Giada Biondini

If I am not for me, who is for me?

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

Theodor Herzl, in his book “Der Judenstaat”, wrote: “Next year in Jerusalem! It is our ancient word. Now it is a question of showing that a thought as clear as day can be born from a dream.”

The cultural differences between Jews and other groups has caused intolerance and hatred that has even led to death, and thus we trace the birth of antisemitism.

In response to all of this, Herzl gave life to Zionism, a political movement that supports the right of Jews to live in the Land of Israel. He elaborated a “rebellion” project against the so-called European mentality: backbiting, hatred, violence, the index of prohibited books, forced conversions, pogroms. Jews have suffered through all of this because of their  “landlords” for centuries and, to avoid it, the Jewish people have fled from one place to another.

Herzl’s motto was “If you want it, it won’t be a dream”. This project only became a reality in 1948 with the foundation of the State of Israel.

Today it makes me smile to read how Herzl concluded “Der Judenstaat”: “Here it is Jews! No fable, no deception.”

Reflecting on Herzl’s work, the words of Rabbi Hillel thundered in my mind: “If I am not for me, who is for me? And if I’m only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?” (Pirkei Avot 1:14) which I argue is the perfect gist of what Herzl put into practice.

The State of Israel is the result of an emancipatory process that leads a part of the Jews to think of themselves in terms of community. This nation continues to pay in loss of human lives for its existence, the war of independence is still being fought today after 75 years.

When I go back to Israel, I always experience the same situation: I cry when I arrive and when I go back to my home in the Diaspora. Israel has always aroused a hurricane of beautiful emotions in me.

If once the six-pointed yellow star was a symbol of legalized discrimination, now the star of David, “Maghen David” (“Shield of David”) is the strength of all Jews, symbol of the flag of the State of Israel which embraces, for its base is people from the four corners of the world, looking with their heads held high, with a vigilant gaze, at what must never happen again.

 Now the Jews are no longer alone.

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.
About the Author
Giada Esther Hadar Biondini is a student of Jewish Studies at the Union of Jewish Communities of Italy, Member of the Federation of the Israel-Italy Associations and Volunteer for the Voluntary Association "Un Ponte per Anne Frank".
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