Zionism (Hebrew: צִיּוֹנוּת Tsiyyonut after Zion) is the national movement of the Jewish people that supports the re-establishment of a Jewish homeland in the territory defined as the historic Land of Israel (roughly corresponding to Canaan, the Holy Land, or the region of Palestine). Modern Zionism emerged in the late 19th century in Central and Eastern Europe as a national revival movement, both in reaction to newer waves of antisemitism and as an imitative response to other exclusionary nationalist movements. Soon after this, most leaders of the movement associated the main goal with creating the desired state in Palestine, then an area controlled by the Ottoman Empire.
Until 1948, the primary goals of Zionism were the re-establishment of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel, ingathering of the exiles, and liberation of Jews from the antisemitic discrimination and persecution that they experienced during their diaspora. Since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, Zionism continues primarily to advocate on behalf of Israel and to address threats to its continued existence and security.
A religious variety of Zionism supports Jews upholding their Jewish identity defined as adherence to religious Judaism, opposes the assimilation of Jews into other societies, and has advocated the return of Jews to Israel as a means for Jews to be a majority nation in their own state. A variety of Zionism, called cultural Zionism, founded and represented most prominently by Ahad Ha'am, fostered a secular vision of a Jewish "spiritual center" in Israel. Unlike Herzl, the founder of political Zionism, Ahad Ha'am strived for Israel to be "a Jewish state and not merely a state of Jews".
Advocates of Zionism view it as a national liberation movement for the repatriation of a persecuted people residing as minorities in a variety of nations to their ancestral homeland. Critics of Zionism view it as a colonialist, racist and exceptionalist ideology that led advocates to violence during Mandatory Palestine, followed by the exodus of Palestinians, and the subsequent denial of their right to return to property lost during the 1948 war.
The term "Zionism" is derived from the word Zion (Hebrew: ציון ,Tzi-yon), referring to Jerusalem. Throughout eastern Europe in the late 19th century, numerous grassroots groups were promoting the national resettlement of the Jews in their homeland, as well as the revitalization and cultivation of the Hebrew language. These groups were collectively called the "Lovers of Zion" and were seen to encounter a growing Jewish movement toward assimilation. The first use of the term is attributed to the Austrian Nathan Birnbaum, founder of the Kadimah nationalist Jewish students' movement; he used the term in 1890 in his journal Selbstemanzipation! (Self-Emancipation), itself named almost identically to Leon Pinsker's 1882 book Auto-Emancipation.
The common denominator among all Zionists is the claim to Eretz Israel as the national homeland of the Jews and as the legitimate focus for Jewish national self-determination. It is based on historical ties and religious traditions linking the Jewish people to the Land of Israel. Zionism does not have a uniform ideology, but has evolved in a dialogue among a plethora of ideologies: General Zionism, Religious Zionism, Labor Zionism, Revisionist Zionism, Green Zionism, etc.