The World Zionist Organization was founded at the initiative of Theodore Herzl at the First Zionist Congress, which took place in August 1897 in Basel, Switzerland.
When it was founded, the goals of the Zionist movement were stated in a resolution that came out of that Congress and came to be known as the “Basel Program.”
Zionism aims at establishing for the Jewish people a legally assured home in Eretz Yisrael. To achieve this purpose, the following means shall be employed:
Promoting the settlement of Jewish farmers, artisans, and tradesmen in the Land of Israel.
Organizing and uniting the whole of Jewry through effective local and international means in accordance with the laws of each country.
Strengthening of the Jewish national sentiment and national consciousness.
Preparatory steps toward obtaining the consent of governments, where necessary, in order to achieve the goals of Zionism.
The WZO consists of the following bodies: The World Zionist Unions, international Zionist federations; and international organizations that define themselves as Zionist, such as WIZO, Hadassah, Bnai-Brith, Maccabi, the International Sephardic Federation, the three streams of world Judaism (Orthodox, Conservative, Reform), delegation from the CIS — Commonwealth of Independent States (former Soviet Union), the World Union of Jewish Students (WUJS), and more.