8. The Zionist Ideal in Australia
In the past one hundred years the world has witnessed the emergence of the Political Zionist movement in response to the deteriorating position of the Jews in Eastern Europe; the movement's evolution and propagation as Jews became increasingly marginalised in the 'old world'; the climax of centuries of antisemitism in attempted genocide during the Holocaust; and, 'out of the ashes', the realisation of the Zionist dream of a Jewish national home in Israel.
This chapter surveys National Archives holdings which deal with Political Zionist activity in Australia. As a number of the items indicate, the movement – and the quest for Jewish nationhood – was viewed with some scepticism or concern by sections of the Government (and public). That Jewish national aspirations, and (in particular) the plight of the Jews in Europe during the 1930s and war years, simultaneously elicited more sympathetic reactions is also clear from an examination of Government correspondence. Accordingly, included here is a sampling of contemporary records which highlight both official and general (public) responses to news of the Holocaust. Finally, this chapter also identifies relevant series (and items) which illuminate the Australian Government's relations with Palestine (during the period of the British mandate 1917–47) and the new State of Israel (from 1948).