Visual History of the World
The Contemporary World
1945 to the present
After World War II, a new
world order came into being in which two superpowers, the United
States and the Soviet Union, played the leading roles. Their
ideological differences led to the arms race of the Cold War and
fears of a global nuclear conflict. The rest of the world was also
drawn into the bipolar bloc system, and very few nations were able
to remain truly non-aligned. The East-West conflict came to an end
in 1990 with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the consequent
downfall of the Eastern Bloc. Since that time, the world has been
driven by the globalization of worldwide economic and political
systems. The world has, however, remained divided: The rich nations
of Europe, North America, and East Asia stand in contrast to the
developing nations of the Third World.
The first moon landing made science-fiction dreams reality in the
Space technology has made considerable progress as the search for
possibilities of using space continues.
see also: United Nations member states -
see also collection:
"A Journey in the Holy Land"
Tapestry, manufactured at the Manufacture nationale des Gobelins
in Paris by master-craftsman M. E. Lelong
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
History of Zionism
Timeline of Zionism
First Zionist Congress
Balfour Declaration of 1917
Jews place of wailing, 1860
Jewish nationalist movement that has had as its goal the creation and
support of a Jewish national state in Palestine, the ancient homeland of
the Jews (Hebrew: Eretz Yisrael, “the Land of Israel”). Though Zionism
originated in eastern and central Europe in the latter part of the 19th
century, it is in many ways a continuation of the ancient nationalist
attachment of the Jews and of the Jewish religion to the historical
region of Palestine, where one of the hills of ancient Jerusalem was
In the 16th and 17th centuries a number of “messiahs” came forward
trying to persuade Jews to “return” to Palestine. The Haskala
(“Enlightenment”) movement of the late 18th century, however, urged Jews
to assimilate into Western secular culture. In the early 19th century
interest in a return of the Jews to Palestine was kept alive mostly by
Christian millenarians. Despite the Haskala, eastern European Jews did
not assimilate and in reaction to tsarist pogroms formed the Ḥovevei
Ẕiyyon (“Lovers of Zion”) to promote the settlement of Jewish farmers
and artisans in Palestine.
A political turn was given to Zionism by Theodor Herzl, an Austrian
journalist who regarded assimilation as most desirable but, in view of
anti-Semitism, impossible to realize. Thus, he argued, if Jews were
forced by external pressure to form a nation, they could lead a normal
existence only through concentration in one territory. In 1897 Herzl
convened the first Zionist Congress at Basel, Switz., which drew up the
Basel program of the movement, stating that “Zionism strives to create
for the Jewish people a home in Palestine secured by public law.”
The centre of the movement was established in Vienna, where Herzl
published the official weekly Die Welt (“The World”). Zionist congresses
met yearly until 1901 and then every two years. When the Ottoman
government refused Herzl’s request for Palestinian autonomy, he found
support in Great Britain. In 1903 the British government offered 6,000
square miles (15,500 square km) of uninhabited Uganda for settlement,
but the Zionists held out for Palestine.
At the death of Herzl in 1904, the leadership moved from Vienna to
Cologne, then to Berlin. Prior to World War I Zionism represented only a
minority of Jews, mostly from Russia but led by Austrians and Germans.
It developed propaganda through orators and pamphlets, created its own
newspapers, and gave an impetus to what was called a “Jewish
renaissance” in letters and arts. The development of the Modern Hebrew
language largely took place during this period.
The failure of the Russian Revolution of 1905 and the wave of pogroms
and repressions that followed caused growing numbers of Russian Jewish
youth to emigrate to Palestine as pioneer settlers. By 1914 there were
about 90,000 Jews in Palestine; 13,000 settlers lived in 43 Jewish
agricultural settlements, many of them supported by the French Jewish
philanthropist Baron Edmond de Rothschild.
Upon the outbreak of World War I political Zionism reasserted itself,
and its leadership passed to Russian Jews living in England. Two such
Zionists, Chaim Weizmann and Nahum Sokolow, were instrumental in
obtaining the Balfour Declaration from Great Britain (Nov. 2, 1917),
which promised British support for the creation of a Jewish national
home in Palestine. The declaration was included in Britain’s League of
Nations mandate over Palestine (1922).
In the following years the Zionists built up the Jewish urban and
rural settlements in Palestine, perfecting autonomous organizations and
solidifying Jewish cultural life and Hebrew education. In March 1925 the
Jewish population in Palestine was officially estimated at 108,000, and
it had risen to about 238,000 (20 percent of the population) by 1933.
Jewish immigration remained relatively slow, however, until the rise of
Hitlerism in Europe. Nevertheless, the Arab population feared Palestine
eventually would become a Jewish state and bitterly resisted Zionism and
the British policy supporting it. Several Arab revolts, especially in
1929 and 1936–39, caused the British to devise schemes to reconcile the
Arab and Zionist demands.
Hitlerism and the large-scale extermination of European Jews led many
Jews to seek refuge in Palestine and many others, especially in the
United States, to embrace Zionism. As tensions grew among Arabs and
Zionists, Britain submitted the Palestine problem first to Anglo-U.S.
discussion for solution and later to the United Nations, which on Nov.
29, 1947, proposed partition of the country into separate Arab and
Jewish states and the internationalization of Jerusalem. The creation of
the State of Israel on May 14, 1948, brought about the Arab–Israeli war
of 1948–49, in the course of which Israel obtained more land than had
been provided by the UN resolution, and drove out 800,000 Arabs who
became displaced persons known as Palestinians. Thus 50 years after the
first Zionist congress and 30 years after the Balfour Declaration,
Zionism achieved its aim of establishing a Jewish state in Palestine,
but at the same time it became an armed camp surrounded by hostile Arab
nations and Palestinian “liberation” organizations engaged in terrorism
in and outside of Israel.
During the next two decades Zionist organizations in many countries
continued to raise financial support for Israel and to encourage Jews to
immigrate there. Most Jews, however, reject the view propagated by many
very Orthodox Jews in Israel that the Jews outside Israel were living in
“exile” and could live a full life only in Israel.
History » Origins of a modern Jewish state » Zionism
Modern Israel springs from both religious and political sources. The
biblical promise of a land for the Jews and a return to the Temple in
Jerusalem were enshrined in Judaism and sustained Jewish identity
through an exile of 19 centuries following the failed revolts in Judaea
against the Romans early in the Common Era. By the 1800s, fewer than
25,000 Jews still lived in their ancient homeland, and these were
largely concentrated in Jerusalem, then a provincial backwater of the
In the 1880s, however, a rise in European anti-Semitism and revived
Jewish national pride combined to inspire a new wave of emigration to
Palestine in the form of agricultural colonies financed by the
Rothschilds and other wealthy families. Political Zionism came a decade
later, when the Austrian journalist Theodor Herzl began advocating a
Jewish state as the political solution for both anti-Semitism (he had
covered the sensational Dreyfus affair in France) and a Jewish secular
identity. Herzl’s brief and dramatic bid for international support from
the major powers at the First Zionist Congress (August 1897) failed,
but, after his death in 1904, the surviving Zionist organization under
the leadership of Chaim Weizmann undertook a major effort to increase
the Jewish population in Palestine while continuing to search for
These efforts could only be on a small scale while the Ottoman Turks
ruled what the Europeans called Palestine (from Palaestina, “Land of the
Philistines,” the Latin name given Judaea by the Romans). But in 1917,
during World War I, the Zionists persuaded the British government to
issue the Balfour Declaration, a document that committed Britain to
facilitate the establishment of a “Jewish homeland” in Palestine. Amid
considerable controversy over conflicting wartime promises to the Arabs
and French, Britain succeeded in gaining the endorsement of the
declaration by the new League of Nations, which placed Palestine under
British mandate. This achievement reflected a heady mixture of religious
and imperial motivations that Britain would find difficult to reconcile
in the troubled years ahead.
The history of Judaism » Modern Judaism (c. 1750 to the present) »
The most striking of the new phenomena in Jewish life was Zionism,
which, insofar as it focused on the return to Zion (the poetic term for
the Holy Land), recalled older religious themes. Because it stressed the
establishment of a secular state, however, Zionism was yet another
example of the secularization of Jewish life and of Jewish messianism.
In its secular aspects, Zionism attempted to complete the emancipation
of the Jews by transforming them into a nation like all other nations.
Although it drew upon the general currents of 19th-century European
nationalism, its major impetus came from the revival of a virulent form
of racist anti-Semitism in the last decades of the 19th century, as
noted above. Zionism reacted to anti-Semitic contentions that the Jews
were aliens in European society and could never hope to be integrated
into it in significant numbers; it transformed this charge into a basic
premise of a program of national regeneration and resettlement. Zionism
has come to occupy roughly the same place in Jewish life as the Social
Gospel did in Christian life. Involvement in Israel as the new centre of
Jewish energies, creativity, and renewal served as a kind of secular
religion for many Diaspora Jews.
The symbol of the First Zionist Congress
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Zionism is the international political movement that originally
supported the reestablishment of a homeland for the Jewish People in
Palestine. The area was the Jewish Biblical homeland, called the Land of
Israel (Hebrew: Eretz Yisra'el). Since the creation of Israel, the
Zionist movement continues primarily as support for the modern state of
Zionism is based on the foundation of historical ties and religious
traditions linking the Jewish people to the Land of Israel, where the
concept of Jewish nationhood first evolved somewhere between 1200 BCE
and the late Second Temple era (i.e. up to 70 CE). Two millennia
after the Jewish diaspora, the modern Zionist movement, beginning in the
late 19th century, was mainly founded by secular Jews, largely as a
response by European Jewry to antisemitism across Europe, especially in
Russia. The re-creation of a Jewish national homeland was also strongly
advocated by American scholars, such as Louis Brandeis, as a solution to
this "Jewish problem" and a way to "revive the Jewish spirit."
It is a type of the broader phenomenon of modern nationalism.
Initially one of several Jewish political movements offering alternative
responses to assimilation and the position of Jews in Europe, Zionism
grew rapidly and after the Holocaust became the dominant power among
Jewish political movements.
The political movement was formally established by the
Austro-Hungarian journalist Theodor Herzl in the late 19th century
following the publication of his book Der Judenstaat. The movement
seeks to encourage Jewish migration to the "Land of Israel" and was
eventually successful in establishing Israel in 1948, as the homeland
for the Jewish people. Its proponents regard its aim as
self-determination for the Jewish people. The proportion of world
Jewry living in Israel has steadily grown since the movement came into
existence. Today roughly 40% of the world's Jews live in Israel. A
similar number live in the United States.
The word "Zionism" itself is derived from the word Zion (Hebrew: ציון,
Tzi-yon). This name originally referred to Mount Zion, a mountain near
Jerusalem, and to the Fortress of Zion on it. Later, under King David,
the term "Zion" became a synecdoche referring to the entire city of
Jerusalem and the Land of Israel. In many Biblical verses, the
Israelites were called the people, sons or daughters of Zion.
"Zionism" was coined as a term for Jewish nationalism by Austrian
Jewish publisher Nathan Birnbaum, founder of the first nationalist
Jewish students' movement Kadimah, in his journal Selbstemanzipation
(Self Emancipation) in 1890. (Birnbaum eventually turned against
political Zionism and became the first secretary-general of the Haredi
movement Agudat Israel.)
Zionism can be distinguished from Territorialism, because it is the
Jewish nationalist movement willing only to contemplate a Jewish
homeland in Eretz Israel. During the early history of Zionism, a number
of proposals were made for settling Jews outside Europe, but ultimately
all of these were rejected or failed. The debate over these proposals
helped to define the nature and focus of the Zionist movement.
Members and delegates at the 1939 Zionist congress, by country/region
(Zionism was banned in the Soviet Union). 70,000 Polish Jews supported
the Revisionist Zionist movement, which was not represented.
The multi-national, worldwide Zionist movement is structured as a
representative democracy. Congresses are held every four years (they
were held every two years before the Second World War) and delegates to
the congress are elected by the membership. Members are required to pay
dues known as a shekel. At the congress, delegates elected a 30-man
executive council, which in turn elected the movement's leader. The
movement was democratic from its inception and women had the right to
vote (before they won the right in Great Britain). Until 1917, the ZO
pursued a strategy of building a homeland through persistent small-scale
immigration and the founding of such bodies as the Jewish National Fund
(1901 - a charity which bought land for Jewish settlement) and the
Anglo-Palestine Bank (1903 - provided loans for Jewish businesses and
farmers). In 1942, at the Biltmore Conference, Zionists changed their
program and demanded the establishment of a Jewish state as the aim of
The 28th Zionist Congress, meeting in Jerusalem 1968, adopted the
five points of the "Jerusalem Program" as the aims of Zionism today.
-The unity of the Jewish People and the centrality of Israel in Jewish
-The ingathering of the Jewish People in its historic homeland, Eretz
Israel, through Aliyah from all countries;
-The strengthening of the State of Israel which is based on the prophetic
vision of justice and peace:
-The preservation of the identity of the Jewish People through the
fostering of Jewish and Hebrew education and of Jewish spiritual and
-The protection of Jewish rights everywhere.
Since the creation of Israel, the role of the movement has declined and
it is now a peripheral factor in Israeli politics although different
perceptions of Zionism continue to play a role in Israeli and Jewish
Labor Zionism originated in Eastern Europe. Socialist Zionists believed
that centuries of being oppressed in anti-Semitic societies had reduced
Jews to a meek, vulnerable, despairing existence which invited further
anti-Semitism, a view originally stipulated by Theodor Herzl. They
argued that a revolution of the Jewish soul and society was necessary
and achievable in part by Jews moving to Israel and becoming farmers,
workers, and soldiers in a country of their own. Most socialist Zionists
rejected the observance of traditional religious Judaism as perpetuating
a "Diaspora mentality" among the Jewish people, and established rural
communes in Israel called "kibbutzim". Though Socialist Zionism draws
its inspiration and is philosophically founded on the fundamental values
and spirituality of Judaism, its progressive expression of that Judaism
has often fostered an antagonistic relationship with Orthodox Judaism.
Labor Zionism became the dominant force in the political and economic
life of the Yishuv during the British Mandate of Palestine and was the
dominant ideology of the political establishment in Israel until the
1977 election when the Israeli Labor Party was defeated. The Labor Party
continues the tradition (although it has weakened) and has in recent
years taken to advocating creation of a Palestinian State in the
West-Bank and Gaza, however the most popular party in the kibbutzim is
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Beginnings of Labor Zionism in Israel: Fourth meeting of
the Hapoel Hatzair movement, about 1909. David Ben Gurion is
possibly in this photo, first at the left in the second row
from the bottom.
Labor Zionism (Labour Zionism, Hebrew: ציונות סוציאליסטית,
tsionut sotsialistit) can be described as the major stream
of the left wing of the Zionist movement. It was, for many
years, a significant tendency among Zionists and Zionist
organizational structure and the major stream of the Zionist
movement. It saw itself as the Zionist sector of the
historic Jewish labor movements of Eastern and Central
Europe, eventually developing local units in most countries
with sizeable Jewish populations. Unlike the "political
Zionist" tendency founded by Theodor Herzl and advocated by
Chaim Weizmann, Labor Zionists did not believe that a Jewish
state would be created simply by appealing to the
international community or to a powerful nation such as
Britain, Germany or the Ottoman Empire. Rather, Labor
Zionists believed that a Jewish state could only be created
through the efforts of the Jewish working class settling in
Palestine and constructing a state through the creation of a
progressive Jewish society with rural kibbutzim and moshavim
and an urban Jewish proletariat.
Labor Zionism grew in size and influence and eclipsed
"political Zionism" by the 1930s both internationally and
within the British Mandate of Palestine where Labor Zionists
predominated among many of the institutions of the
pre-independence Jewish community Yishuv, particularly the
trade union federation known as the Histadrut. The Haganah –
the largest Zionist paramilitary defense force – was a Labor
Zionist institution and was used on occasion (such as during
the Hunting Season) against political opponents or to assist
the British Administration in capturing Jewish terrorists.
Labor Zionists played a leading role in the 1948
Arab-Israeli War and Labor Zionists were predominant among
the leadership of the Israeli military for decades after the
formation of the state of Israel in 1948.
Major theoreticians of the Labor Zionist movement
included Moses Hess, Nahum Syrkin, Ber Borochov and Aaron
David Gordon and leading figures in the movement included
David Ben-Gurion, Golda Meir and Berl Katznelson.
Albert Einstein was among a number of prominent Jewish
personalities that supported the Labor Zionist Movement.
Moses Hess's 1862 work Rome and Jerusalem. The Last
National Question argued for the Jews to settle in Palestine
as a means of settling the national question. Hess proposed
a socialist state in which the Jews would become
agrarianised through a process of "redemption of the soil"
that would transform the Jewish community into a true nation
in that Jews would occupy the productive layers of society
rather than being an intermediary non-productive merchant
class, which is how he perceived European Jews.
Ber Borochov, continuing from the work of Moses Hess,
proposed the creation of a socialist society that would
correct the "inverted pyramid" of Jewish society. Borochov
believed that Jews were forced out of normal occupations by
Gentile hostility and competition, using this dynamic to
explain the relative predominance of Jewish professionals,
rather than workers. Jewish society, he argued, would not be
healthy until the inverted pyramid was righted, and the
majority of Jews became workers and peasants again. This, he
held, could only be accomplished by Jews in their own
Another Zionist thinker, A. D. Gordon, was influenced by
the völkisch ideas of European romantic nationalism, and
proposed establishing a society of Jewish peasants. Gordon
made a religion of work. These two figures (Gordon and
Borochov), and others like them, motivated the establishment
of the first Jewish collective settlement, or kibbutz,
Degania, on the southern shore of the Sea of Galilee, in
1909 (the same year that the city of Tel Aviv was
established). Deganiah, and many other kibbutzim that were
soon to follow, attempted to realise these thinkers' vision
by creating communal villages, where newly arrived European
Jews would be taught agriculture and other manual skills.
Joseph Trumpeldor is also considered to be one of the
early icons of the Labor Zionist movement in Palestine.
When discussing what it is to be a Jewish pioneer,
"What is a pioneer? Is he a worker only? No! The
definition includes much more. The pioneers should be
workers but that is not all. We shall need people who will
be “everything” – everything that the land of Israel needs.
A worker has his labor interests, a soldier his esprit de
corps, a doctor and an engineer, their special inclinations.
A generation of iron-men; iron from which you can forge
everything the national machinery needs. You need a wheel?
Here I am. A nail, a screw, a block? – here take me. You
need a man to till the soil? – I’m ready. A soldier? I am
here. Policeman, doctor, lawyer, artist, teacher, water
carrier? Here I am. I have no form. I have no psychology. I
have no personal feeling, no name. I am a servant of Zion.
Ready to do everything, not bound to do anything. I have
only one aim – creation."
Trumpeldor, an Anarcho-Communist Zionist, gave his life
in 1920 defending the community of Tel Hai in the Upper
Galilee. He became a symbol of Jewish self-defense and his
reputed last words, "Never mind, it is good to die for our
country" (En davar, tov lamut be'ad artzenu אין דבר, טוב
למות בעד ארצנו), became famous in the pre-state Zionist
movement and in Israel during the 1950s and 1960s.
Trumpeldor's heroic death made him not only a martyr for
Zionists Left but also for the Revisionist Zionist movement
who named its youth movement Betar (an acronym for "Covenant
of Joseph Trumpeldor") after the fallen hero.
Initially two labor parties were founded by immigrants
to Palestine of the Second Aliyah (1904-1914): the
nationalistic and anti-socialist Hapo'el Hatza'ir (Young
Worker) party and the Poale Zion party, with socialist
roots. The Poale Zion Party had a left wing and a right
wing. In 1919 the right wing, including Ben-Gurion, and
anti-Marxist non-party people founded Ahdut HaAvoda. In 1930
Ahdut HaAvoda and Hapoel Hatzair fused into the Mapai party,
which included all of mainstream Labor Zionism. Until the
1960s these parties were dominated by members of the Second
The Left Poale Zion party ultimately merged with the
kibbutz-based Hashomer Hatzair, the urban Socialist League
and several smaller left-wing groups to become the Mapam
party, which in turn later joined with other parties to
The Mapai party later became the Israeli Labor Party,
which for a number of years was linked with Mapam in the
Alignment. These two parties were initially the two largest
parties in the Yishuv and in the first Knesset, whilst Mapai
and its predecessors dominated Israeli politics both in the
pre-independence Yishuv and for the first three decades of
Israel's independence, until the late 1970s.
Decline and transformation
Already in the 1920s the Labor movement disregarded its
socialist roots and concentrated on building the nation by
constructive action. According to Tzahor its leaders did not
"abandon fundamental ideological principles". However
according to Ze'ev Sternhell in his book The Founding Myths
of Israel, the labor leaders had already abandoned socialist
principles by 1920 and only used them as "mobilizing myths".
Following the 1967 Six-Day War several prominent Labor
Zionists created the Movement for Greater Israel which
subscribed to an ideology of Greater Israel and called upon
the Israeli government to keep and populate all areas
captured in the war. Among the public figures in this
movement associated with Left-wing nationalism were Rachel
Yanait Ben-Zvi, Yitzhak Tabenkin, Icchak Cukierman, Zivia
Lubetkin, Eliezer Livneh, Moshe Shamir, Zev Vilnay, Shmuel
Yosef Agnon, Isser Harel, Dan Tolkovsky, and Avraham Yoffe.
In the 1969 Knesset elections it ran as the "List for the
Land of Israel", but failed to cross the electoral
threshold. Prior to the 1973 elections, it joined the Likud
and won 39 seats. In 1976 it merged with the National List
and the Independent Centre (a breakaway from the Free
Centre) to form La'am, which remained a faction within Likud
until its merger into the Herut faction in 1984.
Other prominent Labor Zionists, especially those who came
to dominate the Israeli Labor Party, became strong advocates
for relinquishing the territory won during the Six-Day War.
By the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, this became the
central policy of the Labor Party under Prime Minister
Yitzhak Rabin and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres. What
distinguishes Labor Zionism from other Zionist streams today
is not economic policy, an analysis of capitalism or any
class analysis or orientation but its attitude towards the
peace process in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with
modern Labor Zionists tending to support the Israeli peace
camp to varying degrees. This orientation towards Israel's
borders and foreign policy has dominated Labor Zionist
institutions in recent decades to the extent that socialist
Zionists who support a Greater Israel ideology are forced to
seek political expression elsewhere.
In Israel the Labor Party has followed the general path
of other governing social democratic parties such as the
British Labour Party and is now fully oriented towards
capitalism and even neo-liberalism, though recently it has
rediscovered the welfare state under the leadership of Amir
The Israeli Labor Party and its predecessors have
ironically been associated within Israeli society as
representing the country's ruling class and political elite
whereas working-class Israelis have traditionally voted for
the Likud since the Begin Revolution of 1977.
Labor Zionism Today
Labor Zionism today has become near synonymous with the
Israeli peace camp and its defining characteristic is
support for a two-state solution. While Labor Zionist
political and educational institutions are inclusive to
advocates of a two-state solution who do not adhere to
Left-wing economic views they do not include socialists who
oppose territorial withdrawals. Some Left-wing nationalists
who support retaining the West Bank under Israeli control
and hold socialist economic views have found expression in
movements like the Nahalah Forum, Zionist Freedom Alliance,
the Hatikva Party, Im Tirzu, and Magshimey Herut.
Labor Zionism manifests itself today in both adult and
youth organizations. Among adults, the World Labor Zionist
Movement, based in Jerusalem, has affiliates in countries
around the world, such as Ameinu in the United States and
Australia, Associação Moshé Sharett in Brazil and the Jewish
Labour Movement in the United Kingdom. Youth and students
are served through Zionist youth movements such as Habonim
Dror, Hashomer Hatzair and college-age campus activist
groups such as the Union of Progressive Zionists of the U.S.
General Zionism (or Liberal Zionism) was initially the dominant trend
within the Zionist movement from the First Zionist Congress in 1897
until after the First World War. General Zionists identified with the
liberal European middle class (or bourgeois) to which many Zionist
leaders such as Herzl and Chaim Weizmann aspired. Liberal Zionism,
although not associated with any single party in modern Israel, remains
a strong trend in Israeli politics advocating free market principles,
democracy and adherence to human rights, although Kadima does identify
with many of the fundamental policies of Liberal Zionist ideology,
advocating among other things the need for Palestinian statehood in
order to form a more democratic society in Israel, affirming the free
market, and calling for equal rights for Arab citizens of Israel.
