Introducing this Bison Book edition is Melvin I. Urofsky, a professor of history at Virginia Commonwealth University and the author of American Zionism from Herzl to the Holocaust.
The Revival of Israel: Rome and Jerusalem, the Last Nationalist Questionby Moses Hess
Important as the first book to give theoretical expression to Zionism, The Revival of Israel was originally published in 1862. The scholar Melvin I. Urofsky notes that it “laid down nearly all of the premises and proposals” that Theodore Herzl, founder of the modern political Zionist movement, would popularize four decades later. Its author, Moses Hess (1812–1875), was a German socialist who brought his revolutionary zeal to the preaching of Jewish nationalism. The Revival of Israel combines a fervent sense of national destiny with ethical socialism and religious conservatism. Hess believed that Papal Rome represented the source of anti-Semitism and that universal ideals of justice and equality were inherent in the history and aspirations of the Jewish people, who could fulfill their historical promise only in their ancient Holy Land under their own rule. Without spiritual regeneration, Judaism was in danger of becoming nothing more than a creed or cult; too many German Jews had already assimilated. He looked above all to France, home of revolution, to protect the Jews, considering it the “sacred duty of Christians to help” them regain their promised land. Unnoticed at first, The Revival of Israel was later discovered and adopted by the Zionists. What Hess has to say about German anti-Semitism is eerily prescient.
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