http://www.jewishagency.org/JewishA...ty/Connecting+to+Community/Zionist+Dreams.htm Zionist Dreams We have introduced the idea of mythical and real pictures of Israel and Jerusalem in general terms. We have seen how people in each generation have constructed their own images that often have little - or nothing - to do with the concrete reality prevailing at that particular time. Before we proceed to the reality of contemporary Israel, we wish to introduce a related and relevant subject: the idealized and partly mythical view of the Land of Israel developed by classic Zionism. The fact is that the early Zionist movement performed its own process of mythologization, presenting the physical land and its past in a way that suited the ideological messages that the movement wished to develop. Moreover, different streams within Zionism created their own idealized visions of what the new Jewish society or state should be like in the future. In other words the past, the present and the future were all seen in mythical or idealized terms that distorted reality, and set up a series of expectations about the future that were, perhaps, impossible to realize. Let us examine both of these subjects. How did Zionism envisage the past of the land? Zionism saw the land as a wilderness. Eretz Israel was seen as a land that belonged to the Jews, which - through an accident of history or through Divine decree (depending on the religious orientation of the Zionist stream in question) - was emptied of its Jewish population. At that point, according to many Zionist thinkers, the land started to disintegrate and lose its fruitfulness, turning into a virtual wilderness. The reason for this, according to some of the main Zionist thinkers, was that there existed between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel a relationship of love that could never be equaled by any other peopleâs feeling for the land. In the past, the Jewish people had showed their special relationship with the land by investing enormous effort and energy in it, creating something of a paradise of fruit and crops. Since no other people could feel the same for the land, the decline in the physical condition of the land began simultaneously with the Jewsâ departure. According to some, the land played a part in the process. In an almost mystical manner, the land languished for its beloved people: it did not respond to the touch of other peoples but rather awaited for the return of its lover, Israel. The truth is that there were many historical errors in this view of the country. The land was certainly in a bad physical state: it was a poor and neglected outpost of a distant foreign empire (the Ottoman Empire) based in Constantinople. Nevertheless it experienced many fruitful periods after the departure of the majority of the Jewish population in the early centuries of the Common Era. However, in this instance the past was seen in ideological terms and there was relatively little research - at that time - into the real history of the land. In this way, the Zionist view developed apace. How did Zionism envisage the present of the land? Most Zionistsâ view of the land in its present state was conditioned by the previously-mentioned view of the past. The early Zionist movement tended to present the physical land as one of historical ruins, waiting for the Jews to return and fill it, making the wilderness fruitful once again, after thousands of years of neglect. It was clear to them that the land was essentially empty: it was full of sand dunes and swamps where the majority of the people who were there, Arabs, were basically nomadic Bedouin who had put down few roots and who, as a result, had little stake in or concern for the landâs future. The historical ruins that most of the Zionists saw were, of course, Jewish ruins: the remains of old synagogues and Jewish tombs littered the landscape. They saw it as a Jewish land, and sought to reconnect to it by seeking out the old Biblical names, many of which were disguised under the names that Arabs or other residents had given the places over the centuries. What Zionism tended to ignore was the reality of the large Arab population living in the towns and villages, whose families had lived in the land for centuries. They were by no means all Bedouin, transient nomads. There was a whole history to the land - a non-Jewish history - that had been created over thousands of years. It was not only a land of destroyed ancient synagogues: it was also a land of living churches and mosques. How did Zionism envisage the future of the land? All streams of the Zionist movement were united in the idea that the future of the land would - and should - be Jewish. However, the specific way in which the future was envisaged depended on the ideological orientation of each particular stream. Let us examine this through the eyes of three main streams of Zionism: socialist or labor Zionism, cultural Zionism and religious Zionism. There were other important schools of Zionism such as political Zionism (Herzl) and revisionist Zionism (Jabotinsky), but the three streams of socialist (labor), cultural and religious Zionism had perhaps the clearest and most distinct visions of the future of the land. Let us now see who the groups were, and examine their visions of the future of the Jewish people in its own land. THE VISION OF LEFT-WING ZIONISM. By World War I, socialist Zionists or labor Zionists had become the leading activists in the Zionist world and in Palestine. A host of settlements had been set up on a communal basis, and thousands of workers were beginning to work the land and to build up its infrastructure. The significance of these workers - from the viewpoint of our program - is that they consciously took upon themselves the task of changing the reality of the Jewish people. As far as this can be said of secularists, it seems no exaggeration to state that these people saw that their work as having almost cosmic implications. They considered themselves revolutionaries: they had not come here just to change the condition of the land, but also to change themselves. In so doing, they were aiming for a revolution in the character of the entire Jewish people. (we have come to the land to build and to be built) was one of their slogans. It is strong and meaningful: we have come to this country to transform it, but in so doing we will transform ourselves. They had a vision of a new Jew, diametrically opposed to the old ghetto Jew bowed down by millennia of living in galut. This new Jew would be a type never before seen in Jewish history: he/she would be strong rather than weak; brave rather than cowardly; active rather than passive; rooted in nature rather than alienated from it. In addition to all of these things, the new Jew would not be a slave of the Halacha, of the old theological form of Judaism: the new Jew would be free, relying only on his/her own abilities or strengths. By their own strength and work they would bring their own salvation. The concept is Utopian, but it is a Utopia that would be created by the efforts of the people themselves. They took the activist tradition in messianic thought - the concept that believed that Jewish actions themselves could hasten the coming of the Messiah - and secularized it. They would be responsible for bringing about a better world for themselves, for the Jewish people and even perhaps for the wider world. They would be their own Messiah. Perhaps the greatest of all the labor or socialist thinkers of the time was A.D. Gordon. He rejected the label âsocialistâ because it smacked too much of the cold âscientificâ socialism of Marx. Marx had believed that the world was moving in the direction of socialism because of its own economic tensions. Gordon rejected this, but his ideas put him right at the center of the camp of the labor Zionists. The new society, the new world, could only be built up by the efforts of the people within it. He saw the basis of the great society of the future in the relationships and the way of life created by the workers. In laboring to build up their society, they would create the foundations of the new way of life. Gordon was a moralist. He saw all people as being endowed with potential for good. In the service of the nation, in their work on the land, this potential would be realized. The power of the land would work on the soul of the individual Jew. A moral society would come into being. Many of the pioneers saw the settlements that they created as the seeds from which would grow the better future that they envisaged. The new society of equality and morality would spread out from the settlements and would ultimately encompass the whole of the country. There were those who dreamed of turning the country into one big communal enterprise, one whole kibbutz. Indeed when it became clear to many in the late 1920s that this would not happen, some socialist-Zionists left the country and returned to Stalinâs Russia believing that this would prove a more viable road to Utopia.