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What is Zionism?

Rik Marketing - 2 December 2016

Zionism is a political movement and ideology that strives for a Jewish homeland. This stems from the Jews’ desire to return to the Land of Israel, where the kingdoms of Judah and Israel used to be. The word Zionism comes from Mount Zion in Jerusalem. The word Zion is often used to indicate Jerusalem or all of Israel.

The origin of Zionism

Modern Zionism

Theodor Herzl was an Austrian-Hungarian-Jewish ideologist and journalist. He is the founder of Modern Zionism.

After the collapse of the kingdom of Judah and the destruction of the Temple, the Jews were scattered all over the world. Only a small group of Jews remained in Israel. However, the desire to return to Israel continued to grow and was reinforced by the disadvantaged position of Jews in the non-Jewish countries.

Zionism initially focused on establishing a Jewish state in Israel. A Zionist used to be someone who actually pursued this. Nowadays, this is more nuanced: a Zionist is someone who believes in the State of Israel’s right to exist.

Establishment of the World Zionist Organization

In 1897, the first International Zionist Congress was held in Basel. This is because the Jews would establish their homeland in the, then Ottoman, area of Palestine.

During this Congress, they established the Zionist Organization. This organization was responsible for the emigration to Palestine, the so-called Aliyah. Furthermore, the ZO helped Palestinian Jews that had already settled in this area to establish kibbutzim.

A few years later, the Palestine Zionist Executive was also established. The goals of this organization, which was renamed the Jewish Agency in 1929, were almost identical to those of the World Zionist Organization. The main objectives were to establish an independent Jewish state and to promote Aliyah.


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