Diasporas in general and the Jewish Diaspora in particular are very important complex sociopolitical entities that are playing a growing role in most states worldwide, as well as in regional, international and transnational politics.
THE JEWISH DIASPORA
The Jewish Diaspora was established as a result of both voluntary and forced migrations of Jewsout of their ancient homeland—Eretz Israel (the Land of Israel). Later, Jews were either exiled from their host countries (such as Spain and England in the Middle Ages and Middle Eastern states in the twentieth century) or voluntarily migrated to secondary and tertiary host countries. The forced and voluntary migrations that resulted in the establishment of the Diaspora began much earlier than what has been regarded as the “official” date of the Diaspora’s establishment, that is, the creation of the Jewish Diaspora in Babylon.Return movements of Hebrews from Egypt (the Exodus) and other Middle Eastern countries to the Land of Israel have occurred throughout antiquity and the Middle Ages. Nevertheless, Jewish communities continued to exist in these countries after such return migrations. Hence, a Jewish Diaspora has persisted since antiquity.
The expulsion of the Israelites by the Assyrians and of the Judeans by the Babylonians only added new larger groups to the already-existing Jewish diasporic communities in various parts of the Middle East. This means that after the initial establishment of the Jewish diasporic entities in Egypt and Syria, new Jewish diasporic entities were established in various parts of the Middle East and Asia Minor and later in the Balkans. The Babylonian Jewish Diaspora served as a model because the Jews created there an “autonomous diasporic sociopolitical system,” in which the Diaspora, rather than the devastated homeland, became the national center and played the crucial role in the nation’s persistence, cultural development, and political influence. The establishments of the Greek Empire and later the Roman Empire, both of which controlled vast territories, facilitated both the permanent settlement of Jews and the establishment of communities in various parts of these empires and the communication between the various dispersed Jewish communities. This expansionist trend continued during most of the Middle Ages. The Jewish Diaspora spread from the eastern Middle East, Greece, and Rome to North Africa, Europe, and Asia. Later, partly voluntarily and partly because of anti-Semitism, anti-Jewishness, and hatred, Jews migrated and established diasporic entities in South and Latin America, and then they moved to the United States, Canada, Australia, and South Africa. In fact, the center did not shift back to the homeland even when the regional geopolitical situation changed.
History of Zionism
The history of Zionism began earlier and is related to Judaism and Jewish history. The Hovevei Zion, or the Lovers of Zion, were responsible for the creation of 20 new Jewish settlements in Palestine between 1870 and 1897. Before the Holocaust, the movement’s central aims were the creation of a Jewish national home and cultural centre in Palestine by facilitating Jewish migration. After the Holocaust, the movement focused on creation of a Jewish state (usually defined as a secular state with a Jewish majority), attaining its goal in 1948 with the creation of Israel. Since the creation of Israel, the importance of the Zionist movement as an organization has declined, as the Israeli state has grown stronger. The Zionist movement continues to exist, working to support Israel, assist persecuted Jews and encourage Jewish emigration to Israel. While most Israeli political parties continue to define themselves as Zionist, modern Israeli political thought is no longer formulated within the Zionist movement. The success of Zionism has meant that the percentage of the world’s Jewish population who live in Israel has steadily grown over the years and today 40% of the world’s Jews live in Israel. There is no other example in human history of a nation being reestablished after such a long period of existence as a diaspora.
During World War I, the Jewish people were again on the move. And Russians are viewed by Jewish as enemy and Germany was considered as a country that supported Jewish community. The Jews migrated to Britain, and more than 200,000 Jews came to America for refuge. The United States became a financial center for the Zionist movement around 1914. After the war broke out in 1914, the Jews desired to remain neutral and to support allies of the Germans, namely Turkey, because they were then in control of the region then known as Palestine. The Jewish people maintained this commitment throughout the entire war. A landmark declaration named Balfour declaration made by Arthur Balfour on 2nd November 1917 that express government of Britain’s view to establish Palestine’s new homeland of Jewish (Yapp, 1987). This declaration led to the establishment of the Jewish State. The declaration reason behind the acceptance have kept president Woodrow Wilson happy as he asked his staffs to urge the Zionist to support to support Jewish community since they are instrumental in their work.
Prior to World War II (1939–1945), the emerging but small Zionist movement faced tough intranational competition with other Jewish movements that had emerged in the Diaspora. Actually, prior to the emergence of Nazism and World War II, Zionism was a marginal movement in world Jewry, and its strategy did not attract the majority of Jews. The impact of that war, especially the painful realization of the full scope of the Holocaust and its disastrous consequences, created the right backdrop for a breakthrough by the Zionist movement. Many Diaspora Jews realized that the Zionist strategy was not only feasible but also an appealing solution to the problem of Jewish survival and national revival. Though the situation was ripe for the implementation of the Zionist strategy, membership in and support of the Zionist movement was still rather limited
In conclusion, the history of Jews is a case in point of a nation that was affected during the Holocaust. After the Holocaust, when the Jews still constituted a stateless diaspora, large segments in various Jewish communities adopted an exceptionally supportive strategy toward the Jewish state. Later this strategy changed. In most Western democracies, where Jewish communities have been able to act relatively freely, these entities have adopted a communal strategy. The United States of America and support of the United Nations helped the community in their new settlement in the present-day Israel. However, the Middle-East countries never adopted the idea to accommodate a new nation.