We already know, pretty much, that the seed-ground from which Zionism sprang was that of the “Springtime of Nations,” the national awakening of the mid-nineteenth century which produced (beginning in Ruthenia) the riots, urban revolutions, and civil wars of 1848-1849.
The current Journal of Modern History brings the knowledge, to quote from Robert Weinberg’s review of Children of Rus’: Right-Bank Ukraine and the Invention of a Russian Nation [Cornell Univ Press, 2013], that
a “Little Russian” nationalist ideology . . . appeared first in the area east of the Dnieper River and then spread to the southwestern borderland (the territory from the west bank of the Dnieper River to the border of the Habsburg Empire [,] populated by a mix of inhabitants who spoke Polish, Russian, Yiddish, and Ukrainian) after the region had become part of the Russian Empire under Catherine the Great.
Orthodox clerics and Cossack leaders challenged the dominance of the Polish-Catholic gentry by positing that Orthodox believers in the area, as descendants of Rus’ and its Orthodox faith, were the native inhabitants of the region [emphasis added:MM] and therefore the rightful owners of its land and resources.
So the line We Were Here First the Zionists throw, so absurdly, at the Palestinians in the so-called Holy Land, mimics just that imaginative line of an ideology adopted for its own purposes by the Russian Imperial government in the mid-nineteenth century.
In the very place, the Jewish Pale, from whence sprang the ideology of Zionism. “By the end of the nineteenth century” to continue to quote Professor Weinberg’s review of the work of Faith Hillis,
the educated and cultural elite in the southwest had adopted the Little Russian idea, which by then had morphed into an ideology and political movement that advocated on behalf of a Russian nation that constituted the nucleus of the empire.