What is Zion?
"Zion is not a symbol, but a home, and the land is not an allegory but a possession, a commitment of destiny."
- Abraham Joshua Heschel, "Israel: An Echo of Eternity"
"...the ancestral voice in our hearts...is not imaginary or misleading. it is the call of our deepest, truest, best selves....It is our immortality."
- Herman Wouk, in the book 'This is my God' -
What is Zionism?
My heart is in the east, and I in the uttermost west--
How can I find savour in food? How shall it be sweet to me?
How shall I render my vows and my bonds, while yet
Zion lieth beneath the fetter of Edom, and I in Arab chains?
A light thing would it seem to me to leave all the good things of Spain --
Seeing how precious in mine eyes to behold the dust of the desolate sanctuary.
- by Yehuda Halevi, My Heart Is In the East, 1141, Translated from the Hebrew by Nina Salaman, 1924, This edition published in 1924 by the Jewish Publication Society of America, Essential Texts of Zionism -
"March forward, Jews of all lands! The ancient fatherland of yours is calling you."
- by Moses Hess, in The Revival of Israel, 1862 -
Zionism is a half-conscious instinct of a people integrating past and future together into the totality of the will to live and to be itself and only itself.
- Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, from the book Whose Jerusalem, by Eliyahu Tal -
Zionism is the National Liberation movement of the Jewish People. It is the modern expression of the ancient longing by the Jewish People to return to its land and live as a free people once again. It is the desire to secure a modern state for the Jewish nation. It is the conviction that the Jewish people has the right to live in freedom and security in its homeland. It is the determination to aid and encourage the return of any and all Jewish refugees of the Diaspora who wish to return home. It is the concern for the safety and security of that modern state, and the desire to see it strong enough to defend itself and the Jewish people as a whole from any present or future existential threat.
Yet, as a modern movement, Zionism is simply a new word to describe an old and unbroken bond. Perhaps it is unfortunate that this new word appears to minimize the credit due to our ancestors for keeping that dream alive.
- The Center for Ethnic Jewish Studies -
The movement known as Zionism which meant establishing a Jewish home in Palestine is a continuation of the reverence to Zion or Jerusalem. By acting as the centre of the Jewish faith and aspiration, Zion or Jerusalem has kept alive the national spirit of Jewish oneness though they have been scattered all over the world for many centuries. It is for this reason that they would not set up a common homeland in the Gentile lands though they had many chances to do so, if they wished.
One further point to note in this respect is, that most of the Jews are racially Jews, and the Jews converted from the other races are a few, indeed. But even these converted Jews, who strictly speaking, are foreigners, think of Jerusalem as their home owing to the divine sanctity attached to it, and give it preference over their own homelands.
from Islam: The Arab National Movement, by Anwar Shaikh
You cannot convert a Jew, you may as well try to convert this house of solid walls as to convert them into the faith of Christ. They are set in their feelings, and they will be until the time of their redemption. They are looking forward to the time when they will go home and rebuild Jerusalem; they have looked for it many hundreds of years, they are looking for the coming of their king, and they do not suppose for a moment that he has already come, but they are looking for him to come as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, not as a lamb led to the slaughter, and as a sheep that is dumb before his hearers; they are looking for him to come with power and great glory.
- Wilford Woodruff, 1857 -
How has Zionism survived?
Zionism's enemies believe it is one thing. Its friends know it is many things. Its enemies think of it as an ideology, while its friends know it to be a century-old argument about what Jews are and should be. Discord is essential to its identity. Liberal versus socialist, West European versus East European, religious versus secular, pro-Palestinian versus anti-Palestinian: Zionism has survived these divisions not by overcoming them but by making itself the permanent site of a debate about how Jews are to be true to themselves in the modern world.
- Michael Ignatieff, The New Republic, September 8, 1997 -
How strong is the Jewish connection to its land?
An account exists of Napoleons visit to the Temple Mount of the 9th Av, the day of the commemoration of the Temple's destruction. When asked what all the crying and wailing was about, Napoleon was told that the Jews were mourning their Temple which had been destroyed 1900 years previously. Touched by the incident the French Monarch said:
"a people which weeps and mourns for the loss of its homeland 1800 year ago and does not forget - such a people will never be destroyed. Such a people can rest assured that its homeland will be returned to it."
- Napoleon, cited in ALLAH AND THE TEMPLE MOUNT, by Lambert Dolphin -
Must one be Jewish to be a Zionist?
"Jews! Unique nation of the world! For thousands of years the tyranny of the world has succeeded in depriving you of your ancestral lands but it has not eradicated your name, nor your national existence... Legitimate heirs of the Land of Israel!... Hurry! The moment has arrived to claim the return of your rights among the nations of the world. You must claim for yourselves a national existence as states among states, and your unencroachable right to bow down before God according to your faith, publicly and forever."
