Jews, Judaism and Israel

There are many debates being waged around the world about whether anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism, how it is possible that some Jews may be against Israel, and why some Jews who do not believe in either God or religion are still considered Jews. This article will not tackle all of those issues but will seek to define, segment and size the nature of Jews, Judaism and Israel to better frame discussions on those topics.

Judaism

Judaism is a religion that takes the source of its teachings from the Five Books of Moses. Biblical scholars over thousands of years have interpreted the various events and commandments found in the Old Testament to frame how a Jewish person should act and live. The approaches changed over the millenia, with some sects like Sadducees, Essens and Karaites fading away while the Pharisees survived with the publication of the Talmud.

Over the last few hundred years, newer religious denominations came about including Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist Judaism. Each adopted different approaches as to whether the Bible was written by God or was simply divinely-inspired, and how to translate the ancient stories into relevant lessons for today.

Jews

Jews are most often defined by their lineage. Abraham, the father of monotheism, is considered the first Jew in Judaism. His grandchild Jacob became known as Israel and Jacob’s sons were the basis for the twelve tribes and the nation of Israel. Jews consider themselves direct descendants of these biblical characters.

According to the Orthodox and Conservative streams of Judaism, a person’s religion is decided by matrilineal descent (the religion of the mother), while the Reform and Reconstructionist groups have a broader allowance, in that they include patrilineal descent as well. Converts are also welcomed as Jews (although they are not encouraged) and tradition maintains that the new Jews do not only take upon themselves the religion, but the ancestry of Jews as well. A convert’s new Hebrew name will be “______ son of Abraham” or “_____ daughter of Sarah” to show that they are now included as part of the heritage of Jewish peoplehood.

Israel

Judaism is a unique religion in that it has ties to a specific piece of land. The Bible clearly relays to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the descendants afterwards that the land of Canaan is their inheritance. The Bible describes specific commandments that can only be kept in Israel, and to this day, every Jew around the world prays facing the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Israel.

Jews have always lived in the LAND of Israel. Indeed, they were the only religious group to move to the holy land throughout the 19th century and Jews have been a majority in the city of Jerusalem since the 1860’s, BEFORE the push for Jewish sovereignty and advent of Modern Zionism.

Jews, Judaism and Israel

Despite the intersection of Jews, Judaism and Israel, not every Jew follows the religion nor lives in Israel.

Religion and Zionism In Israel

There are roughly 14.2 million Jews alive in the world today. Of that total, roughly 6.7 million live in the Jewish State of Israel. There are another 2.3 million non-Jews that live in Israel, with a population that now exceed 9 million.

  • Religious Jews 3.4 million
  • Secular Jews 3.3 million
  • Non-Jews 2.3 million
    • Total 9.0 million people in Israel

The Pew Forum estimates that Haredi and Orthodox Jews account for 10% and 12% of Israeli Jews, respectively, with Conservatives and Secular Jews accounting for 28% and 49% of the Israeli Jewish population, respectively. Using a Venn diagram, one can plot the 3.3 million Secular Israelis as being Jews connected to the land of Israel (People + Land) but not to the Religion.

Among the religiously-affiliated Israeli Jews, the Haredi Jews are the least Zionistic, while most of the other streams are very passionate about Israel having Jewish sovereignty. The black hat/ Haredi community is less enamored with the Modern Jewish State as it is not based on Orthodox religious law and many believe that such a state should only come into being with the arrival of the Messiah.

Denomination Population% Total Zionist% Total
Haredi 10% 0.7 10%            0.1
Orthodox 12% 0.8 100%            0.8
Conservative 28% 1.9 95%            1.8
Secular 49% 3.3 90%            3.0
Total in millions 6.7 5.7

If one were to assume that only 10% of the Haredi population are Zionists and almost all of the other denominations are Zionists, roughly 1 million Jews in Israel today would not be considered ardent Zionists.

This is not an oxymoron, and goes to the nature of the confusion of different people’s opinions about Zionism. Many Jews living in Israel are against the GOVERNMENT, not the idea of Jews living in the land. Haredi Jews consider themselves anti-Zionist because they think a secular Jewish state has no legitimacy in the Jewish holy land. However, they believe very strongly that the land is the Jewish holy land and they have the right to live Israel. This is in sharp contrast to Muslim anti-Zionism around the world which believes both that the Israeli government should be destroyed and that Jews should be expelled from the land.

Diaspora Jewry on Israel and Judaism

A little more than half of world Jewry lives outside of Israel, roughly 7.5 million people. The vast majority of diaspora Jews live in the United States (over 5 million) with France, Canada and the United Kingdom accounting for over 1 million more.

The United States is a bit of an anomaly compared to Jews around the world, with strong Conservative and Reform movements. In much of the rest of the world, Jews are either Orthodox or secular. In considering the breakdown of Jews in the Venn diagram, assumptions are made for the 5.3 million Jews in the U.S. and then for the rest of the world.

America Population% Total Zionist %  Total 
Orthodox 10% 0.5 50%            0.3
Conservative 18% 1.0 70%            0.7
Reform 35% 1.9 40%            0.7
Unaffiliated 37% 2.0 20%            0.4
Total in millions 5.3 2.1

The Pew Forum estimated the breakdown of Jewish denominations in the United States and the percentages for people who consider themselves Zionists are educated guesses. The Conservative denomination is assumed to be the most pro-Israel, as the Orthodox group includes Anti-Zionist Haredi factions. Using these figures would suggest less than 40% of American Jewry is pro-Israel.

Different percentages are used in making estimates in the rest of the world, below:

ROW Population% Total Zionist %  Total 
Orthodox 25% 0.6 60%            0.3
Conservative 10% 0.2 70%            0.2
Reform 30% 0.7 40%            0.3
Unaffiliated 35% 0.8 40%            0.3
Total in millions 2.2 1.1

The figures for the 2.2 million Jews in the rest of the world are broad estimates. In some countries like France, 60% of the population is Sephardic which almost always considers itself Orthodox, even when not actively practicing Judaism. In general, the unaffiliated/ Reform account for a majority of the population.

Among the diaspora Jews outside of the U.S., Israel holds a more significant role as they suffer more discrimination and are much more likely to emigrate to the Jewish State. Using these figures – which are arguably low – approximately half of the Jews in the rest of the world would be considered active Zionists, 10% more than American Jewry.

Laying out these figures in the Venn diagram above shows that there are about 5.6 million affiliated Jews, of which roughly three-quarters are pro-Israel. This compares to approximately 8.5 million unaffiliated Jews of which only 45% are pro-Israel.

