Last week, Tzedek Chicago Synagogue officially designated itself “anti-Zionist.” In its statement, the synagogue decried the establishment of Israel as an “injustice against the Palestinian people.” The synagogue also posted on its twitter account that “Members of Tzedek Chicago voted to affirm anti-Zionism as a core value of our congregation.” Several major Israeli newspapers in English reported on the statement, which seems to have made an impact. As I see it, the synagogue’s position is a direct result of our own behavior in Israel. As long as we are disunited and cater to our enemies, Jews abroad will disassociate themselves from us and cater to our enemies, as well.
Over the years, I have seen Jewish groups from many denominations—from Orthodox to Reform—opposing the State of Israel, and to be honest, I do not see much of a difference between them. Indeed, Tzedek Chicago, too, states that “Since the founding of the Zionist movement in the 19th century, there has always been active Jewish opposition to Zionism.”
It would be convenient to blame anti-Zionists for their antagonism to the State of Israel, but we would be wrong to do so. People’s feelings toward the Jewish state are not determined by them, but by the Jewish state itself. When Jews in Israel are united and understand what Zionism means, the resistance to Israel subsides and even turns to sympathy. But when the Jews in Israel object to their own country, when they denigrate and vilify each other and glorify Jew-haters, the world hates the Jews, and the Jews hate the Jewish state.
Unless the Jewish public in Israel strives for unity instead of division, American Jewry, and the whole world with it, will demand the cancelation and eradication of the State of Israel. It is already what the world, and much of world Jewry wants, but they are still not acting on their wish. If Israel continues to exhibit internal disintegration, the world will become more vociferous in its demands and more assertive in its actions to revoke the Jewish state.
We perceive anti-Zionists as being against the State of Israel, and this is also how they feel. In truth, however, Zionism is a spiritual movement, an aspiration to restore the core value of Judaism: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If we do not focus on our core values and pay attention only to our physical presence in the Land of Israel, we have no right to complain that no one supports our presence here. If we did focus on it, everyone would support our work here and wish for our success.
Therefore, if we want to unite and live in mutual responsibility, follow King Solomon’s motto, “Hate stirs strife, and love will cover all crimes” (Prov. 10:12), and strive to love our neighbors as ourselves, the whole world will be happy we are here, including Tzedek Chicago. If, alternatively, we find any excuse to disparage and slander one another, the entire world will turn against us.