Working at a Zionist organization can at times give you a headache. Working at a Canadian Zionist organization can at times make you feel like you’re having a stroke – cut off from the oxygen of the various American Zionst movements and organizations. That’s not to say that Canadian Zionist organizations are dependent upon their sister American organizations. But it is to say that in a world where Diaspora Zionism is largely U.S.-centric, things up here in the “head” of North America can feel a little vacuous at times.

It has led me to ponder many things as I sit at my desk and work on what others have (perhaps incorrectly) described as “Zionizing” Canada. What follows are some of my recent ponderings. Following them is some fascinating insight from none other than John Cusack – a brilliantly intelligent man. I caught him on one of my favourite pop-news shows, The Hour and was blown away. On that note, if you don’t live in Canada and want some brilliant insight served up daily, check out George Stroumboulopoulous’ (the host of the Hour) podcast.

Onto the pondering. Your insight is welcome…

Where’s the middle ground between being a political organization – essentially an arm of various democratic parties – and a religious organization?

How can you be a Zionist organization and not have “secular” political ideals?

“There has to come a point where things are beyond political discourse for left and right, and if there isn’t, if everything is a political question, everything is just something to be debated by the right wing and left wing, then we’re really marching down a road of bones, it’s total madness.” ~ John Cusack

“Ultimately, if you’re not talking about God and justice, what are you talking about?”
~John Cusack


  1. David says:

    This is all dependent upon your understanding of Zionism, and Israel as a modern state.

    Is Zionism a political movement? Or is this a Jewish religious act to return to the land? Is Israel like France or Germany or Thailand? Or is Israel a modern redemption worth saying Hallel “Al HaNisim” over on Yom Ha’Atzmaut?

    Namely, is God a part of this story?

  2. jepaikin says:

    Yes, yes, and yes.

    Zionism(s) are a political movement. It would be hard to argue that there aren’t various clearly delineated versions of Zionism. The political parties in Israel are Zionist movements. The Zionist movements throughout the world who are part of the World Zionist Organization are also political parties.

    Zionism is also a Jewish religious expression, no matter how hard secular Israelies try to argue otherwise. More on that later.

    Israel to the Jews is also like France to the Gauls and Germany to the Germanic tribes.

    Zionism’s establishment of the modern State is also worth saying Hallel for.

    So, yes, yes, and yes.

    And is God a part of this story?

    Oh, I would certainly hope so. I defer to Mr. Cusack on that one – if you’re not talking about God and justice, what are you talking about? A Godless Israel would be quite scary. That being said, Synagogue and State do need clearly defined boundaries. That’s why I think the political efforts of Progressive Judaism in Israel are so necessary. They bring a much needed balance to a too oft polarized culture.

    And now we’re back at square one…

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