Nationalist Zionism originated from the Revisionist Zionists led by Jabotinsky. The Revisionists left the World Zionist Organization in 1935
because it refused to state that the creation of a Jewish state was an
objective of Zionism. The revisionists advocated the formation of a
Jewish Army in Palestine to force the Arab population to accept mass
Jewish migration. Revisionist Zionism evolved into the Likud Party in
Israel, which has dominated most governments since 1977. It advocates
Israel maintaining control of the West-Bank and East Jerusalem and takes
a hard-line approach in the Israeli-Arab conflict. In 2005 the Likud
split over the issue of creation of a Palestinian state on the occupied
territories and party members advocating peace talks helped form the
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The British Mandate of Palestine included the modern-day
territory of Israel, the West Bank, Gaza and Jordan. The
portion west of the Jordan River came to be administered
separately as "Palestine". Revisionist Zionists claimed the
entire Mandate of Palestine, not only the western portion,
as part of the Jewish state. Consequently, for many decades
after the establishment of Israel, they did not recognise
the existence of Jordan, formally dropping the claim only in
Revisionist Zionism is a nationalist faction within the
Zionist movement. It is the founding ideology of the
non-religious right in Israel, and was the chief ideological
competitor to the dominant socialist Labor Zionism.
Revisionism is represented primarily by the Likud Party.
The ideology was developed originally by Ze'ev Jabotinsky
who advocated a "revision" of the "practical Zionism" of
David Ben Gurion and Chaim Weizmann, which was focused on
independent settlement of Eretz Yisrael. In 1935, after the
Zionist Executive rejected his political program and refused
to state that “the aim of Zionism was the establishment of a
Jewish state,” Jabotinsky resigned from the Zionist
Organization. He founded the New Zionist Organization (NZO)
to conduct independent political activity for free
immigration and the establishment of a Jewish State.
Revisionist Zionism was instead centered on a vision of
"political Zionism", which Jabotinsky regarded as following
the legacy of Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern political
In its early years, and under Jabotinsky's leadership,
Revisionist Zionism was focused on gaining British aid for
settlement. Later, Revisionist groups independent of
Jabotinsky's leadership, conducted campaigns of violence
against the British authorities in Palestine to drive them
out and establish a Jewish state.
Revisionism was distinguished primarily from other
ideologies within Zionism by its territorial maximalism,
while not alone, they insisted upon the Jewish right to
sovereignty over the whole territory of Eretz Yisrael
(originally encompassing all of Mandatory Palestine). The
British handing of control of Transjordan to the Hashemites
disrupted this dream, however. After this and until
statehood, Revisionist Zionism became known more for its
advocacy of more belligerent, assertive posture and actions
against both British and Arab control of the region.
Revisionism’s foremost political objective was to
maintain the territorial integrity of the historical land of
Israel and establish a Jewish state with a Jewish majority
on both sides of the river Jordan. Jewish statehood was
always a major ideological goal for Revisionism, but it was
not to be gained at the price of partitioning Eretz Yisrael.
Jabotinsky and his followers, therefore, consistently
rejected proposals to partition Palestine into an Arab state
and a Jewish state. Menachem Begin, Jabotinsky's successor,
therefore opposed the 1947 United Nations partition plan.
Revisionists considered the subsequent partition of
Palestine following the 1949 Armistice Agreements to have no
During the first two decades after independence, the
Revisionist Party, Herut, remained in opposition. The party
slowly began to revise its ideology in an effort to change
this situation and gain political power. While Begin
maintained the Revisionist claim to Jewish sovereignty over
all of Eretz Israel; by the late 1950s, control over the
East Bank of the Jordan ceased to be an operative element
within Revisionist ideology. Following Herut's merger with
the Liberal Party in 1965, references to the ideal of Jewish
sovereignty over "both banks of the Jordan" appeared less
and less frequently. By the 1970s, the legitimacy of the
Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan was no longer questioned. In
1994, the complete practical abandonment of the "both banks"
principle was apparent when an overwhelming majority of
Likud Knesset Members (MKs) voted in favor of the peace
treaty with Jordan.
On the eve of the Six-Day War in June 1967, the
Revisionists, as part of the Gahal faction, joined a
national unity government under Prime Minister Levi Eshkol;
this resulted in Begin serving in the cabinet for the first
time. The war also brought to an end Labor’s previous
efforts to delegitimize Revisionism, because on the eve of
the war, the dominant party felt it had to include the
Revisionist opposition in an emergency national unity
government. This step not only made the opposition views
acceptable in the eyes of the public. It also showed that
the dominant party no longer felt that it could monopolize
power. This unity arrangement lasted until August 1970, when
Begin and Gahal left the government. Some sources indicate
the resignation was due to disagreements over the Rogers
Plan and its "in place" cease-fire with Egypt along the Suez
Canal,; other sources, including William B. Quandt, note
that Begin left the unity government because the Labor
party, by formally accepting UN 242 in mid-1970, had
accepted "peace for withdrawal" on all fronts. On August 5,
1970, Begin himself explained before the Knesset why he was
resigning. He said, "As far as we are concerned, what do the
words 'withdrawal from territories administered since 1967
by Israel' mean other than Judea and Samaria. Not all the
territories; but by all opinion, most of them."
Following Israel's capture of the West Bank and Gaza in
the 1967 war, Revisionism's territorial aspirations
concentrated on these territories. These areas were far more
central to ancient Jewish history than the East Bank of the
Jordan and most of the areas within Israel's post-1949
borders. In 1968, Begin defined the "eternal patrimony of
our ancestors" as "Jerusalem, Hebron, Bethlehem, Judea,
[and] Shechem [Nablus]" in the West Bank. In 1973, Herut's
election platform called for the annexation of the West Bank
and Gaza. When Menachem Begin became leader of the broad
Likud coalition and, soon Prime Minister, he considerably
modified Herut’s expansive territorial aims. The party’s
aspiration to unite all of mandatory Palestine under Jewish
rule was scaled down. Instead, Begin spoke of the historic
unity of Israel in the West Bank, even hinting that he would
make territorial concessions in the Sinai as part of a
complete peace settlement.
When Begin finally came to power in the 1977 election,
his overriding concern as Prime Minister (1977-1983) was to
maintain Israeli control over the West Bank and Gaza. In
1981 he declared to a group of Jewish settlers: "I, Menachem,
the son of Ze'ev and Hasia Begin, do solemnly swear that as
long as I serve the nation as Prime Minister we will not
leave any part of Judea, Samaria, [or] the Gaza Strip." One
of the main mechanisms for accomplishing this objective was
the establishment of Jewish settlements. Under Labor
governments, between 1967 and 1977, the Jewish population of
the territories reached 3,200; Labor's limited settlement
activity was predicated upon making a future territorial
compromise when the majority of the territory would be
returned to Arab control. By contrast, the Likud's
settlement plan aimed to settle 750,000 Jews all over the
territories in order to prevent a territorial compromise. As
a result, by 1984, there were about 44,000 settlers outside
In the diplomatic arena, Begin pursued his core
ideological objective in a relatively pragmatic manner. He
held back from annexing the West Bank and Gaza, recognizing
that this was not feasible in the short term, due to
international opposition and that “absorbing the
Palestinians could turn Israel it into a bi-national state
instead of a Jewish one. He signed the Camp David Accords
(1978) with Egypt that referred to the "legitimate rights of
the Palestinians" (although Begin insisted that the Hebrew
version referred only to "the Arabs of Eretz Yisrael" and
not to "Palestinians"). Begin also promoted the idea of
autonomy for the Palestinians, albeit only a "personal"
autonomy that would not give them control over any
territory. But his uncompromising stance in the negotiations
over Palestinian autonomy from 1979 to 1981 led to the
resignations of the more moderate Moshe Dayan and Ezer
Weizman, Foreign and Defense Ministers, respectively, both
of whom left the Likud government.
According to Weizman, the significant concessions Begin
made to the Egyptians in the Camp David Accords and the
Egyptian--Israeli peace treaty of the following year were
motivated, in part, by his ideological commitment to the
eventual annexation of the territories. By removing the most
powerful Arab state from the conflict, reducing
international (mainly American) pressure for Israeli
concessions on the issue of the territories, and prolonging
inconclusive talks on Palestinian autonomy, Begin was buying
time for his government's settlement activities in the
territories. Begin continued to vow that territory, which
was part of historic Eretz Israel in the West Bank and Gaza,
would never be returned. His adamant stand on the territory
became an obstacle to extending the 1979 peace treaty.
The Revisionist ideological stand concerning the
territories has continued, although it has moderated some
and become more ‘pragmatic’ in the years since, as discussed
below. This remains a major obstacle to resolution of the
Jabotinsky and Revisionist Zionism
Ze'ev Jabotinsky, founder of Revisionist ZionismAfter
World War I, Jabotinsky was elected to the first legislative
assembly in the Yishuv, and in 1921 he was elected to the
Executive Council of the Zionist Organization (known as the
World Zionist Organization after 1960). He quit the latter
group in 1923, however, due to differences of opinion with
its chairman, Chaim Weizmann. In 1925, Jabotinsky formed the
Revisionist Zionist Alliance, in the World Zionist Congress
to advocate his views, which included increased cooperation
with Britain on transforming the entire Mandate for
Palestine on both sides of the Jordan River into a sovereign
Jewish state, loyal to the British Empire. To this end,
Jabotinsky advocated for mass Jewish immigration from Europe
and the creation of a second Jewish Legion to guard a
nascent Jewish state at inception. A staunch anglophile,
Jabotinsky wished to convince Britain that a Jewish state
would be in the best interest of the British Empire, perhaps
even an autonomous extension of it in the Middle East.
When, in 1935, the Zionist Organization failed to accept
Jabotinsky's program, he and his followers seceded to form
the New Zionist Organization. The NZO rejoined the ZO in
1946. The Zionist Organization was roughly composed of
General Zionists, who were in the majority, followers of
Jabotinsky, who came in a close second, and Labour Zionists,
led by David Ben Gurion, who comprised a minority yet had
much influence where it mattered, in the Yishuv.
Despite its strong representation in the Zionist
Organization, Revisionist Zionism had a small presence in
the Yishuv, in contrast to Labour Zionism, which was
dominant among kibbutzim and workers, and hence the
settlement enterprise. General Zionism was dominant among
the middle class, which later aligned itself with the
Revisionists. In the Jewish Diaspora, Revisionism was most
established in Poland, where its base of operations was
organized in various political parties and Zionist Youth
groups, such as Betar. By the late 1930s, Revisionist
Zionism was divided into three distinct ideological streams:
the "Centrists", the Irgun, and the "Messianists".
Jabotinsky later argued for a need to establish a base in
the Yishuv, and developed a vision to guide the Revisionist
movement and the new Jewish society on the economic and
social policy centered around the ideal of the Jewish middle
class in Europe. Jabotinsky believed that basing the
movement on a philosophy contrasting with the socialist
oriented Labour Zionists would attract the support of the
In line with this thinking, the Revisionists transplanted
into the Yishuv their own youth movement, Betar. They also
set up a paramilitary group, Irgun, a labour union, the
National Labour Federation, and their own health services.
The latter were intended to counteract the increasing
hegemony of Labour Zionism over community services via the
Histadrut and address the refusal of the Histadrut to make
its services available to Revisionist Party members.
Irgun: Origin and activities
The Irgun (shorthand for Irgun Tsvai Leumi, Hebrew for
"National Military Organization") had its roots initially in
the Betar youth movement in Poland, which Jabotinsky
founded. By the 1940s, they had transplanted many of its
members from Europe and the United States to Palestine. The
movement, now acting autonomously from the Hatzohar
leadership in Poland, decided to organize locally, as its
small membership was increasingly overshadowed by Labour
Zionists, who were predominantly focused on settling the
land. While Jabotinsky continued to lobby the British
Empire, the Irgun, under the leadership of people such as
David Raziel and later Menachem Begin, fought politically
against the Labour Zionists and militarily against the
British for the establishment of a Jewish state, independent
of any orders from Jabotinsky.
Acting often in conflict (but at times, also in
coordination) with rival clandestine militias such as the
Haganah and the Lehi (or Stern Group), the Irgun 's efforts
would feature prominently in the armed struggles against
British and Arab forces alike in the 1930s and 1940s, and
ultimately become decisive in the closing events of the 1948
Arab-Israeli War. After 1948, members of the Irgun were
variously demobilised, or incorporated directly into the
nascent Israeli Defense Forces; and on the political front,
Irgunist ideology found a new vehicle of expression in the
Herut (or "Freedom") Party.
Lehi: Origin and activities
The movement called Lehi and nicknamed the "Stern Gang"
by the British, was led by Avraham "Yair" Stern, until his
death. Stern did not join the Revisionist Zionist party in
university but instead joined another group called "Hulda".
He formed Lehi in 1940 as an offshoot from Irgun, which was
initially named Irgun Zvai Leumi be-Yisrael (National
Military Organization in Israel or NMO). Following Stern's
death in 1942—killed while already in custody by British
police—and the arrest of many of its members, the group went
into eclipse until it was reformed as "Lehi" under a
triumvirate of Israel Eldad, Natan Yellin-Mor, and Yitzhak
Shamir. Lehi was guided also by spiritual leader Uri Zvi
Greenberg. The Lehi, in particular their members in prison,
were encouraged in their struggle by Rabbi Aryeh Levin a
greatly respected Jewish sage of the time. Shamir became the
Prime Minister of Israel forty years later.
Irgun—and, to a lesser extent, Lehi—were influenced by
the romantic nationalism of Italian nationalist Giuseppe
Garibaldi. The movement's activities were independent of any
diaspora leadership, but were backed by several figures in
While the Irgun stopped its activities against the
British during World War II, at least until 1944, Lehi
continued guerrilla warfare against the British authorities.
It considered the British rule of Mandatory Palestine to be
an illegal occupation, and concentrated its attacks mainly
against British targets (unlike the other underground
movements, which were also involved in fighting against Arab
In 1940, Lehi proposed intervening in the Second World
War on the side of Nazi Germany to attain their help in
expelling Britain from Mandate Palestine and to offer their
assistance in "evacuating" the Jews of Europe. Late in 1940,
Lehi representative Naftali Lubenchik was sent to Beirut
where he met the German official Werner Otto von Hentig. See
Lehi (group)#Contact with Nazi authorities
Lehi prisoners captured by the British generally refused
to present a defence when brought to trial in British
courts. They would only read out statements in which they
declared that the court, representing an occupying force,
had no jurisdiction over them. For the same reason, Lehi
prisoners refused to plead for amnesty, even when it was
clear that this would have spared them from the death
penalty. In two cases, Lehi men killed themselves in prison
to deprive the British of the ability to hang them.
Tensions between the Irgun and Lehi simmered until the
two groups forged an alliance during the Israeli War of
Revisionist Zionism: Ideology
Ideologically, Revisionism advocated the creation of a
Jewish state on both sides of the Jordan River, that is, a
state which would include the present-day Israel, as well as
West Bank, Gaza and all or part of the modern state of
Jordan. Jordan was separated from Mandatory Palestine in
1922 in response to Arab resentment of the Balfour
Declaration. All three Revisionist streams, including
Centrists who advocated a British-style liberal democracy,
and the two more militant streams, which would become Irgun
and Lehi, supported Jewish settlement on both sides of the
Jordan River; in most cases, they differed only on how this
should be achieved. (Some supporters within Labor Zionism,
such as Mapai's Ben Gurion also accepted this interpretation
for the Jewish homeland.) Jabotinsky wanted to gain the help
of Britain in this endeavor, while Lehi and the Irgun,
following Jabotinsky's death, wanted to conquer both sides
of the river independently of the British. The Irgun stream
of Revisionism opposed power-sharing with Arabs. On the
topic of "transfer" (expulsion of the Arabs), Jabotinsky's
statements were ambiguous. In some writings he supported the
notion, but only as an act of self-defense, in others he
argued that Arabs should be included in the liberal
democratic society that he was advocating, and in others
still, he completely disregarded the potency of Arab
resistance to Jewish settlement, and stated that settlement
should continue, and the Arabs be ignored.
National-messianism vs. Jewish nationalism
Up to 1933, a number of members from the national-messianist
wing of Revisionism were inspired by the fascist movement of
Benito Mussolini. Abba Ahimeir was attracted to fascism for
its staunch anti-communism and its focus on rebuilding the
glory of the past, which national-messianists such as Uri
Zvi Greenberg felt had much connection to their view of what
the Revisionist movement should be.
Abba Ahimeir's ideology was based in Oswald Spengler's
monumental study on the decline of the West, but his Zionist
orientation caused him to adapt its ultimate conclusions.
Achimeir's basic assumption was that liberal bourgeois
European culture was degenerate, and deeply eroded from
within by an excess of liberalism and individualism.
Socialism and communism were portrayed as "overcivilized"
ideologies. Fascism on the other hand, like Zionism, was a
return to the roots of the national culture and the
historical past. According to Achimeir, Italian Fascism was
not anti-Semitic or anti-Zionist, whereas communist ideology
and praxis were intrinsically so.
He also developed a favorable attitude toward fascist
praxis and its psycho-politics, such as the principle of the
all powerful leader, the use of propaganda to generate a
spirit of heroism and duty to the homeland, and the
cultivation of youthful vitality (as manifested in the
fascist youth movements). Ahimeir joined the Revisionist
movement in 1930, but before joining he wrote a regular
column entitled "From the Notebook of a Fascist" in the
unaffiliated but pro-Revisionist magazine Doar Hayom. He
crafted his pro-fascistic views in these columns, and also
wrote an article in 1928 titled "On the Arrival of Our Duce"
to celebrate Jabotinsky's visit to Palestine, and propose a
new direction for the Revisionist movement, more in line
with Achimeir's views. (Segev, Tom, The Seventh Million:
Israelis and the Holocaust pg 23.)
When Ahimeir was on trial in 1932 for having disrupted a
public lecture at Hebrew University, his lawyer, Zvi Eliahu
Cohen, argued "Were it not for Hitler's anti-Semitism, we
would not oppose his ideology. Hitler saved Germany." Tom
Segev has remarked, "This was not an unconsidered outburst."
An editorial in the Revisionist newspaper Hazit Haam praised
Cohen's "brilliant speech." It continued, that "Social
Democrats of all stripes believe that Hitler's movement is
an empty shell (but) we believe that there is both a shell
and a kernel. The anti-Semitic shell is to be discarded, but
not the anti-Marxist kernel. The Revisionists would fight
the Nazis only to the extent that they were anti-Semites." (Segev,
Tom, The Seventh Million: Israelis and the Holocaust
In 1933, when Hitler came to power, the newspaper, whose
editors were Revisionist Party members, praised Nazism as a
German national liberation movement and said that Hitler had
saved Germany from Communism. Jabotinsky responded by
threatening to have the newspaper's editors expelled if they
repeated such "kow-towing" to Hitler. (Schechtman, Fighter
and Prophet, p.216.)
The national messianist wing differed from the
ideological vision of Jabotinsky to the extent that on
August 9, 1932, Jabotinsky wrote to tell Abba Ahimeir that
his romantic ideas and the zeal of his followers were
considered excessive. Hatzohar, he wrote, was a democratic
political movement of a patrician rather than populist or
Romantic kind. As a consequence, he argued, the behavior of
Ahimeir and his friends threatened Jabotinsky's own
movement. He also argued that if Achimeir's views were
indeed similar to those which he expressed in his articles
and letters, there was no room for the two of them in the
same political camp.
Despite his flirt with fascism, Ahimeir was also known
for his fight against Nazism, with the most visible example
being his climb on the German embassy roof in Jerusalem
taking off the swastika flag. In later years, Ahimeir said
he was sorry for calling himself a "fascistan" (fascist
Irgun to Likud
The Irgun largely followed the Centrists' ideals but
with a much more irredentist, hawkish outlook toward
Britain's involvement in the Mandate, and an ardently
nationalist vision of society and government. After the
establishment of the State of Israel, it was the Irgun wing
of the Revisionist Party that formed Herut, which in turn
eventually formed the Gahal party by absorbing the centrist
General Zionists. In 1977 the new Likud Party, a right wing
coalition dominated by the Revisionist Herut/Gahal, came to
power and has been an important force in Israeli politics
until March 2006 when they lost most of their seats in favor
of the Kadima party. In the decades since first taking
power, particularly in the last decade, Likud has undergone
a number of splits to its right, including the 1998
departure of Benny Begin, son of Herut founder Menachem
Begin (he rejoined Likud in 2008), and in 2005 experienced a
split to its left with the departure of Ariel Sharon and his
followers to form Kadima. Although the party platform has
been consistent with Revisionist ideology, most supporters
believe that prime ministers from the party have
consistently deviated from what many see as their mandate.
The National Union and other parties, such as Lieberman's
Yisrael Beytenu now claim to be the true representatives of
Revisionist Zionism, and that Likud has abandoned its
ideology, which is by some evidence true, since although
historically, does not in complete form adhere to former
Lehi or Irgunist principles.
While the initial core group of Likud leaders such as
Israeli Prime Ministers Begin and Yitzhak Shamir came from
Likud's Herut faction, later leaders, such as Benjamin
Netanyahu, and Ariel Sharon have come from or moved to the
"pragmatic" Revisionist wing.
On December 4, 1948, the New York Times published a
letter to the editor, signed by over two dozen prominent
Jews condemning Menachem Begin and his Herut party on the
occasion of Begin's visit to New York City.
The letter written by Albert Einstein compared
Revisionist Zionism streams to "Nazi and fascist parties",
and was signed by Hannah Arendt, Sidney Hook and other
prominent American Jews not known for their support of
Zionism in general. The letter began:
Among the most disturbing political phenomena of our
times is the emergence in the newly created state of Israel
of the “Freedom Party” (Tnuat Haherut), a political party
closely akin in its organization, methods, political
philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist
parties. It was formed out of the membership and following
of the former Irgun Zvai Leumi, a terrorist, right-wing,
chauvinist organization in Palestine.
The current visit of Menachem Begin, leader of this party,
to the United States is obviously calculated to give the
impression of American support for his party in the coming
Israeli elections, and to cement political ties with
conservative Zionist elements in the United States. Several
Americans of national repute have lent their names to
welcome his visit. It is inconceivable that those who oppose
fascism throughout the world, if correctly informed as to
Mr. Begin’s political record and perspectives, could add
their names and support to the movement he represents.
Menachem Begin received much criticism for being disloyal to
Revisionist ideology by signing the Camp David Accords in
In the 1920s and 1930s Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook (the first Chief Rabbi
of Palestine) and his son Rabbi Zevi Judah Kook saw great religious and
traditional value in many of Zionism's ideals, while rejecting its
anti-religious undertones. They taught that Orthodox (Torah) Judaism
embraces and mandates Zionism's positive ideals, such as the ingathering
of exiles, and political activity to create and maintain a Jewish
political entity in the Land of Israel. In this way, Zionism serves as a
bridge between Orthodox and secular Jews.
While other Zionist groups have tended to moderate their nationalism
over time, the gains from the Six Day War have led religious Zionism to
play a significant role in Israeli political life. Now associated with
the National Religious Party and Gush Emunim, religious Zionists have
been at the forefront of Jewish settlement in the West Bank and efforts
to assert Jewish control over the Old City of Jerusalem.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Religious Zionism, or the Religious Zionist Movement
(a branch of which is also called Mizrachi) is an ideology
that combines Zionism and religious Judaism, basing Zionism
on the principles of Torah, Talmud et al. and authentic
Main article: Mizrachi (Religious Zionism)
Religious Zionists are a faction within the Zionist movement
who justify Zionist efforts to build a Jewish state in the
land of Israel on the basis of Judaism.
In 1862, German Orthodox Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Kalischer
published his tractate Derishat Zion, positing that the
salvation of the Jews, promised by the Prophets, can come
about only by self-help.
The main ideologue of modern religious Zionism was Rabbi
Abraham Isaac Kook, although Haredi and not Dati Leumi,
nevertheless justified Zionism according Jewish law and
urged young religious Jews to support efforts to settle the
land, and the secular Labour Zionists to give more
consideration to Judaism. Rabbi Moshe Shmuel Glasner was
another prominent rabbi who supported Zionism.