- Napoleon Bonaparte's "Appeal to the Jews," encamped at Mount Tabor before his defeat at Acre, 1798. -
"Palestine which belonged anciently to a people who have exercised a mightier influence for good upon the human race than any other nation, should be returned to them (The Jews)."
- Rev. J.W. Beaumont (Canadian) who, in 1876, presented to Disraeli, then Prime Minister of Great Britain, a plan entitled "Judea for the Jews under the protectorate of the Great Powers".
"His Majesty's government views with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people."
- Arthur J. Balfour, British Foreign Secretary in a letter to Lord Lionel Rothschild to become known as the Balfour Declaration, November 2, 1917.
"You (the Jews) have prayed for Jerusalem for 2000 years, and you shall have it."
- Winston Churchill, cited in "The Time," London, May 5, 1938. -
"Jerusalem has never been the capital of any people except the Jewish people. The unity of Jerusalem must be preserved. Internationalization is an idea which never worked in history."
- Rev. Douglas Young, Statement by Evangelical Christians in 1971. -
"We need hardly say that there can be no remains of what was once the City of David... A vast accumulation of debris from thirty to forty feet in depth has buried every fragment of it. ... Here among the ruins of Zion, still lingers a remnant of the chosen people... a despised body chiefly of exiles crouching under general dislike and persecution... yet clinging to the spot which recalls their past greatness..."
- William H. Barlett, Walls About Jerusalem, 1849 -
This is the cause of your survival. I count it as my privilege to help you fight your battle. To that purpose I want to devote my life. I believe that the very existence of mankind is justified when it is based on the moral foundation of the Bible. Whoever dares lift a hand against you and your enterprise here should be fought against. Whether it is jealously, ignorance or perverted doctrine, such as have made your neighbors rise against you, or "politics" which make some of my countrymen support them, I shall fight with you against any of these influences. But remember that it is your battle. My part, which I say I feel to be a privilege, is only to help you.
- Captain Orde Wingate, cited by Michael Pragai, Faith and Fulfillment, p. 112 10. Time Magazine, August 16, 1948 . Captain Wingate, a Bible-believing Christian, was posted as an intelligence officer to Jerusalem in 1936. At the time of his arrival, a new wave or terrorism had broken out among the settlements. To counter this terrorism, Wingate trained special units that helped defend against the Arab attacks. He introduced successful techniques in countering the marauding bands. His heroic efforts did much to insure the security of the Jewish settlers.
US. Presidents on Israel
John Quincy Adams:
[I believe in the] rebuilding of Judea as an independent nation. (Letter to Major Mordecai Manuel Noah)
[Not long after the Emancipation Proclamation, President Abraham Lincoln met a Canadian Christian Zionist, Henry Wentworth Monk, who expressed hope that Jews who were suffering oppression in Russia and Turkey be emancipated "by restoring them to their national home in Palestine." Lincoln said this was "a noble dream and one shared by many Americans." The President said his chiropodist was a Jew who "has so many times 'put me upon my feet' that I would have no objection to giving his countrymen 'a leg up.'"]
The allied nations with the fullest concurrence of our government and people are agreed that in Palestine shall be laid the foundations of a Jewish Commonwealth. (Reaction to the Balfour Declaration)
Recalling the previous experiences of the colonists in applying the Mosaic Code to the order of their internal life, it is not to be wondered at that the various passages in the Bible that serve to undermine royal authority, stripping the Crown of its cloak of divinity, held up before the pioneer Americans the Hebrew Commonwealth as a model government. In the spirit and essence of our Constitution, the influence of the Hebrew Commonwealth was paramount in that it was not only the highest authority for the principle, "that rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God," but also because it was in itself a divine precedent for a pure democracy, as distinguished from monarchy, aristocracy or any other form of government.
It is impossible for one who has studied at all the services of the Hebrew people to avoid the faith that they will one day be restored to their historic national home and there enter on a new and yet greater phase of their contribution to the advance of humanity.
[I wish to express my] sympathy with the deep and intense longing which finds such fine expression in the Jewish National Homeland in Palestine.
Palestine which, desolate for centuries, is now renewing its youth and vitality through enthusiasm, hard work, and self-sacrifice of the Jewish pioneers who toil there in a spirit of peace and social justice.
I had faith in Israel before it was established, I have faith in it now. (Granting de facto recognition to the new Jewish State-11 minutes after Israel's proclamation of independence)
I believe it has a glorious future before it-not just another sovereign nation, but as an embodiment of the great ideals of our civilization. (May 26, 1952)
Dwight D. Eisenhower:
Our forces saved the remnant of the Jewish people of Europe for a new life and a new hope in the reborn land of Israel. Along with all men of good will, I salute the young state and wish it well.
