Middle East Encyclopedia

Encyclopedia of the Middle East


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1- Political movement organized by Theodor Herzl at the Zionist Congress in 1897, with the aim of creating a national home for the Jewish people, secured in international law.

2- More generally, the belief that the Jews are a people and must have a homeland of their own, in fulfillment of the right of self-determination (secular Zionism). The term was coined by publicist Nathan Birnbaum about 1891, before it was used by Theodor Herzl. The movement of national revival among the Jews had already begun on a small scale with the publication of articles such as Rome and Jerusalem: The Last National Question by Moses Hess (1862)  and Leon Pinsker's Auto-Emancipation

3- A belief in the restoration of the Jews based on Jewish or Christian scripture and theology. This is expressed in religious Zionism, in the writings of 19th century proto-Zionist rabbis and in beliefs of certain Christians. The Christian beliefs supporting Jewish restoration are together known as "Christian Zionism" (usually a derogatory term) which a generic label for different theological beliefs. 

4- Derogatory term, often used by Soviets, Muslim extremists or Arabs as a synonym for "Judaism" For example, the term as used in the Hamas Charter clearly seems to refer to all Jews, as does "Zion" in the forged "Protocols of the Elders of Zion."

Zionism has been defined as the national liberation movement of the Jewish people. Zionists are not necessarily either militant or religious, though they are frequently given that image. "Zion" is a hill in Jerusalem which has been symbolically synonymous with the land of Israel for Jews. However, some early Zionists were willing to accept a different land as a "night asylum" for the Jewish people, as they perceived a looming catastrophe for the Jews of Europe. 

Synonyms and alternate spellings: 

Further Information: Program of the First Zionist Congress Definitions of Zionism   History of Zionism and the creation of Israel  Definition and Brief History of Zionism Christian Zionism

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Encyclopedia of the Middle East

Note - This encyclopedia is a work in progress. It is far from complete and is being constructed and improved all the time. If you would like to contribute articles or expansions of existing articles, please contact news (at) mideastweb.org.  Suggestions and corrections are welcome. The concise version of this dictionary is at our Middle East Glossary.

Spelling - Spelling of words in Middle-Eastern languages is often arbitrary. There may be many variants of the same name or word such as Hezbollah, Hizbolla, Hisbolla or Husayn and Hussein. There are some conventions for converting words from Semitic languages such as Arabic and Hebrew There are numerous variant renderings of the same Arabic or Hebrew words, such as "Hizbollah," "Hisbulla" etc. It is not possible to find exact equivalents for several letters. 

Pronunciation - Arabic and Hebrew vowels are pronounced differently than in English. "o" is very short. The "a" is usually pronounced like the "a" in market, sometimes as the "a" in "Arafat."  The " 'A " is guttural.  " 'H "- the 'het ('Hirbeh, 'Hebron, 'Hisbollah') designates a sound somewhat similar to the ch in "loch" in Scots pronunciation, but made by touching the back of your tongue to the roof of your mouth. The CH should be pronounced like Loch, a more assertive consonant than 'het.

The "Gh" combination, and sometimes the "G," designate a deep guttural sound that Westerners may hear approximately as "r." The "r" sound is always formed with the back of the tongue, and is not like the English "r."

More information: Hebrew, Arabic

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