There is a trend that has been on the rise again to equate Zionism with Racism. Some might remember that the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 3379 on November 10, 1975, by a vote of 72 to 35 with 32 countries abstaining which declared that Zionism was a form of Racism. This was a low-point for the reputation of Zionism that remained unchallenged until recently. Fortunately, on December 16, 1991, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 46/86 which revoked Resolution 3379 which had declared Zionism was equal to racism by a vote of 111 to 25, with 13 countries abstaining. Zionism has once again fallen into such disrepute that some groups, agencies, charities and other groups are choosing to omit any reference to Zionism in their fund-raising materials and descriptions. Well, this will not be a problem for this editorialist. I am a Zionist and am proud of my Zionism and am perfectly willing not only to admit to my Zionism but am fully ready to defend Zionism and Zionists. With that declaration in mind, let us now continue.
One of the claims made against Zionism is that Israel is a racist state because it allows and facilitates Zionism and the Right of Return for all Jews to come home. This is an erroneous assumption as Israel is more multicultural in its population than numerous other countries, some of which might surprise you. The following countries have stricter qualifications for attaining citizenship for anybody not native born than does Israel; Mexico, Libya, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait (which disallows Palestinians from citizenship since 1991), Switzerland, Denmark, Syria, Turkey, China, United Arab Emirates, Argentine, Brazil and numerous others. Then there are some countries who refuse people whose families have lived within their borders for decades from being integrated into the society, denied them citizenship, refused to allow them to hold many employment positions above menial work, and disallowed them the right to own land, a home and even an apartment or other residence which might encourage permanence. These are the countries containing Palestinian refugee camps. The countries who have such policies despite the fact that the Palestinians have the same culture, speak the same language, and often have close relatives living within the country, are Syria, Lebanon and Jordan (which has a predominantly Palestinian population approaching 80% and was established out of the British Mandate Lands with the understanding that it was to be the Palestinian Arab nation with the remainder of the Mandate Land west of the Jordan River reserved for the Jewish State). So, Zionism does not contribute to any exclusivity for citizenship within Israel and Israel has a large Arab population with the majority of those are Muslims who freely practice their religion without any limitations or restrictions. Israel has had a minority population consisting of Arabs, Bedouins, Druze and Christians all of whom enjoy full citizenship and equal rights as any Jew enjoys within Israel.
Zionism is mischaracterized as being a method to purify Israel of any non-Jewish citizens. This is an outright lie as Israel has never had nor will it have any dispossession of the rights of anybody holding Israeli citizenship. Israel holds so tightly to the importance of respect for all its citizens that they have minority citizens serving in every branch of their government, in every government agency and within units of the IDF, their military. The main difference in treatment between Jewish citizens and non-Jewish citizens in Israel is that the Jewish citizens are required to serve either in the IDF, the military, or in some form of national service, all others do not have this obligation as of the writing of this article. It is being discussed whether it would be desirable to compel at the minimum that all citizens upon reaching military age be required to perform national service including serving in the IDF but not required to serve in the military. The reasoning is to allow for every citizen to have equal obligation to the betterment of the country and to instill a feeling of inclusivity through such service. Currently, the Druze population within Israel also expects their children to serve in the IDF and have made it a social requirement for their community. Such is to be lauded and held as an example of great dedication.
Another misconception is that Zionism is a completely new concept. Modern Zionism which was relatively secular in its nature dates back to the mid to late 1800s with much of the credit given to Theodor Herzl. Another name closely attributed with modern Zionism is Ze’ev Jabotinsky who tried to convince Polish Jews during the 1930s to make Aliyah as something horrible was coming to Europe and to destroy their communities. He was mostly ignored as the Jews of the day were well assimilated within Polish society as well as into the rest of European society and could not foresee anything which would threaten such. The European powers and the League of Nations after World War I had responded to the Zionist desires to return to the ancient Jewish homeland in Jerusalem and Eretz Yisroel and had set aside the British Mandate Lands for the exclusive formation of the Jewish State. Within a few years the British, responding to Arab pressures, reallocated the Mandate Lands east of the Jordan River for a state for the Arab population of the area of Palestine. This was accomplished with the approval of the Jewish Zionists with the proviso that the remaining lands west of the Jordan River were to be reserved solely for the Jewish State. This resulted in the formation of Transjordan, modern Jordan, which was formed with a population of Arabs from the British Mandate, the Palestinian Arabs, and placed under the recently outcast Hashemite Family from Mecca and Medina as the ruling monarchs.
