What does it mean to be a Zionist? It's not a racist, that's for sure. It's not saying that I'm an exclusivist, either. What it means is that I belong to the modern national liberation movement of the Jewish people. It's to be a part of an 1,800 years old dream to rebuild the Jewish state of Israel after the destruction of the 2nd Temple which caused the expulsion of so many Jews. After all, we were led there by G-d in the days of Moses and were told that this was to be our home. Who dares argue with G-d? Many of us stayed away for 2,000 years and finally, with great effort and purpose, have made it back home. In 1948 our population was a little over 600,000, the same number that left Egypt with Moses that headed for our new home. We had Jews and ties with the land for more than 3,000 years from the time of Abraham. Jews speak their national language of Hebrew and have a distinct civilization. Resettlement in Israel has gone on for centuries. Beginning in 1881, Zionists were working on rebuilding their nation that was finally officially recognized in 1948.
Our history shows the need to have a national home to ensure our Jewishness of our Jewish people. After living in the diaspora for 2,000 years, many have assimilated into the surrounding culture and religions. I see this happening in my own life in the USA. After existing for centuries through fire and pogroms and near extinction, I'd rather die than see this happen.
What is Jewishness? Jews have a shared religion as well as culture and history. In our Jewish population we have people of all colors. We come from the European lands and are Ashkenazi Jews. We also come from the Middle East countries and are the Sephardic Jews. More than 100 countries make up Israel's populaton and are co-mingling again as a united nation.
Zionism is the Jewish people's sense of origin and destination in the land linked eternally with its name. Zionism is the fulfillment of the Jewish nation. Abba Eban wrote that he remembered something from 28 years ago: "When Arab armies had attacked Israel on the day of its birth, Andrei Gromyko said in the Security Council on May 21, 1948, that Arab military operations were "aimed at the suppression of a national liberation movement." They're still actively trying to do it 63 years later.
This is a time prophesized in the Bible of the return of Jews to Israel. Israel is even finding a return of some of the lost tribes of Israel as well. I was a part of the group of Jews who made Alliote to Israel in this return. Though I couldn't remain there, many others have been able to do so. I saw the return of Black Jews of Ethiopia who were said to be the remnant of the Queen of Sheba who had visited King Solomon. These people were practicing Judaim and lived in a very threatening environment. 42,000 Ethiopians came to Israel in three airlifts: Moses, Joshua and Solomon. Arriving in Israel barefooted and in white sheets, our community of Safed quickly took care of their needs and with donated clothing set up a boutique in an empty apartment where they could try on clothing. They seemed to be all artisans and put on an art display of their goods. I couldn't believe how quickly they integrated into our society and saw how capable they were in the supermarket. I worked with Jews from Morocco and Egypt and Russia, from America and England and Australia. My favorite female singer was a beautiful gal from Yemen, Oprah Hazah. I couldn't take my eyes off of the gorgeous women from India in their special clothing. It was thrilling to see people from all corners of the earth and to know that we were Jews with our own country once again. Every step we took was in a special piece of our land with a history that went back thousands of years.
The word "Zionism" was coined by Nathan Birnbaum in 1890. The United Nations tried to befoul Zionism by creating a resolution slandering it in 1975 by connecting it to racism. Chaim Herzog was Israel's ambassador to the UN then and noted that the vote came exactly 37 years after Kristallnact, (night of the broken glass) a terrible pogrom on Jews in Nazi Germany and Austria on November 9th and 10th 1938 which led to the Holocaust, the attempt of Nazis to kill all Jews in the whole world. That was such a ridiculous resolution being Israel's ingathering of the Jewish people from all the lands results in a showy bouquet of all colors and hues of people and is the very opposite of racism.
Israel's scrupulous insurance of all religions and political rights of Christians and Muslims, citizens of Israel as well, rebut the charge of the UN's exclusivism. They should attend a Knessett meeting and see for themselves that Israel is more democratic than many other countries and is the only democratic state in the Middle East. Again, this was a ridiculous unfounded attack on Israel.
We certainly as a people are entitled to our own homeland, and have one to return to. It was desolate and nothing but swamps and desert when our pioneers returned in the 1800's. It was nothing but a holding of the Ottoman Empire, used only by camels passing by, populated by a few Jews and Bedouins. Mark Twain wrote about it while on his "pleasure trip" in "The Innocents Abroad" which he writes of his impressions and sights in his descriptive manner. He mentions that he thought he had seen it with impartial eyes and was sure he had written at least honestly, whether wisely or not. It was as if the land were waiting for Jews to return to rebuild and turn it into a garden.
Martin Luther King said "When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. They are showing that they are really anti-semitic." To be a Zionist is to support Israel's existence. I hope others find they are Zionists as well.
The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain
Jewish Digest December 1975 "Myths & Facts on the Arab-Israel Conflict "Near East Report" page 5,6Jewish Digest January 1976 "Zionism and the United Nations by Abba Eban/Synagogue Council of America