The root of the term "Zionism" is the word "Zion," which very early in Jewish Tribal history became a
synonym for the HOLY TEMPLE in JERUSALEM. The term "Zion" had a special meaning as far back as the Babylonian Exile
and the destruction of the First Temple (586 B.C.E.). The term expresses the yearning of the Jewish people for it's ancestral
connection with the Divine Shikhinah Presence as experienced in the ancestral homeland of Israel, in much the same way as
Native American Indian peoples express their longings for their return to their ancestral Tribal homelands through tribal
songs and stories.
It is in this way that "Zion" is referred to by the sweet singer of Psalms 137: 1; "By the rivers of Babylon,/There
we sat down, yea, we wept,/When we remembered Zion." In our Jewish Hebrew prayers we thrice daily say; "And let
our eyes behold Your return in mercy to Zion;" The Sephardi poet, Yehudah Halevi, wrote: "Zion! Wilt thou not ask
if peace be with thy captives/That seek thy peace - that are the remnant of thy flocks?"
The modernist term "ZIONISM," as applying to the political-nationalistic party, first appeared at the end of
the 19th century, denoting the Zionist movement whose goal was the return of the Jewish people to their ancient tribal heritage,
Eretz Yisrael. It was coined by Nathan Birnbaum in his journal SELBSTEMANZIPATION (April 1, 1890).
Previous to that time, Zionism meant a return to Eretz Yisrael in connection with the coming of "The Messiah."
Modern Zionism leaned heavily on the old messianism and derived from it much of its ideological and even more of its emotional
The early Socialist Zionists kept the concepts of peacable settling of the "Ancestral Homeland" along side of
the Arab population already living there. They believed that by treating the Arabs fairly and with respect they could work
together with them in creating a SECULAR Jewish Homeland that would be an example to other nations of the world with its treatment
of minority groups and peoples. These early Socialist Zionists actually had the Biblical conception of what Zionism should
In the beginning of the Return of Jews to Eretz Yisrael in earnest (1880's), the local Arab populations did not view them
as a hostile invasion, but welcomed them.
Palestinian Jews, indigenous to the land, Sephardic Jews, who came from Babylon, North Africa and Spain, and Ultra-Orthodox
ANTI-ZIONISTIC Jews, who came to Eretz Yisrael to die, from Europe, and Eurasia, had lived in Eretz Yisrael, especially in
Jerusalem and the surrounding area, continually from 70 C.E. EXCEPT for two short periods when the Crusaders had murdered
all the Jews of the area.
However, as more and more Russian and European Jews began buying up and settling on lands where title of ownership was
dubious or non-existant, and political winds of suspicion of the Jews as agents for espionage for the Turkish Ottoman government's
enemies, became rife, the local Arabs also began to have their own nationalistic leanings for the same lands, and riots broke
out against Jewish emigration.
THE ECOREBBE, RABBI GERSHON CAUDILL, IS A JEWISH COMPASSIONATE ZIONIST!
This means that he believes that Jews have the RIGHT to live in their ancient ancestral Homeland!
Jews should be able to live in peace ANYWHERE in the world, and that includes in Israel, as well as in Saudi Arabia, Mexico,
the United States, etc.
He also believes that any other people has the RIGHT to live in the lands of their choice as well, as long as they are
a peaceful, law-abiding people. This includes Palestinian Arabs, Mormon Christians, Bahai, and Sufi Moslems.
Rabbi Caudill believes that Jews, Moslems, Christians, etc. CAN and MUST, AND EVENTUALLY WILL learn to live together in
The Land of Israel DOES NOT belong to the Jewish people only. It was given by God to ALL of the House of Israel, not just
to the Jews!
He believes that Eretz Israel (and all lands) belong ONLY to God, and God will determine who lives in that land of Israel
based upon whether they abide by the rules that God establishes for the right to live in that particular land.
For Jews to be able to live in a JEWISH STATE, it is by living according to the teachings of compassion and non-oppression
that the Torah teaches us that God uses to determine who can live there.
He believes that laws that discriminate against ANY people, in any country, based upon religion, race, ethnicity, sexual
orientation, color of skin, etc., are against the teachings of the Torah, and thus against the teachings of Judaism.
The Torah states more than it states any other single teaching, (32 times) "You shall not oppress the non-Jewish
resident of your Jewish State, for you were once oppressed in other countries, for instance, you were treated as slaves in
Egypt (and as less than human in Europe), therefore, you know how it feels, and should not do it. For I am YHVH (The Infinite
Transformational One); You shall love your neighbor as you love yourself."
(The Torah was written as the CONSTITUTION of the ISRAELITE PEOPLE and the source of Instruction for the Jewish people,
just as the Holy Qur'an was written as the source of Instruction to Islamic peoples, and the New Testament [and other books]
to Christian peoples, etc.).
Rabbi Caudill believes that the State of Israel should convene a Court of JUSTICE, made up of respected Justices from
many nations and religious beliefs. This Court would examine all of the claims of ownership presented to it by the families
of Arab Palestinians, (and others), and arbitrate, based upon the evidence and history of the family, whether to resettle
the family on the land, or to give a fair cash settlement where such a question of resettlement was impossible, or to settle
the family on other lands of equal worth and value, either in the local neighborhood or in the State of Palestine.
