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  • The A to Z of isms... Zionism.

  • For its supporters, Zionism is the national liberation movement

  • of the Jewish people.

  • For its opponents, it is a means to establish a settler-colonial state

  • in the developing world.

  • Theodor Herzl, a Viennese journalist and playwright,

  • founded the modern Zionist movement in 1897.

  • Yet many orthodox Jews strongly opposed the rise of Zionism.

  • They believed that the Jews would only return to Zion,

  • the land promised by God to the Jews in the Hebrew Bible,

  • with the eventual coming of the Messiah.

  • Jews should therefore not force God's hand.

  • There were many types of Zionist - Marxist, religious and nationalist,

  • Liberal, Social Democrat - the forerunners of today's

  • political parties in Israel. But Zionism and Arab nationalism

  • arose during the same period of history,

  • with claims over the same piece of land -

  • a geographical area, known for centuries to Jews as

  • the Land of Israel. This is the ideological basis

  • of the seemingly intractable Israel-Palestinian conflict.

  • While there's been a Jewish presence in the Holy Land

  • since biblical times, at the beginning of the 20th Century

  • the Jews were few in number compared to Christian and Muslim Arabs.

  • Unlike other national liberation movements whose supporters

  • were actually living on the territory that they wished to free,

  • Zionist Jews had first to emigrate from a far-flung diaspora,

  • build an infrastructure, and only then initiate a liberation struggle.

  • Zionism therefore does not fit into conventional theory.

  • So, is Zionism wrong or just different?

  • In the aftermath of the French Revolution, many 19th Century Jews

  • began to regard themselves as a people

  • with a history, literature, culture and language -

  • and not just followers of an ancient religion, Judaism.

  • Many were highly influenced by progressive national movements

  • in Europe, such as the Risorgimento of Mazzini and Garibaldi

  • for a united Italy,

  • and Irish Republican efforts to throw off the yoke of British domination.

  • The example of Russian revolutionary Lenin

  • influenced the socialist Zionist leader

  • and first prime minister of Israel, David Ben-Gurion.

  • Lenin demonstrated what could be achieved

  • with a handful of supporters.

  • Many East European Jews wanted to escape the heavy hand

  • of Russian anti-Semitism,

  • so the early Zionists were often revolutionary socialists

  • who not only wished to build a new country,

  • but also to construct a new society, unlike the ones they had just left.

  • One of the building blocks of this new society was the kibbutz,

  • a self-sufficient, self-governing collective.

  • There were many possible territorial solutions where a Jewish state

  • could be built. They ranged from the Portuguese colony of Angola

  • to the Jewish Autonomous Region in the USSR, Birobidzhan

  • on the border of China.

  • Herzl even approached the British with the idea that Uganda might be

  • "a night shelter" on the road to the Land of Israel.

  • Some supporters believe that Zionism completed its task

  • when the state of Israel was established in 1948.

  • Others believe that the Zionist project cannot be considered complete

  • until Israel is at peace, secure within its boundaries

  • and within the wider region,

  • and creates a fairer society for all its inhabitants.

  • Thanks for watching! :)

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The A to Z of isms... Zionism.

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What is Zionism? What does Zionism mean? | A-Z of ISMs Episode 26 - BBC Ideas

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    Summer posted on 2020/09/06
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