In the 17th century, the French philosopher René Descartes came up with the "explanation for it all" ..... "I think, therefore I am". I remember this statement being the source of numerous debates in various philosophy classes in my undergraduate days. It was the existential "which came first" story ..... the Chicken or the Egg. The Thought or the Being.
I am a Jew. I am a Zionist. I am a Zionist because I am a Jew .....
That is true, & probably a truism too. It is almost enough for me, and maybe more than enough. I don't need any other reason. I am a Zionist because I am a Jew. I am a Jew by birth. I am a Jew by conviction. I am a Jew. I am a Zionist.
If being a "Jew" does not connote only a political or religious affiliation, then it must connote affiliation to a people or nation. So, I am a Jewish patriot just as an Irishman or woman would naturally be an Irish patriot and an Italian would be an Italian patriot. At it's simplest, Zionism is Jewish nationalism, the understanding that Jews are a people, that Judaism is not solely a religious belief or set of values, and that Israel is the Jewish homeland. I do not need any more justification for Zionism than that, and the state of Israel should not have to apologize for its existence any more than Australia or Ireland or the Czech Republic apologize for their existences. Even if I were not Jewish, I would support the right of the Jewish people to self determination just as I support the right of other peoples to self determination ~ including many, such as the Kurds and the Tibetans, whose rights have also been trampled upon by the neglect of the international community.
I think that's an important point. We do not begrudge the French their language, their nationalism, their religions, or their homeland. We do not demand to internationalize their capital city of Paris, or to give Paris to the Germans on the grounds that only Germans truly love Paris. And I could make the same comments about most other nations that we are content to allow to exist as sovereign entities. Only Israel, the Jewish State, gets held to a different standard & criticised whatever it does, or is, or seeks to become.
As one who supports human rights, I therefore obviously support Zionism. To do otherwise would be to oppose the genuine & inalienable human rights of Jews. So although I am not at all surprised or saddened by the fact that the world at large does not support Zionism, it grates against the grain that some of my fellow Jews, especially in Eretz Yisrael itself, regard Zionism as something not quite, um, kosher.
But, it's not really entirely that simple either. I wish it was, but Zionism is not a simply defined concept. There are multifarious sub categories & I constantly get asked what 'type' of 'Zionist' I am????
That to me is sort of nonsensical really, I am a Zionist. But, definitions matter to people. Definitions do matter & that is kind of the purpose of this blog anyway, to define me & my Zionism. Not to measure it mind, I am a Zionist! Period. To me that is a most important aspect of my identity. Of who I am. Of what I am made of. Of me. Pana. Jew Girl. Zionist. It has always shaped my identity ~ the entity & the essence that is me.
So, I get asked if I am a 'Secular' Zionist. And the answer there is "not really". Zionism is more than a political movement or 'secular' ideology. Zionism began with Ha'Shem. This is it's beginning, not as a philosophy but as a way of life. And a means of life & to life. So, then I get asked with incredulity .... are you a 'Religious' Zionist then???? And the answer is No. I'm not. I'm not religious anything. And, if that is a fault then I'm guilty as hell!
Israel's right to exist, and the legitimacy of Zionism, are not dependent on my moral purity ~ my behaviour has no bearing on the issue (thank goodness!). Or even the moralness or uprightness of the Jewish people as a whole. Nations have the right to statehood whether they are, to coin an Irish term, 'saints or sinners', and whether their governments are wonderful or terrible. Why would imperfections in Israeli governance be an excuse for denying me being a Jew or having the desire & right to my own homeland?? The terrible nature of governance in the Sudan does not in any way threaten the right of Sudan to be a nation-state. Nobody calls for the dissolution of Syria because of the corrupt and dictatorial regimes that have ruled that country since its independence. Or Iran. That nation remains unchallenged & unquestioned thirty plus years after it's destruction of all basic civil rights there. Nobody believes the Chinese people should be denied the right to self-determination because of rights violations in Tibet. It is just the Jewish State of Israel that is under constant scruitny. The State of Israel was not established so that the anti-Semites will disappear, but rather, so we can tell them to get lost & "butt out" of our affairs!
"Never again will Jewish children stare in fear begging to be spared. Never again will we let our enemies determine the fate of the Jewish people and we will able to protect our sons." ~ IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi.
In our world of today Zionism is definied by solely by the Arab world's bloody hostility to the Jewish State of Israel. That's wrong!
To stick to this definition is so to miss the wonder that is everyday life in Israel, the millions who are able to live and learn, laugh and play, in security in the Middle East's only democracy. To do so is to underestimate the power of Zionism, a gutsy and visionary movement that has outlasted the Twentieth Century's other grander and seemingly 'permanent' revolutions such as Bolshevism, Nazism, Fascism and Communism. Arabs have demonized Zionism as the modern 'bogeyman', and many have clumped Zionists, along with all Jews, Americans and most Westerners, as the 'Great Satans'.
The United Nations libel equating Zionism with racism continues unabated & mostly unchallenged. The media too, including CNN, the BBC, the New York Times, & many, many more have played along with dramatic anti-Israeli libels. In Israel, a small but influential group of intellectuals fancy themselves to be 'post-Zionists', whilst a negligible but voluable minority of Jews in the Diaspora please man-bite-dog opinion page editors by proudly proclaiming themselves Jewish anti-Zionists. Zionists must not allow their enemies to define and slander the movement!
