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Rome & Jerusalem

Moses hess, 1862


In Rome & Jerusalem, Moses Hess argued that Europe would never fully welcome the Jews, that they would always be hated outsiders. Therefore, the Jews must return to Palestine to build a socialist agricultural society there. This book introduced the idea that Jewish identity could be expressed in nationalism, not religion. The idea of Jewish self-determination, when combined with the spiritual notion of returning to the Jewish homeland in Palestine, is what makes the root of Zionism. Written as a series of twelve letters to a grieving woman, Rome & Jerusalem sought to place this concept of Jewish nationalism within the wider context of European nationalism to argue against German-Jewish assimilation. It didn’t become popular until Theodore Herzl revitalized its ideas in his own writings later in the century.

The young Jewish generation, sensitive to every high and noble ideal, will enthusiastically join the Jewish national movement.