Thursday, March 3, 2011

Better late than never.

Taking Back Zionism…that’s what the party was called. It was put on by Birthright Israel Alumni in the beginning of February in New York. The party and the concept sound great!

"[W]e have handed over the word [Zionism] to those who attack and distort it." ~ Rebecca Sugar, Birthright Alumni Director on February 1, 2011.

"Contemporary discourse seeks to narrowly define Zionism and attack it by limiting its scope," campaign organizers wrote on the website. "We refuse to accept others' definitions and misrepresentations. We seek to Take Back Zionism and define it in our own terms, as a young generation who loves Israel."

Wow! Them’s fightin’ words! I have some questions first… Who took Zionism away from you? Who did you hand it to and why?

The way I understand part of the statement is that there is a wish to make Jews Zionists again and redefine it into terms for a younger generation who do not know what Zionism is and who loves Israel.

Again…wow! Shai Baitel (Bet El?) defined it nicely; “Zionism is the legitimate aspiration of the Jewish people to live in peace in their own country. At the beginning it was an almost romantic but pained longing for Zion, for Jerusalem and today it is the continuing effort to building the future of Israel. People from all walks of life and political convictions came together to work on the Jewish national project. Zionism was the national project, the impetus, the driving force to create the State of Israel.”

I don’t know about anyone else, but that seems to provide and understandable and appropriate definition to me, and probably to most others who believe in the Jewish State of Israel.

I agree that this meaning has been lost to so many, and the concept is foreign to many Jews outside of Israel -and even to some in Israel. So if there is a redefinition needed, this is going to take some serious R&D, especially regarding Israel and the Jewish people today.

Those who “attack and distort” Zionism today include pretty much all of the Arab nations and the majority of the Arab people, much of the Muslim population of the world, the majority of Europeans, many others and I am sorry to say, many Jewish people today.

It is obvious Birthright wishes to connect Jews once again with Israel, especially now with the majority of the world rising up against Israel, havoc breaking loose among Israels’ neighbors, and anti-Jewish remarks becoming the norm to come out of Hollywood.

That is quite the challenge: to take back Zionism, redefine it, and make it acceptable to the “young generation”.

I think I can save some time in the process…no need to redefine it; it works, always has.

In my travels and various speaking events among the different walks of the diverse Jewish community, both young, old, and in between, I have seen how Zionism was not given away, but was stolen away. By using the tools of deceit and manipulation, this once cherished value of mainstream Judaism was disguised, distorted and eventually morphed into the limited and faint dream it is today.

I call Birthright as my first witness… Birthright trips do not even attempt to go the historical sites of the Jewish people in Judea and Samaria, our heartland no less. Citing politics as the reason, sometimes throwing in the “danger” card, this wonderful organization has been an accomplice to the same crime they wish to amend. They have helped accommodate a physical and mental “Disengagement” from Jewish heritage and history. The derogatory and wrongful use of the term “Settler” has been applied to all of those living beyond the “Green Line”.

Playing into the hands of political parties and enemies who oppose the existence of the State of Israel, Birthright, despite its good and noble intentions, has helped distort “Zionism” today.

Various Mainstream Jewish Religious “Leaders”… have decided that if Jews are not “Orthodox” then they should be on the “Left Wing” of Israeli politics, and have kept their flocks from visiting and experiencing the places that are part of who we are today. Events and Itineraries have been manipulated into a podium for those who only share a one-sided, often biased outlook regarding our connection to the Land of Israel.

So many non-Orthodox Jews today feel that they are a minority if they support a Jewish presence or right to live in Judea and Samaria, or the meaningful Zionism mentioned above. Despite that, there are still many strong Zionist Jews in these congregations. Many of their leaders have adopted a post-Zionist approach and side now with the likes of J-Street, Meretz and other similar groups. The list can go on and on. It's far from what Camp Ramah and USY used to teach.

Yes, BirthRight Israel, take back Zionism, but also stop letting it get stolen from you, stop letting it be kept from you, open your eyes, it is right in front of you, it has not changed, insist on seeing your history, your heritage the next time you are in Israel. Zionism is alive and well.

Chazak v’Ametz (Strength and Courage)!

If you need, I would be honored to assist. I’m listed….

1 comment:

  1. Zionism is the most beautiful word in the dictionary! Am Yisroel Chai!!