NOTICE: This article I submitted won in the finals of the Pro-Israel blog-off competition.
I did not write this article for Zionists. We are already aware of what we are. It was written for anti-Zionists who think they know what we are. However, if you are neither, then I hope you, too, will find this educational enough to help you decide whether Zionism is the real problem in the world or whether the lack of understanding of what it is in the rest of the world is the real problem.
For as long as I can remember being taught about Zionism as a child and adolescent, I do recall mainly learning about Political Zionism and Practical Zionism. These included; the reasons for Zionism during pre-State of Israel era and the "Return To Zion" (anti-Semitism, Pogroms, the Holocaust); the events leading up to the establishment of the State of Israel; the declaration of Israel's Independence; Socialist Israel (Kibbutzim); the details and success stories of every war that Israel has faced since the 1948 Independence War till the 1982 First Lebanon War; Agricultural and Technological accomplishments; the serious importance of maintaining Israel as a Jewish State, the only Jewish State in the world as well as Jewish unity; and of course the religious aspect of the Jewish ancestral right to the land and the need to return to it...
Aliyah. However, since living here for some time I have realized that Zionism has not only maintained its original stance of being "Patriotic to the Jewish State" but that it has also evolved in so many ways...
The definition of Zionism is "the national movement for the return of the Jewish people to their homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel, advocated, from its inception, tangible as well as spiritual aims. The term 'Zionism' was coined in 1890 by Nathan Birnbaum." (source)
This definition, as any, just does not express enough the real meaning of what Zionism actually is today and what it means to me and so many others...
anti-Zionist movements that we see today...The problem is that their out-of-context view of factual Zionist events from the past has left a stain on their real understanding of Zionism, its evolvement and what modern Zionism has become today... The categorization of Zionism as a form of Nazism, racism, land theft and Arab-oppression is a clear indication that the anti-Zionist movements of today do not understand the events leading up to the establishment of Israel and the events that followed in a relative manner... They also completely ignore the legality of Israels establishment as noted in UN Resolution 181... I believe they have indulged in too much Palestinian/anti-Israel propaganda...
The current misunderstanding of Zionism is that Zionists today are no different than the Zionists prior to the establishment of the State of Israel and after it. This is a false assumption... Our needs and goals have changed drastically. We have learned the lessons of our ancestral Zionists and the founders of our State... We have had the time to iron out the finer details of what we as Zionists want to bring to the world, not only to ourselves... The Zionists of yesterday focused all of their attention and energy on rescuing and protecting the Jewish people by means of Aliyah, defense and then finally the declaration of our Independence along with the founding of a proper moral defense army to protect its own, the IDF... As modern day Zionists, we share this same common goal but now we are not only fighting for our survival as a Jewish people, we are also fighting for the survival of our Jewish State, its legitimacy, and at the same time we are bringing new concepts, ideas and innovations into the world which benefit everyone.
Let us take a look at what yesterday's Zionism entailed and what it meant to the world...
-Zionism Of Hope
- Original Zionism as an ideology spread throughout various Eastern European and Middle Eastern countries during times of great oppression of the Jews. This lead to the first 5 waves of Aliyot mainly from these countries. The First Aliyah was also known as the "The Farmers Aliyah." These were the people who laid the foundation for some of Israel's (Palestine then) Jewish settlements, such as Rishon LeZion, Rosh Pina, Zikhron Ya'aqov and Gedera. These people also contributed to the development of already established towns such as Petach Tikva and Newe Tzedek.
