stance on the same basis. As Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin emphasizes, in calling for a wider scope for critique of negations of galut, "The turn to a notion of exile demands employing it also against the dominant secular order that long denied Jewish exile." (52) If one performs only the former critique while omitting the latter, one's argument will be ultimately self-defeating and internally contradictory.

Thus, while Zionism may be anti-exilic, many forms of "diasporism" are also anti-exilic. Accordingly, if resistance to "negation of galut" is to be seen as desirable, such a goal requires not only a critique of Zionism, but even more fundamentally a critique of "diasporism," to the extent that the latter accepts the negation of Jewish galut inherent in the modern construction of nation-state citizenship. In contrast to "diasporism," however, such a project of "exilism" (or at least anti-anti-exilism) faces great difficulties. It is easy enough to reject a "centralized-national" construction of Jewish identity, so long as one can live comfortably in the context of the liberal Western nation-state structure. However, if the latter also constitutes a negation of galut, and thus an equally fundamental undermining of previous Jewish political and theological conceptuality, then formulation of a modern Jewish approach that does not reinforce negation of galut is not so straightforward. In today's world, it would raise a great number of political difficulties actively to disidentify both with a "Jewish" nation-state and simultaneously actively to disidentify with the structures of citizenship-identity in every "non-Jewish" nation-state. (53) Again, while such "distancing" need not imply a practical political or legal threat, and may involve a strong degree of active participation and identification on a social-cultural level, the very act of active national-level disidentification nevertheless constitutes stands in sharp ideological and conceptual tension with the basic structure of the modern nation-state. The warning of Count Clermont-Tonnerre still resonates, that the structure of the modern nation-state, whether "Jewish" or "non-Jewish," does not easily tolerate those who would affirm a geographically universal national identification. Instead, the modern nation-state demands that one abandon national universality and confine one's national affiliation to the borders of the nation-state in which one lives, while allowing a reduced form of cultural or religious universality to remain. While the present essay does not provide a solution to this dilemma, I hope at the very least to have provided a clearer view of the underlying conflict between the modern nation-state and previous Jewish understandings of community and galut, which can in turn aid both in further analyzing previous historical dynamics of Jews and Judaism in modernity, while also contributing to more fruitful debates over the future possibility of a fuller critique of the negation of galut.


(1.) I thank Claire Sufrin, Yaron Peleg, and Eran Kaplan for their helpful feedback on earlier versions of this essay.

(2.) Throughout this essay, I will generally employ the traditional Hebrew term galut to designate the concept under consideration. While the Zionist use of the phrase shelilat hagalut was employed in negating both "exile" and "Diaspora," the diasporists who sought to resist the Zionist negation nevertheless still departed in key ways from the rabbinic conception; that is, they themselves negated galut even while (or precisely by) affirming "Diaspora."

(3.) Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin insightfully addresses the ways in which the "era of Enlightenment and emancipation" marked a shift from previous "exilic" Jewish understandings in terms of conceptions of time and history, and I build up on his approach in this essay. See his "Jewish Memory between Exile and History," 537; as well as his "Secularism," 283, 286-87. However, he does not give as much attention to the ways in which the political and social structure of the nation-state and its national borders contributed to this shift away from galut's orientation of geographic universalism. In a sense, one can say that his focus is on the way in which modern transformations constituted a break from previous Jewish exilic notions of time, while 1 have focused in this essay on the way in which those transformations also constituted a break from previous Jewish exilic notions of space. Likewise, Julie E. Cooper has highlighted aspects of the ways in which modern representatives of "diasporism" depart from rabbinic notions of galut', she places her primary focus on notions of sovereignty and self-determination, whereas, while also highlighting political dimensions, 1 place more focus on the ways in which the structures of modern national citizenship shapes relations to geographical boundaries and belonging. See Cooper, "A Diasporic Critique of Diasporism," 84-85.

(4.) The "affirmative" element in the rabbinic conception of galut is crucial: while the rabbis may designate galut as undesirable in various ways, and may pray that God will put an end to galut, they nevertheless affirm that practical acceptance of the conditions of galut is Israel's distinctive theopolitical task in relation to God, up until the coming of the Messiah. Thus, while galut may be "bad," rejecting the status of galut prior to the coming of the Messiah would be worse, as it would reduce Israel the status of the idolatrous "nations of the world," who fail to acknowledge God's kingship. These complex and not "wholly negative" theological dimensions constitute a further reason for my use of the term galut throughout this essay, as the English term "exile" does not as readily convey the notion of affirmative communal task before God.

