We, The Zionists

In an effort to highlight the newly launched #WeTheZionists campaign, from UCLA’s Bruins For Israel Organization, The Zionist Narrative would like to publish the posts written by several BFI members as a means to showcase this latest, on-campus activism and to strengthen the notion that these posts are not a mere trend, but rather a beginning of a greater revival movement whose spirit has been quietly existing on college campuses. The Zionist Narrative is proud to present Bruins For Israel’s expression of what could hopefully become an even greater Zionist Revival on college campuses across the nation.

Introduction taken from Bruins for Israel’s Page:

As we countdown to Yom Ha’atzmaut, the Israeli Day of Independence, we will be showcasing a member from our diverse community every single day, and with that, we are kicking off our campaign, “We, the Zionists.” #WeTheZionists 

From Eytan Davidovits, President of Bruins for Israel:

Eytan“I’ll be honest, I’m not the most outspoken advocate. However, Israel isn’t a mere advocacy platform; it’s a passion. This strong passion ignites a spark within me- a passion that compels me to set aside my school work and devote hours to this cause. This passion has motivated a new campaign. A strong passion for Israel lives and breathes inside of each one of us, yet it’s manifested in different ways. Bruins for Israel wants to illustrate our diversity while also explaining the origins of where this movement comes from.

So let’s set the record straight: I am a Zionist. I always have been and always will be. Zionism is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people which brought about the return of the indigenous Jewish people to their historic homeland of Israel, and restored the ancient Hebrew language to common use. Zionism is that the Jewish people, like every people, have a right to self-determination in their ancestral homeland. Zionism today strives to maintain Jewish independence and sovereignty in our historic homeland. For far too long, we have let this word, and the historical logic behind it, be used as a derogatory term. Today, we are taking it back. Today, we begin by establishing a baseline. Before any talk about modern-day Israel, we must acknowledge our Zionistic foundations. Once this baseline is developed, we can begin a conversation about present-day Israel and the ways we can continue to improve our homeland.”

Republished with permission from the author. Visit the Original Post here.

From Omer Hit, Incoming President of Bruins for Israel:

Omer Hit“Those who know me know how proud I am of my Israeli identity. I was born in Beit Cholim Rambam (Rambam Hospital) in Haifa, Israel. All my life I was surrounded by an incredible community of Jewish Israelis. As software engineers, my parents dreamt of working in Silicon Valley, so after I was born my mom agreed to move to California for two years. Two years turned into eighteen and I now find myself as a fantastic Israeli-American young man at UCLA.

I LAHV Israel oh so very much. Upon first hearing Bruno Mars’s “Uptown Funk” I was convinced that it was about Israel, because everything about Israel, from Natalie Portman to religious and ethnic diversity, is “TOO HAWT, HAWT DAMN.”

I am a proud Zionist. I believe in the Jewish people’s right to self-determination. And after 2000 years of exile and persecution, I am proud to say that we have finally returned home. Israel is a beacon of light in a region that so desperately needs it. However, by no means is Israel perfect. To me, Zionism also means constantly working to better Israel, criticizing it to enable it to fulfill all that it is destined to be.” ‪#‎MyZionism ‪#‎WeTheZionists

Republished with permission from the author. Visit the Original Post here.

From Jasmin Boodaie, BFI Member:

Jasmin“I find it surprising when people tell me that they’re scared to visit Israel. I love Israel because I believe it’s the safest place in the world–the only place where I would never fear being 100% myself, and that’s why I’m a ‪#‎BruinForIsrael.‪#‎WeTheZionists

Republished with permission from the author. Visit the Original Post here.

From Leeav Nagola, BFI Member:

Leeav“I love Israel because it symbolizes a community and a family. That sense of unity and belonging was one of the founding principles of the Zionist movement in reviving the Jewish homeland, and in turn, the Jewish culture and the Hebrew Language. From the moment I land in Israel, I feel a sense of closeness and a connection to every single individual regardless of race, religion, or appearance. And every time I return to the states I try to bring that new layer of closeness to my community, and that’s why I’m a ‪#‎BruinForIsrael!” ‪#‎WeTheZionists

Republished with permission from the author. Visit the Original Post here.

From Jacob Finn, BFI Member:

jacob finn“Political Zionism… Cultural Zionism… Religious Zionism… Labor Zionism… What is my Zionism you care to ask? I think I’ll coin the term Bruin Zionism. It’s the right for me to tell my UCLA peers that my identity matters. It’s my right to be independent as a Jewish person, free from those who try to hold us back. Bruin Zionism is sharing with my friends that I have the right to be who I want to be, grow up to do what I want to do, and speak what I want to say. And I have this right because of my ancestors who once walked in the historical land of Israel, my ancestors who faced discrimination and exile for thousands of years. But we have returned. And whether it is in Israel, in Europe, in America, or here at UCLA, Zionism will always represent the freedom of the Jews and of all oppressed peoples. And I’ll be damned if someone has a problem with that.” ‪#‎WeTheZionists

Republished with permission from the author. Visit the Original Post here.

