Zionism definition/origins/Theodor Herzl and Modern Political Zionism

Zionism is a nationalist political movement advocating the creation of a sovereign Jewish state and the return of Jews to the “Land of Israel”, located in Palestine. Zionism definition

Over thousands of years, the Jewish people suffered from invasions and diasporas caused by other peoples. The Zionist movement seeks to build a state for Jews to live in security and peace.

Despite being an old idea, the Zionist political movement was strengthened from 1896 onwards with Theodor Herzl , who published a pamphlet advocating the creation of a Jewish state and then organized the first World Zionist Congress.

Zionism gained strength from the 20th century onwards with the increasing persecution of Jews in Europe and especially after the genocide of around 6 million Jews in the Holocaust .

Today there are several criticisms of the Zionist movement due to the violence practiced by Israel against the Palestinian people, who were in the region at the time of the creation of the Jewish State. Zionism definition

The historical origins of the Zionist movement

According to biblical accounts, there would be a land promised by God to the Jewish people. This land corresponds to the territory of Palestine, where the holy city of Jerusalem is located.

The term “Zionism” comes from the Hebrew word Zion, which refers to Jerusalem. The “return to Zion” is an expression used to address the return of Jews to their homeland.

According to the Bible, Jews lived in this region for centuries before Christ, where they built a rich and prosperous civilization. But around AD 70, they were invaded by the Romans and exiled from their territory.

Over the following centuries, the Jews suffered persecution and expulsions and spread to different continents in the world.

Despite not being in the same land, over time, the Jewish people’s sense of identity was strengthened and the idea of ​​returning to their land and building a sovereign State remained.

Theodor Herzl and Modern Political Zionism

The idea of ​​creating a State of Israel where the Jewish people could live in safety already existed in previous centuries, but it was at the end of the 19th century that the foundations for the modern Zionist political movement were formed. Zionism definition

The person responsible for strengthening this idea was the Hungarian journalist Theodor Herzl. Herzl witnessed many cases of anti- Semitism , that is, prejudice and hostility against Jews.

He argued that the end of anti-Semitism would only happen with the creation of a state where Jews could have a normal life, in their own sovereign territory.

His idea spread from a publication of 1896, called “The Jewish State” – State of Israel in Portuguese. The following year, 1897, Herzl organized the first World Zionist Congress .

This congress took place in 1897 in Switzerland and it laid the foundations for the Zionist movement, which aimed to establish a safe home for Jews. The place chosen for the construction of the State of Israel was Palestine.

Although some groups of Jews began to migrate to the region from that moment on, the establishment of the State of Israel would only take place 50 years later. Zionism definition

British support for the creation of the State of Israel

At the time when the Zionist movement strengthened, the region of Palestine was occupied by the Ottoman Empire, but in 1918 that Empire falls and Great Britain takes control of the region.

A year earlier, the British had signed the Balfour Declaration , in which they expressed support for the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine if they took control of the region.

After British control in 1918, groups of Jews were encouraged to immigrate to Palestine. The problem was that Palestine was already occupied, Arabs and some Christians and Jews lived there.

These people lived in peace, but with the increase in the number of Jews, the conflict between Arabs and Jews over the territory grows.

Anti-Semitism, the Holocaust and Jewish immigration to Palestine

Until the outbreak of the Second World War, the immigration of Jews to Palestine took place slowly. But the intensification of anti-Semitic sentiment in Europe and the Holocaust, intensified this flow. Zionism definition

During the Holocaust , around 6 million Jews were exterminated by the Nazi government. Jews were accused of being responsible for the ills that Germany faced.

In addition to the increase in Jewish immigration to Palestine, support from the international community for the creation of the State of Israel is growing.

1948: Declaration of independence by the State of Israel

Conflicts between Palestinians and Jews over the territory intensified as the Jewish population in the region increases and in 1947, the UN proposes a partition plan for the territory.

Israel accepts the partition, but Palestine refuses as it considers it unfair. In 1948 Israel declared its independence and from then on the conflicts between Arabs and Jews intensified.

In addition to the areas determined by the UN, Israel has been occupying Palestinian land and displacing the local population. Many illegal settlements on Palestinian land have already been denounced by the international community. Zionism definition

Zionism, for Palestinians, is a colonialist and racist movement that subjects the Palestinian population to violence and prevents them from remaining in the territory.

Not all Jews are Zionists

Judaism and Zionism cannot be understood as synonyms. Jews are those who follow the Jewish religion, Zionists are those who defend the maintenance of the State of Israel.

For some Jews, the existence of a State is not essential for the maintenance of Judaism’s traditions and religiosity. Many of them do not defend the violence committed by the State of Israel against the Palestinians.

Different Zionist Currents

In addition to political Zionism, founded by Theodor Herzl, which advocates the creation and maintenance of a Jewish state in Palestine, it is still possible to find the following denominations: Zionism definition

  • Socialist Zionism: Socialist Zionism argued that the creation of a Jewish state would not happen with the help of the international community, but through the efforts and union of the working class.
  • Religious Zionism: Religious Zionism is the most generic current that encompasses the other Zionist strands. Religious Zionists hold that the land of Israel should be occupied by the people of Israel.

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