In the end, the title to the Land of Israel must be free and clear of all other claims for ownership placed upon it by
people who do not desire Israeli citizenship.
The costs presently being created by the constant war and oppression of the Palestinians by the Israelis could be used
to help create a Trade-Federation between the two States of Israel and Palestine.
**RABBI GERSHON WINKLER QUOTES THE BOOK OF MACCABEES ON THE ISRAELI/PALESTINIAN TERRITORY/OCCUPATION ISSUE**
"We have neither taken other men's land, nor are we in possession of other men's property, but of the inheritance of
our forefathers; it was wrongfully held by our enemies at one time, but we, seizing our opportunity, are now holding on firmly
to the inheritance of our forefathers. But as for the territories of Yaffa and Gezer, which they demand be returned to them,
while they have done great damage to OUR people and in OUR country, we will nevertheless compensate them with a hundred talents
of silver for the damage WE'VE done there." - Shim'on ben Matit'ya'hu, Clan Leader of the Maccabees, 2nd century, B.C.E.
(Source: First Book of Maccabees 15: 28-35).
*NEED FOR TWO STATES IN THE HOLY LAND*
The Palestinians should be allowed their State on pre-1967 West Bank lands. The borders should be solidly defined, ratified,
and internationally recognized.
EVENTUALLY, Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon should form a Middle East coalition of economic solidarity.
If the Palestinian people would practice non-violent pacifism, they would achieve Statehood far quicker than by blowing
up innocent people.
If Israel would depend more on God for protection than on guns and armies, they would become accepted as a real power
in the world and Middle East. Israel should not treat Palestinians similar to how America treated its Native Indian populations.
All people deserve to be treated as equals and with honor and respect.
****JERUSALEM BELONGS TO THE WORLD, NOT TO ANY ONE GROUP OF PEOPLE****
Jerusalem should be internationalized as a United Nations City open to ALL religions and peoples EQUALLY. ALL religious
sites should receive equal protection and care. The United Nations Headquarters should be moved from New York to Jerusalem.
It is this Rebbe's belief that one of these days ALL national borders will cease to exist as the borders of sovereign
state-nations, but will become borders of states similiar to the states within the United States borders.
At that time, a Parliment of States will govern these United Stated of the World. This Parliment will meet in the United
Nations in Jerusalem.
The world is becoming too small to continue the useless farce of individual nations.
We need to figure out how to co-exist with each other in a democratic world government wherein the highest good for the
whole world is the highest priority, not just for the wealthiest or most militant people or nations.
In the meantime, no one nation or religion should control Jerusalem, it should belong to the WORLD! Jerusalem is HOLY
to all religions!
The United Nations should have a Jerusalem Charter that specifically states that NO SINGLE NATION or RELIGIOUS PERSPECTIVE
should have total control over Jerusalem.
*ALL PEOPLE ARE CREATED EQUALLY IN THE IMAGE OF GOD*
No race, religion, ethnicity, nationality, ect. is superior to any other.
"We declare loudly and unequivocally: Palestinians are as valued by God as are Jews (and Christians), Palestinians
are created as equal in God's Image as Jews (and Christians).
We, as Jews (and other peoples of faith), can no longer shut our eyes to the suffering of the Palestinian people. We want
the world to know that in this dark period there were Jews who stood up and proclaimed their commitment to a Judaism that
would fight for a world in which EVERY HUMAN BEING is treated with the respect and the sense of sanctity that are central
to a spiritual vision of the world" (Rabbi Michael Lerner).
"BE OF THE DISCIPLES OF AARON, LOVING PEACE AND PURSUING PEACE" (Hillel)
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said: "Passion for war will be subdued (in the day that God grants the world eternal peace)
by a greater passion: the passion to discover God's ways.
Into a world fascinated with idolatry, drunk with power, bloated with arrogance, enters Isaiah's word that the swords
will be beaten into plowshares, that nations will search, not for gold, power or harlotries, but for God's word" (THE
PROPHETS, page 184 & 183).
A Jewish Renewal Understanding of the State of Israel
By Rabbi Michael Lerner
Jews did not return to Palestine in order to be oppressors or representatives of Western colonialism or cultural imperialism.
Although it is true that some early Zionist leaders sought to portray their movement as a way to serve the interests of various
Western states, and although many Jews who came brought with them a Western arrogance that made it possible for them to see
Palestine as "a land without a people for a people without a land," and hence to virtually ignore the Palestinian
people and its own cultural and historical rights, the vast majority of those who came were seeking refuge from the murderous
ravages of Western anti-Semitism or from the oppressive discrimination that they experienced in Arab countries. The Ashkenazi
Jews who shaped Israel in its early years were jumping from the burning buildings of Europe--and when they landed on the backs
of Palestinians, unintentionally causing a great deal of pain to the people who already lived there, they were so transfixed
with their own (much greater and more acute) pain that they couldn't be bothered to notice that they were displacing and hurting
others in the process of creating their own state.
