Middle Eastern Studies April / Volume:13 / No:2

The Promised Land in Zionist Doctrine

Zionism is an ideology that was initiated in the first quarter of the 19th century by a group known as the leaders of Zionism, and was named in the 1890s with reference to Jerusalem. The philosophy of this ideology was built on a syncretic structure by the liberated Jews in Eastern Europe who were under the influence of the Enlightenment. The reason behind the syncretic nature of the ideology created by the Zionists can be explained by the blending of pure religious doctrines, including the “Promised Land,” “chosenness” and “messianism,” with certain political and secular arguments that were in contrast to them. In this sense, it is possible to define Zionism as a theo-political ideology. This ideology set off in the 19th century with the purposes of Jewish salvation, forming a new Jewish identity and establishing a new Jewish state in Palestine. Zionists who were in search of a land for founding their state held firmly on Eretz Israel (also known as the Promised Land), which has been a principal doctrine of Judaism, and claimed that the Jerusalem-centered Palestine was promised by God to the Jewish race forever. Although the political conditions of the time had an effect on this decision, the principal pushing factor can be claimed to be the belief of the Promised Land. Zionists shaped their movement and rhetoric by featuring the religious matters in the Jewish theology regarding the Promised Land and the relevant spiritual feelings of the Jews. Based on an axis of land, Zionism propagated the fiction that Palestine was a vacant territory with no people, and managed to create a room for maneuver for itself in the Promised Land. The ideology also achieved to manipulate the political conjuncture to its advantage and eventually founded the State of Israel in Palestine in 1948.