Rav Kook saw Zionism as a part of a divine scheme which
would result in the resettlement of the Jewish people in its
homeland. This would bring salvation ("Geula") to Jews, and
then to the entire world. After world harmony is achieved by
the refoundation of the Jewish homeland, the Messiah will
come. Although this has not yet happened, Rav Kook
emphasized that it would take time and that the ultimate
redemption happens in stages, often not apparent while
Religious Jews believe that since the land of Israel (Eretz
Yisrael) was given to the ancient Israelites by God, the
right of the Jews to that land is permanent and inalienable.
To generations of diaspora Jews, Jerusalem, also known as
Zion, has been a symbol of the Holy Land and of their return
to it, as promised by God in numerous Biblical prophecies.
Many other great rabbis who were not necessarily zionist
in the same mold as Rav Kook, did view the settlement of the
land of Israel to be a divine commandment, especially in
light of the Balfour Declaration.
Despite this, some religious Jews were not enthusiastic
about Zionism before the 1930s, and many religious
organisations opposed it on the grounds that an attempt to
re-establish Jewish rule in Israel by human agency is
blasphemous, since only the Messiah can accomplish this.
They considered it religiously forbidden to try to hasten
salvation and the coming of the Messiah. They saw Zionism as
an expression of disbelief in God's salvation and power, and
therefore as a rebellion against God. Rabbi Kook developed a
theological answer to that claim, which gave Zionism a
Rabbi Kook's answer was the following:
Zionism was not merely a political movement by secular
Jews. It was actually a tool of God to promote His divine
scheme and to initiate the return of the Jews to their
homeland - the land He promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
God wants the children of Israel to return to their home in
order to establish a Jewish sovereign state in which Jews
could live according to the laws of Torah and Halakha and
commit the Mitzvot of Eretz Israel (these are religious
commandments which can be performed only in the land of
Israel). Moreover, to cultivate the land of Israel was a
Mitzvah by itself and it should be carried out. Therefore,
settling Israel is an obligation of the religious Jews and
helping Zionism is actually following God's will.
Another big problem of religious Jews with Zionism is that
Zionists were largely secular Jews, and in some cases were
atheist in their point of view. The atheism of the early
Zionists was imported from Marxism by Socialist Zionism
which saw Zionism as an avant-garde effort of building an
advanced socialist society in the land of Israel, while
solving the antisemitism problem. The Kibbutz is a good
example of Socialist Zionism: it was a communal settlement
set to fulfill national goals, in which no Jewish law was
observed (such as Kosher food). Rabbi Kook had an answer to
this as well:
Secular Zionists may think they do it for political,
national or socialist reasons, but in fact - the actual
reason for them coming to resettle in Israel is a religious
Jewish spark ("Nitzotz") in their soul, planted by God.
Without their knowledge, they are contributing to the divine
scheme and actually committing a great Mitzvah.
The role of religious Zionists is to help them to establish
a Jewish state and turn the religious spark in them into a
great light. They should show them that the real source of
Zionism and the longed-for Zion is Judaism and teach them
Torah with love and kindness. In the end, they will
understand that the laws of Torah are the key to true
harmony and a socialist state (not in the Marxist meaning)
that will be a light for the nations and bring salvation to
Professor Shlomo Avineri explains the last part of Kook's
"... and the end of those pioneers, who scout into the
blindness of secularism and atheism, but the treasured light
inside them leads them into the path of salvation - their
end is that from doing Mitzva without purpose, they will do
Mitzva with a purpose." (page 222, 1)
History and organizations
The first Rabbis who supported Zionism were Rabbi Yehuda
Shlomo Alkalai and Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Kalischer. They argued
that the change in the status of Western Europe's Jews
following emancipation was the first step toward salvation (גאולה)
and that therefore one must hasten the messianic salvation
by a natural salvation — whose main pillars are the Kibbutz
Galuyot ("Gathering of the Exiles"), the return to Eretz
Israel, agricultural work (עבודת אדמה) and the revival of
the everyday use of the Hebrew language.
The Mizrachi (a portmanteau of "Merkaz Ruchani" or
"religious centre") is the name of the religious Zionist
organization founded in 1902 in Vilna at a world conference
of religious Zionists called by Rabbi Yitzchak Yaacov Reines.
It operates a youth movement, Bnei Akiva which was founded
Mizrachi believes that the Torah should be at the centre
of Zionism, a sentiment expressed in the Mizrachi Zionist
slogan Erezt Israel le-am Yisrael al pi Torat Yisrael ("The
land of Israel for the people of Israel according to the
Torah of Israel"). It also sees Jewish nationalism as a tool
for achieving religious objectives. The Mizrachi party was
the first official religious Zionist party and founded the
Ministry of Religion in Israel and pushed for laws enforcing
kashrut and the observance of Shabbat - the Sabbath. It also
played a role prior to the creation of the state of Israel
in building a network of religious schools that exist to
Major figures in the religious Zionist movement include
Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook who became the Ashkenazi Chief
Rabbi of Palestine in 1924 and tried to reconcile Zionism
with Orthodox Judaism.
The Labor Movement wing of Religious Zionism, founded in
1921 under the Zionist slogan "Torah va'Avodah" (Torah and
Labor), it was called Hapoel Hamizrachi. It represented
religiously traditional Labour Zionists both in Europe and
in the Land of Israel where it represented religious Jews in
In 1956, Mizrachi, Hapoel HaMizrachi and other religious
Zionists formed the National Religious Party to advance the
rights of religious Zionist Jews in Israel.
The flagship religious institution of the religious
Zionist movement is "Mercaz haRav" yeshiva (founded by Rabbi
Abraham Isaac Kook), which supplied the religious Zionist
movement with most of its Rabbis and scholars.
Another branch of Religious Zionism is Kahanism, founded
by the late Rabbi Meir Kahane. Kahanism blends Religious
Zionism with the ideology of the pre-state Right Wing
movements of the followers of Ze'ev Jabotinsky. Today, Hazit
is the leading wing of such school of thought within the
movement. Other parties and groups such as Gush Emunim,
Tkuma, Meimad et al., all represent sectarian interests
within the movement.
Religious Zionism today
Religious Zionists are often called "Kippot Sruggot",
which means knitted skullcaps, because of the knitted kippot
worn by the men. In Israel, different factions of Orthodox
Judaism can be distinguished by the style of dress of their
members (such as Litvish Ashkenazi Haredi, Sephardi-Haredi,
Ashkenazi-Hasidic, Religious Zionist, etc).
Most religious Zionists are right wing
supporters. The main party representing
them is the National Religious Party, but they also vote for
Likud (Conservative party), National Union (nationalist
party), Hazit and Shas. However, there is a minority of
leftist religious Zionists, headed by Rabbi Michael Melchior
and represented by the Meimad party (which ran together with
the Israeli Labor party).
Many settlers in Judea and Samaria are religious
Zionists, along with most of the settlers forcibly expelled
from the Gaza Strip in August and September 2005. Many other
religious Zionists are supporters of the pro-settlement
movements Gush Emunim and the banned Kach.
Military service is an important value among most
Many religious Zionists take part in the Hesder program,
whereby they are able to combine military service with
Yeshiva studies. Others attend a pre-army Mechina, delaying
their service by one year. 88% of Hesder students belong to
combat units, compared to a national average of below 30%.
Female religious Zionists can be exempted from military
service, but usually do a one to two-year national service
instead (such as working at hospitals, schools and day-care
centers). In recent years there have been a growing number
of women religious Zionists who choose to serve in the
military, although it is still considered controversial
among the movement.
Zionism and Ultra-Orthodox Jews
Ultra-Orthodox organizations do not belong to the Zionist movement; they
view Zionism as secular, reject nationalism as a doctrine and consider
Judaism to be first and foremost a religion. Ultra-Orthodox rabbis do
not consider Israel to be a Jewish state because it is secular. However,
they generally consider themselves responsible for ensuring that Jews
maintain religious ideals and since most Israeli citizens are Jews they
pursue this agenda within Israel.
Two Ultra-Orthodox parties run in Israeli elections. They are
sometimes associated with views which could be regarded as nationalist
or Zionist and have shown a preference for coalitions with more
nationalist Zionist parties, probably because these are more interested
in enhancing the Jewish nature of the Israeli state.
The Sephardi-Orthodox party Shas rejects association with the Zionist
movement, however its voters generally regard themselves as Zionist and
Knesset members frequently pursue what others might consider a Zionist
agenda. Shas has supported territorial compromise with the Arabs and
Palestinians but generally opposes compromise over Jewish Holy sites.
The Ashkenazi Agudath Israel/UTJ party has always avoided association
with the Zionist movement and usually avoids voting on or discussing
issues related to peace because its members do not serve in the army.
The party does work towards ensuring that Israel and Israeli law are in
tune with the halacha.
In recent years the Ashkenazi Lubavitch hassidic movement has adopted
an ultra-nationalist agenda and opposed any territorial compromise;
however, the movement has never considered itself to be Zionist.
The Satmar Hasidim and the small Neturei Karta group are strongly
anti-Zionist. Satmar members do not live in Israel. The primary haredi
anti-Zionist work is Vayoel Moshe by Satmar Rebbe Joel Teitelbaum. This
lengthy dissertation rejects Zionism for religious reasons based on an
aggadic passage in the Talmud, tractate Ketubot .
Particularities of Zionist beliefs
The idea of Zionism is being established on the basis of long and
continuous association between the Jewish people and land of Israel.Mass
return,or Aliyah to the Land of Israel is a recurring theme in Jewish
prayers,that continued during the period the Jews lived in diaspora,
following the Roman occupation and the destruction of the Second Temple
on the hands of Romans in the year 70. Aliyah, however, was associated
with the coming of the Jewish Messiah.The core of Zionist ideology is
reflected in the principle that the land of Israel is the historical
origin of the Jewish people, and in believing that the presence of Jews
in any other part of the world is living in exile. The center of the
Zionism idea is represented in the Israeli Declaration of Independence:
The Jewish people have grown in the land of Israel, wherein their
religious, spiritual and political identity reached the maturity, and in
here they lived for the first time in a sovereign state, and in there
they produced their human, national and cultural values. When the Jewish
people were forcefully dispersed out of their country, they kept their
promise to return while in the different countries of exile and never
stopped praying and believing in the hope of return to their country and
resume their political freedom in there.
Zionism is dedicated to fighting anti-semitism in all its forms. Some
Zionists believe that anti-semitism will never disappear (and that Jews
must conduct themselves with this in mind while others perceive
Zionism as a vehicle with which to end anti-semitism.
Zionists preferred to speak Hebrew, a Semitic language that developed
under conditions of freedom in ancient Judah, modernizing and adapting
it for everyday use. Zionists sometimes refused to speak Yiddish, a
language they considered affected by Christian persecution. Once they
moved to Israel, many Zionists refused to speak their (diasporic) mother
tongues and gave themselves new, Hebrew names.
According to Eliezer Schweid the rejection of life in the Diaspora is
a central assumption in Zionism. Underlying this attitude was the
feeling that the Diaspora restricted the full growth of Jewish
individual and national life.
Since the first century CE most Jews have lived in exile, although there
has been a constant presence of Jews in the Land of Israel (Eretz
Israel). According to Judaism, Eretz Israel, or Zion, is a land promised
to the Jews by God according to the Bible. After the 2nd century Bar
Kokhba revolt, the Romans expelled the Jews from Palestine, thus forming
the Jewish diaspora.
In the 19th century, a current in Judaism supporting a return to
Palestine grew in popularity. Jews began to emigrate to Palestine,
pre-Zionist Aliyah, even before 1897, the year considered as the start
of practical Zionism.
Population of Palestine by religions
Jewish immigration to Palestine started in earnest in 1882. Most
immigrants came from Russia, escaping the frequent pogroms and state-led
persecution. They founded a number of agricultural settlements with
financial support from Jewish philanthropists in Western Europe. Further
Aliyahs followed the Russian Revolution and Nazi persecution.
In the 1890s, Theodor Herzl infused Zionism with a new ideology and
practical urgency, leading to the first congress at Basel in 1897, which
created the World Zionist Organization (WZO). Herzl's aim was to
initiate necessary preparatory steps for the attainment of a Jewish
state. Herzl’s attempts to reach a political agreement with the Ottoman
rulers of Palestine were unsuccessful and other governmental support was
sought. The WZO supported small-scale settlement in Palestine and
focused on strengthening Jewish feeling and consciousness and on
building a worldwide federation.
The Russian Empire, with its long record of state organized genocide
and ethnic cleansing ("pogroms") was widely regarded as the historic
enemy of the Jewish people. As much of its leadership were German
speakers, the Zionist movement's headquarters were located in Berlin. At
the start of the First World War, most Jews (and Zionists) supported
Germany in its war with Russia.
Lobbying by a Russian Jewish immigrant, Chaim Weizmann and fear that
American Jews would encourage the USA to support Germany culminated in
the Balfour Declaration of 1917 by the British government. This endorsed
the creation of a Jewish Homeland in Palestine. In addition, a Zionist
military corps led by Jabotinsky were recruited to fight on behalf of
Britain in Palestine. In 1922, the League of Nations adopted the
declaration in the Mandate it gave to Britain:
The Mandatory (…) will secure the establishment of the Jewish
national home, as laid down in the preamble, and the development of
self-governing institutions, and also for safeguarding the civil and
religious rights of all the inhabitants of Palestine, irrespective of
race and religion.
Weizmann's role in obtaining the Balfour Declaration led to his
election as the movement's leader. He remained in that role until 1948.
The British Mandate caused greater Jewish migration to Palestine and
massive Jewish land purchases from feudal landlords, which created
landlessness and fueled unrest (often led by the same landlords who sold
the land). There were riots in 1920, 1921 and 1929, sometimes
accompanied by massacres of Jews. The victims were
usually local non-Zionist orthodox Jewish communities. Britain supported
Jewish immigration in principle, but in reaction to Arab violence
imposed restrictions on Jewish immigration.
In 1933, Hitler came to power in Germany, and in 1935 the Nuremberg
Laws made German Jews (and later Austrian and Czech Jews) stateless
refugees. Similar rules were applied by Nazi allies in Europe. The
subsequent growth in Jewish migration and impact of Nazi propaganda
aimed at the Arab world led to the 1936-1939 Arab revolt in Palestine.
Britain established the Peel Commission to investigate the situation.
The commission did not consider the situation of Jews in Europe but
called for a two-state solution and compulsory transfer of populations.
But Britain rejected this solution and instead implemented White Paper
of 1939. This planned to end Jewish immigration by 1944 and to allow no
more than 75,000 further Jewish migrants. The British maintained this
policy until the end of the Mandate.
Growth of the Jewish community in Palestine and devastation of
European Jewish life sidelined the World Zionist Organization. The
Jewish Agency for Palestine under the leadership of David Ben-Gurion
increasingly dictated policy with support from American Zionists who
provided funding and influence in Washington, DC including via the
highly effective America Palestine Committee.
After WWII and the Holocaust, a massive wave of stateless Jews,
mainly Holocaust survivors, began migrating to Palestine in small boats
in defiance of British rules. The British either imprisoned these Jews
in Cyprus (including many orphaned children) or sent them to the
British-controlled Allied Occupation Zones in Germany. This resulted in
universal Jewish support for Zionism and the refusal of the U.S.
Congress to grant economic aid to Britain. In addition, Zionist groups
attacked the British in Palestine and, with its empire facing
bankruptcy, Britain was forced to refer the issue to the newly created
In 1947, the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP)
recommended that western Palestine should be partitioned into a Jewish
state, an Arab state and a UN-controlled territory (Corpus separatum)
around Jerusalem. This partition plan was adopted on November 29, 1947
with UN GA Resolution 181, 33 votes in favor, 13 against, and 10
abstentions. The vote led to celebrations in the streets of Jewish
The Palestinian Arabs and the Arab states rejected the UN decision,
demanding a single state and removal of Jewish migrants. On 14 May 1948,
at the end of the British mandate, the Jewish Agency, led by Ben-Gurion,
declared the creation of the State of Israel, and the same day the
armies of seven Arab countries invaded Israel. The conflict led to an
exodus of about 711,000 Arab Palestinians and the exodus of 850,000
Jews from the Arab world, mostly to Israel.
Since the creation of the State of Israel, the WZO has functioned
mainly as an organization dedicated to assisting and encouraging Jews to
migrate to Israel. It has provided political support for Israel in other
countries but plays little role in internal Israeli politics.
The movement's major success since 1948 was in providing logistical
support for migrating Jews and, most importantly, in assisting Soviet
Jews in their struggle with the authorities over the right to leave the
USSR and to practice their religion in freedom.
Opposition to and criticism of Zionism
Zionism was opposed by a wide variety of organizations and individuals,
particularly after 1948. The Arab League and Arab Higher Committee
rejected the UN Partition Plan (United Nations General Assembly
Resolution 181) approving the creation of a Jewish and Arab state in
Palestine, and viewed Israel as occupying "Arab land". Arab
states continue to reject the Zionist philosophy which underwrote the
creation of Israel and in particular maintain that the displacement of
some 700,000 Arab refugees in the 1948 Palestinian exodus and the
subsequent conflict is the inevitable consequence of the concept of a
Haredi Jewish communities are non-Zionist but willing to participate
in Israeli coalitions. A minority, (the Satmar Hasidim and the small
Neturei Karta group) are strongly anti-Zionist.
Before Hitler, Jews seeking to assimilate in Europe feared that
Zionism would undermine their claims to citizenship since anti-semites
claim that Jews are disloyal to their "host" societies. These
Jews sought to define themselves as loyal citizens of a different faith,
sometimes styling themselves "of the Mosaic persuasion" . This movement
was particularly prevalent in Germany, where most Jews supported German
Non-Zionist Israeli movements, such as the Canaanite movement led by
poet Yonatan Ratosh in the 1930s and 1940s, have argued that "Israeli"
should be a new pan-ethnic nationality. A related modern movement is
known as post-Zionism, which asserts that Israel should abandon the
concept of a "state of the Jewish people" and instead strive to be a
state of all its citizens. Another opinion favors a binational state
in which Arabs and Jews live together while enjoying some type of
During the last quarter of 20th century, classic nationalism in
Israel declined. This led to the rise of two antagonistic movements:
neo-Zionism and post-Zionism. Both movements mark the Israeli version of
a worldwide phenomenon:
(1) the emergence of globalization, a market
society and liberal culture, and (2) a local backlash.
and post-Zionism share traits with "classical" Zionism but differ by
accentuating antagonist and diametrically opposed poles already present
in Zionism. "Neo Zionism accentuates the messianic and particularistic
dimensions of Zionist nationalism, while post-Zionism accentuates its normalising
and universalistic dimensions".
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion
In 1903, following the Kishinev Pogrom a variety of Russian
antisemities, including the Black Hundreds and the Tzarist Secret Police
began combining earlier works alleging a Jewish plot to take control of
the world into new formats. One particular version of these
allegations, the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" (subtitle "Protocols
extracted from the secret archives of the central chancery of Zion")
arranged by Sergei Nilus achieved global fame. In 1903 the editor
claimed that the protocols revealed the menace of Zionism,
...which has the task of uniting all the Jews of the whole world in
one union - a union that is more closely knit and more dangerous then
The book contains fictional minutes of an imaginary meeting in which
alleged Jewish leaders plotted to take over the world. Nilus later
claimed they were presented to the elders by Herzl (the "Prince of
Exile") at the first Zionist congress. A Polish edition claimed they
were taken from Herzl's flat in Austria and a 1920 German version
renamed them "The Zionist Protocols". The "protocols were one of the
earliest, and possibly the most important example of the many cases in
which anti-semitism has manifested as anti-Zionism or vice versa and
were extensively used by the Nazis. They remain relatively widely
distributed in the Arab world and are also referred to in the 1988 Hamas
charter (article 32):
The Zionist plan is limitless. After Palestine, the Zionists aspire
to expand from the Nile to the Euphrates. When they will have digested
the region they overtook, they will aspire to further expansion, and so
on. Their plan is embodied in the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion"...
Resolutions condemning Zionism
Ideological opposition to Zionism later combined with the
anti-Israel cold-war politics of the Soviet Union and the Arab
antagonism to Israel, as well as with anti-Semitism. Communist states
declared Zionism to be a colonialist ideology bent on exploiting and
dispossessing the native inhabitants of Palestine, and creating an
apartheid colonialist fascist Jewish state.
The Organization for African Unity and the Non-Aligned Movement
passed resolutions condemning Zionism and equating it with racism and
apartheid during the early 1970s. The United Nations General Assembly
passed Resolution 3151 72 to 36, with 32 abstentions, in December 1973,
stating that there was an "unholy alliance between South African racism
and Zionism." Resolution 3379 passed in November 1975,
supported by Arab, African and Soviet bloc states, declaring that
"Zionism is a form of racism."
As the war in Iraq began and the South Africa's apartheid government
and the Soviet Union collapsed, the resolution was repealed in 1991 with
Resolution 4686, after Israel declared that it would only participate in
the Madrid Peace Conference of 1991 if the resolution were revoked.
At the session revoking the motion, U.S. President George H. W. Bush
declared that 3379 had been a betrayal of the United Nations'
principles, a distortion of history and an act of conflict
promotion. The revocation motion was co-sponsored by 90 nations and
supported by 111, and opposed by 26.
Marcus Garvey and Black Zionism
Zionist success in winning British support for formation of a Jewish
National Home in Palestine helped to inspire the Jamaican nationalist
Marcus Garvey to form a movement dedicated to returning Americans of
African origin to Africa. During a speech in Harlem in 1920, Garvey
stated: "other races were engaged in seeing their cause through—the Jews
through their Zionist movement and the Irish through their Irish
movement—and I decided that, cost what it might, I would make this a
favorable time to see the Negro's interest through." Garvey
established a shipping company, the Black Star Line, to allow Black
Americans to emigrate to Africa, but for various reasons failed in his endeavour.
Garvey helped inspire the Rastafarian movement in Jamaica, the Black
Jews and The African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem who initially
moved to Liberia before settling in Israel.
Non-Jewish support for Zionism
Political support for the Jewish return to the Land of Israel predates
the formal organization of Jewish Zionism as a political movement. In
the 19th century, advocates of the Restoration of the Jews to the Holy
Land were called Restorationists. The return of the Jews to the Holy
Land was widely supported by such eminent figures as Queen Victoria,
King Edward VII, President John Adams of the United States, General
Smuts of South Africa, President Masaryk of Czechoslovakia, philosopher
and historian Benedetto Croce from Italy, Henry Dunant (founder of the
Red Cross and author of the Geneva Conventions), and scientist and
humanitarian Fridtj of Nansen from Norway.
The French government through Minister M. Cambon formally committed
itself to “the renaissance of the Jewish nationality in that Land from
which the people of Israel were exiled so many centuries ago".
In China, top figures of the Nationalist government, including Sun
Yat-Sen, expressed their sympathy with the aspirations of the Jewish
people for a National Home.
Christians supporting Zionism
Christians have a long history of supporting the return of Jews to the
Holy Land prior to Zionism. One of the principal Protestant teachers who
promoted the biblical doctrine that the Jews would return to their
national homeland was John Nelson Darby. He is credited with being the
major promoter of the idea following his 11 lectures on the hopes of the
church, the Jew and the gentile given in Geneva in 1840. His views were
embraced by many evangelicals and also affected international foreign
policy. Famous early supporters of Zionism include British Prime
Ministers David Lloyd George and Arthur Balfour, American President
Woodrow Wilson and Orde Wingate whose activities in support of Zionism
led the British Army to ban him from ever serving in Palestine.
According to Charles Merkley of Carleton University, Christian Zionism
strengthened significantly after the Six-Day War of 1967, and many
dispensationalist Christians, especially in the United States, now
strongly support Zionism.
The founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS
Church), Joseph Smith, in his last years alive, declared "the time for
Jews to return to the land of Israel is now." In 1842, Smith sent Orson
Hyde, an Apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, to
Jerusalem to dedicate the land for the return of the Jews.
Some Christian Arabs publicly supporting Israel include US author
Nonie Darwish, creator of the Arabs for Israel Web site, and former
Muslim Magdi Allam, author of Viva Israele, both born in Egypt. Brigitte
Gabriel, a Lebanese-born Christian US journalist and founder of the
American Congress For Truth, urges Americans to "fearlessly speak out in
defense of America, Israel and Western civilization".
A small sect of Christian Zionists, Nazarenes and Nazarene Jews are
part of a movement to return Christianity to Judaism.
Muslims supporting Zionism
In 1873, Shah of Persia Nasser al-Din Shah Qajar met with British Jewish
leaders, including Sir Moses Montefiore, during his journey to Europe.