Their insensitivity to the pain that they caused, and their subsequent denial of the fact that in creating Israel they had
simultaneously helped create a Palestinian people most of whom were forced to live as refugees (and now, their many descendents
still living as exiles and dreaming of "return" just as we Jews did for some 1800 plus years), was aided by the
arrogance, stupidity and anti-Semitism of Palestinian leaders and their Arab allies in neighboring states who dreamt of ridding
the area of its Jews and who, much like the Herut "revisionists" who eventually came to run Israel in the past twenty
years, consistently resorted to violence and intimidation to pursue their maximalist fantasies.
By the time Palestinians had come to their senses and acknowledged the reality of Israel and the necessity of accommodating
to that reality if they were ever to find a way to establish even the most minimal self-determination in the land that had
once belonged to their parents and grandparents it was too late to undermine the powerful misperception of reality held by
most Jews and Israelis that their state was likely to be wiped out any moment if they did not exercise the most powerful vigilance.
Drenched in the memories of the Holocaust and in the internalized vision of themselves as inevitably powerless, Jews were
unable to recognize that they had become the most powerful state in the region and among the top 20% of powerful countries
in the world--and they used this sense of imminent potential doom to justify the continuation of the occupation of the West
Bank and Gaza for over thirty years.
The occupation could only be maintained by what become an international scandal--the violation of basic human rights of the
occupied, the documented and widespread use of torture, the systematic destruction of Palestinian homes, the grabbing of Palestinian
lands to allow expansion of West Bank settlements that had been created for the sole purpose of ensuring that no future accommodation
with Palestinians could ever allow for a viable Palestinian state in the West Bank (since, as many settlers argued, the land
had been given to the Jewish people by God, hence precluding any rights to Palestinians), and the transformation of Israeli
politics from a robust democracy into a system replete with verbal violence that sometimes spilled over into real violence
(most notably, the assassination of prime minister Rabin because of his pursuit of peace and reconciliation with the Palestinian
The distortions in Israeli society required to enable the occupation to continue have been yet another dimension of the problem:
first, the pervasive racism towards Arabs, manifested not only in the willingness to blame all Palestinians for the terrorist
actions of a small minority but also in the willingness to treat all Israeli citizens of Palestinian descent as second class
citizens (e.g. in giving lesser amounts of financial assistance to East Jerusalem or to Israeli Palestinian towns than to
Jewish towns); second, in the refusal to allocate adequate funds to rectify the social inequalities between Ashkenazi and
Sephardic/Mizrachi Jews; third in the willingness of both Labor and Likud to make electoral deals with ultra-orthodox parties
intent on using state power to enforce religious control over Israelis' personal lives and to grab disproportionate state
revenues--in order that they could count on these religious parties to back whatever their engagement or disengagement plans
in the West Bank.
Perhaps the greatest victim of all these distortions has been Judaism itself. Judaism has always had within it two competing
strands, one that affirmed the possibility of healing the world and transcending its violence and cruelty, the other that
saw "the Other" (be that the original inhabitants of the land, who were to be subject to genocidal extermination,
or later Greeks, Romans, Christians, or now Arab) as inherently evil, beyond redemption, and hence deserving of cruelty and
violence. The latter strand, which I call "settler Judaism" because it reflects the ideology of settling the land
that reaches its fulfillment as much in the Book of Joshua (and in some quotes in Torah) as in the reckless acts of Ariel
Sharon and the current manifestations of the National Religious Party in Israel, was actually a very necessary part of keeping
psychologically healthy in the long period of Jewish history when we were the oppressed and we were being psychologically
brutalized by imperial occupiers or by our most immoral "hosts" in European societies. But today, when Jews are
the rulers over an occupied people, or living in Western societies and sharing the upper crust of income and political power
with our non-Jewish neighbors, the supremacist ideas of Settler Judaism create a religious ideology that can only appeal to
those stuck in the sense that we are eternally vulnerable. For a new generation of Jews, bred in circumstances of power and
success, a Judaism based on fear and demeaning of others, a Judaism used as a justification for every nuance of Israeli power
and occupation, becomes a Judaism that has very little spiritual appeal. Ironically, the need to be a handmaiden to Israel
distorts Judaism and causes a "crisis of continuity" as younger Jews seek spiritual insight outside their inherited
Yet Judaism has another strand, what I and others call "Renewal Judaism," which started with the Prophets and has
reasserted itself in every major age of Jewish life, insisting that the God of Torah is really the Force of Healing and Transformation,
and that our task is not to sanctify existing power relations but to challenge them in the name of a vision of a world of
peace and justice. Perhaps the greatest danger that Israel poses to the Jewish people is the extent to which it has helped
Jews become cynical about their central task: to proclaim to the world the possibility of possibility, to affirm the God of
the universe as the Force that makes possible the breaking of the tendency of people to do to others the violence and cruelty
that was done to them, the Force that makes possible the transcendence of "reality" as it is so that a new world
can be shaped. If Israel is ever to be healed, it will only be when it is able to reject this slavish subordination to political
realism and once again embrace the transformative spiritual message of renewal.