Chapter 8 “If I Forget Thee, O Jerusalem”: Zionism and the Politics of Collective Memory

In: The Spirit of Populism
Author: Brian Klug

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Abstract

This chapter is a case study in political theology, understood as the application of theological categories to political discourse. It critiques the role played by scriptural and liturgical tropes in political Zionism and the populist use to which they are put in the service of this ideology. Writing as someone who is Jewish, and taking Psalm 137 as his cue, Brian Klug asks what it means, in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, not to forget Jerusalem. After discussing the peculiar form that populism takes in the context of Zionism, he discusses two sources that feed it. The first is the use of the words ‘reality’ and ‘fact’ in the controversy over President Donald J. Trump’s decision in 2017 to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The second is the ‘flattening’ of biblical and liturgical texts, which he refers to as a form of fundamentalism. The chapter concludes with a reflection on how Judaism itself contains an antidote to the populism associated with political Zionism.

The Spirit of Populism

Political Theologies in Polarized Times

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