Soc.Culture.Jewish Newsgroups
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

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Question 14.9:
Is Zionism racist?

Answer:

No. Zionism is a process with the ultimate goal of a Jewish homeland. Participation in this process is not restricted to Jews alone. Furthermore, the question is an example of how even simple questions can use inflammatory terminology, as "racist" has a pejoritive sense and is an imprecise term.

A central tenet of Zionism is that there should exist a place in the world where Jews have sovereignty. This is no different from the ethnic desires of other minority and ethnic groups; I'm sure you can name numerous examples. Recent history has demonstrated the need for such a homeland; alas, humanity doesn't appear to be moving in a direction that would eliminate that need.

Is the desire for a Jewish homeland "racist"? No. Racism is a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race. Judaism is not a race--adherents come from multiple ethnic backgrounds. More importantly, there is no notion in Zionism that Jews are superior to other races (unlike, for example, the Nazis, who held that the Aryan race was superior).

Please remember that Zionism is distinct from the state of Israel; if you look at the history of Zionism, you will see that for some of the zionistic movements, Israel was not the target homeland (in fact, you'll discover that at one time, Uganda was an option). Israel is modern political state that strives to provide a pluralistic and open society, comprising many ethnic and religious groups. It doesn't always succeed in this goal, but neither do other democratic states. As a modern state, Israel is subject to various political realities that dictate its laws and regulations. Discussion of these laws and regulations is less germane to the focus of S.C.J and is more appropriate for talk.politics.mideast. However, the primacy of Jewish law in Israel is no more "racist" than the primacy of Catholic law in Vatican City, the primacy of the Church of England in Great Britain, or the primacy of Islam in many Arabic countries.

So what is the connection between Zionism and Israel? Zionism helped found the state, and provided the underlying zeal for many of Israel's leaders. The Zionist zeal still helps provide funding for the state, as many Jews outside of Israel support Zionist organizations operating in Israel.


The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.

[Got Questions?]Hopefully, the FAQ will provide the answer to your questions. If it doesn't, please drop Email to questions@scjfaq.org. The FAQ maintainer will endeavor to direct your query to an appropriate individual that can answer it. If you would like to be part of the group to which the maintainer directs questions, please drop a note to the FAQ maintainer at maintainer@scjfaq.org.

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