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Eras Journal - Dubnov, A.: Liberal or Zionist? Ambiguity or Ambivalence? Reply to Jonathan Hogg

Liberal or Zionist? Ambiguity or Ambivalence?

Reply to Jonathan Hogg

Arie Dubnov

(Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

Abstract

Whether defined as an ideology, a dogma or a creed, or more loosely, as a set of neutral values and principles with no clear hierarchy, most interpreters would describe Liberalism as a predominantly British world-view. For that reason it is not surprising that the political thought of Sir Isaiah Berlin (1909-1997), one of the most prominent defenders of Liberalism in the twentieth century, is also interpreted in most cases through the prism of this English, or Anglo-American intellectual tradition, although he himself defined his Englishness only as one of the three strands of his life.[1] Ignoring Berlin's Russian-Jewish identity, or treating it merely as a biographical fact makes it hard for historians to reinterpret and contextualize Berlin's thought. The main merit in Jonathan Hogg's thought-provoking essay is that it insists on taking seriously two critical questions, which might help in changing this perspective.[2] First, it inquires into the nature of Isaiah Berlin's role within Cold War liberal discourse, and secondly, it seeks to comprehend the exact nature of his Zionism. By doing so Hogg offers Berlin's future interpreters two major themes upon which to focus. Moreover, he prepares the ground for a more inclusive, coherent and comprehensive study of Berlin's thought, one that would treat it as a multilayered whole.

Here, however, I will try to show that although Hogg posits two essential questions, the answers he proffers are not always sufficient or convincing. In my following comments I will suggest a different contextual framework for considering these two questions. The alternative answers I propose are not complete, since they are no more than outlines of a much more extensive work presently underway. Furthermore, the aim of this reply is not to offer an apologia for Berlin, his ardent Liberalism, or his support of Zionism. Nevertheless, I will try to show that contextualizing and historicizing Berlin's thought need not lead to reductionism. Both Liberalism and Zionism can be treated as monolithic and unchanging doctrines, or, alternatively, as rich, multilayered, and heterogenic sets of values. The use of the latter approach, I will argue, acknowledges varieties as well as inner contradictions and intellectual ambiguities in both ideologies, and will prove to be much more useful both as a tool for historization and as a means of interpretation.

Beyond the context of British Liberalism

Although the exact nature of the Liberalism Hogg attributes to Berlin is unclear, one basic assumption is that Berlin should be examined as part of the inbreeding community of British intellectuals. But what makes Berlin's Liberalism British and not, for example, transatlantic? Or European? Or Jewish? Why does Liberalism in general and Berlin's Liberalism in particular automatically become a metonymy for Englishness? Undoubtedly, as his private letters and personal memoirs prove, Berlin saw Oxford, and primarily the prestigious All Souls college as a kind of paradise.[3] Berlin, as one would gather from testimonies and memories, was a kind of quintessential don: a virtuoso of dazzling personal conversation, aristocratic in comportment.[4]

These attributes do not, however, render Berlin's brand of Liberalism uniquely 'British'. On the contrary, in many ways he must be regarded as an insurgent rebelling against the Progressive Liberalism of the turn of the century, for he abandoned any attempt to mix Liberalism with Socialism, as well as any inclination towards idealism or attempts to reconcile individualism with collectivism. These were the key elements in the political thought of G.D.H. Cole, the first Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory in Oxford, who was succeeded by Berlin,[5] as well as A.D. Lindsay, who established the School of Philosophy, Politics and Economics in Oxford.[6] Similar notions and approaches can be found in the theories of Bernard Bosanquet, Leonard T. Hobhouse, T.H. Green and their heirs, and all were rejected by Berlin.[7]It would be hard to present Berlin as the heir of any of the above for he accepted neither their civic ideals nor their style and manière de lutte as public moralists.[8]

It seems, therefore, that unless we define skepticism and empiricism as uniquely British qualities, there is no apparent reason to regard Berlin's Liberalism as possessing distinctive British qualities. Berlin's fierce anticommunism was derived from his family's experience much more than it was influenced by any British background. As for his eclectic Liberalism, as Claude Galipeau has begun to show,[9] Berlin selectively adopted more ideas from the Russian intelligentsia and nineteenth-century French liberals, than from his immediate predecessors in Oxbridge or the LSE. Furthermore, while many of his peers were inclined to the left, in the 1930s Berlin was already disenchanted with Marxism. Berlin's anticommunism is apparent already in his 1939 biography of Marx.[10] This posture was developed long before his generation in England began to move into positions of authority and influence and gradually move from its early socialist ideals towards conservatism.[11]