But even before the onset of modern secular Zionism there existed a more traditional form of Zionism which was religiously driven. This Zionism has been a part of Jewish desires and dreams from Abraham on through Moses and continues throughout all of recorded history. Jews have formed a steady inflow into Eretz Yisroel and particularly into Jerusalem whenever the Jewish people had been taken from the land. This was true after the Babylonian exile and continued to be true during rule under the Persians, the Greeks, and especially the Romans after the Romans enacted a decree to exile the Jews from their homelands and fling them across the length and breadth of their empire in order to assure that the Jews were never to be heard from again throughout all time. The Romans also changed the name of their province which was originally named for the name the Jews had for their area, Judea, and instead named it after the Jews historically greatest enemies, the Philistines, and incorporated into the Roman provinces of Syria, thus Syria Palaestina. This is the source of the name used since and adopted by Yasser Arafat for propaganda purposes, Palestine and Palestinian.
But even immediately after the Roman dispersion, later referred to as the Diaspora, there were Jews who immediately began to make their way back to Jerusalem and the surrounding areas. During the centuries of battle between the Christian Europeans and the Muslims over who would possess the Holy Lands and Jerusalem in particular, the number of Jews living in Jerusalem was difficult to quantify as most censuses were only concerned with the numbers of Muslims and Christians. Since the middle of the nineteenth century when more accurate censuses were finally attainable, the Jews have held a plurality if not an outright majority within the Old City of Jerusalem until after 1948. It seems unbelievable that once the country of Israel was officially born that the Old City of Jerusalem would lose its Jewish majority. This was the result of the armistice which left the entire Old City and Temple Mount in Jordanian hands. The Jordanian government immediately forced every Jew out of their homes, properties, businesses, Yeshivas, Synagogues and the entirety old city. The Jordanians also set to and destroyed every single synagogue and Yeshiva within the Old City. It was not until 1967 that the Jews regained the Old city of Jerusalem but they have still not reclaimed all their properties as the Arabs who took their homes and businesses refuse to remit them back to their owners from before 1948.
Modern day Zionism is a mix of traditional religious Zionism and the modern secular Zionism. The miracle which is taking place almost silently within the borders of Israel is that no matter the driving impetus behind the returning Zionists, within a few years or generations at most the new returned Jews begin to readopt their ancient faith with a religious zeal. The rebirth of Israel will likely bring about a rebirth of religious Judaism and a return to the Scriptures and the Mosaic Laws. This is the true miracle of modern Israel after the Jewish people came so close to extinction in the last few centuries as the numbers of Jews had been dropping while the world had doubled and redoubled in population. As an example, here are some numbers of Jewish populations in 1900 compared to in 1970 and 2010.
Region 1900 1970 2010
Europe: 8,977,581; 3,228,000; 1,455,900
Asia:* 274,340; 358,000; 327,700
Africa: 372,659; 195,000; 76,200
Americas: 1,553,656; 6,200,000; 6,039,600
Oceania: 16,840; 70,000; 115,100
Israel: 78,000; 2,582,000; 5,413,800
What the numbers above make absolutely obvious is that Israel is the future of the Jewish people. This is why Zionism is so vital and important to the Jews and the continuation of their religion and culture. This truth may also be behind the fanatical pursuit of the destruction of Israel, the final achievement of the Roman decree of splintering and breaking the Jewish society to the far reaches of the empire in order to end the existence of this troublesome people. Israel is the hope and future that such a world will never come into existence. And it is to add to that future which is part of my desire to return home as it is often referred to. So, as we Jews say in so many services at their completion each year, “Next Year in Jerusalem.”
Beyond the Cusp