an international movement originally for the establishment of a Jewish national or religious community in Palestine and later for the support of modern Israel
After speaking to a bright, enthusiastic group of Mormon college students last year in Oslo, Norway, I visited one of the many cafés on Karl Johans Street near the Parliament building. There were few seats available, and before long a trio of comely Oslovians asked if they could sit with me. This was not a terribly hard decision to make. After we placed our orders, I asked them about their lives in Norway. When it was my turn to share, I told them that I worked for a Jewish organization. When they asked which one, I answered “Zionist Organization of America.” Judging from their expressions, you’d have thought that I strangled puppies for a living. One of them moved her chair back a few inches. When I asked her what was wrong, she stammered, “You’re actually a…Zionist?!?!” I said I was, and then asked her what she knew about Zionism. Her answer floored me: “I don’t know exactly what it is, but I know it’s bad.” Drawing on my experience as a press attaché at an Israeli consulate, I led them in a discussion of Zionism, Israel, and the media in Scandinavia. By the time we said our goodbyes, two of them had declared themselves to be Zionists, and the chair-mover had acknowledged that Zionists were not as bad as she had thought. [I try to avoid shameless plugs on this blog, but if the Government of Israel should ever need a PR person to speak to Scandinavian women about Zionism and Israel, I have experience and am willing to sacrifice for the cause].
Of course, Norwegians are not the only ones who ask Mormons about Zionism. Israel is central to Judaism in a way that makes the two inseparable. Sooner or later, Jews will ask their non-Jewish friends what they think about Israel.