Is Zionism still relevant in the 21st century? The answer to this question largely depends on how we define the term. If Zionism was a movement aimed at solving a “Jewish problem” through establishing a state, then today we should acknowledge ourselves to be post-Zionists. But if the cultivation of our soil, the revival of our language, the ingathering of our exiles and the attainment of Jewish independence merely represent an important stage in a larger revolution, then Zionism must still hold relevance for us.
Israel’s detractors have successfully dominated the political discourse in recent years largely because they present a story and a cause more compelling than what currently passes for the Zionist narrative. Thousands of our most idealistic Jewish peers have either shied away from affiliating with Zionism in any way or have actively joined the ranks of those committed to Israel’s destruction. And most bewildering of all is the mainstream Zionist reaction to this trend. Fearful of alienating even more young Jews, pro-Israel advocacy has actually become blander and more ahistorical than ever before.
But Israel’s true story is an extraordinary drama verging on the sublime. There is no other people today or in history that had been broken and scattered throughout the world yet managed thousands of years later to reunite in its ancestral homeland, revive its ancient language and restore its independence against all odds. An ancient nation dead for two millennia not only came back to life but also became a central focus of international affairs on the world stage. An authentic Zionist Narrative based on deep ideological foundations and historic vision would express our incredible story in a manner compelling enough to compete with the rhetoric of Israel’s enemies. But the Jewish establishment, Israel advocacy organizations and official Zionist institutions seem unwilling to advance such a message. So it has fallen to us to become the voice of our people’s aspirations and to provide a vision capable of inspiring our generation.
In order to effectively advance Jewish history to the next stage, those most committed to Jewish liberation have an obligation to examine our own ideological foundations, national aspirations, past achievements and current challenges in order to properly apply our ideological foundations to the current challenges within the context of our aspirations and what has already been achieved. We cannot be satisfied with outdated paradigms of previous generations but must create a new Zionist vision relevant to today.