Zionism is a movement that unifies Jews all over the world. It was initiated in the early years but was reformed in the 19th century to form the modern Zionism. In the early 20th century, Theodore Herzl strengthened the movement by soliciting funds to buy land for Jews due to the persecution that they were subjected to in other countries. Jews later settled in Palestine, which had been controlled by the Ottoman Empire between 1517 and 1833 (Gorny, 1987). Small Jewish community in Palestine was suppressed and put under many restrictions during Ottoman reign. Egyptian viceroy then took over East Mediterranean region and allowed foreign settlers into Palestine (Minho, 2008). This led to the migration of Jews from anti-Semitic countries into Palestine and Jewish population started to increase. This population started to form Jewish charities like Rothschilds and Moses Montefiore. Jews started to feel at home since they had been homeless for over two millennia. They had always expressed their willingness to live in Palestine since their traditional culture and art showed that their initial homeland was Palestine. When they started to settle down, they made Palestine their home base as well as the base for the emergence of Zionism. A conflict between Jews and Muslims persists since Arabs believe that Palestine is their Holy land, while Jews believe it is their ancestral home (Gorny, 1987). Due to the Jewish dominance in the world economy and their union through Zionism, the movement is considered racist because they perceive themselves as being superior to all other races.
Factors That Encouraged the Spread of Zionism
Czar Alexander II
In 1855 Czar Alexander II took the throne in Russia. He was a liberal ruler and opened up the country to allow Jews to learn and work in professional positions (Minho, 2008). He eliminated restrictions that had earlier been imposed by his predecessors on Russian Jewish people. This gave the Jews in Russia a social status and they felt recognized by the authorities. They went to schools, attained high education, and started living in cities, which was a privilege that they had been earlier denied. By the time Czar left the throne, Jews had acquired a strong position in the society and they felt confident about themselves. Most of them were educated and some had accumulated significant wealth (Minho, 2008). These two factors were the backbone of their fight for liberation because they were later denied these privileges. The organization and running of Zionism has its roots in this period when Jews were treated in a humane way during Czar’s reign.
Alexander III succeeded Czar Alexander II. He was a complete opposite of his predecessor concerning his treatment of Jews. He persecuted them and vowed to eliminate most of them. His main activities regarding Jews resulted into their division into three groups: one third were converted into Russians, a third starved to death, and the remaining third expelled from the country (Pearlson, 1927). He immediately enacted a law, commonly known as the May Law, which was geared towards severe persecution of Jews in Russia. These laws were enacted immediately after he took the throne in 1882. Due to the harsh laws in Russia, most of the Jews were evicted, while others emigrated freely (Minho, 2008). This created another scenario. Those who left the country immigrated to other European countries. This led to the increase of their population, which eventually resulted to the development of an anti-Semitic tension. Others migrated to Palestine and started a new community of Yishuv which was secular. The New Yishuv, as they called it, was not guided by religious issues like older Yishuv, but was secular and looked to find the best ways to address their woes (Minho, 2008).
The development New Yishuv made Jews who had a common problem to solve come together (Lanquer, 2003). Since some of them were educated, they started writing articles which lobbied for the promotion of a national state of Israel. It was during this period that the first book Rome and Jerusalem byHess Moses was published. It was followed by Pinsker Leo’s Auto Emancipation in 1882, and Birnbaum Nathan’s Self-emancipation closely followed in 1884. Others followed later and started to enlighten Jews and filling them with a new belief that they deserve to live better. In 1895 and 1896 Theodore Herzl wrote a pamphlet The Jewish State and a book Alteunaland (to mean Old New Land) respectively (Pearlson, 1927). These two publications were overwhelmingly influential and addressed Zionism and how Jews could reestablish their old land - the State of Israel (Minho, 2008). Alteunaland gained a lot of support and Jews were hysterical about rebuilding their old Israel. Herzl used this opportunity to form an organization which would achieve the goals he wished about rebuilding Israel. This was the eminent birth of the movement Zionism.
Theodore Herzl was an educated and a wealthy Jew who wrote influential books that sought to spread Zionism and its policies. Through his wealth and diplomatic abilities, he travelled to many states and persuaded other governments to support him as he tried to rebuild Israel. The first ever World Zionist Congress was held in Basel, Switzerland in 1897 (Minho, 2008). This congress had far reaching effects. First, it opened up Zionism to the rest of the world, thus making it a global organization for Jews in any part of the world. Secondly, a new state of Jews, Palestine was established and was declared a Jewish state (Minho, 2008). The Jews in Diaspora, therefore, migrated back to Palestine, which was referred to as the first Aliya (Lanquer, 2003). Over 30,000 Jews moved to Palestine over the 20 years that followed 1882.