**This breakdown might be viewed by many as unfair. For example, according to Pew, 87% of American Reform Jews consider themselves only Jews through Peoplehood and not religion, while 50% of Unaffiliated Jews felt the same way. This would suggest 4.0 million Affiliated American Jews (both People and Religion) as opposed to the 1.5 million used in the chart above.**

However, the concept remains the same. There are Jews who consider themselves only Jews in the notion of peoplehood, those who consider themselves both Jews by peoplehood and religion, and further, those within each camp who consider themselves tied to Israel (whether they live there or not) and those who do not. The warring factions within the Jewish people of Zionist/anti-Zionist and Jewish anti-Semites often breakdown among these categories.


Jews, Judaism and Israel are all deeply connected yet are distinct at the same time. Before delving into the nuances related to antisemitism and anti-Zionism, it is important to understand the important interrelationship of land-government, people and religion while also acknowledging the varied preferences among Jews in how they define themselves and convey their passions.


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I am a Zionist. A Deep Zionist. An Amazed Zionist. A Loud Zionist.

I am a Zionist through and through, on level after level.


The Israeli flag at the Western Wall
(photo: First.One.Through)

I am a Zionist because I believe that the Jewish people have a right to self-determination in their homeland.

I am a deep Zionist because I know that no other religion has a connection to land like Jews. Only the Jews believe that God gave them a small parcel of land for an inheritance. The Jewish religion is the only religion that has distinct laws that can only be kept while in the Jewish holy land. The Jews invented the very notion of “holy land,” and have prayed facing Jerusalem for thousands of years.


A sign in Israel about the biblical commandment of Shmita
(photo: First.One.Through)

I am an amazed Zionist because I marvel at what the Jewish people have been able to do in just a few decades: to absorb millions of immigrants; to fend off hostile neighbors; to develop a thriving democracy; to lead the world in science and technology; and in efforts to forge a new era of peace, forgave a nation (Germany) that tried to eradicate them, and handed over their holiest location (the Jewish Temple Mount) to a hostile people that had banned Jews from even visiting the site.

I am an aggressive Zionist because I have internalized the history of Jews in their holy land. I have seen the Arab and Muslim world reject the very existence of the Jewish State and war against it repeatedly. I have read the polls that the Palestinians are the most anti-Semitic people in the world, that voted for the Hamas terrorist group to a majority of their parliament with the most vile anti-Semitic charter ever written, and that elected a Holocaust denier as a president that pays people to murder Israeli Jews and then celebrate their “accomplishments.”

I am a loud Zionist because I see how many people ignore and distort reality. How the United Nations can pass resolutions that ignore the 4000-year history of Jews in Israel, how universities and organizations apply unique and double standards for Israel and call out to boycott and strangle the only Jewish country.

I am a real world Zionist. I understand that Israel – like every country in the world – is not perfect. But I accept its imperfections and try to help it make improvements by working WITH the country, not against it.

I am an optimistic Zionist. I believe that countries and companies from around the world will be drawn to Israel’s intellectual capital, strong economy and stable currency that are built on the rule of established laws. The virtuous cycle of investment and trade will lead to stronger and stronger political relations and widespread peace.

I am an eternal Zionist. I have been one since before I was born and will remain one long after I’m gone.


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Martin Luther King and Zionism

Martin Luther King Jr. fought for the rights of the black minority in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s. His passionate words inspired many people to move for equal rights for all Americans.

As the last MLK Day of the first Black US President is celebrated, and in the aftermath of this administration’s abandonment of Israel, it is worth reviewing MLK’s comments specifically about Israel, and those which underscore his philosophy about Israel.

Martin Luther King on Israel (Direct Quotes)

Here is a selection of MLK quotes specifically about the Jewish State:

The whole world must see that Israel must exist, Israel has a right to exist, and is one of the great outposts of democracy in the world.

“Peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all our might to protect its right to exist, its territorial integrity. I see Israel as one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security and that security must be a reality.”

“Israel’s right to exist as a state in security is incontestable.”

“When people criticize Zionists they mean Jews, you are talking anti-Semitism,”

Below is a selection of 20 other famous quotes of MLK, applied to Israel.

Reestablishing the Jewish Homeland

I have a dream.”

The famous line was taken from a speech given by MLK on August 28, 1963. That speech was a declaration that the promise of freedom that was given to blacks by President Abraham Lincoln 100 years earlier in 1863 was still not realized. “Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds,”” he continued.

In 2017, 100 years after the Balfour Declaration in 1917 recognized the right of Jews to reestablish their homeland in Palestine, President Obama said that the Jewish State could only be reestablished on a sliver of their homeland, and Jews living outside those bounds was illegal. Many Zionists have repeated the words of MLK to Obama today, that the tacit endorsement of United Nations Resolution 2334 was wrong; a bounced check marked “insufficient funds.”

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

Theodore Herzl advanced modern Zionism when he wrote the book “The Jewish State” in 1896. He believed that “If you will it, it is no dream;” that Jews could actively participate in moving to Israel and reestablish Jewish sovereignty in the land. Jews were already a majority in Jerusalem since the 1860s, and had moved to Palestine in greater numbers than any other religion throughout the 1800s. But Herzl instilled the belief that sovereignty – Jewish self-determination in their homeland – was a possibility in modern times.

“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”

While international law established the right of a Jewish homeland in Palestine in the San Remo Agreement of 1920 and the Palestine Mandate in 1922, the nations of the world did not recognize the independent Jewish State until 1948-9. Some people have argued that Israel was created BECAUSE of the Holocaust, that bleak “starless midnight of racism and war.” The truth is that the world recognized the right of Jews to reestablish their homeland decades earlier, before the Nazis even rose to power.

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope”

The endorsements of a Jewish homeland in 1920 and 1922 was met with riots and pogroms in Israel. Arab riots in the 1920s killed dozens of Jews. The mini-Arab war against the Jews in 1936-9 killed thousands, and made the British administrators institute a ceiling on Jewish immigration to Palestine – on the eve of the Holocaust – an action that allowed thousands of Jews to die in Europe. Wars and terrorism from Arab forces have continued to kill Jews in Israel. But the Jewish State never gives up hope of living in peace.

“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”

The Israeli people are a diverse people. Mizrachi Jews account for the majority, who came from Arab lands including Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt between 1948 and the 1960s. Many Jews left Argentina after the bombing of the Jewish Community Center in 1984, and Israel absorbed thousands of Jews from Ethiopia and Russia during the 1990s. While people think of the Ashkenazim of Europe being the dominant presence in the country, they are actually a minority.

Efforts at Peace and Coexistence

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

When Israel declared its independence in May 1948, it gave citizenship to everyone living in the land, Jews and non-Jews alike. This was in sharp contrast to the Jordanian Arabs who expelled all Jews from lands that they seized in the 1948-9 war in Judea and Samaria and eastern Jerusalem. The Jordanians gave all of the Arabs in the region Jordanian citizenship and explicitly EXCLUDED JEWS from obtaining citizenship. At this time, the other Arab and Muslim countries began to force 1 million Jews to flee their homes.