- The second wave of Aliyot were idealists who sought to establish a communal agricultural settlement system in Palestine. They were credited with the "Revival of the Hebrew language" and establishing it as the standard language for Jews in Israel. They became the first Zionists to establish the Kibbutz movement and in 1909 founded Degania, the first Kibbutz. Kibbutzim started off as Utopian styled communities based on socialism and Zionism and mainly focused on the development of agriculture and agricultural technology. They later developed into being the pioneers of many Agricultural and Technological developments that we, the world, use today. Although Kibbutzim evolved away from being the Utopian styled communities, their focus today is mainly on the development of technologies and research rather than the need for social development. After the establishment of the State of Israel, this social development played an important role in the successful collaboration of the many different immigrants from various cultures in order to indoctrinate the people into developing a single Jewish Israeli culture, the one that we know today. Considering the size of Israel and the amount of immigration Israel has seen, this indoctrination was an absolute necessity if the State of Israel wanted to successfully accomplish a united Jewish state and identity as well as Israeli nationalism. The second wave also created the first security organization called "HaShomer" which established the foundation of the Haganah, a Jewish paramilitary organization.
- The third wave of Aliyot was pretty much a continuation of the second wave with one exception, they established some important institutions and organizations such as the General Federation of Workers or Histadrut which has become one of the most powerful institutions in the State of Israel. They also contributed to the founding of the Haganah.
- The fourth wave of Aliyot did not see much of an influence to the already established movements, organizations and institutions but as they were mainly from middle class business and industrial backgrounds, they were the main reason for the further development of Tel Aviv into the city we know today.
- The fifth wave of Aliyot, mainly caused by the rise of Nazi Germany, saw a mass influx of academics, doctors, lawyers as well as musicians who founded the Philharmonic Orchestra. Some chose agricultural settlement and founded new Moshavim and Kibbutzim.
- The sixth wave of Aliyot (Bricha) took place during the post-World War 2 period. It was a clandestine effort to help the Jewish Holocaust survivors escape Eastern Europe into British Palestine.
These six waves, although very similar in nature, saw the development of the State of Israel from the perspective of needing to escape anti-Semitism from their native countries. Their only intentions as far as Zionism was concerned was self-preservation and Jewish unity. Their reality consisted of nothing more than persecution, hatred, fear, oppression and the need to survive. Zionism was the only solution that would save them from all this. This level and definition of Zionism could be seen as "The Zionism of Hope".
The six waves of Aliyot, which brought much hope to the Jewish people who were being severely oppressed, were in need of something more solid in order to assure their safety and the safety of the future Jewish population living in Palestine at the time.
During the British Mandate of Palestine, Britain would not allow opening Palestine to all Jewish refugees from Europe. In order to force the British to allow this, a Militant Zionist group called Lehi was formed in an effort to forcefully evict the British authorities from Palestine. Even though they were regarded as a "terrorist organization" by the British and later banned by the Israeli government, their intentions were solely to secure the safety of the Jewish refugees from other countries by allowing their immigration. They were, however, small in numbers.
Another Zionist Paramilitary group during the British Mandate of Palestine was called the Irgun. The British banned the immigration of more Jewish refugees from Europe so the intentions of the Irgun were to bring the millions of European Jews to Palestine and prevent them from being oppressed further. The Irgun oversaw the illegal immigration of these European Jews into the Land of Israel. The Irgun was also regarded as a "terrorist organization" by the British but after the establishment of the State of Israel it was relieved of that title. The Irgun sought to protect the Jewish people from the violent uprising of the Arabs towards Jews. Its policies included the right of every Jew to enter Palestine, the need for active retaliation to deter the Arabs and the understanding that only Jewish armed force would ensure the Jewish state. This policy needs to be understood relatively. They were later absorbed into the new Israel Defense Forces after Israel's declaration of Independence in 1948.
One of the larger Zionist paramilitary groups was called the Haganah, previously known as HaShomer, the defense organization established by the second wave of Aliyot. The roles of the Haganah included the protection of the Jewish people within Palestine against the many violent Arab revolts. Its members were trained and prepared for any external military attacks by surrounding countries. The Haganah later became the core of the Israel Defense Forces.
The largest and most successful defense force of the Jewish people and the State of Israel was and still is the Israel Defense Force. From the establishment of the State of Israel until today, Israel has seen numerous wars instigated first by its internal Arab population and then through a continued instigation from its neighbouring countries and people. The need for the IDF became not only a right but also a complete necessity in order to defend the Jewish state. This wave of Zionism received more than 4000 volunteers from 56 countries to help fight in the War of Independence.
