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By Walter Laqueur

From some of the most special historians of our time comes the definitive normal background of the Zionist circulation.

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Extra resources for A History of Zionism: From the French Revolution to the Establishment of the State of Israel

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36 In the context of the dilemma of Russia’s affinity with the West and the East, it is important to point out that some Russian philosophers adopt a more dichotomous gender metaphor in describing Russian passivity, submissiveness and femininity as she awaits a West European masculinity to appear from without and make Russia complete. ” However, according to Rozanov, the most obedient 32 Orientalism Russian style wife truly possesses her husband; she becomes the real mistress of the house. Echoing Rozanov, Berdiaev wrote: Russian people do not want to be masculine builders; her [Russia’s] nature is defined as feminine, passive and obedient in the affairs of the state, she always awaits a fiancé, a husband, a master .

Russia’s expansion was aided by its topography, with few deserts, jungles or high mountain chains to pose natural obstacles to conquest. This expansion brought the Slavs into close contact with various tribes and peoples – sometimes “Western” (the Poles, for example) but mostly “Eastern” (such as the Turkic language-speaking nomadic Polovtsy and Pechenegs). After the conquests of the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a huge multinational Russian Empire was created. Among the political and spiritual events that played an important role in forming the Russian national identity are the influence of the Byzantine Empire and the adoption of Eastern Christianity at the end of the tenth century, the Mongol conquest and its aftermath starting in the thirteenth century, and the radical reforms of Peter the Great in the first quarter of the eighteenth century.

46 This approach, however, seems to be limited to fiction, or more specifically, to Romanticism, and is not to be found in any of the Russian travelogues from the nineteenth century. Indeed, what is conspicuous in many of these travelogues is “antiRomanticism”: deliberate ridicule of the fascination with Oriental wonders. By contrast, many British travelogues of the same period, such as Gertrude Bell’s Persian Pictures (1894), contain strong elements of Romanticism. ” For Russians, Iran as a destination was in most cases merely the place of their official assignments.

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