A modern Jewish movement whose objects are to create an asylum for oppressed and persecuted Jews and to preserve Judaism from becoming submerged in the culture of other peoples. Throughout the centuries Jews have yearned for a Jewish homeland, and this yearning always became intense during persecutions. The anti-Semitism* in Eur. in the 2d half of the 19th c. resulted in attempts to settle Jews in Palestine; but no organization was effected until Theodor Herzl, a Viennese lawyer and journalist (18601904), wrote Der Judenstaat 1896, which resulted in the First Zionist Congress at Basel 1897, where the Zionist organization was formed and the program formulated to establish for the Jewish people a publicly recognized, legally secured home in Palestine. Numerous congresses were held in the following yrs.
By WW I ca. 115,000 Jews had settled in Palestine. On November 2, 1917, the Brit. govt. issued the Balfour Declaration (see Balfour, Arthur J.; Middle East, F), stating that His Majesty's Government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people. Proposals intended to ultimately render possible the creation of an autonomous commonwealth for the Jews were adopted at the San Remo peace conference 1920, which later became part of the Palestine Mandate given the Brit. govt. by the League of Nations.
After WW I Jewish immigration increased, ca. 150,000 additional settlers coming by 1936, after which violent Arab opposition and Brit. restrictions held the number down until the end of WW II. Agricultural settlements were formed; the Heb. University was est. on Mt. Scopus; the all-Jewish city of Tel-Aviv grew rapidly; commerce and manufacture were promoted.
After WW II a flood of refugees from Hitler's concentration camps poured in despite all opposition. On November 29, 1947, the UN decided to partition Palestine. On May 14, 1948, a momentous date in Jewish history, the indep. state of Israel was est.; the Zionist dream had come true. On February 14, 1949, a const. setting up a republican form of govt. was adopted.
Since the est. of Israel, immigration has continued, with particular strength in the early yrs.. In 1948 the Jewish pop. was ca. 750,000; in 1952 ca. 1,440,000; in 1966 ca. 2,300,000; in 1973 ca. 2,870,000. After 4 wars with the Arabs (194849, 1956, 1967, 1973) Zionism still faces the problem of reconciliation of the Arab world to the existence of this new Jewish state.
Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission
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