Zionism is an international political movement that identifies the existence of a sovereign Jewish national homeland. This is a movement that has been constantly campaigning and supporting Jewish return to their ancestral land since the recognition of the state of Israel. It is a movement that is based on religious and historical aspects of the Jewish religion. Modern Zionism was founded by secular Jews in the late 19th century. Since its foundation, it has grown drastically to become the leading political movement for Jews. The Zionist movement was founded by Theodor Herzl (a journalist). The main purpose of the movement was to support the migration of the Jewish people to Palestine (Laqueur 4). It succeeded because in 1948 the state of Israel was established which served as the homeland for the Jewish people. There is now approximately 40% of the Jewish population of living in Israel. In this paper I will give a definition of Zionism, a brief history of the Jewish people and explain the two stages that the Jews had to go through before they returned to Israel.
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Zionism can be defined in different ways. Ideologically, the term is used to describe the efforts and ideas that were used to take back the Jews to their original homeland. The beliefs of Zionist held that Jews were a nation just like any other and they had to be gathered in a single homeland rather than being scattered all over the world (Peretz 2). In other words, the term Zionism is used to describe a person who believes that Jewish people should go back to their original homeland (which is Israel). Politically, it was a movement founded in 1891 by Theodor Herzl to incorporate ideas and an organization for the Jews (Peretz 2).
Zionism is a name that is derived from Zion (a hill in Jerusalem) and is used to refer to the “maker” (Goldberg 10). The ideas of Zionist have evolved over a long period of time and have been influenced by the cultural and social movements in Europe. Zionism is not a religious movement. The Jewish people were initially opposed to the Zionist movement but latter felt that they needed it (Peretz 2).
Zionism began in 1897 with relations to Judaism and Jewish history. The main aim of the movement was to create a Jewish homeland and a cultural centre in Palestine by supporting Jewish migration (Cohen 12). The first attempt to return the Jewish people to their ancestral land began in the Torah within Judaism and was later adopted by Christian Old Testament (Goldberg 10). This was the time when Jacob and his sons sought refuge in Egypt during the period of drought. In Egypt, they became slaves and later formed a nation. G-d commanded Moses to demand pharaoh let the Israelites go but pharaoh declined. Plagues were then experienced which forced pharaoh to send the Jews out of Egypt (Goldberg 10).
In 1948, the Zionist movement achieved its goal of creating Israel as a Jewish state (Laqueur 4). This movement is still practical today and has continuously supported Jews in their return to Israel. Most of the political parties in Israel defined themselves as Zionist although modernity in Israel’s political movement has considered not formulating them with the Zionist movement (Cohen 13).
Zionism has been able to succeed in its encouragement towards Jewish migration. We can now see that the majority of the Jewish people in the world reside in Israel today. The movement has been able to overcome some of the obstacles that were thought to be difficult and realized a dream which seemed almost impossible. Peretz (6) observed that the success of Zionist went through different stages. First was the Pre-Zionism period which was Zionism on a cultural basis and the tie of the Jews towards Israel. It was the period when the Zionism movement seemed unrealistic. Next was Proto-Zionism, which was a period that started in the early 19th century when writings and movements aimed to restore the Jewish people to their ancestral land. After Proto-Zionism was the Foundational Zionism. During this period Theodor Herzl and Chaim Weizmann initiated the movement into a well organized political movement. This included the development of aspects that were to guide Zionism in terms of politics, culture, and religion (territorial and practical). Labor Zionism emerged which were also referred to as the socialist Zionism. In this period, the Zionist movement which was led by leaders from upper class Jews was concerned primarily on how they could get an agreement that would see Jews return to their ancestral home.
The last stage was the Mandatory Zionism in which all the leaders of the movement assembled in Palestine and were recognized with the leadership of the labor Zionist of the Jewish society. Zionism focal point was to settle Jewish on the land and protect them from the Arabs then save them from the Holocaust and the fight from the British government (Peretz 9). This period was led by David Ben-Gurion.
