What Zionism means to me and why Abbas is wrong

You would think that a term created a little over one hundred years ago for a concept that is almost as old as time itself would not cause confusion anymore. Yet, I sit here wondering why people still call Zionism a racist philosophy. This really hit me when I opened an article in the Jerusalem Post entitled, ‘Abbas claims Zionists and Nazis were linked before WWII’.  This article dealt with claims Abbas has made including one in which he said, “ ‘I challenge anyone to deny the relationship between Zionism and Nazism before World War II’ “.

There is something that Abbas and the rest of the world do not seem to grasp about Zionism. Zionism exists as a political philosophy and as a form of nationalism because ideologies that are critical of Jews and Judaism exist. Zionism exists as a catalyst to unite Jews, who have been oppressed no matter where they have lived, to create a country that would serve as a safe haven to their oppression. Israel was in fact defended in 1948 by survivors of the Holocaust, the Nazi’s attempt to wipe out the Jews, Gypsies and other non-Aryan peoples, which would eventually include anyone non-German. Abbas, this means that even you would not have been safe from the Nazis. The fact that you have claimed that there is a connection between Zionism and Nazism is embarrassing to yourself.

The state of Israel, Zionism’s ultimate result, has done more to respect the rights of its citizens, Jew and non-Jew alike. All women have a right to do as they wish, unlike many other countries in the Middle East. People are respected for their sexuality and not punished or killed for deviating from the supposed norm. In fact, Tel Aviv has one of the biggest Gay pride parades every year. In Israel, you can be friends with anyone you want without the worry of being jailed or killed for your choice of friends. You also do not get sentenced to 15 years of jail for converting to another religion in Israel*.

Like any country, Israel has a standing army. But unlike any other army, the IDF is based strictly on a code of self-defense. Meaning, unless intelligence shows an immediate threat to their citizens, the IDF does not strike first. In fact, on border control, soldiers must comply with strict guidelines in order to even shoot a warning shot at a possible incoming hostile. This allows me to conclude that the IDF is not the violent thugs that the Abbas and those like him try to portray them as

This leads me to believe that Zionism is ultimately an idea that is revolved around freedom. This includes: Freedom from persecution, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of press and many more freedoms.  The Knesset has a broad spectrum of representation, including women and Arab members. What country, if it were an “apartheid state”, would include members of the “oppressed people”? Many Israeli Arabs, in fact, love living in Israel because they have more freedom there than all other countries in the Middle East.             

I have a message to Abbas and other people who believe that Zionism is a form of racism and oppression. Look at your own countries. Look at the world around you. Then look at Israel. If you call Israel a racist or apartheid state, you are only lying to yourself. Abbas, you are looking really at a mirror of what you and your government has done. Stop the war, stop the terrorism, and more importantly stop the lies. If you want peace, step down or change your views on Israel, because contrary to your wishes, Israel is here to stay. 

*Recently, a family of Arabs who converted to Christianity in Egypt were sentenced to 15 years of jail http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/01/16/egyptian-court-sentences-entire-family-to-15-years-for-converting-to/

About the Author
Justin Goldstein is currently a second year MSW student at Yeshiva University's Wurzweiler School of Social Work.