Richard Marceau

I Am A Zionist

I was recently asked by young Jews how to deal with the attempts to ‘dirty’ the word ‘Zionism’, especially on campus.

Indeed, since the beginning of Israel’s response to Hamas’ atrocities, Jews around the world have been under pressure – or should I say intimidated? – to distance themselves from Israel and the concept of Zionism itself.

I refuse.


I proclaim my Zionism loudly.

I am a Zionist because I believe that the Jewish people, like any other nation, has a right to self-determination. That the State of Israel has a right to exist. As that right is still contested, Zionism’s mission is not over.

My support for Zionism is actually getting stronger when I see how, despite the tremendous difficulties, Israel is fighting a horrible war in the most humane way possible, implementing more measures to prevent civilian casualties than any other nation in history – including the US and Canada.

My belief in Zionism stems from the fact that Jews are done with being eternal victims. Over are the days when Jews were objects of history, not actors of history. Yes, that means tough decisions have to be made. And no one can bat 1,000. But Zionism is the very opposite of the dominant current pathos – at least in the West – which too often feels like the Olympics of victimhood. As Aviva Klompass put it, the world is having a really hard time absorbing the notion that the slaughter of Jews no longer goes unanswered. Get used to it.

Golda Meir once said: “The world hates a Jew who hits back. The world loves us only when we are to be pitied.” Not for me, thank you very much.

I am a Zionist because Zionism allows every Jew – secular, Reform, Conservative or Orthodox; Ashkenazi, Mizrachi or Ethiopian; born Jew or Jew-by-choice; politically progressive, liberal or conservative; white, black, brown, yellow or a mix – the space to build the society we wish to build. Yes, it can make for robust if not exhausting debates. But we are richer, stronger and more united because of these very same debates, especially at a time when so many others in the Middle East are denied this most basic and alienable of rights.

I am on Team Zionism because Zionism is the most inspiring and successful liberation movement in the history of mankind.

As my friend Arsen Ostrovsky wrote: “It is a story of hope, courage and resilience; an ancient people returning and rebuilding their ancestral homeland. For 3,000 years, Jews had been subject to persecution, pogroms and, ultimately, the Holocaust, but we never gave up hope. We refused to succumb to hatred and despair. Fueled by faith, determination, our time-hallowed traditions and belief in Zionism, we re-established a thriving state based on the ideals of liberty, democracy, the rule of law and Jewish values.”

I support Zionism as, far from being a ‘settler-colonial ideology’, it is the most successful example of an indigenous nation returning to its ancestral lands. Think about it: Israel bears the same name as 3,000 years ago, speaks the same language (Hebrew) as 3,000 years ago, worships the same God as 3,000 years ago and inhabits the same land as 3,000 years ago.

As a practicing Jew, I believe in Zionism as “the beginning of the flowering of our redemption”, as the Prayer for the State of Israel I recite every Shabbat in synagogue states.

As a democrat, I believe in Zionism as Israel has built a democracy – imperfect yes, but show me one perfect democracy – in a region where it is completely absent, despite being surrounded by many neighbours who wish nothing more than to see it disappear.

I believe in Zionism because I am a Jew.

You may throw the word ‘Zionist’ as an insult, as a substitute for the word ‘Jew’ to hide your antisemitism.

Sorry, not sorry.

I wear that word proudly.

I am a Zionist.

About the Author
A former Member of Canada's Parliament and a lawyer, Richard now works as Vice President & General Counsel for the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. He is the author of A Quebec Jew: From Bloc Québécois MP to Jewish Activist for which he received the Helen and Stan Vine Canadian Jewish Book Award. He co-edited the Canadian Haggadah Canadienne which received positive acclaim in Canada and worldwide.
Related Topics
Related Posts