I have found a huge discrepancy between those who I would classify as small z, and Big Z – Zionists. A small z – Zionist is someone whom if asked, would claim to support Israel, they might even vacation in Tel Aviv or make Aliyah, but they rarely will advocate on Israel’s behalf, they won’t feel proud when an Israeli start up is sold for a billion dollars and when asked about anything political, they will side against Israel without really understanding the situation.
A Big Z – Zionist is someone who despite their political views, will tell all their friends about all the innovative things happening in Israel, defend Israel against all of the outrageous anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism happening across the world and feel proud about all the advances that Israeli society makes.
I find huge inspiration in people like Alan Dershowtiz and Irwin Cotler. Although I have much admiration for them on a personal level, I think their behaviour as Jews should be emulated and praised in the diaspora community. Cotler is a liberal while Dershowitz writes letters praising Obama and has made declarations of how if he was Israeli, he would volunteer for B’Tselem.
Both law professors despite not being “right wingers” by anyone’s definition are committed Big Z – Zionists actively seeking to help the Jewish state. When they have an opportunity to advocate on behalf of Israel, they do it. When they have the opportunity to defend Israel, they do it. When they have the opportunity to condemn someone wronging Israel, they do it.
Dershowitz and Cotler do not do this because they are Jewish and as a result blinded by their allegiances, but because it matches their worldview and is the right thing to do. Both individuals have contributed towards tremendous advancements for the Jewish people and for humanity as a whole.
Israel is a liberal democracy in conflict with countries and peoples with literally close to zero regard for Western values. Even if one accepts nearly every charge against Israel and stands firmly against it politically, it would still be a utopia compared to the other side (the side that is tacitly endorsed and ignored when attacking Israel).
Where I come from, if someone is a communist, supports terrorism or openly hates America, there views will almost instantly be dismissed. The one exception is if they are criticizing Israel, then their views are suddenly legitimized. Ask a Maoist such as Norman Finklestein what he thinks about a place like Canada, or Australia and I’m sure you will have a tome with the same vitriol against these countries as you find with Israel; the only difference is that there is no market of rabid activists for him to criticize these places.
In my time in Israel, I have had many encounters with members of the Meretz Party and executives of organizations like Peace Now and each time I come out pleasantly surprised to see how almost all of these people are Big Z – Zionists. Regardless of how much one hates the occupation, or thinks that Avigdor Lieberman is evil or does not want war with Iran, nearly everyone in Israel cares about and loves their country. This type of support simply does not exist outside of Israel. Find a Jew or someone with soft support of Israel that dislikes their government and I think that it will be very rare for them to reject the Goldstone report, to be concerned that the leader of the Palestinians wrote his PHD about holocaust denial or be scared about a nuclear Iran.
Canadians do not have to think about politics before acting patriotic. The same way that a person from Spain does not evaluate Canada’s actions in Somalia or treatment of Aboriginal people before stating if they like Canada or not, of if they would travel there on vacation. No country or people should be faced with something like this, but Israel does and it is very damaging.
Israel is constantly bombarded from attacks by dozens of countries and hundreds of millions of people who absolutely loathe it. I have dedicated much of my life to learning about the Israel’s political situation and I can barely grasp it.
The reason why this issue persists is twofold: (1) the average person does not comprehend the political situation and (2) they are constantly being told about all the horrible things Israel “does” while almost never hearing the other side of the story. Many of my peers, despite moving to Israel and being intelligent people, admit that they have strong views about/against Israel’s actions without having any idea of what the Israeli perspective or argument are on these matters.
I have no idea how to change the situation, but I hope the future sees more Irwin Cotlers and Alan Dershowtizs.