What is the difference between Judaism and Zionism? The impact of religion on political decision-making in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Textbook, 2019

62 Pages


Table of Contents




List of tables

1 Introduction – the interplay between Judaism and Zionism
1.1 Major research question
1.2 Problems related to the study of the topic
1.3 Methodology
1.4 Thesis overview and hypothesis

2 Preliminary considerations
2.1 The role of religion and nationalism in contemporary conflicts
2.2 The specific case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
2.3 The Israeli-Palestinian conflict – a religious or political conflict?

3 The meaning of Judaism and Zionism before and after 1948
3.1 The meaning of Judaism before and after 1948
3.2 The meaning of Zionism before 1948

4 Analysis
4.1 Orthodox Judaism and traditional Zionism
4.2 Early religious Zionism and Jewish Messianism
4.3 Radical religious Zionism, Jewish messianism and Jewish fundamentalism
4.4 Jewish fundamentalism and the ideological change of traditional Zionism
4.5 Christian Zionism in the United States

5 Conclusion



First of all, I want to thank my thesis advisor Giulia Daniele for her very reliable guidance and the many helpful advices for my master thesis. Secondly, I thank my Palestinian friend Emad Zreneh, whose personal view regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict widened my horizon and inspired me to search for a deeper understanding of the nature of the conflict today. Furthermore, I want to express my gratitude towards my family for all their continuous support. Last but not least, I would like to thank my inspiring friends Annalisa Neher, Julia Burgdorff, and Dorit Kämpfer in Germany for their encouragement and presence, despite physical distance, as well as Danielle de Sotti Novais and Zanre Reed in Portugal.


Persiste até aos nossos dias uma grande confusão relativamente ao significado dos termos judaísmo e sionismo, tanto dentro como fora do Israel. A opinião popular que os termos são sinónimos implica a suposição falsa que antisionismo é igual a antissemitismo, o que permite ao regime de direita de Israel fazer uso desta falácia com o fim de justificar a colonização contínua da Palestina. Com base no trabalho dos chamados Novos Historiadores de Israel, esta dissertação de mestrado visa desconstruir o pensamento convencional a respeito dos termos judaísmo e sionismo, analisando a natureza dos principais fluxos ideológicos e suas interconexões complexas antes e depois de 1948. Os focos de análise são o judaísmo ortodoxo, sionismo religioso, messianismo judaico radical, fundamentalismo judaico, a mudança ideológica do sionismo tradicional e, por último, mas não menos importante, o impacto do sionismo cristão nos Estados Unidos.

Palavras-chave: judaísmo, sionismo, sionismo religioso, conflito israelo-palestiniano


Until the present day, wide-spread confusion regarding the meaning of the terms Judaism and Zionism persists both inside and outside Israel. As the popular opinion that the terms are synonyms implies the false assumption that anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism, the Israeli right-wing regime uses this dangerous shortcut in order to justify its ongoing colonization of Palestine. Based on the work of Israel’s New Historians, this master thesis aims at deconstructing the mainstream mindset concerning Judaism and Zionism by analysing the nature of the principal ideological streams and their complex interconnections before and after 1948; focussing on orthodox Judaism, religious Zionism, Jewish radical messianism, Jewish fundamentalism, the ideological change of traditional Zionism and, last but not least, the role of Christian Zionism in the United States.

Keywords: Judaism, Zionism, Israeli-Palestinian conflict, religious Zionism

List of tables

Table 2. 1: Four legitimating models of religion and nationalism (Abulof 2014: 518)

1 Introduction – the interplay between Judaism and Zionism

1.1 Major research question

The fact that Israel never envisaged the construction of an Israeli national identity that would naturally integrate non-Jewish citizens, but a Jewish privileged national identity reserved for Jews by the implementation of a ‘Jewish ideology’ demonstrates the power of Zionist politics until today. The result is a widely spread popular confusion about the meaning of both Zionism and Judaism. Until today, the opinion that the terms are synonyms persists. This, in turn, implies the consequence and widely spread assumption that anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism, which easily silences any critic of Israeli politics.

