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Theodor Herzl, the father of political Zionism.

Zionism is a mass political movement, originating in the 19th century, to create a political and geographic nation-state for the Jewish people (Palestine would eventually be chosen as the location), so that they could have a state of their own and escape the persecution and Antisemitism that was so prevalent throughout Europe at the time and in the preceding centuries. Zionism has long been a political movement and is another word for Jewish nationalism. Indeed, the two are identical in the most salient aspects – "backing of a national identity with credible force"[1] – whatever less salient or theoretical distinctions some may make between them. The movement was named for Mt. Zion, one of the mountains that Jerusalem was built on. "Zion" is also a synonym for the Holy Land or the Jewish national homeland.

In 1914 Palestine, Jews constituted 7.6% of the population with Arabs constituting the huge remainder. By 1931, the Jewish percentage had more than doubled due to the Zionist immigration project. As of 1941 Jews were 30% of the population, and by 1950 – two years after the State of Israel was declared – the immigration project, coupled with migrations due to the first Arab-Israeli war, had caused Jews to constitute a slight majority.[2] Some Zionists claim divine entitlement to the land based on the Hebrew Bible's being virtually the Almighty's land deed, while others claim a continuous Jewish presence over the centuries – however fractional – constitutes some "place-holding" claim.[3] Whatever their motives, the steady influx of Zionist Jews who were advocating the establishment of a Jewish national state – and discriminating against Arab workers via the Histadrut, the Jewish labor federation[4] – engendered significant hostility and opposition from the indigenous Arab population.

In more recent times, the term Zionism is often used to denote the Israeli occupation of, and settlement in, lands beyond the Green Line (that is, in the West Bank and Gaza), commonly referred to as the Palestinian territories. Zionism, like colonialism in the Americas, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, has had long-standing detrimental effects on the indigenous people already living on the land who were not citizens of the new nation in question.

Of course, every country on the earth can be seen as a result of settler colonialism, but whereas most all of the world has renounced or at least ended such methods, and in some cases even attempted some things resembling amend-making, Israel, being a bit of a latecomer to the party, is still going strong with forcible settlement outside its generally-recognized borders.

Indeed, unlike Israel, Western democracies have typically made attempts, however imperfect, to redress the harms done to descendants of their indigenous inhabitants. For example, the United States considers many Indian tribes to be quasi-sovereign on their reservation lands,[5] granted Native Americans U.S. citizenship,[6] and authorized money damages and other relief to many tribes.[7]

It should be noted that good old-fashioned anti-Semites also use "Zionist" as a snarl word to refer to anything they don't like done by anyone (supposedly or actually) Jewish. But meaningful discussion of Zionism – including criticism – can and does occur outside of the precincts of Stormfront-ville.

The ideas[edit]

Herzl and Der Judenstaat[edit]

Theodor Herzl, a Serbian/Austro-Hungarian Jew [8] and a journalist, published in 1896 a work entitled Der Judenstaat (freely available for download) which laid out the foundational principles and goals of Zionism. Central to his argument was the claim that:

[t]he Jewish question persists wherever Jews live in appreciable numbers. Wherever it does not exist, it is brought in together with Jewish immigrants. We are naturally drawn into those places where we are not persecuted, and our appearance there gives rise to persecution. This is the case, and will inevitably be so, everywhere, even in highly civilised countries—see, for instance, France—so long as the Jewish question is not solved on the political level.

These words were penned in the wake of such incidents as the Dreyfus affair in France, and into the face of a growing movement among Jews supporting assimilation into other cultures. indeed, during Herzl's day hatred towards Jews which had briefly looked to be subsiding with more and more states "emancipating"[9] Jews, was growing again. For centuries Jew hatred – often called "anti-Judaism" – had existed, but in the 19th and early 20th centuries a new form of "racial" hatred emerged, which was coined Antisemitism. [10] While old-style, religious Jew hatred offered at least the theoretical way out by converting to the dominant religion of the time (usually Christianity or Islam), antisemitism left no escape. Zionism arose in that milieu and as a response to it.