In 1967, after the Arab countries tried to destroy Israel again, Israel asked for peace, but the Arab world declared in Khartoum “no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it.

Israeli statesman Shimon Peres made an observation similar to MLK about the persistent Arab terrorism in Israel when he said in June 2014 you cannot put fire and water in the same glass. Hamas is clearly not a partner for peace…. Finding a way forward is hard but we must not lose hope.” Israel continues to extend a hand of peace and coexistence to its Arab neighbors and hopes that one day, the dream of peace will be reciprocated.

“It is not enough to say we must not wage war. It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it.”

Israel took significant steps towards peace with its neighbors, sacrificing territory that it took when Arab countries sought to destroy Israel.  In 1982, Israel removed all Jews from the Sinai peninsula and handed the land to Egypt in exchange for a peace treaty. In 1996, as part of the Oslo Agreements, Israel gave control of many cities in Judea and Samaria/ the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority, in the hopes of establishing peace. The Israelis discussed giving back almost all of the Golan Heights to Syria in exchange for peace, as detailed in Dennis Ross’s book, The Missing Peace. And in 2005, Israel withdrew all Israeli soldiers and civilians from Gaza in the hopes of achieving peace.

We have yet to see many Arabs sacrifice for peace willfully, such as admitting the rights of Jews to live throughout the region, facilitating their access to their holiest site on the Jewish Temple Mount and recognizing the Jewish State itself.

Love and Kindness

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

Israel has been at the forefront of helping out countries of the world faced with natural disasters. Whether in Haiti or Turkey, Japan or Indonesia, Israel helps countries that do not even recognize it.  Consider that Israel even helped people injured in the civil war in Syria next door, even though the two countries are technically at war.

“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”

Israeli officials often call out the barbarity that exists around the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region. The murderous regimes that extinguish freedoms make Israel a lonely island of democracy and liberal attitudes. But for its efforts of calling out evil, Israel just gets more world condemnation, as it is mocked for progressive attitudes with terms like “pinkwashing.” No matter. Israel will continue to lead by example and call out its neighbors.

Israel and Greatness

“Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.”

Jews may only a fraction of the global body, but they account for an enormous percentage of the Nobel Prizes for Chemistry, Medicine and Physics. Similarly, the Jewish State has more Nobel Prize winners than the African continent and entire Arabian peninsula combined.

“The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be… The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.”

Israel has been named the “Start Up Nation” because of the remarkable number of entrepreneurs that have created successful start up companies.  Despite its small size, lack of natural resources and unfriendly neighbors, the country has managed to create break-through hardware and software companies with products that are incorporated into almost every successful technology today.

Israel and Arab Neighbors

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

At the moment of Israel’s declaration of statehood, it opened its arms to Arabs both in its midst and those at its borders. In the very text of the declaration on May 14, 1948 it stated: “WE APPEAL – in the very midst of the onslaught launched against us now for months – to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions. WE EXTEND our hand to all neighbouring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighbourliness, and appeal to them to establish bonds of cooperation and mutual help with the sovereign Jewish people settled in its own land. The State of Israel is prepared to do its share in a common effort for the advancement of the entire Middle East.” It is an effort that Israel still continues to advance today.

“The principle of self defense, even involving weapons and bloodshed, has never been condemned, even by Gandhi.”

While Israel attempts to achieve a peaceful coexistence with its neighbors, it will always have the security of its land and people as a primary concern. When rockets flew from Gaza, Israel responded by launching an operation to stop the attacks. When suicide bombers infiltrated the country from Arab towns in Judea and Samaria, the country built a security barrier.

“Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.”

Israel has attempted to advance peace with Palestinian Arabs on the basis of peaceful coexistence. It gave full rights of citizenship to Arabs living in Israel in 1948, and has allowed Arabs living in the eastern part of Jerusalem which Israel reunited in 1967, the right to apply for citizenship. In contrast, the Arabs have made no attempt to advance peace, but have only focused on a complete separation from Israel. Some Palestinian Arabs that are viewed as “moderates” seek a state just in Gaza and the West Bank. Other Arabs seek to destroy Israel completely.

Peace will only come to the region when peace is a means and an ends, not just a potential byproduct of maneuvers and declarations.

Israel and the United Nations

“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

The United Nations has made a name for itself in its rampant anti-Semitism. Efforts have ranged from Having a former Nazi, Kurt Waldheim, run the UN for years, to resolutions declaring that “Zionism is racism.”

In 2015 and 2016, the UN advanced and approved resolutions that removed any connection of Judaism from Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple Mount. The efforts are part of a long-standing Arab complaint that Israel is trying to “Judaize” its holiest city, despite Jews’ 3000-year history in the city.

MLK said it best, that nothing is more dangerous than conscientious stupidity.

“Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.”

Several European countries have tried to advance a peaceful resolution to the Arab-Israeli Conflict. However, in doing so, they have compounded the problem and made chances for peace more remote.

Removing Hamas from a list of terrorist entities enables terrorism and parties that oppose any peace with Israel. Labeling products from Judea and Samaria with distinct labels pushes away opportunities for coexistence. Condemning Jews living across from Armistice Lines that were specifically never designated as borders is illogical and harms negotiations. Advancing peace forums without the presence of Israelis makes the possibility of direct negotiations more remote.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stood before the General Assembly at the United Nations in October 2015 to rebuke the countries of the world for their “utter silence, deafening silence” in condemning Iran for its pledge to destroy Israel. President Obama called US Ambassador Samantha Power out of the room so she missed Netanyahu’s speech. Silence compounded: the refusal to speak and the refusal to hear.

Israel and the United States Under Obama

“The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.”

As noted above, Barack Obama pulled his people out of the UN General Assembly so they would not hear the Israeli Prime Minister’s speech. It was not the only time he would snub Israel.

Obama made a point of reaching out to the Arab and Muslim world as soon as he began his presidency. He made his first public trip to Turkey where he pitched “common ground.” He traveled to Cairo, Egypt, where he made his “new beginnings” appeal. He would stop by Iraq and Saudi Arabia. And skip Israel.

When Obama did make it to Israel four years later, he declined an invitation to speak to the Israeli Knesset, and instead opted to use that time to speak to college students, snubbing the only democracy in the Middle East.

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

By early 2015, the contours of the Iran nuclear deal were taking shape, very much to the dislike of Israel, Saudi Arabia and other American allies. As the Iranian government made clear its interest in destroying Israel, Netanyahu sought to take aggressive steps to improve upon the deal. He accepted an invitation to address a joint session of Congress, but Obama had 58 Democratic loyalists in Congress boycott the speech.

