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Zionism: timeline
2017.07.10 08:33:49

The Six-Point Star: A timeline of the creation, relationship, and co-dependency between the state of Israel and the movement of Zionism.


The concept of Zionism existed for many years before a definitive word was created. Originally, the concept was not religiously affiliated, and was, in fact, discouraged by many rabbis and respected religious authorities. It was also in conflict with many other movements for Jewish rights, which were focused on gaining security and equality in the places that Jewish people were already living, and had been living, for generations. Originally, many different options of a homeland were considered, until the idea of what has historically been defined as being the Land of Israel/the Holy Land, and what is/was known as Palestine was settled on as the ideal.

Zionism: a movement of the Jewish people towards the (re)establishment of a Jewish homeland.

1561: Joseph Nazi, a Jewish diplomat in the court of Ottoman Sultan Selim II, encourages the establishment of a Jewish settlement in Tiberias. 

1615: Shall they return to Jerusalem again? By Thomas Brightman is published posthumously.

1621: Sir Henry Finch publishes The World’s Great Restauration, or Calling of the Jews, and with them of all Nations and Kingdoms of the Earth to the Faith of Christ.

1649: a petition is sent to the British Government by Ebenezer and Joanna Cartwright that calls for a ban on Jewish settlement in England to be lifted as well as assistance provided to enable them to repatriate to Palestine.

1670: Baruch Spinoza’s Theologico-Political Treatise is published, the first work to consider the Jewish Question in Europe.

1700: 1,500 Jewish immigrants are led to settle in Jerusalem by Judah he-Hasid. Three days after they arrive, he-Hasid dies. In 1720, their synagogue is burned down, and all Ashkenazi Jews are banned by the Ottomans.

1771: A scholarly essay is published by Joseph Eyre, titled Observations upon the Prophecies Relating to the Restoration of the Jews.

1777: a large group of Jewish immigrants led by Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk settles in Safed. They are forced out in 1783, whereupon they move to Tiberias.

1794: A revealed knowledge of the prophecies & times is published by Richard Brothers, a millenarianist, Christian restorationist, false prophet, and the founder of British Israelism. It predicts the return of Jews to Jerusalem in 1798, where he believes they will be converted to Christianity.

1805: the Palestine Association is founded.

1808: the first group of Perushim leaves Shklov and settles in Jerusalem and Safed.

1809: The London Society for Promoting Christianity amongst the Jews is founded.

1811: Itineraire de Paris a Jerusalem is published by Francois-Rene de Chateaubriand, the founder of Romanticism in French literature. He describes the Jews of Jerusalem as “rightful masters of Judea living as slaves and strangers in their own country”.

1815: Lord Byron’s Hebrew Melodies are published.

1819: Wissenschaft des Judentums, or Jewish Studies, begins to build a secular Jewish identity within the German Confederation.

1821-30: the Greek War of Independence legitimizes the concept of small, ethnically-based nation states.

1827: the Plymouth Brethren is founded to propagate the movement of dispensnationalism, teaching that God looks upon Jews as the chosen people, and that the nation of Israel  will be born again and realize that they crucified their Messiah at his second coming.

1833: The Wondrous tale of Alroy is written by Benjamin Disraeli about David Alroy’s messianic mission to Jerusalem.

1838: the year after he travels to Palestine, Lord Lindsay writes Letters on Egypt, Edom and the Holy Land, where he speaks of the beauty and fertility of Palestine, which he claims “only waits the return of her banished children … to burst once more into universal luxuriance”.

1839: an Act on the Conversion of the Jews is passed by the Church of Scotland, which sends four ministers to Palestine. Darhei No’am (The Pleasant Paths) is published by Judah Alkalai, advocating the restoration of the Jews to the land of Israel. Lord Shaftesbury takes out a full-page advert in The Times entitled “The State and the rebirth of the Jews”, suggesting that the Jews return to Palestine to seize the lands of Galilee and Judea.

1840: Lord Shaftesbury presents a paper to Lord Palmerston, the British Foreign Minister, which calls for the ‘recall of Jews to their ancient land’. Lord Palmerston writes to the British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, speaking of the growing idea of a return to Palestine among the Jews in Europe. He claims that “it would be of manifest importance to the Sultan to encourage the Jews to return and settle in Palestine”.  Judah Alkalai publishes Shalom Yerushalayim, or The Peace of Jerusalem, a follow-up to Darhei No’am.

1841-42: the first recorded plan is proposed for political Zionism in correspondence between Moses Montefiore (President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews) and Charles Henry Churchill (the British consul in Damascus).

1841: the previous governor of South Australia, George Gawler, begins to encourage the idea of Jewish settlements in the land of Israel.

1844: Discourses on the Restoration of the Jews is published by Mordecai Noah. Reverend Samuel Bradshaw calls for British Parliament to allot 4 million pounds for the Restoration, and the collection of an additional 1 million pounds collected by the Church in his Tract for the Times, Being a Plea for the Jews.