The IDF not only defended the Jews within the State but sought to bring the same protection to Jews in other countries. The IDF launched Operation Magic Carpet in 1949 and Operation Moses in 1984 to bring the oppressed Jews from Yemen and Ethiopia to the State of Israel where they could live freely and be permanently protected from any anti-Semitism and persecution.
While there may be some conflicts of interest between the various Zionist paramilitary groups, it is evident that all these groups shared a common goal, the protection of the Jewish people and the Jewish state. The Jews of the time needed this protection and most definitely needed the establishment of the State in order to assure their survival, nothing more. Their reality had moved from needing hope to securing hope by establishing their own national identity. This level and definition of Zionism could be seen as "National Zionism".
Since its foundation, the State of Israel has been through many wars both on the battlefield and also in the political arena. Both required the constant dedication and commitment of the local population to defend the borders of the State as well as to fight the many political battles that Israel has faced over the decades and still faces today.
Mandatory military service was and still is a large part of this commitment. Citizens required constant affirmation that protection of the State was and still is Israel's first priority and that the battle to maintain Israels sovereignty and legitimacy is a completely legal and ethical one.
Patriotic Zionism also played a large role in the Zionist movements abroad whereby people such as myself were taught about Israel from a Patriotic perspective. In fact this level of Zionism was the highlight of everything I was taught regarding Zionism and Israel in general. Understanding the necessity to be patriotic to a country that I was not even born in and that I did not even live in yet became an instinct of second nature along with an unquestionable dedication to defend the State of Israel in any way possible from thousands of kilometers away. It's intention, I believe, was also to offer the diaspora Jews an opportunity to be a part of a Jewish national and international identity be it religious or secular. To be a part of the only Jewish State in the world.
The Zionists of yesterday understand the reality of the need to protect the State, as they felt first hand the wrath of the Arab revolts and uprisings before a solid foundation of Israel was established. Their reality moved from securing hope to securing the State and its people in every way possible. This level and definition of Zionism could be seen as "Patriotic Zionism". It is still very much in existence today.
The above forms of Zionism or "Original Zionism" as I like to call it, evolved solely around the preservation and protection of Jews both in and outside of the State of Israel. Protection of Israel's right to exist in the first place. However, people show mixed feelings about Original Zionism, while one shows inspiration and awe the other expresses hatred and disgust. I understand both, relatively, but only agree with the former. My understanding of this hatred towards Original Zionism is the understanding of the reasons people generally express. It usually stems from a serious lack of understanding of Jewish history and the history of Palestine as well as the assumption that Zionism is selfish due to it being almost exclusive to Jews. Before the State of Israel this assumption was accurate. Typical expressions such as "What is so special about Jews that only Jews should be saved?" arise. My response: "Jewish oppression has been the highlight of history. Nobody has ever and will ever look after the Jews, only Jews will look after the Jews, Zionism is the only thing that embraced the Jews. All actions to defend one's own family is deemed selfish, we just have a bigger family, wouldn't you do the same if it was your family in need of being saved?" Since the States founding, this assumption remains false.
Today we see many new forms of Zionism or New Age Zionism which has taken on not only Israel but also on the world. We have moved from the "selfish" act of needing to be saved and protected from the hands of anti-Semitism to the selfless want to bring all of our wonderfully creative ideas to the world and we have done just that.
Let us take a look at what Todays Zionism is and what it means to the world...
-Idealistic And Visionary Zionism
Zionist Israel is probably the only country in the world and in history that has ever cared for, aided and assisted its own arch enemy on a daily basis for years on end.
- Israeli settler wants to help Syrians with humanitarian aid. He says: "As neighbors, and a people who take pride in our Jewish values, Israel can assist in the form of humanitarian and medical aid and benefit from the Syrian revolt."
- Palestinian children who had been diagnosed with cancer had the opportunity to visit Israel's ski resort in the Hermon, they were accompanied by their families and had a fun filled day with the IDF's Alpine Unit.
