The movements of gathering Jews back to Israel can be found in the Old Testament examples of the return from Babylon and Moses leading the Jews out of Egypt. The current era of such movements date from at least the 12th century. The modern movement was motivated by the Zionist movement started in 1897. Contemporaneously with the start of that movement was the publication of the Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897, compiled by M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., that described Theocracy as "the belief in government by divine guidance." It went on to state that Theocracy was:
"... a word first used by Josephus to denote that the Jews were under the direct government of God himself. The nation was in all things subject to the will of their invisible King. All the people were the servants of Jehovah, who ruled over their public and private affairs, communicating to them his will through the medium of the prophets. They were the subjects of a heavenly, not of an earthly, king. They were Jehovah's own subjects, ruled directly by him (Compare 1 Samuel 8:6-9 )."
This is not quite what the British had in mind when the British Foreign Secretary, Arthur Balfour, made his landmark Balfour Declaration of November 2, 1917, publicly expressing the government's view in favor of "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people", and specifically noting that its establishment must not "prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country."
Why do we, the Jews celebrating Pesach (Passover) in Jerusalem, still say: "Next year in Jerusalem!" Aren't we already here?
The rebuilt Jerusalem we pray for is not this modern city, and the redeemed Eretz Israel is not the political state of the Jews we see today. As the influence of the Torah extends, so will the boundaries of Eretz Israel expand accordingly.
What do we find the Israelis doing, specially after the 1967 war and the take-over of the West Bank and Golan Heights? Establishing settlements in captured and occupied lands at the point of the gun in fulfillment of their belief in God's promise to the Jews. Such settlements currently exist in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and in the Golan Heights. According to the Israeli investigative reporter Uri Blau, these settlements are massively funded by private tax-exempt U.S. NGOs, to the tune of $220 million for 2009-2013 alone, suggesting that the U.S. is indirectly subsidizing their creation with tax-exempt funds.
Can it get more religious? On 30 June 2014, according to the Yesha Council, 382,031 Jewish settlers lived in the 121 officially recognized settlements in the West Bank, over 300,000 Israelis lived in settlements in East Jerusalem, and over 20,000 lived in settlements in the Golan Heights. In January 2015 the Israeli Interior Ministry gave figures of 389,250 Israelis living in the West Bank and a further 375,000 Israelis living in East Jerusalem. These settlers are protected by their guns, private security and by the IDF, the Israel Defense Force.
The international community considers the settlements in occupied territory to be illegal, and the United Nations has repeatedly upheld the view that Israel's construction of settlements constitutes a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Israeli neighborhoods in East Jerusalem and communities in the Golan Heights, the latter of which has been annexed by Israel, are also considered settlements by the international community, which does not recognize Israel's annexations of these territories. The International Court of Justice also says these settlements are illegal in a 2004 advisory opinion. In April 2012, UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon, in response to moves by Israel to legalize Israeli outposts, reiterated that all settlement activity is illegal, and "runs contrary to Israel's obligations under the Road Map and repeated Quartet calls for the parties to refrain from provocations."
The numbers of these settlers are constantly augmented by benefiting from the law of the Right to Return, available worldwide to all Jews, but not to any displaced Arabs, whatever their religion if not Sephardi Jews. To be continued.