I wrote the original essay around 2002 and I have been modifying it since then. Here is this year’s version:
I am a Zionist and I am proud of it.
I know that Israel has the absolute right to exist in peace and security, at least as much as any other country. Given Israel’s unique history and the resurgence of antisemitism worldwide, Israel arguably has more moral legitimacy than any other nation on Earth.
I am proud of how the IDF conducts itself during its never ending war on Palestinian terror. There is no other country on the planet that tries to minimize civilian casualties in such a situation where innocent Israelis are being threatened, shot at, mortared, rocketed, stabbed and murdered in cold blood. At times there are discussions whether the IDF’s moral standards are too high and end up being counterproductive – and what other army could one even have that conversation about?
I am also proud that Israel investigates any mistakes that happen on the battlefield and keeps trying to improve its methods to maximize damage to the terrorists while minimizing damage to the people that the enemy is hiding behind. This is not done because of pressure from “human rights” organizations – it is done because it is the right thing to do. Even when everyone knows that the world will accuse it of “war crimes,” the IDF retains incredibly high moral standards, which can be easily proven for anyone who wants to investigate the situation impartially. (People willing to do that are, regrettably, few and far between.) It would be so easy for Israelis to say that since the world will accuse them of atrocities anyway, then why bother with holding themselves to such standards – but young Israeli soldiers do, day in and day out. The rare exceptions prove the rule.
I am proud that Israel remains a true democracy, with a free press and vigorous opposition parties, while on a constant war footing. One only needs to read the hateful articles in Israel’s left-wing publications on Israel’s Independence Day to fathom how far press freedom goes in Israel.
I am proud of how Israel responds to seemingly intractable problems. In the early days of the intifada there seemed to be no solution – but the IDF found one, managing to bring deadly suicide attacks from 60 in 2002 down to practically none today. For every “successful” attack (if you can use such a term) there have been many failed attempts, and these are truly miraculous. The ‘knife intifada,” car rammings, and other violent “innovations” by Israel’s enemies have largely died down because of Israeli defensive actions and innovative pro-active work on social media. Hamas has been reduced to celebrating attacks that cause only minor injuries because most of their major attacks, thank God, are foiled. Today there are new challenges, but each one is met and solved with brains and creativity.
The enemy has not stopped trying, and the history of antisemitism shows that it never will. If the Israel haters had their way, Israel would resemble Libya or Afghanistan today with the Jews as frightened as minorities are in every other Middle Eastern country.
Jews know something about being singled out, about being judged with double standards. We have been attacked for being too rich and too poor, too successful and too needy, too capitalist and too socialist, too religious and too secular, too insular and too integrated. These same wildly inconsistent attacks are targeting the Jewish state. Israel will survive and thrive, just as Jews themselves have, despite these attacks.
And the best survival technique is success.
Israel has succeeded and continues to succeed in its many accomplishments in building up a desert wasteland into a thriving and vibrant modern country, with its countless scientific achievements, incredible leadership in high-tech and the environment, world class universities and culture. Practically every computer and mobile phone being built today includes technology and innovations from a single small Middle Eastern country. A tiny nation, under constant siege, with few natural resources besides breathtaking beauty, has used its smarts and strength to build a modern success story. In a short period of time Israel made itself into a strong yet open nation that its neighbors can only dream of becoming.
And they are indeed starting to dream. Arab nations are waking up to the reality of Israel and the desire to be more like her.. Despite the constant incitement against Israel in their media, ordinary Arabs know that Israel treats its minorities with more respect, and gives them more civil rights, than Arab nations give their own Arab citizens. Miraculously, in recent years, we are seeing some of Israel’s intractable enemies now accepting that Israel has the right to exist and seeking to partner with it. This was unthinkable a few years ago, and the reason is because of Israel’s strength, both militarily and economically. The biggest (and artificial) dagger that has been used against Israel for 72 years, the Palestinian Arabs, is quickly losing its effectiveness in the Arab world except for lip service. Israel is simply more valuable to the Arab world as a partner than as an enemy, and this is directly due to wise and forward thinking Israeli policies..
Zionists have every reason to be proud of the incredible achievements of the Jewish national movement. There is a right and a wrong in this conflict, and I am proud that Israel is in the right.
The word “Zionist” is not an epithet – it is a compliment.
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