No nationalism is pure, no movement is perfect, no state ideal, but today Zionism remains legitimate, inspiring, relevant, & important to me and to most Jews. And so much more moral than any other 'ism' I could randomly name. A Century ago, Zionism revived pride in the label "Jew" .... today, Jews must revive pride in the label "Zionist". I am so proud to be a Jew & to be called a Zionist. It's a badge I wear with a grin & a huge sense of pride. It is part of who I am, my identity, the girl that is me!
My Zionism is natural, just like it is natural for me to be a girl, a woman & a mother. My Zionism is not measured by the size of my davening list or my charitable donations, by the neighbourhood where I live, my reading matter or by the party I will be voting for. It was born a long time before me, on a snowy street in the camp in Terezin, Czechoslovakia, where my mother stood as a young child and attempted, in vain, to understand why the entire world was trying to kill her. That's my personal connection. Actually Zionism as a movement was born much, much earlier than that. Zionism originated with Ha'Shem. And, the history of Zionism begins in Torah. The History of the Jewish people is in fact the History of Zionism.
The wanderings of Avraham as prompted by Ha'Shem, the exodus & desert trekking of Moshe & the wandering Israelites are examples of Zionism in action. As surely as the 'Zion Fighters' building in the Shomron Sunshine today are examples of Zionist action. Zionism is as old as the Jewish nation & an integral part of what it means to be a 'Jew'.
My favourite definition & indeed description of what Zionism is comes from Rabbi Meir Kahane & I'm going to indulge myself now in his words .....
"Jewish History! That whirlpool of tragedy, drama, and courage, whose richness and color dazzle anyone who plunges into its depths...... Listen, you who begin to believe in inanities and who begin to doubt the legitimacy of a Jewish State. You who weep for the oppressed Arabs and gnash your teeth at the ‘fascist’ Zionists. You who waver in support of Israel and who suggest that she lie down and die. Listen.
You are too young to remember the day. It was a moment in May, the 14th day of that loveliest of months, and they stood in the streets. They, the Jews; they, your people; they, the Zionists. The year was 1948, but to Jews it was 1878. One thousand eight hundred and seventy-eight years since the long exile began. You see, that is how your people count history.
Beholding the old men, and the rapturous women and the glorious youth, one might easily have been moved to consider them the farmers and tailors and housewives and mechanics and students ~ and Auschwitz survivors ~ they claimed to be.
And as they stood, they listened to a proclamation that tolled an end ~ and a beginning ~ of an impossible dream come true. The words entered their ears, filling the minds, choking their throats, gripping their hearts, flooding their eyes ....
“We hereby proclaim the establishment of the Jewish State in Palestine, to be called ‘Medinat Yisroel, ’ the State of Israel…”
And as the last words drifted off into the cloudless mid-eastern skies, the ‘fascists’ of Tel Aviv burst into song, the song. The words were written a mere sixty years earlier; the idea was 1, 878 years old.
Israel came into being because it never came out of being. Israel came back to life because it never died. It was the Jewish State in the days of Joshua; it was the Jewish State when there were Pharaohs; it was the Jewish State when Assyrians and Moabites and Edomites and Philistines and Babylonians and Persians and Hellenes and Romans drifted through history and passed out of it again. It remained Jewish because Jews never left it and there was never a time when Jewish communities did not remain in Zion.
Do you think Theodore Herzl created Zionism? Not so! Zionism came into being the day that Jews went into exile and was nurtured by every religious law and custom. Every Jew who practiced his faith and every Jew who observed his tradition was a Zionist. Herzl was merely a man whose time had come, and Jews simply put into practice the goal and dream and aspirations of two millenia. Had there been no Balfour Decleration ~ there would still have arisen the State of Israel. Had there been no United Nations ~ there would still have come into being a Jewish State".
I could go on. I won't. You get the point & I won't labour it any further. That brings me back to the chief reason why I am a Zionist. I am a Zionist because I am a Jew, because it seems to me that Zionism is the only meaningful expression of Jewish identity in the modern world, or any world.
I believe that the Jewish people established itself in the Land of Israel, albeit somewhat late. Had it listened to the alarm clock, there would have been no Holocaust & no pandering to Arab claims of 'palestinian' nationhood & 'displacement'. I do not support the 'right' of the 'palestinian' people to self determination because this is a fraud, the brainchild of Yasser Arafat in the 1960's & I will explain this in a separate blog. It does not belong here. Suffice to say for now it is not a valid claim, & believing, apologizing, or rationalizing the lie of displacing a "Pal-est-in-ian" Arab community is not something Zionism has to consider. Frankly, to buy this fabrication of 'Zionists victimizing the Arabs' is to turn history on its head. The UN ratified a partition plan in line with the mandate's original articles for the establishment of the Jewish State, the Zionists accepted it, the Arab leadership rejected it with a genocidal rage and the Mandatory, (the British) refused to carry out their duties to the Jews, who deserved much better than they ever got from their 'protectors'!!!
So, why am I a Zionist?? ..... I am a Zionist quite simply because I can't not be ..... As Theodor Herzl, the father of modern political Zionism said in an idle boast that has become a cliche .... "If you will it, it is no dream."