– Introduction –
F or more than sixty years, Israel and its con- flicts with its neighbours have formed one of the world’s most intractable problems. When the state was founded in 1948, the aim of the Zionist movement was fulfilled. A homeland for the Jewish people had finally been secured, but it was never to ‘dwell at ease’. Since its inception the state has either been at war with its Arab neighbours or defending itself against terrorist groups or freedom fighters, a description dependent on what side you take. The ideals of Zionism have become contentious even in Israel itself, not just between Arab and Jew, but between Right and Left, secular and religious, conflicts which are reflected in the Diaspora, which has 8.3 million Jews to Israel’s 5 million.
Yet the original ideology of Zionism, with its call for an independent Jewish state in Palestine, was simple and straightforward. It was a latenineteenth-century nationalist movement, made urgent by outbreaks of resurgent anti-Semitism across Europe. The pogroms and persecutions in the 1880s in Russia led to a huge wave of Jewish emigration westward, mostly to America. But the dramatic moment of Zionism’s birth was in Paris xi