Zionism is the ideology of supporting a sovereign Jewish state. The name derives from Zion, a synonym for Jerusalem (specifically Mount of Zion) or Israel. Jews believe that they are not only a religion but also a nation. Thus, they deserve to have their own state – in Zion. A place they find sacred.
The belief emerged as a result of the Jewish diaspora. For hundreds of years, Jews were in exile, settling in countries all around the world. Scattered around the world, Jews, or Israelites, naturally craved to return to their homeland. But, the Muslim Ottoman Empire held the land of Israel.
Throughout history, the exiled Jews faced oppression. As the hate against Jews (or anti-semitism) graduated, the idea of Zionism was acute. Despite that, many Jews remained to believe in adaptation to European culture. A continent where secularism began to dominate.
Zionism as a movement
Deemed as the founder of the movement is an Austrian journalist Theodor Herzl. As he saw the growth of anti-semitism, he could no longer believe in the successful assimilation of Jews in Europe. In 1896 he published a pamphlet, The Jewish State. Further, he started the Zionist congress a year later but, Herzl died soon, in 1904.
The coming years indicate further support of a Jewish state. Many Jews immigrated to Israel. The Holocaust, when the Nazis murdered six million Jews, saw the disintegration of the group in most of Europe.
The horrors of World War II. made a new place for the Jewish state debate. Countries such as the United States or Great Britain had no chance other than to support it. Despite growing tensions between Jews and Arabs, the United Nations decided upon a Jewish state in Israel in November 1947.
United Nations officially created the state of Israel on May 14th, 1948. Thousands of Jews soon came to Israel. Among the many Zionist leaders, David Ben-Guiron, Theodor Herzl, Golda Meir, Chaim Weizmann, Shimon Peres. The movement is active to this day.