At that time, the Persian king suggested that the Jews buy land and
establish a state for the Jewish people.
On occasion, some non-Arab Muslims such as some Kurds and Berbers
have also voiced support for Zionism.
Jews place of wailing, 1860
History of Zionism
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Zionist movement was created by Theodor Herzl in 1897, however the
history of Zionism can be seen as beginning earlier and related to the
Jewish religion and history.
Before the Holocaust the movement's central aims were the creation of
a Jewish National Home and cultural centre in Palestine by facilitating
Jewish migration. After the Holocaust, the movement focussed on creation
of a "Jewish state" (usually defined as a secular state with a Jewish
majority), attaining its goal in 1948 with the creation of Israel.
Since the creation of Israel, the importance of the movement has
declined as the Israeli state has grown stronger.
The Zionist movement continues to exist, working to support Israel,
assist persecuted Jews and encourage Jewish emigration to Israel. While
most Israeli political parties continue to define themselves as Zionist,
modern Israeli political thought is no longer formulated within the
The success of Zionism has meant that the percentage of the world's
Jewish population who live in Israel has steadily grown over the years
and today 40% of the world's Jews live in Israel. There is no other
example in human history of a "nation" being restored after such a long
period of existence as a Diaspora.
Jewish life in the Holy Land before
The historic and religious origins of Zionism
The desire of Jews to return to their ancestral homeland is a Jewish
theme that first makes its appearance in the Torah. Jacob and his sons
went down to Egypt to escape a drought, where they became a nation and
were enslaved. Moses went before Pharoh and demanded, "Let my people
go!" Most of the Torah is devoted to the story of the Exodus from Egypt,
which is estimated at about 1400 BCE and is celebrated annually during
Passover. The Passover meal traditionally ends with the words "Next Year
After the Babylonians conquered Judea in 641 BCE, the Judeans were
exiled to Babylon and the theme of return to a homeland came up again.
In the book of Psalms (Psalm 137), Jews lamented their exile while
Prophets like Ezekiel foresaw their return. The Bible recounts how, in
538 BCE Cyrus the Great of Persia conquered Babylon and issued a
proclamation granting the people of Judah their freedom. 50,000 Judeans,
led by Zerubabel returned. A second group of 5000, led by Ezra and
Nehemiah, returned to Judea in 456 BCE.
The Jewish presence in Israel
During the Hellenistic Age many Jews left Judea to live in other
parts of the Mediterranean basin.
The third great Jewish exile is considered to have begun after the
destruction of Judea by the Roman Empire in the year 70 (after the Great
Jewish Revolt). A second Jewish revolt against the Romans, Bar Kokhba's
revolt of 135, led to further dispersal of Jews to other parts of the
A Jewish presence in the Land of Israel was maintained even after the
Bar Kokhba revolt, and there is evidence of vibrant communities in the
first millennium. For example, the Jerusalem Talmud was created in the
centuries following the revolt. The inventors of Hebrew vowel-signs, the
Masoretes (ba'alei hamasorah, Hebrew בעלי המסורה), groups of scribes in
7th and 11th centuries were based primarily in Tiberias and Jerusalem.
The Crusades were devastating for the Jewish presence in Israel.
The Crusaders massacred Jews, both on their path across Europe and in
the Holy Land. Palestine was later ruled by the Mamluks and Ottomans.
In 1160 David Alroy led a Jewish uprising in Kurdistan which aimed to
reconquer the promised land. In 1648 Sabbatai Zevi from modern Turkey
claimed he would lead the Jews back to Israel. In 1868 Judah ben Shalom
led a large movement of Yemenite Jews to Israel. A dispatch from the
British Consulate in Jerusalem in 1839 reported that "the Jews of
Algiers and its dependencies, are numerous in Palestine. . . ." There
was also significant migration from Central Asia (Bukharan Jews).
In addition to Messianic movemens, the population of the Holy Land
was slowly bolstered by Jews fleeing Christian persecution especially
after the Reconquista of Al-Andalus (the Muslim name of the Iberian
peninsula). Safed became an important center of Kabalah. Jerusalem,
Hebron and Tiberias also had significant Jewish populations.
Aliyah and the ingathering of the exiles
Among Jews in the Diaspora Eretz Israel was revered in a religious
sense. They thought of a return to it in a future messianic age.
Return remained a recurring theme among generations, particularly in
Passover and Yom Kippur prayers which traditionally concluded with,
"Next year in Jerusalem", and in the thrice-daily Amidah
Aliyah (immigration to Israel) has always been considered to be a
praiseworthy act for Jews according to Jewish law, and is included as a
commandment in most versions of the 613 commandments which Jews are
supposed to strive to fulfill. From the Middle Ages and onwards, many
famous rabbis (and often their followers) immigrated to the Land of
Israel. These included Nahmanides, Yechiel of Paris with several hundred
of his students, Yosef Karo, Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk and 300 of his
followers, and over 500 disciples (and their families) of the Vilna Gaon
known as Perushim, among others.
Catholic persecution of the Jews
Jews in Catholic states were banned from owning land and from pursuing a
variety of professions. From the 13th century Jews were required to wear
identifying clothes such as special hats or stars on their clothing.
This form of persecution originated in tenth century Baghdad and was
copied by Christian rulers. Constant expulsions and insecurity led Jews
to adopt artisan professions that were easily transferable between
locations (such as furniture making or tailoring).
Persecution in Spain and Portugal led large number of Jews there to
convert to Christianiy, however many continued to secretly practise
Jewish rituals. The Church responded by creating the Inquisition in 1478
and by expelling all remaining Jews in 1492. In 1542 the inquisition
expanded to include the Papal states. Inquisitors could arbitrarily
torture suspects and many victims were burnt alive.
In 1516 the state of Venice decreed that Jews would only be allowed
to reside in a walled area adjacent to Venice called the Ghetto. Ghetto
residents had to pay a daily poll tax and could only stay a limited
amount of time. In 1555 the Pope decreed that Jews in Rome were to face
similar restrictions. The requirement for Jews to live in Ghettos spread
across Europe and Ghettos were frequently highly overcrowded and heavily
taxed. They also provided a convenient target for mobs (pogrom). Jews
were expelled from England in 1290. A ban remained in force that was
only lifted when Oliver Cromwell overthrew the Catholic monarchy in 1649
(see Resettlement of the Jews in England).
Catholic persecution of Jews ended with Napoleon's conquest of Europe
after the French Revolution although the short lived Nazi Empire
resurrected some of the practises. In 1965 the Catholic Church formally
ended the doctrine of holding Jews collectively responsible for the
death of Jesus.
Theodor Herzl, The Jewish State, 1896
Pre-Zionist Initiatives 1799–1897
The Enlightenment and the Jews
The Age of Enlightenment in Europe led to an 18th and 19th century
Jewish enlightenment movement in Europe, called the Haskalah. In 1791,
the French Revolution led France to become the first country in Europe
to grant Jews legal equality. Britain gave Jews equal rights in 1856,
Germany in 1871. The spread of western liberal ideas among newly
emancipated Jews created for the first time a class of secular Jews who
absorbed the prevailing ideas of enlightenment, including rationalism,
romanticism, and nationalism.
However, the formation of modern nations in Europe accompanied
changes in the prejudices against Jews. What had previously been
religious persecution now became a new phenomenon, Racial antisemitism
and acquired a new name: antisemitism. Antisemites saw Jews as an alien
religious, national and racial group and actively tried to prevent Jews
from acquiring equal rights and citizenship.
Persecution in Russia (before the revolution)
Jews in Eastern Europe faced constant pogroms and persecution in Tzarist
Russia. From 1791 they were only allowed to live in the Pale of
Settlement. In response to the Jewish drive for integration and modern
education (Haskalah) and the movement for emancipation, the Tzars
imposed tight quotas on schools, universities and cities to prevent
entry by Jews. From 1827 to 1917 Russian Jewish boys were required to
serve 25 years in the Russian army, starting at the age of 12. The
intention was to forcibly destroy their ethnic identity, however the
move severely radicalized Russia's Jews and familiarized them with
nationalism and socialism.
See also: Anti-Jewish pogroms in the Russian Empire
The tsar's chief adviser Konstantin Pobedonostsev, was reported as
saying that one-third of Russia's Jews was expected to emigrate,
one-third to accept baptism, and one-third to starve.
Famous incidents includes the 1913 Menahem Mendel Beilis trial (Blood
libel against Jews) and the 1903 Kishinev pogrom.
Between 1880 and 1928, two million Jews left Russia; most emigrated
to the United States, a small minority chose Palestine.
Proto-Zionists include the (Lithuanian) Vilna Gaon, (Russian) Rabbi
Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk, (Bosnian) Rabbi Yehuda Solomon Alkalay
and (German) Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Kalischer. Other advocates of Jewish
independence include (American) Mordecai Manuel Noah, (Russian) Leon
Pinsker and (German) Moses Hess.
Moses Hess's 1862 work Rome and
Jerusalem. The Last National Question argued for the Jews to create a
socialist state in Palestine as a means of settling the Jewish question.
Also in 1862, German Orthodox Rabbi Kalischer published his tractate
Derishat Zion, arguing that the salvation of the Jews, promised by the
Prophets, can come about only by self-help. In 1882, Judah Leib
Pinsker published the pamphlet Auto-Emancipation, arguing that Jews
would not require emancipation in their own country and analyzing the
persistent tendency of Europeans to regard Jews as aliens:
"Since the Jew is nowhere at home, nowhere regarded as a native, he
remains an alien everywhere. That he himself and his ancestors as well
are born in the country does not alter this fact in the least... ...to
the living the Jew is a corpse, to the native a foreigner, to the
homesteader a vagrant, to the proprietary a beggar, to the poor an
exploiter and a millionaire, to the patriot a man without a country, for
all a hated rival."
Pinsker established the Hibbat Zion movement to actively promote
Jewish settlement in Palestine. In 1890, the "Society for the Support of
Jewish Farmers and Artisans in Syria and Eretz Israel" (better known as
the Odessa Committee) was officially registered as a charitable
organization in the Russian Empire, and by 1897, it counted over 4,000
Early British and American support for Jewish return
Ideas of the restoration of the Jews in the Land of Israel
entered British public discourse in the early 19th century, at about the
same time as the British Protestant Revival.
Not all such attitudes were favorable towards the Jews; they were
shaped in part by a variety of Protestant beliefs, or by a streak of philo-Semitism among the classically educated British elite,
or by hopes to extend the Empire.
At the urging of Lord Shaftesbury, Britain established a consulate in
Jerusalem in 1838, the first diplomatic appointment in the city. In
1839, the Church of Scotland sent Andrew Bonar and Robert Murray
M'Cheyne to report on the condition of the Jews there. The report was
widely published and was followed by a "Memorandum to Protestant
Monarchs of Europe for the restoration of the Jews to Palestine." In
August 1840, The Times reported that the British government was
considering Jewish restoration. Lord Lindsay wrote in 1847: "The
soil of Palestine still enjoys her sabbaths, and only waits for the
return of her banished children, and the application of industry,
commensurate with her agricultural capabilities, to burst once more into
universal luxuriance, and be all that she ever was in the days of
In her 1876 novel Daniel Deronda, George Eliot advocated "the
restoration of a Jewish state planted in the old ground as a center of a
national feeling, a source of dignifying protection, a special channel
for special energies and an added voice in the councils of the world."
Benjamin Disraeli wrote in his article entitled "The Jewish Question is
the Oriental Quest" (1877) that within fifty years, a nation of one
million Jews would reside in Palestine under the guidance of the
British. Moses Montefiore visited the Land of Israel seven times and
fostered its development.
In 1842, Mormon leader Joseph Smith sent a representative, Orson
Hyde, to dedicate the land of Israel for the return of the Jews.
Protestant theologian William Eugene Blackstone submitted a petition to
the US president in 1891; the Blackstone Memorial called for the return
of Palestine to the Jews.
First aliyah BILU in kuffiyeh
The first aliya
In the late 1870s, Jewish philanthropists such as the Montefiores and
the Rothschilds responded to the persecution of Jews in Eastern Europe
by sponsoring agricultural settlements for Russian Jews in Palestine.
The Jews who migrated in this period are known as the First Aliyah.
Aliyah is a Hebrew word meaning "ascent," referring to the act of
spiritually "ascending" to the Holy Land and a basic tenet of Zionism.
Founded in 1878, Petah Tikva was the first 'proper' Zionist
Rishon LeZion was founded on 31 July 1882 by a group of ten members
of Hovevei Zion from Kharkov (today's Ukraine).
In 1890, Palestine, which was part of the Ottoman Empire, was
inhabited by about 520,000 people, mostly Muslim and Christian Arabs,
but also 20-25,000 Jews.
Jaffa: General view from the sea looking east, 1898-1914. Matson
Establishment of the Zionist movement 1897–1917
In 1883, Nathan Birnbaum, 19 years old, founded Kadimah, the first
Jewish student association in Vienna and printed Pinsker's pamphlet
The Dreyfus Affair, which erupted in France in 1894, profoundly shocked
emancipated Jews. The depth of antisemitism in the first country to
grant Jews equal rights led many to question their future prospects
among Christians. Among those who witnessed the Affair was an
Austro-Hungarian (born in Budapest, lived in Vienna) Jewish journalist,
Theodor Herzl, who published his pamphlet Der Judenstaat ("The Jewish
State") in 1896 and Altneuland ("The Old New Land") in 1897. He
described the Affair as a personal turning point, Herzl argued that the
creation of a Jewish state would enable the Jews to join the family of
nations and escape antisemitism.
Herzl infused political Zionism with a new and practical urgency. He
brought the World Zionist Organization into being and, together with
Nathan Birnbaum, planned its First Congress at Basel in 1897.
The objectives of Zionism
During the First Zionist Congress, the following agreement, commonly
known as the Basel Program, was reached:
Zionism seeks to establish a home for the Jewish people in Palestine
secured under public law. The Congress contemplates the following means
to the attainment of this end:
-The promotion by appropriate means of the settlement in Eretz Israel
of Jewish farmers, artisans, and manufacturers.
-The organization and uniting of the whole of Jewry by means of
appropriate institutions, both local and international, in accordance
with the laws of each country.
-The strengthening and fostering of Jewish national sentiment and
-Preparatory steps toward obtaining the consent of governments, where
necessary, in order to reach the goals of Zionism.
"Under public law" is generally understood to mean seeking legal
permission from the Ottoman rulers for Jewish migration. In this text
the word "home" was substituted for "state" and "public law" for
"international law" so as not to alarm the Ottoman Sultan.
The organizational structure of the Zionist movement
For the first four years, the World Zionist Organization (WZO) met every
year, then, up to the Second World War, they gathered every second year.
Since the creation of Israel, the Congress has met every four years.
Theodor Herzl addresses the Second Zionist Congress in 1898.Congress
delegates were elected by the membership. Members were required to pay
dues known as a "shekel," At the congress, delegates elected a 30-man
executive council, which in turn elected the movement's leader. The
movement was democratic and women had the right to vote, which was still
absent in Great Britain in 1914.
The WZO's initial strategy was to obtain permission from the Ottoman
Sultan Abd-ul-Hamid II to allow systematic Jewish settlement in
Palestine. The support of the German Emperor, Wilhelm II, was sought,
but unsuccessfully. Instead, the WZO pursued a strategy of building a
homeland through persistent small-scale immigration and the founding of
such bodies as the Jewish National Fund (1901 - a charity which bought
land for Jewish settlement) and the Anglo-Palestine Bank (1903 -
provided loans for Jewish businesses and farmers).
Cultural Zionism and opposition to Herzl
Herzl's strategy relied on winning support from foreign rulers, in
particular the Ottoman Sultan. He also made efforts to cultivate
Orthodox rabbinical support. Rabbinical support depended on the Zionist
movement making no challenges to existing Jewish tradition. However, an
opposition movement arose which emphasized the need for a revolution in
Jewish thought. While Herzl believed that the Jews needed to return to
their historic homeland as a refuge from antisemitism, the opposition,
led by Ahad Ha'am, believed that the Jews must revive and foster a
Jewish national culture and, in particular strove to revive the Hebrew
language. Many also adopted Hebraized surnames. The opposition became
known as Cultural Zionists. Important Cultural Zionists include Ahad
Ha'am, Chaim Weizmann, Nahum Sokolow and Menahem Ussishkin.
The "Uganda" proposal
In 1903, the British Colonial Secretary, Joseph Chamberlain, suggested
the British Uganda Program, land for a Jewish state in "Uganda" (in
today's Uasin Gishu District, Eldoret, Kenya). Herzl initially rejected
the idea, preferring Palestine, but after the April 1903 Kishinev
pogrom, Herzl introduced a controversial proposal to the Sixth Zionist
Congress to investigate the offer as a temporary measure for Russian
Jews in danger. Despite its emergency and temporary nature, the proposal
proved very divisive, and widespread opposition to the plan was fueled
by a walkout led by the Russian Jewish delegation to the Congress.
Nevertheless, a committee was established to investigate the
possibility, which was eventually dismissed in the Seventh Zionist
Congress in 1905. After that, Palestine became the sole focus of Zionist
Israel Zangwill left the main Zionist movement over this decision and
founded the Jewish Territorialist Organization (ITO) . The
territorialists were willing to establish a Jewish homeland anywhere,
but failed to attract significant support and were dissolved in 1925.
The death of Herzl
By 1904, cultural Zionism was accepted by most Zionists and a schism was
beginning to develop between the Zionist movement and Orthodox Judaism.
In 1904, Herzl died unexpectedly at the age of 44 and the leadership was
taken over by David Wolfsohn, who led the movement until 1911. During
this period, the movement was based in Berlin (Germany's Jews were the
most assimilated) and made little progress, failing to win support among
the Young Turks after the collapse of the Ottoman Regime. From 1911 to
1921, the movement was led by Dr. Otto Warburg.
Anti-Zionism and alternative Proposals
Jewish Orthodox and Reform opposition
Under Herzl's leadership, Zionism relied on Orthodox Jews for religious
support, with the main party being the orthodox Mizrachi. However, as
the cultural and socialist Zionists increasingly broke with tradition
and used language contrary to the outlook of most religious Jewish
communities, many orthodox religious organizations began opposing
Zionism. Their opposition was based on its secularism and on the grounds
that only the Messiah could re-establish Jewish rule in Israel.
Therefore, most Orthodox Jews maintained the traditional Jewish belief
that while the Land of Israel was given to the ancient Israelites by
God, and the right of the Jews to that land was permanent and
inalienable, the Messiah must appear before the land could return to
While Zionism aroused Ashkenazi orthodox antagonism in Europe
(probably due to Modernist European antagonism to organized religion),
and also in the United States, it aroused no such antagonism in the
Prior to the Holocaust, Reform Judaism rejected Zionism as
inconsistent with the requirements of Jewish citizenship in the
In Eastern Europe the General Jewish Labor Union, otherwise known as the
Bund called for Jewish autonomy within Eastern Europe and promoted
Yiddish as the Jewish language. The Bund regarded Zionism as a form of
Bourgeois nationalism. As with Orthodox Judaism, while the official Bund
leadership opposed Zionism (as well as Orthodox Judaism), the rank and
file in practice, often had ties with other forms of Jewish life
including Zionism. The Bund's influence led to the development of
Socialist Zionism which competed with it for Jewish support. In 1917 the
Bund had 30,000 members in Russia, compared to 300,000 Zionist members.
A 1922 Bolshevik census found less then 1,000 Jewish party members.
Yehuda Leib and Fania Metman-Cohen arrived in Palestine in 1904,
the first year of the Second Aliyah.
The second aliya
In Palestine, the small Zionist community began to expand. Widespread
pogroms accompanied the 1905 Russian Revolution, inspired by the Black
Hundreds. This and the desire of many young Jews to avoid conscription
for the Russo-Japanese war led to a wave of immigrants to Palestine. The
new wave of immigrants resurrected the Hebrew Language.
Outside Jaffa, a new town called Tel-Aviv was established. The new town had a
modern school, the Herzliya Hebrew High School, which was the first
modern school to teach only in Hebrew. In Jerusalem, foundations were
laid for a Jewish University (the Hebrew University), one which would
teach only in Hebrew and which the Zionists hoped would help them prove
their usefulness to the Turks (this did not come to fruition until
1918). In Haifa, the cornerstone was laid for a Jewish Technical school,
Jewish migrants and organizations began making large land purchases,
in particular buying malarial swamps (of which there were many) and
draining them to produce highly fertile land.
Zionism in non-European Jewish communities
The 1911 edition of the Jewish Encyclopedia noted the movement's
spread: "not only in the number of Jews affiliated with the Zionist
organization and congress, but also in the fact that there is hardly a
nook or corner of the Jewish world in which Zionistic societies are not
to be found."
Zionism was not a purely Ashkenazi phenomenon. The first Zionist
branches in the Arab world opened in Morocco only a few years after the
first Zionist conference, and the movement was popular among Jews living
in Arab states. Although levels of persecution were generally lower in
the Arab world, Jews living in the Arab world still faced some religious
persecution, prejudice and occasional violence.
A number of the founders of the city of Tel Aviv were Moroccan Jewish
immigrants. Ottoman Salonika had a vigorous Zionist movement by 1908.
Socialist Zionism: a new Zionist movement
The chief rival to Zionism among young Jews in Eastern Europe was the
socialist movement. Many Jews were abandoning Judaism in favour of
Communism or supported the Bund, a Jewish socialist movement which
called for Jewish autonomy in Eastern Europe and promoted Yiddish as the
This led to the emergence of a new Zionist movement, the socialist
Zionists, who believed that the Jews' centuries of being oppressed in
anti-Semitic societies had reduced Jews to a meek, vulnerable,
despairing existence which invited further anti-Semitism. They argued
that Jews should redeem themselves from their history by becoming
farmers, workers, and soldiers in a country of their own. These
socialist Zionists rejected religion as perpetuating a "Diaspora
mentality" among the Jewish people and established rural communes in
Israel called "Kibbutzim". Major theoreticians of Socialist Zionism
included Moses Hess, Nahum Syrkin, Ber Borochov and Aaron David Gordon,
and leading figures in the movement included David Ben-Gurion and Berl
Katznelson. Socialist Zionists rejected Yiddish as a language of exile,
embracing Hebrew as the common Jewish tongue.
Gordon believed that the Jews lacked a "normal" class structure and
that the various classes that constitute a nation had to be created
artificially. Socialist Zionists therefore set about becoming Jewish
peasants and proletarians and focussed on settling land and working on
it. According to Gordon "the land if Israel is bought with labour: not
with blood and not with fire".
Opponents of Zionism usually claimed the land could not sustain a
large population and so could not house the huge number's of Jews in
Europe. Zionists were anxious to develop agriculture and water resources
so as to prove they could sustain millions of Jews.
Socialist Zionism became a dominant force in Israel. However, it
caused the schism between Zionism and some groups of Orthodox Jews to
Socialist Zionists formed youth movements which became influential
organizations in their own right including Hashomer Hatzair, Machanot
Halolim and Hanoar Haoved. Because of the lack of available immigration
permits to Palestine, the youth movements operated training programs in
Europe which prepared Jews for migration to Palestine. As a result most
Socialist-Zionist immigrants arrived already speaking Hebrew and
prepared for life in Palestine.
Early Zionism and the non-Jewish population of Palestine
Before 1917, Palestine's Arab population mostly saw themselves as
Ottoman subjects. They feared the objectives of the Zionist movement,
but they assumed the movement would fail. After the Young Turk
revolution in 1908, Arab Nationalism grew rapidly in the area and most
Arab Nationalists regarded Zionism as a threat, although a minority
perceived Zionism as providing a path to modernity.
While Zionist leaders and advocates followed conditions in the land
of Israel and travelled there regularly, their concern before 1917 was
with the future of the small Jewish settlement. A Jewish state seemed
highly unlikely at this point and realistic aspirations focussed on
creating a new centre for Jewish life. The future of the land's Arab
inhabitants concerned them as little as the welfare of the Jews
concerned Arab leaders.
The Zionist Movement in World War I and the Balfour
In the search for support, Herzl made most progress with the Kaiser,
joining him on his 1898 trip to Palestine. At the outbreak of war in
1914, the offices of the World Zionist Organization were located in
Berlin and the Zionist leader, Otto Warburg, was a German citizen. With
different sections of the movement supporting different sides in the
war, Zionist policy was to maintain strict neutrality and "to
demonstrate complete loyalty to Turkey."
