“I once called Zionism an infinite ideal, and I truly believe that even after attaining our country, the Land of Israel, it will not cease to be an ideal. Because Zionism, as I see it, entails not only the aspiration for that piece of land lawfully promised to our unfortunate people, but also the aspiration for moral and spiritual perfection.”
Theodor (Binyamin Zeev) Herzl
More than 100 years have elapsed since Herzl spoke those words, and during that time, the State of Israel was established,
thereby fulfilling Herzl’s dream for “that piece of promised land” for the Jewish people.
Nevertheless, we are all still obligated to continue filling his vision with substance: the aspiration for moral and spiritual perfection.
The challenges Zionism faces in the 21st century are not easy. The existence of the State of Israel – the Jewish nation-state – has become an undeniable fact. Over a century has passed
since Herzl formulated his vision and the challenge has become even more daunting, yet also more profound. The bond between Diaspora Jewry and Israel is undergoing material and rapid changes that are a result of global processes and modified paradigms in the Israel- Diaspora relationship.
What is the significance of the expectation that the State of Israel acts like the Jewish nation- state? Can you be a Zionist without immigrating to Israel? Is someone who lives in the State of Israel a Zionist by definition? Can I be a Zionist even if the Israeli government’s policies are not consistent with my worldviews? Is the expectation that Israel be an exemplary state realistic? Those and many other questions are at the core of Beit Ha’am, the educational platform developed by the Department of Diaspora Affairs. The aim of the program is to provoke thought and discussion, without any need for prior knowledge or previous
acquaintance with the complex issues at hand.
The Beit Ha’am program encourages differences of opinion, a lack of consensus, and the expression of doubts.
We believe that only a genuine dialogue, as complex and difficult as it may be, can build bridges within Israel, and between Israel and the Diaspora. Those bridges are the foundation of our resilience as a people and as a state.
The Beit Ha’am program seeks to start the discussion and expand its scope so that all of us can take part. We provide a large assortment of topics that meet the needs of the time and
place. These topics introduce participants to diverse materials (texts, films, creative works) that always teach us something new. I invite you to join us and the growing Beit Ha’am community – which is an inquisitive, open and learning community – and enjoy the wide range of activities we offer.
Head of the Department of Irgoon and Connection with Israelis Abroad
World Zionist Organization