Ari Shavit

A Missed Funeral and the True Meaning of Zionism (2013)

At base, the Jewish national movement was the most just liberation movement on the face of the earth. It was meant not only to free a nation, but to save a nation. Consequently, Theodor Herzl was always careful to be identified with progress. The same went for his successors. The Labor Movement did this by adopting the values of socialism, and the Revisionist Movement by adopting liberalism. The Zionist Left and the Zionist Right upheld Herzl’s legacy by ensuring that the movement he established would be committed to equality, peace, freedom, and nobility. It is a strategic necessity of the highest order for Israel both to be an enlightened state, and to be perceived as one. Benightedness is dangerous. It threatens Israel’s ability to protect itself and maintain itself.


To survive in a tough Middle East, we need the West’s support, and therefore, we must be an inseparable part of the West. In order to have a future, we must renew our partnership with progressive Diaspora Jews and uphold the values in which they believe. We must make Israel the moral state it was meant to be, and that it needs to be. We must not play into the hands of those who seek, unjustly, to push us into the world’s dark corner. . . . We cannot be viewed by the world as peace rejectionists. We must put forward a peace initiative that will serve us as a moral shield. We must make it clear to the world that we aren’t a theocracy, we aren’t an occupation state, and our hearts aren’t closed. To fulfill Herzl’s dream, Israel must once again assume a Herzlian face...If we are not progressive and just and liberal, we will not be at all...Only a progressive Israel that is also seen as a progressive Israel can survive.


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