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What Zionism Actually Means: Cutting Through The Antisemitic B.S.

It’s time to talk about the “Z word.”

If there’s one term in the global conversation that gets people most hot and bothered, it’s “Zionism.”

Those who glean their Jewish and Israel education from discriminating professors, student organizations that promote terror, and certain media outlets that have seriously let me down (Hi New York Times!) are likely to subscribe to the corrupted meaning of Zionism. They’ve been taught that Zionism is colonialism, occupation, apartheid, and genocide.

What these definitions all have in common is that they are complete bullshit. There’s harmless bullshit like when a referee calls pass interference when there is none. Then there’s dangerous bullshit, the kind that’s weaponized to carry out acts of psychological and physical violence. The gaslighting of Zionism is the latter.

Let’s take a look at its true meaning.

What Does Zionism Actually Mean?

Zionism is the necessity for the self-determination and statehood for Jews in their ancestral homeland of Israel.  

In other words, Jews have a right to exist, to be safe, and have a country to call our own.

I know, radical, right?

What is the History of Zionism? 

We’ve all heard the name Theodor Herzl, but did you know that the Austro-Hungarian Jewish journalist, playwright and political activist was the father of modern Zionism?

Herzl, who died in 1904, decades before The Holocaust and Israeli independence, had seen enough antisemitism in France, Germany, Austria, and Russia to recognize that the survival of Jewish communities was at extreme risk. This insight was the driving force behind the vitality of a territory under Jewish governance and protection, intended as a safe haven for Jewish people.

For a guy who only lived to be 44, Herzl was quite the disruptor:

  • He founded the Zionist Organization, the modern political movement to establish an independent Jewish state.

  • In 1897, he gathered the first Zionist Congress to outline the steps for the creation of said state.

  • Herzl is the sole person who is named in Israel’s Declaration of Independence as, “the author of the vision of the Jewish state.” 
In my late 30’s, I was binge-watching Curb Your Enthusiasm. By contrast, Herzl was 36 when he negotiated relentlessly with the leaders of Britain, Germany, Russia and the Ottoman Empire to issue a formal charter for a Jewish government in Palestine. He also started hundreds of chapters of the Zionist Organization throughout the US and Europe, as well as a Jewish national bank and the newspaper, Die Welt. His influence laid the groundwork for the Balfour Declaration of 1917, a pledge by British Prime Minister, David Lloyd George to establish a national home for the Jewish people, the precursor to the State of Israel.  

As activist Noa Tishby points out in Israel: A Simple Guide to the Most Misunderstood Country on Earth, Herzl’s ultimate vision was a country representing the only democracy in the Middle East and a secular one governed by a coalition government without any discrimination based on religion, race, or sex. Not for Jews by Jews but for all citizens of Israel, including Arabs, Christians, Druzes, and whomever else. That’s exactly what the State of Israel is. Is it perfect? No, but neither is any other democracy, but it’s quite an accomplishment compared to the repressive, autocratic, kleptocratic, plutocratic, and other bad kinds of cratic Middle Eastern countries that surround it.

Life is complicated to say the least for non-Israeli citizens living in The West Bank (Judea and Samaria), but what the people who accuse the Jews of apartheid don’t know is that non-Jews, including Arabs, serve as members of The Knesset (MK) Israel’s parliament and The Supreme Court.

Issawi Frej, an Arab MK representing the left-wing Meretz party said, “I am Israeli. I am a citizen here. I want to be here. The American people don’t understand that there are 1.5 million Palestinian Arabs who live inside Israel, and who are Israelis with rights. Americans think about the Palestinian Authority only, and no one thinks about us.”

Salim Joubran, an Arab Israeli citizen, has been a part of Israel's Supreme Court, comprising 15 members, since 2003. Before him, Abdel Rahman Zuabi, also an Arab, served on this court for a set period in 1999. Additionally, Arab judges are a regular presence in the district courts of Israel. In 2010, George Kara, another Arab judge, was the head of a three-judge panel that found Moshe Katsav, a former president of Israel, guilty of rape.

Then there’s MK Hanin Zoabi, a veteran Arab lawmaker belonging to the Balad party, which advocates for the rights of Arab citizens in Israel, who has called for the dissolution of the State of Israel and has openly supported Hamas, the terrorist organization that rules Gaza. Zoabi was not arrested or ousted from office like she would have been without exception had she lived in most of the surrounding 22 nations of the Arab League. In fact the majority of those countries bar women from holding office.

This freedom to actively participate in government is an essential component of Zionism. Therefore anti-Zionists are contradicting themselves by calling for the stoppage of democracy for the people they are advocating for.

Why is anti-Zionism the Driving Force Behind Jewish Bigotry?

To be an anti-Zionist is to oppose the democratic and liberal precepts of:

  • Popular sovereignty 
  • Rules of law
  • Free and fair elections
  • Majority rule and minority rights
  • Protection of human rights
  • Citizen participation
  • Transparency and accountability
  • Separation of powers
  • Independent judiciary 
  • Pluralism
So, why is anti-Zionism Jewish bigotry?

Because it is a loud, influential and coordinated global movement to dispossess the Jews of a homeland, and every ethnic group deserves a homeland.