The philosophical equation of Positivism with Marxism, which Berlin developed after the war (most markedly in his "Historical Inevitability"), enabled him to reject both as similar types of monistic theories of historical determinism. This formula also had nothing uniquely British about it: unsurprisingly, it corresponds more to the theories of K.R. Popper, a newcomer from Vienna at the time, than to any liberal theory presented by native Britons. It would be absurd to claim that Berlin's rejection of these monistic theories was derived from qualities peculiar to British intellectuals. Even when dealing with the Berlin of the postwar years, to claim that he was "dominated by the intellectual milieu created by the Cold War", as Hogg does, requires a much more careful definition of the term "milieu". Hogg hardly tells us about the actual participants of such Cold War discourse or "milieu" and thus creates a kind of philosophical scarecrow. Who were the members of this "milieu" of Cold War intellectuals? We are not provided with names. I suspect that had Hogg done so, he would have discovered that its key figures were not born-and-bred Englishmen, but rather intellectuals such as Popper, Jacob L. Talmon, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., or even Raymond Aron and Friedrich A. Hayek. None of the thinkers were native Britons; indeed, Schlesinger excepted, English was not their mother tongue. To paraphrase Leavis' famous title, I am afraid I do not see where English became a "Discipline of Thought" in Berlin's case.[12]

To be sure, Berlin was a son of his age, and his thought a response to the main political challenges of his time. Yet, to suggest he was "dominated" by some sort of hegemonic intellectual discourse is groundless, for it fails to show that such a milieu actually existed. Moreover, it remains unclear how Hogg's emphasis of some sort of abstract Cold War milieu does not contradict his own claim that dealing with these 'Cold War intellectuals' requires one to "reject the possibility of a comparative approach". Can we avoid comparisons between Berlin and other Cold War intellectuals if we insist on placing Berlin in a milieu which governed his mode of thought? How can we understand Berlin's role within a certain intellectual milieu without using such comparisons? These questions remain unanswered. What remains is something of an empty label. No doubt, a Cold War intellectual discourse did exist. It is very unlikely, however, that one would be able to identify such a milieu to which Berlin belonged.

Berlin and the Zionist new Jew

Let us turn now to Jonathan Hogg's second question. What is the connection, if at all, between Berlin's Liberalism and his direct and indirect involvement in Zionism and Jewish political matters and controversies? Hogg is aware of the possibly problematic, indeed paradoxical, combination of these elements and calls for new treatment of this issue, recognising that he needs to reconsider this complexity in such a way that the two layers are not necessarily regarded as separate. But for all that, Hogg's narrow and somewhat hostile treatment of Zionism does not allow us to examine whether Berlin was able to solve this paradox by some sort of synthesis or compromise.

Since Hogg treats Zionism as a monolithic dogma, it remains unclear what kind of Zionism Berlin favored, or, to put it differently, what elements of Jewish nationality he supported, or preferred to reject. For it seems that in Hogg's view the mere fact that Berlin supported Jewish nationalism is a blemish, and, unlike Edward Said's support of Palestinian Nationalism, should be considered a disgrace and a blot. Such an argumentative approach cannot make way for a more careful examination of the varieties of Zionism in general and of Berlin's approach to it in particular. Consequently, it fails to appreciate the fact that Berlin's attitude towards Jewish Nationalism was both complex and permeated by ambiguities.

The major difficulty in studying Berlin's view of Zionism is that while almost all of his published essays and lectures dealing with Jewish figures and Zionist leaders were published only from the 1950s onwards, Berlin's personal approach towards Zionism crystallized during the 1930s and 1940s. We need therefore to relocate the locus and periodization of research dealing with this question. Moreover, Berlin's unique brand of pro-Zionism developed gradually, and was based as much on hesitation and skepticism as it was on passionate and sentimental support. Berlin was a supporter but not a zealous devotee and his Zionism never resided on unquestioning enthusiasm. Empathic and supportive of the Zionist project as Berlin was, a distinction between supporters and participants needs to be drawn. It would be difficult to present Berlin, who was afraid of becoming an active member, or taking the burden of responsibility upon his shoulders, as an equivalent, for example, of Lewis B. Namier or Abba (Aubrey) Eban.[13] Unlike Berlin who remained hesitant, both Eban and Namier translated their support into active participation and involvement in Zionist politics. In that sense, Eban and Namier exemplify the alternative routes not taken by Berlin. Indeed, although he was always proud of his Jewishness and fervently supported Chaim Weizmann, Berlin preferred to maintain a critical distance between the ardent Zionists and himself.

