This is a Jewish nationalist movement which emerged during the nineteenth century on a tide of European nationalism and was formally established in 1897. The Congress defined its political aim as the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine. Jewish immigration into Palestine (Aliyah) was encouraged through the Jewish National Fund (founded 1901) and the Jewish Agency for Palestine (1929). Since the formation of the state of Israel in 1948 the Zionist movement has continued to foster Aliyah and support for and interest in Israel.
In the Arab world, Zionism became the personification of Satan, the demonic force out to ruin the self-esteem and way of life of the Arab peoples. This was countered by such a group as the Union for the Land and People of Israel, set up by some extreme nationalist spirit rabbis to promote new settlements and a harsh line toward the Arabs. In 1995 the Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was killed by a Jewish religious militant, Yigal Amir, who was convinced he was carrying out the will of God as any martyr of Hizbullah or Hamas. Rabin through talking peace with the Palestinians, was seen by him as a traitor and his government a threat to the survival of Israel and the Jewish people. It occurred at a time when the extreme right in Israel had invited their young militants to commit acts of violence (Hoffman, 1998).
Israeli inspired terrorism has not come close to the successes and support that was achieved in the years leading to the creation of the state. The Irgun Zvai Leumi (National Military Organisation) was ably led by Menachem Begin. He used daring and dramatic acts of violence (such as the bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in July 1946), to attract international attention to Palestine and highlight the Zionists' grievance against Britain as the mandated power in the region, and their claims for statehood. The British had overwhelming numerical power in Palestine but were unable to destroy the Irgun Zvai Leumi and maintain order in Palestine.
See also: Hamas; Hizbullah; Palestine Liberation Organisation; Rabin.