Last updated on: 5/16/2008 1:39:00 PM PST

Are Judaism and Zionism Compatible with Each Other?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
The 1988 Country Studies on Israel, published by the Federal Research Division of the US Library of Congress, in an entry titled "The Role of Judaism," contained the following:

"In the nineteenth century, Zionism often competed with Orthodox Judaism for the hearts and minds of young Jews, and enmity existed between Orthodox Jews of Eastern Europe and the Zionists (and those residing in Palestine in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries). Orthodox Jews resented the dominantly secular nature of Jewish nationalism (for example, the desire to turn the holy tongue of Hebrew into an instrument of everyday discourse), whereas the Zionists derogated the other-worldly passivity of Orthodox Jews. Among the most extreme Orthodox Jews, the Zionist movement was deemed heretical because it sought to 'force the End of Days' and preempt the hand of God in restoring the Jewish people to their Holy Land before the Messiah's advent.

Nevertheless, for all its secular trappings, Zionism as an ideology was also profoundly tied to Jewish tradition--as its commitment to the revival of the Jews' biblical language, and, indeed, its commitment to settle for nothing less than a Jewish home in biblical Palestine indicate. Thus, secular Zionism and religious Judaism are inextricably linked, and hence the conceptual ambivalence and paradoxes of enmity and attraction."

1988 - Country Studies / Area Handbooks Program 

PRO (yes)

The World Zionist Organization, in its June 2004 council at Jerusalem, stated:

"Zionism, the national liberation movement of the Jewish people, brought about the establishment of the State of Israel, and views a Jewish, Zionist, democratic and secure State of Israel to be the expression of the common responsibility of the Jewish people for its continuity and future. The foundations of Zionism are:... Strengthening Israel's Judaism in a Zionist and democratic state and shaping it as an exemplary society with a unique moral and spiritual character, marked by mutual respect for the multi-faceted Jewish people, rooted in the vision of the prophets, striving for peace and contributing to the betterment of the world."

June 2004 - World Zionist Organization 

Eliezer Don-Yehiya, PhD, Professor of Political Science at Tel Aviv University, in an article titled "Zionism in Retrospective" published in the 1998 Modern Judaism 18.3, stated:

"Israel still plays a significant role in preventing assimilation and fostering Jewish cultural creativity... For this reason, there is much to be said in favor of Ben-Gurion's claim that for Diaspora Jews immigration to Israel is the best way to preserve their Jewish identity. Indeed, the Zionist state has been perceived by most emigrants from the West as a 'safe haven,' not for Jews but rather for Judaism. This view has played a major role in their decision to settle in the Jewish state."

1998 - Eliezer Don-Yehiya, PhD 

David Hartman, PhD, Professor of Political Science at Tel Aviv University, in a 1999 book titled A Heart of Many Rooms: Celebrating the Many Voices Within Judaism, wrote:

"Israel offers Jews an unprecedented opportunity to regenerate the primary roots of Judaism. As a traditional Jew I am grateful to Zionism and to Israel for renewing the significance of the beginning, not necessarily for bringing about the end."

1998 - David Hartman, PhD 

CON (no)

Neturei Karta, a religious organization founded in Jerusalem, in a 2003 website article titled "Judaism And Zionism Are Not The Same Thing," stated:

"Judaism is a religion of spirituality, to serve God... Zionism is an apostasy, it is a rebellion against God, and a rebellion against the Torah, it is blasphemous... The truth is that the Jewish faith and Zionism are two very different philosophies. They are as opposite as day and night. The Jewish people have existed for thousands of years. In their two thousand years of Divinely decreed exile no Jew ever sought to end this exile and establish independent political sovereignty anywhere."

2003 - Neturei Karta 

Yasser Arafat, the late Palestinian Authority President, in a Apr. 3, 2002 Palestinian Liberation Organization's (PLO's) President's Office letter to Rabbi Moshe Hirsch, stated:

"These expressions (of sympathy towards the Palestinian People)... enable the entire world to see the stark contrast between the eternal and beautiful values of Judaism and those embodied in aggressive Zionism. These demonstrations and expressions are of critical importance in enabling the Palestinian people and Arabs worldwide to see this crucial difference so that everyone understands that the actions of the Israeli state do not reflect anything rooted in the traditions, beliefs and laws of Judaism. This is vital in emphasizing that there is no conflict between Jew and Arab."

Apr. 3, 2002 - Yasser Arafat 

Joel Teitelbaum, the late Satmar Grand Rebbe, in his 1961 anti-Zionist book titled Vayoel Moshe, wrote:

"The Zionists undertook a number of explicit actions that they believed would assist them in meeting their objectives in the creation of a state...

It is only this abominable idea of establishing a state that has caused all the hardships, sufferings and misfortunes that have befallen us, aside from the fact of countless Jews who have died because of the Zionist wars that are forbidden by Jewish law."

1961 - Joel Teitelbaum