Opposition to Zionism came mainly from three outbreaks: above all, among those who believed that Jews should accept the “Emancipation”: to be Jews at “home” and “citizens” in the street. Within this group, we can include the reform movement.
The second opposition came from the orthodox Jews who considered the “European” secular nationalism as foreign to Judaism. Moreover, they felt threatened by those principles. Additionally, the Jewish rebirth would arrive with the Messiah and not before. With the formalization of the Zionist movement, part of the orthodox Jews formed political parties to prompt their interests within Zionism (Agudat Yisrael, for example) and, after the Holocaust, the opposition by orthodox to the State of Israel was practically irrelevant and minor.
The third opposition, by number and influence, came from the Russian- Polish Jews of the “BUND” movement. The BUND story is tragic. It was terminated by the Holocaust and rejected by the non-Jewish socialists. The gratitude of the socialist world towards the revolutionary labor of the Jews could be synthesized in that the BUND ran in the Polish elections after the Holocaust, they obtained a deputy and then were “invited” by the Communist party to dissolve. The first forbidden movement by the Communists was the BUND and even Stalin made them put a “J” in the Jews’ documents because he considered them “suspicious Soviet citizens”.
All the same, when Zionism rose, a small quantity of Jews immigrated to Israel. The most promising places were other fast-developing countries like the U.S.A., Canada or Argentina. Palestine, a remote province of the Ottoman Empire, was an inhospitable place.
The challenge was fit for few, it was faced mainly by young idealists who organized precarious socialist colonies (kibbutzim), drained the swamps and worked in lands desolate for centuries, with no experience in the task.