Anti-Zionism is both an inner Jewish phenomenon and a non-Jewish trend directed against the Zionist idea in its various manifestations or against Zionism as a political movement, or both. In general it can be stated that anti-Zionism in the Jewish camp was directed primarily against the Zionist idea, whereas non-Jewish anti-Zionism was aimed mainly at the political movement and its achievements.
The anti-Zionism of Orthodox and Reform Jews rejected any definition of Jewry in nonreligious terms. The Orthodox anti-Zionists criticized Zionism for adopting secular policies in order to establish a Jewish Homeland in Palestine instead of relying on Divine Providence. The Reform movement considered Zionism an obstacle to the universal mission of Judaism.
Other anti-Zionist trends within Judaism were opposed either to the concept of a Jewish nation [or people], which would separate the Jews from the social and cultural milieus in which they live and unite them all over the world, or to political aspirations that would free (sic) Jews from their minority status and establish a Jewish State.
The emancipatory movement, which feared that Zionism might prejudice the civil rights recently acquired by the Jews, opposed it as did the universalists, who denounced all forms of so-called religious, national, or racial segregation. Many anti-Zionists considered Zionism a mere Jewish counterpart of anti-Semitism that was bound to wither away as mankind continued its progress. Some Jewish anti-Zionists trends accepted nationalism but rejected the idea of Jewish territorial concentration, while others objected to the idea of concentration in Palestine.
Common to many versions of anti-Zionism (the religious Orthodox excluded) was the rejection of the Zionist interpretation of Jewish history as a national history centred in Palestine, either in actuality or at least in the dreams and aspirations of the Jewish people.
The social gamut of opposition to Zionism was as wide as the intellectual one. In the beginning, all major Jewish organizations either opposed it or, at best, took a non-Zionist position. The Jewish communities and the Jewish press sympathized with Zionism only to a very limited extent. Individual Jews in high positions in politics and finance were reserved and often hostile to Zionism. Jewish labor was influenced by general socialism and communism. Intellectuals and the youth were attracted by universal culture and only rarely found universal values in Zionism.