What is “New Zionism”?

“New Zionism” is a phrase I came up with many years ago when I was a student of Middle Eastern studies.  Many times I thought about Zionism and what does it really mean.  To understand “New Zionism” first we have to understand “Old Zionism”. My definition of Zionism was (and is) the building of a sovereign Jewish homeland in the Land of Israel.  Of course there have been volumes written about Zionism, but I like to keep things simple. Simply, that’s the idea. The building of a sovereign Jewish homeland in the Land of Israel.

We Jews have been kicked around the whole world, murdered and persecuted for centuries.  Eventually certain Jews decided to take matters into their own hands and try to find a solution.  It’s a clever idea. No one wants us. Everywhere we go we suffer as a nation. So, let’s carve out a piece of the world for ourselves and live there. At least there, no one will bother us.

Unfortunately, it didn’t work out like that.  Once the world just hated the Jews. Now they hate the Jewish State. So, okay, there are no more pogroms.  However, we have endless terrorist attacks and threats.  If you read the news, you’ll know how much most of the world hates the State of Israel. And everyone knows how many countries around the world (regardless of their religions) would love to wipe the Jewish State off the map. So, it’s just a transfer of hatred. Before they hated the Jews, now they hate the Jewish State.

Nonetheless, the Master of the Universe is running the world and He decided it was time for us to move back to our land. In general, here’s what had to be done:

  1. Build the infrastructure.  We needed houses, roads, electricity, running water, a government, a police force and army, and everything any civilized country requires.
  2. Agree on a language to speak.  The revival of modern Hebrew is one of the great wonders of the world.
  3. Setup a government, legal system, police force and army.
  4. Create an economy. Everyone needed a way to make a living.

I’m sure there’s much more that I’m missing out on, but you get the idea. All this is done.

What’s next? Well, many people said “that’s it. We’re done. Now let’s be like everyone else.” I think it was either Herzl or Ben Gurion who spoke of having Jewish thieves and prostitutes. We have them. For a while they were living on my street in Nachlaot!

But is that what Zionism is really about? So we can be like everyone else? Is that really the dream? I don’t think so.

Here’s what my idea of “New Zionism” is:

  1. We have a full, 100% G-d given right to be here. We are here because the Bible says that G-d gave this land to the Jewish people. Period. Full stop. We’re not here because of the UN or the Holocaust or America or for any other reason than G-d wanted us to be here. As David Ben-Gurion said from his testimony in the 1937 Peel Commission:

    (התנ”ך הוא המנדט שלנו. – (מתוך עדותו בועדת פיל, 1937

    “The Tanakh is our mandate.”

    source: http://politicart.co.il/article/id/4/
  2. Love your fellow Jew as yourself. (Vayikra/Leviticus 19:18) The first stage of the New Zionism is making Israel the best place for a Jew to be.  If you live here, you know we don’t treat each other nicely. But if you ever see someone fall in the street, you’ll also see that everyone comes running to help them up. The potential is there. We need to work on being much nicer to each other.
  3. Knowing that we’re part of something bigger. Do you really think that after 2000 years of exile, a nation scattered around the world, persecuted and murdered for centuries, would come back to its land, revive its native language and once again establish a Jewish State is just a coincidence? No way! We are part of something much bigger.
  4. Ahavat Eretz Yisrael – Love of the Land of Israel. This must be the most disputed land in the world. Either everyone wants it or they just don’t want us to be here. Since we are here, it’s our responsibility to care for it. We have to take care of and love the Land of Israel as if it was our own child.
  5. Sharing the burden. We have large sectors of our society that don’t work and don’t serve in the army.  We have a government that doesn’t represent the people.  We have Jews outside of Israel that criticize us. We need to share the burden. If you live here, you need to contribute. If you live here, you need to serve in the army. Our government needs to be responsible for its actions. Jews outside of Israel have the full right to criticize us only when they move here and share the burden.

In short, the goal of New Zionism is to make the State of Israel the best place in the world for a Jew to live. Right now, honestly, it’s not. It is the best place in the world for a Jew to be, but not to live.  We need to increase our standard of living by allowing citizens to keep more of their money. We need to create a cycle of positive attitudes so that people will treat each other nicer and with more respect.  We need to lower the amount of reserve time and regular army service.  We need to create national districts so the government will be responsible for their actions. We need to clean this place up because it’s a mess. And we need to stop apologizing to world for being here.

This is the work of the “New Zionism”.