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My friend Terry posted a reply containing a number of serious and important questions.  I take her questions to be suggested addenda to my own questions posed in my first entry.   First, my questions:

  1. What does this word [Zionism] mean to you?
  2. What feelings does it evoke?
  3. Do you care about Zionism?
  4. Are you pro-Israel, but are bashful in using the word “Zionist” to describe yourself?
  5. Are you a critic of Israeli policies, support Israel’s right to exist, but the word “Zionist” does not resonate with you?
  6. Are you an unabashed Zionist, who uses the word openly to describe your worldview?
  7. Are you a supporter of the Palestinians?
  8. Are you a Diaspora Jew or an Israeli Jew?
  9. Are you Orthodox or secular or Reform or Conservative or “just Jewish?”  Are you not Jewish at all but are interested as to what all the commotion is about?

Here are Terry’s questions:

  1. Are you not sure what Zionism means?
  2. Do you question Zionism’s validity and ability to create a just society?
  3. Are you concerned about the injustices that have happened in Zionism’s name?
  4. Do you wonder if non-Jews can be treated fairly and equally in a Zionist country?

Her observations and questions are all fair comments and I appreciate where they are coming from.  All these questions, hers and mine, are on the minds of many people.  I intend to respond seriously and non-ideologically.

The purpose of today’s entry, then, is to set some kind of framework for my ideas in future posts.  Here is my thinking:

  1. I’m calling this topic “Under the Big Top,” a metaphor for a roof that covers common ground.  I will take a stab at the enormous question of inclusiveness regarding the discourse in the Jewish world on Israel.  It is with no small amount of trepidation that I wade into these waters.
  2. I hope to dig deeper into Zionist thought, going beyond the one-dimensional understanding too many people hold.  Zionism is not just Herzl and the hora…
  3. One question that has intrigued me for years is, “What is ‘Jewish power.'”  Not the imagined Jewish power of the antisemite (try Googling “Jewish power” and see the results), but the ethics of Jewish empowerment in relation to historic Jewish powerlessness.

My daughter, a soldier in Israel’s army, is home this Shabbat.   This army, our army, is a major symbol of Jewish empowerment and as such is also a symbol of all the ethical complexities and questions that go along with what it means to be an empowered people.  Lots of questions are in that one sentence.  To be continued.

Shabbat Shalom. שבת שלום