I believe it’s an unspoken truth that the two are inextricably related so much so that the lines are blurred and many people see them as one. I don’t however, for in my opinion zionism is a political movement dedicated to the return of Jews to a certain part of the world at the expense of the people already living there, whereas Judaism is a belief in God, or G_d as I’ve seen some people write it while not quite knowing why they do it that way, that has some semblance of justice and fairness for all His creation. Perhaps that’s my projection of ANY religion that takes off from the point of a benign and benevolent Creator, which I see wholly inconsistent with oppression and genocide, the likes of which are taking place in the occupied territories of Palestine.
I was very happy to hear that the Saudi regime initiated an interfaith meeting where they invited people from the major religions to Spain to talk about what they have in common and how they could foster better relations with one another. There’s certainly a lot to talk about there in this atmosphere of Islamophobia, although I’m sure members of other faiths have plenty to talk about with Muslims. The Saudis are generally very non-confrontational so they avoided inviting any religious representatives of Christianity, Islam or Judaism, from Palestine or Israel and there was the beginning of a conference whose doom was sealed before it ever got started. Jews wanted Israeli Jews present probably because they thought their presence would indicate de facto recognition of Israel by the Saudis who until now have not recognized that state. Moreover they were not to pleased with the mention of “zionism” in anything other than a good light. Most likely, the conference organizers don’t equate zionism with Judaism as some Jews would like. That criticism of “zionism” which I think had no place in an interfaith conference but whose defense by some Jews highlights the confusion between religion and politics, as it pertains to Judaism. Some of the Jewish participants, and most notably one Rabbi David Rosen of the American Jewish Committee said the conference would be little more than a photo opportunity unless it led to a follow-up in Saudi Arabia with Israeli Jews which seems to mean Jews won’t participate in a follow-up conference unless those two conditions are met: Israeli Jews are invited and it take place in Saudi Arabia. However, not all Jewish participants were in such a conundrum about their religion and the state of Israel and were optimistic about the chances for the future. The identification of a religion with a nation state has no place in an interfaith dialogue, especially one with as poor a human rights record as Israel. That some Jewish members made that connection is more than unfortunate.