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Liberation: ‘Occupy Zionism’

This is a guest post by Darren Cohen

Pesach is the festival of freedom; a quintessentially Jewish value. It should also be a reminder of the essence of the Zionist revolution: the self-liberation of the Jewish People. Laid bare, that is all Zionism is. The notion that Zionism is somehow a colonialist, racist ideology is antithetical to its raw basis. Zionism was, is and always will be the emancipation of the Jewish People to be a free people in their own land. It is only through the internal and external distortion of Zionism that it has been changed to something it is not.

It is only because of the revisionists: the Netanyahus, the Begins, the Sharons and sadly the Baraks, that Israel has diverted off course and become a society alienated from its core values.

However, something extraordinary happened last summer. Something incredible, something revolutionary. Something so very Jewish, so very Israeli. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis took to the street calling for social justice, more so they demanded it.

This Pesach is as good a time as any to reflect on what exactly this means in the long and rich history of the Jewish People. The calls for tzedek chevrati were a collective attempt by the young people of Israel to reclaim and recapture the essence of the Jewish People; to release   themselves from the shackles of their war obsessed leaders and to do the impossible: change the very discourse of the Israeli people from security to social justice. Almost a year on, that very movement has made a call for us to rise again in an attempt to Occupy Zionism. What a profound way to celebrate Pesach.

Just as at Pesach we recall the exodus from Egypt, this year we can pro-actively embrace the latest attempt to free the Jewish People. It cannot and should not stop here. Indeed, while domestic economic and social policy needs to change, so too does Israel’s relationship vis-à-vis the Palestinians. The two state solution is the only solution. There is no alternative, no remedy and nothing will happen if we just ignore it and hope it will go away. The only way the Jewish People can truly be free is if they are at peace with their enemies. Pesach is a timely reminder of this inevitable truth.

The onus is not just on Israel but on the Palestinians too. As long as no Palestinian political party gives up on the Palestinian right of return to Israel, the de facto end to the Jewish State, it is very difficult to see a solution. Advocates of the two state solution have become apathetic and jaded. It is time we help liberate them from their apathy and ensure a future for a Jewish and Democratic State of Israel. The idealism of the ‘Occupy Zionism’ movement are the saviours of the two state solution. As a people who place such emphasis on liberation, we should never stop in our endeavours at finding a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

This Pesach, reclaim, indeed occupy Zionism – the liberation of the Jewish People.