- An IDF paramedic helped a Palestinian woman give birth inside a military ambulance. She called for help and the IDF responded to it even though the area she was in was unreachable by an ambulance. The IDF paramedics comment on this: "I just reacted to the situation as any human being would."
- An Israeli helps Palestinians get access to better medical treatment. His comment: "Regardless of whether political or religious, I think that we are all human beings."
- An Israeli doctor extends helping hand to sick Palestinians. The doctor's comments: "When we are coming to pick up the sick kids, the (Palestinian and Israeli) checkpoint managers help us a lot."
- Israeli companies to help build a Palestinian city in the West Bank city of Rawabi.
- Israel helps 300 Palestinians living in Libya, whose lives are endangered, into the Palestinian Authority-controlled area.
- A Kibbutz built a dairy farm for Palestinians in Hebron. A Palestinian said: "We turned to Kibbutz Afikim because the Israeli milk industry is No. 1 in the world, and we are happy to be able to use the knowledge and modernization of our neighbors to help us increase the amount of milk in the PA."
- The IDF helps transfer Palestinian cucumbers.
- An IDF soldier and settlers save a Palestinian baby's life. The soldier said: "They know we have a skilled medical team here, and in any case of accident or injury they arrive and we help them."
- The Ministry of Agriculture helps Palestinian farmers improve their techniques. A Palestinian doctor said: "We live in the same climate and under the same conditions so we don’t try to avoid receiving help from the accumulated Israeli experience."
- The IDF sends 14,000 tons of aid to Gaza.
- The IDF sends humanitarian aid to Gaza during IDF operation to crackdown on Hamas. The aid was up 900% .
- Israel helped about 150 Palestinians escape from Gaza after a bloody Hamas crackdown in Gaza. They were assisted in being relocated via Israel to Jericho.
- Israelis help Palestinians harvest olive crops. One says: "I think what we do now is the way of peace. Palestinians and Jews work hand in hand on the trees and pick fruit together."
- Israelis help Palestinian veterinarians fight avian flu. A doctor's comment: "This support sometimes helps us provide the Palestinians with services without charging them."
- 1976, the IDF opens a section of the Lebanese border, known as The Good Fence, to allow medical and other aid to residents of southern Lebanon who stood in need.
Which country, army or ideology will help its own enemies in wartimes and in moments of peace? A Zionist one!
Zionist Israel helps more countries and people in need of medical and charity assistance than any other country in the world.
- IDF helps Japanese after earthquake and tsunami.
- Jews using Israeli technology help Uganda with Polio Vaccinations and help install Solar Energy in Malawi. Jewish Heart for Africa have many projects that are currently in progress in Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia.
- Israel treated more than 2500 sick children from enemy states over the last 15 years.
- The American Jewish World Service, mostly Jewish Zionists, helps the world's poor.
- Israeli doctors teach male circumcision to African doctors to prevent disease.
- The African Refugee Development Center in Israel helps refugees with political issues of being a refugee.
- IDF helps earthquake victims in Haiti. The help was endless.
- IDF trains Med students from Nigeria to Nepal in rescues.
- Israeli doctors help the sick in the Maldives even though Muslims protested against Jews helping.
- African doctors learn about treating AIDS at a seminar in Israel.
- Israel helps sick Gazans.
- More than 7400 African refugees enter Israel safely, to seek work and asylum.
- African Muslim doctors train in Israel.
- Israel helps train Ethiopian doctors to fight AIDS.
- Iraqi child saved in Israel.
- This is Zionism!
Zionist Israel does everything it can to develop social understanding, skills and education between various cultures and religions including it's own enemies.
- Israelis help abandoned Bedouin women.
- Israelis and Palestinians tackle issues on football field.
- Israeli Jews and Arabs learn to play together and learn to co-exist.
- Israeli billionaire funds Arab-Israeli industrial park.
