On a soaring balmy mountaintop at the very top of the Galilee, a graying older man with a white goatee stands before an crowd of enraptured teenagers. Behind him, almost like a painting, is the motionless Lebanese village of Adaisseh. The man, an American-born Israeli, gesticulates and changes the inflection in his voice to make his points which garner scattered applause and cheers from the young quasi-zionist audience. Pointing out at– what is to the kids– the unknown, then back at the land upon which he is standing, the man makes a bold statement.
“This land has always been ours. It was granted to us in the Torah. At no point in history have we ever kicked anyone out of their homes here. At no point have we taken land that isn’t ours.”
Kids clap. Staff members smirk. I frown.
I don’t frown because I disagree with the idea that this land was promised to us. Or even because I have my doubts about God and the Bible. I frown because what the man with the white goatee is saying with such confidence is simply untrue.
After the Israeli War of Independence, there were between 600,000 and 725,000 Arab refugees. That means that there were between 600,000 and 725,000 Arabs (people) who were no longer able to live in their homes because– for better or for worse– the Jews needed somewhere to go. Fortunately for the Jews, they were able to settle. Unfortunately for the Arabs, they had to leave. The Zionist ideology at the time was something along the lines of, hey, Arab states, we’re taking care of our refugees. Why can’t you take care of yours?
Some of my closest friends have told me things like “That’s what war is. That’s what you do when you conquer a country.” It’s true. Few people bring it up, but the original American settlers– in all their glory– pushed out (even killed) the Native American population when they showed up. They decided that the land was theirs and nothing could be in their way.
The man with the white goatee and people who preach his hear-no-evil talking points are people who I’d dub “blind Zionists.” How idealistic can you get? Perhaps you believe that it was ethical, justified, or even necessary to displace all these people. But regardless, it displays ignorance and idealism.
Just because you wish it didn’t happen doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. It happened. It’s naïve to make such a definitive statement based on wishful thinking. Blind Zionism is real. If you call yourself a Zionist, please know why you are one.