Elusive Prophet: Ahad Ha'am and the Origins of Zionism

University of California Press
Elusive Prophet: Ahad Ha'am and the Origins of Zionism

Here is a long overdue biography of the guiding intellectual presence—and chief internal critic—of Zionism during the movement's formative years between the 1880s and the 1920s. Ahad Ha'am ("One of the People") was the pen name of Asher Ginzberg (1856-1927), a Russian Jew whose life intersected nearly every important trend and current in contemporary Jewry. A Hebrew essayist of extraordinary knowledge and skill, he exerted a rare, perhaps unequalled, authority through his writings on every controversial issue from Jewish nationalism and clericalism to the Palestinian Arab problem.

Steven Zipperstein offers all those interested in Israel and modern Jewish history a wide-ranging, perceptive reassessment of Ahad Ha'am's life against the backdrop of his contentious political world. This influential figure comes to life in a penetrating and engaging examination of his relations with his father, with Zionist leader Theodor Herzl, and with his devotees and opponents alike.