(5.) For fuller treatments of the basic outline sketched in this paragraph, see, e.g., Schweid, "The Rejection of the Diaspora in Zionist Thought"; Ratzaby, "The Polemic about the 'Negation of the Diaspora.'"

(6.) For conflicts between Zionists and traditionalist Jewish religious thinkers, see, e.g., Luz, Parallels Meet; Ravitzky, Messianism.

(7.) The following discussion of the dominant classical rabbinic orientation to galut and to aspects of Torah currently "in suspension" is drawn from the following scholarly treatments: Neusner, Vanquished Nation, Broken Spirit; Berger, "Taming the Beast"; Weiss, "John Howard Yoder, Classical Rabbinic Judaism, and the Renunciation of the Sword"; Gafni, Land, Center and Diaspora', Milikowsky, "Notions of Exile."

(8.) Amnon Raz-Krakotzin highlights the ways in which modern Zionist efforts to define Jews as a "nation" in the modern sense of the term represented an accommodation to Christian conceptuality, and thus a significant departure from previous Jewish-rabbinic understand of Israel's communal character. See Raz-Krakotzkin, "Secularism," 287-88.

(9.) To give just one example of the many rabbinic references to such institutions, Mishnah Shevuot 2:2, in discussing the laws of entering the Temple court, states that no additions to the city of Jerusalem or to the Temple courts may be made except by the decision of all of the following figures and institutions: "a king, and a prophet, and the Urim and Tumim, and a Sanhedrin of seventy-one, and with two thank-offerings [in the Temple], and with singing; and the court follows after the thank-offerings and all Israel follow after them." These institutions, including kings, prophets, Urim and Tumim, the Temple, and the Sanhedrin, as well as "all Israel in one place," were understood by the rabbis as not present in their own situation of galut. On ways in which the Mishnah orients itself towards the currently absent institutions of a future messianic kingdom, see Wacholder, Mishnah and Messianism, 9-10.

(10.) For ways in which Zionists thinkers sought, in a related but different manner, to draw upon a conception of pre-exilic biblical past, see Zerubavel, Recovered Roots.

(11.) On the normative suspension of judicial functions of capital punishment in the absence of the Temple, see, e.g., Mekhilta de-rabbi Shimon bar Yochai to Ex. 21:14; Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 52b, Ketubot 30a-b, Avodah Zarah 8b. On the suspended functionality of the Urim and Tumim (along with that of the shekhinah the holy spirit) following the destruction of the First Temple, see Babylonian Talmud Yoma 21 b, and see Sommer, "Did Prophecy Cease?" On the classical rabbinic understanding of the need for the Urim and Tumim for engagement in both "commanded wars" (milchemet mitzvah) and permitted wars (milchemet reshut), see Kimelman, "Working Warfare and Its Restrictions," 55-57; Weiss, "Direct Divine Sanction," 31-33, 36-38.

(12.) On the notion that the suspended institutions will be restored only in with the coming of the messiah, see, e.g., Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 51b (regarding institutions of capital punishment and Temple sacrifices) and Sotah 48b (regarding the Urim and Tumim).

(13.) See the "three oaths" in Babylonian Talmud Ketubot 111a; for the practical theological-normative force of these ideas in rabbinic thought from the classical period up through the modern period, see Ravitzky, Messianism, 211-34.

(14.) On aspects of premodern Jewish dynamics of both "being at home" and "not being at home," see Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi, "Exile and Expulsion."

(15.) Lamentations Rabbah 3:21. English translation drawn from Stern, Parables in Midrash, 57-58; for manuscript variations, see Stern, Parables in Midrash, 281-83.

(16.) Given that Lamentations Rabbah is a Palestianian midrashic collection, it may well be the case that, geographically speaking, the "exilic setting" in which this exchange between Israel and the nations of the world takes place is the Land of Israel. In other words, the main point of galut, in this portrayal, is not that the "wife" necessarily lives in different place than she did beforehand; she may be in the same place, but without currently possessing the elements of a "normal marriage."

(17.) Note that the nations of the world, as far as the parable is concerned, appear to have a double correspondence: both to the woman's neighbors, and to the "other man" that the neighbors encourage her to marry.

(18.) In a parallel to this passage in Numbers Rabbah 2:4, when the nations exhort Israel to join them, the phrase bo 'u 'etzlenu is coupled with the phrase hidabequ lanu, "be joined with us," clearly indicating a removal of Israel's current self-imposed separation between themselves and the nations. See also Song of Songs Rabbah 7:2.

