What is Zionism?
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Zionism is the movement for the reestablishment of the Jewish people's self-determination in their homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel. In many ways, Zionism can be considered the national liberation movement of the Jewish people.
The desire of the Jews to return to their homeland began nearly 2000 years ago. In 70 CE, the Romans destroyed the holy Temple and razed the city of Jerusalem, the religious and administrative capital of the Jewish people. This act of horrific destruction brought Jewish independence to an end, and in the decades that followed, most of the Jews of Israel were exiled. Only a small number stayed, so that throughout history, there has always been a Jewish presence in the Land of Israel.
Despite their exile, the vast majority of Jews never stopped hoping to return home, and these yearnings played an essential role in their prayer and literature. For example, at the end of the annual Passover meal, Jews all over the world repeat the vow "Next year in Jerusalem," and at Jewish weddings the groom recites "If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its cunning" (Psalm 137).
The Jewish connection with the Land of Israel was not manifested in prayer alone. In the late nineteenth century, as national movements took shape in Europe and as antisemitism on that continent grew, an Austrian Jewish journalist, Theodor Herzl, began to organize the national movement of the Jewish people - the Zionist movement. The goal of Zionism was political: the establishment of an independent state for the Jewish people. The most natural place for this state was Zion, or the Land of Israel, the homeland of the Jewish people.
Herzl elaborated this vision in his book The Jewish State . He envisioned a developed, thriving country in which all inhabitants, Jews and non-Jews, would live in peace and tranquility. This vision and its fulfillment are Zionism.
These texts are taken from material published by the Israel Ministry of Foreign affairs. with additional comments and hyperlinked materials. They were apparently published in connection with the Annapolis peace conference of 2007, but they have extensive applicability beyond it. They explain fundamentals of Israeli policy as well as the meaning of Zionism and history of the conflict.
Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs text is at Israel, the Conflict and Peace. Original text is copyright by Ami Isseroff and Zionism-Israel Center.
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