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Zionism: An Ancient Indigenous Movement for Spiritual Return

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Daniel Sadan
Zionism is often misunderstood and misrepresented, particularly by those who oppose Israel and harbor antisemitic sentiments. To label Zionism as a mere political movement that began in the 1800's is a grave distortion of its true essence and historical depth. Zionism is, in fact, one of the oldest and most profound expressions of a people's yearning for self-determination and return to their ancestral homeland.
"If Israel is not the indigenous people, there are no indigenous people." - Regent Xami Thomas, Chief of the Khoi Kingdom of Southern Africa​

The Ancient Religious Roots of Zionism

For millennia, the Jewish people have maintained a deep, unbroken bond with the Land of Israel, rooted in their spiritual, cultural, and historical identity. This connection transcends political boundaries and is enshrined in their prayers, traditions, and collective memory. From the ancient biblical narratives of Joseph and the Exodus to the Babylonian exile and beyond, the yearning for Zion has been a constant in Jewish life. Modern Zionism, often misrepresented as a political movement of the 19th century, is in fact the latest chapter in a long and profound story of indigenous reclamation and spiritual return. Recognition of these realities by global indigenous leaders underscores Zionism as the single most successful attempt at decolonization—a rightful return of the Jewish People to their ancestral homeland after centuries of displacement and persecution.

The roots of Zionism stretch back nearly 4,000 years, beginning with the biblical narratives of Joseph and the Exodus. These stories are not just religious texts; they are the historical and cultural bedrock of the Jewish People's connection to the Land of Israel. Joseph's story, set during the time of the Hyksos in Egypt, and the Exodus, which represents the liberation of the Israelites and their journey to the Promised Land, are central to Jewish identity. These events occurred over a millennium before Nebuchadnezzar's destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem, further cementing the ancient and continuous Jewish connection to their homeland.

The Big Lie

To understand Zionism as a modern political movement is to ignore the centuries of prayers, rituals, and aspirations that have been a core part of Jewish life. For millennia, Jews around the world have prayed for a return to Zion, celebrated holidays that center on Jerusalem, and maintained a cultural and spiritual bond with the land. This is not colonialism; it is the epitome of decolonization. The Jewish People, like other indigenous groups, have sought to reclaim and return to their ancestral lands after being forcibly removed and oppressed by various empires and colonial powers.

The modern political expression of Zionism in the 19th and 20th centuries was a natural continuation of this deep-rooted longing. It emerged as a response to the dire circumstances faced by Jews in the diaspora, particularly in Europe, where antisemitism was rampant. Theodor Herzl and other leaders of the Zionist movement were driven by the urgent need to create a safe haven for Jews, but their motivations were also deeply cultural and spiritual.

Secular Jews Are Deeply Connected to Israel

When a secular Jew sheds a tear while singing "Hatikva," the Israeli national anthem, it is a testament to this profound connection. "Hatikva," which means "The Hope," captures the centuries-old dream of living freely in the Jewish homeland. This emotional response is not about politics; it is about identity, heritage, and a sense of belonging that transcends any political framework.

To label Zionism as racist, Nazi-like, or apartheid is not only historically inaccurate but also a malicious attempt to delegitimize the Jewish People's rightful claim to their homeland. Such accusations echo Soviet propaganda and the rhetoric of the Muslim Brotherhood-controlled BDS Movement, both of which have long sought to undermine Israel and spread antisemitic ideologies. This narrative falsely portrays Jews as oppressors rather than acknowledging their history as a persecuted people seeking refuge and self-determination.

The New Form of Antisemitism

Antizionism today is often a thinly veiled form of antisemitism. It perpetuates age-old prejudices against Jews under the guise of political critique. By denying the Jewish People's right to their ancestral homeland, it denies their history, culture, and identity. Moreover, it exploits the struggles of other indigenous peoples to paint Jews as oppressors, ignoring the fact that Zionism is, in essence, a successful decolonization movement.

