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Ahad Ha-am's Status Prior to the Appearance of Herzl / מעמדו של אחד העם עד בוא הרצל בראי 'משפט דיבה' נגד מרגלית

יוסף גולדשטיין and Yosef Goldstein
Zion / ציון
Vol. נב‎, חוברת ד‎ (תשמ"ז / 1987), pp. 471-487
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23559693
Page Count: 17
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Ahad Ha-am's Status Prior to the Appearance of Herzl / מעמדו של אחד העם עד בוא הרצל בראי 'משפט דיבה' נגד מרגלית
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Abstract

In the middle of April 1895 a libel case between Ahad Ha'am and Margalit was opened in Shmuel Barabash's house in Odessa. The case revolved around Margalit's allegations that Ahad Ha'am and members of Bnei Moshe wished to assume control of the Odessa Committee, and had spread anti-religious propaganda. The confrontation between Ahad Ha'am and Margalit must be understood as part of the struggle for control of Hibbat Zion. In the one camp were Bnei Moshe, who considered themselves the avant-garde of the Jewish national movement. Arrayed against them was a group that included Lilienblum, Margalit, Slushtz and others. On the neutral ground separating the two camps stood Barabash and Greenberg, the head of the Odessa Committee. The verdict in the case, aside from exonerating Ahad Ha'am of all the accusations which proved to be unfounded, also showed the degree of power maintained by Ahad Ha'am among all the leaders of the Jewish national movement. In fact, he was perhaps the key figure among them prior to the appearance of Herzl. The lesson learned from this case was that Ahad Ha'am's public image was highly popular among the maskilim of Eastern Europe, and that his future, it seemed, was full of promise. It was generally expected that in a short while he would stand at the head of a powerful group, which would lead the way to a national solution. In spite of this, however, even his staunchest supporters realized that Ahad Ha'am was not aware of his strength. The question which arose among them in the fall of 1895 was: Could Ahad Ha'am succeed in realizing his successful image for political profit and thus leave a mark on Eastern European Jewish society, or would his own low self-esteem entrap him, thus rendering his success a fleeting episode, after which he would disappear from history's stage.

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