I confess my own prejudice. I grew up in a highly uncritical pro-Israel environment in Germany. Having internalised a clear picture of the ‘Holy Land’ being the only democracy in the Middle East surrounded by Muslim terrorist neighbours, I also equated anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. Any kind of Israeli political decision was easily justified with the need for Israeli defence. I have started to question this view when I met a young Palestinian student who explained me the Palestinian narrative of Israel’s history.

The resulting concrete political consequences of this public confusion about the meaning of Zionism and Judaism constitute a major obstacle for the revitalisation of the Israeli-Palestinian peace-process. Against this background, it becomes an imperative to clarify their meaning and analyse possible relations between diverse forms of modern Zionism and Judaism, leading to the question: in how far are different forms of Judaism and Zionism interrelated? The importance of the analysis of this major research question does not only lie in the prevention of both political and moral consequences for the State of Israel and world Jewry, but also for an adequate dealing with Israel and Palestine for scholars.

1.2 Problems related to the study of the topic

The interplay between Zionism and Judaism is a complex field of study which holds many challenges. The first obstacle concerns the definition of both terms because they are no static concepts and submitted to change. As there is a wide range of different forms of Zionism and Judaism and many related subtopics, such as Jewish history and Jewish identity, the study of the complexity of these phenomena often adds to the already existing confusion.

With regard to Judaism, important fields of research include several approaches such as cultural, political, historical perspectives; religious concepts; territorial concepts and borderlands such as anti-Semitism. Given the fact that Judaism comprises all these diverse components and cultures, it is impossible to address all subtopics related to Judaism in this thesis. Thus, the most important tendencies that are the most relevant for the analysis will be presented. The second problem lies in the study of the origins of Judaism and Jewry because of the immense temporal distance to the ancient Hebrew people. Until today, archaeologists, historians and social scientists debate over the nature of ancient Israel and any type of discovery easily fuels the political conflict. The third problem is the subjective character of motives when studying Zionism and Judaism, as their interplay is directly connected to the complex Israeli-Palestinian conflict and often to personal religious and political attitudes. Studies must lie on the ground of credible observations and research. Yet, as Ilan Pappé puts it, “the subjectivity and relativity of any representation do not invalidate moral and ethical discussion about the representation” (2016: 3). It is in this sense that the present thesis wants to contribute to achieving a more fruitful debate regarding the interplay between Judaism and Zionism.

1.3 Methodology

Given the complexity of the topic, I have chosen to take a qualitative and interpretive approach based on the critical evaluation of existing literature. In contrast to the difficulties within the study of Judaism, a more objective approach to the nature of modern Zionism could be reached more easily, as the temporal distance to its roots is, compared to Judaism, manageable.

The following qualitative analysis largely focusses on the body of research of Israel’s so-called New Historians. The most influencing and prominent New Historians include Benny Morris (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), who coined the term in 1988, Avi Shlaim of Oxford University and Ilan Pappé of Haifa University. Israel adopted the thirty-year rule model of Britain as the basis for reviewing and declassifying official state documents. This liberal archive law (1955) allowed the access to primary source material from the Foreign Office, the Prime Minister’s Office, the Defence Ministry and documents of the Israeli Defence Forces Archives (IDF) in the early 1980s; thirty years after the establishment of Israel in 1948 (The Office of the Historian, s.a.). The waste archives of the latter revealed in particular the history of early Israeli statehood. Since the releasing of these documents, the New Historians have challenged the persisting official Zionist narrative of the history of Israel and marked a turning point in the study of Israeli history, as they criticized the actions of Zionists during the first Arab-Israeli war and challenged ‘the founding myths of Israel’1. By combining their conclusions with those of historians evaluating British and American archive material, it became possible to challenge the most persisting myths about the early days of Israeli history: for long, the Israeli-Arab War of 1948 was perceived as synonym for Israel’s ‘War of Independence’. By presenting the Palestinian side of the coin, the Nakba (Arabic: “disaster”, “catastrophe”), which means for the Palestinian people the loss of their homeland, a completely new perception originating from inside Israel confronted this mainstream narrative. When referring to the meaning and nature of Judaism today, my source material comes from scholarly books, publications of Jewish religious leaders and scientific articles, of which a large part is released by the Journal of Palestine Studies.

