What is a zionist?
Zionist is a term often heard, but it's not always understood. Many people assume that to be a Zionist, someone must also be Jewish, or conversely, that all Jews are Zionists. This is not the case.
It appears that the term Zionist was coined in 1890 by Nathan Birnbaum, a Viennese scholar and intellectual. He used Zionist and Zionism to refer to what was basically a political movement, one that would result not only in the return of the Jewish people to their ancestral homeland in Palestine, but a return with political sovereignty.
The Zionist movement is not universally supported by Jews. Even today, there are a number of Orthodox Jewish groups that believe that Zionism violates the Torah. For instance, the Neturei Karta, founded and based in Jerusalem, refuses to acknowledge the state of Israel, and make the argument that that Torah requires that the land seized from the Palestians in the 20th century must be returned to them.
On the other hand, a number of fundamentalist and evangelical Christians do support ideals of Zionism. Their support is religious in nature, since their theology teaches that the return of the Jewish people to Palestine is a necessary pre-condition for the second coming of Christ. This viewpoint is referred to as Christian Zionism, and is controversial in its own right. It predicts what is essentially the destruction of Judaism, with all Jews either converting to Christianity or being destroyed during the battle of Armageddon.