Constantly checking and balancing his pro-Zionism, Berlin's hesitation positioned him, even in the eyes of Weizmann himself, as a sympathetic bystander rather than an active contributor. Berlin accepted basic premises of the Zionist ideology but was not a member of the actual Zionist community. Hence, any study of Berlin 's relations towards Zionism requires his interpreters first to consider this ambivalence and, secondly, not to limit themselves to Berlin's well known essays, published after he had solved his inner-conflicts,[14] but to thoroughly examine his private correspondence from earlier periods as well. The fact that Zionism itself was a movement in a process of transition and transformation during the long period Berlin was drawn to it, presents another challenge to Berlin's interpreters.

Like many other well-to-do British Jews, confident in their Anglicized identity and already attaining a considerable degree of affluence, the rise of Nazis into power, the influx of Jewish refugees from Germany and the British colonial policy in Palestine were the prime reasons influencing Berlin's support of Zionism.[15] He regarded this sort of Zionism as a just, fair and practical humane solution to the refugee crisis more than as a nationalistic creed. As many of his letters from his first visit to Palestine in 1934 show, his attraction to Zionism was checked by ambiguous feelings: "I do think that the Palestine Jews are the happiest & securest people I have ever met," Berlin wrote to Marion and Felix Frankfurter in December 1934. Nevertheless, he added, "I don't feel absolute kinship, alas, but if I lived there for a bit I am sure I should."[16] This odd and surprising conclusion - "I am sure I should " - exemplifies the ambivalence which remained a consistent feature in Berlin's attitude towards Zionism and, later, his views of the state of Israel.[17]

Berlin's hesitancy was generated by various causes: first, he was highly skeptical of the idea that by creating a modernized Jewish political body on the shores of the Middle East, Jews would be able to rid themselves of the mental shackles of their old Ghetto life. Second, he regarded Zionism primarily as a solution for refugees, not as a universal plan for all Jews (for example, those living in secure and liberal states). This was an important distinction since it automatically made Berlin a bystander, rendering this ideology irrelevant for Jews such as himself. Third, long before he philosophically formulated the idea of individualism, making it into a core-value of his political thought, Berlin was equipped with a strong sense of individuality and felt ill at ease with the idea of being a member of a community or a "tribe". Fourth, Berlin paradoxically rejected the pioneering ethos of the Yishuv (the Jewish population of Palestine) with its aim of creating a new Jew, as opposed to the old Jew of the Galuth(exile). These notions were based upon socialist and semi-utopian ideas with which he was uncomfortable. Finally, the political circumstances of mandatory Palestine added another dimension to his inner conflicts, as it intensified the potential clash between Berlin's English loyalty and his Jewish identity. Complexity, inner struggle and hesitation, rather than ideological devotion and clear-cut intellectual engagement were the products of this multilayered ambivalence.

Berlin's humorous letters from the 1930s wittingly and ironically exemplify some of these misgivings. "The Jewish officials are the rudest people on earth. A mixture of Chutzpa [Yiddish for rudeness, A. D.] & inferiority complex", he described them to his parents in one letter.[18] In a different letter to the Frankfurters, Berlin used the English Public School as a metaphor for Palestine, and described the Jewish house as "abler & richer than other boys, allowed too much pocket money by their parents, rude, conceited, ugly, ostentatious, suspected of swapping stamps unfairly with the other boys, always saying they know better, liable to work too hard & not play games with the rest".[19] Even lack of aesthetics was understood by Berlin to be a result of exile Jewish mentality, which did not disappear upon arrival to the sunny new land of Palestine. Tel Aviv (as well as Hadar Hacarmel, the Jewish neighborhood of Haifa) was described by him as an ugly city of "Jewish gold-diggers", a Jewish Klondyke filled with "noisy, dirty, streets too narrow because of dearth of room".[20] "Jews have no taste", concluded Berlin in his observation to his parents.

Berlin saw the creation of a so-called new and free Hebraic man as an artificial and utopian attempt to discard the not-so-easily eliminated old psychological shackles to which Ostjuden and Westjuden had been accustomed for decades. Berlin mocked the German Jews who walked down the noisy and sunny streets of Tel Aviv dressed in their heavy European suits mumbling in German for being alienated and unwilling to accept the cruel realities of the Levant.[21] Neither did he believe that East-European Jews would be able to start behaving as proper citizens and discard their Ghetto mentality: "the law is regarded by the majority of Jews from Poland & Russia - so still by some of my relations - as something created only to be circumvented".[22] His fear of 'Ghettoish mentality' was clearly manifested when, after the presentation of the partition plan by the Peel Commission in Summer 1937, Berlin wrote:

