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Nothing New Under the Sun

The Book of Ecclesiastes (Kohelet) 1:9 says:

מַה־שֶּֽׁהָיָה֙ ה֣וּא שֶׁיִּהְיֶ֔ה וּמַה־שֶּׁנַּֽעֲשָׂ֔ה ה֖וּא שֶׁיֵּעָשֶׂ֑ה וְאֵ֥ין כׇּל־חָדָ֖שׁ תַּ֥חַת הַשָּֽׁמֶשׁ׃

Only that shall happen
Which has happened,
Only that occur
Which has occurred;
There is nothing new
Beneath the sun!

The onslaught of anti-Israelism, anti-Zionism, and antisemitism we are experiencing today, is nothing new. Sure, it feels new to many of us who have not experienced it before, and the form it has taken is new because of modern technology and social media. But, to borrow a phrase, the haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate.

Today, our duty is not just to shake it off. That’s not good enough. We must continue to wear our Zionism with pride. There is nothing we are facing today that we have not already dealt with, and we have a responsibility to stand proudly on the shoulders of the giants who came before us, readying it for the next challenge to come.

We should all be Zionists

In her book of essays entitled We Should All Be Zionists, Einat Wilf writes,

The story of Zionism is about people being the vehicles of their own redemption. It’s a remarkably inspiring idea. It’s about the fact that Jews could be oppressed, persecuted, marginalized, even much worse, and then could change that destiny.

76 years ago today, we were redeemed. Three years earlier, the Holocaust ended with 1/3 of world Jewry murdered. But that did not stop us. We fought for our redemption, sacrificing the lives of 1% of the population of Israel in the War of Independence, but did not give up. We continued to fight, sweat, and bleed to maintain that redemption throughout the last 76 years, at an almost unbearable cost. But it was not unbearable, because 76 years later, we are here. Even with the horrific events of our 76th year, we have seemingly borne it all.

On Yom HaAtzmaut, celebrating the new era of normalization | Kenneth Jacobson | The Blogs

Today, I am a Zionist not just because I believe in our history – I believe in our present and our future. I am a Zionist because I am proud of those Zionists who came before me, and of the leaps and bounds that the State of Israel has taken in almost eight decades. I am proud not just of the way that Israel fights – morally and justly – but also the way that she lives. She tends her crops, rescues those in peril overseas, creates life-saving technology to better humankind, and does so despite the neverending hate and criticism.

I am a Zionist because I know that Jews must rely on each other; there is no one else on whom to rely. I am Zionist because I see the pride on the streets today, of Stars of David worn proudly around necks, of flags flown on cars, of yellow pins on lapels, of people proudly proclaiming their Jewish identities online, and their pride motivates me.

I am a Zionist because I know there is merit to our cause. People everywhere can see it. Eurovision juries may vote against us, but their countries’ popular vote supports us because not everyone is blinded by hate. I am a Zionist because I see how vapid life can be without it. Zionism gives me an appreciation for what effort goes into a national project, the importance of a community, and how the hard work of some can lead to the success of many.

I am a Zionist because of my parents and grandparents. Because of my teachers and friends. Because of our community institutions and leaders. They have not lost hope, and continue to find new ways to meaningfully connect to our Zionist heritage.

Most importantly, I am a Zionist because of my children. I have a responsibility to create a world in which they will not only flourish, but remain safe. It will be impossible for them to do so without Israel, wherever they live. I wish nothing else than for Israel to be their source of inspiration, their vacation destination, the place their mind wanders when they are curious, or, if it is God forbid needed, their insurance policy and exit-strategy.

On this Yom Haatzmaut, my wish is that we would all be Zionists. We have lessons from our past and our aspirations set out in our founding documents. We have 76 years of history of which to be proud. We have a complicated future ahead of us, but there is nothing new under the sun. We have been here before.

For Israel’s 77th year, I have several wishes: The return of our hostages. The downfall of Hamas. The elimination of Hezbollah. The expansion of the Abraham Accords. The rebuilding of the Gaza Envelope. The return home to Israel’s northern inhabitants. New elections. The strengthening of global alliances with Israel. The continued unity of the Jewish and Israeli people. The realization by our foes that we are not going anywhere.

I also wish for the acceptance by others that you need not be Jewish to be a Zionist. Let’s hear less from the anti-Zionist Jews and more from the Zionist non-Jews. You simply need to believe that the Jewish State has a right to exist, in peace and security, alongside the other 190+ countries that exist in the world to call yourself a Zionist. This simple acceptance can make the world a better place.

There’s nothing wrong with continuing to hope. In fact, it is our hope that has gotten us to this very moment today:

‘Od lo avdah tikvatenu,
Hatikvah bat shnot ’alpayim,
Lihyot ‘am chofshi be’artzenu,
’Eretz Tziyon v’Yerushalayim.

Our hope is not yet lost,
It is two thousand years old,
To be a free people in our land
The land of Zion and Jerusalem.

About the Author
Adam Hummel is a lawyer specializing in immigration and estates law in Toronto, Canada. He is an active member of Toronto's Jewish community, and a member of the Jewish Diplomatic Corps of the World Jewish Congress. He writes regularly for his Substack, "Catch: Jewish Canadian Ideas."