What is Zionism?

Zionism is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people. Jews cannot be called a race given the diversity of origin and color of its adherents. Rather, it is a civilization by definition, as they are people with a common history, language, literature, philosophy, religion and land and call for homeland in the manner of any other nation.

The aspiration of Zionism is the creation of a society in Israel which embodies the ideals of democracy politically, socially and culturally for its inhabitants, regardless of race, sex or chosen faith. Furthermore, history has demonstrated the need for a Jewish homeland to ensure the security of the Jewish people.

Zionism is the antithesis of racism. Residing in Israel currently are members of many religious and ethnic groups including, Christians, Muslims, Druze and Bahais, among others. The presence of black Jews (mostly from Ethiopia) is a classic example to refute the claim that Zionism is racist. Israel’s democratic character ensures that religious rights and freedom are respected.
By an overwhelming majority the United Nations General Assembly in 1991 voted to abolish Resolution 3379 which equated Zionism with racism, terming it an “obscene resolution.” That it was passed initially in 1975 was due to the weight of the Soviet Union and the Communist bloc, China and its allies, and the Muslim and Arab countries calling for its imposition.
The Draft Declarations for the UN World Conference Against Racism to take pace in Durban, South Africa from 31 August to 7 September 2001 accusing Israel of “racist Zionist practices” has been criticised by many notable figures:
UN Secretary General Koki Annan, Address to the Israel Foreign Relations Council and the United Nations Association of Israel, Jerusalem, 25 March 1998

“We must use the occasion to denounce antisemitism in all of its manifestations. This brings me to the lamentable resolution adopted by the General Assembly in 1975, equating Zionism with racism and racial discrimination. That was, perhaps, the lowpoint in our relations; its negative resonance even today is difficult to overestimate. Fortunately, the General Assembly rescinded the resolution in 1991.”

President George Bush, Address to the United Nations on September 23, 1991

“Zionism… is the idea that led to the creation of a home for the Jewish people…. And to equate Zionism with the intolerable sin of racism is to twist history and forget the terrible plight of Jews in World War II and indeed throughout history.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Speech at Harvard University, 1968

“You declare that you do not hate the Jews, you are merely anti-Zionist. And I say, let the truth ring forth from the high mountain tops, let it echo through the valleys of God’s green earth: when people criticize Zionism, they mean Jews. This is God’s own truth. Antisemitism, the hatred of the Jewish people, has been and remains a blot on the soul of mankind…Anti-Zionism is inherently antisemitic and ever will it be so. …Zionism is nothing less than the dream and ideal of the Jewish people returning to live in their own land… And what is anti-Zionist? It is the denial to the Jewish people of a fundamental right that we justly claim for the people of Africa and freely accord all other nations of the globe. It is discrimination against the Jews, my friend, because they are Jews. In short, it is antisemitism.”

For further information go to: www.adl.org/durban