At this time, England had a rapidly growing Jewish minority. About
150,000 Jews migrated there from Russia in the period 1881–1914. There
was pressure from British voters to halt the influx as well as a strong
love for the Old Testament in British society, which made Zionism an
In 1914, most Jews viewed Russia as the historic enemy of the Jewish
people, and there was tremendous support for Germany within the Jewish
community, particularly in the United States, where the many Russian and
German Jews supported the Germans alongside the large Irish-American
community. Britain was anxious to win US support for its war effort, and
winning over US Jews was considered vital. Most Russian Jewish
immigrants to Britain supported Germany in its war against Russia and
avoided the draft.
Following Turkey's entry into World War I, the Zionists were expelled
from Tel Aviv and its environs. A Polish Zionist, Ze'ev Jabotinsky,
worked to create a Jewish division in the British army. The Jewish
Legion provided a means of recruiting Russian immigrants to the British
war effort and was dominated by Zionist volunteers. The Jewish Legion
participated in the 1917 British invasion of Palestine and Jabotinsky
was awarded for bravery.
In 1915, the British government fell as a result of its inability to
manufacture sufficient artillery shells for the war effort. In the new
Government, David Lloyd George became the minister responsible for
armaments. Lloyd George was a Christian-Zionist and had represented the
Zionist movement in its dealings with the British Government over the
The most prominent Russian-Zionist migrant to Britain was Chaim
Weizmann. Weizmann developed a means for mass production of Acetone, a
critical ingredient of explosives that Britain was unable to
manufacture. He did not ask for any payment for his efforts. According
to Lloyd George, Weizman told him that he wanted no payment, just the
rights over Palestine. Weizmann became a close associate of Lloyd
George (Prime-Minister from 1916) and the First Lord of the Admiralty
(Foreign Secretary from 1916), Arthur Balfour.
In addition to the British desire to cement US Jewish support, there
was concern to keep Russia in the war after the overthrow of the Tzar in
February 1917. Jews were prominent in the new Russia, and it was hoped
that British support for Zionism would help keep Russia fighting
In 1917, the British Foreign Secretary, Arthur Balfour, made the
famous Declaration in favour of "the establishment in Palestine of a
national home for the Jewish people." The Declaration used the word
"home" rather than "state," and specified that its establishment must
not "prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish
communities in Palestine."
When the Balfour Declaration was issued in 1917, Edwin Montagu, the
only Jew in the British Cabinet, "was passionately opposed to the
declaration on the grounds that (a) it was a capitulation to
anti-Semitic bigotry, with its suggestion that Palestine was the natural
destination of the Jews, and that (b) it would be a grave cause of alarm
to the Muslim world.", the reference to the rights of non-Jews in
Palestine was thus demanded by the only Jew in the British cabinet.
Five days after the declaration was published, the Bolsheviks took
Massacres of Jews during the Russian civil war
The civil war that accompanied the Russian Revolution (1917), saw
terrible atrocities against Jews, particularly in the Ukraine:
...the one and a half million Jews of the Ukraine became the victims
of the most vicious attacks since the days of Khmelnitsky. Estimates of
the numbers killed run as high as one Jew out of every thirteen.
Hundreds of thousands were left homeless.
Antisemites assumed the Bolsheviks were largely Jewish (calling it
Jewish Bolshevism) and the Bolsheviks did give Jews equal rights as
individuals, however they were intolerant of religious Judaism (see Karl
Marx#Marx and antisemitism) and of Zionism, which was banned. As with
other groups the Soviets regarded with suspicion, large numbers were
sent to the Gulag.
The Communist party and its Jewish sections regarded the values of
the Jewish community as so alien to Marxist ideology and to the new
society to be based on it that they were determined to eradicate them as
soon as possible.
In 1917 there were 300,000 Zionist members in Russia. A 1922
Bolshevik census found less then 1,000 Jewish party members.
The British Mandate and the struggle for Palestine 1918–1939
Weizmann becomes leader
In 1921, the 12th Zionist congress (the first since 1913) was
held in Carlsbad, Czechoslovakia. 450 delegates attended, representing
780,000 fee paying Zionist members.Chaim Weizmann was elected president
in recognition of his role in creating the Balfour Declaration. The
conference resolution called on the leadership to "forge a true
understanding with the Arab nation". Weizmann led the movement until
1931. From 1931 to 1935 the WZO was presided by Nahum Sokolov (who had
also spent the first world war in Britain). Weizmann resumed presidency
of the WZO in 1935 and led it until 1946.
The League of Nations endorses Zionism
After the defeat and dismantling of the Ottoman Empire by
European colonial powers in 1918, the League of Nations endorsed the
full text of the Balfour Declaration and established the British Mandate
In addition to accepting the Balfour Declaration policy statement,
the League included that “[a]n appropriate Jewish agency shall be
recognised as a public body for the purpose of advising and co-operating
with the Administration of Palestine..." This inclusion paralleled a
similar proposal made by the Zionist Organization during the Paris Peace
The Zionist movement entered a new phase of activity. Its priorities
were encouraging Jewish settlement in Palestine, building the
institutional foundations of a Jewish state and raising funds for these
purposes. The 1920s did see a steady growth in the Jewish population and
the construction of state-like Jewish institutions, but also saw the
emergence of Palestinian Arab nationalism and growing resistance to
Expansion of the movement: the third and fourth aliya
The success of Zionism in getting international recognition for its
project led to growth in the membership and development of new forms of
Zionism. The period 1919-1923 saw migration by Jews escaping the civil
war in Russia, the period 1924-1929 migration by Jews escaping
antisemitic regimes in Poland and Hungary.
In the 1920s and 1930s, a small but vocal group of religious Jews began
to develop the concept of Religious Zionism under such leaders as Rabbi
Abraham Isaac Kook (the first Chief Rabbi of Palestine) and his son Zevi
Judah. Kook was concerned that growing secularization of Zionism and
antagonism towards it from the Orthodox Jews would lead to a schism. He
therefore sought to create a brand of Judaism which would serve as a
bridge between Orthodoxy and secular Jews.
The Religious Zionists established a youth movement called Bnei Akiva
and a number of Religious Kibbutzim.
The Revisionist Zionists were led originally by Ze'ev Jabotinsky. After
the 1929 Arab riots, the British banned Jabotinsky from re-entering
Palestine, and until his death in 1940, he advocated revisionist
ideology in Europe and America. In 1935 the Revisionists left the
mainstream Zionist Organization and formed the New Zionist Organization,
but they rejoining in 1946.
Revisionist Zionism was detested by the Socialist Zionist movement
which saw them as being capitalist and influenced by Fascism and the
movement caused a great deal of concern among Arab Palestinians.
Revisionism was popular in Poland but lacked large support in
Palestine. The Revisionists refused to comply with British quotas on
Jewish migration, and, following the election of Hitler in Germany, the
Revisionist youth movements Hehalutz and Beitar began to organize
illegal Jewish migration to Palestine. In Europe and America they
advocated pressing Britain to allow mass Jewish emigration and the
formation of a Jewish Army in Palestine. The army would force the Arab
population to accept mass Jewish migration and promote British interests
in the region.
Zionism and Feminism
The Zionist movement never restricted female suffrage. Women were active
in Zionist parties in many countries before women gained the franchise,
and ran for office in Poland where Zionist and other Jewish parties won
seats in parliament. In 1911, Zionist activist Hannah Meisel Shochat
established Havat Ha'Almot (the girl's farm) to train Zionist women in
farming so as to assist in the Zionist program of developing the land
for mass settlement. Rachel Bluwstein was one of the graduates. Zionist
settlers were usually young and far from their families so a relatively
free culture was able to develop. Within the Kibbutz movement child
rearing was done communally thus freeing women to work (and fight)
alongside the men. Roza Pomerantz-Meltzer was the first woman elected to
the Sejm, the Parliament of Poland. She was elected in 1919 as a member
of a Zionist party. In Mandatory Palestine women in Jewish
towns could vote in elections before women won the right to vote in
Jewish opposition to Zionism between the wars
International Jewish opinion remained divided on the merits of the
Zionist project. Some Jews in Europe and the United States argued that a
Jewish homeland was not needed and that Jews should become equal
citizens in their countries of residence.
Jews who embraced socialism and proletarian internationalism
sometimes opposed Zionism as a form of bourgeois nationalism. The
General Jewish Labor Union (Bund), which represented socialist Jews in
Eastern Europe, was anti-Zionist and called for Jewish autonomy within
Communist Jews often abandoned their connection with the religion,
sometimes completely ceasing to identify as Jews but many retained an
affiliation with their co-religionists and a sympathy for Zionism. In
1928, the Soviet Union established a Jewish Autonomous Oblast in the
Russian Far East but the effort failed to meet expectations and as of
2002 Jews constitute only about 1.2% of its population.
Zionism and the Arabs
Arab nationalists generally perceived Zionism as a threat. This sense
was heightened by the "Hebrew labor" movement of the twenties, which, in
an effort to prevent Zionist settlements turning into a standard
colonial enterprise and to secure the creation of a Jewish proletariat,
campaigned against the employment of cheap Arab labour.
Herzl's utopian novel Altneuland, which described a Jewish state,
includes an Arab citizen of the state called Reschid Bey (in
conversation with a Christian), who is happy to be a minority in a
well-run modern state:
"You're queer fellows, you Moslems. Don't you regard these Jews as
intruders?" "You speak strangely, Christian," responded the friendly
Reschid. "Would you call a man a robber who takes nothing from you, but
brings you something instead? The Jews have enriched us. Why should we
be angry with them? They dwell among us like brothers. Why should we not
In 1919 King Faisal I of Iraq (who was then King of Syria, before the
French expelled him), signed the Faisal-Weizmann Agreement. He wrote:
We Arabs, especially the educated among us, look with the deepest
sympathy on the Zionist movement. Our delegation here in Paris is fully
acquainted with the proposals submitted yesterday by the Zionist
organization to the Peace Conference, and we regard them as moderate and
In their first meeting in June 1918 Weizmann had assured Faisal that
the Jews did not propose to set up a government of their own but
wished to work under British protection, to colonize and develop
Palestine without encroaching on any legitimate interests
Initially Palestinian Arabs looked to the Arab-nationalist leaders to
create a single Arab state, however Faisal's agreement with Weizmann led
Palestinian-Arabs to develop their own brand of nationalism and call
for Palestine to become a state governed by the Arab majority, in
particular they demanded an elected assembly.
Zionist supporters were by now aware of Arab opposition, and this led
the movement in 1921 to pass a motion calling on the leadership to
"forge a true understanding with the Arab nation".
Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin el Husseini - World War 2
The Mufti and the emergence of Palestinian Nationalism
After 1920 Haj Amin al-Husseini became the
focus of Palestinian opposition to Zionism. Despite his involvement in
the 1920 Palestine riots, Herbert Samuel made him Mufti of Jerusalem in
The Mufti was concerned that Jews were seeking to rebuild the Jewish
Temple on the site of the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque and
responded by trying to prevent Jews from using the Kotel, also known as
the Wailing Wall which was then Waqf property (owned by the Moslem
authorities). He claimed it was sacred to the Muslims. Jews have
worshipped at the site since the Middle Ages and the British responded
by allowing Jews to attend the site but denying them the right to sit
down or use furniture of any kind (seats had been used under the
Religious tension, an international economic crisis (affecting crop
prices) and nationalist tension (over Zionist immigration) led to the
1929 Palestine riots. In these religious-nationalist riots Jews were
massacred in Hebron and the survivors forced to leave the town.
Devastation also took place in Safed and Jerusalem. This violence was
directed against the non-Zionist orthodox communities; Zionist
communities were able to defend themselves and had established defence
organizations. As a result the orthodox community in Palestine was
increasingly dependent on Zionist support and protection.
In 1936 an Arab uprising occurred, which lasted for three years. The
Supreme Muslim Council in Palestine, led by the Mufti, organized the
revolt. During the revolt the Mufti was forced to flee to Iraq, where he
was involved in a pro-Nazi coup during which the Jewish areas of Baghdad
were subjected to a pogrom.
In 1939 he rejected the British White Paper despite extensive
concessions to the Arab population.
After the British reoccupied Iraq the Mufti joined the Nazis. He
worked with Himmler and aided the SS his main role was broadcasting
propaganda and recruiting Moslems, primarily for the Waffen SS in
Bosnia. There is also evidence that he was active in promoting the Nazi
In 1948 the Mufti returned to Egypt from where he made his way to
Palestine and assumed command of the Palestinian-Arab forces.
Growing conflict with the Palestinian Arab population
One issue fatally divided Arab and Jew in Palestine: immigration. Jews
would not compromise over immigration which they needed as a means of
escaping European persecution and which was a core doctrine of Zionism.
The Arabs for their part could not compromise on immigration because to
do so would effectively end their majority in Palestine. As time went on
the conflict between the two communities became increasingly bitter.
British immigration restrictions
British support for Zionism was always controversial and the issue was
periodically debated in Parliament. Following the Arab riots in 1922,
Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill decided to remove the Transjordan
area of Palestine and use it to fulfill British promises to Sharif
Hussein, making one of his sons King of Transjordan.
Churchill also restricted Jewish migration to an annual quota decided
by the British. Certificates allowing migration were distributed by the
Jewish Agency. Jews with 1000 Pounds in cash or Jewish professionals
with 500 Pounds in cash could emigrate freely. Churchill's reforms made
it hard for Arab Jews, Orthodox Jews and Revisionist Zionistsfrom
Poland to migrate to Palestine as the Jewish Agency was dominated by
European Zionists, and increasingly by Socialist Zionists. Immigration
restrictions did, however mean that Jewish immigrants to Palestine had
to prove their loyalty and dedication by spending years preparing for
migration. Many immigrants arrived after rigorous preparation including
agricultural and ideological training and learning Hebrew.
The rise of Hitler: the fifth aliya and illegal migration
During the 1920s antisemitism gained popularity across Europe. By 1928,
nations were increasingly legislating to prevent Jews from entering and
new European states established after the First World War perceived Jews
as a threat to their stability. Many countries feared that immigrating
Jews would bring revolutionary ideas and Jews were often perceived as
being a negative moral influence on society.
The rise to power of Adolf Hitler in Germany in 1933 produced a
powerful new impetus for Zionism. The claim that Jews could live
securely as minorities in Christian societies was deeply undermined as
Germany had been regarded the country in which Jews had most
successfully integrated. With nearly all countries closed to Jewish
immigration, a wave of migrants headed for Palestine. Those unable to
pay the fees demanded by the British had to join waiting lists.
Nazi efforts to push Jews out of Germany were undermined by their
refusal to allow Jews to take their property with them. In response
Arlozorov negotiated an agreement with the Nazis, the Haavara agreement,
whereby German Jews could export capital goods to Palestine. In
Palestine the goods were sold and the income given to the migrants. As a
result of this agreement Arlozorov was assassinated, probably by members
of the Irgun.
In 1934 the Revisionists started organizing illegal emigration to
Palestine. The Jewish population of Palestine began to rise fast and the
financial influx led to an economic boom (ironically leading to Arab
migration to Palestine), but the rapid rise of Jewish migration led to
an Arab revolt.
In 1938 the pressure in Europe led left-wing Zionists to organize
illegal immigration too.
The Struggle Against Britain and the Nazis 1939–1948
The 1939 White Paper and the British break with Zionism
In Britain as elsewhere in Europe, the 1930s saw an increase in
antisemitism. A British politician, Oswald Mosley, formed the British
Union of Fascists, which claimed that "the Jews" were leading Britain to
war and campaigned for peace with Germany. British support for
Zionism was further undermined by the 1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine
and concern that millions of Jews would soon be seeking entry to
Palestine. The Nuremberg Laws effectively ended the 500,000 Jews of
Germany status as citizens, making them refugees in their own country.
In March 1938 Hitler annexed Austria making its 200,000 Jews stateless
refugees. In September the British agreed to Nazi annexation of the
Sudetenland making a further 100,000 Jews refugees.
In the absence of alternative destinations, over 100,000 German Jews
headed for Palestine.
In 1939 the British issued a White Paper, in which they declared that
a Jewish National Home now existed and that their obligations under the
mandate were fulfilled. Further migration would be harmful to the Arab
population. A further 10,000 Jews a year were to be admitted from 1939
to 1944 as well as a one-time allowance of 25,000 in view of the
situation in Europe. After that Jewish migration would require (the
extremely unlikely) agreement of the Arab majority (by this time Jews
were about a third of the population). The British promised Palestinians
independence by 1949 and banned Jews from purchasing land in 95% of
The British were concerned about maintaining Arab support as Italian
Fascist and German Nazi propaganda was targeting the Arab world (and
winning support). Jewish support in the fight against Fascism was
guaranteed. In Palestine, Zionists increasingly viewed the British
as an enemy, but they deemed the fight against the Nazis more important.
In 1940 a group led by Avraham Stern, later known as Lehi, left the
Irgun over its refusal to fight the British.
State of the Zionist movement on the eve of World War II
In 1938–39 the Zionist movement had 1,040,540 members in 61 countries.
Zionism was banned in Turkey. Likewise though a significant proportion
of the movement's supporters originally came from the USSR, under
Stalin. Zionism and Orthodox Judaism were banned and Jews were prominent
among the victims of the Soviet genocide.
The following figures relate to the last pre-war Zionist congress in
Geneva, 1939. Elections for the congress were held in 48 countries and
529 delegates attended. Members of the movement voted for the parties.
Each party submitted a delegate list. Seats were distributed to the
parties according to the number of votes they obtained and candidates
elected in the order in which they were named on the list. This system
today forms the basis for Israeli elections.
political party at the 1939 Zionist congress
|General Zionists (centre)
|General Zionists (conservative)
|Radical Workers [far left]
|State Party [right-wing]
Members and delegates at the 1939
Zionist congress, per country
Zionism during the Holocaust
During the Holocaust Europe's Jews were cut off from and disowned by the
outside world. Jews were systematically impoverished, starved and
murdered. Where Jews did succeed in fighting the Nazis, Zionists were
prominent in the resistance. Nazi allies (Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and
Croatia were responsible for the deaths of at least 10% of the 6 million
Jews killed in the Holocaust, mainly Romania. In one particular incident
on 22-24/10/1941 30,000 Jews were burnt alive by Romanian troops. Axis
governments, local police forces and local volunteers across Europe
played a critical role in rounding up or executing Jews for the Nazis.
The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of January and April 1943 included the
participation of both right- and left-leaning Zionist organizations.
Zionists of all political spectra played a leading role in the
struggle. The uprising's left-leaning survivors eventually made
their way to Palestine and founded two Kibbutzim, Lohamey ha-Geta'ot and
In Palestine the Zionist leadership instructed all able-bodied Jews
to volunteer for the British Army. In addition there was an effort to
parachute fighters into Europe, though little came of this. Fearing a
Nazi invasion, the Jewish community prepared for a final stand to be
made against the Nazis.
Overall there was little they could do. In the words of Tom Segev:
"The story of the yishuv leaders during the Holocaust was
essentially one of helplessness. They rescued a few thousand Jews from
Europe. They could, perhaps have saved more, but they could not save
Efforts were made to offer the Nazis money for the release of Jews.
However, these efforts were systematically (and, according to Segev,
cynically) destroyed by the British.
The 1942 Zionist conference could not be held because of the war.
Instead 600 Jewish leaders (not just Zionists) met at the Biltmore Hotel
in New York and adopted a statement known as the Biltmore Program.
They agreed that the Zionist movement would seek the creation of a
Jewish state after the war and that all Jewish organizations would fight
to ensure free Jewish migration into Palestine.
Impact of the Holocaust
The Nazi-inspired genocide in Europe had grave consequences for the
-A large section of the membership was wiped out. The damage was
particularly great in Poland where about a third of the Zionist members
had lived (the Russian membership had been lost to communism).
-Those Jews who were not killed lost their possessions; the ability of
the Zionist movement to raise money in Europe was severely reduced.
This calamity led to important changes in Jewish and Zionist politics:
-Many Jews were now desperate to leave Europe and willing to take
grave risks for that purpose
-All Jews now agreed on the need for a Jewish state where Jews could live
free of the fear of persecution and which would provide a haven in times
-The Jews of the USA were now the dominant force in Jewish politics.
-More Jews were prepared to mobilize on behalf of their brethren.
-Britain was now weakened and less able to resist international pressure.
The rapid growth of illegal immigration to Palestine
In 1945, President Truman sent a personal representative, Earl G.
Harrison, to investigate the situation of the Jewish survivors ("Sh'erit
ha-Pletah") in Europe. Harrison reported that
substantial unofficial and unauthorized movements of people must be
expected, and these will require considerable force to prevent, for the
patience of many of the persons involved is, and in my opinion with
justification, nearing the breaking point. It cannot be overemphasized
that many of these people are now desperate, that they have become
accustomed under German rule to employ every possible means to reach
their end, and that the fear of death does not restrain them.
Despite winning the 1945 British election with a manifesto promising
to create a Jewish state in Palestine, the Labour Government succumbed
to Foreign Office pressure and kept Palestine closed to Jewish
In Europe former Jewish partisans led by Abba Kovner began to
organize escape routes ("Berihah" taking Jews from Eastern Europe
down to the Mediterranean where the Jewish Agency organized ships
("Aliyah Bet") to illegally carry them to Palestine.
The British government responded by trying to force Jews to return to
their places of origin. Holocaust survivors entering the British Zone
were denied assistance or forced to live in hostels with former Nazi
collaborators (Britain gave asylum to a large number of Belorussian Nazi
collaborators after the war). In American-controlled zones, political
pressure from Washington allowed Jews to live in their own quarters and
meant the US Army helped Jews trying to escape the centres of genocide.
Despite the death of almost a third of the world's Jews during the
Second World War, the number of fee paying members of the Zionist
movement continued to grow. The December 1946 Zionist congress in Basle
(Switzerland) attracted 375 delegates from 43 countries representing two
million fee paying members. As before the largest parties were the
Socialist Zionist parties although these lacked a full majority. Only
ten of the delegates were British Jews.
The 1947 UN decision to partition Palestine
In 1947 Britain announced its intention to withdraw from Palestine. An
United Nations Special committee investigated the situation and offered
two solutions :
-to establish a bi-national state in Palestine (the minority option);
-to partition Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state.
From the Zionist point of view, the second option corresponded to their
goal and they gave full support to this.
On 29 November the United Nations General Assembly voted to partition
Palestine into an Arab state and a Jewish state (with Jerusalem becoming
an international enclave). Amid public rejoicing in Jewish communities
in Palestine, the Jewish Agency accepted the plan. The Palestinian Arab
leadership and the Arab League rejected the decision and announced that
they would not abide by it. Civil conflict between the Arabs and Jews in
Palestine ensued immediately.
Zionism after the creation of Israel
David Ben Gurion (First Prime Minister of Israel) publicly
pronouncing the Declaration of the State of Israel, May 14, 1948, Tel
Aviv, Israel, beneath a large portrait of Theodore Herzl, founder of
modern political Zionism.On 14 May 1948 the leaders of the Jewish
community in Palestine made a declaration of independence, and the state
of Israel was established. This marked a major turning point in the
Zionist movement, as its principal goal had now been accomplished. Many
Zionist institutions were reshaped, and the three military movements
combined to form the Israel Defence Forces. The continuing conflict with
the Arabs can be read in the article on the History of Israel or the
Since 1948 the international Zionist movement has undertaken a
variety of roles in support of Israel. These have included the
encouragement of immigration, assisting the absorption and integration
of immigrants, fundraising on behalf of settlement and development
projects in Israel, the encouragement of private capital investment in
Israel, and mobilization of world public opinion in support of Israel.
Most Jews have come to identify as Zionists, in the sense that they
support the State of Israel even if they do not choose to live there.
This worldwide support has been of vital importance to Israel, both
politically and financially.
The 1967 war between Israel and the Arab states (the "Six-Day War")
marked a major turning point in the history of both Israel and of
Zionism. Israeli forces captured the eastern half of Jerusalem,
including the holiest of Jewish religious sites, the Western Wall of the
ancient Temple. They also took over the remaining territories of
pre-1948 Palestine, the West Bank (from Jordan) the Gaza Strip (from
Egypt) as well as the Golan Heights (from Syria).
