Closely associated with the left-wing and progressive ideology of A.D. Gordon, Labor Zionists believed that a Jewish state could only be created through the efforts of Jews settling and working the land. The infrastructure of the early State of Israel was a reflection of Labor Zionist values and Labor Zionists dominated the political ranks for decades after the founding of the State.
Revisionist Zionism’s main political objective was to maintain the historical integrity of the land of Israel and establish a Jewish state with a Jewish majority on both sides of the Jordan River. For this reason, Menachem Begin, Jabotinsky’s successor, opposed the 1947 Partition Plan which divided the Land along the Jordan River. After the state’s establishment, Begin’s Herut Party carried the flag of Revisionism.
Cultural Zionism saw the major threat to Jewish survival in the Modern Era as being the deterioration of Jewish unity and traditional practice. The founder of the movement, Ahad Ha’am believed that the Jewish homeland to be established in Palestine should become a cultural center and source of inspiration for the Jewish people. This would ensure the survival of the Jewish people.
Religious Zionism argued that only with a restored national homeland could Jews truly live the life called for by the Torah. In the 1930’s Rav Abraham Kook, considered the greatest thinker of Religious Zionism, encouraged young religious Jews to move to Palestine and settle the land at a time when many Orthodox Jews felt that Zionism was blasphemy. Rav Kook formulated very successful theological responses that portrayed Zionism as a tool that G-d was using to bring the Jews back to their homeland.
Political Zionism, most closely associated with Theodore Herzl, argued that the “Jewish problem” was first and foremost a political problem and sought a solution through political action and diplomacy. Herzl convened an international Congress of Jews in 1897. This first Zionist Congress adopted a program of political action that called for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine and created the World Zionist Organization which is still active today.