Beyond snubbing Israel in Jerusalem and Washington DC, and standing by idly when the United Nations Security Council lambasted Israel, the Obama administration never had the courage to state that it supported Israel as it confronted dozens of terrorist attacks. Those sentiments were reserved for other countries. And for Palestinian Arabs.


The twentieth quote summarizes the life of Martin Luther King: “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” It is a mantra he lived as a civil rights leader fighting for a minority group to achieve common rights and freedoms.

It is a cause that the Jewish people and the Jewish State understand full well.


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MLK

 

 

For Liberals, It’s Israelis, Palestinians, and Indifference

There is a common refrain that it is not easy to be a Liberal Zionist these days.

There was a time when Democrats and Liberals had a strong preference for Israelis over Palestinians in the ongoing 100-year conflict. In 2002, Democrats sympathized more with Israelis than Palestinians by a margin of 45% to 21% while Liberals had a margin of 41% to 19%.  Today, that gap has disappeared altogether.

In the latest 2017 Pew Research poll, Democrats split evenly in their preferences between Israelis (33%), Palestinians (31%) and neither (35%). The Democratic leanings are in sharp contrast to Republicans who still favor Israel by 74% to 11%. It is a remarkable phenomenon considering that Israel is the most liberal country in the entire region for a thousand miles in any direction.

pew-2017

This dynamic has become a struggle for Liberal Zionists who easily relate to their fellow Liberals on most matters, but not with 2/3rds of them when it comes to Israel.

Elliot Cosgrove, the liberal rabbi of the Park Avenue Synagogue in New York City felt that he had to pen a piece about the situation. In the January 11, 2017 edition of The Jewish Week he wroteFor socially progressive Jews, it is an awkward time to be a Zionist — to be both liberal and a Zionist at one and the same time.” Why is this the case, what has been done and what can be done?

The Causes

There are arguably many reasons why liberals have moved away from supporting Israel. Here are two.

Inequalities and the Size of the Conflict: A goal of many liberals is to bridge inequalities in society. The gaps may be between the haves and have-nots; between the rich and the poor; or between the powerful and the weak. Their desire is to flatten the field to cause the gaps to shrink or be virtually eliminated.

When the left-wing looks at Israel, they see a fiscally-strong, military power occupying a poor Arab demilitarized population. The inequalities between the groups are enormous and the goal to “flatten” the dynamics strikes them as fair and appropriate. As such, they conclude that Israel must sacrifice so the Palestinian Arabs can have more.

However, when many Zionists look at Israel, they see a dependable, democratic ally in the middle of unstable dictatorships. They admire a single, small Jewish State surrounded by dozens of hostile Arab and Muslim countries.

Both views are true, and two liberal Zionists can arrive at different conclusions: either looking at the situation very narrowly as an Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict, or more broadly as a conflict between Israel and the Arab World. A liberal approach based on the second perspective would argue for Israel ceding no land as it is the more vulnerable entity in the region, while the former approach adopted by many liberals today, pushes for Israel to hand over all disputed land to be a new state of Palestine.

Multi-Culturalism and Relevancy: Liberals advance a cause of universalism over particularism. They see the underpinnings of a strong society as one that advances a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic existence over one that is more insular and monolithic.  Consequently, many liberals see the idea of a Jewish State as backwards thinking, as the essence of tribalism.  They therefore consider any association with such an entity as an embarrassment that would insult their liberal principles. These liberal Zionists support groups like the New Israel Fund and Adalah that seek to replace the Jewish State with a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic society.

Other liberal Zionists see the thriving multi-cultural, multi-ethnic society that Israel has become, even as a Jewish State. The Jewish Mizrachi community is the largest in Israel, and includes people from Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt. Thousands of Israeli Jews from Ethiopia, Yemen and Iraq have little in common with other Israeli Jews from Russia, Argentina and Poland. More so, roughly 25% of Israeli citizens are not Jewish, leading Israel to be the most ethnically diverse population in the MENA region.

What Has Been Done

To accommodate the wide range of opinions, liberal Zionists have stretched the definition of a “Zionist.” In liberal circles, a self-described Zionist can be pro-BDS, as they fight for Palestinian Arab equality. A Liberal Zionist can donate to organizations that seek to undermine the Jewish character of Israel, as an expression of loving the modern thriving democracy. In contorting the bounds of Zionism, they have enabled themselves to sit comfortably with other two-thirds of “progressives” with whom they respect.

For traditional Zionists, this situation is an absurdity.

Imagine someone at a pro-choice rally with a large placard that argues for banning abortions after a fetus has a heartbeat at eight weeks, claiming that they are pro-choice because they are in favor of permitting the procedure in the first weeks of pregnancy. Many fellow pro-choicers might ask that person to move to the other side of the picket line to join the pro-life camp. They might negate the person’s self-declared status as “pro-choice” as they consider their actual position stands against the passionate tenets of the majority.

What Can Be Done

No individual needs to subscribe to an entire platform of a group. For example, a Democrat might agree with the party line on global warming, but disagree on tax policy. A Republican could agree with the party position on foreign affairs, but disagree on social issues. In dealing with conflict, some people stay within their registered parties while they disagree on many issues, while others leave the party to become Independents.

Single issue matters are more cut-and-dry. Someone may be in favor of gun control or against it. However, even within those binary choices, there is a range of opinion. For example, being against gun control doesn’t mean being in favor of getting rid of background checks or gun licenses. A single issue is still dynamic within itself.

Liberal Zionists are subset of two groups: Liberals and Zionists. Liberals cover a broad range of issues similar to Democrats and Republicans. As reviewed in many polls, Liberals are not sympathetic to Israel.  But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t Liberal Zionists that break with the majority.

Israel is a single issue matter for Americans and more easily broken into binary choices. However, there is still nuance in the pro-Zionist camp, especially within the Liberal Zionist community.

Rabbi Cosgrove noted that it is hard to be both a Liberal and a Zionist today. That is a sentiment that is rooted in someone that defines themselves as a Liberal first and a Zionist second.

Zionists have no issues with Liberals, and Israelis are, by-and-large, liberal. Most Israelis and Zionists just believe in the essential nature of the country as a Jewish State and the critical need for security.

For Liberals, being a Zionist is a bit harder to swallow. It typically means running against the majority opinion of the group with which one has chosen to identify. To reconcile that struggle, liberals either counter the ambivalence or anti-Israel sentiment of the group, or redefine Zionism in a manner that accommodates either liberal or Zionistic preferences. Many have chosen the latter, and twisted the definition of “Zionist” into something that is unrecognizable to the majority of Zionists.

There is another way.

