Zionism (Hebrew: ציונות, Tsiyonut) is primarily a nationalist or national liberation Jewish political movement that, in its broadest sense, has supported the self-determination of the Jewish people in a sovereign Jewish national homeland. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, the Zionist movement continues primarily to advocate on behalf of the Jewish state and address threats to its continued existence and security. In a less common usage, the term may also refer to 1) non-political, Cultural Zionism, founded and represented most prominently by Ahad Ha'am; and 2) political support for the State of Israel by non-Jews, as in Christian Zionism.
Zionism does not have a uniform ideology, but has evolved in a dialogue among a plethora of ideologies: General Zionism, Religious Zionism, Labor Zionism, Revisionist Zionism, Green Zionism, etc. However, the common denominator among all Zionists is the claim to Eretz Israel as the national homeland of the Jews and as the legitimate focus for the Jewish national self-determination (as shown, among others, by Gideon Shimoni). It is based on historical ties and religious traditions linking the Jewish people to the Land of Israel.
After almost two millennia of existence of the Jewish diaspora without its national state, the Zionist movement was founded in the late 19th century by secular Jews, largely as a response by Ashkenazi Jews to rising antisemitism in Europe, exemplified by the Dreyfus Affair in France and the Anti-Jewish pogroms in the Russian Empire. The political movement was formally established by the Austro-Hungarian journalist Theodor Herzl in 1897 following the publication of his book Der Judenstaat. At that time, the movement sought to encourage Jewish migration to the Ottoman Palestine.
Although initially one of several Jewish political movements offering alternative responses to assimilation and antisemitism, Zionism grew rapidly and became the dominant force in Jewish politics with the destruction of Jewish life in Central and Eastern Europe where these alternative movements were rooted.
The movement was eventually successful in establishing Israel on 14 May 1948 (5 Iyyar 5708 in the Hebrew calendar), as the homeland for the Jewish people. The proportion of the world's Jews living in Israel has also steadily grown since the movement came into existence. Today roughly 40% of the world's Jews live in Israel. These two outcomes represent the historical success of Zionism, unmatched by any other Jewish political movement in the past 2,000 years.
In some academic studies, Zionism has been analyzed both within the larger context of diaspora politics and as an example of modern national liberation movements.
In 1975, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution that designated Zionism as a "a form of racism and racial discrimination". The resolution was repealed in 1991. Within the context of the Arab–Israeli conflict Zionism is viewed by critics as a system that fosters apartheid and racism.