POLEMICS OF REBIRTH: DAVID GORDON AND PROTO-ZIONISM, 1858-1886
DIAMENT, CAROL GOLDSTEIN
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Ha-Maggid, the first Hebrew newspaper in Eastern Europe, and its editor David Gordon influenced the development of proto-Zionism (1840-1881) and Hibbat Zion (1881-1896), the forerunners of Herzl's political Zionism. A generation before the pogroms of 1881 that caused many of the literary intelligentsia to urge emigration to America and Erez Israel, Gordon was espousing the idea of Restoration. He wrote a spate of articles synthesizing nationalism and religion, urging action toward Restoration and calling for leadership and financial support by the western magnates. After the pogroms Gordon urged consolidation of diverse local groups and raised funds for the first few settlers in Erez Israel. He traveled abroad in attempts to gain the support of western magnates and helped plan the Kattowitz Conference (1885) that was aimed at centralization of the Hibbat Zion groups.;A systematic review of the volumes of Ha-Maggid from 1856 to 1887 and related material in the rest of the European Jewish press of the time was undertaken. To this was added the relevant memoirs and correspondence by and to David Gordon found in various archival collections. These sources helped to trace the polemics of proto-Zionism, their influence and their significance.;It is concluded that Gordon was a generation ahead of his time in advocating Jewish nationalism and Restoration. He was influenced by Kalischer's, Alkalai's and Hess's nationalist tracts and adapted their views to conditions in Eastern Europe. Ha-Maggid played a pivotal role as a forum utilized by the adherents of Restoration who, before the pogroms, were mainly a group of Eastern European rabbis. Gordon's blending of enlightenment and Orthodoxy was unique for his time. After the pogroms Ha-Maggid continued to play an important role in disseminating information, educating readers on alternative solutions to the crisis and making like-minded groups and individuals aware of one another. Despite the lack of recognition accorded to David Gordon, his writings and activities are a valuable means for illuminating the development of the Hibbat Zion movement.