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Zionism Does Not Equal Judaism

CHRISTIAN ZIONSIM 101_html_m763f1c

Personally I cannot go a day without seeing a headline that brings up what is happening in Israel and the Gaza Strip. Since I am Jewish, Israel has always been a relevant topic in my life that is constantly brought up. Currently, the Israeli government (lead by the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu) and the Palestinian military are fighting over who should have Israel and the land that contains the Gaza Strip. Part of the land in and near Israel is Palestine and is under control by the Palestinian military/government. After World War 2 and the Holocaust, Jews worked hard with the United Nations to get the land the Middle East. This land was Palestine (current day Israel). Israel was founded on May 14, 1948 and almost instantaneously fighting started breaking out between these new Israelis and Palestinians who had lived there for their whole lives. In essence Palestinians were forced to move from their homes onto specific Palestinian Territory. Throughout time and onto current day times, the territory for the Palestinian land is becoming smaller.

Well, what is Zionism exactly, though? Zionism is “a movement for (originally) the re-establishment and (now) the development and protection of a Jewish nation in what is now Israel.” Zionism has been around for a longer time than current day Israel has been around. It was coined by Theodor Herzl. Israel is believed to be the holy land that was gifted to the Jews from God after their exodus from Egypt. Israel is not only the holy land for Jews; it also is for Christians and Muslims. Therefore, anti-Zionism is the opposition to Israel, whether it is for it to be back to Palestine, or have it be combined equally.

In my opinion, Israel is a good idea, but how it is being handled right now is devastating. Overall, most of the Israeli and Palestinian youth do not want there to be fighting between the two groups. There are so many terror acts between the groups that include, bombing, shootings, kidnappings, etc. It is detrimental for the future that the relations between Israelis and Palestinians begin to get smoother and communication is opened up. The Israeli government is prejudiced against Palestinians, when most of the actual Israeli population wants peace.

The media is so skewed on both sides of the fighting. I have read newspapers where every article that is about Israel makes the Palestinians look like the enemies. I have also read countless articles online that make it seem that all of the Israelis are the bad guys in the situation, always the ones doing all the wrong. I do not think anyone has a right to say which one is the case unless they either 1) live in Israel/Palestine and are living in the middle of the conflict or 2) have researched both sides equally. This is because so much of the media is biased on the topic and without doing your own research on the Israeli/ Palestinian conflict you are making yourself biased on it. I myself have done a lot of reading on the topic from different articles and have heard people talk about their logic behind each side, causing me to have a very middle ground view on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

As a Reform Jew, I was raised in a very progressive household since Reform Judaism is a very progressive religion. This past year I would have plenty of long discussions with my Rabbi about Israel. At my synagogue most of the congregants are anti-Zionist. Just because Zionism is the want of a Jewish homeland, it does not mean all Jews are Zionists. That would be like saying all Christians are anti-abortion, which I know is not the case. The reason being Jewish gets mixed into the topic is more is because of the history of the Jewish people that goes along with it. Yes, it is important to have somewhere that is a symbol for your religion. Yes, it is important to be able to go somewhere that can help you connect to your history and religion better. No, this does not justify kicking people out of their homes that their families have been living in for centuries. No, this does not justify the killing and abuse of a certain group of people because of their heritage. That is the view that many Reform Jews have (I say “many” because you cannot make a blanket statement about any group of people).

That saying, people who are uneducated about the topic still link Zionism and Judaism together. This then becomes anti-Semitic. Of course, people who are anti-Zionist are not all anti-Semitic, especially since some Jews are anti-Zionist themselves. People become confused because a lot of Orthodox Jews are Zionist, therefore making it seem that they are the cause of the problem. It is important to spread and to educate people that all Jews are not Zionist because a lot of anti-Zionist protests are turning anti-Semitic. One college campus anti-Zionist protest had protestors shout Jewish slurs and anti-Semitic terms. Instead of spreading awareness on the actual conflict that is going on in Israel, they are blaming all of the problems on one group of people, which breeds hate and intolerance. If you want to hold a protest for anti-Zionism, please link the message onto the Israeli government and not onto the Jewish people, who have little to no power on what happens with Israel and Palestine.

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Written By

Zoe Levine is an eighteen year old senior at McDowell High School in Erie, Pennsylvania. She participates in Mock Trial, Model UN (as president), Key Club, Vocal Ensemble, International Thespians Society, and Exposure (as social media coordinator). She is also president of her Jewish Youth Group, president of a youth volunteering program, and vice president of French Club. She works at a local farmer's market and as a Teaching Assistant at her synagogue. In her free time she loves to travel, write, read, watch TV and movies, and listen to music. She is a feminist and would love to pursue journalism. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @xzoelevine, VSCO at xzoelevine.vsco.co, and goodreads at goodreads.com/zoelevine. You can reach her at zoedlevine@gmail.com for business inquiries.

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