1.4 Thesis overview and hypothesis

After the introduction, the second chapter will outline key thoughts on the role of religion and nationalism in contemporary conflicts in general, before presenting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the two different existing approaches to it - the religious and the political approach. I argue that both views should not be regarded completely separately from each other: as religion holds a deep notion of power over people, religion’s influence on politics should be part of the scientific conflict analysis in conflict contexts, in particular in the case of Israel and Palestine. When analysing the interplay between Judaism and Zionism, I refer to Zionism as settler colonialism. The introduction to the settler colonialist nature of Zionism as well as the introduction to religion’s influence on politics in general conclude the second chapter of the thesis. The third chapter will present the meaning of Judaism and Zionism prior and after the establishment of Israel in 1948, which is the fundamental basis for the ensuing analysis. The analysis itself will refer to the Jewish religious attitudes on the conflict today and present the links between different forms of Judaism and Zionism. In this context, Christian Zionism, Neozionism and Jewish fundamentalism are key phenomena for understanding the use of Judaism by Zionism for legitimating political purposes, namely violent and illegal settlement policies in Palestinian territory. Lastly, before concluding the analysis, I will outline the phenomenon of the ‘Judaization’ of the conflict and its problematic consequences, which, in view of current political events such as US President Donald Trump’s Jerusalem policies, becomes an increasingly important topic.

Given the fact that the status of Jerusalem is one of the most central issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in the beginning of December 2017 is highly controversial. This provocative decision culminated in the opening of the US. Embassy in Jerusalem on the 14th May 2018, coinciding with Israel’s 70th ‘Independence Day’, one day before the annually commemorated Nakba Day.

2 Preliminary considerations

2.1 The role of religion and nationalism in contemporary conflicts

Both nationalism and religion are what people make of them. More precisely, the notion of both terms is mainly built on a specific European-Christian history and has since then often been treated like a universal approach. Given the fact that the meanings of nationalism and religion can comprise whole multidimensional worlds, there is a lack of common agreement concerning their definitions which leads to antithetical claims about their relation. In addition to this, the interplay between religion and nationalism is a relatively new field of study. For long, the two terms have been strictly separated from each other, as a result of the long-dominating assumption that nationalism equals modernity and modernity equals secularization2.

However, secularization theory has been largely replaced by ‘the desecularization of the world’ (Berger 1999; Scott 2005) and it seems like if the pendulum swung from one extreme view into the other. For long, the role of religion tended to be neglected or even ignored in publications of conflict and peace studies and in international relations in general. Yet, from the 1990s on, literature addressing the relationship between religion and conflicts started to emerge with several viewpoints. In this context, Samuel Huntington’s hypothesis of the ‘clash of civilizations’ (1993) is regarded as central to the whole debate. The American scientist argued that people’s cultural and religious identities will be the main source of conflict in the post-Cold War world, although nation states will remain. Future wars would not be fought between countries, but between cultures. Moreover, he saw in Islamic extremism the biggest threat to world peace, stating that conflict lines on a global scale are first and foremost those between the Islamic and non-Islamic world, which have shaped the history of conflict for centuries (Huntington 1993: 22-49).

