Zionism (Hebrew: צִיּוֹנוּת Tsiyyonut [tsijoˈnut] after Zion) is both an ideology and nationalist movement that espouses the establishment of, and support for a Jewish state centered in the area roughly corresponding to Canaan, the Holy Land, the region of Palestine or Eretz Israel on the basis of a long Jewish connection and attachment to that land.
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 a response to Haskalah, or Jewish Enlightenment. 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.
Zionism posited a negation of Jewish life in the diaspora and, until 1948 perceived its primary goal as an ideal ingathering of exiles (kibbutz galuyot) in the ancient heartland of the Jewish people, and, through the establishment of a state, the liberation of Jews from the persecutions, humiliations, discrimination and antisemitism they had been subject to. Since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, Zionism has continued 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 lands and property lost during the 1948 and 1967 wars.