As educators, institutions and organizations grapple with the term Zionism and ways in which to engage the younger generations as Zionists, the two articles attached highlight some of the dilemmas and tensions associated with Zionism. In his article Defining Zionism: The belief that Israel belongs to the entire Jewish people* A.B Yehoshua attempts to define a Zionist as “a person who accepts the principle that the State of Israel doesn’t belong solely to its citizens, but to the entire Jewish people”.
In a response to A.B Yehoshua, Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie wrote American Jews need to overcome their insecurities about Zionism*, and amends the definition of Zionism today as “[Zionism is the belief] that the establishment of a Jewish and democratic state in the Land of Israel is essential to the creative survival of the Jewish people”. Rabbi Yoffie highlights the dichotomy of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state and suggests that without the ideal of democracy as an inherent value of the Jewish state, it wouldn’t be the country that Zionists have yearned for, worked towards, or support today.
As we help the next generation to grapple and contemplate their relationship with, and attitudes towards, Israel – and as we do the same – we cannot shy away from considering the tensions and implications of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state and think of ways in which we as Jewish Canadians might play a role in this evolving story. These two articles are a great starting point for this conversation within the framework of making Zionism a relatable and identifiable concept.
*Please note that these articles require a subscription to Haaretz.com