Herzl’s birthday celebrated

Jerusalem, May 10, 2023, for immediate release

A special Judaism 3.0 event was held at the Begin Center to celebrate Herzl and to inaugurate the Judaism 3.0 Think Tank. Speakers included Kosovo’s envoy to Israel, Ines Demiri; Judaism 3.0 author Gol Kalev, and Jerusalem Post Editor-in-Chief Avi Mayer
Noa Amouyal (left), Gol Kalev (center), Avi Mayer (right)

Hundreds of people, in-person at the Begin Center and around the world on Zoom, took part in a monumental evening, discussing the shifting role of journalism, antisemitism and the state of Zionism, by tying it all to Herzl’s vision.

The evening’s host Noa Amouyal framed the program by saying that “Gol [Kalev] has revolutionized the field of Herzl research. He turned it from a study that was antiquated and old, to something that is modern, exciting, and maybe even a little bit sexy.”

Kalev said that Herzl changed the course of Judaism and of humanity while not making any new discoveries: “Being an outsider to the Jewish world, he saw the same reality that others saw, but from a different perspective, and with a different depth – this enabled the process that led us here today.”

Kalev believes such perspective can be valuable today: “If we dive into the depth of Herzl’s thinking and philosophy, we can apply it to a lot of our strategic issues today.” Kalev discussed how Herzl’s wisdom can be used to deliberate the future of Europe, the Palestinians issue and the debate about the legal reform in Israel. “With the fast-moving news cycle and soundbite world, we have an opportunity to deploy Herzl’s frameworks, and the think tank can hopefully help in doing that.”

To give an example of Herzl’s way of thinking, Kalev mentioned the Uganda Scheme, which was a proposition to settle Jews in Africa. “But if you read Herzl very carefully, and understand the nuance of his words:….Uganda was not about settling Jews in Africa. Uganda was about engaging the British government.” Kalev explained that the British proposal to establish a joint British-Zionist committee to explore the Uganda idea “created an official recognition by a global power [the British] in Zionism, and in Zionism as the representative of the Jewish people. This is huge!” In addition, through the Uganda process, Herzl planted the idea of Zionism on multiple levels of the British government apparatus: The foreign ministry, the colonial office. “Thirteen years later this effort came to fruition with the Balfour Declaration.”

Gol Kalev

Saying that we should study Herzl in a similar way we study Moses, Kalev noted that it took centuries for Moses’ transformation to take effect – same goes for Herzl’s transformation: “Just as Moses’ Judaism was not about migration into Canaan, but a transformation into what I call Judaism 1.0, Herzl’s Zionism is not about the migration into Palestine, but a transformation into what I call Judaism 3.0.”

Herzl died in 1904. “Before he died, he wrote one more article called Journey’s Blessing – an article directed to all of us”, which Kalev compared to Moses’ HaAzinu (Song of Moses). Both departure messages were not focused on how to get to Canaan/Palestine, but on how to preserve Judaism once there. Herzl reiterated in that final article that Zionism is an infinite ideal that “is about the aspiration to moral and spiritual completion.” Therefore, Kalev says, the notion of post-Zionism is akin to the notion that the Hebrews’ arrival in Canaan is post-Judaism. “Moses’ Judaism just got started then, and we are still in the very early stages of Herzl’s Zionism today.”

Gol Kalev’s remarks. Introduction by Noa Amouyal (Video: Begin Center)

Ines Demiri, Kosovo’s envoy to Israel began her remarks by saying that she is “honored to celebrate the legacy of one of the towering figures of human history.”

Demiri, who is the first European mission head in Jerusalem, explained that “we see the Kosovo relations with Israel in two dimensions”. The first dimension relates to the Holocaust. Demiri said she is proud that some Kosovo Albanians are on the list of the righteous amongst the nations, but at the same time “there were about 200 Jews that were deported to the concentration camps”.

The second dimension relates to “the time in 1999 when we had the war inside our country. The first to stand up and speak to stop the ethnic cleansing that was happening to the Albanians in Kosovo were the Jewish people – in Israel, in Europe, in the US, and everywhere, and we are deeply thankful for their advocacy.”

