Activism as Engine: Jewish Internationalism, 1880s–1980s

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This essay proposes what may seem to some an outlandish idea, namely that the emergence of modern Jewish internationalism had little to do with conceptions of nationhood or even Judaism. It was not a religious movement in the conventional sense, nor was it a relatively abstract, imagined community of the type described by Benedict Anderson.1 Rather, the spread of transnational ties across class, ethnic and denominational lines was a product of the practice of philanthropy and advocacy begun in the mid-nineteenth century. This internationalism can be defined as a sort of peoplehood (umah in Hebrew), reflected and forged by increasing circles of activism for one’s coreligionists, strikingly similar to the Islamic umma examined by Francis Robinson and Amira Bennison elsewhere in this volume. To borrow a term from Robinson, Jewish internationalism is a community of opinion; to refine it further, it is a community of action informed by a vague communal and traditional religious consciousness.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationPalgrave Macmillan Transnational History Series
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages23
StatePublished - 2012

Publication series

NamePalgrave Macmillan Transnational History Series
ISSN (Print)2634-6273
ISSN (Electronic)2634-6281

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2012, Jonathan Dekel-Chen.


  • Jewish Community
  • Jewish History
  • Jewish Life
  • Jewish People
  • Target Community


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