JULY 13, 2015
Kentucky Fried Chicken used to be a mainstay in American fast food. Who can forget the plump Colonel quipping, “Finger lickn’ good”? When the health craze hit, it rebranded. The deep-fried chicken stayed, but the name was changed to KFC. Many people today don’t even know what KFC means.
The same can be said about the word “Zionism.” Starting in the 1800s, Zionists believed in the historical and modern-day Jewish homeland in Israel. (Zion is the biblical word for Israel.) Zionism is the movement singularly credited for the establishment of the modern State of Israel. But on November 10, 1975, something happened. In an effort led by the international terrorist Yasser Arafat, his Palestine Liberation Organization, 19 countries of the Arab League (representing a 98% Muslim majority of nearly 300 million Arabs), and the Soviet Union, the United Nations voted to declare that “Zionism is a form of racism.” This claim caught on globally, especially with minorities, progressives, liberals, and many secular Jews.
So Zionism went underground. Except for a few organizations (World Zionist Congress, Zionist Organization of America, WIZO, etc.) that persevered in the face of international hatred against an ideal, Jews, for the most part, stopped using the term. Zionism became a secret society handshake to quickly discern one’s beliefs – kind of like Republicans do in Hollywood.
Forget that in 1991 the UN revoked the resolution that declared “Zionism is a form of racism.” The damage was done. People seemed to accept it as fact and continued to promote that a belief in Israel is racist. And nobody promoted it better than the Arab/Muslim-led boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement, perhaps today’s single greatest non-military threat to Israel. BDS’s fingerprints of slander against Israel can be seen on posters globally, espousing “Zionism is Racism, Boycott Israel!”
In any case, because Israel’s enemies so repeatedly bastardized the word Zionist, it became a word that could only be used as a positive term when one Zionist referred to another Zionist. Otherwise, “Those Zionists!” is not a term of endearment.
The anti-Zionism strategy backfired because, except for real Zionist organizations, the only ones using the term seemed to be anti-Zionists: BDS, university professors, Hamas, Fatah, Hezbollah, Nazis, white supremacists, Arab League, etc. So the real Zionists – who no longer wanted to be referred to as Zionists – needed another term, and they began using the more generic term, “pro-Israel.”
“Pro-Israel” is an interesting phrase, since, by definition, it means that some people are anti-Israel, which in the politically correct world is not kosher.
For example, BDS leadership publicly points out that it is anti-Zionist, but not anti-Israel, although they don’t state publicly that they are pro-Israel. Further, BDS’ written and stated goal of a one-state solution (yes, one-state solution) calls for Israel to be replaced by Palestine (which would have an Arab-Muslim majority, but I’ll save this point for another piece).
And now, even “pro-Israel” has lost its meaning as it’s been hijacked by Jewish groups (that seem Jewish in name only), who are anything but pro-Israel. J Street, for example (an organization that regularly partners with anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist, and pro-BDS speakers), uses the tagline: The Political Home for Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace Americans.
Obviously, if J Street is “pro-Israel,” then it’s definitely time to consider finding another term, so I went searching. Then, a few weeks ago, I noticed that the Colonel is returning to his roots. KFC is gone. Kentucky Fried Chicken is back. (I guess “fried” equals sales.) So I figured, if Kentucky Fried Chicken can take back its name, Zionism can do the same. Rebrand, relaunch, and rejoice!
They say that so many people today are trying to think outside the box that staying inside the box is now actually thinking outside the box. The same can be said for the word Zionism. Zionists have allowed anti-Zionists to write the narrative and transform Zionism’s meaning so many times that it’s time to finally embrace the original term … and just let the rest of the world holler in ignorance.
Jack Saltzberg is a Zionist. He is the founder and executive director of The Israel Group, an organization dedicated to confronting BDS, the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement. Saltzberg has been a nonprofit professional leader for nearly 20 years, and he served in combat in a special forces unit in the Israel Defense Forces.