How to explain Zionism, to everyone
The core issue of Israel advocacy is the right of the Jewish people to self-determination, to be a "free people in our own land." Arab denial of this right is the cause of the Israeli-Arab conflict.. Almost all anti-Israel propaganda is intended to delegitimize Israel and deny Jews their rights.
Zionism, the national liberation movement of the Jewish people, is the target of a concerted attack. Israel advocacy is not meeting the challenge. Israel advocacy should not be confused with conventional advertising or "Jewish Education." Successful Israel advocacy should use issues opportunistically to educate the public and build an organization. It should focus on essentials. It should be based on outreach to the widest possible audience, not on partisan politics. It should emphasize shared values and universal emotional appeal. It should provide basic information. We should expose bogus 'issues' and so-called peace movements that are intent on denying the right of the Jewish people to self determination. Israel advocacy is pro-peace, because real peace will grant our fundamental rights. We need to take the fight to the streets and campuses using grass roots techniques of community organizers and social protest movements such as demonstrations, leaflets and Web sites.
Downloads - Israel advocacy handbook is an exhaustive and detailed reference,
Israel advocacy guide is a briefer summary.
Presenting Zionism and Israel
Be Proud. Don't be afraid to say that you support Israel and that you are a Zionist, but always be careful to explain that 'Zionism' may not be what your audience may think it is.
You are a Zionist. You are not Zionism. Always be clear to separate between your opinions and personal ideas from Zionism.
Remember the audience. You don't need to convince committed Zionists. Arguments that may be "convincing" to you, don't necessarily carry weight with those of other faiths and backgrounds. You aren't going to convince members of the Aryan Nation or the Hamas either, so there is no point arguing directly with them.
Don't be negative. For example, there is no constructive purpose in saying, "There are no Palestinians." It antagonizes people and it is not a tenet of Zionism. Even if you could prove that there are no Palestinians, it would not lend any legitimacy to Zionism.
Avoid dubious claims and inconsequential issues. If you say "there were no Arabs in Palestine before the Jews came" and someone proves that there were, you lost the argument. If you say "Israel became a nation in 1312 BCE" someone will (and has) pointed out that there was no kingdom of Israel before about 800 BCE, and that nobody could possibly be sure about the precise year when the Jews formed a nation. The right of the Jewish people to self-determination does not depend on whether or not there were Arabs in Palestine, when Israel became a nation, the vagaries of the Ottoman census, the relation between Khazars and Ashkenazi Jews or whether there was a Jewish majority in Jerusalem in 1870 or 1844, nor even on who shot Muhamed Al-Dura.
You don't need to defend everything Israel does. If you insist that Israel can do no wrong, you will lose the dispute, since no country is perfect. Germany killed six million Jews and started two wars, the United States killed Indians and dropped two atom bombs, China suppresses free discussion and occupies Tibet (possibly the longest occupation in the world), the French committed atrocities in Algeria. All of these countries have a right to exist, and so does Israel.
Refer to common values that are respected by everyone - The Jews are a people and have a right to self-determination. Israel promotes democracy, and human rights, including rights of women, gays and other minorities.
Don't use language or rhetoric that angers people needlessly - Zionism is for Republicans and Democrats, leftists and rightists, religious people and atheists. There are Muslim supporters of Israel too. It is pointless and self-destructive to attack "leftists" or "Muslims" or non-observant Jews as a group. It is usually not helpful to say that "God gave Israel to the Jews." After all, fanatic Islamists say "Allah gave Palestine to the Muslims." Most people do not accept that a state can be founded to support a particular religion, or that religious claims provide a legal basis for nationhood or sovereignty over particular lands.
