It’s Zionism Month! Time to proudly say ‘I am a Zionist’

When we scheduled Zionism Month for May 2016 we didn’t expect it would be quite so timely!

Ken Livingstone’s appalling slurs last week demonstrate how important it is to promote a proper understanding of Zionism td combat the way it has been turned into a pejorative smear by anti-Israel activists and anti-Semites.

It is time to stand up and loudly, proudly reject a public discourse by Israel’s enemies who define Zionism as a malign colonial or racist ideology, or in Livingstone’ s case even make a grotesque claim that in his early days in power Hitler was a Zionist.

Zionism Month has been organised jointly by We Believe in Israel (WBII) and the Zionist Federation (ZF) to increase understanding of the origins and context of the Zionist movement, the necessity of a national liberation movement for the Jewish people and the creation of Israel.

There are many different strands of Zionist thought. All of these can be celebrated during Zionism Month.

One aim is to promote Zionism Month across the country and promote a simple understanding of Zionism as support for Jewish national self-determination through the creation and continued support for a Jewish State in Israel. This is something that all Zionists can agree on, whatever their politics, however religious they are.

May seemed the most appropriate month because it coincides with Theodore Herzl’s birthday (2 May), Yom Hazikaron (Israel’s Remembrance day 11 May) and Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israeli Independence Day 12 May). It’s going to be a busy month.

We have already launched an email campaign to Members of Parliament, so activists can explain to their local MP what being Zionism means and if their MP shares basic Zionist principles and support’s Israel’s as a Jewish State.

We are encouraging people to put an “I am a Zionist” Twibbon (an electronic badge) on their Twitter and Facebook profiles and use the Twitter hashtag #ZionismMonth2016.

We’ve even produced old-style “I am a Zionist” badges.

There will be a series of publications including statements from famous supporters of Zionism, and a pamphlet of essays about what Zionism means today.

We will be discussing what it means to be a Zionist at a unique panel debate and celebrating at the Zionist Federation’s spectacular annual Yom Ha’atzmaut Concert featuring Dana International. All local communities are encouraged to hold their own events to celebrate Israel and Zionism with their civil leaders and organisations.

The events of recent days where the history of Zionism and the very meaning of the word have been debased make this month of celebrating Zionism even more essential.

We are proud of Zionism and everything that it has achieved. It’s time to explain to the wider British public what Zionism is and what it means to us all.

As a non-Jew I am proud to identify as a Zionist – a supporter of Jewish national liberation and self-determination in Israel. Now is the time to shout our Zionism from the rooftops!

About the Author
Luke Akehurst has been the Director of We Believe in Israel since 2011. We Believe in Israel is a broad coalition of over 19,000 supporters of Israel. Outside of work he was a Councillor in Hackney in East London for 12 years, has stood for Parliament twice and serves on the Labour Party National Executive Committee. He was previously an award-winning Director at global PR company Weber Shandwick.
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