The biblical origins and philosophical underpinnings of Zionism that led to the establishment of the state of Israel

JERUSALEM – As Israelis mark the 76th anniversary of the country’s founding in 1948, opponents of the Jewish state (anti-Zionists) seek its destruction. Fanatics, particularly on American college campuses, have launched a campaign to deny Jews their national homeland, the state of Israel, and turn the Mideast’s sole democracy into a pariah state, often using anti-Zionist tropes in their chants and on their banners. To many watching today’s protests against Israel, Zionism might have developed a negative connotation, but both biblically and politically, some say it’s a philosophy of action. Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism, famously wrote over 100 years ago about the creation of a new Jewish state: “If you will it, it is no dream.” Digital spoke to experts about the mixture of biblical passages and modern philosophy – Zionism – that laid the religious and intellectual foundation for . Herzl, an Austrian-Hungarian Jewish journalist, wrote about the First Zionist Congress, in Switzerland in 1897, “At Basel I founded the Jewish State. If I said this out loud today, I would be answered by universal laughter. Perhaps in five years, and certainly in 50, everyone will know it.”Herzl’s prescient vision about the Jewish state became a concrete reality.Ze’ev Orenstein, the director of international affairs for the City of David Foundation in Jerusalem, explained its religious importance. “Zionism not only represents the return of the Jewish people as sovereign to their ancestral homeland – the Land of Israel – where we have had a continuous presence dating back some 3,500 years to the time of the Biblical Joshua until today.” “A land where the Jewish people are worshiping the same God, practicing the same faith, walking upon the very same hills and valleys, speaking the same language and keeping the same traditions and festivals as our ancestors did millennia ago,” he said.Orenstein cited a biblical passage from Amos 9: 14-15 that grounds the creation of the Jewish state in the Holy land: “I will restore My people Israel from captivity; they will rebuild and inhabit the ruined cities. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit. I will firmly plant them in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land that I have given them, says the Lord your God.”Orenstein noted the transition from to the modern solidification of Israel as a state “also represents the return of the Jewish people to being masters of our own fate and destiny – only fully possible as sovereign in our homeland – striving to build a society which will serve as a source of light, inspiration and blessing – not only to Israel and the Jewish people, but to all the peoples of the region and to the entire world.”He added, “The return of the Jewish people to Israel as sovereign after 2,000 years of exile, serves as an eternal reminder to individuals and nations alike that what was need not be. Despite seemingly insurmountable odds, and with equal measures of unwavering determination and unbreakable faith, good will ultimately triumph.” Anti-Zionists continue to denigrate both Herzl’s founding philosophy of the modern Jewish state, Zionism, and the Biblical foundation of the state of Israel. The U.N. also played a key role in stoking antisemitism and anti-Israel hatred, argue its critics. In 1975, a majority of U.N. member states, spearheaded by the Soviets and Arab dictatorships, passed a resolution equating Zionism with racism. After the collapse of the communist Soviet Union and its allies in Eastern Europe, member states . Eugene Kontorovich, an Israeli legal scholar, told Digital, “Opposition to Zionism means that Jews, having achieved national independence, are not entitled to keep it. There is no similar global opposition to any other people’s statehood, which makes it hard to separate ‘anti-Zionism’ from the millennia of antisemitism that faced Jews before they had a state. Indeed, with the plurality of the world’s Jews living in Israel and almost all of the rest strongly attached to it, ‘anti-Zionism’ is a transparent rebranding of antisemitism.”Kontorovich noted, “Zionism is the national independence movement of the Jewish people. For 2,000 cruel years, the Jewish people did not have a home, and was at the mercy of the nations and empires they found themselves in – a minority everywhere.”He added, “Supporting Zionism means that just as the Irish have Ireland, the Ukrainians have Ukraine, and Japanese have Japan, Jews should have an independent state in their ancestral homeland. Many ethnic groups are majorities in numerous states, like Arabs, which have over 20 countries that identify themselves as Arab. Zionism does not insist that Jews, have two states – say one for Azshkenazi Jews, and one for Sephardim. Just one. “Azshkenazi Jews have their modern roots in Eastern and Central Europe, while Sephardic Jews have their origins in Portugal and Spain and later fled to North Africa and Turkey.For many Jews, the yearning of a return to their Biblical homeland is also captured by the famous Psalm 126:”A song of ascents. When the Lord restored the captives of Zion, we were like dreamers. Then our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with shouts of joy. Then it was said among the nations, The Lord has done great things for them. The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with joy.”