An easy way to be a Liberal Zionist is to use a wide lens when looking at Israel from a security standpoint within the broader Arab world, and narrowly when examining Israeli society from a social vantage point. Such an approach would be consistent with the majority of Liberal regarding daily life and with the majority of Zionists regarding daily existence.


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Squeezing Zionism

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New York Times Lies about the Gentleness of Zionism

“Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
– Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)

The famous Welsh poet Dylan Thomas penned a poem called “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night.”  In it, he urged people to not accept their deaths meekly, without a fight.

Written for his dying father, the poem struck a chord among the broad public.  While the sentiments were intimate, they could be read on a grander scale, as it was published after the end of World War II and the Genocide of the Jews.  The British withstood a pounding by the German Nazi forces, but they fought on and prevailed.  The Jews of Europe were unarmed, and managed only a few resistance movements.  Two-thirds of the Jewish population perished.

Gentleness is normally pursued and praised.  But Thomas – and his fans – declared that one should not acquiesce to death.  At such times, gentleness is to be shunned.

NY Times Rage Against “Displacement”

On February 7, 2016, New York Times reporter Steven Erlander wrote an article called “Who Are the True Heirs of Zionism?” It’s an interesting question for someone who fails to understand Zionism.

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The article launched with Erlander’s negative bias:

Zionism was never the gentlest of ideologies. The return of the Jewish people to their biblical homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty there have always carried within them the displacement of those already living in the land.”

Quite an opening paragraph to direct readers that Zionism – whatever its future – is evil at its core. Erlander claimed that Zionism lacks a gentleness since it seeks to displace indigenous people.  It did so at its founding when the secular founders of Zionism created the State of Israel, and the religious settlers do so now, as they seek to annex the “West Bank,” east of the Green Line (EGL). Such claim is completely false and repeats an anti-Israel narrative of Jews as “colonial occupiers” (as acting-President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas claimed).

In reality, Zionism is about fighting against and fleeing from anti-Semitism.  It was the case when Theodore Herzl wrote “The Jewish State” in 1896, and it is the case today.  The essence was not about “displacing” people, but creating a safe place for Jews by reestablishing them in their homeland.

Some facts:

  1. Jews always lived in the Holy Land. While the mass expulsion of Jews happened in 135 CE by the Romans, Jews always maintained a presence in Israel. As evidence, Jews have been a majority in Jerusalem since the 1860s, thirty years before the first Zionist Congress.  In other words, Jews were not newcomers – they were part of “those already living in the land.”
  2. Jews were the only people that moved to the Holy Land during the last century of Ottoman Rule. From 1800 until the end of the Ottoman Empire, the annual growth rate of Muslims in the Holy Land was just 1.0% – the rate of growth of births minus deaths. That means that no Muslims migrated there. However, the Jewish rate of growth was 2.1% over that time period.
  3. Muslims only began to come to the Holy Land after the British Mandate. After a century of zero Muslim migration, Arab Muslims started to move to the Holy Land after the British Mandate of Palestine took effect. More Muslims moved to Palestine under the British Mandate than Jews.
  4. Jews did not intend to “displace” non-Jews. The Jews did not intend to remove the non-Jews – neither those that lived in Palestine for generations, nor the incredible number of Arab newcomers. The intent of Zionism was to bring in Jews from around the world, not to displace others as Erlander claimed. As evidence, Israel gave citizenship to every non-Jew when it declared statehood in 1948.

When Zionism was first broadly advanced in the 1890s after the Dreyfus Affair in France, there were roughly 540,000 people living in Palestine, and millions of Jews living in Europe and Russia. The dream of Zionism’s founders was to move millions of Jews from Europe and Russia to the sparsely populated, unpopular land of Palestine. As history would have it, two-thirds of the Jews in Europe would be massacred, and the Arabs would expel the Jews from their countries, many of whom were to then move to Israel and become the largest segment of the Israeli population.

Today, there are 8.1 million people in Israel, in just a fraction of the original Mandate of Palestine. Roughly 25% of the people – about 2 million – are non-Jews.  That is over four times the number of non-Jews in the entirety of Palestine in 1890. Clearly, Zionism created a place for non-Jews, counter to Erlander’s slander.

Zionism’s Next Phase According to the NY Times:
Secular Israelis versus Religious Jews

Erlander continued to paint a story of the “new Zionists – religious Zionists” who also seek to displace Arabs:

“In that gap between idealism and pragmatism is the fierce battle now going on in Israel, some 65 years after the founding of the state, about the true inheritors of Zionism. Are they those who hold to a secular and internationalist vision of the nation’s founders, or are they the nationalist religious settlers who create communities beyond the 1967 boundaries and seek to annex more of the biblical land of Israel?”

The article painted a picture of secular Israelis today seeking a pragmatic vision of Zionism within 1949 boundaries (as the Times and left-wing group J Street demand) on one side, and irrational religious Israelis, “settlers [that] are the epitome of a particularism, of localism, and they give a bad name to Zionism,” on the other.

Yet the article continued to ignore basic facts:

  1. Zionism continues to be principally about a haven from Anti-Semitism. The vast majority of people moving to Israel, making Aliyah, are people escaping persecution. The countries that dominate moving to Israel every year are Russia and Ukraine. When things get bad in France, French Aliyah spikes. Almost all of these Jews are not religious and are not moving for religious reasons, similar to Zionism of a century ago.
  2. Jews are moving to Judea and Samaria according to International Law, not the Bible.  The “religious settlers” are not seeking to resettle all of the biblical kingdoms of Israel. They are not moving into southern Lebanon, southern Syria or western Jordan which were all part of the Jewish kingdoms. They are moving into those areas that were established in international law in the San Remo Conference of 1920 that outlined that Jews could live throughout the land of Palestine. That land included Judea and Samaria. Just because the Jordanians attacked Israel in 1948, illegally annexed the land in 1950, and evicted all of the Jews counter to the Fourth Geneva Convention, does not mean that these lands are somehow not an integral part of the lands set for a Jewish homeland by international law.
  3. Non-Jews have not been expelled from the West Bank/EGL or Gaza.  The contention that the “religious settlers” are continuing this rage of Zionism by displacing yet more non-Jews is absurd.  The only people that the Israeli government expelled from their homes were Jews, as happened in Sinai (1982) and Gaza (2005).
  4. “Religious Settlers” are not primitive.  Erlander seemed to draw a contrast against the cosmopolitan, pluralistic, secular Israelis involved in art and technology living in Tel Aviv to “religious nationalists.”  Erlander would do well to visit Maale Adumim, Efrat and many other “settlements” to see that these “settlers” are more cosmopolitan than many of the people living in Bat Yam, just south of Tel Aviv.

