Are You a Zionist?
by Gad Nahshon
Are you a Zionist? So you must have this illuminating new guide Zionism Timeline Articles, Documents, Glossary (The Zionist Library, The Jewish Agency, Jerusalem, 2002). This distinguished book covering the first 120 years of Zionism (1882-2002) was edited by the distinguished historian, expert of the history of Eretz Israel and the Zionist movement, Dr. Mordecai Naor. He is the author of many books and biographies (Laskov). He published a book on aliyah, The Twentieth Century in Eretz Israel - A Pictorial History and the recent, The Jewish People in the Twentieth Century - A Pictorial History. Dr. Naor is a famous lecturer on these topics. The timing of Zionism (1882-2002) is important.
This unique guide will help any Zionist and the great pro-Israeli camp in this country to combat and challenge the new negative dynamic in the state image (Hasbara) of Israel inside the American society.Why?
The horrible impact of the post-Zionists on our mind;
The erosion of Israel of solidarity with Israel inside the American Jewish community, a fact which is being ignored in Israel itself. There is a new tendency of apathy toward Israel's future especially among Jewish liberal-left intellectuals and among the young Jewish generations. This unique guide can make a difference. Why?
There is a huge amount of ignorance among Jews as to the history of Zionism and Israel. The new generations do not know the evidence, the basic facts. Therefore, many are indifferent to Israel's goals or easily adopting anti-Israeli notions. For example, in Harvard University, I came across P.L.O.'s display standing near the dining hall in a major building. The P.L.O. propaganda states: "In 1948, Israel deported 3 million Palestinians..." They did not, of course, recalling the fact that there was once an Independence War, an international fact that even the U.N. was involved in. The conclusion: The P.L.O. took for granted the high level of ignorance of the average Harvard student or even faculty members as well. Therefore, the guide of Dr. Naor and the Zionist Library is a respected educational tool, to challenge this ever growing ignorance among Jews;
This book is also important for the Israeli Hasbara or the media war as to the pro-Israeli camp. Why? Recently, there is a new dynamic in the anti-Israeli camp. There is a new Arab-Muslim organizational campaign creating an Arab-American-Muslim "pressure group" or lobby. Despite the 9-11 trauma this dynamic has not stopped. After all, they are lowly American citizens. Arabs, here, are developing a political block, an Arab or Muslim vote. The estimate for 2015 is 15 million Muslims in America. And they are members of a sophisticated minority, well to do, and well educated.
So we must educate the gentiles as to the history of the Zionist idea. This book is the A, B, C's, of this educational campaign, an important Israeli contribution.
The contents: 1. Articles by Dr. Naor, Sallai Meridor, Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel and the World Zionist Organization, Chaim Chesler, Elan Ezrachi, Avi Pazner, David Breakstone and Eli Eyal, Chairman of the Committee for Legislating Basic Law: Israel, and a former member of the Zionist executive, World Zionist Organization.
The book has summary chapters such as: "The Seven Years of Herzl", or "A Great Aliyah." The book has a detailed chronological history of the Zionist idea and movement from 1800 (only 7,000 Jews in Eretz-Israel) to Dec. 1999.
The book has many landmark documents such as the "Balfur Declaration" (Nov. 2, 1917) or the "Law of Return" (July 6, 1950). Also: Theodor Herzl's opening speech at the first Zionist Congress at Basle, August 29, 1897. One can learn about the history of the Zionist various organizations or agencies.
For example, "Keren Hayesod's' appeal to the Jews (Dec. 24, 1920). One can also learn from this book about the relationship between Israel and the Diaspora (the structure of the Jewish Agency today).
There is an enriching glossary for the common reader and a table of Aliyah figures, 1881-2001 (1882-1903, 25,000 Olim; in 2001 43,471 Olim. The climax era, 1948-1956, around 1 million Olim in only 8 years. 1949 - 239,954. The lowest aliyah since 1948 was in 1986, 9,505 Olim. The all time record (1882-2002) was: 1948, 239,000 and 199,000 Olim in 1990, the Russian Olim).
It should be noted that 2,893,977 Olim came to Israel in these 120 years of Zionism, almost three million Jews. Of course, there was always waves of emigration of Jews, the so-called Yerida (to go toward). In 1002 there was a total of 4,952,200 Israelis, almost five million people. Around half the world's total Jewry do live in Israel today but the tendency is clear: in the near future, the Zionists will achieve their goal of a world Jewish majority living in Israel. Demographic estimates show that the size of the world Jewry tends to shrink because of many reasons such as inter-marriages, assimilations, and more dangerous: lower Jewish fertility rates in North America. (2001 - 6,064,000 Jews).
The success of this book is also due to the Zionist Library's industrious, distinguished editors, Ephraim Lapid and Amos Yovel, also an editor of Bama, Israel's only theater publication. In his forward, Dr. Naor, the editor of this illuminating book Zionism, wrote: "Zionism, the national movement of the Jewish people, is marking over 100 years since its founding. There are those who will say: What, 100 years already?" And others who will ask in amazement: "What, only 100 years?" Can it be that the poet Yehuda Halevy, who wrote, "How shall I render my vows and my bonds, while yet Zion lieth beneath the fetter of Edom, and I in Arab chains?" and made aliyah in the 12th century, wasn't a Zionist? And what of Joshua Stampfer, Yoel Moshe Salomon and the Raab family who established Petah Tikva over 120 years ago?
They all, it seems, were good Zionists long before the term Zionism was born. Surprisingly, this term was not invented by Theodor Herzl but adopted by him. It was born a number of years before Herzl wrote Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State) in 1896, the book that created such an uproar and paved the way for the first Zionist Congress that convened in Basle, Switzerland in the summer of 1897. The story of Zionism is a wondrous one. It is like a large river whose tributaries endow it with life and strength. Even before the birth of Zionism, Montefiore, Rabbis Kalischer and Alkalai, Moses Hess and the many hundreds and thousands that preceded them in making their way to Eretz Israel, sometimes even illegally, did so without being particularly familiar with Zionist terms, such as aliyah and "illegal" immigration. The formal story begins in 1896-1897, although it is important to grant a place of honor to the pioneers of the First Aliyah, the members of Hovevei Zion, who preceded Herzl by some 14 years. They established the first agricultural settlements (moshavot), breathed life into the Hebrew language, established the first Hebrew schools and created the infrastructure of what was called the New Yishuv (pre-State Jewish population). This in itself constitutes the basis of Zionist labor in Eretz Israel.
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