The Orthodox, though in numbers a minority among world Jewry, were and are unapologetic Jews, unwilling to dilute their tradition and undergo partial-Protestantization of their religious practice.

The other, even smaller, minority were the Zionists, who by definition rejected the attempt by assimilationists and ''reformers'' to jettison Jewish national identity. While Zionists ranged in terms of religiosity from the Orthodox to the radical-secularist, they were united in their celebration of Jewish nationality, especially in its main manifestation — Jewish statehood in Israel.

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So, then, far from being a movement whose time has passed, Zionism can play a vital opposition role to the liberal pseudo-Judaism of the Diaspora. Because Zionism, whatever its other shortcomings, is necessarily and quintessentially a negation of the assimilationist ''Liberalism as Judaism'' orthodoxy that dominates American (and other Western) Jewry.

Steven Plaut, a professor at the University of Haifa, is author of “The Scout,” published by Gefen.

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