Zionism is not just supporting the State of Israel, it is the recognition of the
historical connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel. This
connection is critical for understanding the state as the basis upon which a
third Jewish commonwealth/ civilization is being created.
important factor in the creation of the state is the Shoah. It has shaped the
consciousness of every Jew, in one way or another, and it is an open wound. The
rise of Jew-hatred and its proxy, opposition to Israel, is a constant reminder
that Jews are still vulnerable.
In response to the Shoah, Jews took three
First, there was an attempt – primarily by Hassidim and
haredim (ultra- Orthodox) – to recreate the Jewish world that was
Second was the creation of a sovereign state that would be able to
rescue Jews and have the ability to defend itself.
The third response was
to assimilate, in varying degrees; building secular or “traditional” Jewish
lifestyles and culture, or, in extreme cases, abandoning any connection to
Judaism and the Jewish people.
Zionism stepped into the breach by
inviting everyone to participate – even, for many, without cost or
It became a substitute for Judaism, allowing identification
with a Jewish cause that had meaning without demands or restrictions. It was not
only a big tent, but the fulfillment of a dream, and even a model for redemption
– so critical after the Shoah.
Paradoxically, however, Zionism’s success
was also a source of Jew-hatred and jealousy – especially as Islamists,
jihadists, etc., became more powerful, and Jew-hatred mixed with anti-Zionism
and opposition to Israel’s existence.
Portraying modern Zionism as a
response to the long history of Jewish persecution and vulnerability is
understandable, especially in the aftermath of the Shoah. But Zionism is rooted
in a more profound Biblical and historical basis which was expressed in the
First and Second Temple periods, Jewish independence and self-determination with
political and religious institutions.
These eras are marked as Jewish
commonwealths, or civilizations; they could not have developed without Jewish
sovereignty, a vibrant Jewish culture and a strong Jewish army.
Zionism – self-determination of the Jewish people in its ancient homeland –
developed in the 20th century it was based on three essential elements of
civilization and national identity: land, language and literature – Eretz
Yisrael, Hebrew and Torah, the Bible (Tanach), Talmud and subsequent
Jewish-based writing on the subject.
In 1948, these elements coalesced in
the establishment of the State of Israel.
This event was dominated by a
war of survival, followed by many mini-wars which threatened the state’s
existence. As a nation-state, Israel’s history has been seen through the lens of
its politics, economic struggles and technological and medical achievements. But
it is much more.
Israeli sovereignty and modern Zionism laid the basis
for the third Jewish commonwealth: a political entity and Jewish civilization
and culture. The revival of the Hebrew language was a major force for unifying
many different groups of Jews. The discovery of ancient Jewish historical sites
lends authenticity to Jewish texts and traditions and provides a connection to
Jewish identity that binds Jews to the Land of Israel.
democracy and the values of Western civilization, Israel is a lone beacon of
enlightenment in a dark sea of Arab/Muslim totalitarianism and repression.
Shortly after the state was established, Jewish communities in every Arab state
were uprooted; those who were not slaughtered escaped a systematic ethnic
cleansing. This expulsion, however, although traumatic, was also part of a
prophetic vision of Ingathering – and it continues.
Jewish nationhood and
Jewish sovereignty, therefore, has created a new paradigm: it is basis for the
third Jewish civilization.
Jewish sovereignty implies one state with
sovereignty from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean with semiautonomous
enclaves of Arabs who enjoy civil and human rights either as citizens of Israel,
Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, or another country.
This conforms to
international law as set forth in the League of Nations, British Mandate, UN
Charter and international treaties and agreements. It ensures the security and
stability of the region and is the only logical basis for future development of
all inhabitants of what is called the Land of Israel, or
Unlike all other forms of nationality, Jewish sovereignty is
based upon a long and well-developed history, centered around the First and
Second commonwealths that existed millennia ago. Jewish sovereignty is not just
a political form, but the expression of social, religious and economic
institutions upon which good government and democracy rest.
sovereignty is not about power, but principles and values shared by all
enlightened countries. Based on authenticity – history, archeology and culture –
it includes transparent, open and viable institutions. And it is based on a
vision – not of domination, but of creativity and freedom. It is based on a
society in which one can fulfill his/ her potential, rather than become a
Jewish sovereignty – the basis for Jewish civilization,
the third commonwealth – is inclusive, yet rooted in Jewish history, traditions
and culture – and Jewish law. That does not mean a halachic state – for which we
are unprepared – but a state which respects and understands the Jewish legal
system and the society which produced it. This is the basis for a Jewish
We are, however, only beginning to understand the meaning
and significance of Jewish sovereignty and Jewish civilization. Much work needs
to be done by artists, writers, philosophers, jurists, academics and
intellectuals. We need to think creatively how to make this work not only as
practical solutions to everyday problems, but as a monument to human achievement
and ingenuity. This is the challenge to new concepts of Zionism.
sovereignty, therefore, is the vessel in which a rebirth of Jewish civilization
is nurtured and flourishes, and one that will enhance world civilization. It is
not the symbol of power, but of Presence – of Shechina – the majesty of
PALESTINIANISM Those who object to extending Jewish sovereignty
because it denies Arabs living in Judea and Samaria and many in Israel political
statehood, fail to ask a simple question: will
it be a force for peace, or war? Creating another Arab Palestinian state west of
the Jordan River endangers the survival of the Jewish people in Eretz Yisrael.
This reality cannot be ignored.
Independent evaluation by experts, such
as the World Bank, according to which the PA is an economic failure and
“unsustainable” is a wake-up call.
This assessment is in addition to the
PA’s political and social failure, its glorification of terrorists, constant
incitement and promotion of violence.
The obvious conclusion, therefore,
is that the “two-state solution” as envisioned by those who created the Oslo
Accords and those who still support it, is not possible.
descent of the Arab world into chaos, terrorism and instability directly
threatens Israel’s security.
Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel is
not only an alternative to this regional disaster; it is the basis for a
realistic solution, one that offers affirmations of hope and
For Arab Palestinians that means integration and equality in
Arab countries, and/or peaceful coexistence.
Jewish sovereignty insists
that Jews are not interlopers in the Land of Israel: this is the “Jewish
national home.” Jewish sovereignty is the basis of ingathering of Jews from
around the world and building a new civilization that will be a source of
imagination and creativity, a model of human achievement, rekindling the flame
of enlightenment that has guided civilization, and one that nurtures the destiny
of the Jewish people in its homeland.