Can you conceive the consequences [of the Peel Report]? One enormous cylindrical town from Haifa to Tel Aviv of Talith-sellers, with a fashion for Bar Mitzvah boys to be 'confirmed' in the Holy Land, & a nation of Jewish hotel keepers & souvenir-venders to receive them? That is what a nation of 1,500,000 will certainly become. I expect I am quite wrong and it will really be a soundly Blut & Boden [blood and soil], as, say, Luxemburg.[23]

Berlin, Chaim Weizmann and Zionism of the 1940s

Considering Berlin's complex and multi-faceted inner conflict regarding Zionism, it is not surprising that in the 1930s and early 1940s he was inclined towards Chaim Weizmann's Zionism. Berlin favored Weizmann not only because he had established himself as the unquestionable leader of Zionist Anglo-Jewry since 1917, but also because his ideology was based less on chauvinistic nationalism than upon the idea that a Jewish homeland in Palestine was a practical, inevitable, and humane solution which did not necessarily contradict British Imperial policy.[24] Weizmann's Zionism was diplomatic rather than utopian, gradual rather than revolutionary, downplaying the utopian rhetoric of Nationbuildung, and based on collaboration and cooperation with English Mandatory policy and the British Imperial interest.[25] All these fitted Berlin's own beliefs and values, and was compounded by the fact that Weizmann, like Berlin himself, was a proud Russian-Jew on the one hand, yet highly suspicious of both the East-European mentality and skeptical of socialist ideas. Utterly unimpressed by the Socialist-Zionism of the "efficient demagogue"[26] David Ben-Gurion and the Zionist Labour Movement, Berlin began to move closer to Weizmann's circle in what would become, especially during the war, a close personal friendship.

During the 1940s it became much more evident that Berlin's distinctive brand of Zionism, 'Weizmannite' Zionism, was not only an alternative to left-wing Zionism but also stood in radical contradiction to the new and growing militaristic and extreme right-wing Zionism which the revisionist heirs of Vladimir Jabotinsky began to develop. The war, and especially the attempts to rescue Jewish refugees from occupied Europe and change the harsh British White Paper limitations on immigration to mandatory Palestine, created a new strong opposition to Weizmann's gradual and moderate Zionism, both in the Yishuv itself and in the US. These circumstances played in favor of a socialist leader such as Ben-Gurion who was now able to also gain power outside the Yishuv and to collaborate with the new rising leader of American Zionists, Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver, thus creating a bond that would eventually lead to the fall of Weizmann.[27] Moreover, the prevalent circumstances set the scene for the abandonment of Weizmann's tactics and vision, which now appeared as outdated, politically unfertile and unrealistic, and contributed to the growth of a much more militant if not chauvinistic brand of Zionism. Undoubtedly, Berlin, to paraphrase his own terminology, saw the two brands of Zionism as incompatible if not incommensurable.

It seems that when Hogg uses the term Zionism he has in mind the latter rather than former type of Zionism. Hogg errs too in arguing that Berlin's doubts and worries about Zionist campaigning and policies were almost never presented outside intimate circles or private letters, as his weekly reports from wartime America, which were collected in the Washington Despatches, show.[28] Nonetheless, if we ignore Berlin's unfriendly assessments of the new activist Zionism of American Jewry, it is true that in postwar years Berlin rarely used his name and reputation to criticize Israel in public or in a non-Jewish forum. This is far from surprising: despite his concerns, which he did express in articles he wrote for the Jewish Chronicle and various lectures he held in Israel,[29] Berlin never ceased to support the notion that the creation of a national home for Jews was humane and just. It was probably not until the last decade of his life that Berlin believed Zionism and the State of Israel to be secure, stable and strong enough to be criticized outside these Jewish circles. Considering the political climate of the 1940s and even 1950s, especially in Britain and in the Foreign Office, it is very plausible to assume that Isaiah Berlin was afraid to condemn Zionist tactics even when he disliked them because he was troubled by the idea that by doing so he would contribute to a denial of the right of Israel to exist and to a complete dismissal of Zionism en tout.

