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This guide supports the Hillel presentation (04/08/24) on Antisemitism.

Definition of Zionism

Zionism can be defined in many ways, including as a nationalist, political, and/or ideological movement for the establishment and sustaining of statehood or a homeland for the Jewish people.   

Zionism frames many of the conflicts within the Israel / Palestine conflict.  Grasping the history, forms and debates within zionism can provide insight into discussions on this complex topic.


Balfour Declaration (1917)

Zionism -- Overview

Zionism:  A Very Short Introduction (Oxford Academic):  Link

Zionism (Wikipedia):  Link

Books:  Link

Journal Articles:  Link

Zionism -- Topical Areas

History  --  Zionism emerges during the late 19th century and is tied to Haskalah, the Jewish equivalent of the Age of Enlightment.  Modern political zionism is credited to Herzl (1860-1904) with his publication of The Jewish State.  

  • Origins and Evolution of the Palestine Problem:  1917-1947 (United Nations, The Question of Palestine) -- Link
  • Haskalah:  The Jewish Enlightenment 1770's -1881 (Cowles Library Super Search) -- Link
  • Theodor Herzl and the Creation of the Zionist Movement, 1897 -1917 (Oxford Academic) -- Link
    • Der Judenstaat: The Jewish State (Project Gutenberg):  Link
  • "Establishment of the Zionist Movement" (Google Scholar) -- Link


Documents --  Examples of documents that trace the history of zionism include the Balfour Declaration (1917) which states the British governments support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine, and UN Resolution 3379 (1975, revoked 1991), which "Determines that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination" as an international response to Jewish homeland in Palestine.

  • Balfour Declaration and the Mandate for Palestine -- Link
    • Balfour Declaration (Cowles Super Search) -- Link
  • UN Resolution 3379:  Determines that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination"(Wikipedia) -- Link
    • Elimination of all forms of racial discrimination:  Zionism as racism --GA Resolution 3379 (United Nations) -- Link
    • Repeal of United Nations resolution 3379 -- Link


Forms of Zionism:  Zionism comes in ideological forms including: Political, practical, synthetic, labor, liberal, revisionist, religious, cultural, revolutionary and reform/progressive zionism.  Awareness of the nuances of zionism allows space for questions, debates and disagreements.

  • Culture War, World War, and The Many Types of Zionism (Perez, Anne) --  Link
  • Types of Zionism (Wikipedia) -- Link


Anti-Zionism:  Modern critiques of zionism center around questions of colonialism and racism.

  • Zionism Opposing Viewpoints (Gale in Context) -- Link
  • Anti-Zionism (Wikipedia) -- Link
  • New Antisemitism (Google Scholar) -- Link

AI (Gemini) Response to Query, "What are the controversies surrounding Zionism"

Zionism, the movement for a Jewish homeland, faces several controversies. Here are some key areas of debate:

  • Displacement of Palestinians: A major criticism is that the creation of Israel in 1948 led to the displacement of many Palestinians. Critics argue Zionism disregards the rights of the indigenous Palestinian population (

  • Right of Return: Israel's Law of Return grants automatic citizenship to Jews worldwide, but not to Palestinians who fled or were displaced in 1948 and their descendants. This is seen as discriminatory by critics (

  • Comparison to Colonialism: Some view Zionism as a form of settler colonialism, where European Jews came to dominate a land already inhabited by Palestinians (

  • Israeli Policies: Many criticize the policies of the Israeli government, such as settlements in the occupied territories and restrictions on Palestinian movement. While these aren't aspects of Zionism itself, they are a source of tension and fuel arguments about Zionism's goals.

  • Definition of Antisemitism: There's debate about whether criticism of Zionism or Israeli policies is inherently antisemitic. Some argue it can be, while others see a distinction between criticizing a political ideology and prejudice against Jews (

It's important to consider these controversies from multiple perspectives. There's no easy answer, and understanding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict requires acknowledging the complex historical context.

** This statement does not reflect the opinion of Cowles Library or Drake University **