The Jewish return to Israel represents a triumph over centuries of exile and oppression. It is a beacon of hope for all oppressed and displaced peoples. The vilification of Zionism is not only an attack on Jewish history and identity but also an assault on the principles of justice and self-determination. In recognizing Zionism for what it truly is—a deeply rooted cultural, spiritual, and historical movement—we honor the enduring resilience and rightful aspirations of the Jewish People.

To fully appreciate Zionism and counter the misconceptions often propagated by antizionist narratives, one must understand its deeply rooted spiritual, cultural, and historical foundations.

Rav Kook and Mashi’ach Ben Yoseph's Perspectives on Zionism

Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, a seminal figure in religious Zionism, viewed the return to the Land of Israel as a divine process integral to Jewish spirituality and redemption. Rav Kook believed that Theodor Herzl and the secular Zionists were unknowingly part of a divine plan, embodying the role of Mashi’ach Ben Yoseph. According to Jewish eschatology, Mashi’ach Ben Yoseph is a messianic figure tasked with the practical groundwork for the ultimate redemption, which includes the return to the Land of Israel and the ingathering of exiles. This interpretation highlights that even secular efforts to establish a Jewish state were seen as fulfilling a spiritual destiny.

Haredi Antizionists and Neturei Karta

Even within the ultra-Orthodox Haredi community, including groups like the extremist and excommunicated cult, Neturei Karta, there is an acknowledgment of the Jewish connection to the Land of Israel. Their opposition to the modern state of Israel is not rooted in a rejection of Zionism per se but in a theological belief that Jews should only return to Israel with the coming of the Messiah. This perspective underscores that their antizionism is based on religious timing rather than a denial of the Jewish right to the land. Thus, their beliefs still align with the fundamental Zionist principle of Jewish self-determination in their ancestral homeland.

Throughout history, there have been numerous waves of Jewish return to Israel, all driven by religious and spiritual motivations. From the return under Ezra and Nehemiah during the Persian period to the aliyah of Jews fleeing persecution in medieval Europe, these movements were deeply rooted in the longing for Zion. Each wave of return reflected the unbroken connection between the Jewish People and their homeland.

Indigenous Peoples' Solidarity with Israel

The recent establishment of the Indigenous Embassy in Jerusalem by the Indigenous Coalition for Israel is a powerful testament to the recognition of Jews as indigenous to Israel. This initiative, supported by global indigenous leaders, emphasizes that Zionism is the epitome of decolonization. It acknowledges the historical and cultural ties of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel, rejecting the false narrative that paints Zionism as colonialism.

As stated by Dr. Sheree Trotter at the embassy's inauguration, the initiative seeks to "change the narrative among indigenous people worldwide" and affirm the Jewish People as the indigenous inhabitants of Israel. Leaders from various indigenous communities expressed their solidarity, with Regent Xami Thomas of the Khoi Kingdom noting, "If Israel is not the indigenous people, there are no indigenous people"​.

Zionism, therefore, is not merely a modern political invention but a continuous expression of the Jewish People's millennia-old connection to their homeland. It embodies a profound cultural, spiritual, and historical yearning that transcends politics. To label Zionism as racist or colonial is not only a gross misrepresentation but also an extension of antisemitic propaganda aimed at undermining Jewish self-determination. Recognizing Zionism as a legitimate and righteous movement for the indigenous Jewish People is essential in countering these false narratives and honoring the Jewish connection to the Land of Israel.

If you found this article interesting and want to learn more about Zionism, I encourage you to read the book, "We Should All Be Zionists: Essays on the Jewish State and the Path to Peace" by Dr. Einat Wilf, preeminent scholar, thought-leader, and international figure.

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Daniel Sadan is an American businessman and President of Sadan Global in Gaithersburg, MD. Daniel's recent ventures include a major international sports deal, and the development of two TV series, one being a sports documentary, and the other an epic new project with comparables such as "Game of Thrones," "Homeland," and "The Last Samurai". Daniel brings a unique blend of strategic insight and cultural awareness to his projects, as well as a clear vision, creativity, and a strong grasp of all the arts involved in filmmaking.

Whether negotiating complex deals or developing engaging media content, Daniel's commitment to excellence guides his decision-making, always keeping the customer's business requirements firmly in mind.

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