During his years in Washington and New York as an official in the British ministry of information, and especially as rumors about the systematic extermination of the Jews of Europe multiplied after the spring of 1942, Berlin looked unfavorably upon the growth of a Zionist activist current. Berlin made his dislike of the new activist Zionism known, and condemned what he saw as a dangerous agitation. Like many other Foreign Office diplomats, Berlin saw the American Zionists as a vocal minority among the deeply divided public of American Jewry, a group of propagandists and demagogues who were willing to risk the Anglo-American alliance for the sake of their own particularistic cause. "In my view the Zionists' tactic…is very dangerous…[T]hey must have irritated the State Department to a degree; I should imagine the President is really displeased and they are bound to pay for this sooner or later. … [T]he State Department hate them worse than communists now…" wrote Berlin to Angus Malcolm.[30] Similar assessments could be found in his letters to the Frankfurters and his parents. Still trusting Weizmann's magic power and ability to moderate the new American Zionist advocates he concluded in the same letter that: "There really was value in Weizmann's presence here …[since] the Zionists with their 92 percent majority and no Weizmann may really do something silly."

Strange as it may sound, it was the war and the rumors about the extermination of Jews which pushed Berlin away from Zionism rather than bringing him closer. In January 1944 he explicitly wrote to his parents that "The Jewish issue is certainly about to boil up seriously here and I try as much as possible to have nothing with it" and that: "On the very first day after even the European war is over, I shall probably make a frantic attempt to return to Oxford".[31] From that stage on the attempts of Weizmann and his followers to bring Berlin back to the fold were rejected. Upset by, and fed up with, Zionist lobbying and intrigues, Berlin wanted nothing to do with this movement.

Berlin's postwar letters - especially in the light of the discovery of the Holocaust's horrendous dimensions - reveal some of his feelings of regret, perhaps even self-flagellation. The regret ensued from his not considering seriously enough the news about slaughters and organized annihilation of the Jews and for discrediting them as vehement Zionist propaganda. As a defense he wrote "that the holocaust - the real, unspeakable disaster...was not known, at least, in my world, until 1945".[32] The dozens of reports about massacres that regularly reached England by early 1942 and made the headlines in America during the summer of that year make it somehow problematic to accept Berlin's confession. Berlin was only half right in claiming that he did not know about the holocaust: he was not the only one to disbelieve these reports, but, nonetheless, there is no doubt that he was exposed to them and probably read most of them as part of his wartime job. Berlin's retrospective self justification can explain what Yehuda Bauer meant when he distinguished between information and knowledge of the holocaust: "knowing usually came in a number of stages: first the information had to be disseminated; then, it had to be believed; then it had to be internalized".[33] Like many other British Foreign Office employees, Berlin internalized the news only in 1945.

But another new element in Zionism became apparent during the war: its turn to more militant tactics of struggle and its transformation into a decolonization national liberation movement. The deterioration in the relations with the British mandatory forces seriously reinforced Berlin's ambivalence, and provided the central symbol indicating that Weizmann's diplomatic and careful Zionism had reached a dead end. Berlin's recently published letters from that period, as well as his unpublished exchange with Weizmann and his circle, show how much he detested the terrorist activities of the Lehi (also known as the Stern Gang) and the Etzel (Irgun Zvai Leumi), the two Jewish terror groups who attacked British troops and facilities in Palestine. This wave of violence reached new peaks from 1944 onwards, and added another dimension of discomfort to Berlin's already shaky view of Zionism. Nevertheless, he knew very well that the use of terror was not consensual either among the leaders of the Yishuv or among the leaders of the World Zionist Organization, including Weizmann.

Berlin's involvement in Zionist politics after 1945, which Hogg presents as a moral flaw, was part of his attempt to restore a more moderate, non-violent, and liberal-minded vision of Zionism that condemned any use of violence in the struggle for independence. Berlin envisaged a Zionism that remained a national movement unsoiled by militaristic heroism; he refused to regard anti-British terrorism as a legitimate struggle for decolonization. The opportunity to influence Zionist public opinion came in 1946, soon after Berlin's return from Moscow and Leningrad, when he was asked by Weizmann to comment on the draft for his Presidential Statement at the 22nd Zionist Congress. If one compares the draft of the speech, which includes Berlin's comments,[34] with the final version of Weizmann's declamation from December 1946, he would find that Berlin's commentary pushed the Zionist leader to add a very clear and decisive paragraph in which he fiercely condemned any use of terrorism. Terrorism should be rejected, argued Weizmann in his initial speech, simply because it is counter-productive or impractical as a tactic of struggle, certainly in comparison with his own gradualist and pragmatic diplomacy. But Berlin's additions were crucial: terrorism should be condemned because it stood in contrast with what he saw as the essence of the Zionist claim. The newly added paragraph to Weizmann's speech already contained new arguments against terror:

It is futile to invoke the national struggles of other nations as examples for ourselves. Not only are the circumstances different, but our purposes, too, are unique… We are left with the task of weighting our actions in the scales of Jewish tradition. Nor must our judgment be dazzled by the glare of self-conscious heroism.

