Ethnicity must supersede religion in Zionist rationale

In the years following the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020 and arguably earlier, an identity politics and social justice creed has emerged in the West which paints a rigid hierarchy of perceived oppression. Having experienced the greatest lost proportional to population number in recent history, Jews have gone from genocide in Europe and ethnic cleansing in the Middle East to a ranking of highest privilege according to this hierarchy. This creed often dictates to Jews who we are, conveniently divorcing us from our connection to Israel in the name of anti-Zionism. This forced disconnect – and one which even many Jews unfortunately support – operates by portraying Jews as merely followers of a common religion who share no connection otherwise, certainly to exclude any shared ancestry in the region of modern Israel.

Zionist Jewish Harvard PhD student Genia Lukin rightly dismisses the debunked Khazar theory as an attempt to delegitimize Ashkenazim as an alleged Turkic (conveniently translated in today’s atmosphere as “white European”, given the proximity to Russia) people with no genetic connection to the Middle Eastern people who arose in what was once called Canaan to become the Jews. However, she bases her Zionist rationale largely on biblical principles and Jewish scripture. Given the rise of atheism in this wave of alleged progressivism that has overtaken the West’s elite institutions amid the post-October 7 Israel-Hamas war, religious rationale for Jews returning to their ancestral homeland doesn’t really fly – nor does it have to. Indeed, Harvard itself has released genetic studies on specifically Ashkenazi ancestral roots in the Middle East.

Similarly, archaeological records have consistently proven Jewish history in Israel, from the Dead Sea Scrolls to texts discovered at the Elah Fortress. When considered alongside genetic roots, this evidence indicates ongoing Jewish presence in the land long before what has now widely been deemed modern Zionism. In reality, Zionism in the original sense of the desire for a Jewish homeland in historical Judea has never stemmed from religion alone. We see this in the support the secular majority of US Jews has for Israel.

While people can convert to the Jewish faith, the Jewish community has maintained its core identity as an ethnic group that eventually developed a shared religion. We need not legitimize Zionism using “divine right” or insisting that most Jews in Israel are Mizrahi, therefore, not white Ashkenazi colonizers, based on the victimhood hierarchy’s denigration of anything related to Europe. Perhaps anti-Zionism wouldn’t have skyrocketed, had Israel been established by Mizrahim rather than Jews fleeing Europe and received no Western aid since – but it’s far too late to wonder now. Instead, Jewish Zionists can point out that Ashkenazim never lost their cultural longing for their Middle Eastern homeland, as evidenced by the Hebrew element of Yiddish and Pesach’s moniker “Next year in Jerusalem”. Add to this genetic ancestry in the Middle East, and Ashkenazim are no different from the Roma people who migrated long ago from India to settle in Europe in response to the Islamic conquests.

We can’t help if the naysayers don’t want to accept that Zionism by definition does not require expulsion of non-Jews from the historical Jewish homeland. Nonetheless, let’s not empower the anti-Zionist social justice and Islamic nationalist shared demand that we “Go back to Poland” by championing religion as the foundation of the Jewish connection to Israel.

About the Author
Sarah Katz is an author, screenwriter, and security professional with a bachelor degree in Middle East Studies from UC Berkeley and a master degree in counterterrorism. Her work has appeared in the Jewish Journal and Middle East Forum as well as Cyber Defense Magazine, Cyber Security, Dark Reading, Geopolitical Monitor, Infosecurity Magazine, ISACA Journal, 365 tomorrows, AHF Magazine, Scarlet Leaf Review and Thriller Magazine. Her book "Back to the Tribe: Intersectionality through a Global Jewish Lens" discusses the dangers of stealth antisemitism masquerading as anti-Zionism on the Western left.
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