Zionism | Zionism | Jews

Posted By on December 14, 2018

back to their ancient homeland in the Middle East and reestablished Israel as the centrallocation for Jewish identity. While some critics call Zionism an aggressive and discriminatoryideology, the Zionist movement has successfully established a Jewish homeland in the nation ofIsrael.WHAT IS ZIONISM?Zionism is a movement to recreate a Jewish presence in Israel. The name comes from the wordZion, which is a Hebrew term that refers to Jerusalem.Throughout history, Jews have considered certain areas in Israel sacredas do Christians andMuslims. The Torah, the Jewish religious text, depicts stories of ancient prophets who wereinstructed by their God to return to this homeland.While the fundamental philosophies of the Zionist movement have existed for hundreds ofyears, modern Zionism formally took root in the late 19th century. Around that time, Jewsthroughout the world faced growing anti-SemitismSome historians believe that an increasingly tense atmosphere between Jews and Europeansmay have triggered the Zionism movement. In one 1894 incident, a Jewish officer in the Frencharmy named Alfred Dreyfus was falsely accused and convicted of treason. This event, whichbecame known as the Dreyfus Affair, sparked outrage among Jewish people and many others.Persecuted Jews who were struggling to salvage their identity began promoting the idea ofreturning to their homeland and restoring a Jewish culture there.

THEODOR HERZLModern Zionism was officially established as a political organization by Theodor Herzl in 1897. AJewish journalist and political activist from Austria, Herzl believed that the Jewish populationcouldnt survive if it didnt have a nation of its own.After the Dreyfus Affair, Herzl wrote Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State), a pamphlet that calledfor political recognition of a Jewish homeland in the area then known as Palestine.In 1897, Herzl organized the First Zionist Congress, which met in Basel, Switzerland. He alsoformed and became the first president of the World Zionist Organization.Although Herzl died in 1904years before Israel was officially declared a statehes oftenconsidered the father of modern Zionism.THE BALFOUR DECLARATIONIn 1917, British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour wrote a letter to Baron Rothschild, awealthy and prominent leader in the British Jewish community.In the brief correspondence, Balfour expressed the British governments support for theestablishment of a Jewish home in Palestine. This letter was published in the press one weeklater and eventually became known as the Balfour Declaration.The text was included in the Mandate for Palestinea document issued by the League ofNations in 1923 that gave Great Britain the responsibility of establishing a Jewish nationalhomeland in British-controlled Palestine.Two well-known Zionists, Chaim Weizmann and Nahum Sokolow, played important roles inobtaining the Balfour Declaration.

ZIONISM AND WORLD WAR IIMany Jews living in Russia and Europe suffered horrific persecution and death during Russianpogroms and under Nazi rule. Most historians estimate that about 6 million Jews were killed inEurope during the Holocaust.In the years before and during World War II, thousands of European Jews fled to Palestine orother regions to escape hostility. After the Holocaust ended, Zionist leaders actively promotedthe idea of an independent Jewish nation.With the end of Great Britains mandate in Palestine and the British armys withdrawal, Israelwas officially declared an independent state on May 14, 1948.

JEWISH RESETTLEMENT IN ISRAELThe rise of Zionism led to massive Jewish immigration into Israel. About 35,000 Jews relocatedto the area between 1882 and 1903. Another 40,000 made their way to the homeland between1904 and 1914.Most Jewsabout 57 percent of themlived in Europe in 1939. However, by the end of WorldWar II, only about 35 percent of the Jewish population still resided in European countries.In 1949, more than 249,000 Jewish settlers moved to Israel. This was the largest number ofimmigrants to arrive in a single year.The Jewish population in Israel increased from about 500,000 in 1945 to 5.6 million in 2010.Today, around 43 percent of the worlds Jews live in Israel.THE CURRENT STATE OF ZIONISMSince it started more than 120 years ago, Zionism has evolved, and different ideologiespolitical, religious and culturalwithin the Zionist movement have emerged.Many self-proclaimed Zionists disagree with each other about fundamental principles. Somefollowers of Zionism are devoutly religious while others are more secular.Zionist lefts typically want a less-religious government and support giving up some Israeli-controlled land in exchange for peace with Arab nations. Zionist rights defend their rights toland and prefer a government based strongly on Jewish religious traditions.Advocates of the Zionist movement see it as an important effort to offer refuge to persecutedminorities and reestablish settlements in Israel. Critics, however, say its an extreme ideologythat discriminates against non-Jews.For example, under Israels 1950 Law of Return, Jews born anywhere in the world have the rightto become an Israeli citizen, while other people arent granted this privilege.Arabs and Palestinians living in and around Israel typically oppose Zionism. Many internationalJews also disapprove of the movement because they dont believe a national homeland isessential to their religion.While this controversial movement continues to face criticism and challenges, theres nodenying that Zionism has successfully bolstered the Jewish population in Israel.

One of the most important aspects of modern Jewish life in Europe since the mid-nineteenthcentury was the development of a variety of Jewish national movements such as Zionists,Bundists and Autonomists that offered competing ideologies and solutions to the issues ofJewish nationhood and individual nationality as well as to problems posed by modernity.

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Zionism | Zionism | Jews

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