Jewish Political Studies Review Abstracts - Volume 2, Numbers 1-2 (Spring 5750/1990)
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

Jewish Political Studies Review Abstracts

Volume 2, Numbers 1-2 (Spring 5750/1990)

Jethro's Advice in Medieval and Early Modern Jewish and Christian Political Thought - Avraham Melamed

Jethro's advice to Moses about how to organize the political system of the ancient Jewish state (Ex. 18:13-27; Deut. 1:12-17) was one of the three major biblical sources which were used in medieval and early modern political thought. (The other sources are Deut. 17 and I Samuel 8.) This text was mainly used in two related contexts -- the theory of government, in which the commentators generally followed Aristotle, and the relationship between the spiritual and temporal authorities -- between kingship and prophecy -- in which a strong Platonic-Alfarabian influence is apparent. This study takes into account the changing historical realities and intellectual trends of the medieval and early modern periods. It opens with Abraham Ibn Ezra's pro-monarchic attack on feudalism in the twelfth century, continues with the discussion of the interpretations to Jethro's advice by Aquinas, Abravanel, Dei Pomis, Alemanno, Calvin, Bodin and others, and culminates with James Harrington's republicanism in the mid-seventeenth century.

"Ideal" and "Real" in Classical Jewish Political Theory - Gerald J. Blidstein

This essay considers the degree to which Jewish political and legal theory allows -- and, indeed, mandates -- the recognition that the Torah legislates an ideal law which is not appropriate for situations of social and political stress, and the degree to which such situations are really the historical norm rather than the exception. The Talmud, it is shown, adumbrates this concept, but in a fairly marginal form. Maimonides places it at center stage of societal governance, apparently expecting that a Jewish society will of necessity be thrown back upon this option; but he also suggests guidelines for its regulation. R. Nissim of Barcelona (fourteenth century) both expands the concept and also relaxes the Maimonidean restrictions on its use. This final form of the doctrine receives a thorough critique at the hands of Isaac Abrabanel; but it also serves as the linchpin for much contemporary argument for the legitimacy of Israeli legislation from a classical Jewish perspective.

Zionist Voluntarism in the Political Struggle: 1939-1948 - Yosef Gorny

A broad overview of the political system in the Jewish Yishuv in Palestine is presented for the years 1939-1945. The years 1939-1945 were characterized by political dissension. In the period 1945-1948 a crosscutting process may be discerned inside that system. Special attention is given to how this pluralistic and voluntaristic system functioned during World War II and the period of political and military struggle for the founding of the State of Israel. Emphasis is placed on the difference between constructive Zionism, led by the Labor movement and headed by David Ben-Gurion, and on the pure political military Revisionist movement. The political clash between the two movements is described as a confrontation of two political cultures, which eventually determined the fate of Zionism from the 1930s until the founding of the state.

The Relationship between the Jewish Political Tradition and the Jewish Civil Religion in the United States - Deborah Dash Moore

The concept of civil religion is rooted in the American situation, although congenial to Judaism. American civil religious rituals such as a presidential inauguration, Thanksgiving, and Memorial Day serve as vehicles of national religious self-understanding. Since the earliest days of the nation, American Jews have maintained their own interpretations of American civil religion which usually accompanied ideologies of Jewish civil religion. Some writers focused on the shedding of ethnic otherness for rebirth as a new American man, while others affirmed the central values of liberty, justice, and freedom as stemming from God's laws. American Jews build their civil religion on the two traditional contradictory tendencies of kinship and consent, at times giving priority to one over the other. Where the saliency of the Jewish political tradition does not encounter a vigorous opposite trend within American society stemming from vernacular folk values, the process of secularization, or the natural rights tradition protecting the individual, American Jews have continued to structure their civil religious consensus and organizational life according to Jewish tenets. However, when conflict occurs between historical Jewish responses and American values, Jewish civil religion tends to accommodate to the American.

Jews and Ukrainians in Canada: A Comparative Study of Diaspora-Homeland Relations - Morton Weinfeld and Harold Troper

A relatively neglected area of inquiry in the field of lethnic relations is the impact of homeland events and relations on diaspora communities, and, indeed, on interminority relations in those diasporas. This essay represents a case study of diaspora homeland relations as these have affected Ukrainians and Jews in Canada. The nature of these relations in Canada today is a product of socio-demographic characteristics of the two communities in Canada, the real and perceived legacy of historical relations which existed in Ukraine, and contemporary events in both Israel and Ukraine.

The Impact of Denomination: Differences in the Israel-Related Opinions of American Rabbis and Jewish Communal Workers - Steven M. Cohen and Gerald B. Bubis

Jewish professional communal leaders differ from the Jewish public in that they are more Jewishly knowledgeable, involved, and committed. This study reports on survey data collected in 1987 from these leaders -- American rabbis and Jewish communal workers -- subdivided along denominational lines. It confirms the near demise of any distinctive position of communal workers and underlines the importance of denominational or religious identity as a variable in predicting attitudes toward Israel. Analyzed areas of behavior include frequency of travel to Is