Zionism ( Tsiyyonut after Zion) is a nationalist political movement of Jews and Jewish culture that supports the re-establishment of a Jewish homeland in the territory defined as the historic Land of Israel (roughly corresponding to Palestine, Canaan or the Holy Land). Zionism emerged in the late 19th century in central and eastern Europe as a national revival movement, in reaction to anti-Semitic and exclusionary nationalist movements in Europe. Soon after this, most leaders of the movement associated the main goal with creating the desired state in Palestine, then an area controlled by the Ottoman Empire.
Until 1948, the primary goals of Zionism were the re-establishment of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel, ingathering of the exiles, and liberation of Jews from the antisemitic discrimination and persecution that they experienced during their diaspora. Since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, Zionism continues primarily to advocate on behalf of Israel and address threats to its continued existence and security.
A religious variety of Zionism supports Jews upholding their Jewish identity defined as adherence to religious Judaism, opposes the assimilation of Jews into other societies, and has advocated the return of Jews to Israel as a means for Jews to be a majority nation in their own state. A variety of Zionism, called cultural Zionism, founded and represented most prominently by Ahad Ha'am, fostered a secular vision of a Jewish "spiritual center" in Israel. Unlike Herzl, the founder of political Zionism, Ahad Ha'am strived for Israel to be "a Jewish state and not merely a state of Jews".
Advocates of Zionism view it as a national liberation movement for the repatriation of a persecuted people residing as minorities in a variety of nations to their ancestral homeland. Critics of Zionism view it as a colonialist, racist and exceptionalist ideology that led advocates to violence during Mandatory Palestine, followed by the forced exodus of Palestinians, and the subsequent denial of their human rights.
The Collaborative International Dictionary
Zionism \Zi"on*ism\, n. [Zion + -ism.] Among the Jews, a theory, plan, or movement for colonizing their own race in Palestine, the land of Zion, or, if that is impracticable, elsewhere, either for religious or nationalizing purposes; -- called also Zion movement. -- Zi"on*ist, n. -- Zi`on*is"tic, a.
Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary
"movement for forming (later supporting) a Jewish national state in Palestine," 1896, from German Zionismus (from Zion + Latin-derived suffix -ismus; see -ism); first recorded 1886 in "Selbstemancipation," by "Matthias Acher" (pseudonym of Nathan Birnbaum (1864-1937)).
Usage examples of "zionism".
Although the Balfour Declaration gave Zionism the lukewarm support of the backers of the White Guardist pogromists, it did nothing to curb the pogroms.
Zionism, great Zionist leaders and thinkers such as Nahum Goldmann originally dreamed that Israel, like other civilized states, would also be anchored in international institutions and might even form part of a multiethnic federation with the Arab states of the Middle East, thereby resolving the dilemma in which Jewish diaspora liberalism found itself.