Last updated on: 5/12/2008 | Author:

Was Anti-Semitism the Leading Factor in the Emergence of Zionism?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)


This site was archived on Aug. 3, 2021. The two-state solution is no longer the most popular solution among the jurisdictions involved. A reconsideration of the topic is possible in the future.

PRO (yes)


David K. Shipler, MA, former New York Times Middle East correspondent, in his 2002 book Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land, wrote:

“Zionism gained momentum precisely where persecution of Jews was most severe, reaching a climax under Nazi Germany and opening the way to a large-scale exodus of Jews from Europe to Palestine.”



The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), in a 2001 online entry on its website titled “What is Zionism?” provided the following:

“Modern Zionism emerged in the late 19th century in response to the violent persecution of Jews in Eastern Europe, anti-Semitism in Western Europe. Modern Zionism fused the ancient Jewish biblical and historical ties to the ancestral homeland with the modern concept of nationalism into a vision of establishing a modern Jewish state in the land of Israel.”



Theodor Herzl, the “father of Zionism,” in his 1896 book titled The Jewish State, wrote:

“We are one people—our enemies have made us one without our consent, as repeatedly happens in history. Distress binds us together, and, thus united, we suddenly discover our strength. Yes, we are strong enough to form a state, and, indeed, a model State. We possess all human and material resources necessary for the purpose.”



Lenni Brenner, Co-founder of the Committee Against Zionism and Racism, in a 1983 book titled Zionism in the Age of the Dictators, wrote:

“The essentials of Zionist doctrine on anti-Semitism were laid down well before the Holocaust: anti-Semitism was inevitable and could not be fought; the solution was the emigration of unwanted Jews to a Jewish state-in-the-making. The inability of the Zionist movement to take Palestine militarily compelled it to look for imperial patronage, which it expected to be motivated by anti-Semitism to some degree.”


CON (no)


Edward Said, PhD, the late Professor of Comparative Literature at Columbia University, in an article published in the 1979 winter issue of Social Text, titled “Zionism From the Standpoint of Its Victims,” wrote:

“For although it coincided with an era of the most virulent Western anti-Semitism, Zionism also coincided with the period of unparalleled European territorial acquisition in Africa and Asia, and it was as part of this general movement of acquisition and occupation that Zionism was launched initially by Theodor Herzl.

During the latter part of the greatest period in European colonial expansion, Zionism also made its crucial first moves along the way to getting what has now become a sizeable Asiatic territory. And it is important to remember that in joining the general Western enthusiasm for overseas territorial acquisition, Zionism never spoke of itself unambiguously as a Jewish liberation movement, but rather as a Jewish movement for colonial settlement in the Orient.”



Richard Gottheil, PhD, former Professor of Semitic Languages at Columbia University, in an essay titled “Zionism,” posted on the Jewish Encyclopedia website (accessed on July 12, 2006), explained:

“[T]he idea of a return of the Jews to Palestine has its roots in many passages of Holy Writ. It is an integral part of the doctrine that deals with the Messianic time, as is seen in the constantly recurring expression, ‘shub shebut’ or ‘heshib shebut,’ used both of Israel and of Judah…

Among Jewish philosophers the theory held that the Messiah b. Joseph ‘will gather the children of Israel around him, march to Jerusalem, and there, after overcoming the hostile powers, reestablish the Temple-worship and set up his own dominion’ (Jew. Encyc. viii. 507, 511b s.v. Messiah)”

July 12, 2006