As to location of a Zionist state, Herzl exhibited flexibility in Der Judenstaat: "Shall we choose Palestine or Argentina? We shall take what is given us, and what is selected by public opinion." However, shortly before his death in 1904, Herzl declared that the Jewish State he envisioned must be in Palestine.[11] Moreover, by 1902, when Herzl wrote a letter to Cecil Rhodes, he had explicitly adopted a European, colonialist model for Zionism:

You are being invited to help make history,” Herzl wrote to Rhodes. “[I]t doesn’t involve Africa, but a piece of Asia Minor; not Englishmen but Jews… How, then, do I happen to turn to you since this is an out-of-the-way matter for you? How indeed? Because it is something colonial… [Y]ou, Mr. Rhodes, are a visionary politician or a practical visionary… I want you to.. put the stamp of your authority on the Zionist plan and to make the following declaration to a few people who swear by you: I, Rhodes have examined this plan and found it correct and practicable. It is a plan full of culture, excellent for the group of people for whom it is directly designed, and quite good for England, for Greater Britain…. [12]

Jabotinsky, the Iron Wall, and the legacy[edit]

Ze'ev Jabotinsky was a Russian [13] Jew (now honored in Israel,[14] but who for a time was controversial there[15]) who carried Herzl's political Zionism further; his "Revisionist Zionism" opposed British control over Palestine (see below) and advocated the military establishment of a Jewish state in that land [16]. Jabotinsky moved to Palestine in the 1920s and published various works supporting his Revisionist Zionism, including The Iron Wall[17], a 1923 piece elaborating on the political and military requirements of making a Jewish state happen. Despite including an introduction stating that he is politely indifferent to Arabs, Iron Wall declares "[t]here can be no voluntary agreement between ourselves [Zionist Jews] and the Palestine Arabs," asserting that no peaceful exchange could ever secure for the Jewish people a homeland in Palestine. He continues, "we keep spoiling our own case, by talking about 'agreement' which means telling the Mandatory Government that the important thing is not the iron wall [of soldiers], but discussions. Empty rhetoric of this kind is dangerous." Jabotinsky is clear that military force, e.g. "bayonets," is necessary to bring about the Jewish State, whether these are "Jewish bayonets" or "British bayonets."

Moreover, Jabotinsky explicitly defended the "morality" of stealing land from an indigenous population:

Let us consider for a moment the point of view of those to whom this seems immoral. We shall trace the root of the evil to this – that we are seeking to colonise a country against the wishes of its population, in other words, by force. Everything else that is undesirable grows out of this root with axiomatic inevitability. What then is to be done?

The simplest way out would be to look for a different country [other than Palestine] to colonise. Like Uganda. But if we look more closely into the matter we shall find that the same evil exists there, too. Uganda also has a native population, which consciously or unconsciously as in every other instance in history, will resist the coming of the colonisers.


Yet if homeless Jewry demands Palestine for itself it is "immoral" because it does not suit the native population. Such morality may be accepted among cannibals, but not in a civilised world....Self-determination means revision – such a revision of the distribution of the earth among the nations that those nations who have too much should have to give up some of it to those nations who have not enough or who have none, so that all should have some place on which to exercise their right of self-determination.

In short, if you want to find the origins of the present policies of Israel vis-a-vis Palestinians – e.g., ever-increasing Jewish settlers taking over Arab land – Jabotinsky is a good place to start. Jabotinsky believed Muslims were fungible and so Palestinians can and should simply be transferred to some other Muslim country(s).

