David Biale

David Biale Professor of Jewish History at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, is the author of Gershom Scholem: Kabbalah and Counter-History and of Power and Powerlessness in Jewish History.

Comparisons with Weimar

David Biale, 16 August 1990

The formation of a new Israeli government made up of the ultra-nationalist Right and the ultra-Orthodox is a propitious moment to reflect on the role of the radical Right in the history of Zionism. The state of Israel was created by left-wing elements, led by the social-democratic Labour Party. The Revisionists were the right wing of Zionism prior to 1948, but they were a small constellation in the Zionist firmament, a minority opposition in a largely socialist movement. Vladimir Jabotinsky, the leader of the Revisionists, articulated an anti-socialist, anti-liberal view of the world animated by Social Darwinism, militarism and Futurism. Jabotinsky’s party encompassed both conservative nationalist and radical elements. While Jabotinsky himself was cosmopolitan and often politically pragmatic, his followers, among the Stern group and the Irgun, were much more xenophobic and extreme.

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