Zionism is the emancipation and homecoming of the Jewish people. Zionism, and the state of Israel it reincarnated, has united generations of Jewish people. Before Zionism brought the Jewish people home from their 2000 year wanderings, it was a dream waiting to be fulfilled. Millions throughout the millennia prayed “next year in Jerusalem”. Zionism is an incredible freedom; one that was won through blood, sweat, tears, and sheer perseverance.
As a university with strong ties to movements that work towards peace, human rights, and other noble initiatives, my school, Clark University, would in theory embrace Zionism. Many ‘Clarkies’ take pride in their activism and their stand for these values. The University itself has in fact based its brand partially on this fact, with a current tagline being “challenge convention, change our world.”
Zionists themselves were and are of course some of the most radical convention challengers the world has ever seen. Creating a blooming oasis called Tel Aviv out of sheer desert, creating the highly entrepreneurial “start-up nation”, the list goes on. Forging the only democratic country in the region was no easy task of course. Almost every factor was moving against the state of Israel before, during and after her inception. And yet, Israelis have made something incredible happen. They have forged a sovereign Jewish nation, with equal rights and liberty for all. They possess a defense force which frequently embarks on humanitarian missions to zones of conflict, natural disasters, and so on. Tikkun Olam—making the world brighter—is a mantra the State of Israel embraces and takes to heart. Israel is truly one of the most social justice oriented nations in the world, and should be embraced as such.
Unfortunately, my university, which places such a premium on the very values the state of Israel was founded on and stands for—is silent. It is silent as innocent civilians are bombed. It is silent as a 13-year old boy riding his bicycle is stabbed. It is silent as people on their way to work, be it by bus, rail, or foot, are terrified and afraid. It is silent even as the attackers of these same people are given medical treatment, warm food and hospital beds. The people of Israel are living in fear. And my school is silent.
Following the gruesome attacks in Paris, the students of Clark organized vigils, and bemoaned the lack of coverage for non-western states that are under terror attack. I can think of one such state, located in the Middle East. This is the state of Israel, and she is truly under attack non-stop. The state of Israel ought to be a perfect candidate for complaints directed at biased, lopsided, or unfair reporting in the media. And yet, not a peep from those who demanded, even as Parisians mourned, that the world pay attention to something besides a western city.
My Clark University, where activism is in, hip, and very much the norm, ought to ask itself this question: where is the outcry? Simply because these lives are Jewish and Israeli, do they no longer matter? Where are the anguished vigils, the angry demonstrations? Clark, as a school built on the values of social justice and morality, must embrace Israel and her struggles or fail in its mission to provide an effective environment for learning and growth.
Contributed by Clark University’s CAMERA fellow, Patrick Fox.