This is a good piece by Paul about the Nature of Zionism, and it was good to see so many appreciated his take at the Progressive Zionism. One thing I like to observe here - whether you are a Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Christian or the other, if you are a moderate you sound alike, so is the case with right wingers.
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I've always been Zionist, as a strong respect and support for Israel has always been a central part of my traditional Jewish background. (I grew up in Conservative Judaism, but with Orthodox relatives.)
In the early 1970's, as I was coming into my adult years, I was influenced by a first cousin of mine (a year older) who had begun to write letters and articles in defense of Israel to newspapers and magazines. We often discussed Israel and Zionism when we met, usually several times a month; I familiarized myself with intricacies of Israeli and Zionist issues through various readings, and also joined an active Zionist organization at Clark University (Worcester, Mass.) where I was a student.
Beginning in the mid-1970's (when I was in my early 20's), I followed my cousin's example by writing letters, articles, and columns in Israel's defense to newspapers and magazines, responding to anti-Israel editorials, letters, and columns.
Throughout the 1970's and into the early 1980's, I maintained a conservatism on issues involving Israel and a progressive outlook on nearly all other issues.|
In 1979 I visited Israel for the first time; I stayed with my cousin who had influenced me in my early writings on Israel - he had recently made aliyah. But I met another Israeli cousin of mine on the opposite side of the political fence, who told me that it was dangerous to consider the Israeli-Arab conflict as simply "us vs. them". It was hard for me then to understand the conflict in any other way.
But I felt a weakness in what I was writing - something just didn't hang together for me. I wrote that while I deplored the extensive Lebanese civilian casualties, these were entirely the moral responsibility of the PLO for using civilians as shields, and that Israel was therefore in no way at fault in these actions. (Today I would call this a shared responsibility.) Internally I didn't really accept what I was then writing, but saw no way around it to give Israel a full defense. It was the first time I felt a little crack in the wall of my then-conservative positions regarding Israel.
I received much high praise for this article, from individuals as well as federations, and also received a letter of praise from a young Congressional aide in Washington named Jim McGovern (who 15 years later would become the Congressman from my Central Massachusetts district).
Everyone seemed to love my article - except myself.
My first article that included a long-range peace perspective and mentioned Palestinian Arab aspirations was published in 1988, a few months after the First Intifada had broken out.
The newspaper printing it considered my writing (correctly) to be strongly pro-Israel, and put on the same page - for "balance" - a nasty anti-Israel article of another writer.
I knew my conservative-oriented cousin in Israel wouldn't like my new peace perspective, so I didn't send the article to him. But another family member did. When I next saw my cousin a few years later, he predictably told me that he was very disappointed in me, that I had come under the influence of Arab propaganda.
But I felt I had arrived in my evolved thinking, of imbuing my Zionism with a progressive peace-oriented perspective, as one component of a universalistic vision for humanity. This concept that I call Peace Zionism has been close to my heart ever since.