When Herzl’s attempts to obtain a charter to grant the Jews a home in Palestine failed because of Sultan Abd al-Hamid’s complete rejection of the idea, he organized the first Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland. Two hundred Jewish delegates attended from all over the world. The conference formulated the “Basel Program” which continued to be the platform of the Zionist movement. The delegates reached a consensus to define the Zionist major goal as to create a homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine. The congress also founded a permanent World Jewish Organization (WJO) and instructed the establishment of branches in every country with a substantial Jewish population.
After he had succeeded in establishing the WJO, Herzl directed his diplomacy toward Britain in an attempt to grant the opportunity to create a Jewish state in Palestine. However, his attempts were faced with rejection for the second time. As an alternative to Palestine, the British offered to discuss the probability of Jewish colonization in East Africa. Such proposal was known as the “Uganda Scheme”, nearly split the Zionist movement which was so eager to create a homeland for the Jews. When the 7th Zionist congress in 1905 rejected the East African scheme, another leading Zionist Israel Zangwill formed the Jewish Territorial Organization, the goal of which was to seek territory anywhere suitable for Jewish colonization. However, such organization never attracted large audience. The majority of Zionist leaders were having their eyes on Palestine partly because of religious aspirations.
When the Zionist ideology became widespread among the world Jewish population, different varieties of Zionism emerged to reflect the influence of different ideologies that they have been exposed to in the land of their Diaspora. In Russia, a variety of Zionism headed by Ahad Ha-am, a Russian journalist, aiming at emphasizing the importance of making Palestine a center for the spiritual and cultural growth of Jewish people without compromising any land for it. Such ideology was referred to as cultural Zionism.
Another type of Zionism can be labeled as socialist Zionism that had been influenced by Marxist ideology in a time when Marxism was prevailing on the hands of Jewish sociologists to provide Marxist justification for Zionism. It was based on the idea that “the Jews needed a territory of their own in which to set up a normally stratified society, where they could then engage in class struggle and thus hasten the revolution”.
Social Zionism based on Marxist ideology was able to develop cooperative agricultural communities named Kibbutz (collectives), which provided the political, cultural, and military backbone of the Yishuv (settlements) before the state of Israel was established. The effect of these Kibbutz continued even after the creation of Israel. They played a major role as collaborative communities that received Jewish immigrants from all over the world to provide them with these basic skills to function in the hostility against the indigenous people of the land.
By the emergence of the 20th century, International Zionism sprang as a highly organized political entity regardless of the many factions of Zionists. The majority was determined and united to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine and not in anywhere else in the world. At that time, the Uthman Khilafah that used to represent the Muslims was losing its control over the scattered and disunited Muslim World, while Europe as well as the Jews living in it were very much sophisticated and organized, and well prepared for their new role in the world.
The 20th century witnessed the two greatest achievements of Zionism:
(a) the commitment made by the British government in the Balfour Declaration of 1917 after several previous efforts that resulted in failure.
(b) the establishment of the Zionist state in 1948. Balfour Declaration was prepared in March 1916 and issued in November 1917, during the World War I, by the British foreign secretary, Arthur James Balfour, under the Cabinet of Prime Minister David Lloyd George.
Regardless of accusing the British government of connivance in granting what it did not own to people who did not deserve, the Balfour declaration approved the Zionist scheme to establish a national homeland in Palestine. The declaration committed the British government “to making the best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this objective, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country”. Such a decision was unilaterally taken by the British government undermining the rights of the indigenous people of Palestine, regardless of their different religious affiliations. In Balfour Declaration, the Palestinians were referred to as communities and the Jews as people; a very paradoxical linguistic use of the words, which reflected the attitudes the British colonizing machine, was having against the Palestinians in comparison with the Jews.
A similar unforgivable mistake was executed against the Muslim people of Kashmir when their country that they have inhabited for thousands of years was handed to India by the British; just like the way Palestine was handed to the Zionists. Such irresponsible decisions have resulted in great catastrophes that the two Muslim peoples have been experiencing until this moment and may continue for long time to come.
Against the conditions prescribed in the Balfour Declaration, the Zionists savagely violated the civil and religious rights of the Palestinians. The declaration did not explicitly mention the establishment of a Zionist state named Israel in Palestine. What has Great Britain done to lift oppression against people of the Holy Land in order to maintain its credibility and correct its grave mistake?, Why did the great empire of the time do to implement its own conditions?, Nothing was done!, It simply withdrew from Palestine while leaving it an easy prey to the criminal Zionist guerrilla groups of Irgun Zuni Leumi. Thereafter, Britain was among the first countries to recognize the State of Israel when declared in 1948.
Dr. Abdallah H. Al-Kahtany
from his book New zionism