A colonial movement supporting the establishment by any means necessary of a national state for Jews in historic Palestine


Zionism is a nationalist, political ideology that called for the creation of a Jewish state, and now supports the continued existence of Israel as such a state. Theodor Herzl, an Austrian Jew, is considered the “father” of political Zionism. The Zionist movement started in the late 19th century, amidst growing European anti-Semitism. The movement secured support among Western European governments, particularly after Zionists agreed to create their Jewish state in historic Palestine. The Zionists’ early objective was to claim as much of historic Palestine as possible, by driving out the Palestinian population.  Zionists actively encouraged the mass migration of European Jews to Palestine during the first half of the 20th century. Despite their efforts, and the sharp rise in anti-Semitism in Europe culminating in the Nazi persecution, Arabs still outnumbered Jews in Palestine. Thus, as the likes of Israeli historian Ilan Pappe have argued, Zionist leaders were well aware that implementing their project would necessitate the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinian population.


In 1948, David Ben-Gurion, then head of the World Zionist Organisation, proclaimed the founding of the state of Israel in Palestine. Zionists argued that Israel would provide a safe national home for Jews, allowing any Jewish person from anywhere in the world to immigrate there and claim citizenship. Critics, however, argue that Zionism has functioned like colonialism, pointing to the violent ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinian population and the building of illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories as evidence.