1845: George Gawler accompanies Sir Moses Montefiori on a trip to Palestine, where he persuades him to invest in and initiate Jewish settlements in the country.

1850: the “British Society for the Promotion of Jewish Agricultural Labour in the Holy Land” is founded by James Finn and his wife.

1851: Benjamin Disraeli’s proto-Zionist views are recorded via correspondence between Disraeli and Lord Stanley.

1852: the Association for Promoting Jewish Settlement in Palestine is founded by George Gawler.

1853-75: Heinrich Graetz’s History of the Jews, or Geschichte der Juden, is published. It is the first academic work to portray the Jews as a historical nation, and was completed in 1875.

1857: the second British Consul in Jerusalem, James Finn, writes to the Foreign Secretary (the Earl of Clarendon) regarding his proposal to settle Jews as agriculturists who partner with “the Arab peasantry”.

1860: the Alliance Israelite Universelle is founded in Paris.

1861: the Zion Society forms in Frankfurt. The first neighborhood of the New Yishuv is built outside the Old City of Jerusalem by Sir Moses Montefiore.

1862: Rome and Jerusalem: The Last National Question is written by Moses Hess, in which he argues for the return of the Jewish peoples to the Land of Israel, and proposes a socialist country where the Jews would become agrarianised through the “redemption of the soil”. Eventually, his ideas evolve into the movement of Labour Zionism.  Derishat Zion is published by Zvi Hirsch Kalischer. In it, he maintains that the salvation of the Jews can only happen through self-help. These ideas will contribute to the movement of Religious Zionism.

1869: Mark Twain publishes The Innocents Abroad as a documentation of his 1867 travels through Palestine. In it, he describes Palestine as being primarily an uninhabited desert. His account is widely circulated and becomes a controversial view of the area in the late 19th century.

1870: the first modern Jewish Agricultural School and settlement are established in the Land of Israel by Charles Netter of the alliance Israelite Universelle.

1870-1890: 30 Jewish farming communities are established by the group Hovevei Zion, or Lovers of Zion in the Land of Israel.

1876: the novel Daniel Deronda is published by George Eliot, which is cited by Henrietta Szold, Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, and Emma Lazarus as being highly influential on their decisions to become Zionists.

1878: A memorandum addressed to Disraeli and Bismark is submitted to the Congress of Berlin by an anonymous Jewish group. It advocates for the establishment of a Jewish Constitutional Monarchy in Palestine. Galician poet Naphtali Herz Imber writes Tikvatenu (Our Hope), a poem which later becomes the Zionist hymn Hatikvah. Petah Tikva is founded by Jerusalem Jews, but abandoned after difficulties. The first Hovevei Zion groups are founded in Eastern Europe.

1880: The land of Gilead, with excursions in the Lebanon is published by Laurence Oliphant. It proposes that a settlement be founded under British protection while respecting Ottoman sovereignty, and suggests that the Bedouins be driven out, and the Palestinians be placed in reservations (such as those of the indigenous peoples of North America).

1881-84: pogroms in the Russian Empire motivate hundreds of thousands of Jews to flee.

1881-1920: more than 2 million Jews emigrate from Russia—most to the United States, but others go elsewhere, including the Land of Israel. The first group of Bilium organizes in Kharkov.

1881: Eliezer ben Yehuda makes Aliyah and leads efforts to revive Hebrew as a common spoken language.

1882: Autoemancipation  is published by Leon Pinsker. It urges the Jewish people to strive for independence and national consciousness. Baron Edmond James de Rothschild begins to buy land in the region of Palestine and to finance Jewish agricultural settlements and industrial enterprises.

1882-1903: considered the First Aliyah, or major wave of Jewish immigration to Palestine, which is controlled at that time by the Ottoman Empire. There is estimated to be between 25,000 and 35,000 immigrants.

1890: Publisher Nathan Birnbaum coins the term Zionism as a word for Jewish nationalism in his journal Self Emancipation.

1894: the Dreyfus affair occurs, whereupon Alfred Dreyfus, a French army captain and Jew is accused of treason and sentenced to prison for life—a crime he is later found to have been wrongly accused of, and framed for.  When evidence is brought up to prove his innocence, he is accused of new crimes and sentenced to ten years hard labour. He is offered a presidential pardon in 1899, which he accepts, but is not found innocent until 1906. During the affair, anti-Semitic riots break out, bringing attention to a deep divide in French and European opinions of Jewish people.

1896: Jewish-Austro-Hungarian journalist Theodor Herzl writes Der Judenstaat (the Jewish State), advocating the creation of a Jewish state, after covering the trial of Captain Dreyfus and witnessing the anti-Semitic riots.

1897: the First Zionist Congress takes place at Basel, creating the World Zionist Organization (WZO).

1898: Sholom Aleichem writes Yiddish pamphlet Why Do the Jews Need a Land of Their Own?

