Simon Schama: Reclaim the term ‘Zionist’, it’s not a word to be ashamed of

Simon Schama: Reclaim the term ‘Zionist’, it’s not a word to be ashamed of

Simon Schama
Simon Schama

Historian Simon Schama has rubbished parallels between the actions of the Nazis and Israel as he called for the word ‘Zionist’ to be “reclaimed”. 

Simon Schama during his series', 'The Story of the Jews'
Simon Schama during his series’, ‘The Story of the Jews’

The presenter of acclaimed BBC series Story of the Jews told the UJIA annual dinner that Israel’s supporters must be loud and courageous in putting the Jewish state’s case.

“We’re British. Our default mode is understatement but this is not a time for understatement.

“It’s time for eloquent courage and education any way we can bring it to schools and the wider school. Or else the hatred will grow. They’ll think we’re a colonial implant. We all need to be courageous and we all need to be staunch, loyal, loving friends of Israel.”

While he told the 1,000 guests that he had “fierce reservations” about settlement policy and it was even “incumbent” on true Zionists to criticise government decisions where they see fit, Schama said to huge applause:

“We need to reclaim the word ‘Zionist’ – it’s not a word to be ashamed of. It’s is not a word to run away from.” He also passionately condemned any suggestions that Israel was guilty of a genocide.

“We are not the killers of children, we grieve when the blood of innocent children is spilled because rockets are set underneath or beside schools,” he said.

“One million Jewish children were killed by the Nazi slaughter. The point of the Finial solution was to kill children.

“We do not commit genocide. It is a profound and disgusting corruption of the term.”


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