Zionist continuity with Jabotinsky's Revisionist version is in some ways literal. Benzion Netanyahu, Benjamin Netanyahu's father, served as Jabotisnky's personal secretary, and a young Menachem Begin – who would one day be elected prime minister of Israel – was a primary Jabotinsky disciple.[18] In 1948, Albert Einstein, Hannah Arendt and several dozen other Jewish intellectuals denounced Begin as a fascist and terrorist with the blood of innocent Arabs on his hands.[19] That didn't stop either him from highest office or Jabotinsky's bayonets from evolving into F-16s[20] and white phosphorus. [21]

Spiritual Zionism, Judah Magnes[edit]

Some Jews rejected and were even horrified by Jabotinsky's vision of political Zionism and bayonets. Prominent among these was Judah Magnes, the president and founder of Jerusalem's Hebrew University. The California native, who had moved to Palestine in 1922,[22] wrote in 1929 that "a Jewish Home in Palestine built up on bayonets and oppression is not worth having, even though it succeed, whereas the very attempt to build it up peacefully, cooperatively, with understanding, education, and good will, is worth a great deal, even though the attempt should fail." To this end, he advocated "a pacific policy that treats as entirely secondary such things as a 'Jewish State' or a Jewish majority, or even 'The Jewish National Home.'" Magnes advocated a "spiritual Zionism" entailing development of a Jewish spiritual, educational, moral and religious center in Palestine:

The imperialist, military and political policy is based upon mass immigration of Jews and the creation (forcible if necessary) of a Jewish majority, no matter how much this oppresses the Arabs meanwhile, or deprives them of their rights. In this kind of policy the end always justifies the means. The policy, on the other hand, of developing a Jewish spiritual Center does not depend upon mass immigration, a Jewish majority, a Jewish State, or upon depriving the Arabs (or the Jews) of their political rights for a generation or a day; but on the contrary, is desirous of having Palestine become a country of two nations and three religions, all of them having equal rights and none of them having special privileges; a country where nationalism is but the basis of internationalism...[23]

Magnes had too few allies and did not prevail. But history seems to have bonre out his concerns: He accurately predicted that a state that did not take into account the political strivings of both peoples would be doomed to perpetual strife. Magnes never surrendered, and until his death in 1948, he fought to establish a binational state in which Jews and Arabs could live as equals." [24]

Christian Zionism[edit]

"[A] lot of the Jews are great friends of mine. They swarm around me and are friendly to me. Because they know I am friendly to Israel and so forth. They don’t know how I really feel about what they’re doing to this country."
Billy Graham[25]

Many Christians support the State of Israel for their own religious reasons, calling themselves "Christian Zionists". These existed among the British during Mandatory Palestine and are also a political force in the West today.[26] Christian Zionists believe that the return of the Jews to Israel fulfills biblical prophecies and is vital to the Second Coming of Christ. In modern times Israel has been very warm to Christian Zionists, accommodating them at home where these goyim support Zionist projects[27]. Further, Israel enjoys their tourist dollars; wingnuts such as Mike Huckabee and many others conduct Christian Zionist tours of the Holy Land.[28]

Geopolitical Zionism[edit]

At various times, several major or minor global or regional powers have openly supported or quietly cooperated with Israel or proponents of a Jewish state in the Mandate for geopolitical reasons. In the original partition resolution for example, the Soviet Union voted in favor (and was also one of the first countries to recognize Israel) whereas the US abstained.

Although Israel postures as neither confirming nor denying it has nuclear weapons, it is widely known that it does possess them. Unlike Iran, Israel has never signed the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and so can't be in violation of it.[29] France cooperated with Israel in various ways throughout the 1950s and 1960s and is credited with enabling the development of an Israeli nuclear program.[30] Both France and Israel kept this a secret from the U.S. and wanted Israel to be able to blackmail America by having the power to say: 'if you don't want to help us in a critical situation we will require you to help us, otherwise we will use our nuclear bombs.[31]

{UN stuff

Idea of transferIdea[edit]

the implementation of the idea[edit]

Well, there are some friendly-sounding ideas above (and some not so friendly-sounding ones), but how'd this all shake out in the Real World™? Well, sit right back and I'll tell a tale... [dissolve some myths, such as "land without a people"]

Prior to 1917, or the boring chapters at the beginning[edit]

Jewish settlement in Ottoman Palestine began as early as 1850; however, early attempts at settlement were slow, here and there things. Settlement took off in earnest in the late 1800s, driven in large part by Russian pogroms. In 1897, the World Zionist Organization was created in Basel; it encouraged small-scale settlement and aimed to build worldwide support for the Zionist ideal.

