So what is progressive Zionism? Part 1

As one of Netzer’s five ideological pillars, Progressive Zionism is by far the most confusing and conflictual, whether you are a leader in Netzer or just an inquiring mind.
When the head of the Israel centre in South Africa, asked the question; ‘So what is Progressive Zionism? ’I realised the need for this pivotal pillar to be elaborated. The next two articles will attempt to address this question in brief in order to dispel any confusion.
To clarify before, Progressive Zionism is not a political stream of Zionism but exclusively a religious stream steaming form the Progressive Movement. To understand the concept of Progressive Zionism we need to understand the context of Reform Jewish history first. Reform Judaism developed as a reaction to the dynamic changes of the time of the Enlightenment. It was an attempt to redefine Judaism in a world where the individual man is celebrated, and ethnicity is not nationalistic. Reform sort to establish a sustainable existence for Jews sitting at the crossroads of identity; faced with persecution, pogroms, anti Semitism and general stigma, Reform Jews sort to fuse their traditional ways, their exclusive shtetel mentality with the modern world around them. They aimed to be considered humanistic ‘German Jews’ as opposed being a Jew at odds with his nation.
However, this was not the uniformed response to Jewish instability in Europe at the time. Zionism, the establishment of a Jewish state as Herzl saw it was becoming a new alternative to escape persecution and anti-Semitism. At first Reform Jews were extreme in their endeavours to assimilate and rejected the notion of Zionism altogether seeing it as a form of heightened exclusion which they saw as the fundamental reasons for anti-Semitic ignorance. However, as the 20th century came into swing, history changed the playing field. The Holocaust, excessive anti-Semitic and fascist elements in Europe and the subsequent refusal of Jewish refugees into many parts of this world gave credence to the need for Jews to have a homeland, a place to be safe.

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