The founders of Zionism in the 19th century knew the sentiment of Dylan Thomas’s poem before he was even born: “do not go gentle into the good night.”  They fought against hatred and persecution and set up a liberal democracy in the heart of the illiberal Middle East.  Had Zionism flourished earlier, and the Arabs and British not delayed the creation of the State of Israel, perhaps a million Jews would have been saved from the Holocaust.

Today, Jews continue to come to Israel, fleeing persecution. They live throughout Israel and Area C in the West Bank/EGL. They believe in the international law that gave them the right to settle and reconstitute their homeland.  Just as they would not tolerate the anti-Semitism from where they left, they do no support the anti-Semitic wishes of a Palestinian Authority that demands land free of any Jews.

Erlander is right that “Zionism was never the gentlest of ideologies,” but he misses the crucial point.  Zionism’s rage is against anti-Semitism and persecution; it has never been about displacement.

The gentleness of Zionism, in which “every high tech start-up, every new Thai restaurant and every successful film” flourishes, is found when and where anti-Semitism and persecution are absent.  As the world embraces the anti-Semitic credo of Palestinians demanding Jews be barred from living or working in the West Bank/EGL, Israelis will continue to “rage, rage against the dying of the light.”


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A Native American, An African American and a Hispanic American walk into Israel…

Rick Jacobs’ Particular Reform Judaism

Liberals’ Biggest Enemies of 2015

Squeezing Zionism

Israel was never a British Colony; Judea and Samaria are not Israeli Colonies

Obama’s “Values” Red Herring

A Flower in Terra Barbarus

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Squeezing Zionism

Zionism started before the First Zionist Congress in 1897 and before Theodore Herzl wrote “The Jewish State” in 1896. However, the core elements of Zionism that people recognize came from the 1917 Balfour Declaration. Those key elements found their way into the 1920 San Remo Conference and ultimately, the 1922 League of Nation’s Palestine Mandate. Those key points are:

  • Jewish History in the Holy Land:recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine
  • Reestablishing the Jewish homeland: “recognition… to the grounds for reconstituting their [Jewish] national home in that country [Palestine]
  • Immigration:shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions
  • Owning land:shall encourage, in co-operation with the Jewish agency referred to in Article 4, close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes
  • Citizenship:facilitate the acquisition of Palestinian citizenship by Jews who take up their permanent residence in Palestine
  • Freedom of worship and religion: “securing free access to the Holy Places, religious buildings and sites and the free exercise of worship…. complete freedom of conscience and the free exercise of all forms of worship, subject only to the maintenance of public order and morals, are ensured to all. No discrimination of any kind shall be made between the inhabitants of Palestine on the ground of race, religion or language. No person shall be excluded from Palestine on the sole ground of his religious belief.

Each of these principles is under attack.

History

Palestinian Arabs did not always doubt the history of Jews in the Holy Land. In the 1920s, the official guidebook of “Al Haram al Sharif” published by the Supreme Moslem Council, stated that the Temple Mount’s “identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute” (page 4). Yet today, the entire history of Jews in the Holy Land is challenged by Palestinian Arab extremists (and “moderates”).

  • Acting President of Palestinian Authority (PA) Mahmoud Abbas addressed the United Nations General Assembly several times. In those speeches he spoke of the history of Jesus and Mohammed in the Holy Land, but ignored the history of the Jews in the land including: Jacob; Joseph; Joshua; David; and Solomon.
  • Various leaders of the PA have declared that: there was never a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem; if there was a Temple it wasn’t on the Temple Mount; and Israel is manufacturing ancient artifacts to fabricate a Jewish connection to Jerusalem.
  • Abbas claimed that Israel has attempted to “Judaize” Jerusalem, including claiming that the Western Wall is actually Islamic and known as the al-Buraq wall.
  • Abbas claimed that Jesus was a Palestinian, rather than a Jew.  His comments have continued to be repeated by PA officials and television.
  • Arab states are so upset about the history of Jews in the Holy Land, that 22 Arab states pressured UNESCO to cancel an exhibit called “People, Book, Land — The 3,500 Year Relationship of the Jewish People to the Holy Land”

Tel Dan
Inscription dating to 840 BCE in Tel Dan, northern Israel
referring to the “House of David”

Recently, some politicians outside of Israel have finally begun to push back on the Arab narrative that denies Jewish history.  US Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), remarked in December 2015 that “denying the historic connection of the Jewish people to Jerusalem is false. Amazing archeological discoveries are frequently made that prove the roots of the Jewish people are in Israel.”

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Seal of King Hezekiah found in Jerusalem, around 700 BCE

Arabs came to the Holy Land during the Islamic invasion of the 7th centuries.  An Arab claim to being indigenous to Israel is like the Portuguese claiming to be indigenous to Brazil because they have been there for hundreds of years. There were people who lived there for thousands of years before the new people invaded, and continue to live there and claim the place as their home.

RECONSTITUTING The Jewish Homeland

The Arabs hope that by denying the history of Jews in the Holy Land, they can claim that they are the indigenous people of the land, and Jews are simply European colonialists. The claim that Israel is a new colonial force is repeated often by Palestinians and plays well to Europeans that have rethought their own colonial past.

However, Israel is not, nor has it ever been, a European colony.

Jews have lived in the Holy Land for over 3,700 years and were the only people to have independent political governments in the land.  They are also the only people to have their religious holiest sites in the land.

It is not a coincidence that Arabs shout to “Free Palestine” as opposed to “Create Palestine” as a new independent country.  The Arabs claim that the land was never home to Jewish Kingdoms and has always been Arab land.

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The Prism of Sennacherib, from roughly 689 BCE describing his attack on
the Jewish King Hezekiah in Jerusalem, as mentioned in 2 Kings: 18:13

Immigration

Arabs sought to deny Jewish immigration to Palestine immediately after the San Remo Conference.  Several Arab riots broke out in the 1920s, and in the 1930s the Arabs were able to convince the British to curtail Jewish immigration.  In 1939, on the eve of the Holocaust in Europe, the British issued the White Paper which capped Jewish immigration at 75,000 people for five years.  The goal was to keep Jews as a permanent minority in Palestine.

Arabs and left-wing Israeli radicals continue to call on limiting Jewish immigration to Israel.  In December 2015, Haaretz columnist Amira Hess said at a conference run with the New Israel Fund that Jewish “immigration to Israel under today’s circumstances — especially on the part of citizens of free Western countries — constitutes complicity in the crime.

Owning Land

The British and Arabs reduced the amount of land available for Jews to settle since the time that the Mandate took effect in 1922.