The 28th Zionist Congress (Jerusalem, 1968) adopted the following
five principles, known as the "Jerusalem Program", as the aims of
-The unity of the Jewish people and the centrality of Israel in Jewish
-The ingathering of the Jewish people in the historic homeland, Eretz
Israel, through aliyah from all countries
-The strengthening of the State of Israel, based on the "prophetic vision
of justice and peace"
-The preservation of the identity of the Jewish people through the
fostering of Jewish, Hebrew and Zionist education and of Jewish
spiritual and cultural values
-The protection of Jewish rights everywhere.
The election of 1977, characterized as “the revolution”, brought the
nationalistic, right-wing Revisionist Zionists to power, after thirty
years of opposition to the dominant Labor party and indicated further
movement to the political right. Joel Greenburg, writing in the New York
Times twenty years after the election, notes its significance and that
of related events; he writes:
The seed was sown in 1977, when Menachem Begin of Likud brought his
party to power for the first time in a stunning election victory over
Labor. A decade before, in the 1967 war, Israeli troops had in effect
undone the partition accepted in 1948 by overrunning the West Bank and
Gaza Strip. Ever since, Mr. Begin had preached undying loyalty to what
he called Judea and Samaria (the West Bank lands) and promoted Jewish
settlement there. But he did not annex the West Bank and Gaza to Israel
after he took office, reflecting a recognition that absorbing the
Palestinians could turn Israel it into a binational state instead of a
Control of the West Bank and Gaza placed Israel in the position of
control over a large population of Palestinian Arabs. This policy was
partially abandoned in 2004 leading to the unilateral withdrawal from
Gaza. Since Israel founding, Zionism and its ideological underpinnings
have become less important in Israeli politics, except for on-going
national debate over the nature of what is meant by a "Jewish State,"
and the geographic limits of the State of Israel.
The campaign to free the Jews of the USSR
After 1967, the Zionist movement mounted a major campaign to pressure
the USSR to allow Soviet Jews to migrate to Israel. In 1975 the
United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3379 was passed. It stated
that "zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination."
Resolution 3379 was rescinded in 1991 by the Resolution 4686. This
issue is discussed in length in the article on anti-Zionism.
The symbol of the First Zionist Congress
Timeline of Zionism
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Late 18th Century, A.D..
Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk along with a large group of followers
emigrates and settles in Safed. In 1783 they were forced out of Safed,
and moved to Tiberias.
Early 19th Century, A.D..
The first group of Perushim, influenced by the teachings of the Vilna
Gaon, leaves Shklov and after a 15-month journey settles in Jerusalem
Judah Alkalai publishes his pamphlet Darhei No'am (The Pleasant Paths)
advocating the restoration of the Jews in the Land of Israel, followed
in 1840 by Shalom Yerushalayim (The Peace of Jerusalem).
Mordecai Noah publishes Discourse on the Restoration of the Jews.
The Old Yishuv Jews constitute the largest of several ethno-religious
groups in Jerusalem. See Demographics of Jerusalem.
Late 19th Century, A.D..
The Zion Society is formed in Frankfurt, Germany.
Mishkenot Sha’ananim : first neighborhood outside the Old City of
Jerusalem, built by Sir Moses Montefiore.
Moses Hess writes Rome and Jerusalem. The Last National Question (text)
arguing for the Jews to return to the Land of Israel, and proposes a
socialist country in which the Jews would become agrarianised through a
process of "redemption of the soil". His ideas later evolved into the
Labor Zionism movement.
Zvi Hirsch Kalischer publishes Derishat Zion, maintains that the
salvation of the Jews, promised by the Prophets, can come about only by
self-help. His ideas contributed to the Religious Zionism movement.
Mark Twain visits Palestine as part of a tour of what westerners call
the Holy Land.
Twain publishes The Innocents Abroad, or The New Pilgrims' Progress
documenting his observations through his travels. He indicated he
observed that Palestine was primarily an uninhabited desert. His account
was widely circulated and remains a controversial snap-shot of the area
in the late 1800s.
Mikveh Israel, the first modern Jewish agricultural school and
settlement was established in the Land of Israel by Charles Netter of
the Alliance Israélite Universelle.
The group Hovevei Zion (Lovers of Zion) sets up 30 Jewish farming
communities in the Land of Israel.
Galician poet Naphtali Herz Imber writes a poem Tikvatenu (Our Hope),
later adopted as the Zionist hymn Hatikvah.
Petah Tikva is founded by Jerusalem Jews, but abandoned after
difficulties. Resettled in 1882 with help from first aliyah.
Pogroms in the Russian Empire kill several Jews and injure large
numbers, destroy thousands of Jewish homes, and motivate hundreds of
thousands of Jews to flee.
Over two million of the Russian Jews emigrate. Most go to the US, others
elsewhere, some to the Land of Israel. The first group of Biluim
organize in Kharkov.
Eliezer ben Yehuda makes aliyah and leads efforts to revive Hebrew as a
common spoken language.
1882 January 1
Leon Pinsker publishes pamphlet Autoemancipation (text) urging the
Jewish people to strive for independence and national consciousness.
Baron Edmond James de Rothschild begins buying land in the region of
Palestine and financing Jewish agricultural settlements and industrial
The First Aliyah, major wave (estimated at 25,000-35,000) of Jewish
immigration to Ottoman-occupied Palestine.
Rishon LeZion, Rosh Pinna, Zikhron Ya'aqov are founded.
Rabbi Isaac Rülf publishes Aruchas Bas-Ammi, calling for a
Hebrew-speaking Jewish homeland in Palestine.
Austrian publisher Nathan Birnbaum coins the term Zionism for Jewish
nationalism in his journal Self Emancipation.
The Russian Tsarist government approves the establishment of "The
Society for the Support of Jewish Farmers and Artisans in Syria and
Eretz Israel," a charity organization which came to be known as "The
The Dreyfus affair makes the problem of antisemitism prominent in
After covering the trial and aftermath of Captain Dreyfus and witnessing
the associated mass anti-semitic rallies in Paris, which included
chants, "Death to Jews", Jewish-Austro-Hungarian journalist Theodor
Herzl writes Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State) advocating the creation
of a Jewish state.
Herzl unsuccessfully approaches world leaders for assistance in the
creation of a Jewish National Home.
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is founded.
The First Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland, urges "a publicly and
legally assured home in Palestine" for Jews and establishes the World
Zionist Organization (WZO).
January 13, 1898
The French writer Émile Zola exposed the Dreyfus affair to the general
public in a famously incendiary open letter to President Félix Faure to
which the French journalist and politician Georges Clemenceau affixed
the headline "J'accuse!" (I accuse!). Zola's world fame and
internationally respected reputation brought international attention to
Dreyfus' unjust treatment.
Sholom Aleichem writes an Yiddish language pamphlet Why Do the Jews Need
a Land of Their Own?
Henry Pereira Mendes publishes Looking Ahead: Twentieth Century
Happenings, the premise of which is that the restoration of Jewish
sovereignty over historic Israel is essential to the world's peace and
Early 20th Century, A.D.
Fifth Zionist Congress establishes the Jewish National Fund.
Herzl publishes the novel Altneuland (The Old New Land), which takes
place in Palestine.
More pogroms in Russian Empire. Unlike the 1881 pogroms, which focused
primarily on property damage, these pogroms resulted in the deaths of at
least 2,000 Jews and an even higher number of non-Jews.
Uganda Proposal for settlement in East Africa splits the 6th Zionist
Congress. A committee is created to look into it.
The Second Aliyah occurs. Approximately 40,000 Jews immigrated into
Ottoman-occupied Palestine, mostly from Russia. The prime cause for the
aliyah was mounting anti-Semitism in Russia and pogroms in the Pale of
Settlement. Nearly half of these immigrants left Palestine by the time
World War I started.
Tel Aviv is founded on sand dunes near Jaffa.
1915 October-1916 January
McMahon-Hussein Correspondence, agreeing to give Arabia to Arabs, if
Arabs will fight the Turks. The Arab Revolt began in June 1916.
1916 May 16
Britain and France sign the secret Sykes-Picot Agreement which details
the proposed division of Arabia at the conclusion of World War I into
French and British spheres of influence.
The formation of the Jewish Legion (Zion Mule Corps), initiated in 1914
by Joseph Trumpeldor and Zeev Jabotinsky.
T.E. Lawrence leads Arab militias to defeat various Turkish Garrisons in
1917 November 2
The British Government issues the Balfour Declaration which documented
three main ideas:
First, it declared official support from the British Government for "the
establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people",
and promised that the British Government would actively aid in the these
Second, it documented that the British Government would not support
actions that would prejudice the civil and religious rights of the
existing non-Jewish residents of Palestine.
Finally, it confirmed that Jews living in any other country would,
similarly, not be prejudiced.
1917 November 23
Bolsheviks release the full text of the previously secret Sykes-Picot
Agreement in Izvestia and Pravda; it is subsequently printed in the
Manchester Guardian on November 26.
The British Army gains control of Palestine with military occupation, as
the Ottoman Empire collapses in World War I.
Massive pogroms accompanied the Russian Revolution of 1917 (the Russian
Civil War), resulting in the death of an estimated 70,000 to 250,000
civilian Jews throughout the former Russian Empire; the number of Jewish
orphans exceeded 300,000.
The Third Aliyah was triggered by the October Revolution in Russia, the
ensuing pogroms there and in Poland and Hungary, the British conquest of
Palestine and the Balfour Declaration. Approximately 40,000 Jews arrived
in Palestine during this time.
The San Remo conference of the Allied Supreme Council in Italy resulted
in an agreement that a Mandate for Palestine to Great Britain would be
reviewed and then issued by the League of Nations. The mandate would
contain similar content to the Balfour Declaration, which indicates that
Palestine will be a homeland for Jews, and that the existing non-Jews
would not have their rights infringed. In anticipation of this
forthcoming mandate, the British military occupation shifts to a civil
Histadrut, Haganah, Vaad Leumi are founded.
Chaim Weizmann becomes new President of the WZO at the 12th Zionist
Congress (the first since World War I).
Britain grants autonomy to Transjordan under Crown Prince Abdullah.
Jewish settlement is outlawed there.
The offer of a Mandate for Palestine to Great Britain from the San Remo
conference is confirmed by the League of Nations.
Mandate for Palestine to Great Britain comes into effect.
Britain cedes the Golan Heights to the French Mandate of Syria.
Jabotinsky establishes the revisionist party Hatzohar and its youth
The Fourth Aliyah was a direct result of the economic crisis and
anti-Jewish policies in Poland, along with the introduction of stiff
immigration quotas by the United States. The Fourth Aliyah brought
82,000 Jews to British-occupied Palestine, of whom 23,000 left.
The Fifth Aliyah was primarily a result of the Nazi accession to power
in Germany (1933) and later throughout Europe. Persecution and the Jews'
worsening situation caused immigration from Germany to increase and from
Eastern Europe to continue. Nearly 250,000 Jews arrived in
British-occupied Palestine during the Fifth Aliyah (20,000 of them left
later). From this time on, the practice of "numbering" the waves of
immigration was discontinued.
Aliyah Bet: Jewish refugees flee Germany because of persecution under
the Nazi government with many turned away as illegal because of the
British-imposed immigration limit.
The British propose a partition between Jewish and Arab areas. It is
accepted by the Zionists, but rejected by the Arab parties (See Jewish
Great Uprising by Arabs against British rule and Jewish immigration.
The British government issues the White Paper of 1939, which sets an
absolute limit of 75,000 on future Jewish immigration to Palestine and
increases Zionist opposition to British rule.
The Biltmore Conference makes a fundamental departure from traditional
Zionist policy and demands "that Palestine be established as a Jewish
Commonwealth" (state), rather than a “homeland.” This sets the ultimate
aim of the movement.
Late 20th Century, A.D..
1947 November 29
The United Nations approves partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab
states. It is accepted by the Jews, but rejected by the Arab leaders
(See  ).
1947 November 30
The 1947–1948 Civil War in Mandatory Palestine starts between Jewish
forces, centered around the Haganah and Palestinians supported by the
Arab Liberation Army.
1948 May 14
Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel
1948 May 15
Five neighboring Arab countries invade, and the 1948 Arab-Israeli war
The United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3379 equates Zionism with
The UN GA resolution 3379 is revoked by Resolution 4686.
Jews place of wailing, 1860
Austrian Zionist leader
born May 2, 1860, Budapest, Hungary, Austrian Empire [now in Hungary]
died July 3, 1904, Edlach, Austria
founder of the political form of Zionism, a movement to establish a
Jewish homeland. His pamphlet The Jewish State (1896) proposed that the
Jewish question was a political question to be settled by a world
council of nations. He organized a world congress of Zionists that met
in Basel, Switz., in August 1897 and became first president of the World
Zionist Organization, established by the congress. Although Herzl died
more than 40 years before the establishment of the State of Israel, he
was an indefatigable organizer, propagandist, and diplomat who had much
to do with making Zionism into a political movement of worldwide
Herzl was born of well-to-do middle-class parents. He first studied in a
scientific secondary school, but to escape from its anti-Semitic
atmosphere he transferred in 1875 to a school where most of the students
were Jews. In 1878 the family moved from Budapest to Vienna, where he
entered the University of Vienna to study law. He received his license
to practice law in 1884 but chose to devote himself to literature. For a
number of years he was a journalist and a moderately successful
In 1889 he married Julie Naschauer, daughter of a wealthy Jewish
businessman in Vienna. The marriage was unhappy, although three children
were born to it. Herzl had a strong attachment to his mother, who was
unable to get along with his wife. These difficulties were increased by
the political activities of his later years, in which his wife took
Conversion to Zionism.
A profound change began in Herzl’s life soon after a sketch he had
published in the leading Viennese newspaper, Neue Freie Presse, led to
his appointment as the paper’s Paris correspondent. He arrived in Paris
with his wife in the fall of 1891 and was shocked to find in the
homeland of the French Revolution the same anti-Semitism with which he
had become so familiar in Austria. Hitherto he had regarded
anti-Semitism as a social problem that the Jews could overcome only by
abandoning their distinctive ways and assimilating to the people among
whom they lived. At the same time, his work as a newspaperman heightened
his interest in, and knowledge of, social and political affairs and led
him to the conviction that the answer to anti-Semitism was not
assimilation but organized counterefforts by the Jews. The Dreyfus
affair in France also helped crystallize this belief. French military
documents had been given to German agents, and a Jewish officer named
Alfred Dreyfus had been falsely charged with the crime. The ensuing
political controversy produced an outburst of anti-Semitism among the
French public. Herzl said in later years that it was the Dreyfus affair
that had made a Zionist out of him. So long as anti-Semitism existed,
assimilation would be impossible, and the only solution for the majority
of Jews would be organized emigration to a state of their own.
Herzl was not the first to conceive of a Jewish state. Orthodox Jews
had traditionally invoked the return to Zion in their daily prayers. In
1799 Napoleon had thought of establishing a Jewish state in the ancient
lands of Israel. The English statesman Benjamin Disraeli, a Jew, had
written a Zionist novel, Tancred. Moses Hess, a friend and co-worker of
Karl Marx, had published an important book, Rom und Jerusalem (1862), in
which he declared the restoration of a Jewish state a necessity both for
the Jews and for the rest of humanity. Among the Jews of Russia and
eastern Europe, a number of groups were engaged in trying to settle
emigrants in agricultural colonies in Palestine. After the Russian
pogroms of 1881, Leo Pinsker had written a pamphlet,
“Auto-Emanzipation,” an appeal to western European Jews to assist in the
establishment of colonies in Palestine. When Herzl read it some years
later, he commented in his diary that, if he had known of it, he might
never have written The Jewish State.
Herzl’s first important Zionist effort was an interview with Baron
Maurice de Hirsch, one of the wealthiest men of his time. De Hirsch had
founded the Jewish Colonization Association with the aim of settling
Jews from Russia and Romania in Argentina and other parts of the
Americas. The 35-year-old journalist arrived at the Baron’s mansion in
Paris with 22 pages of notes, in which he argued the need for a
political organization to rally the Jews under a flag of their own,
rather than leaving everything to the philanthropic endeavours of
individuals like the Baron. The conversation was notable for its effect
on Herzl rather than on the Baron de Hirsch, who refused to hear him
out. It led to Herzl’s famous pamphlet The Jewish State, published in
February 1896 in Vienna. The Jewish question, he wrote, was not a social
or religious question but a national question that could be solved only
by making it “a political world question to be discussed and settled by
the civilized nations of the world in council.” Some of Herzl’s friends
thought it a mad idea, but the pamphlet won favourable response from
eastern European Zionist societies. In June 1896, when Herzl was en
route to Constantinople (Istanbul) in the hope of talking to the Ottoman
sultan about obtaining the grant of Palestine as an independent country,
his train stopped in Sofia, Bulg.; hundreds of Jews were present at the
station to greet Herzl and to hail him as a leader. Although he remained
in Constantinople for 11 days, he failed to reach the Sultan. But he had
begun the career as organizer and propagandist that would end only with
his death eight years later.
The First Zionist Congress.
Herzl went to London in an effort to organize the Jews there in support
of his program. Not all the Jewish leaders in England were happy to see
him because his political approach was not in tune with their ideas, but
at public meetings in the East End he was loudly cheered. He was a tall,
impressive figure with a long black beard and the mien of a prophet.
Despite his personal magnetism, he found that his efforts to influence
Jewish leaders in England were of little avail and therefore decided to
organize a world congress of Zionists in the hope of winning support
from the masses of Jews in all countries. He proposed to hold the
congress in Munich, but as the Jews there—who were mostly
assimilated—opposed it, he settled upon Basel. The congress met at the
end of August 1897, attended by about 200 delegates, mostly from central
and eastern Europe and Russia along with a few from western Europe and
even the United States. They represented all social strata and every
variety of Jewish thought—from Orthodox Jews to atheists and from
businessmen to students. There were also several hundred onlookers,
including some sympathetic Christians and reporters for the
international press. When Herzl’s imposing figure came to the podium,
there was tumultuous applause. “We want to lay the foundation stone,” he
declared, “for the house which will become the refuge of the Jewish
nation. Zionism is the return to Judaism even before the return to the
land of Israel.” One of Herzl’s most faithful supporters was the writer
Max Nordau, who gave a brilliant address in which he described the
plight of the Jews in the East and in the West. The three-day congress
agreed upon a program, henceforth to be known as the Basel Program,
declaring that “Zionism aspires to create a publicly guaranteed homeland
for the Jewish people in the land of Israel.” It also set up the Zionist
Organization with Herzl as president.
The seven remaining years of his life were devoted to the furtherance of
the Zionist cause, although he remained literary editor of the Neue
Freie Presse in order to earn a living. He established a Zionist
newspaper, Die Welt, published as a German-language weekly in Vienna. He
negotiated unsuccessfully with the Sultan of Turkey for the grant of a
charter that would allow Jewish mass settlement in Palestine on an
autonomous basis. He then turned to Great Britain, which seemed
favourable to the establishment of a Jewish settlement in British
territory in the Sinai Peninsula. When this project failed, the British
proposed Uganda in East Africa. This offer, which he and some other
Zionists were willing to accept, aroused violent opposition at the
Zionist congress of 1903, particularly among the Russians. Herzl was
unable to resolve the conflict. He died of a heart ailment at Edlach,
near Vienna, at the age of 44. He was buried in Vienna, but, in
accordance with his wish, his remains were removed to Jerusalem in 1949
after the creation of the Jewish state and entombed on a hill west of
the city now known as Mt. Herzl.
After the First Zionist Congress in Basel, Herzl had written in his
If I had to sum up the Basel Congress in one word—which I shall not
do openly—it would be this: At Basel I founded the Jewish state. If I
were to say this today, I would be greeted by universal laughter. In
five years, perhaps, and certainly in 50, everyone will see it.
While the Jewish state was the product of many complex historic
forces, including two world wars and the labours of Herzl’s many
followers, it was he who organized the political force of Jewry that was
able to take advantage of the accidents of history. Through the strength
of his personality, he aroused the enthusiasm of the Jewish masses and
gained the respect of many statesmen of his time, in spite of the
opposition of some Jewish leaders to his plans.
The symbol of the First Zionist Congress
Hungarian-French physician and writer
original name Max Simon Südfeld
born July 29, 1849, Pest [now Budapest], Hung.
died Jan. 23, 1923, Paris, France
physician, writer, and early Jewish nationalist who was instrumental in
establishing recognition of Palestine as a potential Jewish homeland to
be gained by colonization.
In 1880, after serving as Viennese correspondent for a Budapest
newspaper and traveling extensively in Europe, Nordau settled
permanently in Paris, where he established a medical practice. A
prolific writer of travel books, plays, poems, and essays, he achieved
his greatest success in 1883 with Die conventionellen Lügen der
Kulturmenschheit (The Conventional Lies of Our Civilization), a
vitriolic attack on the inadequacy of 19th-century institutions to meet
human needs; he took a particularly harsh look at organized religion.
Banned in Russia and Austria, the book nevertheless was translated into
numerous languages and went into some 73 editions.
After he met the charismatic Jewish nationalist Theodor Herzl in
Paris in 1892, Nordau became deeply interested in Zionism and served as
vice president of the Zionist congresses under Herzl, delivering a
number of brilliant addresses on the condition of world Jewry. Following
Herzl’s death in 1904, Nordau broke with the “practical Zionists”
(younger men advocating colonization of Palestine without guarantees of
political sovereignty), who gained control of the Zionist congresses;
Nordau refused to participate in these meetings after 1911.
Jews place of wailing, 1860
First Zionist Congress
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The delegates at the First Zionist Congress, held in Basel,
The First Zionist Congress (Hebrew: הקונגרס הציוני
הראשון) is the name given to the congress held in Basel (Basle),
Switzerland, from August 29 to August 31, 1897. It was the first
congress of the Zionist Organization (ZO) (to become the World Zionist
Organization (WZO) in 1960). It was called for and chaired by Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism. The major achievements of
the Congress were its formulation of the Zionist platform, known as the
Basle program, the foundation of the World Zionist Organization, and the
adoption of Hatikvah as its anthem (already the anthem of Hovevei Zion
and later to become the national anthem of the State of Israel).
Zionist Congress was set up by Theodor Herzl as a symbolic Parliament
for those in agreement with the implementation of Zionist goals. The
Congress was due to be taken place in Munich, Germany. However, because
of local opposition by both Orthodox and Reform community leadership,
Herzl decided to transfer the gathering to Basel. The Congress
took place in the concert hall of the Basel Municipal Casino on August
Herzl acted as chairperson of the
Congress which was attended by some 200 participants from seventeen
countries, 69 of whom were delegates from various Zionist societies and
the remainder were individual invitees. Ten non-Jews were also in
attendance and were expected to abstain from voting.Seventeen women
attended the Congress, some of them in their own capacity, others
accompanying representatives. While women participated in the First
Zionist Congress, they did not have voting rights. Full membership
rights were given them the following year, at the Second Zionist
Following a festive opening in which the representatives arrived in
formal dress, tails and white tie, the Congress moved onto the
agenda. The most principal items on the agenda were the presentation
of Herzl's plans, the establishment of the Zionist Organization and the
declaration of Zionism's goals-the Basel program.
At the Congress, Herzl was elected President of the Zionist
Organization and Max Nordau one of three Vice-Presidents. Also, an Inner
Actions Committee and a Greater Actions Committee were elected to run
the affairs of the movement between Congresses.
On the second day of its deliberations (August
30), the version submitted to the Congress by a committee under the
chair of Max Nordau, it was stated: "Zionism seeks to establish a home
for the Jewish people in Palestine secured under public law." This gave
clear expression to Herzl's political Zionism in contrast with the
settlement orientated activities of the more loosely organized Hovevei
Zion. To meet halfway the request of numerous delegates, the most
prominent of whom was Leo Motzkin, who sought the inclusion of the
phrase "by international law," a compromise formula proposed by Herzl
was eventually adopted.
The political program, which came to be known as the Basel Program,
laid out Zionism's goals. It was adopted on the following terms:
“ Zionism aims at establishing for the Jewish people a publicly and
legally assured home in Palestine. For the attainment of this purpose,
the Congress considers the following means serviceable:
1. The promotion of the settlement of Jewish agriculturists, artisans,
and tradesmen in Palestine.
2. The federation of all Jews into local or general groups, according
to the laws of the various countries.
3. The strengthening of the Jewish feeling and consciousness.
4. Preparatory steps for the attainment of those governmental grants
which are necessary to the achievement of the Zionist purpose.”
