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Zionism Zionist

The political movement to establish a Jewish state in Palestine, the territory from which Jews spread to the rest of the world.

Originally proposed by Theodore Herzl (1860-1904) as a refuge from Russian and Polish persecution.

Some Jews believe that only the Messiah has the right to set up such a state.

Not all Jews support the concept of Zionism, or the policies of the state of Israel.

The state of Israel was set up by the Zionist movement. Outside Israel it raises funds for Israel and lobbies politicians, especially in the United States, to supply funds.

Those who object to the presence of the state of Israel regard Zionism as a dangerous and extremist political movement.

The chief flaw in the policy of Zionists was their assertion that the land was empty, or that the existing inhabitants would not object to a large scale settlement of Europeans in the area. And even the founders such as Herzl see to have accepted that the current inhabitants would have to be expelled. (This may be compared to the way the British declared Australia to be Terra nullius, ignoring all the rights of the original inhabitants.) Another questionable assumption was that the area was exclusively Jewish 2000 years ago, whereas it was inhabited by many different groups including Greeks, Arabs, Edomites.

The fundamental idea that Jews should return to Palestine was also held by certain Christian groups, believers in the laughable doctrine of "endtimes". Thus these groups, influential in the United States, advocate assisting the Jewish Zionists, in the hope of bringing on "Armageddon" a mythical event of the future said to be prophesied in an ancient Christian text (and incidentally the destruction of all Jews).

The idea of Zionism seems to have arisen out of the milieu of nationalism in central Europe where many small linguistic groups wanted to assert their nationhood within the Austro-Hungarian empire. They developed their languages and demanded political states of their own, separate from the multi-national empires they were part of. This movement reached its peak when the empires dissolved in 1918 and new states were set up - but each new state had linguistic minorities who may have wished themselves to be part of another state. Perhaps the ultimate in nationalism was Nazism, where the idea was taken to criminal extremes, believing that only the Germans had rights in the world, and that all others were sub-human.

Critics of Zionism wonder whether in reality it is an imitation of the German variety of nationalism in its treatment of the Palestinians and repudiation of common morality and human rights.

Walter Laqueur - A History of Zionism


A History of Zionism: From the French Revolution to the Establishment of the State of Israel

Last revised 13/09/11


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