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Zionism:

I, too, was struck by the East Bay Express article Eugene quotes from below. Read it.

One thing I've noticed is that the Muslim/Palestinian/Campus Left (an odd alliance, to say the least) has managed to make the words "Zionism" and "Zionist" into epithets, so much so that people don't even know what the word means, they just know it's something bad. More than once I've seen Jewish students quoted as saying things like "I support Israel's right to exist with secure borders as a Jewish state, but I'm not a Zionist."

So let's get things straight: Zionism is the term that describes the movement for a Jewish state in the "Land of Israel"--the area that was once a sovereign Jewish state, but over almost two millenia had been controlled by various other nationalities, including Europeans (Great Britain and also briefly and in part during the Crusades), Mamluks, Romans, Arabs, and Turks. Zionists are those who believe in Zionism.

Nowadays, to say one is a Zionist means nothing more than that one supports the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state. One could be a liberal Zionist, who wants Israel to withdraw from the territories and achieve full equality for its Arab citizens, or one can be an illiberal Zionist, and support a vision of "Greater Israel" with a suppressed Arab minority. One can be a secular Zionist, or a religious Zionist. There are Christian Zionists, and even a few Muslim Zionists.

One can be anti-Zionist without being anti-Semitic, or even prejudiced. Some left-wing Israelis are "post-Zionists" in that they wish Israel to become a "state of all its citizens" rather than a Jewish state. Many libertarians of my acquaintance object to the notion of a "Jewish state," and oppose Zionism for that reason.

On the other hand, many leading anti-Zionists have no objection to other states that are explicitly based on religion or nationality. Indeed, the draft Palestinian Constitution seeks to establish an explicitly Islamic, Arab state, with Islamic law the "primary" basis for its laws. By contrast, outside of family law Israel is a largely secular state (update: and there is nothing in Zionism, as such, that prevents having a wholely secular state), with a legal system easily recognizable to lawyers from common law jurisdictions. And there are some obvious historical reasons why Jews feel the need to have their own defined sovereign entity, reasons that simply don't apply to the local Arab population. So the "anti-Zionist" who claims to oppose Israel on liberal/libertarian principle, but is a fullthroated supporter of Palestinian Islamic nationalism, is a major hypocrite--or worse.

In short, to be a Zionist should be no more controversial than to be a "Pakistanist" (believing that Pakistan should be allowed to exist), or a "Polandist" (believing that Poland should be allowed to exist)--imagine if the founders of Israel had simply called it Zion, as some wished. The word has instead been hijacked by those who, as the saying goes, would like to drive Israel into the sea. By using the word as an epithet, and obscuring its innocuous meaning, they are able to engage in shenanigans such as asking a visiting speaker "Are you a Zionist?", assuming that a yes answer will discredit even a liberal, secular individual.

So, let's take back the words Zionism and Zionist from the Islamofacists, their leftist enablers, and other miscreants. I'll start: I am a proud Zionist. You should be, too.