The symbol of the First Zionist Congress
Balfour Declaration of 1917
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Arthur James Balfour.
The Balfour Declaration of 1917 (dated 2
November 1917) was a formal statement of policy by the British
government stating that "His Majesty's government view with favour
the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people,
and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this
object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may
prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish
communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by
Jews in any other country."
The declaration was made in a letter from Foreign Secretary Arthur
James Balfour to Baron Rothschild (Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron
Rothschild), a leader of the British Jewish community, for transmission
to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland, a Zionist
organization. The letter reflected the position of the British Cabinet,
as agreed upon in a meeting on 31 October 1917. It further stated that
the declaration is a sign of "sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations."
The statement was issued through the efforts of Chaim Weizmann and
Nahum Sokolow, the principal Zionist leaders based in London but, as
they had asked for the reconstitution of Palestine as “the” Jewish
national home, the Declaration fell short of Zionist expectations.
The "Balfour Declaration" was later incorporated into the Sèvres
peace treaty with Turkey and the Mandate for Palestine. The original
document is kept at the British Library.
The anniversary of the Declaration, 2 November, is widely
commemorated in Israel and among Jews in the Jewish diaspora as Balfour
Text of the declaration
The declaration, a typed letter signed in ink by Balfour, reads as
November 2nd, 1917.
Dear Lord Rothschild,
I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of His Majesty's
Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist
aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet:
"His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in
Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their
best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being
clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the
civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in
Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any
I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the
knowledge of the Zionist Federation.
Arthur James Balfour
Text development and differing views
The record of discussions that led up to the final text of the
Balfour Declaration clarifies some details of its wording. The phrase
"national home" was intentionally used instead of "state", and the
British devoted some effort over the following decades, including
Winston Churchill's 1922 White Paper, to denying that a state was the
intention. However, in private, many British officials agreed with the
interpretation of the Zionists that a state would be the eventual
The initial draft of the declaration, contained in a letter sent by
Rothschild to Balfour, referred to the principle "that Palestine should
be reconstituted as the National Home of the Jewish people." In the
final text, the word that was replaced with in to avoid committing the
entirety of Palestine to this purpose. Similarly, an early draft did not
include the commitment that nothing should be done which might prejudice
the rights of the non-Jewish communities. These changes came about
partly as the result of the urgings of Edwin Samuel Montagu, an
influential anti-Zionist Jew and Secretary of State for India, who,
among others, was concerned that the declaration without those changes
could result in increased anti-Semitic persecution. The draft was
circulated and during October the government received replies from
various representatives of the Jewish community. Lord Rothschild took
exception to the new proviso on the basis that it presupposed the
possibility of a danger to non-Zionists, which he denied.
At that time the British were busy making promises. At a war Cabinet
meeting, held on 31 October 1917, Balfour suggested that a declaration
favorable to Zionist aspirations would allow Great Britain "to carry on
extremely useful propaganda both in Russia and America" The British also
dropped Balfour Declaration leaflets written in Yiddish over Germany.
Henry McMahon had exchanged letters with Hussein bin Ali, Sherif of
Mecca, in 1915, in which he had promised Hussein control of Arab lands
with the exception of "portions of Syria" lying to the west of "the
districts of Damascus, Homs, Hama and Aleppo". Palestine lies to the
south of these areas and wasn't explicitly mentioned. That modern-day
Lebanese region of the Mediterranean coast was set aside as part of a
future French Mandate. After the war, the extent of the coastal
exclusion was hotly disputed. Hussein had protested that the Arabs of
Beirut would greatly oppose isolation from the Arab state or states, but
did not bring up the matter of Jerusalem or Palestine. Dr. Chaim
Weizmann wrote in his autobiography Trial and Error that Palestine had
been excluded from the areas that should have been Arab and independent.
This interpretation was supported explicitly by the British government
in the 1922 White Paper.
Lord Grey had been the Foreign Secretary during the McMahon-Hussein
negotiations. Speaking in the House of Lords on the 27th March, 1923, he
made it clear that, for his part, that he entertained serious doubts as
to the validity of the British government's interpretation of the
pledges which he, as Foreign Secretary, had caused to be given to Sharif
Hussein in 1915. He called for all of the secret engagements regarding
Palestine to be made public. Many of the relevant documents in the
National Archives were later declassified and published. Among them were
the minutes of a Cabinet Eastern Committee meeting, chaired by Lord Curzon, which was held on 5 December 1918. Balfour was in attendance. The
minutes revealed that in laying out the government's position Curzon had
explained that: "Palestine was included in the areas as to which Great
Britain pledged itself that they should be Arab and independent in the
Milner as the chief author
In his posthumously published 1982 book The Anglo-American
Establishment, Georgetown University history professor Carroll Quigley
explained that the Balfour Declaration was actually drafted by Lord
Alfred Milner. Quigley wrote:
"This declaration, which is always known as the Balfour Declaration,
should rather be called 'the Milner Declaration,' since Milner was the
actual draftsman and was apparently, its chief supporter in the War
Cabinet. This fact was not made public until 21 July 1936. At that time
Ormsby-Gore, speaking for the government in Commons, said, 'The draft as
originally put up by Lord Balfour was not the final draft approved by
the War Cabinet. The particular draft assented to by the War Cabinet and
afterwards by the Allied Governments and by the United States. . .and
finally embodied in the Mandate, happens to have been drafted by Lord
Milner. The actual final draft had to be issued in the name of the
Foreign Secretary, but the actual draftsman was Lord Milner."
One of the main proponents of a Jewish homeland in Palestine was Dr.
Chaim Weizmann, the leading spokesman for organized Zionism in Britain.
Weizmann was a chemist who had developed a process to synthesize acetone
via fermentation. Acetone is required for the production of cordite, a
powerful propellant explosive needed to fire ammunition without
generating tell-tale smoke. Germany had cornered supplies of calcium
acetate, a major source of acetone. Other pre-war processes in Britain
were inadequate to meet the increased demand in World War I, and a
shortage of cordite would have severely hampered Britain's war effort.
Lloyd-George, then Minister for Munitions, was grateful to Weizmann and
so supported his Zionist aspirations. In his War Memoirs, Lloyd George
wrote of meeting Weizmann in 1916 that Weizmann
... explained his aspirations as to the repatriation of the Jews to
the sacred land they had made famous. That was the fount and origin of
the famous declaration about the National Home for the Jews in Palestine
.... As soon as I became Prime Minister I talked the whole matter over
with Mr Balfour, who was then Foreign Secretary.
However, this version of the story of the declaration's origins has been
described as "fanciful", a fair assessment considering that discussions
between Weizmann and Balfour had begun at least a decade earlier. In
late 1905 Balfour had requested of his Jewish constituency
representative, Charles Dreyfus, that he arrange a meeting with Weizman,
during which Weizman asked for official British support for Zionism, and
they were to meet again on this issue in 1914.
During the first meeting between Weizmann and Balfour in 1906,
Balfour asked what Weizmann's objections were to the idea of a Jewish
homeland in Uganda, (the Uganda Protectorate in East Africa in the
British Uganda Programme), rather than in Palestine. According to
Weizmann's memoir, the conversation went as follows:
"Mr. Balfour, supposing I was to offer you Paris instead of London,
would you take it?" He sat up, looked at me, and answered: "But Dr.
Weizmann, we have London." "That is true," I said, "but we had Jerusalem
when London was a marsh." He ... said two things which I remember
vividly. The first was: "Are there many Jews who think like you?" I
answered: "I believe I speak the mind of millions of Jews whom you will
never see and who cannot speak for themselves." ... To this he said: "If
that is so you will one day be a force."
Conflicts and broken treaty commitments (contradictory
The Anglo-French Declaration of November 1918 pledged that Great Britain
and France would "assist in the establishment of indigenous Governments
and administrations in Syria and Mesopotamia by "setting up of national
governments and administrations deriving their authority from the free
exercise of the initiative and choice of the indigenous populations".
Balfour resigned as Foreign Secretary following the Versailles
Conference in 1919, but continued in the Cabinet as Lord President of
the Council. In a memorandum addressed to the new Foreign Secretary,
Lord Curzon, he stated that the Balfour Declaration contradicted the
letters of the covenant (referring to the League Covenant) the
Anglo-French Declaration, and the instructions of the King-Crane
Commission. All of the other engagements contained pledges that the Arab
populations could establish national governments of their own choosing
according to the principle of self-determination.
"The contradiction between the letters of the Covenant [of the League
of Nations] and the policy of the Allies is even more flagrant in the
case of the ‘independent nation’ of Palestine than in that of the
‘independent nation‘ of Syria. For in Palestine we do not propose to
even go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present
inhabitants of the country though the American Commission is going
through the form of asking what they are.
The Four Great Powers [Britain, France, Italy and the United States]
are committed to Zionism. And Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or
bad, is rooted in age-long traditions, in present needs, and future
hopes, of far profounder import than the desires and prejudices of the
700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land. In my opinion that is
What I have never been able to understand is how it can be harmonized
with the [Anglo-French] declaration, the Covenant, or the instruction to
the [King-Crane] Commission of Enquiry.
I do not think that Zionism will hurt the Arabs, but they will never
say they want it. Whatever be the future of Palestine it is not now an
‘independent nation’, nor is it yet on the way to become one. Whatever
deference should be paid to the views of those living there, the Powers
in their selection of a mandatory do not propose, as I understand the
matter, to consult them. In short, so far as Palestine is concerned, the
Powers have made no statement of fact which is not admittedly wrong, and
no declaration of policy which, at least in the letter, they have not
always intended to violate.
If Zionism is to influence the Jewish problem throughout the world
Palestine must be made available for the largest number of Jewish
immigrants. It is therefore eminently desirable that it should obtain
the command of the water-power which naturally belongs to it whether by
extending its borders to the north, or by treaty with the mandatory of
Syria, to whom the southward flowing waters of Hamon could not in any
event be of much value.
For the same reason Palestine should be extended into the lands lying
east of the Jordan. It should not, however, be allowed to include the
Hedjaz Railway, which is too distinctly bound up with exclusively Arab
Controversy behind Declaration
British public and government opinion became increasingly less favorable
to the commitment that had been made to Zionist policy. In Feb 1922
Winston Churchill, a fervent Zionist himself, telegraphed Herbert Samuel
asking for cuts in expenditure and noting:
In both Houses of Parliament there is growing movement of hostility,
against Zionist policy in Palestine, which will be stimulated by recent
Northcliffe articles. I do not attach undue importance to this movement,
but it is increasingly difficult to meet the argument that it is unfair
to ask the British taxpayer, already overwhelmed with taxation, to bear
the cost of imposing on Palestine an unpopular policy.
Sir John Evelyn Shuckburgh of the new Middle East department of the
Foreign Office discovered that the correspondence prior to the
declaration was not available in the Colonial Office, 'although Foreign
Office papers were understood to have been lengthy and to have covered a
considerable period'." The 'most comprehensive explanation' of the
origin of the Balfour Declaration the Foreign Office was able to provide
was contained in a small 'unofficial' note of Jan 1923 affirming that:
little is known of how the policy represented by the Declaration was
first given form. Four, or perhaps five men were chiefly concerned in
the labour-the Earl of Balfour, the late Sir Mark Sykes, and Messrs.
Weizmann and Sokolow, with perhaps Lord Rothschild as a figure in the
background. Negotiations seem to have been mainly oral and by means of
private notes and memoranda of which only the scantiest records are
available, even if more exists.
The long term motives behind the British policy of allowing Jewish
immigration into the League of Nations Mandate of Palestine was in order
to protect the nearby Suez Canal which formed part of the sea lane to
British India, and the use of Palestine as a terminus at the
Mediterranean sea port of Haifa of an oil pipeline which led to the
Iraqi city of Mosul, construction of which was completed in 1935. The
Iraqis cut off the flow of oil via this pipeline to Haifa after Israel
declared its independence in 1948.
The Arabs expressed disapproval in November 1918 at the parade
marking the first anniversary of the Balfour Declaration. The
Muslim-Christian Association protested the carrying of new 'white and
blue banners with two inverted triangles in the middle'. They drew the
attention of the authorities to the serious consequences of any
political implications in raising the banners.
Later that month, on the first anniversary of the occupation of Jaffa
by the British, the Muslim-Christian Association sent a lengthy
memorandum and petition to the military governor protesting once more
any formation of a Zionist state.
Jews place of wailing, 1860
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Ze'ev Jabotinsky MBE (Hebrew: זאב ז'בוטינסקי), born
Vladimir Yevgenyevich Zhabotinsky (Russian: Âëŕäč́ěčđ Ĺâăĺ́íüĺâč÷
Ćŕáîňč́íńęčé) (born on October 18, 1880, died August 4, 1940) was a
right-wing Revisionist Zionist leader, author, orator, soldier, and
founder of the Jewish Self-Defense Organization in Odessa. He also
helped form the Jewish Legion of the British army in World War I, and
was a founder and early leader of the militant Zionist underground
Jabotinsky and his familyBorn Vladimir Jabotinsky in Odessa, Russian
Empire, he was raised in a Jewish middle-class home and educated in
Russian schools. While he took Hebrew lessons as a child, Jabotinsky
wrote in his autobiography that his upbringing was divorced from Jewish
faith and tradition.
Jabotinsky's talents as a journalist became apparent even before he
finished high school. His first writings were published in Odessa
newspapers when he was 16. Upon graduation he was sent to Bern,
Switzerland and later to Italy as a reporter for the Russian press. He
wrote under the pseudonym "Altalena" (the Italian word for 'swing'; see
also Altalena Affair). While abroad, he also studied law at the
University of Rome, but it was only upon his return to Russia that he
qualified as an attorney. His dispatches from Italy earned him
recognition as one of the brightest young Russian-language journalists:
he later edited newspapers in Russian, Yiddish, and Hebrew. He married
Jeanne in late 1907. They had one child, Ari Jabotinsky, who was a
member of the Irgun-inspired Bergson Group; Ari died after the Six Day
War in 1969.
After the Kishinev pogrom of 1903, Jabotinsky joined the Zionist
movement, where he soon became known as a powerful speaker and an
influential leader. With more pogroms looming on the horizon, Jabotinsky
established the Jewish Self-Defense Organization, a Jewish militant
group, to safeguard Jewish communities throughout Russia. Jabotinsky
became the source of great controversy in the Russian Jewish community
as a result of these actions. Around this time, he set upon himself the
goal of learning modern Hebrew, and took a Hebrew name—Vladimir became
Ze'ev ("wolf"). During the pogroms, he organized self-defense units in
Jewish communities across Russia and fought for the civil rights of the
Jewish population as a whole. His slogan was, "better to have a gun and
not need it than to need it and not have it!" Another call to arms was,
"Jewish youth, learn to shoot!" That year Jabotinsky was elected as a
Russian delegate to the Sixth Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland.
After Herzl's death in 1904 he became the leader of the right-wing
Zionists. In 1906 he was one of the chief speakers at the Russian
Zionist Helsingfors Conference in Helsinki, which called upon the Jews
of Europe to engage in Gegenwartsarbeit (work in the present) and to
join together to demand autonomy for the ethnic minorities in Russia.
He remained loyal to this Liberal approach scores of years later with
respect to the Arab citizens of the future Jewish State: "Each one of
the ethnic communities will be recognized as autonomous and equal in the
eyes of the law."] In 1909 he fiercely criticized leading members
of the Russian Jewish community for participating in ceremonies marking
the centennial of the Russian writer Nikolai Gogol. In view of Gogol's
anti-Semitic views, he said, it was unseemly for Russian Jews to take
part in these ceremonies; it showed they had no Jewish self-respect.
Badge of Members of the Order of the British Empire, obverse and
reverseDuring World War I, he conceived the idea of establishing a
Jewish Legion to fight alongside the British against the Ottomans who
then controlled Palestine. In 1915, together with Joseph Trumpeldor, a
one-armed veteran of the Russo-Japanese War, he created the Zion Mule
Corps, which consisted of several hundred Jewish men, mainly Russians,
who had been exiled from Palestine by the Turks and had settled in
Egypt. The unit served with distinction in the Battle of Gallipoli. When
the Zion Mule Corps was disbanded, Jabotinsky traveled to London, where
he continued his efforts to establish Jewish units to fight in Palestine
as part of the British Army. Although Jabotinsky did not serve with the
Zion Mule Corps, Trumpeldor, Jabotinsky and 120 V.M.C. did serve in
Platoon 16/20th Battalion of the London Regiment. In 1917, the
government agreed to establish three Jewish Battalions, initiating the
Jewish Legion. Jabotinsky soldiered in the Jordan Valley in 1918 and was
decorated for bravery. As an officer in the 38th Royal Fusiliers,
Jabotinsky fought with General Allenby in 1917, and was decorated with
the MBE for heading the first company to cross the River Jordan into
After Ze'ev Jabotinsky was discharged from the British Army in September
1919, he openly trained Jews in self-defense and the use of small arms.
After the 1920 Palestine riots, at the demand of the Arab leadership,
the British searched the offices and apartments of the Zionist
leadership, including Weizmann's and Jabotinsky's homes, for arms. In
Jabotinsky's house they found 3 rifles, 2 pistols, and 250 rounds of
ammunition. Nineteen men were arrested, including Jabotinsky.
A committee of inquiry placed responsibility for the riots on the
Zionist Commission, for provoking the Arabs. Jabotinsky was given a
15-year prison term for possession of weapons. The court blamed
'Bolshevism,' claiming that it 'flowed in Zionism's inner heart' and
ironically identified the fiercely anti-Socialist Jabotinsky with the
Socialist-aligned Poalei Zion ('Zionist Workers') party, which it called
'a definite Bolshevist institution.' Following the public outcry
against the verdict, he received amnesty and was released from Acre
Founder of the Revisionist movement
In 1920, Jabotinsky was elected to the first Assembly of Representatives
in Palestine. The following year he was elected to the executive council
of the World Zionist Organization. He quit the latter group in 1923,
however, due to differences of opinion between him and its chairman,
Chaim Weizmann, and established the new revisionist party called
Alliance of Revisionists-Zionists and its youth movement, Betar (a
Hebrew acronym for the "League of Joseph Trumpeldor"). His new party
demanded that the Zionist movement recognize as its objective the
establishment of a Jewish state along both banks of the Jordan River.
His main goal was to establish a modern Jewish state with the help and
aid of the British Empire. His philosophy contrasted with the socialist
oriented Labor Zionists, in that it focused its economic and social
policy on the ideal of the Jewish Middle class in Europe. An Anglophile,
his ideal for a Jewish state was a form of nation state based loosely on
the British imperial model, whose waning self-confidence he deplored.
His support base was mostly located in Poland, and his activities
focused on attaining British support to help in the development of the
Yishuv. Another area of major support for Jabotinsky was Latvia, where
his fiery speeches in Russian made an impression on the largely
Russian-speaking Latvian Jewish community.
Exiled by the British
In 1930, when Jabotinsky was visiting South Africa, he was informed
by the British Colonial Office that he would not be allowed to return to
The movement he established was not a monolithic entity, but
contained three separate factions, of which Jabotinsky's was the most
moderate. Jabotinsky favored cooperation with the British, while more
irredentistically-minded individuals like David Raziel, Abba Ahimeir,
and Uri Zvi Greenberg focused on independent action in Mandate
Palestine, fighting politically against Labor, the British Authorities,
and retaliating against Arab attacks. During his time in exile,
Jabotinsky started regarding Benito Mussolini as a potential ally
against the British, and contacts were made with Italy. However, unlike
the Maximalists, Jabotinsky never embraced fascism, instead wanting
Palestine to become a democratic state.
Evacuation plan for the Jews of Poland, Hungary and Romania
During the 1930s, Jabotinsky was deeply concerned with the situation of
the Jewish community in Eastern Europe, particularly Poland. In 1936,
Jabotinsky prepared the so-called 'evacuation plan', which called for
the evacuation of the entire Jewish population of Poland, Hungary and
Romania to Palestine. Also in 1936, he toured Eastern Europe, meeting
with the Polish Foreign Minister Colonel Józef Beck; the Regent of
Hungary, Admiral Miklós Horthy, and Prime Minister Gheorghe Tătărescu of
Romania to discuss the evacuation plan. The plan gained the approval of
all three governments, but caused considerable controversy within Polish
Jewry, on the grounds that it played into the hands of Polish
anti-Semites. In particular, the fact that the 'evacuation plan' had the
approval of the Polish government was taken by many Polish Jews as
indicating Jabotinsky had gained the endorsement of what they considered
to be the wrong people. The evacuation of Jewish communities in Poland,
Hungary and Romania was to take place over a ten-year period. However,
the controversy was rendered moot when the British government vetoed it,
and the World Zionist Organization's chairman, Chaim Weizmann, dismissed
it. Two years later, in 1938, Jabotinsky stated in a speech that Polish
Jews 'were living on the edge of the volcano' and warned that a wave of
bloody super-pogroms would be happening in Poland sometime in the near
future. Jabotinsky went on to warn Jews in Europe that they should leave
for Palestine as soon as possible.
Belief in integrating the Arab minority
Jabotinsky was a complex personality, combining cynicism and
idealism. He was convinced that there was no way for the Jews to regain
any part of Palestine without opposition from the Arabs, but he also
believed that the Jewish state could be a home for Arab citizens. In
1934 he wrote a draft constitution for the Jewish state which declared
that the Arab minority would be on an equal footing with its Jewish
counterpart "throughout all sectors of the country's public life." The
two communities would share the state's duties, both military and civil
service, and enjoy its prerogatives. Jabotinsky proposed that Hebrew and
Arabic should enjoy equal rights and that "in every cabinet where the
prime minister is a Jew, the vice-premiership shall be offered to an
Arab and vice versa."
Jabotinsky died of a heart attack in New York, on August 4, 1940, while
visiting an armed Jewish self-defense camp run by Betar. He was buried
in New Montefiore cemetery in New York rather than in Palestine, in
accordance with the statement in his will, "I want to be buried outside
Palestine, may NOT be transferred to Palestine unless by order of that
country's eventual Jewish government." After the State of Israel was
established, the governments headed by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion
did not make such a decision. In 1964, shortly after becoming prime
minister, Levi Eshkol ordered the reinterment of Jabotinsky and his wife
in Jerusalem at Mount Herzl Cemetery. A monument to Jabotinsky remains
at his original burial site in New York.
Legacy and commemoration
Ze'ev Jabotinsky's legacy is carried on today by Israel's Herut
party (merged with other right wing parties to form the Likud in 1973),
Herut – The National Movement (a breakaway from Likud), Magshimey Herut
(young adult activist movement) and Betar (youth movement). In the
United States, his call for Jewish self defense has led to the formation
of Americans for a Safe Israel and the Jewish Defense Organization. The
JDO's training camp is named Camp Jabotinsky. In Israel, there are more
streets, parks and squares named after Jabotinsky than any other figure
in Jewish or Israeli history.The Jabotinsky Medal is awarded for
distinguished service to the State of Israel, and most Israeli cities
have streets named after him. On 11 August 2008 left wing Israeli
Education Minister Yuli Tamir announced plans to remove Jabotinsky's
work from the Israeli national education curriculum.
The symbol of the First Zionist Congress
Chaim Azriel Weizmann
Israeli president and scientist
in full Chaim Azriel Weizmann
born Nov. 27, 1874, Motol, Pol., Russian Empire [now in Belarus]
died Nov. 9, 1952, Reḥovot, Israel
first president of the new nation of Israel (1949–52), who was for
decades the guiding spirit behind the World Zionist Organization.
Early life and education.
Chaim Azriel Weizmann was born of humble parents in November 1874,
in Motol, a backwater hamlet in the western Russian empire, the third of
15 children of Ezer Weizmann, a lumber transporter. Motol lay close to
dense forests, surroundings that instilled in the boy a love of trees
that was to persist the rest of his life. He spent adolescent summers
riding his father’s log rafts downriver to Baltic ports.
Despite slender means, the parents arranged for their offspring to
receive the benefits of advanced education after strict Jewish orthodox
schooling in childhood. All except one of the children ultimately became
scientists, physicians, dentists, engineers, and pedagogues. Chaim
himself, on reaching 11, was sent to the secondary school in nearby
Pinsk, where his unusual scientific aptitude was encouraged by a
discerning science master.
