For at least two thousand years Jews were dispersed all over the world. Some of them inevitably assimilated with other nations. Yet many kept their identity as a nation by staying loyal to their religious faith and by their desire to survive as one people preserving common racial features and cultural traditions. Some European anti-Jewish tendencies and the suspicious attitude to Jews in oriental cultures contributed to their solidarity. For centuries Jews cherished the idea of returning to their native land. But it was only in the 19th century that the idea developed into a political movement called Zionism.
Atfirst the movement was not very popular among Jews. There were supporters, but most rabbis considered the concept of restoring Israel possible only after the coming of the Messiah. The movement started in Russia and spread to other countries. The idea was elaboratedfirst in the book by German socialist Hess who tried to prove that the Jews could create a socialistic state in Israel. Much more popular was another book by Z. Pinsker called “Auto-Emancipation” and published in 1882.
The book revealed the fact that the lack of Jewish own state accounts for social and psychological discomfort experienced by them. Under the influence of this publication clubs and study groups appeared in Russia, Where Jews were mostly persecuted. Russia was thefirst country from which Jews began to emigrate to Palestine for settling down.
Despite the help from several powerful Jewish institutions in Europe, they faced many obstacles and hardships, in thefirst place because the country was ruled by the Turkish Government hostile to Russians. Enthusiasm of early Russian Zionists was mostly romantic and probably doomed to failure. The basis for mature political Zionism was created by Herzl, who wrote the work “Jews’ state” in 1896. He was a recognized author who summarized and explained the ideas of early Zionists to thousands of ..