Questions and Answers: What is Zionism?
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What is the meaning of the term 'Zion'?
· Zion- actually a hill in Jerusalem, is one of the names by which Jews have always referred to their homeland, the land of Israel. (Eretz Yisrael)
· Zion is a term used in the Bible both for the land of Israel and for its national and spiritual capital, Jerusalem.
What is the connection between the Jewish people and Zion?
· Zion is the birthplace of the Jewish nation. Here, this nation was politically sovereign or, at least, culturally autonomous for 1,500 years, creating and developing what has come to be known as the Judaic civilization.
· Zion has had a continuous Jewish population for thousands of years. It is the only country on earth that is inhabited today by the same nation, with the same religious and culture and speaking the same language as that which lived in it 3,000 years ago.
· For many centuries the majority of the Jewish people have lived dispersed in countries all over the world. The powerful national-spiritual bonds- expressed mainly in liturgy and literature- have constantly linked these Jewish communities with their ancestral homeland.
· After centuries of decline and neglect under foreign occupation, Zionist flourishing once again, with the large increase in its Jewish population over the past 100 years and the restoration of its political independence in 1948.
What is the Meaning of the term Zionism?
· Zionism is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people.
· Zionism is the modern expression of the 1,900 year old dream of rebuilding Israel, after Rome put an end to Jewish independence in the land of Israel.
· Zionism is the conviction that the Jewish people have the right to freedom and political independence in its homeland.
· Zionism is the ongoing effort, through political means, to develop and secure the Jewish people's national existence in the land of Israel.
· Zionism recognized that Jewish peoplehood is characterized by certain common values relating to religion, culture, language, history and basic ideals and aspirations.
Are all Jews Zionists?
· Jews are Zionists in the sense that the restoration of the Jewish people in its homeland is a fundamental tenet of Judaism.
· Most Jews support the State of Israel- the basic realization of Zionism.
· Some Jews, however, do not accept Zionism as a political movement.
How did Zionism become an organized political movement?
· Zionism developed into an organized political movement in a period marked by growing recognition of national movements in Europe where Jews felt the time was ripe for the reassertion of Jewish national identity as well.
· Zionism as a movement was further spurred by growing anti-Semitism in Europe in the latter part of the nineteenth century.
· Zionism was formally organized into a national movement in 1897, with the call for the restoration of the Jewish national home.
Do Diaspora Jews support Zionism?
· Diaspora Jews, on the whole, support Zionism in one way or another through active participation in aspects of the movement itself or through public or financial support of Israel.
· Some Diaspora Jews realize their belief in Zionism by immigrating to the land of Israel to participate in the task of rebuilding the nation.
· Diaspora Jews, whether or not associated with Zionist activities, have been enriched culturally, socially, and spiritually by the re-establishment of Israel in its ancestral homeland.

Did Zionism complete its task with the re-establishment of the State of Israel?

· The re-establishment of the state of Israel meant the realization of the major element of Zionist ideology: the restoration of Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel.
· The Zionist idea, however, contains facets there are still in the process of being realized. The Zionist ideal aspires to a) an Israel at peace with all its neighbors, b) an Israel enjoying full political and economic independence c) the social and economic well-being of all citizens and communities residing in Israel.
Are anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism the same thing?
· There is a dangerous confluence between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, even though the two concepts are not always identical.
· Anti-Zionism is directed today against the political realization of Zionism- the State of Israel
· Anti-Zionism has also become a modern catchword for old fashioned anti-Semitism. It has provided anti-Semites with a convenient cloak behind which to conceal their hatred of Jews.
· Anti- Zionism, in the sense that it seeks to deny the right of national self-expression to the Jewish people, is a kind of anti-Semitism.
What of the charge that Zionism is a form of racism?
· Anti-Zionists, in 1975, succeeded in passing a UN resolution determining that "Zionism is a form of racism."
· Though opposed by the Western democracies, the resolution was approved by virtue of the automatic majority of the UN's controlling Arab/Third World/ Communist bloc which, in recent years, has been able to pass any anti-Western, anti-democratic or anti-Israel resolution proposed, regardless of merit or basis in fact.
· In point of fact, far from being racist, the State of Israel is a pluralistic and open society, comprising many ethnic and religious groups, all free to practice their faiths and traditions, develop their cultures and participate in the country's democratic processes.
What are the roots of Arab opposition to Zionism?
Arab opposition to Zionism is based on issues concerning-
· National Rights: Most Arab states demand Arab sovereignty over the entire Middle East, to the total exclusion of Jewish rights.
· Religion: Historically Islam has not recognized the right to sovereignty of any non-Moslem people in any part of the "Islamic World." Jews, like Christians, have been relegated to the position of dhimmis- protected subject-peoples under Moslem dominion. Islam, therefore, rejects the idea of a Jewish state in what is regards as the Islamic-Arab world.
· Socio-Economics: Many Arab leaders feel that their positions would be jeopardized if there were free interchange between their traditional and conservative countries and Israel- an open, democratic and rapidly developing society.
Can Zionist and Arab aspirations co-exist?
· Coexistence- through mutual recognition, direct negotiation and a genuine desire to set out on the road to peace- is the key to the reconciliation of Zionist and Arab aspirations. The Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty, signed in 1979, provides a working model for such coexistence.
· The Zionist movement- both before and since the establishment of the State of Israel- has always advocated and striven for peaceful and mutually beneficial relations among the peoples and the states of the region.
· Only a strong determination on the part of all concerned, to achieve this goal in a spirit of goodwill and tolerance will bring real peace for the peoples of the Middle East.
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