In Eastern Europe in the late 1800s, new secular movements arose, particularly after a wave of pogroms in 1881. These movements sought to ameliorate the Jewish condition and establish Jewish life on a new national basis. Zionism advocated the return of the Jews to Palestine. The Zionist movement was formally established in Basel in 1897. During the 19th and early 20th cent., there was a mass migration of Jews westward from Eastern and Central Europe and the Ottoman Empire. During the period 1880 to 1924 some 2.5 million Jews emigrated to the United States, which after 1939 was home to the largest Jewish community in the world. Smaller numbers, under the influence of Zionism, settled in Palestine.
Between 1933, when the Nazis rose to power in Germany, and 1945, when Germany was defeated in World War II, the Jews faced persecution of unprecedented scope and violence; thousands were driven into exile and close to 6 million were systematically slaughtered (see anti-Semitism; Holocaust). After the war, great numbers of Jews sought refuge in Palestine. The Jewish state of Israel was established in 1948 from portions of Palestine, and in succeeding years absorbed many Jews from the Middle East and North Africa. Arab-Jewish relations have been complicated by the hostilities that have resulted in and from the Arab-Israeli Wars of 1956, 1967, 1973, and 1982.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.