  • By 1928, the area now known as Jordan, was split from Palestine.
  • In 1929, after Arabs massacred Jews in Hebron, the British evacuated all of the remaining Jews from the city
  • In 1937, the Peel Commission suggested partitioning the land into two
  • In 1940, British drafted the Land Transfer Regulations which limited where Jews could purchase land to only one-third of the remaining part of Palestine
  • In 1947, the United Nations voted to partition the land into Arab and Jewish States
  • In 1949, after five Arab armies attacked Israel at its founding, Jordan illegally annexed Judea and Samaria and evicted all Jews from the territory, including the eastern part of Jerusalem, counter to the Fourth Geneva Convention
  • In 1967, after Jordan (and Palestinians who were then Jordanian citizens) attacked Israel and lost the area that they had termed the “West Bank,” they still fought to keep Jews from living in the land

The Jordanians had a Land Law in effect in the West Bank that prohibited the sale of any land to Jews from 1949 to 1967, punishable by death.  In 1997 – AFTER the Oslo Accords between the Palestinian Authority and Israel – the Palestinians confirmed that such land sales to Jews would be considered treason and a capital offense.

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Radical left-wing activist Ezra Nawi blew whistle on Arabs selling land to Jews
was arrested by Israel in January 2016

Citizenship

When the British left Palestine in 1948, Israel gave citizenship to everyone in Israel – Jews and non-Jews alike.  However, after the Arabs attacked Israel and Jordan assumed control of the West Bank, Jordan only granted citizenship only to Arabs.  The 1954 Jordanian law extending citizenship to Palestinian Arabs spelled out that Jews were excluded: “Any person who, not being Jewish, possessed Palestinian nationality before 15 May 1948 and was a regular resident in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan between 20 December 1949 and 16 February 1954.

Arab groups like Adalah and left-wing groups like the New Israel Fund (NIF) complain today about Israel’s Law of Return that allows Jews to become citizens of Israel on an expedited manner, a Law that non-Jews cannot use, claiming that such law is discriminatory. The groups fail to note that Israel institutes a Law of Return in the same manner that dozens of other countries use such a law to enable people with a lineage to the country to become citizens quickly.  The Jewish people have ties to the prior Jewish kingdoms in the Holy Land, while the Arabs, many of whom arrived over the past century, but certainly not before the 7th century, have no such ties.

When you see an advertisement about “social justice” and “equality” from groups like the NIF, they are attacking these fundamental principles of Zionism and common international laws.

NIF equality

Freedom of Worship

When the League of Nations endorsed the principles of Zionism, they also sought to ensure equality and fairness for the Jewish and non-Jewish inhabitants throughout the region.  One of the areas that they highlighted was the access to each religion’s holy places.  In theory.

Jews were banned from visiting or worshipping on the Temple Mount back in the 1550s under Suleiman I. The Ottoman Muslim leader enabled Jews to pray at the Western Wall, or the Kotel, but denied them their historical access to their holiest place. Moslems similarly forbade Jews from visiting their second holiest place, the Cave of the Jewish Patriarchs in Hebron.

When Israel took control of the post-1929 Palestine Mandate land in 1967, they sought to reestablish Jewish rights at the holiest Jewish places – just as called for in international law endorsing Zionism.

As detailed in “The United Nations and Holy Sites in the Holy Land,” Israel attempted to assert Jewish rights at their holiest places including: The Temple Mount; the Cave of the Jewish Patriarchs; Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem; and Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem/Nablus. It has been a struggle.

To this day, Jews are still banned from worshipping on the Temple Mount. This is just fine with the United Nations as highlighted in “The UN’s Disinterest in Jewish Rights at Jewish Holy Places.”

The United Nations Complicity in
Squeezing Zionism

It is understood that the Arabs would argue strongly for their own cause.  They have pursued an Arab and Muslim maximalist approach to the Holy Land for centuries.

However, the United Nations has backtracked significantly from its early endorsement of Zionism.  Under British administration, immigration was cut and the ability to own land was diminished.  When it came to vote at the United Nations to admit Israel as a new country, to “reconstitute the Jewish homeland,” Britain abstained.

The United Nations learned from Britain, and has continued to squeeze Zionism, such as recanting on the principle that Jews should have the freedom to worship at their holiest places, as discussed above.

While the UN constricted Zionism, it expanded the cause of Palestinian Arabs:

  • it created a new definition of “refugee” which included someone that left a house and town, rather than a country
  • It uniquely extended the definition of “refugees” to descendants, where the UN now considers there to be over 11 million Palestinians
  • The UN created a stand-alone refugee agency for Palestinian Arab “refugees” (UNRWA) that live in the surrounding area to the Holy Land, giving services to over 5 million people. Every other refugee in the world gets a single under-funded agency
  • UNRWA has promoted a narrative that all 5 million “refugees” will get to move to Israel, even though they are neither refugees nor have any right to move to Israel under the country’s Law of return
  • The UN altered its mission for refugees to one of protection and settlement (as it does throughout the world), to one that seeks to undermine Zionism

In 1975, the UN General Assembly endorsed Resolution 3379 stating that “Zionism is Racism,” essentially nullifying on the basic arguments and rights of Jews to their homeland.  The effort to limit Zionism had become an effort to terminate it.

Summary

The “Zionism is racism” declaration was ultimately overturned in 1991, in part, because of the efforts of the United States.  As US President George Bush argued before the UN: “Zionism is not a policy, it is the idea that led to the creation of a home for the Jewish people, to the State of Israel. And to equate Zionism with the intolerable sin of racism is to twist history and forget the terrible plight of the Jews in World War II, and indeed throughout history. To equate Zionism with racism, is to reject Israel itself, a member of good standing of the United Nations. This body cannot claim to seek peace and at the same time challenge Israel’s right to exist.”

Zionism has been getting squeezed since 1917, in rights, size and scope.  As Zionism has been squeezed, so has the State of Israel itself.

The “Freedom CHOIR (Freedom of worship and religion; Citizenship; History; Owning land; Immigration; and Reconstituting the Jewish State)” which are fundamental building blocks of Zionism, are under attack.  The Arabs have intensified their assault to include basic facts of Jewish history.  The British and United Nations have constricted Zionism in size and scope.  Left-wing radical groups have now joined the chorus using “progressive” language of “justice” and “equality,” while using the identical arguments of racists that seek to reject Israel.

Review the points of the Freedom CHOIR. Do you believe in Zionism?  Will you join the CHOIR or seek to silence it?


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Adalah, Dismantling Zionism

Adalah is also known as the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel. It is funded by a number of left-wing organizations including: the New Israel Fund (NIF); the Ford Foundation; the Open Society Foundation (George Soros); Oxfam; and the European Commission.

Adalah claims to be “an independent human rights organization and legal center which… works to promote and defend the rights of Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel, 1.2 million people, or 20% of the population, as well as Palestinians living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).”  It’s agenda is much more aggressive than simply defending Israeli Arabs.