Ines Demiri

Demiri drew applause when she spoke about Kosovo’s decision to open its embassy in Jerusalem. “Working for the MFA [Kosovo’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs] for a decade, two years ago I had the privilege to open the embassy here in Jerusalem. I am proud of our cooperation in many areas with the Israel”.

Demiri said that Herzl’s contribution was not just to Israel, but to humanity: “More and more innovations that are produced in Jerusalem and throughout Israel are impacting the lives of so many around the world, and we in Kosovo are aware of  that and benefit from the fulfillment of Herzl’s vision. This is seen today in our cooperation with our Israeli friends in all possible fields.”

Reflecting on 120 years since Herzl started the Zionist endeavor, Demiri said: “I think Herzl would be very proud that his vision came true. As Gol describes in his book, Herzl planted the seeds for the transformation of the Jewish nation. Menahem Begin along with other leaders of his generation executed this vision and built the county, and we – not just you in Israel – but also we in Europe and all over the world – are benefiting from all this.”

Ines Demiri’s remarks. Introduction by Noa Amouyal (video: Begin Center)

Demiri’s remarks was followed by a conversation moderated by Amouyal, between Kalev and Avi Mayer, the new editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post.

Mayer said that “this is a particularly fascinating time to be in the world of journalism…Just as Gol has suggested that Judaism is transforming, I believe that journalism is transforming as well.”

Mayer explained that there is much more of an emphasis on opinion journalism, which “actually often delves into the realm of advocacy rather than strict journalism and strict news reporting…I am somewhat of a purist”, he stated: “journalism and journalists should report the facts as they are, devoid of bias.”

Avi Mayer

By the same token, Mayer said that he believes that it is important that newspapers have values. Therefore, he dedicated his inaugural article as editor-in-chief to addressing what are the values of the Jerusalem Post: “The first thing I said is that we are a Zionist newspaper.”

Mayer said that while it was always implied, “this is the first time that this statement had ever been made.” He underscored why it is important for him to state it outright because “this means that we will not stand for assault on Israel’s right to exist, we will not stand for those who denigrate the very right of Jews to have self-determination in the land of Israel…We are a pro-democracy paper and we will stand against efforts to undermine the principles of democracy that were enshrined in Israel’s Declaration of Independence. We are anti-racist paper. We will not tolerate antisemitism, anti-Zionism or bigotry…Within the boundaries of those principles there is a lot of space for debate.”

Kalev said that there is an opinion component in objective articles as well.  He shared that when he first read the articles that Herzl wrote during his time as his newspaper’s Paris correspondent in the 1890s, he thought they seemed objective. “But then I found out that Herzl was under investigation by the French government for being anti-French and writing anti-France articles.” Kalev said that when he read those same articles again, he noticed the layers of opinion embedded in them in a nuanced way, “such as skepticism about the essence of French democracy and French political structure”.

In response to Mayer’s question if Herzl considered himself to be a journalist even after launching the Zionist movement, Kalev said that Herzl did not separate himself into silos. He understood that much of his power comes from his press card. “It is a fascinating act of balance he played when he broke away from the line of his newspaper, and began promoting Jewish nationalism…He is doing this to promote Zionism, knowing he can get fired at any day for doing that, which will take away his press card, which in-turn might take away Zionism.”

With the question of whether that “press card” still wields power today, Amouyal shifted the conversation to Social Media, and asked how it is affecting the journalism landscape.

Mayer said that “when anyone with a smartphone becomes a citizen-journalist, you know there is a transformation coming to journalism.” Yet Mayer identifies a bifurcation: “There is a qualitative difference to having an established news organization behind you that simply cannot be matched no matter how many Twitter followers you have.” Mayer shared how this impacts him personally: “Avi Mayer the random guy who has [150k] followers on Twitter is not the same as Avi Mayer who is speaking on behalf of the Jerusalem Post, and I will say that I chose my words more carefully now.”

Responding to Amouyal’s question about what kind of Social Media Influencer Herzl would be today, Kalev said that “Social Media is a reflection of the populous”, and Herzl observed very carefully the behavior of the masses, and “how people are being controlled through all sort of messages in all sort of  ways….Herzl observed the early stages of what later became the pivoting of the German nationalist movement.” Kalev noted that Herzl studied meticulously the tools Otto von Bismarck, the father of Germany, used to master the masses’ sentiments (akin to toddy’s social media).

