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Political Fantasies of Zion
CHUM 281
Spring 2023 not offered
Crosslisting: CJST 281, RELI 281

Palestine, Zion, Judah, the Promised Land. A small piece of land in the Middle East has a very long and contested history full of religious meaning for Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Some imagine the State of Israel as an island--"the only democracy in the Middle East" or the only Western state in the region--surrounded by a hostile environment. The geographical area, by contrast, has often been portrayed as a crossroad, a place where cultures clashed, merged, and exchanged ideas.

In this class, we will examine this tension between a physical and imagined space, between political reality and idea, by recovering alternative Zionist, non-Zionist, and anti-Zionist visions of the Zion. Jewish statehood is a very recent phenomenon. Throughout the modern period, the vast majority of Jews lived under empires, whether Habsburg, French, Romanov, British, or Ottoman. How did the imperial experience shape Jewish religious and political views? What role does the imagination of Zion play in today's political context? Reading political pamphlets, poetry, maps, artworks, and utopian fiction, we will pay attention to the construction of the Zionist idea not just in political Zionism but also in contrasting visions including Canaanism, cultural Zionism, diaspora nationalism, a Jewish-Arab federation, a binational state, and the rejection of statehood as heresy. In the last part of the class, we will look at recent contemporary issues from the news, e.g., the agreements between the State of Israel and the United Arab Emirates, or government corruption in Israel, in order to see how these ideas of Zion are still present in today's discourse.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: HA CHUM
Course Format: SeminarGrading Mode: Student Option
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (CJST-MN)(RELI-MN)(RELI)

Last Updated on JUN-24-2024
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