Comparing and Contrasting Zionism from Its Classic definition to the True Jews’ Perspectives
Zionism refers to an international movement that was originally an establishment of Jewish religious community and nationals in Palestine and later to support modern Israel. Zionism was founded in 1896 by Theodor Herzl with the goal of returning Jews to Zion or Eretz Yisrael, the land of Israel and the Jewish synonym for Jerusalem. The term ‘Zionism’ is derived from Zion hill, where the temple of Jerusalem was located. The supporters of Zionism movement are called Zionists. Today, there exists a lot of confusion among the Jews as regards the meaning of Zionism term as it has different meanings to different people. This essay compares and contrasts the classic definition of Zionism to the perspective of True Torah Jews.
The classic definition of Zionism dated back to 1975 when the UN General Assembly equated it with racism after adopting a resolution slandering. Zionism is a national liberation movement for the Jewish people that posits that, like any other nations, Jews are entitled to their homeland. Chain Herzog, the Israeli ambassador to the US, in his spirited reaction to the UN resolution took note of the irony of the timing; that the vote came exactly 37 years following Kristallnacht (Elazar and Miriam, 443). History showcased the need to guarantee the security of Jewish people through national homeland. Zionism acknowledges that being a Jew is defined through shared religion, origin, history, and culture. Zionism had has the ultimate goal of supporting and creating a Jewish national state in Palestine which is the ancient homeland of the Jews. Although Zionism first originated in central and eastern Europe towards the end of the 19th century, it is a continuation of the attachment that the Jews had and that of the Jewish religion to the region of Palestine (historically) where of its ancient hill in Jerusalem was referred to as Zion.
One might think that the Jewish people will unite in support of Israel noting the vulnerability of Jews to oppressors over the centuries, exacerbated by absence of sanctuary given by a bona fide homeland. People have a variety of views concerning Israel, particularly American Jews. Jews hold different views concerning Israel and its access to the promised land, as well as the best way to carry on its relationship with Palestinian neighbors. Today, there is a lot of confusion when it comes to the meaning of Zionism. It has varying means for different people. The reason for the confusion is that historically, as a movement, Zionism was dominated by Jews of Secularist views. Herzl and majority of his colleagues were Jews that had been assimilated and hence they did not practice or believe the Torah. Some Zionists were utterly anti-religious and viewed the Torah and mitzvot as being outdated rituals that did not have a place in modern state. However, the importance of the Zionist idea; that Jews should go back to their original land and form a government, remains inherently secular. As a matter of fact, the Zionist movement incorporated religious members from the start.
Worth noting pertaining to the differing views on Zionism, on one end of the spectrum, some Jews utterly opposed the existence of Israel State. The True Torah anti-Zionist website is representative of this view. Friesel, 427, says “Zionism, by advocating a political and military end to the Jewish exile, denies the very essence of our Diaspora existence. We are in exile by Divine Decree and may emerge from exile solely via Divine Redemption. All human efforts to alter a metaphysical reality are doomed to end in failure and bloodshed. History has clearly borne out this teaching.” In a nutshell, the point asserts that since the Messiah is yet to consummate history like we know it, as such, as a state, Israel is a secular institution which does not have the foundation of Divine legitimacy.
On the other end of the spectrum is an organization founded in 1897 named the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), boasting a membership of 30, 000 and numerous officers across large cities in Israel and the United States. ZOA’s goal is to educate elected officials, the public, college students, and media concerning the truth of the relentless and ongoing war against Israel (Yadgar, 13). ZOA remains committed to the promotion of strong relations between Israel and the United States. The organization is also working to protect high school students and Jewish people from discrimination, intimidation, and harassment as well as generally fighting anti-Semitism. Despite a vast majority of Jews supporting Israel’s existence, there remains differing opinions concerning how the national existence of Israel should be sustained and whether there is a way to attain peace in the region. Even a telephone poll known as the Annual Survey of American Jewish Opinion, specially made by American Jewish Committee demonstrates this reality.
In closing, while the classic definition of Zionism is a bit different from the perspective of True Torah Jews, both definitions emanate from the same ideology; that Jews deserve to have an ancient homeland. It is an international movement that was originally an establishment of Jewish religious community and nationals in Palestine and later to support modern Israel. Today, there is a lot of confusion when it comes to the meaning of Zionism. It has varying mean for different people. The reason for the confusion is that historically, as a movement, Zionism was dominated by Jews of Secularist views.
Elazar, Gideon, and Miriam Billig. “Christian Zionists and Jewish settlers: the challenging and maintenance of religious boundaries.” Religion 51.3 (2021): 443-466.
Friesel, Evyatar. “Jews against Zionism/Israel: On the Ambivalences of Contemporary Jewish Identity.” An End to Antisemitism! (2019): 427.
Yadgar, Yaacov. Sovereign Jews: Israel, Zionism, and Judaism. SUNY Press, 2017.