Zionism

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Theodor Herzl, the seminal leader of early Zionism.

Zionism is the belief that the Jewish people should return to the Land of Israel.

Sourced[edit]

  • Zionism proceeds from the assumption that the Jews are still a people or nation, many of whom cannot or will not assimilate themselves to other peoples, and wish to retain their identity as a national community.
    • The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia, 5th ed. 1977, art. Zionism, p. 2016.
  • Zionism is as old as the Babylonian Exile, which began in 586BCE. Separation from the Land of Israel as they were being led into captivity by their conquerors rested crushingly upon the spirits of the Jewish exiles; a longing for the homeland consumed them. Turning in the direction of Judah, they then took an awesome vow: "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand lose its cunning. Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I remember thee not; if I set not Jerusalem above my chiefest joy" (Psalms 137:5-6).
    • Nathan Ausubel, The Book of Jewish Knowledge, art. Zionism p. 526.
  • Were I to sum up the Basel Congress in a word — which I shall guard against pronouncing publicly — it would be this: At Basel, I founded the Jewish State. If I said this out loud today, I would be answered by universal laughter. Perhaps in five years, certainly in fifty, everyone will know it.
    • Theodor Herzl in a diary entry, (3 September 1897), a few days after the First Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland, as quoted in'Nonstate Nations in International Politics: Comparative System Analyses (1997) by Judy S. Bertelsen, p. 37.
  • Anti-Zionists, last of all, exhibit a distaste for certain words. It was Thomas Hobbes who, anticipating semantics, pointed out that words are counters, not coins; that the wise man looks through them to reality. This counsel many anti-Zionists seem to have neglected. They are especially disturbed by the two nouns nationalism and commonwealth, and by the adjective political. And yet these terms on examination are not at all upsetting.
    Jewish nationalism means no more than recognition of the peoplehood of Israel, and of the propriety of that people's being a religio-cultural group in America, a nationality in Eastern Europe, and in Palestine an actualized nation.
    Nor is the word political more horrendous, even when it precedes Zionism. For what does it signify? It refers either to methods for realizing the Zionist objective or to the objective itself. If to the former, it denotes the World Zionist Organization, the Jewish Agency for Palestine, and their transactions with the Mandatory Power and others on immigration into Palestine and related problems. If this be political Zionism, what can be wrong with it? Anyone wishing Jews to be free to enter Palestine knows that governments must be dealt with and understandings negotiated. Or are there some so naive as to approve of results but not of the only means for attaining them?
  • The idea that Zionism is essentially racist is only consistent with the view that all nationalism is a form of racism. In that case all states that claimed to be based on nationalism would need to be removed as well. Anti-Zionism, however tends to argue one or some of the following ideas:
    (a) Jews are not a nation
    (b) Jews are only identifiable by attachment to Judaism as religion
    (c) there is only tenuous evidence linking Jews to Torah historical accounts
    (d) the Jews come from Eastern Europe, not the Middle East
    (e) Jews are not a homogeneous group
    (f) Jews have collaborated with oppressors (Imperialism, the Nazis)
    (g) Zionism inevitably means oppressing the Palestinians.
    There are of course other views. These arguments all lead to an uncomfortable position that whereas all other self-declared nationalisms have validity, the Jews have no such claims. Yet in different ways the arguments about Zionism can be easily adopted to almost all other national situations. Yet no one asks ‘So exactly how is it that you are Australian?’ This question is posed to Jews a great deal. While there are honorable Anti-Zionist positions they are few. On the whole Anti-Zionism is close to, or a mask for, Anti-Semitism.

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