Zionism Embodies a 4 000-Year-Old Link with the Land of Israel

Cape Times (South Africa), March 15, 2010 | Go to article overview

Zionism Embodies a 4 000-Year-Old Link with the Land of Israel


In his article (Insight, March 10) Yakov Rabkin provided a thorough exposition on the ideology he considers so harmful.

If only his handling of the entirety of the movement were as thorough, his article might have offered a platform for honest and critical debate.

Naturally, all commentators offer definitions of Zionism that suit their purposes and outlook. Not all of them are historically or ideologically accurate as generalisations.

Zionism is a movement that includes many shades of opinion, all of which should be explored in an attempt to construct balanced and informed views.

Rabkin defines Zionism as being a product of European history. Clearly the events that comprise this history played prominent roles in the rise of the political Zionist movement under Theodor Herzl at the end of the 19th century.

It should not be forgotten, however, that Vilna Gaon, a Jewish spiritual leader born in 1720, was a keen Zionist who, long before Herzl, encouraged his followers to move to Israel.

Further, it must be remembered that the political Zionist movement that sprang up under Herzl evolved naturally from the long Jewish traditional connection with the land of Israel and against the background of rising Jewish nationalism, factors Rabkin has chosen to overlook.

Contending that Zionism and the state of Israel constitute a break in Jewish history is a key flaw in his argument. Quite the contrary, Zionism is the embodiment of the Jewish connection with Israel going back 4 000 years.

Zionism holds the antiquity and continuity of Jewish connection with the land of Israel at its core. Jewish tradition and culture have emphasised the centrality of the land in communal life.

Following the fall of Jerusalem and during the subsequent exile, Jewish national feeling was packaged into the Jewish religion, which became the means of sustaining a dormant Jewish national life and culture in the diaspora. …

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