- Israelis and Palestinians joined forces for a Startup Weekend, to explore the possibilities of developing new technology businesses together.
- Darfur children start over in Israeli schools.
- Jewish and Arab women in Israel break barriers.
- Empowerment for Arab Israeli women from the Arab-Jewish Community Center in Jaffa.
- Israeli and Jordanian women, in business, for peace.
- Galilee Jewish and Arab moms come together for peace.
- Ten top Israeli business ventures that inspire peace in the Middle East.
- Arabic comes to Jewish Israeli schools.
- Cultivating understanding with Arab-Jewish schools.
Zionist Israel cares about more than people, it cares about the environment too, which either way directly or indirectly affects people anywhere on the planet.
- The Israeli "Spider" that reads the wind
- Israelis are fighting desertification to feed the world
- An Israeli galvanizes the Bedouins to go Green
- The IDF inaugurates first Green Base as part of "IDF Protects The Environment"
- The top 10 Israeli environmentalists helping Green Israel and the world.
- Self-sustaining nuclear energy from Israel.
- US homes look forward to Israel's Solar Energy Tech.
- Israeli-Palestinian team to develop clean water solutions.
- El Al says will stop transporting animals for experiments abroad.
- Israel poised to be first country to ban fur trade.
- Arabs and Jews throwing out the garbage together.
- Israel develops potato-powered batteries for the developing world.
- Israel’s water innovation leading the world.
Zionist Israel cares for people and their environment, and at the same time cares for every important scientific and technological field that exists in order to improve the lives of everyone on the planet via research and development.
- Israel's smallest PC
- Meet the Israeli unmanned ground combat vehicle - AvantGuard
- Israel’s latest airport security technology.
- A comprehensive guide to Israel’s biotech industry.
- Israeli technology has chief role in battling world threats.
- IDF presents: 'Soldier-free' checkpoint control.
- Israeli startup presents: 3D with no glasses.
- Strongest-ever nanomaterial from Israel.
- Israel is killing cancer, without killing healthy cells.
- Israeli scientists developing the power to predict the future.
- Israel develops anti-bacterial textiles to save lives.
- Israel is preventing pneumonia and saving billions.
- Israel invents world's first flying car.
- Israeli exoskeleton suit enables paralyzed people to walk.
- Israeli communication technology for the disabled.
- Israeli company develops device to see through walls.
- Israel's car that will make its own fuel.
- Israels amazing invisible tank shield technology.
- Tel Aviv university works on computer chip implant to treat the brain.
- Israel builds world's largest underground hospital.
- A revolution in skin cancer detection.
- Israeli scientists develop technique to knock out super-bugs.
- Israel: A world leader in medicine!
I still do not know how so many people in this world can completely ignore the true meaning of Zionism and how it has progressed from being a "selfish" ideology as seen from an outsiders perspective (originally exclusive to Jews during times when it was absolutely needed) to being a completely selfless reality that shows absolute care and concern for its own people and people of every country/culture/race/religion in the world. Ask yourself this question, would you not do the same for your own family and then once your own family is safe from harms way would you not want to do the same for everyone else?
It is time the anti-Zionist movements of the world start to wake up and realize their own ignorance and the lack of understanding of Zionism that they preach to their followers. They need to realize that we cannot take full responsibility for the actions of our forefathers, we also cannot judge their actions in a negative light without fully understanding the realities they came from and the absolute necessity to never re-live those experiences. The only people alive today that completely understand that reality are the survivors of the Holocaust as well as the original pioneers of our country who gave their blood, sweat and tears to defend the people from the constant Arab uprisings. Israel is here, Zionism exists but Zionism is no longer about the need to have our own State, we have our own State whether the world likes it or not, Zionism is about what we can bring to the world through our own people and State.
This being said, we can, and should take responsibility for our actions today and the actions of our future. Zionism is there for everyone, it should be the answer to every world issue and I do hope that one day it will be seen in this light.
Zionism has evolved! It is time for the rest of the world to acknowledge its evolvement!
Am Zionist Israel Chai!