Zionism is a nationalist political movement of Jews and Jewish culture that supports the re-establishment of a Jewish homeland in the territory defined as the historic Land of Israel (roughly corresponding to Palestine, Canaan or the Holy Land).
Zionism emerged in the late 19th century in Central and Eastern Europe as a national revival movement, in reaction to anti-Semitic and exclusionary nationalist movements in Europe. Soon after this, most leaders of the movement associated the main goal with creating the desired state in Palestine, then an area controlled by the Ottoman Empire.
Until 1948, the primary goals of Zionism were the re-establishment of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel, ingathering of the exile, and liberation of Jews from the anti-Semitic discrimination and persecutions that they experienced during their Diaspora. Since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, Zionism continues primarily to advocate on behalf of Israel and to address threats to its continued existence and security.
The legitimacy of the Zionist enterprise of returning Jews to Eretz Yisrael is based on Jewish descent from the ancient Israelites. The Jewish people has inherited their right to the land, religiously, legally, and historically. Jews have always looked and prayed toward Zion (Jerusalem), never relinquished their relationship to the land, and have always maintained a presence since ancient times, despite expulsions. Jews were treated as foreigners and persecuted wherever they were during their long Exile.