Understanding Modern Zionism

A resurgence of persecution of Jews through the “pogroms” in Eastern Europe in the second half of the 19th century led to the creation of the modern Zionism movement. After decades of recruitment and politicking, two world wars and a war of independence, the modern state of Israel was created. But the movement has not been without its problems and critics. This course looks at that movement and the opposition it has faced.

This class will be delivered face-to-face at WEA Sydney. Enrolling students need to ensure they have read the current COVID-19 Safety Guidance that WEA Sydney has put in place before enrolling.


  • We begin by looking at anti-Semitism in Europe in the 19th century and how the “pogroms” and discrimination against Jews in all walks of life across Europe led to the creation of the First Zionist Congress in 1897. Led by Theodore Herzl, many European Jews, especially educated Jews, created a Zionist movement which would eventually be centred in Britain. From 1882 there were several waves of immigrants to Ottoman controlled Palestine. The First World War created a watershed in the development of the movement with the involvement of the British and the new British Mandate in Palestine
  • The inter-war years led to a three-way struggle in Palestine between the Jews, the Arabs and the British. This lecture looks at the effects of the Holocaust on the Zionist movement and the growing struggle between the Jews and the Arabs and how the Zionist movement dealt with this struggle
  • After the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 an on-going struggle continued between Jews and Arabs. Modern Zionists have dealt with this in ways that some have seen as controversial, but others have seen as necessary. This lecture looks at Zionism since 1948 and how it has affected the Middle East and the destinies of Israelis and their Arab neighbours.

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Understand the history and nature of modern Zionism and the reasons for its rise
  2. Have an awareness of the struggle and how the movement has dealt with persecution and opposition
  3. Understand the opposition to Zionism and how this has played out over the last 100 years.

This course has no current classes. Please join the waiting list by clicking .