All my life, the happenings of the Holocaust have been driven into my head, time after time, school year after school year. It surprised me greatly that many of my classmates didn’t know the tragedies the Holocaust brought to the Jewish people during World War II. 12 million were killed in the Holocaust, half of them being Jews.
So when we learned about the Zionist movement in AP World History class this year, it made sense to me that the Jewish people should have their own homeland to go to.
Before this year, I can honestly say I haven’t really taken much interest in Israel. But now that I’m going to spend half of my summer there, I started to pay attention more closely to the history and the current events going on there.
Sadly, I know that Israel has much criticism. The other day, I was filling out a worksheet for my history class. I had to look up what the term “Displacement of Palestinians” meant. I plugged the phrase into the Google search bar, and I have to say, I was appalled at what I found.
I found an article talking about Israel in the most negative manner I have ever heard. The article described the Zionists and Israelis as cruel perpetrators that celebrate 60 years of Palestinian torture every year on Yom Ha’atzma’ut, Israel’s independence day.
That claim didn’t seem right to me. I’ve always been taught that the whole message of Israel was to be a welcoming and peaceful place. Of course I knew that the war between Israel and Palestine had been unending, but to say that it was all Israel’s fault, that for some reason the Jews and Israelis would purposefully want to see the Palestinian’s hurt, as if Zionists had evil masochistic motives.
Confused by this article, I asked my dad the next morning what his stance on the issue was. His answer made a lot more sense to me than the article I read online. My dad said that Israel had always tried to negotiate peace with Palestine, but Palestine always refused. When Israel gained independence, Palestine was the country that declared war on Israel, not the other way around.
So why are there so many misconceptions about Israel? Why are so many people passionate that Israel shouldn’t exist, and that it was created with the destruction of other people? If anyone bothered to crack open a history book, they would see that the United Nations granted Israel to the Zionists. The Zionists didn’t just savagely take territory from Palestine, they did so peacefully.
It bothers me that so many people, including people of the Jewish faith, criticize Israel continuously. But if those people bothered to listen, they would see that all Israel wants is a peaceful state that grants all Jews citizenship and a safe homeland.
Especially with the recent occurrence of Yom Hashoa, Holocaust Remembrance day, we need to think about the tragedies of the holocaust and why Israel came to be. As a Jew I am Zionist, because I find it crucial to have a Jewish homeland in a world where many people of our faith were persecuted unfairly.
As a Jew I am a Zionist because I think it’s necessary to have a country where anti-Semitism is completely absent, and we can feel free to express our Judaism among other people of the same faith. As a Jew I am thankful to have a Jewish homeland, and have something to say at a Passover Seder.
I am a Zionist because I am hopeful that Israel will still be there, when we all say, “Next year in Jerusalem.”