Referring to the myth of Massada, which combined the admiration of the zealots' martyrdom with a militant and uncompromising call for struggle for independence, Weizmann added:

Massada, for all its heroism, was a disaster in our history. It is not our purpose to plunge to destruction in order to bequeath a legend of martyrdom to posterity. Zionism was to mark the end of our glorious deaths and the beginning of a new path leading to life. Against the 'heroics' of suicidal violence I urge the courage of endurance, the heroism of superhuman restraint. I admit it requires stronger character, more virile nerves, than are needed to the acts of violence. Whether they can rise to that genuine courage, above the moral gradation of terrorism, is the challenge which history issues to our youth.[35]

Ironically, it was this speech, considered too Anglophile and too moderate by the new Zionist hawks, which made the final contribution to the fall of Weizmann the dove. Blanche Dugdale, Sir Balfour's niece and the Weizmanns' close friend, wrote in her diary that it was "the greatest speech of his life. Perhaps the greatest I have ever heard. Perhaps the last he will ever make to a Zionist congress…".[36] Baffy's observation was correct: it was at this congress that Weizmann failed to be reelected as President of the WZO. Partly as a bystander and partly as an active participant, Berlin witnessed the fall of his hero. He regarded Weizmann's failure as more than a political defeat, for it signified a crucial shift and the beginning of what might become a dangerous escalation of crude nationalism that would threaten some basic Zionist premises and sources of legitimacy. "Would Ben-Gurion then have played the part of de-Valera to Weizmann's Griffith, Mazzini to Weizmann's Cavour, only with greater success?" asked Berlin in a lecture he delivered in Jerusalem in 1972. "Must a Moses always be followed by a Joshua? I do not know".[37]

It might be claimed that close acquaintance with Zionist politics in the mid 1940s helped Berlin grasp intuitively what he developed systematically in subsequent years: a suspicion of the rhetoric of struggles for independence and demands for recognition of status, and, at the same time, great respect for the human need for community. Lofty and noble origins do not guarantee that a movement will not transform itself in the course of struggle and abandon the humane ideals that marked its birth. Perhaps this was the hint behind Berlin's comparison of Zionism with the Italian Risorgimento. Berlin's sensitivity to delicate value conversions and to the extraordinary mutation of positive liberty into authoritarian and totalitarian doctrines marked not only his philosophical writings, but also his historical ones. Focusing on crucial transition points, which he saw as ideological watersheds, Berlin searched for transformations. Was the difference between Ben Gurion and Weizmann parallel to the one Berlin found in his account of Bakunin and Herzen?[38] Perhaps. In both cases Berlin recognized similar breaking points in which one thinker refused to make a crucial additional step and to radicalize the noble theory of his predecessor.

Understanding Berlin's attitude towards Zionism by focusing on the "harsh glare of the Israeli-Palestinian question" the way Hogg does thus becomes anachronistic, since it was not this question which bothered Berlin, who was much more concerned with the question of whether Zionist and Jewish Nationality would inevitably become incommensurable with Liberalism.


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Notes

[1] See Isaiah Berlin, "Upon Receiving the Jerusalem Prize", Conservative Judaism, Vol. 33, Winter 1980, pp. 14-17. Back

[2] Jonathan Hogg, "The Ambiguity of Intellectual Engagement: Towards a Reassessment of Isaiah Berlin's Legacy",Eras , Vol. 6, November 2004. Back

[3]"London is heaven, but Oxford seventh heaven", Berlin to Freya Stark, 12.6.44, in Henry Hardy (ed.),Letters, 1928-1946, Cambridge University Press, New York, 2004, p. 494. Back

[4] Noel Gilroy Annan, "The Don as Magus", in The Dons: Mentors, Eccentrics, and Geniuse, Chicago University Press, Chicago, 1999, pp. 209-232. For other recollections see Steven Zipperstein, "How Isaiah Berlin, a boy from Riga, became the consummate Oxford Don", Forward ,29 January 1999. For less friendly reviews see Timothy Garton Ash, "A Genius for Friendship", The New York Review of Books, Vol. 51, September 23, 2004; Christopher Hitchens, "Moderation or Death", London Review of Books, November 23, 1998; Norman Podhoretz,"A dissent on Isaiah Berlin", Commentary, Vol. 107, February 1999.Back

[5] Robert Wokler, "The Professoriate of Political Thought in England since 1914: A Tale of Three Chairs", in Dario Castiglione and Iain Hampsher-Monk (eds.), The History of Political Thought in National Context, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2001, pp. 134-158. Back