Mayer said that Herzl in the early years of Zionism, would have been considered a Twitter provocateur. While today Zionism is the dominant ideology in the Jewish world, back then “it was very much counter-cultural, it ran against the grain of European Jewry…I think he might have even been considered someone of a Troll.”

Kalev agreed: “Herzl would have been blocked by many people – by many Jews.”

The panel discussion with Gol Kalev (center) and Avi Mayer (right), moderated by Noa Amouyal (Video: Begin Center)

Shifting to the topic of Hasbara (Israeli advocacy), Amouyal asked, “we are in 2023 and Israel has still not been able to figure it out…What can be done?”

Mayer cautioned against telling a sanitized version of “a Disneyland perspective” of Israel. “This is doing no one any service,” he said given there is an abundance of information online. “Ultimately I believe Israel has a compelling story to tell and I think that once we tell that story in all its complexity….this will be the strongest argument that Israel possibly could have.” Mayer said that his role as editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post is to tell this story in such a way.

Kalev said that Herzl did not believe in Hasbara. “He concluded that dogmatic minds cannot be changed…,Therefore, what is needed [to combat Jew-hatred] is a paradigm shift, and that paradigm shift is a Jewish state.”

The event was covered by the press, including media from the United States, Israel and Germany

Kalev said he applied this logic to Judaism 3.0. “Israel-bashing is now dogmatic, and therefore Hasbara is ineffective.” Kalev argues that once again what is needed is a paradigm shift, and that paradigm shift is Judaism 3.0: “Once you accept that Zionism is the anchor of Judaism, you can not hide behind this notion that you love the Jews and hate the Zionists. The Jew-hater has to stay in Judaism 2.0.”

Kalev applies Herzl in another way, pointing to an unexpected asset we have in our contemporary fight against Jew-hatred: “Today, saying that you hate Jews is not popular…It can end your career, but saying that you hate Zionists can help your career, so once we create that equation, once there is a broad global recognition thar Zionism is the anchor of Judaism, than Israel-bashing and Jew-bashing become one and the same.”

Book signing prior to the event (photo: Sharon Marks Altshul/ Real Jerusalem Streets)

The event also marked the inauguration of the Judaism 3.0 Think Tank, which deliberates the idea in the book. In lieu of partying gifts, and given many were on Zoom, a new Herzl course by the Brazil Jewish Academy, Applying Herzl, was made available for free and can be found on the book’s website: Judaism-Zionism.com. In the course, Kalev applies Herzl frameworks to today’s issues.

The course is part of a Herzl revival occurring in recent months: A new publication of Herzl’s writing, a new book connecting Herzl’s vision to today’s art, culture and wine (Herzl’s Vision Today), a Herzl art exhibit at the Tel Aviv Bauhaus Center, and even a new Opera by The Israeli Opera about Herzl, called Theodor.

Paul Gross of the Begin Center unveiled at the event the earliest piece in the Begin Center archives: an enthusiastic article 18-year old Menachem Begin wrote in 1931 about Herzl. See details in the event video.

The next event, On July 11th, will pick up at the exact point where this one ended: Is anti-Zionism the new antisemitism, and can Judaism 3.0 help counter the threat?

From left to right: Noa Amouyal, Gol Kalev, Ines Demiri, Avi Mayer

Photos: Hanna Taieb (unless noted)


Ines Demiri – Charge d’Affaires of Kosovo to Israel; head of mission of the first European embassy in Jerusalem

Gol Kalev – Author, Judaism 3.0: Judaism’s Transformation to Zionism

Avi Mayer – Editor-in-Chief, The Jerusalem Post

Moderated by Noa Amouyal, Media Strategist, JCubed Communications

#1 Amazon Best-Seller in its category for New Releases, the book was chosen by the Jerusalem Report as the cover of its 2022 New Year Magazine even before published. In October 2022 the Jerusalem Post issued a Special Magazine about the book’s message

Leading thinkers offer their view on Judaism 3.0’s thesis – Is Zionism becoming the anchor of Judaism?

