The Partial Success of Zionism

I was working on a depressing article bemoaning the failure of Zionism when the depressing news of yesterday’s attack broke. I decided that an article on the collapse of Zionism can wait. Our problems will be with us next week and I can write about them then. Instead, I would like to discuss the success of Zionism. Ironically, that success was best made clear by yesterday’s tragedy. It may just be that we as a nation respond best in the worst of times, and simply do not know how to act when times are good. If so, that may explain a great deal about us. Whatever the cause, the instant national mobilization to help those wounded in yesterday’s attack is something that we should be proud of, particularly in these difficult times.


In the tragic history of anti-semitism, when Jews were killed because they were Jews, there was no one to come to help the wounded. There was no one to take charge and take care of the victims. Yesterday, within a short time of the attack, Israeli doctors and medics were organized and readying to fly to Bulgaria. A mere few hours later they were on the ground in Bourgas. Two Israeli Air Force planes were dispatched with the Chief Army Medical Officers on board, tasked with bringing the wounded Israelis home to be treated. Obviously, one can always look at the glass as half empty. It is certainly not full. Zionism was supposed to “solve the Jewish problem”. It clearly has not. Jews are still being killed, because they are Jews. However, today there is a state that stands behind Jews. What other country would have dispatched medical crews and military aircraft within hours of an attack?


Zionism has not solved the Jewish problem– the problem of anti-semitism. Zionism has also failed to successfully redefine what it means to be a Jew– as I will discuss next week. Yet Zionism has been very successful at giving us a state. Zionism has provided us with a means to defend ourselves, as well as an address that stands behind us, wherever we are.


Moments before I posted this piece, I watched a broadcast of the memorial ceremony at the airport in Bourgas as the coffins of the victims of the attack were being brought aboard an Israeli plane for the sad flight home.  There will be many sad images in the coming days, but let us, and more importantly, the devastated families be strengthened by the fact that they are not alone. Today we have a state to stand behind us.

About the Author
Marc Schulman is the editor of -- the largest history web site. He is the author a series of Multimedia History Apps as well as a recent biography of JFK. He holds a BA and MA from Columbia University, and currently lives in Tel Aviv. He is also a regular contributor to Newsweek authoring the Tel Aviv Diary.