Ken Stein, Zionism’s Overarching Concept: Seek and Preserve Jewish Self-determination
Left: March 1939 – Zionist Congress
Right: September 1978 – Israeli Knesset

להיות עם חופשי בארצנו

Zionism’s two part history, Early History to 1897 and Zionism 1898 to 1948

Where has Zionism succeeded?  What remains incomplete or  unfinished?

Finished or well-shaped results of Zionism  

  • reestablished Jewish sovereignty in Eretz Yisrael; Zionism evolved a Jewish national territory and solidified Israel’s existence as the nation-state of the Jewish people
  • generated a renewed sense of peoplehood
  • expanded content of the Arab Israeli conflict –after 1967,  to include acceptance not just war
  • received recognition from six Arab neighbors and from multiple nations
  • changed Israel’s relationships with diaspora Jewry – before and after the 1948 and 1967 Wars
  • grew Israel’s critical relationship with major powers, especially the United States 
  • absorbed regularly yet with difficulty waves of Jewish immigrants
  • provided world-wide for Jews in need and in crisis 
  • reconstituted and expanded development of the Hebrew language, art, literature, and culture
  • developed a sense of pride/power among diaspora Jews to engage in local and national power structures in the countries where they reside
  • magnetized world Jewry to utilize and be proud of Israeli existence, as a place, in parallel or as an alternative to Jewish religious practice; “Israel as religion.”
  • engaged world Jewry and non-Jews to support, sustain, and promote the Jewish state
  • continued to preserve Jewish self-determination, to maintain the state’s Jewish majority, to protect its national security, and to ensure its economic strength
  • created an environment ripe for development and innovation and established itself as a world leader in technology, medicine, social innovation and in other fields
  • evolved a political system based on ideological and personal characteristics
  • negated exile in favor of one place, territorial nation, yet remaining perennially connected to diaspora 
  • built an economy from no GDP to $400 billion annually
  • constructed a national defense force capable of preserving the state’s strategic viability
  • maintained a commitment to Torah Yisrael, Am Yisrael, Eretz Yisrael, and Medinat Yisrael

Unfinished results of Zionism, so far Israel has not answered or been able to answer fully if, how, or when

  • to in-gather Jews world-wide into sovereign Jewish state
  • to decide on Israel’s final borders
  • to finalize relations with immediate Arab and Middle Eastern neighbors
  • to decide its relationship with the Palestinians living in the territories of the West Bank/Judea & Samaria
  • to decide on how to resolve major societal differences about the roles of religion and state
  • to reach equitable compromises about the exercise of domestic political power and rabbinic influences
  • to make Judea and Samaria an integral part of the land of Israel 
  • to “normalize” the Jewish condition world-wide
  • to end or retard anti-Zionism/anti-Semitism and delegitimization regionally and world-wide
  • to help world Jewry understand and appreciate that Israeli Jews and diaspora Jews each possesses separate but related identities as individual minyanim, yet remain part of Am Yisrael. 
  • to initiate and sustain a systematic policy for having Jews and non-Jews world-wide learn and own the Zionist and Israeli story like we know the “Four Questions” 
  • to build a Jewish memory that comprehends and takes pride in the nuanced complexities of Jewish state-seeking, state-making, and state keeping; Jewish life worldwide remains enhanced by Israel’s being
  • to provide for its citizens a consistent sense of peace, safety, and economic security
  • to finish writing a consensus foundational history because its history is diverse and endless

Ken Stein, May 2023