“Why I am a Zionist”: Revisited and Brought to Life for Israel Independence Day

OpenDor Media released an updated, illustrated video rendition of Professor Gil Troy’s seminal 2001 essay to be used in concurrent programming for Jewish students by Hillel International

Israel Independence Day, April 15 2021, marks Israel’s 73rd birthday and the 20th anniversary of the publication of Professor Gil Troy’s widely-reprinted essay, “Why I Am a Zionist.” In honor of the occasion, OpenDor Media released an illustrated video of Troy reading the iconic essay.

The op-ed piece originally appeared in the Montreal Gazette, during  a time of great despair and division in the Jewish world: on the first Yom Ha’atzmaut after the Oslo negotiations collapsed into terrorism. Buses and cafes were blowing up in Israel, attacks in the media and the UN against Israel were mounting, and fights among Jews about why this was happening and who was to blame were intensifying. 

A Call for Unabashed Pride

Troy’s honest, heartfelt tribute expressed how lucky he felt to live in a world with a Jewish State – with all its challenges. He said nothing about the Palestinians, beyond hoping for peace. “I didn’t want to knock them down – I just wanted to build our people up,” Troy recalls. “As I wrote: ‘A century ago, Zionism revived pride in the label ‘Jew’; today, Jews must revive pride in the label ‘Zionist.’”

Troy expected to be attacked for publicly outing himself a Zionist. What he didn’t expect was the outpouring of support he received from people thanking him with messages like “Finally, someone is saying something positive.”

Changing the Dialogue to Identity Zionism 

This was four months before the debacle at the 2001 World Conference against Racism in Durban. And five months before 9/11, when most American Jews really took notice of terrorism in Israel as part of a tragic awareness of worldwide terrorism. “Why I am a Zionist” became Troy’s Identity Zionism manifesto, which was the springboard for his best-selling book Why I am a Zionist: Israel, Jewish Identity and the Challenges of Today.

According to Dr. Noam Weissman, Senior VP at OpenDor Media, the message of Troy’s essay is as relevant today as it was 20 years ago. “It’s about identity. And it’s personal. It always was and always will be,” says Weissman. “To understand and feel a profound connection to  Israel, young Jews need to know and embrace their story and reach deep to their roots to experience where 3,000-year-old history meets the modern State of Israel. We’ve taken Gil’s timeless message and moved it outside the walls of the classroom and traditional print media to where young people seek answers today — on their mobile devices.”

To mark the 20th anniversary of its publication, the video has been made widely available, including to local Hillels across North America for students to engage with Troy’s text and explore  their personal connections to Israel.

About OpenDor Media

OpenDor Media has been the leading creator of Jewish film content since 2009. It brings Jewish ideas, values and stories to life through quality filmmaking, delivering them to a global audience of millions using today’s most popular and far-reaching digital platforms. Its production company, Imagination Productions, produces award-winning documentary films including Beneath the Helmet, Hummus! The Movie and Sustainable Nation. Its digital edutainment brand, Unpacked, reaches millions of viewers annually with its short video content on YouTube and Instagram. Content from both entities, accompanied by extensive educational resources, is featured on Unpacked for Educators, a digital resource that reaches educational institutions around the globe.

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