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Eureka: What is Zionism? (2)
by Jay Gutman
2018-06-06 08:54:19
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To some Zionism is something perhaps more spiritual, almost mystical and a little esoteric. So what is Zionism.

To put things simply, Zionism is a Jewish homeland, governed by Jews, in the ancestoral land of the Jews, Israel. Simple. A Jewish homeland or state, with a Jewish government, in the borders of the land of Israel. First I'll break down what the equation means, second I'll talk about Jews and non-Jews and their interpretations on the meaning of Zionism.

zio00001_400A Jewish homeland. Sounds like a simple definition, but there are a few complexities. Some say that the state should be inhabited by Jews 100%. Those are a tiny minority, when most think of modern definitions of a Jewish homeland, that is a state with a Jewish majority. Then there are people who are not sure what majority means, and what Jewish means. Is 51% a majority. Or should it be more like 80% or 90%? I like to keep things ambiguous, that is as long as the consensus in the Jewish homeland is a Jewish consensus, there is a Jewish majority. Then there are the questions of who is a Jew. Are secular Jews Jewish enough? Are reform Jews Jewish enough? If Orthodox Jews decide who is Jewish, are some Jews going to be left out while people who have nothing Jewish about them going to be considered Jewish? All I can say is no one is perfect.

With a Jewish government. The same question can be pondered. Should the Jewish government be 100% Jewish? Should there be a large non-Jewish representation? Should the Prime Minister be Jewish? Should the monarchy be restored, or is a unicameral system better? Should there be a bicameral system? Should non-Jewish minorities be granted automatic seats at the Knesset or Israeli parliament to make sure they have automatic representation? My view on this is whatever works.

In the borders of the land of Israel, the ancestoral homeland of the Jews. Anti-Zionists use this as their weapon. Why do you steal the Arabs land? How come the ancestoral homeland was in the current West Bank, when modern-day Israel is on the coasts. In the old days the Philistines lived on the coasts, while the Jews lived in the West Bank. Should Israel have been created in Uganda or Argentina. Should Israelis have created a state in the Mexican desert? The fact is there has been a Jewish homeland with a Jewish government in the borders of the ancestoral homeland, Israel, and that if it ain't broken, don't fix it. Life is full of imperfections and ambiguities, and totalitarian Dutch debates are never a very good thing.

Now let's look at the views different Jews have on Zionism, before we look at what the general trends are among non-Jewish populations on the modern state of Israel.

-Orthodox Jews. They are organized by congregations or houses, each house has its own beliefs and systems. Perhaps the best way to understand Orthodox Jews would be to ask them: how do you read the scriptures? And how do you interpret them? Different Orthodox congregations have different ways of reading and interpreting the scriptures. Some of them read the scriptures as literature, others as prophecies, others as esoterical codes, some look at the general text, others look at letters and their numerical value, others have texts and scriptures that guide them in reading their scriptures. Regarding Zionism, there are essentially three different views depending on what congregation you ask. The first view is one of indifference. That is Israel is a secular Jewish state just like Canada is a secular non-Jewish state, and the two are interchangeable. The second view is that there are prophecies in the scriptures that the Jewish state would be created and that it will lead to the acceleration of the arrival of the Messiah. Some think Israel should build a temple to accelerate the arrival of the Messiah, while others believe the third temple should be built after the arrival of the Messiah. Some congregations, I think one congregation claims that the Messiah is here and one of their members is the Messiah. The third view is one according to which the State of Israel should only have been created after the arrival of the Messiah, and that Israel delays the arrival of the Messiah.

-Conservative Jews. Conservative Jews basically adopt four Jewish precepts. They keep the Sabbath to the best of their ability. They eat Kosher food to the best of their abilty. They follow the holidays to the best of their ability. And they try their best to marry within the tribe, although a common trend is to marry someone who will convert to Judaism. Regarding Zionism, conservative Jews tend to view Israel as the one state in the world where no one stares at you when you keep Kosher and keep the Sabbath, where it's easy to find and marry a Jew, where the holidays are national holidays and resting days. It's also a safety net for Jews, in case Jews are persecuted, and a land where the Jews can defend themselves.

-Secular Jews. Secular Jews adopt different Jewish precepts to varrying degrees. Some marry within the tribe but don't keep Kosher and don't celebrate the holidays. Others keep Kosher but not much else. Others celebrate the holidays but not much else. To a lot of them Israel is a country with nice beaches and excellent hiking spots, although some will join the Israeli army and take Israel a lot more seriously.

-Atheist Jews. Without generalizing, a lot of Atheist Jews actually think Israel is a very religious state where they wouldn't fit in. Others like the beaches and recreation, while others go there to have fun. Some also join the army and figure that they may be Atheists, they still strongly identify with Judaism.

-Reform Jews. Again without generalizing, there are two types of reform Judaism. There is one that was born out of the frustration of conservative Judaism's rigid ways on the Sabbath, the holidays, Kashrut and so on. They want a religion where gay marriage is Kosher and where bacon is Kosher and where turning the lights on during the Sabbath is Kosher. That is Jews who were religious, wanted organized religion, but were tired with the rigid ways. The other type of reform Judaism is one where deviance is encouraged, that is one where all rabbis are female and a lot of the members are encouraged to have mutliple sex partners and to live life with no rules. That is you have reform Judaism with rules, lenient at that, and you have reform Judaism where it's not about rules, it's about breaking rules. Those reform Jews who believe in rules also believe Israel is the ancestoral homeland, some of them are fervent Zionists. Those who don't believe in rules also believe Israel is part of history, and in some cases believe Israel should have remained something for the history books.

Now to the views non-Jews hold on Zionism, in a very general and sketchy way.

-Christian Americans: They take the Bible very seriously and view the creation of a State of Israel as a prophecy mentioned in the Bible mutliple times. To them Israel is proof that the Bible really is the word of God. 

-Catholic Europe and Latin America: Less enthusiastic about the Bible, believe Israel should exist but also believe in compassion and reconciliation with the Palestinians.

-Northeast Asia: Tend to envy the State of Israel for all the attention it gets. 

-Southeast Asia: Where is Israel? What is Israel? 

-Central Asia: A good partner to trade with.

-India: India is the only country in the world that never persecuted Jews, we Indians like everybody.

-Islamic states: Israel was created by the Americans so Arabs could fight while the Americans steal their oil. This view is prevalent among important people, including elected officials. 

-Ultra-nationalists: All Jews should go back to Israel, but Israel should return the land to the Palestinians. That should take care of the Jewish problem. 

-Radical Marxists: Jews stole Arab land because they believe they are superior people above the law, just the way a lot of big business CEOs are. 

-Radical Islamists: Israel is the state from where the Jews will convert the rest of the world to believing in their prophet of prophets, Ezra.

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