The Zionist movement claims the character of the nationhood of the Jewish people and its right to exist freely. Historically, the Jews have always seen themselves as a compound identity. The thinker Eliahu Kaplan claimed that Judaism was “a civilization”.
This civilization had various pillars: 1) The Jews are and have always been a people: the descendants of the Judea Kingdom were the “Jews” while those from Israel are the “Israelites”; 2) The Jews are also manifested as a religion; 3) The Jews have a culture similar or alike to other communities in the world; 4) The Jews possess a “collective memory”. They consider themselves descendants of the slaves from Egypt, which suffered the Shoah or Inquisition; 5) they speak a particular language, Hebrew. In the Middle Ages, for example, a Jewish person that lived in Barcelona would not introduce himself as Catalonian, Spanish or as a “human being”. He would simply be a Jew in Barcelona. What is Judaism then? It is a mixture of five variables.
Throughout the XIX Century, national identities began to join in Europe because of the French Revolution (every human being has rights), the Industrial Revolution (the appearance of a middle class) and the Spring of Nations.
The Jews suffered disappointing experiences in Europe. Many of them were promised emancipation, but anti-Semitism in the old continent was too deep-rooted.
Zionism is the Movement of National Liberation of the Jewish People. In other words, the philosophy that affirms that the Jews are “also” a people and that, just like many other people on the planet, they possess the right to self-determination. The Jews´ wish is to return to Zion, which is one of the names of Jerusalem, their national and religious center.