On August 29, 1897, the First Zionist Congress, called together by Theodor Herzl, was held in Basel, Switzerland.
Theodor Herzl addressing 1st or 2nd Zionist Congress in Basel, Aug. 1897-8, GPO National Photo Collection
The Zionist Organization (ZO - later renamed the World Zionist Organization) was thus formed. Theodor Herzl, the visionary behind modern Zionism, was elected the ZO's first president and the Basel Program, a resolution stating the goals of Zionist movement, was approved.
The Basal Program
Zionism seeks to establish a home for the Jewish people in EretzIsrael secured under public law. The Congress contemplates the following means to the attainment of this end:
Membership in the Zionist Organization was accorded to anyone who accepted the Basle Program and paid the Zionist Shekel (the Biblical name given for annual dues).