“At the outset of the founding of the state, the triumphant Zionists understood what they were doing as building a liberal political movement. Liberalism was baked into the political Zionism that ultimately led to the building of the state. Liberalism was not a loose or discrete set of ideas meant to live alongside the project of Jewish self-determination; it was part of a theory—shared by other liberal nationalists in other parts of the world—that it was only through national self-determination that a state could guarantee the values and ends of liberal society.  The state was an expression of political liberalism, and thus, should continue to be guided by the tenets of liberalism.”

The evidence of the Zionist commitment to this idea is easily found in the preamble of Israel’s Declaration of Independence:

THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations. “

So writes Yehuda Kurtzer, president of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. His essay, called “Liberal Zionism & the Idea of the Idea – Why Israel Now?,” is a sweepingly compelling argument that explains why our reclaiming the dream of political Zionism is so important for those who hope to understand why it is still relevant today despite Israel’s imperfections.

I recommend reading this 5000-word essay if you wish to gain more clarity about why progressive and liberal Zionists remain committed to the idea of Israel as a liberal, democratic, and Jewish state.