Welcome to Zionish

This website was born out of a combination of frustration, idealism, and hope.

For too long, I’ve been frustrated when talking about Israel and Palestine. I’m frustrated at a situation in Israel and Palestine which seems to be sinking ever deeper into the quagmire. As we approach 50 years of occupation, I’m frustrated that peace seems further away than ever.

I’m frustrated at the blindness of diaspora Jewry, which would rather shield itself from reality than embrace the difficulties and contradictions of Israel. I’m frustrated at a student community that renders Zionism the enemy and seeks to silence any Jewish perspective they disagree with, despite the fact that many of these Jews and Zionists seek similar goals of justice and equality. Both of these are symptomatic of a deeper worry: as the situation worsens, debate polarises, and the argument shifts more and more to the extremes.

I do, however, remain idealistic. For too long I and many others felt excluded from the discussion for not subscribing to either polarity. So we set up Zionish to fight for an alternative. When all around us debate falls into hostile and exclusionary narratives, we retain the idealism that states these different narratives can be reconciled, and that an approach guided by nuance and sensitivity can create a united movement for a better future in Israel and Palestine. Commentators are all too quick to declare the death of liberal Zionism. We contain the idealism to reinvigorate it.

Finally, I am hopeful. I am hopeful that those who read Zionish do so with an open mind. I am hopeful that those who come to Zionish will not see us as the enemy, but as a valid and equal part of the discussion on the future of Israel and Palestine. I am hopeful that the debate does not have to be characterised by hate and aggression, but honest and free discussion. I am hopeful that readers realise that we are not a minority fringe, but a real and growing movement in our communities. I hope, on all these things, that I’m not wrong.

So welcome to Zionish. Have a browse of our first articles. We hope there’s a bit of something for everyone. I have outlined a basic definition of Zionism and how we can engage with it away from the politics of terminology. Noah Lachs and Joel Collick have brilliantly explained why most Jews are Zionist, and taken on the ubiquitous use of the word ‘Zionism’ by critics of Israel. For those interested in getting to grips with the historiography of Zionism, Ezra Margulies challenges the conventional history of Zionism as an irreligious rejection of Judaism. Chesney Ovsiowitz beautifully articulates an experience of Israel many of us can identify with. Daniel Rey challenges head-on Zionist perceptions of Palestinians. Ben Goldstein takes on those who demand Jews sever themselves from Israel, whilst Emma Brand addresses the Jewish community which so often misunderstands liberal Zionism. I explore how Israel’s current definition of itself as a Jewish State discriminates against Palestinian citizens of Israel.

There will be plenty more to come too. We want to talk about the occupation, Jewish peoplehood, the breadth of Zionist thought, the Nakba, anti-Semitism, borders, Jewish Israel education, BDS, anti-Arab racism, the Israeli left, and much more.

Please do take a look, and read what we have to say. Approach each piece with interest rather than suspicion. And who knows, you might even find yourself agreeing.

Here’s to a better future,

Aaron