Tuesday, October 7, 2008

What is Zionism?

I often ask myself, "What is Zionism?" Is this a relevant question in 2008? Where do I find the answers? What is post-Zionism? Creative Zionism (I interviewed recently for a position at PresenTense)?

Is Zionism meaning being pro-Israel? Is not being Zionist mean being anti-Israel? Can I say I'm not a Zionist, but support Israel? Why do many people equate Israel with Zionism? Why is "supporting Israel" such a big deal?

I am American, and criticize America, but am not anti-America. Why does this same logic not seem to apply in Israel?

I was reading a document released a few years ago by the Van Leer Institute. When I am confused about an idea, I find it's often useful to go back to the very beginning. Here are some of the basics:

The Zionist Vision and the National Interests
“The Land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious and political identity was shaped. Here they first attained to statehood, created cultural values of national and universal significance and gave to the world the eternal Book of Books.

“. . . This right is the natural right of the Jewish people to be masters of their own fate, like all other nations, in their own sovereign State.

“The State of Israel will be open for Jewish immigration and for an Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete
equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants, irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

“We appeal – in the very midst of the onslaught launched against us now for months – to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and
permanent institutions.”
(Excepts from the Declaration of Independence)

(continued from report) Today, too, it is necessary to ensure the existence of a Jewish and democratic State of Israel. Four founding principles have been accepted by the vast majority of the Zionist movement since its founding until the present day:

1. Concentrating a majority of the Jewish People in its homeland, the Land of Israel.
2. Preserving a Jewish state with an absolute Jewish majority in the Land of Israel.
3. Reviving Hebrew culture (language, literature, history, plastic arts) as the spiritual foundation of the Jewish State in the Land of Israel.
4. Aspiring to make the Jewish people a nation like all other nations, living freely in its own State and maintaining a high-quality life of abundance, progress and


Anonymous said...

"plastic arts"?

Hadassah said...

You are right to be confused. In 2008, it is not at all clear what Zionism means. I wrote a post about this at http://zionismandisrael.wordpress.com/2008/10/02/are-you-a-zionist/