Gidon Ariel and Philip Steele discuss early Zionism

Quick recap
Gidon and Philip engaged in a wide-ranging discussion that covered personal updates, current events, and academic pursuits, with a particular emphasis on the historical roots and development of Zionism. They also explored the origins and spread of Protestantism, the impact of various historical events on the Zionist movement, and the restoration of the Hebrew language in modern Israel. The conversation concluded with plans for future discussions on the relationship between Zionism and Christianity.

Personal Catch-Up and Zionism Discussion
Gidon and Philip caught up on their personal lives before delving into their academic pursuits. Gidon shared his recent travel experiences, while Philip talked about his research on early Zionism and his recent lecture in Berlin. They also discussed Philip’s move to Poland and his continued focus on the 19th century. Gidon shared his perspective on Zionism, emphasizing the continuous Jewish presence in the land of Israel throughout history.

Exploring Zionist History and Events

Philip and Gidon delved into the historical roots of the Zionist movement, focusing on key figures such as Nathan MiliKovsky, Prime Minister BEnjamin Netanyahu’s grandfather, with Gidon expressing fascination with the early activist. Philip revealed that they were compiling a series of publications on early Zionism, with the fifth installment focusing on the full publication of the protocols from the first international Zionist Conference in Katowice in 1884, a document never before published in English or Polish. The discussion also covered significant Jewish historical events, including the Congresses in Hertz and Katowice, and the Dreyfus trial, with Gidon speculating on the atmosphere of the trial and Herzl’s potential reaction.

Zionism’s Origins and Development Discussion
Gidon and Philip discussed the origins and development of Zionism. They touched on the early conferences and infrastructure built by the movement, including the role of Rabbi Reines and the influence of religious Zionism. They also discussed the concept of Restorationism, which was prevalent in the 19th century, and its relationship to Zionism. Philip emphasized the cross-pollination between Jewish and Christian Zionists, and presented the idea that Zionism gained momentum as a concrete program. Lastly, they explored the significance of figures like Robert Haldane in the Swiss revival and his impact on Zionism.

Protestantism, Calvinism, and Jewish Influences
Gidon and Philip discussed the origins and spread of Protestantism, focusing on the role of John Calvin. Philip explained that Calvinism, which emphasized restoration and the rejection of Catholic saints in favor of Hebrew prophets, became a dominant form of Protestantism worldwide. Gidon, who was unaware of this history, expressed interest in learning about the scholars of Calvin’s time and whether he had encountered any Jewish scholars. Philip clarified that Spinoza, often considered the first heretic, was not contemporary with Calvin.

Zionism’s Historical Context and Influences
Philip and Gidon discussed the historical context of Zionism, tracing its roots back to the 19th century when the Ottoman Empire was in decline and British power was expanding. They explored how various events, such as the establishment of the Anglican Lutheran bishopric in Jerusalem in 1841, Egyptian Mehmet Ali’s takeover of the Levant in the 1830s, and the Treaty of Berlin in 1878, influenced the Zionist movement. They also touched on the role of religious and secular Zionists, as well as the concept of restoring a lost empire, as expressed by 19th-century thinkers like Benedetto Musolini.

Hebrew Language Restoration and Zionism
Philip and Gidon discussed the history and restoration of the Hebrew language in modern Israel, with a focus on the role of Eliezer Ben Yehuda and the influence of the Christian Zionist movement. They also explored the impact of George Eliot’s novel, Daniel Deronda, on Jewish communities and the concept of “Proto-Zionism.” Gidon and Philip agreed to further explore the relationship between Zionism and Christianity, and both expressed enthusiasm for future discussions.

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