CLEVELAND, OHIO – Dictionary.com defines itself as “the world’s leading online source for English definitions, synonyms, word origins, audio pronunciations, example sentences, slang phrases, idioms, word games, legal and medical terms, Word of the Day and more. For over 20 years, Dictionary.com has been helping millions of people improve their use of the English language with its free digital services.” Nevertheless, the entry of “Zionism” is fraught with inaccurate examples and a decidedly political bias.
The site casts doubt while also attempting to sound authentic for Zionism – “The belief that Jews should have their own nation; Jewish nationalism.” Zionism is Israel’s patriotism, just as Americanism is America’s patriotism, without the overtones of “belief,” which smacks of invalidation. Wikipedia defines “patriotism” as national pride, the feeling of love, devotion and sense of attachment to a homeland and alliance with other citizens who share the same sentiments, such as ethnicity, cultural, political or historical aspects. Merriam-Webster defines it as “the love for or devotion to one’s country,” such as Italians’ devotion to Italy or Canadians’ to Canada. The American Heritage Dictionary defines Zionism as “A plan or movement of the Jewish people to return from the Diaspora to Palestine… originally aimed at the re-establishment of a Jewish national homeland in Palestine and now concerned with the development of Israel.”
The Bible is, first and foremost, a sacred document, but wherever it touches upon history, it has been proven wholly reliable. It records how a single family, descended from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, was established some 3,500 years ago in the land called Israel. These Israelites are the progenitors of those we now know as Jews, after the predominant tribe of Judah. Despite exiles, massacres, at least three attempts at genocide, and a 2,000-year global dispersion, these people have endured as a recognizable people group, sharing the same ethnicity, history, culture, religion, and sacred language, and, in 1948, they finally returned to their ancient homeland, Israel. Although other groups – Assyrian, Babylonian, and Roman Empires – have passed from history, the Jews miraculously survived multiple attempts at annihilation. Faithfulness to the laws of Moses, recorded in the Torah/Pentateuch, require residency in their ancient homeland and Zionism IS their RETURN to their ancient homeland. The site disgracefully overlooks all these points.
Dictionary.com further indicates that the origin of Zionism was first recorded in 1895-1900, an attempt to erase its long history. Zionism derives from the term “Zion,” and appears 152 times in the Hebrew Bible, seven times in the Christian Bible, and in quotations.
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Establishment of the State of Israel and its recognition by the United Nations took place on May 14, 1948. The site imprecisely and dismissively says, “the late 1940s.” Israel was the official end to the British Mandate in “Palestine,” an impertinent name given the general area by the Romans centuries before, in yet another attempt to eradicate the names of Israel and Jew from the world. The site goes on to say, “Zionism is opposed by most Arabs,” another slur to support the envious Islamic ideology of conquest. Did the staff insert that East Timor, a tiny island nation of Catholics, is opposed by all Arabs and subjected to ongoing genocide – along with Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso? If we delve further, Czechoslovakia was opposed by most Nazis.
The entry further specifies that Zionism opposes “global capitalism, European integration and Zionism” (how can Zionism oppose Zionism?) without explanation, thereby dubbing it the enemy of an otherwise-preferred ideal. Let’s understand globalism. It is the desire to establish one governing entity over every aspect of each territory, each nation, each free society, and all its people therein. It is authoritarian and oppressive in nature. It is therefore logical that all patriotism, national loyalty, and love of country would be diametrically opposed to any foreign concentration of power. A free and independent nation is best served when its citizenry maintains jurisdiction over its own functions – laws, trade, monetary system, schools, culture, etc. The UK, for example, is currently battling the European Union (EU) for the return of its own independence of trade. America would lose its identity were it to join the European Union. Israel would be annihilated were it “governed” by its Islamic neighbors. Israel is physically located in the Middle East, not part of Europe. Given Israel’s history, it would be foolhardy and lethal if she were to cede control over her own survival to anyone – indeed, for any country to cede dominion to the power hungry of the world.
The returning Jews of the Diaspora along with the descendants of those who remained in the Middle East accomplished a miraculous reclamation of the land, rescued the survivors of the Holocaust, built a robust entrepreneurial economy that places it within the Top 20 Global Economies, and created an artistic and cultural renaissance – all while dealing with deadly attacks by the neighbors who, time and again, refuse to make peace.
Dictionary.com also provides biased, propagandist opinions, citing information found in books that may be highly praised by the left, but whose veracity has been challenged elsewhere. A case in point is the “widely acclaimed” book, “My Promised Land,” by left-wing Israeli journalist Ari Shavit, known for its distortion of history and damaging for peace. The book lacks scholarly citation; there are no end-notes.