The group seeks to replace Israel as a Jewish State with a bi-national, multi-cultural state.

adalah person
Adalah protested Israel’s ban of Islamic party in Israel, November 2015.  Caption states “Raed Salah, the head of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, gestures  in Nazareth on Nov. 17 after an Israeli police raid at the movement’s office.(Atef Safadi / European Pressphoto Agency).”  The four-finger “gesture” is the salute “R4bia” supporting the Muslim Brotherhood.  The United Kingdom also declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization in December 2015.

Dismantling the Jewish State

Adalah’s goal is a new Israel, which would no longer have any Jewish preferences, such as special symbols for Jews (in the national anthem and flag), nor special treatment for Jews (such as quick and easy approval for Israeli citizenship).

Adalah’s mission can be clearly seen in its “Democratic Constitution” for Israel, proposed in 2007:

  • Setting Israel’s borders at the 1949 Armistice Lines/ “1967 borders”
  • The “Right of Return” of all Palestinian Arabs that left the region, together with their descendants, back to Israel
  • “[T]he return of land and properties [for all Arab refugees] on the basis of restorative justice
  • Israel would become a “democratic, bilingual and multicultural state,” replacing the Jewish State, because it views Israel as racist due to “the exclusion of the Arab minority based on the definition of the state as Jewish.”

The group rejects the international laws of 1920 (San Remo Conference) and 1922 (Palestine Mandate) that specifically called for “reconstituting their [Jewish] national home” THROUGHOUT Palestine, as Adalah claims that such international actions ultimately turned Arabs from a majority into a minority “against their [Palestinan Arab] will.”

The organization’s mission is to remove any particular “Jewishness” of Israel, and then flood the country with millions of Arabs to make Jews the minority. Homes would be taken away from Israeli Jews and handed to Arab “refugees.”

Refusing Equality for Israeli Jews

While the group fights against what it calls Israeli laws with embedded “racial inequality,” it shows no interest in promoting equality for Jews.

  • Where is the Adalah protest that Jews should not be barred from living in Judea and Samaria?
  • Where are the Adalah lawsuits to enable Jews to pray openly on the Jewish Temple Mount?
  • Why does the group find it offensive for Arabs with Israeli citizenship to be called “Israeli Arabs” and insists on being called “Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel?”  Are they demanding dual citizenship with a future Palestinian State?  Will they advocate that Israeli Jews should similarly get dual citizenship?
  • Adalah highlights that Arabs have lived in the region for generations which entitles them to particular rights in their homeland, yet they deny the history of the Jews and their rights to a homeland in the Holy Land.

Is equality for Adalah only a one-way street where Arabs get access and rights but Jews are denied?

Adalah: Having Your Country and Eating It Too

Adalah’s goals are clear.  It seeks a two state solution for the region: one is called Israel, in which Jews are allowed to live as a minority in a bi-national state with a Palestinian Arab majority; the other country is called Palestine, which will have no Jews nor Jewish rights to their holy places.

As “Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel” are part of the broader Palestinian people, they would have citizenship in both countries, while Jews would be limited to just living in Israel.  Over time, it is easy to visualize a future where those two Palestinian Arab states would merge.  Goodbye Israel.

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Full page NIF ad in The Jewish Week, November 20, 2015
stating it supports “Israelis working for a shared society” and claiming those opposed to NIF have an “ultranationalist agenda”

“Pro Israel” groups like the New Israel Fund state that they “are working for civil rights, social justice and religious tolerance.”  Those are noble goals. However, why does NIF support organizations like Adalah which seek to destroy the Jewish State?  Why does NIF label those people who want to see Zionism flourish in the Holy Land as “ultranationalist?”

Adalah openly opposes the vision of Zionism’s founders, as well as international laws which called for re-establishing the homeland of the Jewish people.  How can NIF give Adalah funds ($1.875 million from 2008-2014) and claim that it is “pro-Israel?”

However the NIF chooses to stretch the definition of “pro-Israel,” it is certainly is not pro-Zionism.


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From Promised Land to Promised Home

Summary: God is the original Zionist.

Judaism is a unique religion in many respects:

  • Every other religion is based primarily on faith. Judaism is based primarily on lineage.
  • Every other religion is based on belief. Judaism is based on action.
  • Every other religion is not geographically-bound. Judaism is tied to the land of Israel.

The Old Testament has 613 commandments for Jews to observe. Many of those can only be kept inside the land of Israel. Those commandments relate to the sanctity of the land, as God promised the land to Abraham and the generations after him.

shmita
Observing “Shmita” only in Israel
(photo: FirstOneThrough)

Promised Land

The Bible has three sets of promises of the land of Israel for the Jewish people. The first set is God’s original promise to Abraham:

  • “The Lord appeared to Abram and said ‘To your descendants I will give this land’” (Genesis 12:7)

The book of Genesis repeats the promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob several times where the land is presented as “an everlasting possession” for the generations to come. (Genesis 17:8).

DSC_0258
The Western Galilee
(photo: FirstOneThrough)

Promised Return to the Land

The second set of promises related to the return to Israel from slavery in Egypt. That promise is slightly different than the original promise to the Jewish forefathers:

  • The land is described as being a good land “flowing with milk and honey
  • The land is occupied by others, by the “Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite.” (Genesis 3:8)

Hundreds of years earlier, God just told Abraham to go “to the land that I will show you” (Genesis 12:1) without any description of the location or nature of the land.  At the point of the exodus from Egypt, God promised not only freedom from slavery, but to a land of great quality.  Presumably, the land was so good, that others had now moved there while the Jews were trapped in Egypt.  However, God promised to “drive them [the others] out” (Exodus 23:30) and that the Jews will ultimately possess it.

cows
Cows in the Golan
 
(photo: FirstOneThrough)

 Promised Home

The Old Testament ends with yet a third promise: a return from the diaspora to the land of Israel, to their home.

  • The promise includes an ingathering of exiles from “the four quarters of the Earth” (Isaiah 11:12)
  • Israel is no longer only described as simply being a good land, an inhabited land or the land of the Jewish forebears. The land is described as belonging to the people of Israel. The prophets repeatedly describe that God will “bring you home again to your own land” (Jeremiah 29:14)

Home. A place that is established and well-known. That doesn’t require a list of directions of how to get there, nor many adjectives.

It is a place where a people grows up and lives. It is a place of life events, both happy and sad. Where families celebrate, quarrel and mourn. A place with family history and history to be made.

Home is where “house rules” apply; where the house decides what is allowed and denied. It decides what is in the best interest of its inhabitants. It is the safe space where a family comes to find sanctuary from the world at large.

Home is always home, even when people have been away. But especially when they come back.

 DSC_1067
Jerusalem’s Old City
(photo: FirstOneThrough)

A music video about God’s promises of the land of Israel to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to become a home for the Jewish people.