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Early Political Zionism We do not see the appearance of political Zionism until late in the 19th century as a reaction to the intolerable persecution of the Jews of Russia.
The early political Zionists, being largely secular (many had in fact been born into observant homes and then later dropped their observance), did not feel a special yearning for Israel rooted in tradition or religion, rather they felt that the Land of Israel was the only place where Jews could create a national identity, regain their pride and productivity, and hopefully escape the horrible anti-Semitism of Czarist Russia and other places.
So important and generous was Rothschild that he was nicknamed Ha Nadiv Ha Yaduah, "The Famous Contributor." Although Rothschild was quite assimilated and disconnected from the Jewish yearning for the land, he was greatly influenced by Rabbi Shmuel Mohilever, who was one of the first religious Zionists from Poland.
Mohilever converted Rothschild to his ideology and from that point on the rich banker began to look at Israel as an "investment." He made it possible for thousands of Jews to return to the land and survive here in those days.
With his fortune made by age 40, Montefiore embarked on a career in philanthropy, becoming a tireless worker for the Jewish community of Israel.
(Its members were called Hovevei Zion, "lovers of Zion.") A major personality among the Hovevi Zion was Judah Leob Pinsker (1821-1891).No landscape exists that is more tiresome to the eye than that which bounds the approaches to Jerusalem... This marked the emergence of the first Ashkenazic European community in Israel.In 1263, the great Rabbi and scholar Nachmanides also known as the Ramban, established a small Sephardic community on Mount Zion which was outside the walls.Mark Twain who visited Israel in 1867 described it like this in Innocents Abroad: We traversed some miles of desolate country whose soil is rich enough but is given wholly to weeds ― a silent, mournful expanse... We pressed on toward the goal of our crusade, renowned Jerusalem. Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes." Early Migrations During the time of the Muslims, life for the Jews here was for the most part easier than under the Christians.A desolation is here that not even imagination can grace with the pomp of life and action. The further we went the hotter the sun got and the more rocky and bare, repulsive and dreary the landscape became... Even the olive and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country. In 1210, following the demise of the Crusaders, several hundred rabbis, known as the Ba'alei Tosefot, re-settled in Israel.