This blog post is the text version of an infographic created for Instagram, with minor tweaks to formatting. It is meant to serve as a jumping off point for research, as one post can only hold so much. We encourage you to check out the citations. There was so much that simply couldn’t be covered in such a short post; not to mention a breadth of research that feels like it should be must read material for this topic.
The Nation of Israel
In the Torah, we read of the story of Jacob, who wrestles an angel and is re-named Israel, which means “One who wrestles with G-d”.
The Jewish people are known as The Nation of Israel, the people who wrestle with G-d.
This is an ancestral and historical name for Jews, far
Jews often use the phrase, “Am Yisrael Chai” to refer to the resilience and survival of the Jewish people.
This use of Israel appears within the Torah as well as many sacred and non-sacred Jewish texts.
The Physical Land
This refers specifically to the physical land referenced in sacred texts.
Certain Jewish holidays and traditions are intrinsically tied to the land and its natural cycles [Tu B’Shevat, etc].
These beliefs are historic and ancient but are still distinct from the modern political state.
Conflating the ancient understanding of the land with the modern ethnostate is a fallacy.
The Modern Political State
This specifically refers to the modern political entity established in 1948. This modern political state is what people think of most often when they hear the term Israel, despite the modern state being the youngest of the three. The political state does not and has never represented all Jews. The conflation of these 3 concepts is intentional, as it serves a variety of political interests.
Is The Distinction Important? Yes.
It is unequivocally vital to not conflate Jews with the modern political state of Israel; despite pressure from both antisemites and certain Jews to do so. Biblical texts do not refer to Medinat Israel within them; but the conflation allows people to use Biblical texts to their advantage. Take, for example, Evangelical Christian Zionist preachers who use the line from Numbers 24:9 & Genesis 12:3 “Blessed is everyone who blesses you, O Israel, and cursed is everyone who curses you.” “I will bless those who bless you. And curse the one who curses you; And all the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you.” These do not refer to the modern state. But these same pastors unabashedly promote antisemitism in the same breath; using their support of Medinat Israel as cover because genuinely caring for Jews is antithetical to their beliefs.
Antisemite John Hagee, who founded Christians United for Israel (the largest Zionist organization in the USA), posted:
“As Christmas approaches, think about what God has given us through the Jews––Jesus, the prophets, Scripture. Think about what Israel has given the world––cell phone technology, computer software, medical aid. Think about what you can give to bless the Jewish people. Whether it’s donating to CUFI, signing the Israel Pledge, or just sharing this status, we “owe it to the Jews to share material blessings”
The conflation here of Jews (Am Yisrael) and the state of Israel (Medinat Israel) is clear. Support Israel, no matter the cost, no matter how much you hate and revile living Jews.
Hagee also publicly preached that Hitler was a ‘hunter’ sent to gather the Jews in Israel.
John Hagee was recently invited to speak at a pro-Israel rally.
Examples of The Harm of Conflation
Antisemites use the “Israel loophole” as a means of continuing their antisemitism and wreaking havoc on Diaspora Jews.... “I can’t be antisemitic! I support Israel!” The “Israel loophole” is how antisemitic legislation is passed by the same people choosing to send billions of dollars in aid to Israel. The conflation also causes misinformation and misunderstandings to be spread about Judaism and the Jewish people. Conflating all Jews with Israel allows people (Jewish and non-Jewish) to attempt to revoke Jews of their Jewish identity when their politics do not “fall in line”.
Sean Durbin (2013) “I will bless those who bless you”: Christian Zionism, Fetishism, and Unleashing the Blessings of God, Journal of Contemporary Religion, 28:3, 507-521, DOI: