Dagan Livny - FZY Central Shlicha - reflects on Zionism from abroad.
Two months into my Shlichut, thoughts about how to be a Zionist outside of Israel are starting to pop into my head.
But first, I’ll take this opportunity to introduce myself. My name is Dagan Livny and I’m the FZY Shlicha in London. I grew up in Moshav Srigim which is near Bet Shemesh. I was a part of the Bnei Hamoshavim Youth Movement and did my pre-Army year of service in the same movement. In the army I was an education soldier and then an officer. In the last few years I lived in Be’er Sheva where I studied the Middle East, Sociology and Anthropology in Ben Gurion university. In my last year of university I started the screening process to be a Shlicha for the Jewish Agency. I didn’t even know what FZY was back then, but now I’m so glad that I came here to work in a youth movement that has the same values as mine; pluralism and Zionism!
I grew up in a Zionist family, my grandparents were born in Israel, served in the “Palmach” (military arm of the Haganah, the precursor of the Israel Defense Forces) and took part in the establishment of the state. For me, being Zionist always meant to live in Israel, with all that this entails; to speak Hebrew, to hike and travel in Israel, to have a meaningful military service. I can vote for the government, and have the right to complain about the government, but I never even think about living anywhere else, because this is my country and if I didn’t care for it I wouldn’t have complained! To one day raise a family in Israel and educate others to love and live in Israel.
So how do I do all of that from the UK? Here, far away from Israel, I am discovering new parts of Zionism. In Israel It was all just so clear to me. It was a fact that I’m a Zionist Israeli. Here, nothing is obvious and everything gets re-tested. I find myself defending Israel and educating about Israel, and for the first time seeing Israel through the Diaspora’s eyes.
It’s much harder to love Israel from here in many ways, seeing the way the country can be portrayed in the media and much of the negativity which surrounds it, to see the other sides of the arguments. Yet it makes me love Israel even more as I feel a need to stand up for my country and talk about its wonders, more than I ever could or would be able to while living there.
One could say it is perhaps less necessary to love Israel from here – I don’t need to buy Israeli food, listen to Israeli music or immerse myself in its culture as I would at home – but then again, maybe it’s the other way around. I can come to the UK – as I have as a Shlicha – and share my experiences, thoughts and education to those who may have missed out on that knowledge before.
Here in the Diaspora we have to love and support Israel because no-one else will do it for us. And that is why since I arrived here, my connection to Israel is only getting stronger. So I guess that this is Zionism for me; loving Israel even more when I’m away from it, and still be excited that I have the privilege to represent it and to one day go back to live there. So do I have to live in Israel (eventually) to be Zionist? Not necessarily. Is it still the best way to express my Zionism? I believe it is. The truth of the matter is, Zionism has many faces. We owe it to ourselves, as Zionists who take part in a Zionist youth movement, to understand that, and to understand what exactly it means to us. Whether your Zionism is in the form of Cultural, Religious, Political, Socialist or Revisionist, we all share something and that is a love for Israel which we want to share.
That’s the purpose and duty of Shlichim, and I am here for the next two or three years to share that with you all.