Daniel Burston: What is Zionism?

Vox Populi

Zionism is a movement for Jewish emancipation and self-determination that arose in response to the rising tide of anti-Semitism that engulfed Europe in the mid-19th century, which resulted in a flurry of armed campaigns (called “pogroms”) that were widely tolerated, and often secretly sponsored, by European states against their Jewish citizens. Calls for the establishment of an autonomous Jewish homeland started to occur with increasing frequency after 1840, but it was not until the first Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland in 1897, that the Eastern and Western European branches of the movement coalesced under the leadership of Theodor Herzl (1860-1904.) Herzl was a Viennese journalist and lawyer who covered the scandalous trial of Capt. Alfred Dreyfus (1859-1935) for the Neue Freie Presse. Prior to that historic miscarriage of justice, Herzl had begun to doubt the promises of equality and brotherhood proclaimed by progressive politicians of that era, but was still…

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