Events like the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979; the election of US-president Ronald Reagan with the large support of evangelical Christians, Catholics, Jews and Mormons in 1981; the rise of the Hindu-nationalist BJP party in the 1980s and the religious-political Northern Ireland conflict are only a few examples of the global resurgence of religion into politics and the rise of religious nationalism, not only in non-Western contexts. At the latest, the Al-Qaida-terroristic attacks of 2001 seemed to back up his theory. Yet, twenty years after his publication, his idea can be identified as an idea of the 20th century, as Huntington divides the world in nine civilizations based mostly along religious lines: The Western civilization (consisting of Europe, USA), the Islamic, Confucian, Latin-American, etc. I argue that these block thinking patterns of the 20th century fail at addressing the complexity of the interlinked and globalized world driven by accelerated neoliberalism in the 21st century. Still, religion can be perceived as a key reason for conflict. A more current example for the dynamic roles of religion in politics is Turkey’s application for full EU membership since 2005: the political debate about the cultural differences between Muslim majority Turkey and Christian majority Europe has driven the whole debate to a great extent. However, the question remains if it is ‘pure’ religion that fuels or even provokes conflict, or is it rather the combination of a religion-nationalism tandem?

The religion-nationalism interplay spans various spheres – identity, psychology, culture, conflicts and peace are the predominating ones. In an attempt to structure the main components of the interplay between religion and nationalism in this sphere, Abulof presents a matrix consisting of secular nationalism, civil religion, auxiliary religion and ‘chosen peoples’ which represents a four-type model for the ways in which modern nations relate to their religion in their efforts to justify their claims of statehood.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Table 2. 1: Four legitimating models of religion and nationalism (Abulof 2014: 518)

According to his analysis, whereas secular nationalism morally avoids religious dimensions, civil religion and auxiliary religion revert to religion’s sanctifying capacity or the transcendental, respectively, and ‘chosen peoples’ entirely implement religion onto modern politics. In other words, auxiliary religion holds the transcendental as politically subservient to the will of ‘the people’; God serves as an important but insufficient legitimating factor. In contrast to this, ‘chosen peoples’ hold the transcendental sanctification as both necessary and sufficient legitimation. Abulof argues that “this legitimating model walks a fine line between modern nationalism and politicized religion. In a word, when chosen people and their choices are not held to be the primary source of political legitimation, it is doubtful whether we may call this ‘nationalism’ at all.” (2014: 521). This represents an important gap in his own argumentation. As Abulof frames his case study of Judaism and Zionism into the above presented four models of religion and nationalism, he lacks to capture the settler colonialist nature of Zionism.

2.2 The specific case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

The view that Zionism’s nature goes beyond the scope of nationalism does not merely represent an academic perspective, but was already officially formulated in 1975 by the UN General Assembly, which condemned Zionism as racism (UN Watch 2015). Moreover, a few years later in 1981, the former Organization of African Unity (now the African Union) adopted a charter ratified by 35 member-states that reaffirms the duty of African states to eliminate colonialism, apartheid and Zionism (Oxford Reference, s.a.). Today, the current state of research offers a new understanding of the essence of Zionism, which was achieved by the study of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the eyes of settler colonial studies. In contrast to colonialism, which seeks to permanently dominate indigenous communities from a metropolitan center located outside the colonialized area as, for example, Britain’s rule in India, settler colonialism seeks to erase indigenous people with the purpose of replacing them with another socio-political body (Veracini 2013: 27), which equals the ultimate goal of ethnic segregation (Pappé 2000: 33).

In other words, as the often-cited Patrick Wolfe puts it, settler colonialism is a structure with no intended end, rather than an event (1999). Following this definition of settler colonialism, Israeli ongoing occupation of Palestine can be categorized as such. Amal Jamal from Tel-Aviv University describes it along similar lines when stating that “Israel was created by a settler-colonial movement of Jewish immigrants” (2011: 48). Israel continues to bereave Arab-Palestinian citizens of not only the status of an indigenous national minority but also of equal civic status and rights (Ibid.: 48), which is, inter alia, reflected by Israeli property ownership and housing policies3.

2.3 The Israeli-Palestinian conflict – a religious or political conflict?

Two different perspectives lie at the basis of any analysis and interpretation of the origins of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – a religious approach and a political one. The latter perspective perceives the conflict as a nationalist struggle, consisting mainly of security, sovereignty and self-determination. Within this approach, one must divide diverse interpretations into two approaches: “The old approach sees the conflict as one raging between two national movements with an equal claim for the country and equal blame for the lack of progress, the new ones frame the conflict as one raging between a settler and a native community” (Pappé 2015) and view the conflict through the lens of settler colonialism studies. The old one focusses on the Six-Day-War of 1967 and the occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as the beginning of the conflict, whereas the new approach focusses on the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948 as both a departure point and a subject that has to be addressed in order to achieve peace and reconciliation. In addition to this, the old approach advocates a two-state-solution. In contrast to this, the new one seeks a one-state solution and prefers to focus on decolonization, change of regime and the return of the refugees as means of reconciliation (Ibid.)4.