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Jews acknowledged themselves as G-d’s chosen and unique people since the generation of Adam. They believed that they were chosen by G-d to accomplish his purpose on earth. This was confirmed during the story of the Exodus from Egypt. The way God rescued the Israelites from the hands of pharaoh in Egypt was a clear indication that G-d makes and keeps covenants. Jews descended from the Israel’s Hebrew people in the land of Canaan. The children of Israel followed the lineage of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and then the Hebrews. Jacob and his sons left Canaan during the period of drought and they settled in Egypt. In Egypt they worked as slaves under the government of pharaoh (Goldberg 10).
After about 400 years in slavery God sent his servant Moses to rescue the Jews from the hand of pharaoh. From Egypt, they settled at Sinai desert for another 40 years before they entered Canaan. It was at the desert that God showed his love to the Jews, providing them with food and everything else they wished. While on the desert, God gave Moses the Torah at Mount Sinai (Walfman, Ruiz & Rubin 127). This formed the beginning of Judaism and Abraham’s religion. For the past fifty or more years, the identity of the Jews has had to change due to two different crucial stages in their life. These were the stages where the majority of the Jews were murdered and the survivors were able to return to Israel. The first one was the Holocaust and the second stage was the establishment of the state of Israel (Walfman, Ruiz & Rubin 127)
The word Holocaust comes from the origin of Greeks which means sacrificing by use of fire (Goldberg 49). Nazis came into power in 1933 in the country of Germany (Goldberg 49). They perceived the Germans to be racially superior and the Jews to be inferior. This caused a threat in the foreign communities, which was known as the German racial community. During this period, other groups which were also perceived to be racially inferior as the Jews were attacked by the Germans. Germans persecuted the Jews and the other inferior communities on grounds of politics, behaviors, and ideology (Morris 2). The other groups were the homosexuals, bisexuals, Jehovah witnesses, socialists, and communists.
In Europe, the Jewish population rose to about 9 million with most of them living in countries that were later occupied by Nazi Germans during the Second World War. In 1945, most of the European Jews were killed by the Germans as part of the solution in the policy that had been laid down by Nazi regime. As the Germans pursued the Jews other groups were also affected by the murdering including the Germans. More than two hundred thousand people, mainly the Germans were injured physically and mentally and were rushed to hospitals (Morris 3). As the oppression of the Nazi regime spread to the other parts of Europe, more and more people were murdered (Morris 3).
After the Holocaust, a large number of the Jewish survivors were provided with shelter in displaced persons (DP) camps which were being managed by united powers (Goldberg 19). About seven hundred thousand of the survivors migrated to Israel while others migrated to the United States and other nations. The holocaust saw most of the Jewish communities return to their ancestral land in Israel after being eliminated from Europe.
Those who survived the Holocaust encountered confrontation on their way to Israel. The confrontation was caused by the British Command who had the responsibility of reducing the number of immigrants allowed to enter Israel (Morris 2). Some Jews had to use ships to get their way to Israel where they encountered many problems such as food shortage and storms. On their arrival to the ports of Israel, they were prevented from entering by the British Mandate and were sent to camps mainly in Atlith or Cyprus (Walfman, Ruiz & Rubin 127)
The Jewish people’s council established the state of Israel on May 14th 1948 and was recognized by the United States and USSR. According to the state, Israel was recognized as the ancestral land of the Jewish people (Israel ministry of foreign affairs 3). It was the land where the Jews got their political and religious identities. It was on this land that the Jewish people had been able to write eternal books and build their cultural principles. Even after being sent on an exile from their land, they held unto their faith and had hopes that one day they would return to their original land. They never ceased to pray to their maker even when circumstances seemed unbearable (Israel ministry of foreign affairs 4).
Despite the fact that most of the Jewish people have been able to return to their land, some had to corrupt with the restraining legislation, which was imposed on their migration by the British Command (Walfman, Ruiz & Rubin 128). Back in their land, they have been able to revive the Hebrews language, build towns and homes, and have created a community that is in control of their economy and culture (Walfman, Ruiz & Rubin 128). Their spiritual father, Theodore Herzl was the first Zionist to declare the right of the Jewish people to their ancestral land (Israel). The Holocaust in Europe was a clear illustration of the need for the Jewish people to resettle in the original land. The state of Israel was prepared to encourage cooperation between the organizations of Israel and the United Nations representatives in the work of implementation of the general assembly’s declaration.
