Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2013

Document Type



Jewish Studies

First Advisor

Dr. David Shneer


Traditional Zionist historiography dictates two main threads emerging at the outset of the movement: political and cultural. This thesis seeks to define a new category, “racial Zionism.” The naming of this new historiographical group comes primarily from the racial rhetoric and scientific terminology used by Max Nordau, an early proponent of Zionism, in advocating for a muscular regeneration of the Jewish race as a means of achieving a nation. Other manifestations of racial Zionism are also examined, in European gymnastics journals and through the artwork of E.M. Lilien. The result of this examination yielded an overturning of the traditional dichotomy in the understanding of the early years of the World Zionist Organization, where European notions of degeneration and race create an important backdrop to the Zionist movement.