Start with basics. Even people who advance the most sophisticated-seeming arguments often have very shallow knowledge. They may argue with seeming knowledge about some obscure and dark point in Zionist history that you never heard about, but they think that Israel is the size of France, and that Arabs and Jews lived happily together in the Middle East before 1967 or 1948. Be sure to counter falsehoods and common misconceptions that have been systematically spread by anti-Zionists. Some examples:
- Jews did not all arrive in Palestine after 1945, because of the Holocaust. There was a considerable Yishuv (Jewish community) that had been growing in the land of Israel for a hundred years. It would have been much larger if the British had not stopped immigration in 1939. Israel was not created as a special favor to Jews because of the Holocaust. It was created to give the Jewish people the right to exercise self-determination.
- Arab-Jewish enmity did not start in 1967 or even 1948. Palestinian riots and massacres of Jews began in 1920 or even before.
- The Arab "Nakba" (1948 flight of refugees) occurred because the Arabs opposed the UN partition plan and went to war, led by Hajj Amin El Husseini, a Nazi.
- No Arabs were displaced by Zionist immigration prior to 1948. The Arabs of Palestine prospered and there was net Arab immigration into the Palestine Mandate area. See Zionism and its Impact
- Israel did not get very much foreign aid from the United States before 1967. The victories of 1948 and 1967 were not due to US support or intervention.
- Israeli Arabs, contrary to popular opinion, can and do serve in the Israeli army. They vote and can buy and own land, including state land.
- The "Law of Return" includes members of the Jewish people, even if they are not Jewish according to orthodox religious law. It is not a religious criterion for immigration. Several other countries have similar laws to allow repatriation of nationals.
In My Name - Reasons to be Proud of Israel and Zionism
Israel redeemed the honor of the Jewish people. Jews are no longer thought of as passive, contemptible cowards.
Israel is the oldest working democracy in the Middle East. Turkey and Iraq have joined us. Welcome. Israeli Arabs have more rights and more freedom than their neighbors in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria or Egypt. In fact, they have more rights than Arabs living anywhere else in the Middle East. Most Israeli Arabs are unwilling to live anywhere else, including a Palestinian state, should one be formed. Palestinian Arabs rate Israeli democracy as the system they most admire.
Israel has fought for the rights of Jews in the USSR and elsewhere and has helped them to win their freedom, regardless of whether they came to live in Israel or opted to live elsewhere.
The Zionist community in Palestine, despite meager resources and Arab and British opposition, rescued hundreds of thousands of European Jews who would have otherwise perished in the Holocaust.
Israel has successfully absorbed millions of Jewish immigrants from all over the world - people of many races and backgrounds including Jews from Europe, Asia and Africa.
Israel is the only country in the world that has more trees at the beginning of the twenty-first century than it had at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Making the desert bloom is not just a slogan. In one day, the Israel National Water Carrier pumps more water than was pumped in all of Palestine in the entire year of1948.
Not a single Jew remained in any of the places conquered by the Jordanians and Egyptians in 1948, including the old city of Jerusalem. There are more Arabs living in Jerusalem today under Israeli rule then have ever lived there in all of recorded history.
More Commentary about Zionism
External Zionism Links
This site provides resources about Zionism and Israeli history, including links to source documents. We are not responsible for the information content of these sites. These links are NOT intended to be an exhaustive reference about Zionism, but the list will keep growing...
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Sister sites http://zionism.netfirms.comZionism Pages and Zionism On the Web
Thank you.Zionism as well as links to specific topics and articles about anti-Zionism.
Zionism - Definition and Brief History - A balanced article that covers the definitions and history of Zionism as well as opposition to Zionism and criticisms by Arabs, Jewish anti-Zionists.
The US Library of congress has a comprehensive and balanced set of articles about Zionism:
ZioNation - Zionism-Israel Web Log Israel News Israel: like this, as if Christian Zionism Albert Einstein Bible Palestine Nakba 1948 Israel Independence - Birth of a Nation Six Day War War of Independence History of Zionism Zionism FAQ Zionism Israel Center Maps of Israel Jew Zionism and its Impact Israel Christian Zionism Site Map
Presenting Zionism - Zionist advocacy