Eitan Bergman

Am Segula

EUJS Campaign: Theodor and I - Zionism & Young European Jews
EUJS Campaign: Theodor and I - Zionism & Young European Jews

Bashana Haba’a Be’Yerushalaim. For two thousand years, every Jew has said this phrase at least once a year, during Pesach. This was always a dream. But since 1948, this dream has become a reality. Yet, here we are, 75 years and a dozen wars later.

In his book The Jewish State, Theodor Herzl expressed a vision. But while there were many Zionists before him and after him, Herzl was the right person at the right moment. Around his period, Dreyfus was wrongfully convicted in Paris and antisemitism was gaining more and more ground across Europe. Aliyot had already begun, youth groups such as Hashomer Hatzaïr had established Kibbutzim in what would be Eretz Israel. Eliezer Ben Yehuda was already reviving the Hebrew language and Montefiore was leading the way towards a modern Israel. The reality of a Jewish State was not a dream anymore, it was already becoming a reality.

Once Ben Gurion declared independence in 1948, no challenge seemed impossible. Who would have imagined that Israel would become a beacon of hope, a flourishing democracy, a prosperous nation and a welcoming home for millions of people?

However, there is a blemish. 

The political decisions about the Territories following the Six-Day War have badly damaged the Zionist dream. The oppression of another people and the occupation of territories has ultimately taken the Jewish people away from being ‘Am Segula’. Just as Ben Gurion warned from Sde Boker, the kibbutz in the Negev where he was spending his final days. 

Today, Bibi’s conceptual system has become Israel’s reality and pushed the nation, the dream, to the brink of destruction.

However, I am proud. 

I am proud of what the Jewish people have accomplished in only 75 years. 

I am proud of what Israel has accomplished in only 75 years.

I am proud of being a Zionist. 

I am proud of those fighting for freedom, justice and democracy. 

And I want to remain proud. 

I want my brothers and sisters to live in peace with their neighbors and to live freely in a country where the rights of everyone are respected, no matter their religious beliefs, sexual identity or political background. 

This is my wish for Israel’s 75th birthday; simply because these are Jewish values and these are the values that fueled Theodore Herzl, David Ben Gurion, Yitzhak Rabin, Golda Meir and many more pioneers who dedicated their lives to making this dream come true.

More than ever, I am a proud Zionist. And if I no longer have to dream of having a Jewish State like my ancestors did, I still hope. I hope for the day when we, the Jewish people, that have overcome so many disasters, challenges, and sadness, will be, Am Segula. 

Am Israel Chai!

This blog has been submitted as part of a wider campaign, which is being run by the European Union of Jewish Students (EUJS) entitled “Theodor & I – Zionism and Young European Jews”. Being launched on Yom Haatzmaut, the campaign seeks to start a discussion on Zionism, towards challenging the existing conversation surrounding the concept and ultimately highlighting the plurality of Jewish European identity and Zionism.

The opinions represented in these blogs do not necessarily reflect the position and views of EUJS.

About the Author
Eitan Bergman, born in Liège, Belgium, is the Executive Director of the European Union of Jewish Students (EUJS), the umbrella organization of Jewish student unions in 36 countries across Europe. He is an elected Executive member and Secretary General of the umbrella organization of the Belgian Jewish community, the Coordination Committee of Jewish Organizations in Belgium (CCOJB) and a member of the World Jewish Congress Jewish Diplomatic Corps (WJC JDCorps). He holds a bachelor's degree in Political Science and a Master's degree in International Relations (specializing in peace, security and conflicts) from the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB).
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