Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Survey of Zionism

A copy of Palestine To-day and To-morrow: A Gentile's Survey of Zionism , written by John Haynes Holmes has just fallen into my hands. Written in 1929, its apparent that Holmes "gets it"- he understands Zionism more than, oh, lets say the folks at Jewish Voice for Peace.

John Haynes Holmes (1879–1964) was a prominent Unitarian minister, pacifist and anti-war activist. He helped found the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) in 1909, as well as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in 1920.

Over 80 years ago he wrote:

"As a country, Palestine means a homeland returned to its people, as Ireland has been returned to the Irish and Poland to the Poles. Snatched from them by the sword and spear of the soldier, this land is now being recovered to them by the plowshare and pruning hook of the pioneer. That Jews, like other men should want a county seems strange to us only because they have been so long without a country….

The Jews, just because they are a people and not merely a religion are quite like other people. They long to-day, as they have longed throughout the centuries of their dispersion, for a home and country... Zionism means a recovered, restored, regenerated Israel."

Looking for a more Contemporary definition of Zionism?
Prof. Benyamin Neuberger writes:

"The origin of the term "Zionism" is the biblical word "Zion", often used as a synonym for Jerusalem and the Land of Israel (Eretz Yisrael). Zionism is an ideology which expresses the yearning of Jews the world over for their historical homeland - Zion, the Land of Israel.

The aspiration of returning to their homeland was first held by Jews exiled to Babylon some 2,500 years ago - a hope which subsequently became a reality. ("By the water of Babylon, there we sat down and wept when we remembered Zion." Psalms 137:1). Thus political Zionism, which coalesced in the 19th century, invented neither the concept nor the practice of return. Rather, it appropriated an ancient idea and an ongoing active movement, and adapted them to meet the needs and spirit of the times.

The core of the Zionist idea appears in Israel's Declaration of Independence (14 May 1948), which states, inter alia, that:

"The Land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious and political identity was shaped. Here they first attained to statehood, created cultural values of national and universal significance and gave to the world the eternal Book of Books.

After being forcible exiled from their land, the people kept faith with it throughout their dispersion and never ceased to pray and hope for their return to it and for the restoration in it of their political freedom."

Another definition of Zionism can be found at the Zionism-Israel Information Center:

"Zionism is the national revival movement of the Jewish people. It holds that the Jews have the right to self-determination in their own national home, and the right to develop their national culture. Historically, Zionism strove to create a legally recognized national home for the Jews in their historical homeland. This goal was implemented by the creation of the State of Israel. Today, Zionism supports the existence of the state of Israel and helps to inspire a revival of Jewish national life, culture and language.

Zionism today, in its simplest form, is the affirmation and support for the democratic state of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people. "

Its time to take back Zionism- its been far too long.

No comments: