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(Hebrew: צִיּוֹנוּת‎ Tsiyyonut [tsijoˈnut]; Arabic: الصهيونية al-ahyūniyya)

1. A both an ideology and nationalist movement initiated in Europe that sought the colonization of Palestine by people of Jewish faith in the name and form of the State of Israel and predicated on the notion of a shared “race and descendancy,” asserted as “Jewish nationality,” the civil status and basis for Jewish colonists to benefit from the eventual expulsion (population transfer) and dispossession of the indigenous Palestinian Arab people of the country. Zionism asserts certain duties and responsibilities upon persons of Jewish faith toward maintaining the colonial situation and benefiting from unique rights and privileges in, and duties to the State of Israel and its maintenance within territories under its effective control.

2. A religious movement (in southern Africa) represented by a group of independent churches practicing a form of Christianity incorporating elements of traditional African beliefs.

Zionism (1) espouses to re-establishment a Jewish state in the territory defined as the historic Land of Israel (roughly corresponding to ancient Canaan, the region of Palestine, also known by Jews, Christians and Muslims as the Holy Land). The Zionist name for Palestine is “Eretz Israel,” taken from a band of tribes who historians believe migrated from the south under a common monotheistic belief and eventually established a Kingdom of Israel in parts of the territory roughly between 930 BCE until 720 BCE. Modern Zionism arose at the the time of popular theories of “race” and corresponding national movements in late 19th Century Central and Eastern Europe. It fashioned itself as a national revival movement, both in reaction to contemporary waves of antisemitism and as a response to Haskalah, or Jewish Enlightenment, which died out about the time that Zionism emerged. Most leaders of the movement soon associated the main goal with creating their desired “Jewish state” in Palestine as a means to liberate Jews from anti-Semitic discrimination and persecution in Europe, as well as to pursue an “gathering of the exiles,” despite the historic fact that most Jews in the world, since the Hellenistic Period, were indigenous to, or natives of their respective countries. The area of Palestine was then controlled by the Ottomans, and Zionist sought the cooperation of major European Powers that sought to dismantle the Ottoman Empire as a tactical medans to achieve their goal of colonizing Palestine.

The name derives from “Zion” (Hebrew: צִיּוֹן, îyōn, Septuagint Greek: Σιών), is also variously transliterated Sion, Tzion, Tsion, Tsiyyon , depending on the destination European language. It is a placename mentioned 152 times in the Hebrew Bible, sometimes used as as a synonym for Jerusalem, as well as for the Land of Israel as a whole.

Theodor Herzl, an Austrian journalist, is attributed as the father of Zionism, owing to his influential pamphlet, Der Judenstaat,[1] in which Herzl envisioned the founding of a future independent Jewish state during the 20th Century. He argued that the best way to avoid anti-Semitism in Europe was to create this independent Jewish state elsewhere and encouraged Jews everywhere to purchase land in Palestine, although the possibility of a Jewish state in Argentina, Uganda and elsewhere was also being considered among Zionists and their European supporters at the time.

Herzl popularized the term “Zionism,” which was actually coined by Austrian Nathan Birnbaum, founder of the Kadimah nationalist Jewish student movement. He used the term in 1890 in his journal Selbstemanzipation! (Self-Emancipation), itself named almost identically to Leon Pinsker’s 1882 book Auto-Emancipation.[2] Until 1948, the primary goals of Zionism were the re-establishment of Jewish sovereignty in Palestine. Since the proclamation of the State of Israel in 1948 and its diplomatic recognition by numerous other states, Zionism continues primarily to advocate on behalf of Israel and to address threats to its continued existence and security, as well as to oppose challenges to Israel’s legitimacy as a state and criticisms of its policies and behavior.

Zionism has many expressions and streams. A religious variety of Zionism supports Jews upholding their Jewish identity defined as adherence to religious Judaism, opposes the assimilation of Jews into other societies. A variety of Zionism, called cultural Zionism, founded and represented most prominently by Ahad Ha’am, fostered a secular vision of a Jewish “spiritual center” in Palestine/Israel.[3]

Advocates of Zionism view it as a national liberation movement for the repatriation of a persecuted people residing as minorities in a alien nations to their ancestral homeland.[4] Critics of Zionism view it as a colonialist,[5] racist[6] and exceptionalist[7] ideology that led advocates to violence during Mandatory Palestine, followed by the exodus of Palestinians, and the subsequent denial of their right to return to lands and property that Zionists have conquered and confiscated, especially since the 1948 War of Conquest, what Palestinians call al-Nakba (the Catastrophe). [24][25][26][27]

[1]Theodore Herzl, Der Judenstaat (Leipzig and Vienna: M. Breitenstein’s Verlags-Buchhandlung, February 1896) (German, literally translated as The Jews’ State) was subtitled Versuch einer modernen Lösung der Judenfrage (literally: Attempt at a modern solution for the Jewish question). The pamphlet originally was called “Address to the Rothschilds,” appealing to the Rothschild family banking dynasty, as Herzl planned to deliver it as a speech to the Rothschild family. However, Baron Edmond de Rothschild rejected the plan as threatening the situation of Jews outside Palestine and potentially risking Rothschild’s own property holdings in Palestine.

[2]See Nicholas De Lange, An Introduction to Judaism (Cambridge and London: Cambridge University Press, 2000), p. 30.

[3]Ahad Ha’am, The Jewish State and Jewish Problem, trans. by Leon Simon (New York: Jewish Publication Society of America, ca. 1912).

[4]S. Ilan Troen, “De-Judaizing the Homeland: Academic Politics in Rewriting the History of Palestine,” Israel Affairs, Vol. 13, Issue 4 (2007), Special Issue: Postcolonial Theory and the Arab-Israel Conflict, pp. 872–84; Ran Aaronson, “Settlement in Eretz Israel – A Colonialist Enterprise? ‘Critical’ Scholarship and Historical Geography,” Israel Studies, Vol 1, Issue 2 (1996), pp. 214–229; Michael Cohen, “Zionism and British imperialism II: Imperial financing in Palestine,” Journal of Israeli History: Politics, Society, Culture, Vol. 30, Issue 2 (2011), pp. 115–39.

[5]Avi Bareli, “Forgetting Europe: Perspectives on the Debate about Zionism and Colonialism,” in Derek J. Penslar and Anita Shapira, eds., Israeli Historical Revisionism: From Left to Right (London and Portland OR: Frank Cass, 2003), pp. 99–116; Ian Lustick, For the Land and the Lord ; Nur Masalha, The Bible and Zionism: invented traditions, archaeology and post-colonialism in Palestine-Israel (London: Zed Books, 2007) p. 16; Pappé Ilan, A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples (Cambridge and London: Cambridge University Press, 2006), pp. 72–121; Michael Prior, The Bible and colonialism: a moral critique, (Continuum International Publishing Group, 1997), pp. 106–215; Gershon Shafir, “Zionism and Colonialism,” in Ilan Pappé, ed. The Israel/Palestinian Question (London and New York: Routledge, 1999), pp. 72–85; Gershon Shafir, Being Israeli: The Dynamics of Multiple Citizenship (Cambridge and London: Cambridge University Press, 2002), pp. 37–38; Ilan Pappé, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (Oxford: Oneworld, 2007); Derek J. Penslar, “Zionism, Colonialism and Postcolonialism,” in Penslar and Shapira, op. cit., pp. 85–98; Michael Prior, Zionism and the State of Israel: A Moral Inquiry (New York: Routledge, 2014), p. 240; Baylis Thomas, The Dark Side of Zionism: Israel’s Quest for Security Through Dominance (New York: Lexington Books, 2011), p. 4; Elia Zuriek, The Palestinians in Israel: A Study in Internal Colonialism (New York: Routledge & Keagan Paul, 1979).

[6]Avi Beker, Chosen: the history of an idea, the anatomy of an obsession (New York: Macmillan, 2008), pp. 131, 139, 151; Allan Gerson, “The United Nations and Racism: The Case of Zionism and Racism,” in Yoram Dinstein and Mala Tabory, eds., Israel Yearbook on Human Rights, Vol. 17 (1987), p. 31, 136ge; Sami Hadawi, Bitter Harvest: A Modern History of Palestine (Northampton MA: Interlink Books, 4th revised and updated edition, 1991), p. 183; Yehoshafat Harkabi, Arab attitudes to Israel, pp. 247–48; The International Organization for the Elimination of All forms of Racial Discrimination, Zionism & Racism, proceedings of an international symposium (New Brunswick NJ: North America, 1979); Benjamin Joseph, op. cit.; Abdul Wahhab Kayyali, ed., Zionism, imperialism, and race (New York: Croom Helm, 1979); Israel Shahak, op. cit..

[7]M. Shahid Alam, Israeli Exceptionalism: The Destabilizing Logic of Zionism (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2010).