Photo Credit: Jodie Maoz

It’s hard to admit, but as we begin 2022, Zionism has largely become a reactive movement. Zionism was never designed to be reactive; it was meant to inspire the millennia-old dreams of the Jewish people. When Zionists proudly declared a state of Israel, they didn’t respond to the charges laid against them as a colonizing and racist entity, rather they proudly declared, “The Land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious and political identity was shaped. Here they first attained statehood, created cultural values of national and universal significance and gave the world the eternal Book of Books.”

The most prolific Zionists of 2022 have become neurotic about our opponents’ slanderous accusations against Israel and the Jewish people. They feel required to constantly post and tweet answers to our enemy’s claims. Jews can be a neurotic people, but the amount of worry put towards Israel’s opponents isn’t justified.

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The most vicious non-violent opposition towards Israel has been from the BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanction) movement. It encourages a complete embargo on anything and everything Israeli, but other than a few cultural events and the utter failure of the Soda Stream and Airbnb boycott attempt, BDS hasn’t succeeded. International sanctions, stemming either from the United Nations or the European Union, have never been levied against Israel. The many one-sided United Nations resolutions against Israel have had no effect on Israel. As Israel’s opponents’ voices have gotten louder, American support for Israel has only risen. The Arab boycott of the 1970s and 1980s has turned into the 2020’s Abraham Accords. Israel’s opponents have not been able to stop Israel’s growth.

Zionism stands for much more than answering our enemy’s accusations. Zionism isn’t about reacting; it is about dreaming of the Jewish future. Zionism is a romantic prophetic vision of the Jewish people put into action daily in the Jewish people’s historic homeland – the land of Israel. It perceives the Jewish people as their reborn Israelite nation come to life even better, healthier and stronger than they ever were in their long history.

Zionism stands for the values and rights of the Israelite nation – the Jewish people. These are ideals we should be proud of and boasting loudly about to all who will listen. First and foremost, Zionism stands for the Jewish people’s right to self-determination. This right means more than giving a Jew the same rights as a non-Jew in another land. The right to self-determination grants the Jewish people as a nation the right to determine their future together. Like any other nation, the Jewish people deserve to be able to chart their future by themselves without foreign interference. Zionism is the movement that fought for that right.

The Jewish people have a historic and unbroken connection to the land of Israel. Unlike many other nations throughout history that conquered, colonized, or immigrated to Israel, the Jewish people are the native people of Eretz Yisrael. Although most of the Jewish nation were exiled and kept out of Israel for over 2,000 years, Zionism encouraged the return of the Jewish people to its land based on the right of the Jewish people to its historic homeland. Zionists need to loudly proclaim that they have every right to live, settle and govern the land of Israel as a Jewish state.

As a Jewish value, Zionism incorporates all other Jewish values within it. Being a light unto the nations is a responsibility the Jewish people have always taken seriously. From charitable giving to conducting warfare, the Jewish people have always held themselves to a higher standard. Zionism stands for a world where the Jewish people can contribute to the welfare of the world as an independent nation. The world has seen Israel’s contributions in science and technological innovations, medical breakthroughs, and aid missions to Haiti, Nepal and Florida, among so many other places. There are thousands of Africans with access to clean water and healthy food because Israelis have made Africans’ welfare their priority. The generosity of Zionism must be the talking point of all Zionists.

Zionists do themselves a disservice by focusing on repudiating our opponents instead of re-emphasizing Zionism’s core values. After 73 years three things have become clear; our answers to our enemies and opponents will not change their minds, rebutting slander against Israel doesn’t advance Zionist goals, and Zionism spreads further and is more appealing when it’s talked about in a robust positive message. It’s time Zionists focused our attention on the good it has done and its dreams of an even brighter future.

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Rabbi Uri Pilichowski is an educator who teaches in high schools across the world. He teaches Torah and Israel political advocacy to teenagers and college students. He lives with his wife and six children in Mitzpe Yericho, Israel. You can follow him on Facebook, and on twitter @rationalsettler.