September 27, 2023 /
Of the many goals that Theodore Herzl had, one of them was that a Jewish state might normalize Jewish life throughout the world. This dream of his has only been proven half true. The Jewish experience in Israel has been normalized – in the words of Prof. Gil Troy – it has been “freed of the exilic doublethink,” yet on the world stage, the Jewish problem still persists. In addition to regular antisemitism, Zionists are also now part of those attacks.
Having been born out of slavery we, as Jews, are conditioned to fight oppression and work to create just democracies. As Dr. Tal Becker puts it, “For many years now, the conversation about Israel in the Jewish world has taken a familiar form. With rare exceptions, our sovereign project is spoken of in Jewish communities across the globe with pride about the past and anxiety about the future…. The question [we should seek] to address is now ‘How do we survive?’ It is this: As custodians of an ancient story, as bearers of a particular moral tradition, and as a people shaped by historical experience, what form and nature should a Jewish sovereign society take?” I think this is why so many of us were dismayed to see the rise of ultra-nationalistic, and often times racist, personalities rise to power following the last Israeli elections. These individuals conflicted with how many Diaspora (as well as Israeli) Jews envisioned being the leaders of a sacred society.
Personally, I believe that a Zionism which is founded upon Dr. Becker’s values narrative should be one that envisions Israel not as a normal state like any other, but one that should debate, articulate, and ultimately seek to implement what the prophetic vision of a sovereign nation that lives in righteousness means in modern times. This is, as Dr. Becker calls it, “Aspirational Zionism.” This is my kind of Zionism. It’s not passive. It asks us to speak prophetically to one another – Israel to Diaspora, Diaspora to Israel – about what we should be and how we should act in the world. Aspirational Zionism asks more aggressively how we create a society that is both Jewish and democratic. It recognizes both as values that need to live in harmony with one another. It should examine options for a responsible and lasting peace not only through the lens of Israel’s basic need and right for security and stability, but also through a lens that sees the relentless and genuine pursuit of a responsible peace as a moral and characteristically Jewish obligation. Following this past election, Israel needs us more than ever to be a guiding prophetic voice pushing Israel towards this type of sacred society. If you haven’t signed up yet to come to Israel with the Temple, now is the time to do so. Go to: https://tinyurl.com/AEIsraelTrip2023 to join this Zionist adventure.