The word Zionism these days connotes imagery that is, to say the least, not congruent at all with the beliefs of true Zionists. It has been distorted and grotesquely transformed by those who seek to demonize and delegitimize Israel and, as a result of the PR campaign they have launched over the years, it is now associated with terror and brutalization. While it may seem that Israel’s least worry at this point is the semiotics and semantics of the ideology on which it is founded, it is instrumental to Israel’s prosperity and its reputation in the international domain that the way people perceive Zionism undergoes an axiomatic shift. The prevalence of people who hold the belief and assert with conviction that Zionism equates to Nazism or some form of totalitarianism is astonishing and frightening. That is why it is time to remind the world that Zionism, at its very core, is a form of Humanism, grounded in the fundamental tenet of self-determination and national volition.
Zionism centres around the collective free will of the Jewish people and the project they have rightfully undertaken to build a state of their own. It is about deriving existential gratification from a communal endeavour that transcends the scope of day-to-day life. It is about the responsibility of human beings to take destiny into their own hands and to use their agency to sough the seeds of change.
Zionism is one of the most remarkable demonstrations of human tenacity and resilience. Fulfilling the age-old dream of constructing a nation-state firmly entrenched in the desire to be a free and self-governing people- unequivocally ensured the right to dignified lives- is an unparalleled diplomatic, political and anthropological accomplishment. Resurrecting an obsolete language spoken centuries ago and making a barren dessert bloom all contribute to the miraculous power of Zionism. Zionism is about the will of the Jewish people to never again be subjugated or oppressed and to never again have to rely on others to be in control of their safety, their lives and their futures. Zionism is about mastering fate and fostering constant progress.
Many try to depict Zionism as a worldwide conspiracy, using the same primitive Anti-Semitic rhetoric used in the blood libels, the pogroms and the Holocaust and masquerading it behind a new façade. Many try to posit that Zionism is an imperialist and colonialist movement which revolves around an underlying desire for more and more land to be absorbed into the borders of Israel. Any empirical evidence completely substantiates the contrary; Israel’s borders have only shrunk over the years. In fact, Zionists are not interested in more land but in having their land respected. They are tired of the double standards, of the disputes pertaining to their homeland’s legitimacy and their right to inhabit it. They want boundaries they can feel secure within and they want to stop being bombarded with rockets by one of several terrorist organizations who simply feel the need to maintain the popular Jew-hating image that they have gained so much traction with.
So let us re-evaluate Zionism and look at it for what it really is. Zionism is the quintessential humanist quest. It is about improving life and living standards. It is about eradicating hatred and intolerance and not allowing exogenous forces to dictate one’s lifestyle. It is about taking back what was once taken away and stating with confidence and with integrity that it will never be taken again away.
Those who bash Zionism and those who transmute its meaning misrepresent and disrespect the universal cause of human beings to live proud lives that are full of meaning and purpose. They fail to understand the human condition and to take into consideration the dialectical nature of human experience and history.