Israel’s current and potential citizens represent a potent force for strength and for justice in the world. The centuries of abuse Jews have endured provoked the creation of Israel by an unlikely motley crew of Jews from several cultures. Supposedly there is a decline in “Zionism” as a philosophy among Jewish Israelis. But the definition of Zionism is not universal, and today can only be brought to the common denominator of supporting the existence of a Jewish homeland, pretty much on par with the language of the 1917 Balfour Declaration.
Consider the contributions Israel’s workforce has made to the global economy. It is almost cited ad nauseum in Jewish circles the types of technological and environmental advances Israelis have made: microchip advances, communication technology, military prowess, desalinization and de-desertification, reforestation, the largest production of research and development literature per capita of any country in the world, etc.
Now what is meant when people say “Israel?” Is it not a limiting notion to not consider the potential for new Israeli citizens coming from the highly educated, wealthy and even ideologically committed pool of Jews living around the world that have some interest in the well-being and prosperity of a small country in the Middle East? Here is a consideration for what religious Jews call “כלל ישראל,” the entire scope of Jewry around the world, not simply a state representing 40% of that general population.
Unfair Political Pressure Changing Israeli Attitudes about Multilateralism
The conditions Israel faces in the international political arena are being seen through the same lens the early Zionists saw attitudes toward Jews 100, 150 or 200 years ago. And they are not off the beat to think so. Eighty percent of the UN Human Rights Council’s resolutions have been passed against Israeli policies and actions, totally ignoring the systematic policies of third world dictatorships and the number of civilian deaths, accidental or purposeful, in Iraq and Afghanistan by NATO countries.
Few countries in the world are willing to lend credibility to Israeli defensive needs, or see the Israeli presence in the West Bank as a defensive military position.
Israel’s ability to argue credibly is tarnished by deliberately misused rhetoric about “disproportionate” warfare. The Goldstone Report, recently published, focused on matters of policy rather than conduct during the Gaza war, and pictured Israel as a state not imposing rules of war on its soldiers, despite prosecutions and dozens of ongoing investigations into soldiers’ conduct.
Even the most liberal Israelis see a consistent attempt to smear Israeli actions, whether they would be justifiable or not.Because of general accusations like the ones cited above, and the obvious political attitudes behind them, Israelis across the board are more and more taking non-Israelis’ positions with a grain of salt. For a majority of Israelis, arguing the campaigns have been “disproportionate” is very nonsensical, considering how many Israelis were actually in the field when these battles and air strikes took place. These Israelis have lived with constant reports of unprovoked rocket attacks on S’derot and attrition on the northern border with Lebanon.
Israelis have universally supported the last two wars the country fought in Lebanon and Gaza, and notice the missing acknowledgement by foreign politicians of these wars’ legitimacy and the conditions these wars have to be fought under. Consequently, Jews are more cynical toward international opinion, be it from politicians or activists, who have predictable things to say about any Israeli military actions. As a New York Times article in January pinpointed:
“It is very frustrating for us not to be understood,” said Yoel Esteron, editor of a daily business newspaper called Calcalist. “Almost 100 percent of Israelis feel that the world is hypocritical. Where was the world when our cities were rocketed for eight years and our soldier was kidnapped? Why should we care about the world’s view now?”
Immigrant Influx and Impact on Global Stage
Even individuals like Richard Goldstone feel the need to cite Jewishness in their pursuit of investigating human rights violations or war misconduct. But he is only one of a plethora of Jewish activists in a gross number of causes. For the Jews who see the imbalance in global treatment of Israeli political and military policies, their sense of justice will kick in. These are the international law experts, human rights activists, liberal thinkers and so on who see something to contribute to the world to correct that imbalance.
This is also the core of people, dedicated in something, who are the members of the Jewish community that can take that step toward acting on behalf of Israel. Their Jewish connection is not purely identity. It is active and manifest in how they live their lives. They have something more than just identification with the State of Israel and the people living there as well.
Activists like this will contribute to new discourses about the rules of war, the inefficiency of human rights organizations in conflicts more distressed than the Israeli-Palestinian one (<a href="like in Darfur, Iran, Burma and North Korea), and want to improve the social situation in this small country between Jews and non-Jews or different sectors of the Jewish public.
The State and its leadership ought to see the tremendous fire power of these liberal activists’ ideas and attitudes will have in strengthening Israeli political, cultural and social clout domestically and throughout the world. They would add to the already immense industrial capabilities of the well-educated and skilled Israeli public. Zionism’s definition may be subjective, but they maintain the basic, common denominator: to support the existence of the Jewish homeland.