In contrast to this, advocates of the religious approach base their argumentation on the fact that the region which is today Israel and Palestine is holy to the three monotheistic world religions Judaism, Islam and Christianity; focussing especially on Judaism and Islam, and see religious motives as the origins of the conflict, often without regarding the political history of Israel and Palestine. Speaking for Judaism and Christianity, the fact that a significant part of Judaic ritual and teachings focusses specifically on the region which is nowadays Israel and Palestine forms the basic argument for this religious approach to the conflict. In addition to this, the religious dimension of the conflict also can be observed in political contexts: the primary national founder of the State of Israel and the first Prime Minister of the country Ben-Gurion stated, when speaking to the Peel Commission in 1936, that “the British mandate is not our mandate”, but rather “the bible is our mandate” (Abulof 2014: 524). One year later he disclosed “I told the Commission: God has promised Eretz Israel to the Jews. This is our charter. But we are men of our own time, with limited horizons” (Ibid.: 525).

In addition to this, the employment of religious symbols by the Zionists themselves indicates a clear reference to ancient Israel of biblical times, regardless of the fact that Zionism emerged as a predominantly secular and political movement. Furthermore, Jewish settlers who immigrated to Israel after the Six-Day-War in 1967 were largely religiously motivated, as Israel’s victory gave rise to a more religious concept of Eretz Israel. As will be shown in the analysis in a more detailed way, religion and religious efforts have also had a significant impact in the course of the conflict and have intensified it. The injection of religion in the form of radical groups on the ground rejecting compromise and dialogue for religious reasons can be observed on both sides of the conflict.

When regarding the Palestinian side, the initial response of the Palestinians after the Arab defeat of 1948 and 1967 was secularist and political. The 1948 Palestinian exodus meant the expulsion of almost 800,000 Palestinians (Pappé 2007). His historical analysis shows that the expulsion did not happen on an ad hoc basis, but constituted a systematic ethnic cleansing5 in accordance with several official plans, namely the Plan Dalet (Plan D) worked out by the Jewish paramilitary organization Haganah in Mandatory Palestine in March 1948. The execution of the plan meant the destruction of 531 villages and 11 urban centers as well as several massacres (Ibid.: 11). As a result of this ethnic cleansing before the official establishment of Israel, the newly founded Israel managed to reduce the Palestinian population to under 20% of the total population (Ibid.: 372). Since the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and the ongoing colonization of Palestine, the struggle of the Palestinians mainly concerns the status of the refugees and the right to return to their homes or compensation.

Yet, the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the successful attacks by Hezbollah in southern Lebanon against Israel, the growth of Jewish extremism expressed by the rise of power of the Israeli right (Likud party) in 1977, and especially the Iranian Revolution in 1979 and the corruption and inefficiency of the Palestinian Authority (PA) provoked the search for alternatives to secularism in Palestine (Abusada 2010). The Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), a Palestinian Sunni-Islamic fundamentalist organization founded in 1987 by Sheik Ahmed Yassin (among others), interpreted the Palestinian tragedy in religious-political terms; believing that “Palestinians would only shake off Israeli rule when they return to Islam.” (Milton-Edwards 1996: 184-185). Its military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, was founded in the midst of the first Palestinian Intifada (1987-1994) against the Zionist occupation in order to

contribute in the effort of liberating Palestine and restoring the rights of the Palestinian people under the sacred Islamic teachings of the Holy Quran, the Sunna (traditions) of Prophet Mohammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and the traditions of Muslims rulers and scholars noted for their piety and dedication (Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades Information Office, s.a.).