Initially some Arab leaders welcomed Jewish settlement, as they hoped it would attract capital and development to the area and in fact a once almost barren and thinly populated land started to thrive due to efforts by Zionists to cultivate and irrigate land that had previously only be used to herd goats on it. Sadly, this initial coexistence - while not entirely peaceful - would not last and eventually give way to extreme violence.

The Balfour Declaration[edit]

In the midst of World War I, when many Jews supported Germany, as she was fighting Russia, Great Britain came under increasing pressure to attempt to secure the support of American Jews, and in turn influence the US towards the Allied side. To this end, the UK's foreign secretary issued a memo known as the Balfour Declaration, reading as follows:

His Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.
—James Balfour

It wasn't too underwhelming, was it?

Unfortunately the Brits had also promised the Arabs a major empire in the region and all that while making a deal with the French how to partition the spoils of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Guess which plan mostly resembled the eventual outcome?

Ayup. Correct.

The interwar period[edit]

After World War I, the Ottoman Empire fell apart in truly spectacular fashion. Much of its former territory was converted into so-called "mandates" governed by Britain and France, and Palestine (initially including Transjordan) was among these.

Zionist terrorism[edit]

In our era it is common to associate terrorism with Muslims, but Zionist Jews actually introduced a great deal of terrorist methods and ideology to modernity. Zionist terrorists in Mandate Palestine innovated the letter bomb; in 1954 Israel hijacked a Syrian airways civilian jet to obtain hostages; and in 1956 shot down an Egyptian civilian airplane, killing 16 civilians, in order to assassinate a military leader.[32] Moreover, without terrorism the State of Israel likely would not have come to exist in 1948. Indeed, Zionist terrorism demonstrated that "terrorism can, in the right conditions and with the appropriate strategy and tactics, succeed in attaining at least some of its practitioners’ fundamental aims.”[33]

Pre-state Zionist carried out extensive terror against Arab civilians, British, and politically unacceptable Jews, also murdering UN mediator Folke Bernadotte. In 1943 Yitzhak Shamir wrote the article Terror for the journal of Lehi, the terrorist organization he headed and therein advocated the "dismiss[al of] all the 'phobia' and babble against terror with simple, obvious arguments." "Neither Jewish morality nor Jewish tradition can be used to disallow terror as a means of war," he wrote, and "We are very far from any moral hesitations when concerned with the national struggle." "First and foremost, terror is for us a part of the political war appropriate for the circumstances of today, and its task is a major one: it demonstrates in the clearest language, heard throughout the world including by our unfortunate brethren outside the gates of this country, our war against the occupier." [34]

Additionally, Menachem Begin slaughtered many innocent Arabs in pre-state Israel and was responsible for the infamous massacre of innocent Arabs in the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin. (For these reasons Albert Einstein, Hannah Arendt and other Jewish intellectuals considered Begin a terrorist and fascist.[35].) Both Begin and Shamir appeared on Palestine Police wanted posters for crimes of terorrism[36], and both would some day be elected prime minister of Israel. So, if Israel doesn't negotiate with terrorists, it has sent its own to negotiate.

The Jewish Defense League, a group labeled as terrorists by the FBI, has also been active in Israel in the past several decades. In 1994, JDL member, Baruch Goldstein, slaughtered 29 Muslims who were kneeling in prayer in a Hebron mosque.[37] Goldstein is revered as a hero by many Israelis, especially settlers.[38][39][40] Moshe Feiglin, recently the deputy speaker of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, is a JDL supporter.[41]