Upon matriculating (1891), the young student, irked by university
quotas restricting Jewish admissions, left Russia to study chemistry in
Germany and Switzerland, eking out small remittances from home by
teaching science and Russian. After obtaining the Ph.D. magna cum laude
at Fribourg, Switz. (1900), Weizmann taught chemistry at Geneva
University and concurrently engaged in organic chemistry research,
concentrating on dyestuffs and aromatics. By selling several patented
discoveries in the late 1890s, he mitigated his chronic financial
straits and was able to help his younger brothers and sisters through
college. In 1900 he met Vera Chatzman, a medical student, in Geneva, and
six years later they married; they had two sons.
Weizmann settled in England in 1904 upon taking up a science
appointment at the University of Manchester. During World War I he gave
valuable assistance to the British munitions industry, then (1916) in
dire need of acetone (a vital ingredient of cordite), by devising a
process to extract the solvent from maize. This achievement signally
aided the Zionist political negotiations he was then conducting with the
Although he gained international renown as a chemist, it was as a
politician that he was most eminent. As a youth he imbibed Jewish
nationalist culture and ideals (as distinct from traditional pietistic
knowledge) under his father’s influence. At the age of 11 he wrote a
letter in Hebrew to his Hebrew teacher in Motol urging with boyish
fervour that the Jewish people must return to Zion.
Early political involvement.
Throughout his student and teaching years he assumed increasing
dominance as a Zionist politician. He initially gained prominence as the
leader of the “Young Zionist” opposition to Theodor Herzl, the founder
of modern Zionism, especially in the “Uganda dispute,” which erupted in
1903–05 over a British proposal for Jewish agricultural settlement in
East Africa. Elected to the General Council (Actions Committee) in 1905,
he played only a secondary role in the movement until 1914. Then, during
the early years of the war he took an important part in the negotiations
that led up to the government’s Balfour Declaration (November 1917)
favouring the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine.
While in Jerusalem he travelled to ʿAqaba, southern Transjordan (June
1918), where he met Amīr Fayṣal of Hejaz (later first king of Iraq) to
discuss Jewish–Arab cooperation. They met again and reached written
agreement during the Versailles peace conference (July 1919). As an
observer, Weizmann attended the San Remo conference of Allied Powers
(1920), which confirmed the Balfour Declaration and awarded the
Palestine Mandate to Great Britain. The same year, Weizmann, who had
been president of the English Zionist Federation from 1917, became head
of the World Zionist Organization. From 1921 onward he travelled the
world tirelessly, preaching Zionist ideology and appealing for funds at
Weizmann’s skill as a negotiator was severely tested during the
1920s. Great Britain, confronted by the mounting problems and civil
disorders stemming from nascent Arab nationalism, gradually retreated
from its commitment to foster a Jewish national home. A dauntless
protagonist, Weizmann nevertheless plunged into the ceaseless imbroglios
of British policy vacillations, Arab and Jewish revolts, and Zionist
internecine feuds and conflicts that were commingled with opposition to
himself by adversaries.
Conflict with Zionist extremists.
Eventually, Weizmann’s doctrines of caution antagonized extremist
politicians. Exasperated by counsels of gradualism, some Zionists
accused him of undue amenability toward Britain in his political
thinking and performance—a characteristic they averred he owed to the
genteel influences of the upper English society in which he moved. His
control over the world nationalist movement was challenged after Britain
announced policy changes unfavourable to Zionist work in Palestine. He
therefore resigned in pique in 1930 but was prevailed upon to remain in
office. At the 1931 congress, however, he was subjected to a vote of
nonconfidence and was not reelected president of the Zionist
Organization and Jewish Agency, the expanded body of which he had been
the main architect in 1929.
Weizmann turned again to science, founding the Daniel Sieff Research
Institute at Reḥovot, Palestine (1934), with the help of friends in
England. Earlier, he had toured South Africa (1931) and played a leading
part in public efforts to save German Jewry and its property after the
advent of the Nazis (1933).
Back in office by election (1935), Weizmann supported the
recommendation of a British royal inquiry commission (1937) to divide
Palestine into Jewish and Arab areas, arguing that “half a loaf was
better than none.” Opponents furiously challenged this expedience as
pusillanimity and craven submission to British interests, though in the
end the commission’s plan failed because of Arab rather than Jewish
Weizmann’s unflagging insistence during World War II brought about
the formation of the Jewish Brigade Group in the British army. The Sieff
Research Institute under his direction also aided the Allied military
effort by providing essential pharmaceuticals, and Weizmann conferred
with the United States and British governments on methods of producing
synthetic rubber. His younger son, Michael, was killed in 1942 while
serving as an officer in the Royal Air Force.
Zionist antagonists revived allegations of Weizmann’s pro-British
prejudice after he had denounced (1945) on moral grounds the violent
campaign waged by Jewish dissident groups against British forces in
Palestine. He again lost the world Zionist presidency (1946) and never
returned to the official leadership. Nevertheless, Jewish people as a
whole continued to revere him.
President of Israel.
Early in 1948, though divested of formal office, he was sent to
Washington by the Zionist leadership for crucial talks with Pres. Harry
Truman. Weizmann persuaded the United States administration both to drop
its trusteeship plan for Palestine—a plan that would have jeopardized
founding the State of Israel—and to forego its proposal to exclude
Palestine’s southern province (Negev) from Israel. His intervention also
led to American recognition of the newly proclaimed state (May 14) and
the grant of a $100,000,000 loan. That September Weizmann became
president of the Provisional State Council and the following February
was elected president of the State of Israel.
Worn out by sorrow and arduous political strife and afflicted by
frail health and failing sight, he nevertheless maintained a brave front
in postwar years. He died in November 1952, after a long illness. He was
given a state burial on his estate at Reḥovot. More than 250,000 people
filed by the catafalque. The simple, unadorned grave is visited by
hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.
Julian Louis Meltzer
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Aliyah (Hebrew: עלייה Translit.: Aliya Translated: "ascent") is the
immigration of Jews to Eretz Israel. It is a basic tenet of Zionist
ideology, and a value in almost all movements of Judaism. The opposite
action, Jewish emigration from Israel, is referred to as Yerida
Religious, ideological and cultural concept
Aliyah is widely regarded as an important Jewish cultural concept
and a fundamental concept of Zionism that is enshrined in Israel's Law
of Return, which accords any Jew (deemed as such by halakha and/or
Israeli secular law) and eligible non-Jews (a child and a grandchild of
a Jew, the spouse of a Jew, the spouse of a child of a Jew and the
spouse of a grandchild of a Jew), the legal right to assisted
immigration and settlement in Israel, as well as automatic Israeli
citizenship. Someone who "makes aliyah" is called an oleh (m. singular)
or olah (f. singular); the plural for both is olim. Many Religious Jews
espouse aliyah as a return to the Promised land, and regard it as the
fulfillment of God's biblical promise to the descendants of the Hebrew
patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Aliyah is included as a
commandment by some opinions on the enumeration of the 613 commandments.
In Zionist discourse, the term aliyah (plural aliyot) includes both
voluntary immigration for ideological, emotional, or practical reasons
and, on the other hand, mass flight of persecuted populations of Jews.
The vast majority of Israeli Jews today trace their family's recent
roots to outside of the country. While many have actively chosen to
settle in Israel rather than some other country, many had little or no
choice about leaving their previous home countries. While Israel is
commonly recognized as "a country of immigrants", it is also, in large
measure, a country of refugees.
According to the traditional Jewish ordering of books of the Bible,
the very last word of the Bible (i.e. the last word in the original
Hebrew of verse 2 Chronicles 36:23) is veya‘al, a jussive verb form
derived from the same root as aliyah, meaning "let him go up" (to
Mass return to the Land of Israel is a recurring theme in Jewish
prayers recited every day, three times a day, and holiday services on
Passover and Yom Kippur traditionally conclude with the words "Next year
in Jerusalem." since Jews are members of both a nation and a religion,
aliyah (returning to Israel) has always had both a secular and a
religious significance. In all historical periods during which return to
the Land of Israel was possible, Jewish groups and individuals have
immigrated back to the Jewish homeland.
For generations of religious Jews, aliyah was associated with the
coming of the Jewish Messiah. Jews prayed for their Messiah to come, who
was to redeem the Land of Israel from gentile rule and return world
Jewry to the land under a Halachic theocracy.
The Bible relates that the Jewish patriarch Abraham came to the
Land of Canaan with his family and followers in approximately 1800 BC.
His grandson, Jacob, went down to Egypt with his family, and after
centuries there, they went back to Canaan under Moses and Joshua,
entering it in about 1250 BCE.
After the Babylonian exile of the Jewish people, approximately 50,000
Jews returned to Israel following the Cyrus Proclamation of 538 BCE. The
Jewish priestly scribe Ezra led about 50,000 Israelite exiles living in
Babylon to their home city of Jerusalem in 459 BC. Others returned
throughout the era of the Second Temple.
In late antiquity, the two hubs of rabbinic learning were
Babylonia and Israel. Throughout the Amoraic period, many Babylonian
Jews immigrated to Israel and left their mark on Israeli life, as rabbis
In the 10th century, leaders of the Karaite Jewish community,
mostly living under Persian rule, urged their followers to settle in
Eretz Yisrael. The Karaites established their own quarter in Jerusalem,
on the western slope of the Kidron Valley. During this period, there is
abundant evidence of pilgrimages to Jerusalem by Jews from various
countries, mainly in the month of Tishrei, around the time of the Sukkot
The number of Jews returning to the Land of Israel rose
significantly between the 13th and 19th centuries, mainly due to a
general decline in the status of Jews across Europe and an increase in
religious persecution. The expulsion of Jews from England (1290), France
(1391), Austria (1421) and Spain (the Alhambra decree of 1492) were seen
by many as a sign of approaching redemption and contributed greatly to
the messianic spirit of the time.
Aliyah was also spurred during this period by the resurgence of
messianic fervor among the Jews of France, Italy, the Germanic states,
Poland, Russia and North Africa. The belief in the imminent coming of
the Jewish Messiah, the ingathering of the exiles and the
re-establishment of the kingdom of Israel encouraged many who had few
other options to make the perilous journey to the Land of Israel (Eretz
Pre-Zionist resettlement in Palestine met with various degrees of
success. For example, little is known of the fate of the 1210 "aliyah of
the three hundred rabbis" and their descendants. It is thought that few
survived the bloody upheavals caused by the Crusader invasion in 1229
and their subsequent expulsion by the Muslims in 1291. After the fall of
the Byzantine Empire in 1453 and the expulsion of Jews from Spain (1492)
and Portugal (1498), many Jews made their way to the Holy Land. Then the
immigration in the 18th and early 19th centuries of thousands of
followers of various Kabbalist and Hassidic rabbis, as well as the
disciples of the Vilna Gaon and the disciples of the Chattam Sofer,
added considerably to the Jewish populations in Jerusalem, Tiberias,
Hebron, and Safed.
The messianic dreams of the Gaon of Vilna inspired one of the largest
pre-Zionist waves of immigration to Eretz Yisrael. In 1808, hundreds of
the Gaon's disciples, known as Perushim, settled in Tiberias and Safed,
and later formed the core of the Old Yishuv in Jerusalem. This was part
of a larger movement of thousands of Jews from countries as widely
spaced as Persia and Morocco, Yemen and Russia, who moved to Israel
beginning in the first decade of the nineteenth century - and in even
larger numbers after the conquest of the region by Muhammad Ali of Egypt
in 1832 - all drawn by the expectation of the arrival of the Messiah in
the Jewish year 5600, English year 1840, a movement documented in Arie
Morgenstern's Hastening Redemption.
There were also those who like the British mystic Laurence Oliphant
tried to lease Northern Palestine to settle the Jews there (1879).
Zionist Aliyah (1882 on)
In Zionist history, the different waves of aliyah, beginning with
the arrival of the Biluim from Russia in 1882, are categorized by date
and the country of origin of the immigrants.
First Aliyah (1882–1903)
Between 1882 and 1903, approximately 35,000 Jews immigrated to
Palestine, then a province of the Ottoman Empire. The majority,
belonging to the Hovevei Zion and Bilu movements, came from the Russian
Empire with a smaller number arriving from Yemen. Many established
agricultural communities. Among the towns that these individuals
established are Petah Tikva (already in 1878), Rishon LeZion, Rosh Pina,
and Zikhron Ya'aqov. In 1882, the Yemenite Jews settled in an Arab
suburb of Jerusalem called Silwan located south-east of the walls of the
Old City on the slopes of the Mount of Olives.
Second Aliyah (1904–1914)
Between 1904 and 1914, 40,000 Jews immigrated mainly from Russia
to Palestine following pogroms and outbreaks of anti-semitism in that
country. This group, many of whom were infused with socialist ideals,
established the first kibbutz, Degania, in 1909 and formed self-defense
organizations, such as Hashomer, to counter increasing Arab hostility
and to help Jews to protect their communities from Arab bandits. The
suburb of Jaffa, Ahuzat Bayit, established at this time, grew into the
city of Tel Aviv. During this period, some of the underpinnings of an
independent nation-state arose: The national language Hebrew was
revived; newspapers and literature written in Hebrew published;
political parties and workers organizations were established. The First
World War effectively ended the period of the Second Aliyah.
Third Aliyah (1919–1923)
Between 1919 and 1923, 40,000 Jews, mainly from the Russian
Empire arrived in the wake of World War I, the British conquest of
Palestine; the establishment of the Mandate, and the Balfour
Declaration. Many of these were pioneers, known as halutzim, trained in
agriculture and capable of establishing self sustaining economies. In
spite of immigration quotas established by the British administration,
the population of Jews reached 90,000 by the end of this period. The
Jezreel Valley and the Hefer Plain marshes were drained and converted to
agricultural use. Additional national institutions arose: The Histadrut
(General Labor Federation); an elected assembly; national council; and
Fourth Aliyah (1924–1929)
Between 1924 and 1929, 82,000 Jews arrived, many as a result of
anti-semitism in Poland and Hungary. The immigration quotas of the
United States kept Jews out. This group contained many middle class
families that moved to the growing towns, establishing small businesses
and light industry. Of these approximately 23,000 left the country.
Fifth Aliyah (1929–1939)
Between 1929 and 1939, with the rise of Nazism in Germany, a new
wave of 250,000 immigrants arrived, the majority of these, 174,000,
arrived between 1933–1936, after which increasing restrictions on
immigration by the British made immigration clandestine and illegal,
called Aliyah Bet. The Fifth Aliyah was again driven mostly from Eastern
Europe as well as professionals, doctors, lawyers and professors, from
Germany. Refugee artists introduced Bauhaus (Tel Aviv has the highest
concentration of Bauhaus architecture in the world) and founded the
Palestine Philharmonic Orchestra. With the completion of the port at
Haifa and its oil refineries, significant industry was added to the
predominantly agricultural economy. The Jewish population reached
450,000 by 1940.
At the same time, tensions between Arabs and Jews grew during this
period, leading to a series of Arab riots against the Jews in 1929 that
left many dead and resulted in the depopulation of the Jewish community
in Hebron. This was followed by more violence during the "Great
Uprising" of 1936–1939. In response to the ever increasing tension
between the Arabic and Jewish communities married with the various
commitments the British faced at the dawn of World War II, the British
issued the White Paper of 1939, which severely restricted Jewish
immigration to 75,000 people for five years. This served to create a
relatively peaceful 8 years in Palestine while tragically The Holocaust
unfolded in Europe.
Shortly after their rise to power, the Nazis negotiated the Ha'avara
or "Transfer" Agreement with Zionists under which 50,000 Jews and $100
million of their assets would be moved to Palestine.
Aliyah Bet: Illegal immigration (1933–1948)
The British government limited Jewish immigration to Palestine
with quotas, and following the rise of Nazism to power in Germany,
illegal immigration to Palestine commenced. The illegal immigration was
known as Aliyah Bet ("secondary immigration"), or Ha'apalah, and was
organized by the Mossad Le'aliyah Bet, as well as by the Irgun.
Immigration was done mainly by sea, and to a lesser extent overland
through Iraq and Syria. Beginning in 1939 Jewish immigration was further
restricted, limiting it to 75,000 individuals for a period of five years
after which immigration was to end completely. The British made it
illegal to sell land to Jews in 95% of the Mandate.
During World War II and the years that followed until independence,
Aliyah Bet became the main form of Jewish immigration to Palestine.
Following the war, Berihah ("flight"), an organization of former
partisans and ghetto fighters was primarily responsible for smuggling
Jews from Poland and Eastern Europe to the Italian ports from which they
traveled to Palestine.
Despite British efforts to curb the illegal immigration, during the
14 years of its operation, 110,000 Jews immigrated to Palestine.
In 1945 reports of the Holocaust with its 6 million Jewish dead,
caused many Jews in Palestine to turn openly against the British
Mandate, and illegal immigration escalated rapidly as many Holocaust
survivors joined the Aliyah.
Early statehood (1948–1950)
After Aliyah Bet, the process of numbering or naming individual
aliyot ceased, but immigration did not. A major wave of immigration of
over half a million Jews went to Israel between 1948 and 1950, many
fleeing renewed persecution in Eastern Europe, and increasingly hostile
This period of immigration is often termed kibbutz galuyot
(literally, ingathering of exiles), due to the large number of Jewish
diaspora communities that made aliyah. However, kibbutz galuyot can also
refer to aliyah in general.
Aliyah from Arab countries
Yemenite Jews on their way to Israel
In the course of Operation Magic Carpet (1949–1950), nearly the
entire community of Yemenite Jews (about 49,000) immigrated to Israel.
Most of them had never seen an airplane before, but they believed in the
Biblical prophecy that according to the Book of Isaiah (40:31), God
promised to return the children of Israel to Zion on "wings".
In three and a half years, the Jewish population of Israel had
doubled, inflated by nearly 700,000 immigrants, which was one of the
causes of the austerity. Huge numbers of Jewish refugees were
temporarily settled in "cities of tents" called Ma'abarot. As the
residents were gradually absorbed into Israeli society, the Ma'abarot
were phased out.
Many Israeli immigrants were Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews who left Arab
countries to move to Israel. In many of these cases they had been
persecuted and sometimes forced to leave their homes. 114,000 Jews came
from Iraq in 1951 in Operation Ezra and Nehemiah.
Over 30,000 Iranian Jews immigrated to Israel following the Islamic
Revolution. Most Iranian Jews, however, settled in the United States
(especially in New York City and Los Angeles).
The massive airlift known as Operation Moses began to bring
Ethiopian Jews to Israel on November 18, 1985 and ended on January 5,
1986. During those six weeks, some 6,500–8,000 Ethiopian Jews were flown
from Sudan to Israel. An estimated 2,000–4,000 Jews died en route to
Sudan or in Sudanese refugee camps.
In 1991, Operation Solomon was launched to bring the Beta Israel Jews
of Ethiopia. In one day, May 24, 34 aircraft landed at Addis Ababa and
brought 14,325 Jews from Ethiopia to Israel.
Since that time, Ethiopian Jews have continued to immigrate to Israel
bringing the number of Ethiopian-Israelis today to over 100,000.
Aliyah from the Soviet Union and post-Soviet states
January 10, 1973. Soviet authorities break up a demonstration of
Jewish refuseniks in front of the Ministry of Internal Affairs for the
right to immigrate to Israel
A mass emigration was politically undesirable for the Soviet regime. The
only acceptable ground was family reunification, and a formal petition
("âűçîâ", vyzov) from a relative from abroad was required for the
processing to begin. Often, the result was a formal refusal. The risks
to apply for an exit visa compounded because the entire family had to
quit their jobs, which in turn would make them vulnerable to charges of
social parasitism, a criminal offense. Because of these hardships,
Israel set up the group Lishkat Hakesher in the early 1950s to maintain
contact and promote aliyah with Jews behind the Iron Curtain.
In the wake of Israel's victory in the Six-Day War in 1967, the USSR
broke off the diplomatic relations with the Jewish state. Anti-Zionist
propaganda campaign in the state-controlled mass media and the rise of
Zionology were accompanied by harsher discrimination of the Soviet Jews.
By the end of 1960s, Jewish cultural and religious life in the Soviet
Union had become practically impossible, and the majority of Soviet Jews
were assimilated and non-religious, but this new wave of state-sponsored
anti-Semitism on one hand, and the sense of pride for victorious Jewish
nation over Soviet-armed Arab armies on the other, stirred up Zionist
After the Dymshits-Kuznetsov hijacking affair and the crackdown that
followed, strong international condemnations caused the Soviet
authorities to increase the emigration quota. In the years 1960–1970,
the USSR let only 4,000 people leave; in the following decade, the
number rose to 250,000. Many of those allowed to leave to Israel chose
other destinations, most notably the United States. In 1989 a record
71,000 Soviet Jews were granted exodus from the USSR, of whom only
12,117 immigrated to Israel. Since the dissolution of the USSR, over one
million Soviet Jews have immigrated to Israel. See The collapse of the
Soviet Union and Jewish immigration to Israel and Jackson-Vanik
In the 1999–2002 Argentine political and economic crisis that
caused a run on the banks, wiped out billions of dollars in deposits and
decimated the country's middle class, most of Argentina's estimated
200,000 Jews were directly affected. Some chose to start over and move
to Israel, where they saw opportunity.
More than 10,000 Jews from Argentina immigrated to Israel since 2000,
joining the thousands of previous olim already there. The crisis in
Argentina also affected its neighbour country Uruguay, from which over
500 Jews made aliyah in the same period. During 2002 and 2003 the Jewish
Agency for Israel launched an intensive public campaign to promote
aliyah from the region, and offered additional economical aid for
immigrants from Argentina. Although the economy of Argentina improved,
Jews continue to immigrate to Israel, albeit in smaller numbers than
From 2001 to 2005, 11,148 Jews made Aliyah from France, including
a 35-year high in 2005, with 3,300 immigrants.] With the start of the
Second Intifada in Israel, anti-Semitic incidents became more frequent
in France. In 2002, the Commission nationale consultative des droits de
l'homme (Human Rights Commission) reported six times more anti-Semitic
incidents than in 2001 (193 incidents in 2002). The commission's
statistics showed that anti-Semitic acts constituted 62% of all racist
acts in the country (compared to 45% in 2001 and 80% in 2000). The
report documented 313 violent acts against people or property, including
38 injuries and the murder of one person with Jewish Maghrebin origins
by Muslims. Since 2005, the number of acts dropped but is still at a
significantly higher level than during the previous decade.
North American Aliyah
There are approximately 110,000 North American immigrants in
Israel. There has been a steady flow of olim from North America since
Israel’s inception in 1948. Record numbers arrived in the late 1960s
after the Six-Day War, and in the 1970s. Many immigrants began arriving
in Israel after the First and Second Intifada, with a total of 3,052
arriving in 2005 — the highest number since 1983. Like Western European
olim, North Americans tend to immigrate to Israel more for religious,
ideological and political purposes, and not financial ones[citation
needed]. Nefesh B'Nefesh, founded in 2002 by Rabbi Yehoshua Fass and
Tony Gelbart, works to encourage Aliyah from North America and the UK by
providing Hebrew Language assistance for potential olim, streamlining
the process already offered by the Jewish Agency and Israeli Government.
A group of students at Brandeis University founded ImpactAliyah in 2007
to support campus communities of student pre-olim and run pilot trips to
From the 1990s
Since the mid 1990s, there has been a steady stream of South
African Jews, American Jews, and French Jews who have either made aliyah,
or purchased property in Israel for potential future immigration.
Specifically, many French Jews have purchased homes in Israel as
insurance due to the rising rate of anti-Semitism in France in recent
The Bnei Menashe Jews from India, whose recent discovery and
recognition by mainstream Judaism as descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes
is subject to some controversy, slowly started their Aliyah in the early
1990s and continue arriving in slow numbers.
Organizations such as Nefesh B'Nefesh and Shavei Israel help with
aliyah by supporting financial aid and guidance on a variety of topics
such as finding work, learning Hebrew, and assimilation into Israeli
In early 2007 Haaretz reported that aliyah for the year of 2006 was
down approximately 9% from 2005. They state that: "Only 19,264 people
immigrated to Israel in 2006, down nine percent from 2005. It is the
lowest number of immigrants recorded since 1988"
The number of new immigrants in 2007 was 18,127, the lowest since
1988. Only 36% of these new immigrants came from the former Soviet Union
(close to 90% in the 90's) while the number of immigrants from countries
like France and USA is stable.
The number of immigrants to Israel during 1919–2006 period is
given in the table below. The table details the number of olim for the
specific time periods by country of birth. (For the year 2006, the last
country of residence is also given).
see also: United Nations member states -