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Op-Ed: The Zionist Revolution

It is larger in scope than any other in history.
Published: Tuesday, February 05, 2008 11:18 PM


People today generally do not view Zionism as a revolutionary effort. But to describe Zionism as anything less than a complete revolution is to entirely miss the full significance of modern times. In fact, the Zionist Revolution is larger in scope than any other in history and eclipses all upheavals since Israel’s liberation from Egypt.

While the American, French, Russian, Chinese and Iranian revolutions certainly had great impacts on the course
The Hebrew nation, in our homeland, speaks and creates in our own ancient language.
of human history, these were upheavals made by people living within their own borders. It was their own local landscapes that they unearthed and plowed over in order to reform their class structures, economic patterns or systems of government.

Like the American Revolution, the Zionist Revolution succeeded in liberating a country from the mighty British Empire. And this was no small achievement for Jewish people who, only three years earlier, were being systematically butchered by the millions in Europe. Freedom was won in blood and fire by heroic young fighters willing to give their lives so that future generations would see a Hebrew flag over Jerusalem. But aside from this near-impossible feat, the Zionist Revolution also had – and still has – several more seemingly unattainable tasks to accomplish.

The ingathering of a scattered nation from numerous lands to one single country has been pulled off, at times against hopeless odds and often against the wishes of not only the rulers of lands holding us captive, but also unfriendly foreign governments controlling our borders. It is unheard of in human history for a nation exiled and dispersed for nearly two thousand years to gather and reunite in its original native land. And the Jewish nation is achieving this remarkable feat even now, as the Land of Israel is steadily becoming the Earth’s largest Jewish community. Jews from around the world are returning home each year.

In addition to physically ingathering a scattered nation, the Zionist Revolution has begun to weld the Children of Israel together from all the lands of our dispersion and give us a single language after nearly two thousand years. The revival of Hebrew as a vernacular used in the marketplace, military, industry and public school constitutes a revolution in itself, the magnitude of which has yet to be appreciated. From ancient Biblical sources and prayers, a new language has emerged fully equipped to meet the needs of everyday life and modern nationhood. Other peoples have vainly attempted to revive their extinct traditional tongues. But the Hebrew nation, in our homeland, speaks and creates in our own ancient language.
Israel’s ultimate national mission is to bestow a great blessing on all of humanity.

There is also the socio-economic Zionist Revolution. Exiled from our country, the Jewish people had neither a genuine working class nor a proper farming class to develop a modern economy under harsh soil and difficult climatic conditions. But the Jewish nation became builders and laborers and farmers almost overnight, making the desert bloom and building a modern working society.

And perhaps the most astonishing aspect of the Zionist Revolution is the revival of Jewish military prowess. After an enormously long absence from the stage of history, Hebrew fighting forces began to reappear. Exclusively Jewish units courageously battled through two World Wars. There were bold ghetto fighters in German-occupied Europe and fearless resistance movements in British-controlled Palestine. Jewish heroism reemerged against the backdrop of Nazi horrors and British occupation. The Hebrew nation – finally refusing to be annihilated – stunned the world as we drove out the British Empire, held off seven Arab armies and then liberated our heartland in six miraculous days.

And last, but certainly not least, is the elemental goal of establishing a utopian society meant to serve as a light unto the nations – a national example of morality and virtue that will inspire mankind towards genuine peace. This goal, perhaps the greatest objective of the Zionist Revolution, is what tugs at the Jewish soul and innately drives many well-meaning Jews to support policies dangerous to the survival of our people.

Israel’s ultimate national mission is to bestow a great blessing on all of humanity. But this cannot be achieved through placing our nation in peril or relinquishing our claim to any portion of our country. Only once the international community acknowledges our legal, moral and historic rights to live freely in our ancestral homeland can we begin to fulfill our unique role among the nations. Our father Jacob was forced to fight all night, and only in
Instead of downplaying Zionism’s radical essence, we must employ it and direct it.
the morning did his opponent recognize him as Israel. When those wishing to destroy us are finally neutralized, even they will have appreciation for our contributions to mankind. Within Israel there is no inherent contradiction between humanism and nationalism. In fact, the lofty goals of universal peace can best be achieved through the realization of Jewish national aspirations – the dreams of two thousand years that are coming to fruition against colossal opposition from nearly every direction.

When we step back and grasp Zionism’s enormous scope, there can be no denying its explicitly revolutionary character. And there is still so much yet to achieve. The Jewish nation today faces a potential nuclear threat from the east, immense pressure to shrink our borders from the west and increasing challenges to the very legitimacy of our state. Instead of downplaying Zionism’s radical essence, we must employ it and direct it towards reigniting the fire that once drove Jewish teenagers to drain malaria-filled swamps, fight wars of liberation and make the desert bloom. The revolutionary spark that stirred our youth to become builders and farmers and fighters in our land can surely lead them to take up the cause of Jewish liberation in our own times. By utilizing the full scope and immeasurable beauty of the Zionist Revolution, we can educate our children to see themselves as participants in the great historic drama unfolding in our days.