Many people who love Israel freely use the term “Zionist” to describe themselves. But how many know what Zionism is really all about?
Not too many, according to David Isaac, of the web site Zionism 101. The current state of Zionist education – i.e. the teaching of the principles of Zionism, why there was a Zionist movement, what the various leaders of the movement represented, etc. - is woefully poor, and much of it has to do with the fact that even though the Zionist movement has progressed since its beginnings some 100 years ago, its “interface” to the public has lagged.
“A high level of Zionist knowledge among Jews and Christians is rare. Most don’t have even a rudimentary knowledge of the modern Zionist movement,” Isaac said.
Unfortunately, the Internet has not helped matters, said Isaac – with the same old-fashioned approach being transferred from the printed page to cyberspace. “The sites I've seen on Zionism are rather poor, very text-heavy, not very attractive,” Isaac said.
If there's one thing educators have learned, it's that students would much rather watch a movie than read a book – so Isaac, in an attempt to reach more people with the message of what Zionism is all about, has been developing a site called Zionism 101, which includes YouTube-style videos that make it easy to understand what the movement is all about.
The site is organized according to courses – 20 of them, on topics including Founding Fathers (with videos on Theodor Herzl, David Ben-Gurion, Ze'ev Jabotinsky, and others), the origins of Zionism, movements in the Jewish world that attempted to supplant or replace Zionism, the Mandatory period in the Land of Israel, Christian Zionism, US-Israel relations, the story of Israel's wars, the search for peace, and much more. The site is completely free (you just have to register), and most of the videos are just 5-10 minutes long.
The films are built from authentic period footage and photographs, offering students a window into the past. All films are original to the site, and are supplemented by timelines, selected writings and a bibliography for those who wish to extend their knowledge.
The site is great not only for those getting an “elementary education” in Zionism, Isaac said, but also for those who already know what Zionism is all about. “While Zionism 101 is primarily for those who want to learn the basics, more knowledgeable students will also find the site valuable as there are many details to the Zionist struggle known only by a few,” he said.
Isaac, executive director of Zionism 101, is an Assistant Editor at a national newspaper as well as editor of the Shmuel Katz website in memory of the prescient Begin advisor, and has been working on Zionism 101 for several years, inspired by his good friend Herbert Zweibon, who passed away in 2011. Zweibon headed the Americans for a Safe Israel (AFSI) organization, which tirelessly lobbied for Israeli security and worked to keep alive the legacy of Ze'ev Jabotinsky revisionist Zionist views.