In our attempt to build an aspirational Zionism that has the power to inspire and to meet the challenges of today, we’re guided by a few simple but critical questions.
- What is Zionism today?
The point has been made that Zionism is no longer relevant in a world that already has a Jewish state. But we reject the premise. Zionism is not the building of a state but the pursuit of Jewish self-determination, which means that it’s by nature an ongoing process. The State of Israel exists, and it’s strong and stable, but it’s also beset by issues that have gone unaddressed since its ad hoc creation. Without a proper foundation embodied by a political constitution, the country finds itself in a cycle of managing and containing major issues. But prior to a constitution, Israel has to understand–in essence, to create and to build–its definition of itself and its people. This is the task of Zionism today.
- What role should Judaism play in Israel?
Judaism should play no “role” in Israel. Thinking from the standpoint of the Hebraic tradition, which begins with the melding of a People with a Law–a nation and a mode of belief–we have to learn how to address the two aspects as strands of a single DNA, or, two ways of seeing the same thing. Looking simultaneously at both aspects, of People and Law, will check one against the other, balancing the individual’s rights with the needs of a community that’s defined by an overarching value.
- How do we define Israeli sovereignty in the world?
In one sense, that of America, the concept of exceptionalism refers to a kind of super-sovereignty. Antithetical to the famed American exceptionalism, Israel’s ability to determine and insist upon its borders, defense, and national decision-making processes are discounted. We look to a truly normalized Israel, one in which national decisions are made with law, ethical norms, and national interests and counter-interests in mind, but in no way constrained by fear of censure. Going deeper, we look to the Jewish people as the source of this unconstrained sovereignty, and assert Israel’s obligation to protect that sovereignty wherever Jews are threatened.
- Who is a Jew and who is an Israeli?
Building on the dual-identity inherent to the Hebraic tradition, we maintain that “Jew” is a rule-bound category, which means it’s defined by a law that has been in operation for millennia. We connect this to the notion of sovereignty: comparison to attempts by persecutors of Jews to define us this way or that have nothing to do with the definition that is central to our heritage.