Cite: Tal, David Ben-Gurion’s Teleological Westernism

Tal, David. “David Ben-Gurion’s Teleological Westernism.” Journal of Modern Jewish Studies 10.3 (2011): 351-364.





Until 1948, the westernism of the Jewish society in the Land of Israel was apparent and taken for granted, as the vast majority of Zionist immigrants who came to Palestine were of European origin, and they built a western society in the Middle East, socially, politically, culturally and economically. Only after the 1948 War and the immigration of hundreds of thousands of Jews from all over the Middle East and North Africa was Israel’s westernism no longer obvious. And indeed, with the arrival of these immigrants from Muslim states, the Israeli government initiated a national-scale endeavour to acculturate the new arrivals to the norms and values of their new home. Scholars suggest various reasons for these actions of the Israeli government, but this article will pay special attention to David Ben Gurion’s westernism. Israel’s first Prime Minister attributed high importance to the maintenance of Israel’s western and modern nature, and he did so not only with the intention of acculturating the newcomers. Based on his profound fear about the ability of the Jewish state to survive in the Middle East, Ben Gurion regarded Westernism and modernism as vital to its survival.

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