[6] See Robert Wokler, "The Professoriate of Political Thought in England since 1914"; Daniel Norman Chester, Economics, Politics and Social Studies in Oxford, 1900-85, Macmillan, London, 1986. For Berlin's own recollection of Lindsay see Ramin Jahanbegloo, Conversations with Isaiah Berlin , Scribner's, New York, 1991, p. 7. Back

[7] See the introduction to David Boucher and Andrew Vincent, British Idealism and Political Theory, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, 2000. Michael Freeden, Liberalism Divided: A Study in British Political Thought, 1914-1939, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1986. Avital Simhony, "Beyond Negative and Positive Freedom: T. H. Green's View of Freedom", Political Theory, Vol. 21, No. 1, February 1993, pp. 28-54. Back

[8] See Michael Freeden, Liberalism Divided, and Stefan Collini, Public Moralists: Political Thought and Intellectual Life in Britain, 1850-1930, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1991. Back

[9] Claude Galipeau, Isaiah Berlin's Liberalism, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1994. Back

[10] See first edition of Isaiah Berlin, Karl Marx: His Life and Environment, Thornton Butterworth, London, 1939. Back

[11] See chapter 14 and conclusion of Noel Gilroy Annan, Our Age: Portrait of a Generation, Weidenfeld and Nicholson, London, 1990. Although I accept Hogg's basic claim that the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF) was "the clearest single crystallisation of the phenomenon" of the Cold War intellectual milieu, I do not see Berlin as part of such a milieu, but rather, more loosely, as taking part in the same Cold War discourse. Moreover, Berlin had nothing in common with the young Labour politicians known as the Gaitskellites who were the key British contributors to the CCF. See Jonathan Hogg, "The Ambiguity of Intellectual Engagement", nt. 4.Back

[12] Frank Raymond Leavis, The Living Principle: "English" as a Discipline of Thought, Oxford University Press, New York, 1975. Back

[13] See Abba Eban, Personal Witness: Israel Through My Eyes, G.P. Putnamm's Sons, New York, 1992. Norman Rose, Lewis Namier and Zionism, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1980. Back

[14] A problem apparent in Cocks' treatment of the subject: Joan Cocks, "Individuality, Nationality, and the Jewish Question", Social Research , Vol. 66, No. 4, Winter 1999, pp. 1191-1207. See also Joan Cocks, Passion and Paradox: Intellectuals Confront the National Question, Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J., 2002.Back

[15] There is extensive literature on the subject. For instance, see: W.D. Rubinstein, A History of the Jews in the English-Speaking World: Great Britain, Macmillan Press, Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire, 1996. A.J. Sherman,Island Refuge: Britain and Refugees from the Third Reich, 1933-1939, Frank Cass, Portland, Or., 1994. Bernard Wasserstein, Britain and the Jews of Europe, 1939-1945, Oxford University Press, London, 1979.Back

[16] Berlin to Marion and Felix Frankfurter, 7-8.12.34, see Isaiah Berlin, Letters , p. 110. Back

[17] See Isaiah Berlin, "Israel: A Survey", in Clement Davies (ed.), The State of Israel: Six Lectures Given at the Royal Society of Arts to Members of the Anglo-Israel Association, Anglo-Israel Association, London, 1953. Isaiah Berlin, "A Nation Among Nations", Jewish Chronicle, 4 May 1973, pp. 28-34. Isaiah Berlin,"Yitzhak Sadeh", in Henry Hardy (ed.), Personal Impressions, Pimlico, London, 1998. Isaiah Berlin, "Go there to find your identity", Jewish Chronicle: supplement on 50th anniversary of the Friends of the Hebrew University, 16 April 1974, pp. i-ii. Back

[18] to Marie and Mendel Berlin, 6.9.34, Isaiah Berlin, Letters, p. 95.Back

[19] to Marion and Felix Frankfurter, 7-8.12.34, Isaiah Berlin, Letters , p. 106. Back

[20] to Marie and Mendel Berlin, 24.9.34, Isaiah Berlin, Letters , p. 101.Back

[21] Isaiah Berlin,Letters, p. 107. Berlin's discontent with German Jews grew stronger as years passed for they exemplified for him what he detested the most: assimilation. Upon his return to Oxford Berlin, who wrote the biography of Karl Marx between 1935-1938, epitomized the ex-Jewish communist as a paradigmatic example of assimilationist self-hatred. Isaiah Berlin, Karl Marx: His Life and Environment. Back

[22] to Marion and Felix Frankfurter, 7-8.12.34, Isaiah Berlin, Letters , p. 106. Back