(19.) As Amos Funkenstein argues, the rabbinic notion of "dina de-malchuta dina" did not entail submission to every whim or decree of a ruling king. See Funkenstein, Perceptions of Jewish History, 157-58; and also Graff, Separation of Church and State, 14-16.

(20.) While there are some historical instances of Jews engaging in military battle for "foreign kings" (e.g., Shmuel Ha-Nagid), this generally appears to be an exception to the rule, particularly in rabbinic Jewish contexts, prior to the modern period. See Bleich, "Military Service," 417-18; Penslar, Jews and the Military, 18ff.

(21.) For ways in which this dynamic still raised problems even after the major transformations of modern emancipation, see Derek Penslar's chapter on "When May We Kill Our Brethren?" in his Jews and the Military, 121 ff. See also Abraham Reisen's short story set during World War I, "Dem bruder's koyle" / "His Brother's Bullets."

(22.) On the difference between the premodern and modern period in this regard, cf. Peled, "Diaspora De-Luxe," 138.

(23.) Cf. Bader-Saye, Church and Israel after Christendom, 57ff.

(24.) For a classic scholarly account of this shift, seek Katz's Out of the Ghetto, in which he notably describes the process as "the transformation of strangers into citizens" (7).

(25.) Brubaker, Citizenship and Nationhood in France, 46.

(26.) Cited in Mendes-Flohr and Reinharz, The Jew in the Modern World, 115.

(27.) On the debates over the status of Jews in the broader French context of the transformation of "subjects into citizens," see Edelstein, The French Revolution and the Birth of Electoral Democracy, 49-54. For the subsequent aftermath of emancipation and citizenship, see Vicki Caron's chapter on "The Task of Becoming Citizens" in her Between France and Germany, 1-26.

(28.) Cf. Volkov, "Jewish History: The Nationalism of Transnationalism," 196.

(29.) Mendes-Flohr and Reinharz, The Jew in the Modern World, 130.

(30.) Mendes-Flohr and Reinharz, The Jew in the Modern World, 130.

(31.) Meyer, Response to Modernity, 170.

(32.) Though not entirely equivalent, Ahad Ha'am's distinction between "subjective" negation of galut and "objective" negation of galut is relevant in this regard. See his "Negation of Exile," 107.

(33.) Biale, Power and Powerlessness, 131.

(34.) Romberg, Theodor Herzl, 109-10.

(35.) Ibid., 111.

(36.) Ibid., 116.

(37.) Ibid., 182.

(38.) See also David Biale's description of Herzl (Power and Powerlessness, 132): "When he became a convert to Jewish nationalism, he envisioned creating a European-style state for Jews outside of Europe. The goal remained the same: to abolish Jewish uniqueness. Only the geographic location now shifted." See also Boyarin, Unheroic Conduct, 282, 295.

(39.) Raz-Krakotzkin, "Secularism," 287. In particular, within the context of Zionism, one can point to Ahad Ha'am as a figure whose approach to "negation of galut" was linked specifically to a sense that the modern conditions threatened to dissolve previous Jewish ways of life, and whose turn to Zionism was, to a large degree, intended as an effort to preserve previous Jewish ideas and values--albeit in a "secularized" form, which obviously constituted a transformation of those same ideas and values. See, e.g., his "Negation of Exile"; see also his "Slavery in Freedom."

(40.) On the ways in which Herzl's Zionism can also be seen as turning, in one sense, a form of Jewish self-assertion while ultimately remaining in an assimilatory framework, see Boyarin, Unheroic Conduct, 283; Konrberg, Theodor Herzl, 116.

(41.) On "national assimilation" in contrast to "individual assimilation," see Buber, Israel and the World, 189, 223. As a side note, it would be useful to consider whether thinkers like Buber or Ahad Ha'am, who thought in terms of a geographical center, but did not put as much emphasis on (or even rejected) the idea of Jewish state sovereignty, were less inherently galut negating (in not focusing on a nation-state structure), or whether even their emphasis on a "spiritual center" already represented a strong contrast to the idea of geographic universality. In this regard, while I have emphasized willingness to engage in "national warfare" as a core element of modern citizenship, it may also be noted that, up until the 1930s the mainstream Zionist movement as a whole, apart from its Revisionist wing, did not explicitly put as much focus on or spell out the military aspects of their envisioned Jewish national homeland. See, e.g., Shapira, Land and Power.