Theodore looked for allies even in the opposing European states. He also supported Zionism (which he earlier on opposed) when he realized that there was no way that Jews would be treated in the same way as the rest of people in the countries they lived. Notably, Jews did not have their own country, and Theodore proposed that the only way to obtain international recognition was to acquire their own country, uniting factor of which would not be religion. He was supported by other Jews and they reclaimed Palestine. This way, Zionism became centralized. With a firm base it was able to spread in other areas (Minho, 2008). Further, once Jews had established their own country, they received an international recognition which allowed those in the organization (Zionism) to travel freely across the world and reach out to other Jews who lived in remote areas. This subsequently led to the spread of Zionism.
Jewish National Fund and World Zionist Congress
Theodore Herzl initiated two organizations to purchase land for the resettlement of Jews in the Diaspora and World Zionist Congress was meant to seek recognition in the whole world. Herzl achieved his goals when the first congress was held in Switzerland (Pearlson, 1927). The congress led to the recognition of Zionism and its acceptance by most of the states in Europe and the world. This way, Jews away from the new home, Palestine, could follow their organization without restrictions from the governments in the countries they lived in. This led to the spread of Zionism because it gave it a diplomatic recognition (Minho, 2008). Jewish National Fund also helped in the spread of Zionism. Herzl initiated it with a goal to raise money to purchase a piece of land that Jews could call their home. He appealed to all supporting governments and wealthy Jews to aid in the process. At the same time, he explained to them the need to promote Zionism as their organization. Due to the diversity among countries that Jews inhabited, the idea of Zionism inevitably spread across Europe and was adopted and supported by wealthy and influential Jews. This led to its easy acceptance by Jews who lived away from Palestine and, eventually, to its wide spread (Lanquer, 2003).
Nature of the Organization
Theorganization was formed and organized on the basis of issues that negatively affected Jews. It did not focus on religion but was more secular and oriented towards the improvement of the welfare of Jews (Mark, 2005). Liberal Zionism was the initial form, but in the recent years it has grown to accommodate other aspects. Jews from other religions such as Christianity, Muslim, and Hindu are accepted to the organization. Since World Zionism Congress is held every four years, the 1968 forum came up with five main aims of the organization. They are:
- Unifying Jews all over the world and keeping Israel as their central home.
- Encouraging Jews from all over the world to return to their historic home, Eretz Israel.
- To strengthen Israel as a state on the basis of the prophetic vision of peace and justice.
- Preservation of the universal Jewish identity through Jewish and Hebrew education, cultural and spiritual values.
- Universal protection of the rights of Jews.
With these five aims of the organization, Zionism was accepted by all Jewish personalities in the world. Different parts of the organization have led to its diversity to address the needs of Jews such as religion, politics, labor, and nationalism among others. It is a major movement that has united Jews from all regions of the world. Since its inception, it has spread into many regions including America, Europe, and Africa among others.
Jewish National Fund was established to buy land for Jews. Muslims feel that the land, current Palestine, belongs to them and that they have to reclaim it (Gorny, 1987). Muslims perceive Palestine as their own and have declared war after war against Jews in Palestine. To stop Zionism, Muslims need to stop their open physical confrontation and anti-Semitism. They should indulge more diplomacy than war to conquer Jews. This way, they will manage to establish treaties and agreements with Jews regarding the land. Once they gain a sizeable control over the land, they can search for leadership and slowly phase the Jews out.
The biggest binding factor of Jews is their persecution in the earlier days (Mark, 2005). If they were helped to forget their past, they would not be as cohesive as they currently are and they would be easily disintegrated at this state. Arabs should try to help Jews forget about their troubled past. This would eventually make them lose their binding factor of persecution. Because there are new generations of people since these persecutions took place, the new generation could be easily helped to forget the suffering of their forefathers and could be manipulated.
Encouraging interaction between Arabs and Jews would allow Jews to buy ideas from Arabs. Intermarriages between the two races could lead to the reduction of genetic superiority of Jews. Once this is done over time, Jews would lose their strength and would eventually get weaker. After this, Arabs could strike the country when Jews least expect it.
Arabs could also lobby to the international community against Zionism and present facts that Zionism encourages racism. This way, Jews would not only be fighting Arabs but the whole international community, which is against racism.