[23] to Felix Frankfurter, 23.8.37 , Isaiah Berlin, Letters , p. 248.Back

[24] See Joseph Gorny and Gadlia Yogev (eds.), A Statesman in Times of Crisis: Chaim Weizmann and the Zionist Movement, 1900-1948 [Hebrew], Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, 1977; Joseph Gorny, Partnership and Conflict: Chaim Weizmann and the Jewish Labour Movement in Palestine [Hebrew], Hakibbutz Hameuchad, Tel Aviv, 1976; Jehuda Reinharz, Chaim Weizmann: The Making of a Statesman, Vol. 2, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1993: See Berlin's own analysis of Weizmann in his Personal Impressions as well as Isaiah Berlin, "The Biographical Facts", in Meyer W. Weisgal and Joel Carmichael (eds.), Chaim Weizmann: Statesman of the Jewish Renaissance, The Zionist Library, Jerusalem, 1974; Isaiah Berlin, "Chaim Weizmann's Leadership", in Henry Hardy (ed.), The Power of Ideas , Pimlico, London, 2001. Back

[25] Hence, I doubt if Ignatieff's dramatic presentation of Berlin as being torn between his English loyalty and Jewish Identity was not an exaggeration. See Michael Ignatieff, Isaiah Berlin: A Life , Metropolitan Books, New York, 1998, chaps. 7, 9 & 12. Weizmannite Zionism and strong feeling of Jewish identity and pride enabled Berlin to bypass this conflict, which never evolved into an identity crisis. Back

[26] Berlin to Felix Frankfurter, 20.3.35, Isaiah Berlin, Letters , p. 121. Back

[27] The classic study on the subject (which also refers to Berlin's diplomatic role) is still Peter Grose,Israel in the Mind of America, Knopf, New York, 1983. See also Menahem Kaufman, An Ambiguous Partnership: Non-Zionists and Zionists in America, 1939-1948 , Wayne State University Press, Detroit, 1991. Back

[28] H.G. Nicholas (ed.), Washington Despatches, 1941-1945: Weekly Political Reports from the British Embassy, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1981. See for example, the reports of 28.8.1943 and 5.9.1943. Back

[29] See nts. 17 & 28 above.Back

[30] to Angus Malcolm, 9.8.43, Isaiah Berlin, Letters, p. 441. See also Berlin's retrospective account of the period: Isaiah Berlin, Zionist Politics in Wartime Washington: A Fragment of Personal Reminiscence, The Yaacov Herzog memorial lecture, Jerusalem Post Press, Jerusalem, 1972. Reprinted in Isaiah Berlin, Letters, pp. 663-693. Back

[31] to Marie and Mendel Berlin, 31.1.44, Isaiah Berlin, Letters, pp. 474-5. Back

[32] to Sarah Groll, 17.11. 1972, quoted in Michael Hughes, "The Papers of Sir Isaiah Berlin at the Bodleian Library", Twentieth Century British History, Vol. 16, No. 2, 2005, pp. 193-220. Back

[33] Yehuda Bauer,The Holocaust in Historical Perspective, University of Washington Press, Seattle, 1978, p. 18; see also Michael Robert Marrus, The Holocaust in History, Brandeis University Press, Hanover, NH, 1987, esp. chap. 8. Back

[34] See draft of speech, dated 12.9.1946, with Berlin's handwritten comments, and Chaim Weizmann's letter of request for comments to Berlin, dated 12.9.1946 (WA). See also Isaiah Berlin, Letters, p. 687; Abba Eban and Meyer Weisgal were also involved in the commenting and revision. See Eban's contribution to Joseph Gorny and Gadlia Yogev (eds.), Statesman in Times of Crisis; and Abba Eban, An Autobiography, Steimatzky, Jerusalem, 1977, pp. 68-9.Back

[35] Weizmann's Presidential Statement, 22 nd Zionist Congress, Basle, 9.12.46, in Barnet Livinoff (ed.), The Letters and Papers of Chaim Weizmann, vol. II, Series B, Magness Press, Jerusalem, 1979, pp. 636-637. Back

[36] See entry of 16.12.46 in Blanche Elizabeth Campbel Dugdale, Baffy: The Diaries of Blanche Dugdale, 1936-1947, Vallentine, London, 1973. Back

[37] Isaiah Berlin,Letters , p. 691. Originally published as Isaiah Berlin, Zionist Politics. Back

[38] Isaiah Berlin,"Herzen and Bakunin on Individual Liberty", in Ernest J. Simmons (ed.),Continuity and Change in Russian and Soviet Thought, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1955. Back