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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.


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".

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Reader comments (75) on this item

Title Commenter Date Thread
Is J-Street a neo-Bundist movement? [72 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
PezDispenserMar 23, 2015 06:54222464
Zionist now the 'PC' word for Jew [228 words]AndyOct 25, 2009 01:17163531
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Christian Zionism [17 words]Peter FosterSep 26, 2009 23:20162163
Christian ZIonist [768 words]Martin HoranSep 25, 2009 18:16162115
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Protocols of the fraudsters [2180 words]Martin HoranOct 29, 2009 21:03162115
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Jewish Christian? [3087 words]Martin HoranNov 24, 2009 20:50162115
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James and Churchill. [197 words]Martin HoranOct 14, 2011 19:29162115
Mr Pipes is right on..trying to make peace with a "crocodile" only gets your arm chopped off as you try to pet him. [117 words]Ben ZalmanSep 21, 2009 13:02161848
It's our Jewish youth that worries me. My Grandson didnt even know what "Zionism" means! [80 words]Ben ZalmanSep 21, 2009 12:48161847
I have changed my opinion over the years [636 words]sigmundSep 20, 2009 16:09161803
Liberalism as Religious Faith [177 words]Fay VoshellSep 8, 2009 13:53161264
Becoming very weary of Anglo Jews in the Democrat Party [129 words]James B from CanadaSep 15, 2009 13:53161264
James, unfortunately you forgot some major self hating players [185 words]saraSep 15, 2009 18:02161264
Good Jew = Good Liberal ( but not when it comes to business) [162 words]James B from CanadaSep 16, 2009 08:05161264
2Why I am not a Zionist anymore [1009 words]Marc FeldmanSep 7, 2009 10:32161199
Are ashkenazi jews real jews? [87 words]ShaharOct 19, 2009 05:58161199
I am pro-Israel, but I am not a Zionist. [122 words]Marc FeldmanOct 20, 2009 18:48161199
taking care of "the beloved" [94 words]Michele EzellSep 4, 2009 15:08161068
Who tries the hearts [91 words]Michele EzellOct 4, 2009 15:35161068
about hearts [91 words]MicheleJan 15, 2010 06:28161068
Proud Zionist [68 words]SBSep 1, 2009 20:50160947
Never prouder to be a Jewish Zionist [11 words]Jon KleinmanSep 20, 2009 20:04160947
Are all supporters of Israel Zionists? [205 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
LouisAug 28, 2009 19:17160744
Zionism should be historical. Call it Israeli nationalism or simply Pro-Israel. [139 words]Marc FeldmanOct 22, 2009 18:52160744
Allah against the Palestinians and muslims [64 words]Christian MohamadAug 24, 2009 17:10160600
1Sorry Christian Mohamad... [124 words]DillahSep 20, 2009 16:16160600
Beheadings [124 words]Christian MohamadSep 23, 2009 08:11160600
Yes and he also said... [22 words]LynnSep 23, 2009 10:17160600
imams Were able to fool the Muslims and non muslims [189 words]01SpSep 29, 2009 08:25160600
In Response to Christian Mohamad [918 words]DillahOct 8, 2009 00:37160600
European Koran [316 words]Krisitian MohammedOct 9, 2009 01:42160600
You can't erase the past. [197 words]LynnOct 12, 2009 12:42160600
which Mohammad you are talking about ? [43 words]New QuranOct 14, 2009 00:10160600
New Quran [428 words]LynnOct 20, 2009 09:13160600
RE: to Krisitian Mohamad [303 words]DillahNov 11, 2009 19:17160600
Another victim of Islam and Arabinan imperialism [231 words]dhimmi no moreNov 12, 2009 08:08160600
A Spiritual Divide [251 words]Fay VoshellAug 24, 2009 10:54160590
??? [26 words]PavaAug 24, 2009 00:01160574
Clarifying definitions [146 words]Rebecca MouldsAug 21, 2009 09:34160490
Agree Rebecca- regarding Christian Zionists. [132 words]YnnatchkahAug 23, 2009 02:53160490
You Know Nothing About Christian Zionists [106 words]LogiconSep 3, 2009 09:59160490
Really??? [35 words]Rebecca MouldsSep 4, 2009 17:54160490
To Clarify [91 words]Michele EzellSep 4, 2009 21:04160490
References [29 words]Michele EzellSep 26, 2009 00:48160490
Zionism is not Judaism [41 words]Franz von FearAug 21, 2009 03:27160483
"Jews are adherents of a faith, not a political movement-"quote from your column [65 words]David ZoharAug 20, 2009 02:06160449
Jewish not the same as Pro-Israel [74 words]Yitzhak FiersteinAug 20, 2009 01:22160447
Note the Jews in the US congress. [180 words]M.D.Aug 19, 2009 17:37160435
1Tell it to the pro-Palestinians [72 words]Cheryl MAug 19, 2009 16:03160428
non-Christian Zionists [98 words]Anne JulienneAug 19, 2009 15:39160423
Zionism is not Judaism [64 words]Franz von FearAug 19, 2009 15:00160422
Are Kadima and Labour "Pro-Israel?" [48 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
informAug 19, 2009 14:50160421
Zionism and Judaism [97 words]Stefan MarcusAug 19, 2009 14:03160419
Zionism [55 words]Janusz KowealikAug 19, 2009 13:43160415
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Our enemies usually don't discriminate [142 words]sheik Yer'MamiAug 19, 2009 23:26160410
must take exception to one statement, "Jews are adherents of a faith, not a political movement" -- [37 words]MarkAug 19, 2009 09:24160409
Being Jewish is not synonymous with being Zionist [135 words]Margalit ShinarAug 19, 2009 07:10160403
Islamist "love" for Jews. [156 words]GenivaldoAug 18, 2009 17:50160376
Who is a Zionist? [103 words]Isaac FlaksAug 18, 2009 10:06160361
Who is a Zionist - Indeed! [489 words]M. ToveySep 3, 2009 19:04160361
Remember. [355 words]LynnAug 18, 2009 09:43160360
Interesting comment on Jews [97 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Debanjan BanerjeeAug 18, 2009 09:00160359
But aren't you . . . ? [116 words]RebekahAug 18, 2009 08:46160358
My Christian upbringing makes me a Christian Zionist ! [244 words]Phil GreendAug 17, 2009 23:31160341
I am not sure what the non-zionist Jews want or expect Israel to do. [27 words]Abu NudnikAug 19, 2009 13:44160341
the real israel [186 words]ayahSep 21, 2009 18:42160341
What bogus sources are you getting your info from I wonder [658 words]saraSep 22, 2009 18:38160341
An explanation to my views [960 words]ayahSep 23, 2009 01:07160341
Christian Zionism Requires Full Understanding of the Hebrew Holy Bible [521 words]M. ToveySep 23, 2009 17:02160341

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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".

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