A Brief History of Zionism
Zion is the name of a hill in ancient Jerusalem where King David had his palace. The term Zionism was coined in the early 1890s and applied to the Jewish national political movement. Zionism got the big power backing it was looking for when Britain issued the Balfour Declaration on November 2, 1917. Arthur James Balfour, the British foreign secretary stated: “His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” This declaration became a major legal cornerstone for Zionist claims to Palestine. There were a couple of issues that complicated things. At the time, 90% of the population was Arab Muslim and Christian and 10% Jewish. And the British were signing away land that was not theirs.
Zachary Lockman is a professor of Middle Eastern Studies and History at New York University. He is the author of Comrades and Enemies: Arab and Jewish Workers in Palestine, 1906-1948 and Contending Visions of the Middle East: The History and Politics of Orientalism.