Importance of Defining Zionism

February 1, 2024
Ruby Borer

Sydney, Australia

Class of 2024

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Over the past almost 4 months, as I have had to defend my beliefs to so many people, something has become abundantly clear: people do not understand the meaning of the word “Zionist.” 

To be a Zionist is to believe in the right of Jewish self-determination, for the Jewish people to have a homeland, nation, and country that they call their own. Zionism does not and will never mean support for every action of the Israeli government or a dismissal of the struggles of the Palestinian people. Any healthy democracy involves healthy discourse and debate, but it must be healthy and respectful! 

While they are two separate concepts, Zionism is embedded into modern-day Judaism, and it is impossible to completely separate the two. Israel is essential to the Jewish people, it’s the only country in the world where the Jewish people can freely practice their religion as a majority rather than a minority. While it is possible to criticize the Israeli government without being an antizionist, using the real meaning of Zionism, it is almost impossible to be an antizionist without being antisemitic. I understand how confusing the situation can be, but for my community and me, this situation isn't just thousands of Instagram infographics or Twitter posts; this is our homeland. But even more than that, it is our right to express our culture, religion, and faith freely. 

I am proud to say it: I am and always will be a proud Zionist, but sadly, I feel that I have to explain this. 

Growing up as a very proud Jew in a largely non-Jewish environment, I have always been scared of conversations about the Israel-Palestine conflict, scared that if I had to justify my beliefs, I would not be able to do it justice. I have always been scared of the anti-zionism and ignorance brought about by the media, but this misinformed activism has become even more prevalent in the past two months. I have always struggled to articulate my views to my peers, struggled to articulate my acknowledgment of the complexity of Israel, and with it, my appreciation for its beauty. I’ve always feared the possibility of the two extremes: sounding anti-zionist or spreading falafel Zionism. In saying this, while I find it difficult and emotionally taxing, I will continue to be a proud zionist and speak up for my incredible homeland.  I have also always been taught that to be a true zionist, you have to hug and wrestle with Israel, to celebrate the beauty of a country that is so important to my people. But with that, acknowledge its shortcomings and downfalls, attempting to find solutions to its problems. I strongly believe that this is what makes someone a Zionist: the ability to both love and criticize Israel. 

So, as I continue to be an avid Zionist, I will continue to fight for peace in the Middle East and continue to push for the coexistence of Israelis and Palestinians. I will continue to love and criticize Israel but always and unapologetically support the right of Israel to exist and defend itself. 

Ruby Borer is a BBG living in Sydney, Australia who has a dog named Marshmello.

All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.

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