From Arielle Mokhtarzadeh, BFI Member:

“To be quite honest, growing up, I always shied away from calling myself a “Zionist.” I found the word to be archaic and oftentimes irrelevant. Only now do I realize how deeply mistaken I was.

Zionism is the movement which advocates for the rights of the Jewish people, chief among them the right of self-determination. It is a word, which sometime in the last 60 years has been tainted by those who seek to deprive the Jewish people of that basic human right. And today is the day we take it back.

Today is the day that we remind the world that Judaism is more than a religion, it is a nation, an ethnicity, and a people.

Today is the day we tell the world that Zionism was a thing long before the creation of the Jewish state and it will remain a thing long after.

Today is the day that we, as Zionists, reclaim our narrative.

To me, being a Zionist, doesn’t mean blindly standing behind all the decisions of the Israeli government. It doesn’t mean pretending Israel is perfect. It is not synonymous with the denial of Palestinian self-determination. In actuality, being a Zionist means wrestling with the complexities of the Jewish state and of the conflict in general, being a link in the chain of the history of Zionism and most importantly, maintaining that all peoples, like the Jewish people, deserve the right to self-determination.

To be honest, it really frustrates me when I hear the phrase, “Zionism is Racism.” Zionism is the movement which maintains that the Jewish people have the right to self-determination, nothing more and nothing less. And it is truly disheartening when people condemn that movement, denying the Jewish right to self-determination, while simultaneously advocating for the self-determination of other peoples.

Zionism has a past, a present and a future. Zionism of the past sought to revive, renew and liberate the Jewish state. Zionism of the present seeks to defend the Jewish right to self-determination. And Zionism of the future involves constructively criticizing that Jewish state to enable it to fulfill all that it is destined to be.

Today, I am proud to call myself a Zionist.” ‪#‎WeTheZionists

Visit the Original Post here.

From Avi Oved, BFI Member, previous Internal Vice President of UCLA USAC, and current Student Regent-Designate of the UC Board of Regents:

Avi Oved“The Holocaust took the lives of six million Jews, each of them serving as a reminder and a reason for me to be proud of my Jewish identity. A few months ago, my mother sent me an article detailing the brutal beating of a Jewish woman in Europe who was targeted for prominently displaying the Jewish Star of David. Concerned for my safety, she gently suggested that I remove that same Star of David from around my neck for some time. I did the opposite, and made it a point to display the necklace I wear. I am proud to be a Jewish Israeli-American, and the notion of having to deny my birthright or hide my heritage shocked and repelled me. No one should ever be compelled to hide their identity for fear of repercussion.

No matter how much of myself I dedicate to causes that work for the greater good of my people, no matter how much I try to be the best representation of my community’s values and traditions, no matter how many olive branches I try to extend, in a world where there are so many hateful and vilified connotations of Israel, Jews, and Zionism, it seems as though politics and stereotypes erase my efforts. These kinds of misconceptions tarnish my and my community’s efforts to change people’s minds about what we are and what we are not. I’ve learned that we cannot let the detractors of this world define us. We cannot let them frighten us into no longer being ourselves.

My love for, belief in, and commitment to my country, my community, the State of Israel, and the Jewish people, compel me to be the best person I can be.” #WeTheZionists

Republished with permission from the author. Visit the Original Post here.

From Jay Joelson, BFI Member:

jay joelson“In my opinion, Zionism used to refer to the movement to establish a Jewish State in the ancestral Jewish homeland. The meaning of Zionism has since evolved into a word that symbolizes support for the continued existence of the modern state of Israel. This modern state is a “light upon the nations”. Despite its Jewish character, it is also home to Muslims, Christians, Druze, Baha’i, and people of many other faiths. Despite its own internal problems, it provides humanitarian aid to regions devastated by disasters like Haiti’s earthquake, the Philippines’ typhoon, the Ebola outbreak in Western Africa and many more. Despite its neighbors’ atrocious human rights record, it provides equal rights to non-Jews, women, and LGBT citizens. Despite unprovoked attacks from radical Islamist groups, it has gone to great lengths to minimize civilian casualties in war. The modern State of Israel espouses the Western values that we cherish here at home.

As an American, proudly supporting Zionism and Israel is a no brainer.” #WeTheZionists

Republished with permission from the author. Visit the Original Post here.

1424928840368[1]Bruins for Israel represents the “Pro-Israel Voice at UCLA”. For upcoming events, a list of compiled resources about Israel, and to find out more about the Bruins for Israel Organization, Mission and Results of years of advocacy, check out their website here.

Special Thanks to all BFI members that participated in this article.

Cover Photograph taken from BFI’s Facebook Page. See original image here.

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