Zionism is not an ideology it is an integral part of our Jewish identity. There is a reason we say the Torah will come out of Zion – כי מציון תצא תורה – and that we will rebuild the Temple in Zion – יבנה המקדש עיר ציון תמלא.
I was recently at a Friday night panel discussion at the IAC summit in Hollywood, Florida. A non-Jewish friend of mine, Virag Gulyas, who is one of the strongest voices of truth for Israel online, filmed me as I asked a question at the end of the session.
The title of the session was “Should Jewish Historians stand behind Zionism”. The session featured Professor Gur Alroey, Director of the Ruderman Program for American Jewish Studies in Haifa University and it was moderated by David Suissa, Editor-in-Chief of Tribe Media/Jewish Journal.
Professor Alroey’s presentation, while strongly pro-Zionist, was clear in his opinion that Zionism is an ideology and therefore not something to be supported by Jewish historians. What he meant was that the role of historians is to follow up on historical data and documents, but not support ideologies.
I felt that it was critically important to point out to the audience that the modern perspective of Zionism only as a modern political-ideological movement is flawed, and actually very dangerous since it is confuses many Jews today.
Zionism is not an ideology but part of our Jewish identity. This is an argument I have with people all the time on social media who say that Zionism has nothing to do with Judaism, hence a Jew can be anti-Zionist. I always counter saying that that approach is totally wrong. Zion refers to a Biblical term for Jerusalem. The Jewish connection to our ancestral homeland, together with the Jewish self-determination to live as sovereign in our homeland, is part of our identity and hence there is no separating “Zionism” from our Jewish identity as Jews.
Zion is a part of our Jewish identity! A Jew who is anti-Zionist, is one who denies his authentic Jewish identity. The Jewish people originate from our homeland Judea, hence we are called Jews. Therefore it is due to our identity as Jews that we have Jewish self-determination to live in our historic homeland. It is one and the same.
While Professor Alroey was correct that it was the modern political Zionist movement, of mostly secular Jews, who brought about the establishment of the State of Israel, my point is that continuous pigeon-holing of Zionism to just refer to the modern political movement is doing tremendous harm to Jews today. Many Jews, especially young Jews, today believe that Zionism only refers to the modern political movement are being deprived from understanding that true Zionism is a key inseparable part of our Jewish identity.
Don’t miss the wonderful summary of moderator David Suissa at the end of the video, who sums it up brilliantly.