Still, this religious discourse holds a nationalist position of Hamas, namely the political goals of stopping the Israeli occupation of Palestine, the establishment of a Palestinian state and a solution to the refugee problem. The Hamas movement was set up in December 1987 as the political wing by the Muslim Brotherhood and represents Palestinian Political Islam6. A detailed description of the ideological and political development of Hamas since its creation would go beyond the scope of this chapter.

However, it is important to notice its process of deradicalization during the Oslo period (1993-2000) before the outbreak of the second Intifada in September 2000, which meant the shift towards socio-political activities as a form of struggle against the occupier. The building of an Islamic value system as well as the reestablishment of military and political power were required as a form of protection. Hamas gained popularity among Palestinians as it became an efficient part of the Palestinian social welfare system, providing services that the Palestinian Authority (PA) was unable to provide, as well as a vocal and institutionalized part of the Palestinian political landscape. In this sense, Hamas’ ideology can be characterized as an “organic interconnection between social and political action” (Roy 2003: 15). Yet, the outbreak of the second Intifada in 2000 reversed the process of deradicalization within the Islamic movement, which results from increasing brutality of the occupier against the Palestinian society and economy, even though the social core of the Islamic movement remains strong until today (Ibid.).

Unlike Fatah or Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) is a Palestinian nationalist organization that does not participate in the political process and seeks to re-establish a sovereign Islamic Palestinian state with the geographic borders of the pre-1948 mandate Palestine; sanctifying the land due to its historical significance to Islam. The highly secretive organization operates underground and receives limited popular support, as it opposes violently the existence of Israel, mostly by carrying out suicide bombings (Fletcher 2008). In addition to this, according to general interpretations of the Quran, Muslims in general are required to not give up any land which was Muslim in the past and was part of dar-al Islam and to defend land, if necessary, by force against non-believers and enemies (Khoury 1980: 130-180).

Religious motives also play a role in the conflict outside Israel in another respect: a factor that must not be underestimated is the support of Israel by the United States of America. The central element in the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, the axis USA-Israel, is thus not only sustained by the interests in oil and the Jewish lobby in the USA, but also by evangelical convictions, which will be presented in the last chapter of the analysis.

3 The meaning of Judaism and Zionism before and after 1948

3.1 The meaning of Judaism before and after 1948

The question whether Judaism is a religion, a culture, a nationality or a mixture of all three has been central in the development of Jewish thought since the 18th century. In order to address the above raised question, it is crucial to address the major underlying ancient questions concerning Jewish identity, as Judaism is connected to the Jews7. It is not possible to refer to the meaning of Judaism without referring to the meaning of Jewish origins and the Jewish people, as the individual understanding of these questions shape world Jewry and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to a great extent.

However, by regarding Jewish history, it is impossible to refer to Judaism ‘as a whole’ because the social and ideological structure of Judaism have changed profoundly through the ages. A holistic approach to the history of Judaism would go beyond the scope of this dissertation. Thus, the most relevant principal points will be briefly outlined, that are needed for the understanding of the analysis. Shakak distinguishes four major phases of history of Judaism: The first phase refers to the ancient kingdoms of Israel and Judah until the destruction of the first Temple (587 BCE) and the Babylonian exile. The ‘Return from Babylon’ (537 BCE) until about 500 CE, the phase of the dual centres Palestine and Mesopotamia, is regarded as the second phase. This phase is characterized by these two autonomous Jewish societies on which ‘the Jewish religion’ was imposed by the force and authority of the Persian empire. Between this second phase and the third phase of what is called ‘classical Judaism’, there is a huge time gap of several centuries.