You are hard pressed to find Western and Eastern movements, who claim to espouse liberal ideals, calling for the dismantling of countries with actual colonial, imperialistic, bloody and barbaric records like England, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, China, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Gaza, the United States, and Canada (yes, them, eh).

It would be one thing if anti-Zionism was laughed off. I wish that were the case, but unfortunately, it’s packed with a lot of protein and perpetuated by many powerful organizations, including:

The United Nations - The very organization that recognized Israel’s right to exist by passing UN Resolution 181 in 1947 has since become its primary anti-Zionist demagogue.

The UN alleges that its mission is to, “maintain international peace and security, protect human rights, and uphold international law.” Yet, immediately after Hamas terrorists raped, murdered, and kidnapped 1,200 Israeli civilians on October 7, UN Secretary General, António Guterres said, "It is important to also recognize the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum. The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation.”

Justifying an attempted genocide by a terrorist organization is a little at odds with maintaining international peace and security, protecting human rights, and upholding international law.

Rather than taking action toward Hamas for its war crimes against Israeli and Gazan civilians, Guterres, subsequently invoked Article 99 against Israel, last used over 50 years ago, which brings to the attention of the UN Security Council, “any matter which, in his (UN Secretary General’s) opinion, may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security.”

He wants to act against Israel, the sovereign nation whose military is bound by a code of ethics to protect enemy civilians by calling and texting those who live near Hamas command centers, dropping leaflets with detailed instructions on how to seek safe harbor, and roof knocking, which is essentially a bomb blank that produces a loud boom alerting civilians of airstrikes.

Remember, Hamas so cynically and diabolically embeds themselves in residential areas to spread the false narrative that Israel targets civilians. Mind you, Israel is the only country that goes to such lengths to minimize civilian casualties, but Guterres doesn’t wag a finger at Hamas, who should be the true objects of Article 99.

The UN’s anti-Israel bias long precedes Guterres’ tenure; perhaps its most egregious decision was the Arab and Soviet-sponsored Resolution 3379 of 1975 which declared Zionism a form of racism and racial discrimination.

Boycott, Divest, and Sanction (BDS) - BDS is an international movement focused on undermining and exerting pressure on Israel, involving efforts to isolate Israel diplomatically, financially, professionally, academically, and culturally. This campaign targets not just the nation of Israel, but also Israeli individuals, institutions, and, more broadly, Jewish people who advocate for Israel's right to exist.

The approach is comprehensive, seeking to challenge Israel's legitimacy and influence on multiple fronts. Per the Anti-Defamation League:

  • In practice, the global BDS movement doesn’t seek to create a Palestinian state but rather aims to dismantle the Jewish state and end the right to Jewish national self-determination on any portion of this contested land.  

  • BDS seeks to dehumanize Israelis and opposes the fundamental building blocks for Israeli-Palestinian understanding, peace-building and ultimate reconciliation, even at the grassroots level

  • BDS partners with over 200 chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) throughout North American colleges and universities. Jewish students have faced harassment and violent attacks by members of these groups in record numbers since October 7. 

I’m not a fan of BDS for these reasons and because Roger Waters is its biggest cheerleader, and I feel dirty when I listen to Pink Floyd.

How Important is Zionism for Jewish Survival?

There is nothing more paramount.

Again, Zionism is the right for Jews to have a homeland, and we need one because ancient, medieval, and modern history have not been kind to us.

During the BC’s, the Babylonians and Romans murdered over one million Jews in The Land of Israel, exiled the rest, and destroyed both Temples of Jerusalem. In the CE’s, the Russian pogroms killed one million Jews and the Nazis, 6 million, and between 1920 and 1970, 900,000 Jews were expelled from Arab and other Muslim countries. Over the last 64 days, America experienced an average of 34 antisemitic incidents per day.

Maddeningly, there are Jewish anti-Zionists like those supporting Jewish Voice for Peace, a radically anti-Israel activist group. Antisemitic history has a tendency to repeat itself and is coming to a neighborhood near them. What they may come to learn is that there are no anti-Zionists in a foxhole. Israel is not fighting just any war against Hamas; it is fighting for the survival of all Jews, and we need a place that will always welcome us.

Israel is our first and last stand.

Will Zionism Go Away? 

Hell no.

For those keeping score, Jews are the Energizer Bunnies of ethnic groups. We’ve taken a 3,320 pogromatic, genocidal licking, and we keep on ticking. At every turn—whether refusing to capitulate to forced conversion, diaspora, Holocaust, cultural and religious dispossession, and attempted delegitimization—we stubbornly insist on existing.

We are not the Juden rattan of Nazi propaganda or the apes and pigs as taught to the children of Gaza in Hamas-run schools.  

No, we are the Mighty Lions of Judah.

We are proud Zionists.

Sharing my passion through words is my craft, and I could add value by helping you voice yours. Contact me here, at or 224-645-2748.

About the Author, David Telisman

I am a Writer and Content Creator, and I work with businesses to inspire their customers to buy from them. I believe that my clients deserve to feel proud of how their content marketing looks and what it says, and I deliver by providing expert copywriting and marketing solutions.

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