Gol Kalev picks up where Herzl left off”

Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem

Talking about Judaism 3.0:

Amb Michael Oren, historian, former Israeli Ambassador to United States
Yaakov Hagoel, Chairman – World Zionist Organization

This event was a joint production:

The Menachem Begin Heritage Center

Judaism 3.0 Think Tank

Press-release of previous Judaism 3.0 events:

From Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – Zionism’s religious revival

Zionism and the Nationalism-Universalism debate:

Prof. Gil Troy and Gol Kalev debate Judaism 3.0

Amb Michael Oren and Gol Kalev discuss impact of Judaism 3.0

Watch Gol Kalev discuss Judaism 3.0 in an i24 interview with Emily Frances:

A revolutionary approach to countering Israel-bashing unveiled at the Judaism 3.0 book launch:

Watch video-clips, read a recap of the book launch party

Watch Gol Kalev’s address the Jerusalem Leaders Summit: “Anti Zionism is a threat to humanity”:

The January 2023 Begin Center Judaism 3.0 event with Judaism 3.0 author Gol Kalev, CBN News Middle East Bureau Chief Chris Mitchell, Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, and former Labor MK Dr. Einat Wilf

Judaism 3.0 by Gol Kalev

Mazo Publishers

In this landmark book, Gol Kalev demonstrates how Zionism has turned into the organizing principle of Judaism. It has become the primary conduit through which both Jews and non-Jews relate to Judaism – in both the positive and negative.

Through an in-depth analysis of long-term shifts in Israel and in North American Jewry, as well as assessment of global trends that impact Judaism, Kalev shows that the anchor of the Jewish nation-religion has shifted from its religious aspect (Judaism 2.0) to its national aspect (Judaism 3.0). 

Tying Theodor Herzl’s original vision of Zionism to today’s realities, Kalev shows that  Judaism 3.0 is not only the most accurate reflection of the contemporary state of Judaism, but also the relevant framework to address emerging threats to Judaism.  First and foremost, the existential threat of Israel-bashing, which has replaced anti-Semitism as the primary currency of age-old opposition to Judaism.

Gol Kalev does not just know Theodor Herzl – he lives and breathes Theodor Herzl…This book should trigger the conversation the Jewish community needs about Israel, Zionism, Judaism and Identity. Bravo!”

Professor Gil Troy, author – The Zionist Ideas

ייA remarkable ideas book that is about much more than the state of Judaism…One of the most important books about Judaism, Zionism and global trends of our times.”

Catherine Carlton, former Mayor of Menlo Park, Silicon Valley tech entrepreneur

“This book should play an important role in the discussions about the future of world Jewry and its relations with Israel.”

Natan Sharansky,  former Chairman of The Jewish Agency, former Deputy Prime Minister of Israel

Gol Kalev’s book has the merit to transform the very essence of the State of Israel to becoming an objective expression of Jewish identity

Dr. Georges Yitzhak Weisz, author – Theodor Herzl: A New Reading

“This book has sparked as much conversation as it has because the premise is so interesting, so counter-intuitive and demand of us that we think many thing anew. That is perhaps the greatest gift a book can give.”

Dr. Daniel Gordis, author – We Stand Divided

“Fresh new thinking about the relationship between Judaism and Israel. Kalev picks up where Herzl left off…A must read for people of all religious and political backgrounds who want to get a deeper understanding of the state of Zionism and Judaism today.”

Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem

“A courageous thesis that must be part of any serious discussion of the future of Israel and the Jewish people.”

Michael Oren, historian, former ambassador of Israel to the United States

About the Author: Gol Kalev is a former Wall Street investment banker who has been researching Herzl and Zionism. Growing up in Tel Aviv and serving in the Israeli army, he then lived in New York and now resides in Jerusalem. He also spent time in various European cities and has traveled through both the American and European countryside, learning about contrasting world-views. 

He is chairman of The AIFL Think Tank, which explores Zionism and Judaism, and has been writing analysis articles about Zionism, Europe, and global affairs for the Jerusalem Post,  Jerusalem Report, Israel Hayom, The Daily Wire, The Media Line, Newsweek and Foreign Policy.  

He has been praised for his unique understanding of Judaism by people throughout the political and religious spectrum. In this book, he delivers the state of Judaism as he sees it: Zionism as the anchor of Judaism.

For information about bulk purchases with a dedication page: Judaism 3.0 Holiday Gift

Sign-up to get updates on the book’s launch events:

For comments and inquiries: info@Judaism-Zionism.com

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