1901: the Fifth Zionist congress establishes the Jewish National Fund.

1903-1906: Pogroms in the Russian Empire resulting in more than 2,000 Jewish deaths and even higher numbers of non-Jew deaths.  The Uganda proposal for African settlement, an alternative to Israel, is made in 1903 by British Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain, and a committee appointed to look into it.

1904-1914: the Second Aliyah, with approx. 40,000 Jews emigrating mostly from Russia into Palestine, still Ottoman-occupied, nearly half of whom will leave Palestine by the beginning of the First World War. Theodor Herzl dies.

1905: the Uganda proposal is declined, and the Zionist congress decides to focus only on settlement in Palestine.

1909: Tel Aviv is founded near Jaffa, and a Zionist youth movement, Young Judaea, is founded.

1910-1916: Anti-Semitic Zionist conspiracy theories about the Ottoman Young Turk ruling elite are fuelled within the British government.

1915: Herbert Samuel presents The Future of Palestine, a memorandum concerning the benefits of a British protectorate over Palestine to support Jewish immigration, to the British Cabinet.

1916: the Sykes-Picot Agreement is signed in secret by Britain and France. It details the proposed division of Arabia into French and British spheres of influence at the conclusion of the First World War.

1917: The Balfour Declaration is issued by the British Government, declaring official support from the British government for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”, and promising active aid on the part of Britain. It also declares that it would not support actions that result in negative effect to the civil and religious rights of pre-existing and non-Jewish residents of Palestine. The full text of the Sykes-Picot agreement is released in Izvestia and Pravda by the Bolsheviks, and subsequently printed in the Manchester Guardian. The British Government takes control of Palestine via military occupation as the Ottoman Empire collapses.

1918-1923: massive pogroms accompanying the Russian Revolution of 1917 result in the deaths of an estimated 70,000 to 250,000 civilian Jews throughout the former Russian Empire.

1919-1923: the Third Aliyah is triggered by the October Revolution in Russia and ensuing pogroms there and in Poland in Hungary, as well as the British conquest of Palestine and the Balfour declaration. Approx. 40,000 Jews immigrate to Palestine.

1920: the San Remo conference of the Allied Supreme Council in Italy occurs, resulting in an agreement that a Mandate for Palestine to Great Britain would be reviewed and then issued by the League of Nations, indicating that Palestine will be a homeland for Jews, and that existing non-Jews rights will not be infringed upon. British military occupation of Palestine shifts to civil rule.

1922: the offer of a Mandate for Palestine to Great Britain is confirmed by the League of Nations, with similar content to the Balfour Declaration.

1923: the Mandate for Palestine to Great Britain comes into effect.

1924-1928: the fourth Aliya takes place, directly influenced by the economic crisis and anti-Jewish policies in Poland, as well as the introduction of stiff immigration quotas on the part of the United States, introducing 82,000 Jews to British-occupied Palestine, 23,000 of which do not remain.

1932-1939: the fifth Aliyah takes place, primarily as a result of the Nazi regime taking power in Germany. Nearly 250,000 Jews arrive in British-occupied Palestine. 20,000 will leave at a later date. This is the last of the numbered waves of immigration.

1933: Haim Arlosoroff, a left-wing Zionist leader, is assassinated. The assassination is believed to have been carried out by right-wing Zionists.

1933-1939: Aliyah Bet occurs, consisting of Jewish refugees fleeing German because of persecution under the Nazi government. Many are turned away due to the British-imposed immigration limit.

1937: a partition between Jewish and Arab areas is proposed by the British, and rejected by both parties.

1936-1939: the Great Uprising by Arabs against British Rule and Jewish immigration takes place.

1939: the White Paper of 1939 is issued by the British. It limits Jewish immigration to Palestine to 75,000 for the next 5 years, and results in increased Zionist opposition to British rule.

1942: the Biltmore Conference takes place. In a fundamental departure from traditional Zionist policy, it demands that “Palestine be established as a Jewish Commonwealth”, or state, rather than a “homeland”.

1944: the One Million Plan becomes a part of official Zionist policy, detailing the intention for the immigration and absorption of 1,000,000 Jews from Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa into Palestine within 18 months to establish a state.

1947: The United Nations approves a partition of Palestine into Arab and Jewish states. The partition is accepted by the Jews, but rejected by Arab leaders. The 1947-48 Civil War in Mandatory Palestine begins, fought between the Jewish Forces and the Haganah and Palestinians, who are supported by the Arab Liberation Army.

1948: on the 8th of May, the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel is made.

Compiled by Joy Ngenda

Articles cited in this work include:

Wikipedia: article 1, article 2, article 3, article 4, article 5, article 6 

The Ben-Gurion Heritage Institute: article 

International Socialist Review: article 

Zionism-Israel: article 

Jewish Virtual Library: article 

Mideast Web: article




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