By Daniel Chejfec
As we are getting ready for a March in support of Israel in Dutchess County, many non Jewish (and some Jewish) friends asked me why do we do it...And I think it's a good question.
For most of us today, a world without Israel is something we never experienced, so it's difficult sometimes to understand the mindset of the early zionists and the early pioneers who made Israel possible. One way to get an insight into it is to read a relatively short essay written by one of the early Zionists, Dr Leon Pinsker, and assimilated Jewish physician. The essay is called "Auto-Emancipation". You can read the full essay by clicking here.
What Pinsker essentially says, after reviewing the situation of the Jewish refugees of the Odessa Pogrom three years after the attack, is that the only way for Jews to be able to protect themselves is by taking their collective destiny into their own hands rather than coasting along on somebody else's will. This essay defines the very essence of Zionism: the National Liberation Movement of the Jewish People, including religious and secular Jews, Sephardim and Ashkenazim, Rightwing and Leftwing, blue collar and professional.
The Zionist enterprise eventually succeeded in regaining independence for the Jewish People in the Land of Israel (that others call Palestine) and it was that very act that liberated the Jews, not only those living in Israel, but those in the Diaspora as well. Even those who didn't support the existence of a Jewish State were able to regain their self-esteem and become more assertive. This is even without considering how Judaism itself had to adjust to the fact that Jews had again access to real political power as a people after two thousand years of not having it. Jewish philosophy was forced to revisit the concept of power and how to wield it in a Jewish context, a task which is still unfinished. The early pioneers used to sing a song which included in the lyrics the phrase "we came to the land to build it and to be rebuilt by it"
Today, sixty two years after the Israeli declaration of Independence, the interdependence between Israel and the Diaspora is stronger than ever, a fact recognized by Nathan Sharansky when he announced recently that the Jewish Agency will start taking a stronger role in promoting Jewish Peoplehood education. This move is just a recognition that whatever happens to Israel, the Jewish people will follow, and that Israel needs our support to continue to go on from strength to strength.
That is why I ask all of you to join me on June 6, at 10 am, at Wayras Park in Poughkeepsie at the corner of Water St and Main to march together to the Children's Museum Pavillion to show our support.