1 readers online now  |  69 million page views

Why I am not a Zionist anymore

Reader comment on item: "Jewish" - Not the Same as "Pro-Israel"

Submitted by Marc Feldman (United States), Sep 7, 2009 at 10:32

I am a Jewish American from a traditional modern Orthodox background. I am proud of my heritage, I am dedicated to lifelong Torah learning and living a life consistent with Jewish values. I have tried to pass on these values to my children by trying to be a role model and by providing them with a Jewish day school education.

I am a 1974 graduate of the Hebrew Academy of Greater Washington. There I learned the precepts of Jewish living. I learned about gentle loving kindness toward all human beings from wonderful teachers like the beloved late Rabbi Philip Rabinowitz. I studied and celebrated my Bar Mitzvah at the Beth Shalom Congregation with Rabbi Mitchell Wohlberg, who taught me that there is no problem so new and different that the solution cannot be found within the thousands of years of Jewish history and wisdom. And, I learned a love and connection with the State of Israel, the first flower of the promised redemption of the Jewish people. I learned that Jews returned to an underdeveloped land and made the desert bloom. My teachers included survivors of the Holocaust, and former soldiers who fought for the Jewish State. They were Zionists, and I considered myself one of them.

Today, after the 60th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel, I do not consider myself a Zionist anymore. It is not because of a loss of faith in the mythology of Zionism. I was never taught that Palestine was "the land without a people for the people without a land." However, I know a lot more now than I knew then about the population of the land prior to 1948. The Arab world refers to the events of 1948 as the Nakba, the catastrophe. The reality of the Nakba cannot be denied. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were displaced from their homes. Hundreds of villages were destroyed. I understand that this was a war. War is terrible and invariably brings human suffering. This is not why I am no longer a Zionist.

There have been more revelations from the New Historians of the story of the beginnings of the Jewish State. Radical elements among the Zionists were responsible for acts of terrorism and assassination. The Deir Yassin massacre is something no Jew anywhere should be proud of. It should be taught as an example of the evil that men do in war. It should be taught in any discussion of the Israeli War of Independence. It is not, however, representative of how the Jews won the war. It is no justification for denying the right of Jews to live in Israel in peace today. This is not why I am no longer a Zionist.

The reason I do not consider myself a Zionist is not because of any failure of Zionism, but exactly because of its success. The essence of Zionism as a political movement is to bring about the establishment of a homeland for the Jewish People in Palestine. That war has been fought and won. The homeland has been established and is thriving. Zionism is now history. It makes about as much sense to be for or against Zionism as to be for or against German reunification, or for or against the American Revolution. Could someone say that they do not recognize the government of California as legitimate because they do not recognize the validity of the principles of Manifest Destiny?

A metaphor: A young woman went out for the evening with a group of her girlfriends. They were joined by her boss. He buys drinks for everyone. After too many drinks, she ends up at his apartment. She wakes up in the morning with little memory of the previous night's events. She leaves feeling that her boss took advantage of her. She accuses him of rape. He claims to be in love with her, and that everything that transpired was consensual. As a result, she became pregnant. She and her family wanted the pregnancy terminated. Because of shame and intimidation from her religious community, however, she continued the pregnancy to term. Her child was a reminder of her hurt, anger, and shame. She put the child up for adoption. This is a tragic situation.

One could ask the family "Does this child have a right to exist?" There is confusion in the question. Is the question "Is it right the way this child came into existence?" Is the question "would it have been better if the child was never born?" Or, is the question "Does this child, as a human being, have a right to live, in peace and security?" The issue of whether the pregnancy should have been terminated is a legitimate issue for discussion, but once the child is born, the question is moot.

The State of Israel is not a "Zionist entity". To say that Zionism is an active movement is to suggest that there is not already a legitimate Jewish homeland in Palestine. Israel is not an experiment. It is not a proposed project. It is a living, vibrant country. A country that governs its citizens, protects its population, and defends its borders. The legitimacy of a country does not come from the fairness and ethical behavior that led to its foundation. That is good, because otherwise there would be very few legitimate countries on the face of the Earth. As Barak Obama stated eloquently in Cairo "The Arab-Israeli conflict should no longer be used to distract the people of Arab nations from other problems. Instead, it must be a cause for action to help the Palestinian people develop the institutions that will sustain their state; to recognize Israel's legitimacy; and to choose progress over a self-defeating focus on the past"

I am Jewish, and I am pro-Israel. I am not a Zionist, because the goal of Zionism was fulfilled 60 years ago. It is time to stop debating national origins, and deal with the realities of today and the opportunities of tomorrow. I am not a Zionist because nobody is anymore.

Submitting....

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

Comment on this item

Mark my comment as a response to Why I am not a Zionist anymore by Marc Feldman

Email me if someone replies to my comment

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

See recent outstanding comments.

Follow Daniel Pipes

Facebook   Twitter   RSS   Join Mailing List
eXTReMe Tracker

All materials by Daniel Pipes on this site: © 1968-2020 Daniel Pipes. daniel.pipes@gmail.com and @DanielPipes

Support Daniel Pipes' work with a tax-deductible donation to the Middle East Forum.Daniel J. Pipes

(The MEF is a publicly supported, nonprofit organization under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code.

Contributions are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law. Tax-ID 23-774-9796, approved Apr. 27, 1998.

For more information, view our IRS letter of determination.)