The New Republic has posted another of Niebuhr's articles for the magazine online. This is a reprint of his 1957 piece, "Our Stake in the State of Israel." Here's an Excerpt:
The history of the new state of Israel is thrilling in many respects. It represents a remarkable co-operation of ‘‘capitalistic’’ Europeans and American Jews with the essentially socialistic Jews of Israel. For the prevailing political ideology of Israel was determined by the Polish Jewish socialists, turned Zionists, so completely typified by the robust Prime-Minister of today, Ben-Gurion. The collective farms or ‘‘kibbutzim’’ are, in fact, based upon rather doctrinaire socialist principles of the 19th Century, and are probably too consistently collectivist in their attitude toward family life to satisfy our robust individualism. A witty Jewish Oxford don, a friend of Chaim Weizmann, has given it as his opinion that Israel is served by the German Jews, who became honest and skillful ‘‘bureaucrats’’ and scientists, and by the Polish Jews who furnish the ideology and the political skill of the new state. Certainly the effective leadership of the state is divided between the German and the Polish Jews.
The co-operation between the religious Jews and the essentially secular idealists in the new state is equally worthy of note. Zionism is a political dream of religious origin, and before the Nazi period it was nourished only among those who were poor and orthodox, rather than among the ‘‘liberal’’ and assimilated and prosperous Jews. Hitler’s persecutions changed all this and made Zionism popular in the congregations of liberal Judaism. From a religious standpoint one might say that it became too popular because the liberal rabbis were as preoccupied with Hitler for two decades as they are now with Nasser, so that even a Christian, with sympathies for Zionism, such as the present writer, can appreciate the protests of the anti-Zionist ‘‘Council for Judaism,’’ which believes that political and nationalistic preoccupations of the rabbis imperil the religious substance of Judaism as a monotheistic faith.