Zionism isn’t just a Jewish movement – it is a movement that contributed to the benefit of the entire world. The identity of the earliest Zionists is a matter of debate; many consider Abraham following God’s command to “Go from your birthland to a different land,” to be the seminal moment of Zionism, others point to the first Zionist Conference in Basel, Switzerland to be the start of Zionism. Those moments focused on bringing the Jewish people to Eretz Yisrael, but the movement itself was never designed to only assist the Jewish people. Zionism raised the level of social rights, justice and morality in the world.
Thousands of years ago the Jewish people were charged with a vague command – to be a light unto the nations. This command inspired early Zionists to ensure they contributed not only to the Jewish people, but to the welfare of all people, Jewish, Arab, Muslim, Christian, that live in Israel. In its Declaration of Independence, Israel declared, “The State of Israel will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions.”
In the same Declaration of Independence, Israel followed Zionism’s values when it extended its hand in peace to Arabs both in and outside of Israel, “In peace we appeal, – in the very midst of the onslaught launched against us now for months – to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions. We extend our hand to all neighboring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighborliness, and appeal to them to establish bonds of cooperation and mutual help with the sovereign Jewish people settled in its own land. The State of Israel is prepared to do its share in a common effort for the advancement of the entire Middle East. It was on the foundation of Zionism that the State of Israel was led to make peace with Egypt, Jordan, The UAE, Bahrain, The Sudan and Morocco.
For two thousand years an injustice existed in the world. The Jewish people were prevented from returning to their homeland, and it was the nations of the world that often violently prevented the Jewish people’s return to their land. This injustice was a stain on the soul of the world. Knowing the Jewish people remained homeless while people after people, including Americans, Europeans and Arabs, established their own nations on lands throughout the world, was a justice not only delayed, but injustice perpetrated. Zionism gave the world the opportunity to restore justice to the Middle East by restoring the Jewish people to their historic homeland.
Worst of all was the immorality of the world in their treatment of the Jewish people. Like all other people, Jews have the right to self-determination. The withholding of Jewish self-determination was an act of immorality to the Jewish people. Israel’s Declaration of Independence referenced the consequences of denying the Jewish people self-determination, “The catastrophe which recently befell the Jewish people – the massacre of millions of Jews in Europe – was another clear demonstration of the urgency of solving the problem of its homelessness by re-establishing in Eretz-Israel the Jewish State, which would open the gates of the homeland wide to every Jew and confer upon the Jewish people the status of a fully privileged member of the comity of nations.” Zionism fought to add to the morality of the world.
Zionism is a movement that seeks peace. Looking back at the Israeli Declaration of Independence we see the priority of peace in Zionist ethos. Although peace has been denied to the Israeli people by its neighbors, Israel declared, “In the very midst of the onslaught launched against us now for months – to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions. We extend our hand to all neighboring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighborliness, and appeal to them to establish bonds of cooperation and mutual help with the sovereign Jewish people settled in its own land. The State of Israel is prepared to do its share in a common effort for the advancement of the entire Middle East.”
The world has greatly benefited from Zionism. Zionism is a value-driven movement that strives to build the perfect society. Never satisfied with the status quo, Zionists are always looking to improve the world around them. Zionism stands for justice, morality and peace, all values the world could use more of right now. While Zionism focuses on advocating for the Jewish people to determine their own destiny in its historic homeland, its values have improved the world.