As I’ve written about before, I grew up with little connection to the State of Israel. Recently, I’ve come to consider the political, economic, and cultural realities that make advocating for the disassembly of Israel impractical and completely counterproductive to the struggle for peace, but I still feel uncomfortable calling myself a Zionist, or “pro-Israel”, because I have some deep abiding problems with religious states in general.
So what do I call myself? Well, I’ve invented a new term. I’m an ambi-Zionist. Rather than being a Zionist or an anti-Zionist, I’m somewhere right in the middle. Although I don’t reject Israel as a Jewish state, I don’t feel that supporting its existence is a component of my Jewish identity. My political activism on the issue is not because of my religious inclinations, but because of my religious affiliation. In other words I’m going to be associated with the issue no matter what, so I feel that I should engage it head-on and develop an educated opinion. Additionally, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict doesn’t just belong to the Jews and the Palestinians (i.e. others can, should, and do get involved), so my activism isn’t solely because I’m Jewish.
Ambi-Zionism gives me the space to develop a Jewish identity unrelated to Israel and opinions traditionally considered Zionist, anti-Zionist, or anywhere in between. Having a name for myself doesn’t take away the need to create an identity organically, but it makes that identity easier to describe. I like that “ambi-Zionist” is fairly noncommittal but also quite expressive – it implies a level of open-mindedness and appreciation of diverse opinions that I aspire to. My hope is that it will help bring me closer to that ideal.