Sol Stern, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of City Journal, wrote “The Triumph and Tragedy of Ari Shavit’s My Promised Land,” which Dictionary.com failed to include for contrast. Neither did the site make known that Shavit broke with the Israeli left after he was convinced by facts – i.e. the suicide bombers of the second Intifada – that the Palestinians were not amenable to peace or compromise. Shavit may have attempted to balance two sides of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, but his “gross historical distortions” of events in Lydda, explained by Stern, overwhelms his testimonial to the positive side of Zionism.
Stern further explained that immediately after Israel’s independence was declared on May 15, 1948, five Arab armies invaded Israel, including the Jordanian Arab Legion. They overwhelmed Jerusalem, forcing out all Jews at bayonet point and endangering the heartland of the Jewish State. Lydda (pop. 40,000+), situated just 11 miles east of Tel Aviv on the route to Jerusalem, was part of the partition plan, which the Jews accepted but the Palestinians refused. It inevitably became a key battleground. The IDF had to remove that threat to Israel’s largest city and secure the road by conquering adjoining villages and pushing out the Jordanian force. Shavit wrote that Zionism took Lydda in 47 minutes; he did not state that Jordanians and armed Palestinians returned to attack in armored cars the next day, firing at everything in their path, and losing again, which resulted in the self-evacuation of 35,000 Arabs the next day. All serious historians agree that Lydda was not the dispossessed indigenous nation. The war was launched by the Arab states and Palestinian militias for the explicit purpose of annihilating the Jews, but Zionists were blamed for a “massacre.” Dictionary.com was disingenuous in its reportage.
Shavit accused Zionism of racism, that it could not permit an Arab majority, Lydda, to survive in its midst, but Sol Stein rightly contradicted that Zionism could, and did, permit the Arab Nazareth (pop. 60,000) and Umm al-Fahm (pop. 50,000) in the center of Israel. Zionism is clearly not racist. Simply, those Arabs did not attack the Jewish state. Shavit also intentionally omitted additional information: (1) that the Secretary General of the Arab League Abdul Rahman Azzam vowed that this would “be a war of extermination and momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongol massacres and the crusades”; (2) that the Palestinian Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, collaborated with Hitler in the Final Solution of the Jewish People in 1947; (3) that Haifa’s Jewish mayor Shabtai Levy begged the Arabs and their leaders to stay, that they would be protected, but the Arab leaders said they were compelled to follow al-Husseini’s orders; and (4) that of the many Arab massacres of Jews or the expulsion of Jews from Hebron and Jerusalem, not a single Jew was allowed in any area occupied by the Arab armies during the 1948 War, but some Arabs had remained in Lydda and some had returned, so a substantial minority citizenry does exist.
Shavit’s one scholarly source, written by Benny Morris in a 2010 letter to the Irish times, explained that the Palestinians launched hostilities against the Jewish community in defiance of the international community (UN General Assembly Resolution of November 29, 1947) but they lost, resulting in the displacement of 700,000. Most fled with the expectation of a victorious return to their homes; others evacuated on order of their leaders. The hostile Lydda and Ramla communities were expelled by Jewish troops. Clearly this was neither a racist crime nor ethnic cleansing, but the result of national conflict and war, launched by the Arabs themselves. They and their descendants remain in refugee camps to this day, unwelcome by their own brethren, refused sanctuary as a pawn to overtake Israel. Israel welcomes displaced Jewry. The Arabs caused their own “Nakba,” a concept nurtured to establish a global caliphate.
Dictionary.com selected quotes that questioned the validity of Zionism; therefore, as much-needed counterbalance, I would recommend the following:
- “We Arabs, especially the educated among us, look with deepest sympathy on the Zionist movement… we will wish the Jews a hearty welcome home… We are working together for a reformed and revised Near East, and our two movements complement one another… The movement is national and not imperialistic. There is room in Syria for us both. Indeed, I think that neither can be a success without the other.” – Emir Faisal, King of Iraq, 1975
- “I have come gradually to see that, in a dangerous and largely hostile world, it is essential to Jews to have some country which is theirs, some region where they are not suspected aliens, some state which embodies what is distinctive in their culture.” – Bertrand Russell, Nobel Prize Laureate, Zionism and the Peace Settlement in Palestine, 1943.
- “Zionism springs from an even deeper motive than Jewish suffering. It is rooted in a Jewish spiritual tradition whose maintenance and development are for Jews the basis of their continued existence as a community.” – Albert Einstein, Manchester Guardian, 1929.