- A movement for the establishment of a national homeland for the Jews, arising in the 1880s from a reaction to anti-Semitism in Europe, not only in the form of pogroms in the Russian Empire —popular outbreaks of violence directed against Jews including the destruction of property and massacre, encouraged by the legal persecution of Jews led by Alexander III—but also evidenced in the Dreyfus Affair in a far more liberal society such as France. The movement was founded by Theodor Herzl (1860–1904), a Hungarian-Jewish journalist whose leadership led in 1897 to the First Zionist Conference in Basle, Switzerland.While Herzl lived the Zionist movement was run from Vienna, but after his death its offices moved first to Cologne and then to Berlin. Although many Jews fled persecution in Europe for the United States, in 1891 alone 300,000 from Russia, Herzl’s book The Jewish State posed the issue of the founding of a Jewish state in the historic homeland Palestine, a goal not realized until after the Holocaust and the establishment of Israel in 1948. Zionism was thus in large part a product of the coarsening of European politics by way of popular nationalism and heightened international tension between 1880s and 1914, a phenomenon which many Jews rightly calculated was only going to get worse.FURTHER READING:Bein, Alex. Theodore Herzl: A Biography. Translated by Maurice Samuel. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1941.CARL CAVANAGH HODGE
Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.