The establishment of a state for Jews was the major objective of Zionism. In order to attain these objective different approaches were taken by different Zionists. Political Zionism, Cultural Zionism, Religious Zionism, Revisionist Zionism and Socialist Zionism were some of the major forms of Zionism which worked in different ways for the formation of a homeland for the Jews.
Zionism was viewed as the savior of Jews around a few decades before. However, it is acting as the enemy of Israel now. Its popularity is declining even among the Israelis now. According to Avi Shalim, the major reason for the declining popularity of Zionism is Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories since 1967. This controversial occupation transformed Zionist movement from a liberation movement into a colonial power (Shalim). Majority of the Israelis are not in favor of the occupation in Palestine. Only a minority (political Zionists) among the Israelis are favoring the current activities of Zionists. Unfortunately, this minority happens to be the strongholds of the current Israeli political system.
As in the case of political Zionism, cultural Zionism is losing its ground in Israel at present(Arkush). The founders of cultural Zionism argued for the establishment of Jewish culture rather than a Jewish state. Today, Jewish culture is established along with a Jewish state which is relatively safe. Therefore the need for continuing with cultural Zionism is not understandable to many of the Israelis.
On one hand, the religious Zionism works for the preservation of Jewish character of Israeli society with the help of broad educational activities and on the other hand, it is fighting the attempt to reduce the completeness of the Land (Filber). Unlike political and cultural Zionism, religious Zionism is still gaining grounds in Israel. Many of the Israelis believe that Palestine is trying to destabilize Israel. The rise of the religious Zionist party called HaBayit HaYehudi definitely underlines the growing popularity of religious Zionism in Israel today.
Revisionist Zionism argues for the non-religious right in Israel. The formation of the Likud party can attribute to the ideologies of revisionist Zionism. Revisionists have a strong influence over the current political leadership in Israel. As long as revisionists have a strong say on Israeli political system, nobody expects an amicable settlement for the Israeli-Palestinian problem. Socialist Zionists or Labor Zionists do not believe in seeking the assistance of international community for the establishment of a Jewish state. Their belief was such that an independent Jewish state can be formed with the help of the working class itself. Even though this ideology was extremely popular before the formation of the Israeli state, it is not so at present. It should be noted that the current world is extremely globalized and the assistance of international community is unavoidable for a country like Israel. That is why socialist Zionists losing grounds in Israel today.
The major Palestinian complaint against Israel is related to the occupation of Palestinian territories by Israel. Palestine is ready to accept Israel’s identity and sovereignty. However, they are not ready to give up their territories for the establishment of a Jewish state. For example, Jerusalem is a sacred place not only for the Jews but also for the Palestinians. However, Israel does not want to accept this fact. They want Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel. In fact, Jerusalem is a holy place for the Christians also. In other words, three parties (Jews, Muslims, and Christians) have claims over Jerusalem. It should be noted that Jews, Muslims, and Christians have a common father in Abraham. In other words, all these three religions originated from Abraham. As a result of that, any place related to Abraham is sacred for all three religions. However, Israel does not want to accept none of this claims and that makes the problem worst. History has shown that Israel is getting bigger and bigger all the time at the expense of Palestine. In every Israel-Palestine conflict or war, Israel seizes some territories of Palestine and keeps some of them under their control even after the ceasefire. Thus Israel becomes bigger and bigger and Palestine becomes smaller and smaller. Organizations such as Hamas, Hezbollah, Fatah, Palestine Liberation Organization, Palestinian Authority etc are fighting with Israel for a long time even though none of these organizations have the power and strength to beat Israel. Above all, Israel is not ready to accept the sovereignty of Palestine even though majority of the global countries have already accepted Palestine as a free state.
The Israeli society consists of people of different religion and ethnicity. Many of the people in the Israeli society have Arab ethnicity. Many of them identify themselves as Palestinians. The Israeli occupation of different Palestinian places has caused the above peculiar problem in the Israeli society. It should be noted that Arabs staying under Israeli occupation likes to have freedom. Therefore, they will assist the Palestinian fighters in one way or another even while staying under Israel’s control.
As in the case of African American population, there is a Jews population which still search for their original identity. The Sephardi Jews and the “Edot ha-Mizrach Jews are among the above-mentioned community. They include Jews from countries such as Ethiopia, Egypt, India, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, etc. Most of them arrived in Israel after 1948, the year in which independent Israel was formed. Even though these people were able to reach their home country after years of exile, they are still treated as second-class citizens in Israel (Berdichevsky).
The gap between the Israelis and the American Jews is growing rapidly now. The Jews staying in America try to achieve Israeli education in the past. However, many of them have stopped the learning from Israeli education because of the perception that this system of education always works one-sided. In other words, the information provided through such education is far from reality (Breger).
The American Jews who watch the activities of Israel from outside will definitely get a clear idea of what is going in Israel at present. Many of them believe that the atrocities committed by the Israelis against the Palestinians are illegal and unacceptable. The current era is the period of liberalization. According to Debrah Kamin, only about 11 percent of Jews in Israel define themselves as Haredi, or ultra-religious. In other words, 89% of the Israelis are liberal in their viewpoints against other religions and countries. However, the hardcore Haredi controls the politics in Israel. As a result of that, the majority have no say in shaping the policies of Israel. The American Jews believe that the pressure exerted by the Haredi over the political leaders of Israel is immense. In fact, many of the key Jewish donors who are staying in America have already announced their decision to stop financial contributions to Israel until the government backtracked on the decisions (Kamin).
- Arkush, Allan. “Cultural Zionism Today”. Israel Studies. Vol. 19, No. 2, Special Issue: Zionism in the 21st Century (Summer 2014), pp. 1-14.
- Breger, Sarah. “What American Jewish Children Learn About Israel”.
- Berdichevsky, Norman. “The Sephardim and “Edot ha-Mizrach””. The heritage Florida Jewish News. December 13, 2013.
- Filber, Rabbi Yaakov. “Is Religious Zionism in Crisis?”.
- Kamin, Debrah. “Are American Jews Giving Up on Israel?”. FP News. July 28, 2017.
- Shalim, Avi. “Why Zionism Today is the Real Enemy of the Jews”. The Electronic Intifada. 4 February 2005.
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