All that you have is your soul (Tracy Chapman).

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

I Am A Zionist

by Yair Lapid, Israeli Journalist

I am a Zionist.

I believe that the Jewish people established itself in the Land of Israel,
albeit somewhat late. Had it listened to the alarm clock, there would have
been no Holocaust, and my dead grandfather - the one I was named after -
would have been able to dance a last waltz with grandma on the shores of the
Yarkon River.

I am a Zionist.

Hebrew is the language I use to thank the Creator, and also to swear on the
road. The Bible does not only contain my history, but also my geography.
King Saul went to look for mules on what is today Highway 443, Jonah the
Prophet boarded his ship not too far from what is today a Jaffa restaurant,
and the balcony where David peeped on Bathsheba must have been bought by
some oligarch by now.

I am a Zionist.

The first time I saw my son wearing an IDF uniform I burst into tears, I
haven't missed the Independence Day torch-lighting ceremony for 20 years
now, and my television was made in Korea, but I taught it to cheer for our
national soccer team.

I am a Zionist.

I believe in our right for this land. The people who were persecuted for no
reason throughout history have a right to a state of their own plus a free
F-16 from the manufacturer. Every display of anti-Semitism from London to
Mumbai hurts me, yet deep inside I'm thinking that Jews who choose to live
abroad fail to understand something very basic about this world. The State
of Israel was not established so that the anti-Semites will disappear, but
rather, so we can tell them to get lost.

I am a Zionist.

I was fired at in Lebanon, a Katyusha rockets missed me by a few feet in
Kiryat Shmona, missiles landed near my home during the first Gulf War, I was
in Sderot when the Color Red anti-rocket alert system was activated,
terrorists blew themselves up not too far from my parents' house, and my
children stayed in a bomb shelter before they even knew how to pronounce
their own name, clinging to a grandmother who arrived here from Poland to
escape death. Yet nonetheless, I always felt fortunate to be living here,
and I don't really feel good anywhere else.

I am a Zionist.

I think that anyone who lives here should serve in the army, pay taxes, vote
in the elections, and be familiar with the lyrics of at least one Shalom
Hanoch song. I think that the State of Israel is not only a place, it is
also an idea, and I wholeheartedly believe in the three extra commandments
engraved on the wall of the Holocaust museum in Washington: "Thou shalt not
be a victim, thou shalt not be a perpetrator, but above all, thou shalt not
be a bystander."

I am a Zionist.

I already laid down on my back to admire the Sistine Chapel, I bought a
postcard at the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, and I was deeply impressed by
the emerald Buddha at the king's palace in Bangkok. Yet I still believe that
Tel Aviv is more entertaining, the Red Sea is greener, and the Western Wall
Tunnels provide for a much more powerful spiritual experience. It is true
that I'm not objective, but I'm also not objective in respect to my wife and
children.

I am a Zionist.

I am a man of tomorrow but I also live my past. My dynasty includes Moses,
Jesus, Maimonides, Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, Albert Einstein, Woody Allen,
Bobby Fischer, Bob Dylan, Franz Kafka, Herzl, and Ben-Gurion. I am part of a
tiny persecuted minority that influenced the world more than any other
nation. While others invested their energies in war, we had the sense to
invest in our minds.

I am a Zionist.

I sometimes look around me and become filled with pride, because I live
better than a billion Indians, 1.3 billion Chinese, the entire African
continent, more than 250 million Indonesians, and also better than the
Thais, the Filipinos, the Russians, the Ukrainians, and the entire Muslim
world, with the exception of the Sultan of Brunei. I live in a country under
siege that has no natural resources, yet nonetheless the traffic lights
always work and we have high-speed connection to the Internet.


I am a Zionist.

My Zionism is natural, just like it is natural for me to be a father, a
husband, and a son. People who claim that they, and only they, represent the
"real Zionism" are ridiculous in my view. My Zionism is not measured by the
size of my kippa, by the neighborhood where I live, or by the party I will
be voting for. It was born a long time before me, on a snowy street in the
ghetto in Budapest where my father stood and attempted, in vain, to
understand why the entire world is trying to kill him.

I am a Zionist.

Every time an innocent victim dies, I bow my head because once upon a time I
was an innocent victim. I have no desire or intention to adopt the moral
standards of my enemies. I do not want to be like them. I do not live on my
sword; I merely keep it under my pillow.

I am a Zionist.

I do not only hold on to the rights of our forefathers, but also to the duty
of the sons. The people who established this state lived and worked under
much worse conditions than I have to face, yet nonetheless they did not make
do with mere survival. They also attempted to establish a better, wiser,
more humane, and more moral state here. They were willing to die for this
cause, and I try to live for its sake.

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