Theses Master's

Reaching for a Jewish Ethics Beyond Zionism: An Exploration of Liminality and Ethical Imagination

Gitlis, Zohar

Most American Jews, secular and religious, have come of age in a world where Israel is no longer posed as a question but assumed as a concrete reality. Zionism is hegemonic within the American Jewish community. How do Jews, who have come of age in this reality, build an anti-imperial and liberatory ethic? Is the work of ethic-building against or despite the increasingly entrenched reality of Israeli political power and occupation?

This paper moves from an analysis of the author’s personal experience growing up in a Labor Zionist youth movement and the history of Labor Zionism both in America and Palestine/Israel to a survey of European Jewish ethics, postcolonial theory, and Christian liberation theology. Following black feminist ethicist Traci West’s definition of liberative social ethics as a dialogical process between analysis and practice, I shift between an analysis of Labor Zionism’s ethical logic and the structure of the Zionist hegemony in contemporary Jewish life, and the construction of an ethic that moves beyond Zionism while maintaining the balance between Judaism’s universalism and particularism.


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More About This Work

Thesis Advisors
West, Cornel
Ellis, Marc H.
M.A., Union Theological Seminary
Published Here
August 9, 2022