So here is something to begin with. One of the central claims of the Arab side of the conflict is that we, the Israelis, are foreigners. “They do not belong”, says the other side. “They do not belong, and this is why they shouldn’t be here”. Recently this idea spreads not only in the streets of Gaza, Cairo and Damascus but also in those of Paris, Stockholm and New York. “They do not belong”. The UN even accepted a resolution claiming that Zionism is racism. And the average American – I’ll call him Fred – sits at home, sees once again a news flash about the IDF, the Israeli army, being “disproportional” and thinks what? Yes. “They do not belong”
But you know what? We belong. You can go to the history books and read about it, but here is the idea in few lines.
Why are we called “Jews”? Because we came from a place called Judea and because we belong to the biblical and historical Judah tribe. We were born in the hills of Judea as a nation, but not a “nation” in the modern meaning of the word, but a nation like the Apache or the Zulu. We are a tribe. This is our home. This is our holy ground.
And even more – look at the forefathers. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Their surroundings, the laws they lived by. They were nomads. They were Bedouins – “of the desert”. And I know some Jewish people in New York that will have some hard time reading this, but we are Bedouins in origin.
And now we are here again. After 40 generations in exile. We look different, we speak different we even think different – but we are home. And this is what Zionism is all about. Going home.
And “home” is the Land of Israel. Bur home is also the Middle East as a region. We are not alone here. There are Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon. There are Arabs and Druze, Kurds and Allawite. There are Muslim and Christians. And I can go on. These are our neighbors. This is our neighborhood. And we belong.
Yes, there is conflict. Yes, the world – and even we sometimes – think about the Middle East in terms of Israel-Palestinians confrontation, but there are so many things here, so many points of view, so many processes that we, the Israelis can and do share with our neighbors…
Zionism is about coming home. Home is the Middle East. We are Middle Eastern. We belong.