Most recently, Zionist terrorism has erupted among settlers staking claims on Palestinian land in the West Bank (and many of them are native Americans). [42] According to Yuval Diskin, Israel’s former internal security service chief, many settlers "apply some level of violence or terrorism against the persons or possessions of Palestinians" and that these stand ready to also commit violence against Jews who are, in the terrorists' view, insufficiently Zionist. Diskin states that Jewish terorrists act with near impunity, that there are "two justice systems, one for Jews (Israeli law) and the other for Palestinians (martial law). Whether we want it or not, these two justice systems have divergent measures to adjudicate identical offenses." [43] Indeed, Arab baby Ali Dawabshe was killed in a West Bank settler firebombing on July 31st, 2015; his father and mother both died several weeks later from burns and injuries suffered in the same bombing. Ali's four-year old brother, Ahmad, remains hospitalized with burns over 60% of his body as of September 2015. As of the same date no one has been charged – West Bank Palestinians consider this business as usual.[44]

The State of Israel is Founded, Nakba occurs[edit]

In 1948, upon the expiration of the British mandate, the Jewish Agency declared an independent Jewish state over the objections of Palestinian Arabs...[UN partition plan, Arab rejection, Nakba, number of refugees initially] [Dayan quote:

Do not today besmirch the murderers with accusations. Who are we that we should bewail their mighty hatred of us? For eight years they sit in refugee camps in Gaza, and opposite their gaze we appropriate for ourselves as our own portion the land and the villages in which they and their fathers dwelled.
Not from the Arabs in Gaza, but from ourselves shall we require the blood of Ro’i. How did we close our eyes so as not to see the goal of our generation in its full measure of cruelty? Did we forget that this group of young men and women, which dwells in Nahal Oz, bear on their shoulders the heavy gates of Gaza, gates on the other side of which are crowded together with hundreds of thousands of eyes and hands that pray for our weakness, that it may come, so that they may rip us to shreds – have we forgotten this?
This we know: that in order that the hope to destroy us should die we have to be armed and ready, morning and night. We are a generation of settlement, and without a steel helmet and the barrel of a cannon we cannot plant a tree and build a house. Our children will not live if we do not build shelters, and without a barbed wire fence and a machine gun we cannot pave a road and channel water. [45]


Israel continues to this day to construct settlements outside what are recognized by the international community as being its borders. Such settlement is resisted by the native population; therefore, the accomplishment of the settlement programme has had as a consequence substantial and unneeded Palestinian casualties. For example, the roughly thirteen years between 9 December 1987 and 28 September 2000 saw 1551 Palestinian deaths. 304 were children.[46] The much shorter Operation Protective Edge (2015) managed to kill at least 1767 Palestinians, 430 of whom were minors not engaged in hostilities. Only 66 Israelis were killed in the same time period, all but two of whom were soldiers.[47] In other words, Jablotinsky quite definitely got his iron wall.

Israel, being a democracy, will have very real issues remaining a Jewish-controlled state if no Palestinian state is created, since it would then have to either accept some 4 million Arabs in the Palestinian territories as citizens or go full Jim Crow. Such an expansion of Israel would therefore, ironically enough, constitute the greatest setback to the political Zionist programme in decades. The obvious question here, though, is why a rational person would consider such a change in demographics problematic; for comparison, consider the panics over the US ceasing to be a "white nation," or the "Englisc" being dispossessed by immigration.

Jews opposed to Zionism, before and after WWII[edit]

In the 19th and early 20th century, the majority of Jews rejected Zionism. The causes of this reaction varied — on the right, orthodox religious Jews (especially Haredi and Hasidic) believed that the re-establishment of a Jewish state in Israel was a task to be undertaken by the Messiah alone — Zionists, by attempting to hurry up the divine plan of redemption, were committing a sin. They pointed to various rabbinical passages which prohibited the return of Jews to Israel en masse prior to the coming of the Messiah. However, this rejection of Zionism was only one opinion within the conservative religious Jewish community with notable support coming from several prominent and senior Rabbis especially Rabbi Kook. On the left, progressive, secular and reform Jews wanted Jews to be accepted as members of the nations they were now living in, rather than attempting to form their own for themselves. These Jews often had commitments to liberal internationalism or socialism, and they saw Zionism as contrary to this.