John F. Kennedy:
This nation, from the time of President Woodrow Wilson, has established and continued a tradition of friendship with Israel because we are committed to all free societies that seek a path to peace and honor individual right. In the prophetic spirit of Zionism all free men today look to a better world and in the experience of Zionism we know that it takes courage and perseverance and dedication to achieve it.
Israel was not created in order to disappear-Israel will endure and flourish. It is the child of hope and home of the brave. It can neither be broken by adversity nor demoralized by success. It carries the shield of democracy and it honors the sword of freedom.
The United States and Israel share many common objectives...chief of which is the building of a better world in which every nation can develop its resources and develop them in freedom and peace.
Our society is illuminated by the spiritual insights of the Hebrew prophets. America and Israel have a common love of human freedom and they have a common faith in a democratic way of life.
Most if not all of you have very deep ties with the land and with the people of Israel, as I do, for my Christian faith sprang from yours....the Bible stories are woven into my childhood memories as the gallant struggle of modern Jews to be free of persecution is also woven into our souls. (Speech before B'nai B'rith)
[When Soviet Premier Aleksei Kosygin asked Johnson why the United States supports Israel when there are 80 million Arabs and only three million Israelis, the President replied simply: "Because it is right."]
Americans admire a people who can scratch a desert and produce a garden. The Israelis have shown qualities that Americans identify with: guts, patriotism, idealism, a passion for freedom. I have seen it. I know. I believe that.
[The American] commitment to the security and future of Israel is based upon basic morality as well as enlightened self-interest. Our role in supporting Israel honors our own heritage.
The United States...has a warm and a unique relationship of friendship with Israel that is morally right. It is compatible with our deepest religious convictions, and it is right in terms of America's own strategic interests. We are committed to Israel's security, prosperity, and future as a land that has so much to offer the world.
The survival of Israel is not just a political issue, it is a moral imperative. That is my deeply held belief and it is the belief shared by the vast majority of the American people...A strong secure Israel is not just in Israel's interest. It's in the interest of the United States and in the interest of the entire free world.
Only by full appreciation of the critical role the State of Israel plays in our strategic calculus can we build the foundation for thwarting Moscow's designs on territories and resources vital to our security and our national well-being.
Since the rebirth of the State of Israel, there has been an ironclad bond between that democracy and this one.
In Israel, free men and women are every day demonstrating the power of courage and faith. Back in 1948 when Israel was founded, pundits claimed the new country could never survive. Today, no one questions that Israel is a land of stability and democracy in a region of tyranny and unrest.
The friendship, the alliance between the United States and Israel is strong and solid, built upon a foundation of shared democratic values, of shared history and heritage, that sustains the life of our two countries. The emotional bond of our people transcends politics. Our strategic cooperation-and I renew today our determination that that go forward-is a source of mutual security. And the United States" commitment to the security of Israel remains unshakeable. We may differ over some policies from time to time, individual policies, but never over the principle.
For more than 40 years, the United States and Israel have enjoyed a friendship built on mutual respect and commitment to democratic principles. Our continuing search for peace in the Middle East begins with a recognition that the ties uniting our two countries can never be broken.
Our relationship would never vary from its allegiance to the shared values, the shared religious heritage, the shared democratic politics which have made the relationship between the United States and Israel a special-even on occasion a wonderful-relationship.
The United States admires Israel for all that it has overcome and for all that it has accomplished. We are proud of the strong bond we have forged with Israel, based on our shared values and ideals. That unique relationship will endure just as Israel has endured. (From a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on occasion of Israel's 50th birthday.)
America and Israel share a special bond. Our relations are unique among all nations. Like America, Israel is a strong democracy, as a symbol of freedom, and an oasis of liberty, a home to the oppressed and persecuted.
The relationship between our two countries is built on shared understandings and values. Our peoples continue to enjoy the fruits of our excellent economic and cultural cooperation as we prepare to enter the twenty-first century. (Clinton's reply after Israeli Ambassador Shoval presented his credentials, September 10, 1998).
- from JSource -
If more than half of all Jews are live outside Israel, does that mean that their homeland is not important to them? How does one reconcile being a Jew, but chosing to live outside of Israel?
"How can it be explained that a Jew like myself, attached to the destiny of Israel with all the fiber of his being, has chosen to write, teach, work, found a family, and to live far away in a social and cultural environment that is far too generalized for that of our ancestors? Israelis put this question to me, as they do other Jews in the Diaspora....Is there a satisfactory response? If there is, I don't know it....For the moment, this is all I can say: as a Jew, I need Israel. More precisely: I can live as a Jew outside Israel but not without Israel"
- Elie Wiesel, Midstream, May/June 1998). -