Zionism is the Jewish national movement of rebirth and
renewal in the land of Israel - the historical birthplace of the Jewish
people. The yearning to return to Zion, the biblical term for both the Land of
Israel and Jerusalem, has been the cornerstone of Jewish religious life since
the Jewish exile from the land two thousand years ago, and is embedded in
Jewish prayer, ritual, literature and culture.
Modern Zionism emerged in the late 19th century in response
to the violent persecution of Jews in Eastern Europe, anti-Semitism in Western
Europe. Modern Zionism fused the ancient Jewish biblical and historical ties
to the ancestral homeland with the modern concept of nationalism into a vision
of establishing a modern Jewish state in the land of Israel.
The "father" of modern Zionism, Austrian
journalist Theodor Herzl, consolidated various strands of Zionist thought into
an organized political movement, advocating for international recognition of a
"Jewish state" and encouraging Jewish immigration to build the land.
Today, decades after the actual founding of a Jewish state,
Zionism continues to be the guiding nationalist movement of the majority of
Jews around the world who believe in, support and identify with the State of
Israel. Zionism, the national aspiration of the Jewish people to a homeland,
is to the Jewish people what the liberation movements of Africa and Asia have
been to their peoples.
History has demonstrated the need to ensure Jewish security
through such a homeland. The re-establishment of Jewish independence in
Israel, after centuries of struggle to overcome foreign conquest and exile, is
a vindication of the fundamental concepts of the equality of nations and of
self-determination. To question the Jewish people's right to national
existence and freedom is not only to deny to the Jewish people the right
accorded to every other people on this globe, but it is also to deny the
central precepts of the United Nations.