The word Zionism is widely misunderstand. It has little to do with politics. It certainly doesn’t mean always agreeing with the Prime Minister or government of Israel. It doesn’t mean supporting any particular Israeli political party.
Zionism merely means that one supports the right of Jewish people to safely live in their ancestral homeland, Eretz Yisrael, אֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל the land of Israel.
In this sense Zionism is a social justice movement which merely recognizes that Jews are the indigenous to Israel, and so like all other indigenous peoples, Jews have the right to safely live in their ancestral homeland.
Zionism in Conservative Judaism
We rejoice in the existence of Medinat Yisrael (the State of Israel) in Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel), with its capital Jerusalem. We view this phenomenon not just in political or military terms; Rather, we consider it to be a miracle reflecting Divine Providence in human affairs. We glory in Israel; We celebrate the rebirth of Zion.
Eretz Yisrael plays a central and vital role in the life and culture of all the world’s Jewry. The Bible states that God has promised this land to us. The brit (covenant) between God and the Jewish people created an unbreakable bond between us and the Land of Israel. Throughout the ages we have revered, honored, cherished, prayed for, dreamed of, and sought to settle in Jerusalem and the Land of Israel.
We staunchly support the Zionist ideal and take pride in the achievements of the State. To be sure, the Conservative movement has not always agreed with all of Israel’s positions on domestic and foreign affairs, but we still remain firm and loving supporters of the State of Israel.
Zionism in Reform Judaism
Reform Judaism & Zionism: A Centenary Platform, Oct. 27, 2004, “The Miami Platform” – 1997
In 1885 the framers of the Pittsburgh Platform of Reform Judaism declared that they no longer expected Jews to return to a national homeland in Palestine. The Platform’s authors proclaimed: “We consider ourselves no longer a nation, but a religious community, and, therefore, expect neither a return to Palestine…nor the restoration of any of the laws concerning the Jewish state.”
By 1937 the CCAR had reversed its stand on Jewish peoplehood, and declared in its “Columbus Platform” that “Judaism is the soul of which Israel [the people] is the body.” The document further states: “We affirm the obligation of all Jewry to aid in its [Palestine’s] up-building as a Jewish homeland by endeavoring to make it not only a haven of refuge for the oppressed but also a center of Jewish culture and spiritual life.”
This affirmation of Jewish peoplehood was accompanied by a reaffirmation of Reform Judaism’s universal message: “We regard it as our historic task to cooperate with all men in the establishment of the kingdom of God, of universal brotherhood, justice, truth and peace on earth. This is our Messianic goal.”
The CCAR returned again to the question of Zionism in 1976, asserting in its “Centenary Perspective”: “We are bound to…the newly reborn State of Israel by innumerable religious and ethnic ties….We have both a stake and a responsibility in building the State of Israel, assuring its security and defining its Jewish character.”
The “Centenary Perspective” also affirmed the legitimacy of the Diaspora and the historic universalism of Reform Judaism:
“The State of Israel and the diaspora, in fruitful dialogue, can show how a people transcends nationalism even as it affirms it, thereby setting an example for humanity, which remains largely concerned with dangerously parochial goals.” Here again, the CCAR embraced Zionism as a means of fulfilling its universal vision and its opposition to narrow nationalism.
The restoration of Am Yisrael to its ancestral homeland after nearly two thousand years of statelessness and powerlessness represents an historic triumph of the Jewish people, providing a physical refuge, the possibility of religious and cultural renewal on its own soil, and the realization of God’s promise to Abraham: “to your offspring I assign this land”. From that distant moment until today, the intense love between Am Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael has not subsided.
We believe that the eternal covenant established at Sinai ordained a unique religious purpose for Am Yisrael. Medinat Yisrael , the Jewish State, is therefore unlike all other states. Its obligation is to strive towards the attainment of the Jewish people’s highest moral ideals to be a mamlechet kohanim [a kingdom of priests], a goy kadosh [a holy people], and l’or goyim [a light unto the nations].