Zionism, movement to establish a Jewish national home in Palestine. After the destruction of their state in A.D. 70, the Jews retained their identity and kept alive their dream of an eventual return from exile. The dream turned into a political movement in the 19th century, largely in response to the persecution of Jews in the USSR and Austria, and Jewish farmers and artisans began to settle in Palestine. The decisive impetus came in 1897, when Theodore Herzl organized the first World Zionist Congress, after which Zionist groups were established all over the world. In 1903 the British government offered the Jews a home in Uganda, but this was rejected. Leadership of the Zionist movement was assumed by Chaim Weizmann, who was largely responsible for the Balfour Declaration (1917).
See also: Herzl, Theodor.