Daniel Ben Abraham
The opposite of war is nuance

The Beauty of Zionism

When I was growing up, I didn’t want to be Jewish. Now, I think Zionism is one of the most beautiful things in the world. 

Not that I even knew what it even meant though, growing up. I was born under communism, where Judaism wasn’t allowed. The only reason I was given a Jewish name is because Daniel was on the list of approved Christian names. My parents were too afraid to tell me I am Jewish, so I never knew until we escaped and fled to America. My grandparents didn’t tell my mother she is Jewish until she was 16 to protect her.

I don’t blame them. Most of my family died either in concentration camps, taken to labor camps, in the Budapest Ghetto, shot, drowned, or otherwise killed for being Jewish. Both my parents were an only child, and I grew up not even really knowing what it’s like to have cousins. So if you think you understand the current conflict, just show me an Arab family in any of the 22 Arab countries spanning the Middle East who don’t know cousins and are afraid to tell their own children who they are.

Throughout my life, I never fit in. I was always different, in my head, awkward, introverted, quiet, nerdy, and painfully logical in a social world. I did everything conceivable to make friends, but rarely could. And good friends, hardly ever. I was just different. I was bullied a lot, and being openly Jewish was just one more reason to be picked on, so I avoided it all.

One day, in my late 40s, after lifetime of lacking meaningful connections, friends, the right partner, and even without properly understanding myself despite endless self-examination, I found myself in Israel. For the first time in my life, I felt home. After escaping from communism and never feeling home, after growing up on the streets of New York and never feeling home, after living in California never feeling home, I felt at home in Israel. I saw faces that inexplicably looked familiar, people’s inherent nature felt like my own, and a lifetime of not fitting in finally made sense. 

I felt like everyone there is another person like me. I felt like I understood others and they understood me. For the first time in my life, I didn’t feel like an outcast. I had never walked down the street before feeling surrounded by “my people” despite loving America all my life, and being a full-blooded patriotic American. America is my beloved nation and home in a sense, but amongst Jews I realized we share a heart and soul like I never imagined I would find. It was like living over 40 years, and moving nearly 20 times, and then finally finding long lost family – a whole tribe of them. It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever experienced in my life.

I couldn’t understand why the world was so hell-bent on not allowing Jews to have a safe-haven. Every culture in the world has a home where they can enjoy their own food, listen to their own music, walk down the street surrounded by people who speak the same language, who have the same history, religion, and culture. Why was the world trying to keep Jews from enjoying some thing without which I never felt fully human? Why was “Zionism”, simply the idea that the Jewish people should also have their own tiny homeland like every other people, so offensive to the world? It’s certainly not about land. The Arabs have the other 99.6% of the land in the Middle East, and five Arab countries simultaneously attacked Israel one day after its founding on May 14, 1948 to try to destroy Zionism. An evil ideology has maintained that goal ever since, harming all reasonable parties including many Arabs and Muslims in the process. It existed before the formation of modern Israel, when the ruling Ottomans had laws against Jews being able to buy land, and it will continue until the world finally sees the light of reason. 

Palestinians can walk down the street in 22 other Arab nations including the “Palestinian Mandate” State of Jordan with similar language, culture, and religion. They can walk down so many streets and smell their delicious food cooking, see familiar faces, and hear their cultural music. Why were so many Arabs against Israel’s very existence? Israel is just 0.4% of the land in the Middle East, and doesn’t take away anything from them, but adds to the culture and economy of the region. And why is so much of the world on their side? Why has empire after civilization after nation attacked Jerusalem, and after many Jews were expelled by the Romans, attacked Jews in virtually every other community we have lived? And when we want to leave our persecution and go back to our own tiny little home, why do they attack us there worst of all? Why is the world trying to deny us what every other culture enjoys? Why did the Roman Emperor rename the land “Syria-Palestina” after Israel’s long-gone enemies? And why did the world recently rename Biblical Judea and Samaria the “West Bank”? If they merely wanted another Arab state alongside Israel, they could have declared one when the “West Bank” was controlled by Jordan and Gaza was controlled by Egypt between 1948 and 1967.

I mean, I have an idea why. Over 3500 years ago Jews were amazing engineers and builders, so the Egyptians enslaved us, and had us build their cities. They probably had their excuses then too. From 3000 years ago in Jerusalem, we were a center of civilization. After bringing the world “thou shout not kill” and “thou shalt not steal”, empire after empire spent blood and treasure to take Jerusalem from the Jews, and tried to conquer it more than any other city in world history, over 20 conquests. For the next 2000 years after that, nation after nation we fled to grew to resent us. Why? Because, for example, our hand-washing rituals which date back to Leviticus – they got plagues, and did not understand why we didn’t, countless centuries before doctors invented microscopes and discovered bacteria. And, they hated us for it. A study by the National Institutes of Health suggests Jews may have a gene mutation which helped protect against plagues. Perhaps we knew that since Egypt, but is that our fault? We are overrepresented in Nobel Prize winners over 100-fold, and apparently that’s really disturbing to some too. Is the fact that we have a culture of learning our fault? Today, the world runs on an international legal system that focuses more on criticizing Israel than all other nations put together, and finds the idea unbearable that the Jews again can be right, and much of the rest of the world wrong. Today, not only Judaism, but Christianity, America, Europe, and Western Civilization and many others are under attack. After all, if Jews can have a tiny homeland free from conquest, so can every other unique and beautiful people and culture in the world. And that apparently doesn’t fit fell in some people’s plans. 

What are we to do, besides survive, and be who we are? What can we do besides help the world to see the light and figure things out, the same way the world realized the Nazis were wrong, and the pogroms were wrong, and our enslavement in Egypt was wrong, and killing us in countless localities where we have lived was wrong. So that’s what we’re doing now. We’re trying to stay alive, while helping the world to realize that burning babies in their cribs is wrong, and kidnapping women and children and elderly is wrong, and wanting to deny us a home is wrong, and 9/11 was wrong, and conquering us and other peoples and cultures is wrong, and so on. Just imagine if such acts would become the world’s morality, and you understand what the Jewish people stand in the way of, even if we must stand alone. Those doing these things are wrong. And all those who side with them are wrong, whether they shout with ak-47s or speak artfully in the media or at the United Nations. Their combined goal is the same. No more Zionism. No more Israel. No more safe haven for Jews. And with that, no more Jews. And then you are next. And the closer they get to that goal, and the closer they get to war, the further any middle ground becomes. And the further a chance at reason becomes. And soon the only question left is, whose side are you on?

About the Author
Daniel was born in Budapest, Hungary, to the grandchildren of Holocaust survivors, and grew up in New York City. Daniel obtained his Bachelor's degree from Penn State University, has a Juris Doctorate with a specialization in public international law. He is the author of several books and articles, including The PeaceMatrix™, about a theoretical new system for solving all human conflicts. Daniel's approaches to the challenges of anti-Semitism, terrorism, and Israeli and international peace and security combine understandings of psychology, philosophy, law, Judaism and spirituality, and metaphysics.
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