The knowledge about Jews and Jewish society during this time is very slight and based on external non-Jewish sources (Shakak 1997: 44f.). In his bestseller “The Invention of the Jewish People” (2009), Shlomo Sand even goes as far as arguing that a ‘race’ of Jews never existed and that Jews are descended from converts. As he could not find any literature supporting the forced exile of Jews from the region that is nowadays Israel as a result of the Bar Kokhba, he argues against popular opinion, that Jews were simply not exiled around 70 CE by the Romans. Consequently, he concludes, as the ‘nation-race’ of Jews never existed, the Jewish Diaspora is essentially a modern Christian invention. He explains the appearance of millions of Jews in the Mediterranean region and elsewhere with the mass conversions to Judaism among the Khazar in Central Asia and Berber tribes in the Maghreb; stating that Judaism was a very converting religion in the past. The book was translated into several languages and the Khazar thesis gained global attention. In contrast to this view, the Israeli historian Prof. Shaul Stampfer has challenged the Ashkenazi-Khazar theory. He notes that physical evidence is lacking for Sand’s thesis and reviews key pieces of historical and geographical evidence which have been cited to support the theory, concluding that there is no reliable evidence and a lack of credible explanations for sources for a conversion en masse in the ninth century of the people of the Khazar empire (2013).


1 See for example: Pappé, Ilan (2007): The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.

2 Generally speaking, one divides two versions of secularization theory. The first one refers to Max Weber (1864-1920), who is considered to be one of the founders of sociology in Germany; the second one is attached to Emile Durkheim (1858-1917), who founded similarly the academic discipline of sociology in France. Whereas Weber argues that religion finds its place in private spaces and turns into a relic of the past, Durkheim comes to the conclusion that modernization would result in religion’s form, rather than in the death of God (Fiedler 2003).

3 The legal basis of the Israel land policy is made of four columns: The Basic Law establishing the Israel Land Administration (1960), Israel Lands Law (1960), Israel Land Administration (1960) and the Covenant between the State of Israel and the World Zionist Organization (Jewish National Fund, 1960). The State of Israel controls 93% of the total land, that is, either property of thestate, the Jewish National Fund (JNF) or the Development Authority (Israeli Land Authority, s.a.).

4 The commonly accepted two-state solution envisages the creation of two independent states, Israel and Palestine, with Jerusalem as the capital for the two states. This view was already formulated in the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine, adopted as Resolution 181 (United Nations 1947). In contrast to this, the one-state solution demands the establishment of one bi-national state of Israel, requiring the abolishment of an exclusively Jewish national identity of Israel as well as the granting of full civil rights for Palestinians (Grinberg 2010).

5 Ethnic cleansing has no official definition and has not been recognized as an independent crime under international law. The term originates from the context of the 1990’s former Yugoslavia, where a United Nations Commission of Experts defined ethnic cleansing in its final report as “… a purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic or religious group from certain geographic areas.” (United Nations, s.a.).

6 Political Islam is a modern phenomenon and composed of different movements, which can be global, regional (e.g. the Muslim Brotherhood), or country-specific, such as Hamas (Khan 2014). It means Islam as a political ideology rather than a religious or theological construct. Given the cultural, political, intellectual and socio-economic diversity of the Muslim world, political Islam, like Islam itself, is to a great extent context specific and unique, although there is a common Islamic ground that transcends political boundaries (Ayoob 2014).

7 There is not an official definition of who, and who is not ‘Jewish’. According to Israeli law a person is considered ‘Jewish’ if either the mother, grandmother, great-grandmother or great-great-grandmother were Jewesses by religion; or if the person was converted to Judaism in a way satisfactory to the Israeli authorities, and on the condition that the person has not converted to Judaism from another religion, in which case Israel ceases them to regard as ‘Jewish’. The first condition represents the definition of the Talmud of ‘a Jew’, that is the definition followed by the Jewish Orthodoxy. In addition to this, the Talmud and post-Talmudic rabbinic law accept the conversion of a non-Jew to Judaism as a method to becoming Jewish (Shakak 1997: 7-10).


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What is the difference between Judaism and Zionism? The impact of religion on political decision-making in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
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Zionism, Judaism, religious Zionism, Israeli-Palestinian conflict, human rights, nationalism, fundamentalism
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Ruth Esther Schwarz (Author), 2019, What is the difference between Judaism and Zionism? The impact of religion on political decision-making in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/448642


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