02 October '12..
A "Zionist" is nothing more than someone who supports Israel's right to exist as the national home of the Jewish people.
This means that, notwithstanding attempts by anti-Israel and anti-Jewish activists to redefine the term, virtually all American Jews, minus a few isolated but outspoken outliers, are Zionists.
So it was somewhat odd to read the second paragraph of the Sept. 27 New York Times story, "Republicans Intensify Drive to Win Over Jewish Voters":
... the Republican Jewish Coalition, backed mostly by the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a Zionist, has begun spending $6.5 million on an air-and-ground strategy to reach Jewish voters who may view Mr. Obama as unreliable on the question of Israel's security. Jewish voters, who generally vote for Democrats in big numbers, overwhelmingly supported Mr. Obama in 2008, giving him 78 percent of their vote, according to exit polls ...
Why did reporter Lizette Alvarez go out of her way to describe Adelson as a Zionist? It's certainly true that the Republican funder is a Zionist. But it's also certainly true that an "overwhelming" majority of Jews who supported Obama are likewise Zionists. A Luntz Global/CAMERA poll found that 94 percent of American Jews would consider it a "tragedy" if Israel "no longer existed tomorrow," and the poll's cross tabs reveal that 93.7 percent of Jews who voted for Obama feel this way.
Again, people who support Israel's right to exist — including but not limited to the subset of people who think it would be a "tragedy" if it ceased to exist — are Zionists.
But the lexical waters lately have been muddied.
It's not just that bigots have taken to using the word "Zionist" euphemistically, as a way to attack Jews without saying the word "Jew." (See, for example, the video segment in which David Duke begins to say "Jewish" but quickly corrects himself when complaining to CNN about impositions "from the Je... from the Zionist domination of American foreign policy.")
It's not just the absurd mantra of radicals who insist, "I don't hate Jews, I hate Zionists," as if it is reasonable to claim you aren't against Jews, but are only against the vast majority of Jews — those who feel their people should not be discriminated against in a world that believes "all peoples have the right of self-determination."
The problem is also that others, including the mainstream Daily Beast on a Web page curated by Peter Beinart, have promoted the false claim that it is impossible to be both Zionist and liberal. Some pretend that Zionist means you support a particular war, or belong to a particular party. And if you redefine the term "Zionist," you distort the meaning of a concept that formed the bedrock of the renewal of Jewish national rights, and undermine the philosophical defense of those rights.
It is an uncomfortable reality for Israel haters that Zionism is not a partisan issue in the U.S. That is, unless and until anti-Israel activists, or sloppy writing in the New York Times, succeed at retrofitting a new definition to the word.