However, while more liberal American and other Western Jews were not especially supportive of Zionism before WWII, they largely became so after the abomination that was Hitler's Germany. The Holocaust seemed to have blinded a great many liberal Jews to what political Zionism entailed. In his review of John Judis' recent book, Genesis: Truman, American Jews, and the Origins of the Arab/Israeli Conflict, Paul L. Scham addresses Judis' puzzlement that liberal American Zionists in 1948 "evinced no recognition that Zionism involved, in practice, dispos­sessing the Palestinian Arabs of their own homeland." Scham, however, observes:

I think Judis underestimates the sublimated tribal passions of many liberal non-observant American Jews, which may have been sublimated or repressed but came to the fore with revelations of the Holocaust and the fight for a Jewish state that so closely followed it. (My own parents illustrated that process, though they eventually become dovish on the issue after 1967.) It would have been surprising if more than a small fraction of Jews had been able, in that context, to sympathize with Palestinian Arabs, a people of whom they knew little and who seemed to be irreconcilable enemies.[48]

Judis documents in his book that against his better judgment Truman recognized the State of Israel in 1948. Though he privately expressed concern that doing so could help launch WWIII, he said the fact was that he and his fellow Democrats didn't face Arab voters while there were significant blocs of Jewish ones. According to Judis, this was when America's Israel Lobby first made its pressure felt in American politics.[49]

Ongoing religious oppostion[edit]

Some Jewish groups believe that Zionism is a form of heresy and is incompatible with true Judaism; such are usually found among Haredi (Ultra-Orthodox) Jewish sects, many of which teach that Zionism was an unscriptural attempt to restore the Holy Land to the Jews, that being something only God was supposed to do (when He feels good and ready, of course).

Religious anti-Zionists sometimes point to a passage in the Talmud called the "Three Oaths", where the Jews swear to God to obey the rule of the Gentiles and not attempt to return to Israel en masse, and the Gentiles swear not to persecute the Jews excessively. Religious anti-Zionists see Zionism as a violation of the oath, and therefore sinful. Zionists have a number of responses: that the oath is not one of the legally binding parts of the Talmud (that is, it is haggadah rather than halakah), that no individual Jews can violate the oath (since it does not prohibit the return of individual Jews), so Zionists cannot be held to be in violation of the oath, and that the oath has been cancelled due to the Gentiles' failure to keep their side of the bargain (not to persecute the Jews excessively). Anti-Zionists do not accept these responses - in particular, they argue that since the three oaths are to God, not oaths the Jews and Gentiles make to each other, a failure of the Gentiles to obey their oath does not justify the Jews in violating theirs.

Some Jewish religious websites opposed to Zionism include:

Contemporary secular opposition[edit]

Other Jews oppose Zionism for secular reasons. These hold a political objection to the need of a Jewish state – or at least as currently constituted. Some organizations that hold this belief are:

Anti-Zionism rooted in anti-Semitism[edit]

While there is much legitimate criticism of both Zionist aims and methods, a fringe minority have stretched the term way beyond its original meanings among people who do not and cannot possibly give a rat's patooty about the interests of Palestinians. Fringe conspiracy theories, particularly ones that revolve around the supposed "New World Order", frequently refer to a "Zionist conspiracy" or efforts to set up a "Zionist government" or Zionist Occupation Government." These people will often claim that "Zionists" control the United States. Well, we've never heard that one before. Zionists frequently use these small fringe groups to paint all opposition to Zionism with guilt by association.

See also[edit]


  9. i.e. granting equal civil and social rights to Jews and gentiles
  22. Judah Magnes: A Disappointed American Zionist
  24. Judah Magnes: A Disappointed American Zionist
  25. When Billy Graham Urged Nixon to Kill a Million People
  31. According to Francis Perrin, high commissioner of the French atomic energy agency from 1951 to 1970.
  32. International Terrorism: Image and Reality by Noam Chomsky
  34. Chomsky