What We Believe

 

On college campuses the nation over, Jewish students are wrestling with a breed of prejudice we were brought up to believe could never thrive in America. Singled out for calumny in classes, harassed in dormitories, excluded from social organizations and gatherings, we find ourselves the targets of hatred. 

 

We are made pariahs not for what we do but for who we are. We are young Jews who seek nothing more or less but the same rights every college student ought to enjoy: the right to a meaningful education free from bias or bile; the right to be ourselves without fear; the right to express pride in our people and our history.

 

In this, we are hardly alone.

 

Across the world, Jews have felt the sting of the new antisemitism. It has wreaked havoc in Paris, in Brussels, in London, in Malmo, in Berlin, in Montreal, in Buenos Aires, in South Africa, in Sydney, and in New York City. 

 

What Jews remain in the Middle Eastern cities and towns our grandparents fled live in constant fear of a society that propagates the world's oldest hatred on television screens and on radio waves. 

 

More than a century ago, in the heart of Europe, Theodor Herzl gathered Jewish activists from across the world to declare a Jewish state. Most leaders in the Jewish world thought he was delusional or crazy, but the First Zionist Congress inititated a chain reaction of idealism and audacity and nerve that came to save the decimiated Jewish people from total destruction. At the heart of that vision was a fierce devotion to the Jewish people -- to our most basic rights --  and a promise that their soon-to-be nation would be light among all others. The first to see that vision were people like us: “The young and the poor are the first to see the light,” wrote Herzl. 

 

Although Herzl died before his dream would become a reality, his legacy lives on in the Jewish youth he cherished and trusted. “We shall see whether the youth whom we need are at our command,”  he wrote. “The youth, who irresistibly draw on the old, carry them forward on strong arms, and transform rational motives into enthusiasm.”

 

Welcome to the New Zionist Congress.

 

We hail from every corner of the globe. We are Mizrahim. We are Ashkenazim. We are Sephardim. Our grandparents fled pogroms, survived death marches, gas-chambers, second-class citizenship, and the Farhud. 

 

We are united in our love for the Jewish people, in our insistence that the Jewish people is one.

 

At times, our duties will lead us to speak up for ourselves, to counter lies with truth, to assert our full selves when others demand we shrink, and to summon a plethora of diverse voices where currently only one shrill dogma is permitted. Many have already joined us, and we have faith that many more yet will. 

 

But it is not just our campuses or the culture that we aim to transform. We aim to transform ourselves. From crouching to standing, from defending to affirming, from shame to pride. We will not beg for scraps in exchange for a seat at a hostile table. It is our Zionism that inspires us to build our own spaces, amplify our own words, and to reject any movement that mandates we sacrifice part of ourselves to be welcomed. 

 

We must no longer try to convince anybody of our  humanity. We know our humanity. We're not interested in false interpretations of our history. We know our history. In solidarity with our brothers and sisters in all of these places, we are here to say: No more. In the spirit of our ancestors, we’re resolved to take charge of our own destiny. In the name of every Jew who has lit a candle in the darkness, we are here to build a bonfire.

 

As divisions grow more bitter and injustices more pronounced, as old orders collapse and new ones not yet apparent, and as the conspiracy theory that has chased our ancestors for thousands of years comes, again, to our doorsteps, we seek to remind ourselves and those around us of eternal truths. We must do this not by becoming handmaidens of political parties or perceived wisdoms, not by subverting our tradition to passing fads or leasing it to angry mobs, but by standing proudly by the ancient wisdom that has, for millennia, insisted on justice, advocated kindness, and erected community. 

 

This is what our elders have done in earlier, far more benighted times. It is now our turn to take a page from the ancient Maccabees and meet the darkness with abundant light.

 

Who We Are

We are a group of students, young professionals, professors, thinkers, and leaders around the world, who believe in Zionism's mission and its continuity today. This list is an expanding one. Join us and become part of our movement today.

Board members include: Bari Weiss, Ben M. Freeman, Blake Flayton, Einat Wilf, Isaac de Castro, Jack Elbaum, Izabella Tabarovsky, Judea Pearl, Liel Leibovitz, Noa Tishby, Noah Shufutinsky, Shany Mor, Ysabella Hazan

 
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