Zionism Reconsidered

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Does a good Zionist question Israel? I wondered this question as I listened to a faculty panel at Yale University called, “Reconsidering Zionism.” While I was hoping to hear how this applied to our present generation, what I heard about was the past. This historical analysis was great for a history fan, but it left me pondering a different issue: does reconsidering Zionism mean reviewing history or revitalizing the Zionist vision for today?

I wondered how many of us in the room were uninformed of the movement's origin. As professors reviewed the ideological founding fathers of the Zionist movement, I wondered if the fragmented ideas that started off with Zionism can explain our current fragmented state of modern Zionism. Some Zionists are military activists, some are religious, some are secular, some are focused on Jewish culture, some are peace activists, others are seeking a nationalist Jewish culture. Even within each smaller group, divides are possible.  Similar to Judaism today, with our movements from left to right, so too was Zionism then and is now.

Zionism isn’t just a relic of Marxism, Socialism, and Zionist founding fathers. To me, Zionism is also a story of now. Frustratingly, the professors were leaving out an important part of the story: the narrative my generation is creating every day. How can we reconsider the movement(s) without taking a look at ourselves?

I normally spend my time on campus in conversations and not lectures. I have the privilege of experiencing history being created daily. Therefore, I want to throw these questions back to you on campus, which are the ones I often discuss with my peers and students with whom I work:

  • Do we need to know where we came from to know where to go?
  • What about Zionist women? Non-European Zionists? Where are these experiences?
  • What about the stories of our unique American experience?
    •  Can a Zionist live outside of Zion/Israel?
    • Can a Zionist question Israel?
    • Can a Zionist do whatever they want and still be a “Zionist” or is there a single definition?
  • What does reconsidering Zionism mean for a student?

The panel ultimately left me with more questions than answers. However, these minds affirmed for me one very important thing that we at The David Project have gotten right: telling narratives individually matters. Reconsidering Zionism today reminds me that Zionism was never one single voice, but many ideas revolving around a shared vision for Jewish autonomy, prosperity, and peace.

I am excited to add my voice and the voices of the students I work with to that shared vision.