What To Do? Some Thoughts On Actual Zionism

Matthew Gindin
7 min readJun 23, 2023
Photo by cottonbro studio: https://www.pexels.com/photo/flag-of-israel-over-a-chair-4033843/

“Dozens of Jewish settlers, some armed, set fire to houses and vehicles in the Palestinian West Bank town of Turmus Ayya on Wednesday, Israeli security sources said.” So reports Ha’aretz in the latest of dozens of such incidents, an escalation of a pattern of Jewish civilian violence against Palestinians which has been going on for years with the tacit (and sometimes explicit) acceptance of the state.

On June 22, footage was revealed that shows Jewish settlers entering a mosque with a dog and defacing a Quran.

It’s enough to get you to rethink this whole Zionism thing. Maybe waging several wars to create a state that privileges one ethnicity over others together with buying, stealing, and lawfaring away the land of those who lived there before isn’t a good set-up for a healthy, human rights honoring State. Maybe it’s not the fulfillment of the age-old Jewish dream after all. Sure isn’t looking too dreamy these days.

Rabbi Ahron Roth (1890–1947) was a mystic and the founder of Shomer Emunim, a meditative sect of Orthodox Hasidim, in pre-state Palestine. He was a favorite teacher of Reb Zalman Shachter-Shalomi, the founder of the Jewish Renewal Movement which I work and teach within. A story is told of him that a festive meal was held to celebrate the completion of a Torah scroll in memory of the Jews killed in the Holocaust. All the Chassidic rebbes and heads of yeshivas attended, including the Rebbe. He said down at the table opposite the Zionist chief rabbi [Isaac Herzog]. He asked others who this man was, and they replied that it was the Zionist chief rabbi. The Rebbe immediately stood up from his place and left the hall.

On the way home, he said, “I did not want to sit at the meal together with him.” One of the Chassidim commented that this chief rabbi was somewhat better than his predecessor, but the Rebbe said, “I don’t want to hear any praises of him. If he is with the Zionists, it is forbidden to speak positively of him.”

The Chazon Ish (Avraham Yeshaya Karelitz, 1878–1953), a revered Rabbi still widely studied in Orthodox circles, once said, The only actual difference with the formation of the Zionists State is, that before this they were hoodlums without a military, and now the hoodlums have one.”