• World Zionist Organization
    World Zionist Organization (WZO) House. Photo: Shutterstock - Tel Aviv, Israel

The World Zionist Organization

In 1879 Theodor Herzl and Max Nordau founded the Zionist Organization (ZO). Years later, the organization changed its name to the World Zionist Organization (WZO). The organization focuses on the support of Jews in Israel and offers help to Jews who want to settle there.

The First Zionist Congress

For centuries there was no homeland for the Jews, but the longing for Jerusalem remained. These desires became concrete at the First Zionist Congress in Basel in 1897, where two hundred Jews from different countries gathered under the leadership of Theodor Herzl. Herzl was the author of “The Jewish State”. He stated that the Jews would return to Zion and establish a homeland in Palestine, which was then in the hands of the British.

Theodore Herzl

Theodore Herzl founded the World Zionist Organization in 1897. He promoted Jewish migration to Palestine to establish a Jewish nation. | Photo: Shutterstock

Establishment of the World Zionist Organization

During the congress, the attendees founded the Zionist Organization. This organization was responsible for emigration to Palestine, the so-called Aliyah. Furthermore, the ZO helped the Palestinian Jews who already lived in this area to found kibbutzim. After the establishment of the WZO, the Jewish population in Palestine expanded by 10 to 15 percent.

A few years later, the Palestine Zionist Executive was established as well. The objectives of this organization were almost identical to those of the WZO. In 1929 they renamed the Palestine Zionist Executive, the Jewish Agency. The primary objective was the foundation of an independent Jewish state.


To this day, the World Zionist Organization is committed to the interests of the Jewish community. According to their website the WZO ‘strives to enhance the impact of Zionist ideology and activity in Jewish communities around the world, including Israel, both by working through shlichim of the Zionist Federations and their constituent bodies and by influencing the agenda of the organized Jewish community, particularly through its involvement with the Jewish Agency for Israel.