(42.) See Dubnow, "The Affirmation of the Diaspora," [1909] in his Nationalism and History, 182-91; Rawidowicz, "Israel: The People, the State," in his State of Israel, Diaspora, and Jewish Continuity, 182-93; Raz-Krakotzkin, "Exile within Sovereignty; Raz-Krakotzkin"; "Exile, History, and the Nationalization of Jewish Memory"; Boyarin and Boyarin, Powers of Diaspora; Boyarin and Boyarin, "Diaspora."

(43.) Peled, "Diaspora De-Luxe," 138.

(44.) Boyarin and Boyarin, "Diaspora," 718.

(45.) Ibid., 712.

(46.) Boyarin and Boyarin do point to coercive elements of problematic universalism in the context of modern French nationalism and in Western thought more broadly ("Diaspora," 696, 707), but they do not really assess the ways in which these elements, insofar as they are retained in modern notions of citizenship, stand in conflict with previous Jewish notions of culture and community. See also their reference to "alternatives, challenges, or subversions of the nation-state," but without examination of the ways in which previous Jewish notions of galut might represent such an alternative (Boyarin and Boyarin, Powers of Diaspora, 23). See also the note below regarding the relation of haredi Jews to modern state citizenship.

(47.) Strikingly, Boyarin and Boyarin address the terminological-conceptual differences between their notion of "Diaspora" and the term galut only once, and that in a brief footnote and without addressing traditional rabbinic theopolitical understandings of the term (Powers of Diaspora, 132). See also Cooper, "A Diasporic Critique of Diasporism," 84.

(48.) For a relevant treatment of ways in which many contemporary "diasporic" thinkers fail to engage fully with the questions of politics and the nation-state, see Cooper, "A Diasporic Critique of Diasporism."

(49.) Previous scholarship has analyzed ways in which the process of emancipation tended to remove the "national" component of Judaism, as well as aspects of communal autonomy; however, the ways in which emancipation removed not simply the national component, but specifically the exilic-national component (with its emphasis on geographical universalism) have been less frequently emphasized. See, for instance, Salo W. Baron's classical analysis in "Ghetto and Emancipation." See also Dubnow, "The Jews as a (Spiritual-Cultural) Nationality in the Midst of Political Nations," Nationalism and History, 100-15; on pages 108-09 of this essay, Dubnow raises, but does not fully address, the issue of patriotism and warfare across borders. Note also that Dubnow's affirmation of Diaspora may be to a degree pragmatic, rather than fully principled, as he writes, "It is self-evident that if we had the power to transfer the entire Diaspora to a Jewish state we would do it with the greatest joy" ("The Affirmation of the Diaspora," Nationalism and History, 185-86).

(50.) Again, while retaining certain elements of previous "collective" identity, the Zionist attempt to cast Jews as a "nation" in the modern sense constitutes a rejection of the previous rabbinic understanding of Jews as a "nation," and so saying that Zionism "preserves" the previous national conceptuality is not quite right either. See Raz-Krakotzkin, "Secularism," 287ff.

(51.) On a theological level, there may also be a correlation in rabbinic conceptuality between a geographically universal nation and a geographically universal God, in contrast to the geographically particular "nations of the world" and the geographically particular and limited gods. See, for instance, the traditional Aleinu prayer, in which Israel's allegiance to "the Lord of all" ('adon ha-kol) is contrasted to the ways of "the nations of the lands" (goyyei ha- 'aratzot). Thus, the modern changes in political-geographical orientation may also structurally imply a (unacknowledged or unwitting) theological shift as well.

(52.) Raz-Krakotzkin, "Secularism," 297.

(53.) One question that might be raised is whether the stance of haredi groups such as the Satmar Hasidim constitutes this type of distancing from the citizenship structures of the modern nation-state. However, the elements of cultural distancing found in such groups is not necessarily equivalent to an explicit political distancing in terms of citizenship. For a presentation of Satmar Hasidism as in keeping with the basic framework of the modern nation-state, see Batnitzky, How Judaism Became a Religion, 183ff. For accounts that present Satmar as standing in greater tension with the nation-state, see Meyers, "Commanded War"; Boyarin and Boyarin, Powers of Diaspora, 103-27; see also Cooper, "A Diasporic Critique," 99-100. From a related perspective, it is notable that groups such as Neturei Karta criticize the way in which the establishment of a "Jewish state" conflicts with traditional understandings of galut, but do not appear to place much emphasis on ways in which modern citizenship may also be an alternative permutation of negation of galut.


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Author:Weiss, Daniel H.
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Date:Jun 22, 2016
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