In a recent conversation about Zionist values, the following argument was made to me, “The Jewish people were never meant to rule over another people and doing so contradicts all Zionist values.” This is a critique I receive frequently from Zionists upset with the current situation in Israel. Skipping the political side of the discussion, I’d like to focus on the use of power and whether Zionist values require limiting its power, especially over other peoples.
In 1956, a mere eight years after the Jewish people declared their Independence and the State of Israel was born, Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva University and a leading American Rabbi released an essay called, “Kol Dodi Dofek.” The essay was groundbreaking for American Jewry because its central message was that Israel’s Independence wasn’t natural, but an act of Divine Providence and it required American Jewry to respond.
The accusation that you can’t be a Zionist outside of Israel is often levied at Diaspora Jewry, but does the accusation have merit or does it misunderstand Zionism at its core? Understandably, many Diaspora Zionists find the notion that their Zionism is lacking because they don’t live in Israel to be offensive. Diaspora Zionists believe in Zionism’s principles and love Israel and her people just as much as anyone living in Israel, so why should their Zionism be discounted?
Zionism seeks to secure for the Jewish people a publicly recognized, legally assured homeland in Palestine. For the attainment of this purpose, the Congress considers the following means serviceable: (1) The promotion of the settlement of Jewish agriculturists, artisans, and tradesmen in Palestine. (2) The federation of all Jews into local or general groups, according to the laws of the various countries. (3) The strengthening of the Jewish feeling and consciousness. (4) Preparatory steps for the attainment of those governmental grants which are necessary to the achievement of the Zionist purpose.”
Every day since I’ve moved to Israel almost 8 years ago I’ve counted every day I’ve been blessed to live in Israel and on many days I post that day’s number with the hashtag #Livingthedream. Living in Eretz Yisrael isn’t only my dream, but it was my ancestor’s dream as well. I’ve tried to understand Eretz Yisrael and what makes living in Israel so special.Today’s Israel is a truly unique place. It is the only country in the world that hosts an ancient people who once called their land home, were exiled, and has now returned to its ancestral homeland to restart its nation. I’d like to recount three short stories to explain what I think makes this land so special – the people.