Neither ice nor snow could stop Gil Troy from speaking about Zionism

by | Feb 14, 2014 | Other News

Virginia Beach was the fourth stop on Gil Troy’s six city speaking tour. The McGill University History professor, prolific author and Zionist activist arrived Tuesday morning, January 28, preparing for an appearance the next evening in the Community Relations Council of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s Israel Today Forum.

“On this tour, I’m visiting cities like Montreal, Boston, New York,” Troy said. “I thought I might get some ‘weather’ there, as we call it, but I didn’t expect it to happen right here in Virginia Beach!”

The Israel Today Forum, scheduled to take place at the Sandler Family Campus, was cancelled due to a snowstorm that dumped about 10 inches of snow in some area neighborhoods on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. Also cancelled were Troy’s visits to area high schools, universities, television stations and community meetings, where Israel was to be the topic of discussion.

Quick thinking on the part of Robin Mancoll, CRC director, led to a hastily organized telephone call-in session with Troy on Wednesday night, at the same the time he would have appeared in the Forum.

“We were very concerned for the safety and well-being of all of the people who told us they were planning to attend, and we knew it was unsafe to drive,” says Mancoll.

“But Gil was in town and we knew people were still interested in hearing him speak, even if they couldn’t see him in person. So we got the word out as best we could and had a nice size crowd of community members join us for the hour-long phone conversation, and we taped him so that people could learn, and enjoy, and share, his great—and motivating—presentation.”

During the call-in, Troy gave an abbreviated version of the longer discussion he had planned, which left time for questions and answers from the “audience.” Troy talked about the challenges pro-Israeli Americans face, and proposed ways of moving forward; to not feeling so overwhelmed when the word Zionism shows up on televisions, phones, and computer screens.

“We look at Israel through a distorted prism,” Troy says. “We see the bad news rather than the good news. We see Israel as a potential headache for the Jewish people.”

Troy says that often, Americans talk about Israel as a troubled democracy. Yes, he says, Israel has a problem of immigrants trying to get in from Africa. Israel has a problem of democratic gridlock and a dysfunctional government.

“But don’t we have these problems in America, too?” Troy asks. “Isn’t the United States struggling with illegal immigrants in Arizona and New Mexico…Isn’t the United States struggling with how to make democracy functional? Didn’t the United States government shut down recently?”

Yet no one, Troy says, suggests that the United States shouldn’t exist, or that it is racist, as has been the claim against Israel for decades. Israel isn’t perfect, and that should be honestly noted, but it should also be noted that other democracies have their problems as well.

Strengthening perceptions and support for Israel can come from a redefining and reframing of Zionism, according to Troy. Zionism began as a movement to form a Jewish homeland. That has been accomplished, and now, he suggests, Zionism should be a movement to perfect Israel.

To learn more about the CRC, its initiatives, and upcoming Israel Today programs, visit The link to the Gil Troy, Zionism in Israel Today video can also be found on that site. For additional assistance, email, or call 965-6107.

by Laine Mednick Rutherford