Questions have been asked as to who created the universe. According to Torah, the universe was created by a divine maker (God). Every stage of creation was carried out in specific days and processes moved gradually from being simple to more complex ones. First, there was the creation of gases, water, dry land, plants, animals, and finally human beings (Goldberg 8). Science has tried to compete with the story of creation but Torah’s position never changes. There has been a proposed theory on equilibrium which tries to match the understanding between science and Judaism. According to Torah, spiritual soul which separates human beings from animals was blown into Adam by God himself (Carlebach 44). Judaism teaches on the importance of sanctifying life through utilization of things in the world as we find our way closer to God (Carlebach 44).
Most scholars argue that evolution and Judaism are similar in temperament. Evolution tries to explain life in material terms while Torah tells us that everything was created using the hand of God and his breath (Carlebach 45). Both evolution and Torah believe that man came from mud. Evolutions argument is that if mud is left for a long period of time, human beings will come from it. On the other hand Torah argues that it’s only a divine force that can lead to that (Carlebach 45).
Today, most of the Jewish people have acknowledged that the evolutionary theory and Judaism are similar. These include views about creationism, origin of life, and evolution. Majority of the conservative Rabbis embrace that the world was created about 6,000 years ago by a supreme being called God and that he created Adam and Eve from sand (Goldberg 9). There are some rabbis who believe that the world is much older than most of us think and the life we are living today did not exist (Carlebach 44). Presently, a significant number of the Jewish authorities still maintain the theory on evolution which is compactable with the belief in a divine creator.
Zionism was a movement found by Theodor Herzl for the purpose of resettling Jewish people in their ancestral land (Israel). It began in 1897 with relations to Judaism and Jewish history. Jews left their land Israel when there was famine and settled in Egypt. In Egypt, they were enslaved by pharaoh and God heard their cry and rescued them. It is after they left Egypt that they got scattered all over the world. Their identity had to change in the last fifty years when they underwent two crucial stages in their life, the Holocaust and the state of Israel.
The holocaust was organized by the Nazi regime and more than 6 million Jews were murdered. The survivors of the Holocaust returned to Israel which was not an easy journey due to the port restriction put by the British Command. It was after the Holocaust that the state of Israel was established which recognized Israel as the land of Jews. Even after being sent on an exile from their land, the Jewish people held unto their faith and they had hopes that one day they would return to their original land. The state of Israel was prepared to encourage cooperation between the organizations of Israel and the United Nations representatives.
The Jewish people never ceased to pray to their maker even when circumstances seemed unbearable. Back in their land, they have been able to revive the Hebrews language, build towns and homes, and create a community that is in control of their economy and culture. Scientist haves tried to compete with Torah about creation of the universe. They argue that that evolution and Judaism are similar. According to Torah, the universe was created by a divine maker (God). Every stage of creation was carried out in specific days and processes moved gradually from being simple to more complex ones. First, there was the creation of gases, water, dry land, plants, animals, and finally human beings. Science explains the theory of creation from materialistic point of view. Many scholars have tried to match evolution theory with Judaism. Today, most Jewish people have come to accept that evolution and Judaism are similar.
Carlebach, Julius. Karl Marx and the radical critique of Judaism. New York: Routledge, 1978
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Cohen, Israel. A Short History of Zionism. READ BOOKS, 2007
Goldberg, Michael. Why Should Jews Survive? Looking Past the Holocaust toward a Jewish Future. New York: Oxford University Press US, 1996
Israel ministry of foreign affairs. “Declaration of the establishment of the state of Israel.” Ministry of Foreign Affair – The State of Israel, May, 14 1948. Web.
Laqueur, Walter. A history of Zionism. Tauris Parke Paperbacks, 2003
Morris, Benny. “The Second Holocaust Is Looming.” IsraelInsider.com Friday, 2007. Web.
Peretz, Martin. “Zionism- a history on Zionism.” zionism-israel.com, 2010. Web.
Walfman Marv, Ruiz Mario & Rubin William J. Homeland: The Illustrated History of the State of Israel. Nachshon Press, LLC, 2007