Beyond the Cusp

February 7, 2013

Is the Future of Zionism Healthy Without Knowledge of History?

The results from a MarketWatch poll conducted for the Zionist Council of Israel contained indications of promise and problems for the future of Zionism. The promise of the future health of Zionism was most evident in the answer to the simple question of whether they consider themselves to be Zionists. Of the three-hundred Israeli Jewish teens between the ages of 15 to 18 years of age 82.9% responded they considered themselves as Zionist while 15.8% defined themselves as non-Zionist. Somewhat less promising was that just under 30% did not know significance of the date November 29, 1947, the date of the United Nations vote proposing the establishment of the partition of the remainder of the British Mandate which directly led to the founding of the nation of Israel and the first refusal of the Arabs to the offer of their own country between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Some of the other results are just as mixed.

Over half, a full 53.5% did not know what the Oslo Accords were, specifically 70.8% of Haredi and 48.2% of secular teens. Their lack of knowledge that the Oslo Accords were simply an agreement between the Israelis and the PLO that established the Palestinian authority, returned arch terrorist Yasser Arafat back into the West Bank and granted him legitimacy, and was an initial step which was supposed to provide a path to reaching a final status establishing a Palestinian State side by side with Israel with both populations living in peace and security. The ensuing failure of the Accords has been a large impetus for the propaganda battles which have been much of the Arab Israeli difficulties since then. The apparent lack of knowledge by the youth and future leaders of Zionism of this important event and the results it has spawned is a gap in their education which must be corrected as such ignorance could prove dangerous. The one truth all sides can agree over is that the Oslo Accords have been one of the epic failures in all of history.

One of the most promising results was that 82.9% of respondents knew the words of the national anthem, Hatikvah, perfectly. It is interesting and understandable that the percentage who knew the words to Hatikvah and described themselves to be Zionists were exactly the same. It begs the question if the respondents in affirmation of these two questions were an exact correlation or if there was any divergence no matter how minor. There was almost a unanimous affirmative reply to the question of whether the youths had visited Jerusalem, something pretty much expected considering the attractions of Jerusalem and the small size of Israel. Almost 85% affirmed that they would enlist in the Israel Defense Forces or another form of national service even if it were not mandatory. This high percentage response may suggest an inspirational solution to the share the burden dilemma facing the new Knesset of simply making the IDF and national service voluntary while also increasing the salaries to represent a professional military. Slightly less of the youth expected to live in Israel long term answering they expected to be residing in Israel in fifteen years.

The overall results of the poll reveal great promise for the future of Israel and Zionism. The one troubling answer was obviously the lack of general familiarity with the history of Zionism and Israel indicated by the higher than preferred knowledge of the date of the United Nations vote which allowed for the establishing of the Jewish State and an even greater ignorance concerning the Oslo Accords. Both of these shortcomings are easily solvable with adjustments being initiated in the education system assuring that there is a stronger emphasis on the History of Israel, Zionism, and Jewish history. All in all, the results are promising. I would be interested to see a similar poll taken on the subject of religious observance and likely intended observance going on in their lives. If such a poll would produce similarly significant results towards being religious Jews as the results on Zionism, Israel would have a healthy and promising future as these youths realize their dreams and take the task of leading Israel into the future.

Beyond the Cusp

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