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Unformatted text preview: Theodore Herzl: the Founder of the Zionist Movement
Born in Budapest, Hungary in 1860 to a Middle
class family. His upbringing was Secular, with
affinity to German culture and language. Got a
Law degree from U. of Vienna and became a
Respectable journalist and essayist. His youth
And early adulthood were set in an integrationist
Environment and relatively calm assimilation. The ChangeIn the university, he joined the German
national fraternity Albia stressing German
Unity (Motto: Ehre, Freiheit, Vaterland
(Honor, Freedom, Fatherland). Herzl encounters antiSemitism
for the first time. He is deeply hurt, as the most active member.
for Karl Lueger, an anti-Semitic demagogue, the new Mayor of Vienna 1895
The Dreyfus Affair (1894-1895): Herzl covers the story as a senior
reporter of the distinguished Viennese newspaper Neue Freie Presse.
The New Ghetto: a play, 1895: the futility of emancipation.
The The Jewish State (Der Judenstaat) (February 1896)
• • • • The problem of the Jews is that they would never be accepted by the
gentile societies. Emancipation is an illusion, assimilation- a hoax.
This anomaly is long-lasting and omnipresent: “perhaps we could
succeed in merging with the peoples surrounding us if we were only
left in peace for two generations, but they will not leave us in peace”.
“The Jewish question persists wherever Jews live in appreciable
numbers. Where it doesn’t, it is brought in with Jewish immigration”.
The modern reason for anti-Semitism is economic and political: the
fear of Jewish competition and empowerment following human rights.
But those rights are not cancelled due to the concern that Jews would
be driven en-masse to the ranks of the revolutionaries. (Herzl
analyzes anti-Semitism in a rational, scientific and cold scrutiny).
Hence, his solution is similarly logical: gentile hatred unifies the Jews
and precipitates their redemption:” We are a people, one people. Our
enemies made us one without their volition. Affliction makes us stand
together”. From this flows the explanation: “Our problem is neither
social nor religious but a national one. To solve it we must establish it
as an international issue for civilized nations to settle in council.
in Selected Excerpts from The Jewish State:
Selected The idea which I have developed in this pamphlet is a very
old one: it is the restoration of the Jewish State.
The world resounds with outcries against the Jews, and
these outcries have awakened the slumbering idea.
We are a people-one people.
We have honestly endeavored everywhere to merge
ourselves in the social life of surrounding communities and
to preserve the faith of our fathers. We are not permitted to
do so. In vain are we loyal patriots, our loyalty in some
places running to extremes; in vain do we make the same
sacrifices of life and property as our fellow-citizens; in vain
do we strive to increase the fame of our native land in
science and art, or her wealth by trade and commerce.
science In countries where we have lived for centuries we are still
cried down as strangers, and often by those whose ancestors
were not yet domiciled in the land where Jews had already
had experience of suffering. The majority may decide which
are the strangers; for this, as indeed every point which arises
in the relations between nations, is a question of might. If
we could only be left in peace....
oppression and persecution cannot exterminate us. No
nation on earth has survived such struggles and sufferings as
we have gone through. Jew-baiting has merely stripped off
our weaklings; the strong among us were invariably true to
their race when persecution broke out against them....
their However much I may worship personality-powerful individual
personality in statesmen, inventors, artists, philosophers, or leaders, as
well as the collective personality of a historic group of human beings,
which we call a nation-however much I may worship personality, I do
not regret its disappearance. Whoever can, will, and must perish, let
him perish. But the distinctive nationality of Jews neither can, will,
nor must be destroyed. It cannot be destroyed, because extenal
enemies consolidate it. It will not be destroyed; this is shown during
2000 years of appalling suffering. It must not be destroyed .... Whole
branches of Judaism may wither and fall, but the trunk will remain.
No one can deny the gravity of the situation of the Jews. Wherever
they live in perceptible numbers, they are more or less persecuted.
Their equality before the law, granted by statute, has become
practically a dead letter. They are debarred from filling even
moderately high positions, either in the army, or in any public or
private capacity. And attempts are made to thrust them out of business
also: "Don't buy from Jews!"
also: Let the sovereignty be granted us over a portion of the globe large
enough to satisfy the rightful requirements of a nation; the rest we
shall manage for ourselves.
The creation of a new State is neither ridiculous nor impossible. We
have in our day witnessed the process in connection with nations
which were not largely members of the middle class, but poorer, less
educated, and consequently weaker than ourselves. The Governments
of all countries scourged by Anti-Semitism will be keenly interested
in assisting us to obtain the sovereignty we want.
The plan, simple in design, but complicated in execution, will be
carried out by two agencies: The Society of Jews and the Jewish
Company. The Society of Jews will do the preparatory work in the
domains of science and politics, which the Jewish Company will
afterwards apply practically. The Jewish Company will be the
liquidating agent of the business interests of departing Jews, and will
organize commerce and trade in the new country.
organize We must not imagine the departure of the Jews to be a sudden one. It
will be gradual, continuous, and will cover many decades. The
poorest will go first to cultivate the soil. In accordance with a
preconceived plan, they will construct roads, bridges, railways and
telegraph installations; regulate rivers; and build their own dwellings;
their labor will create trade, trade will create markets and markets will
attract new settlers, for every man will go voluntarily, at his own
expense and his own risk. The labor expended on the land will
enhance its value, and the Jews will soon perceive that a new and
permanent sphere of operation is opening here for that spirit of
enterprise which has heretofore met only with hatred.
Politics must take shape in the upper strata and work downwards. But
no member of the Jewish State will be oppressed, every man will be
able and will wish to rise in it. Thus a great upward tendency will pass
through our people; every individual by trying to raise himself, raising
also the whole body of citizens. The ascent will take a normal form,
useful to the State and serviceable to the National Idea.
useful One of the great commissions which the Society will have to appoint
will be the council of State jurists. These must formulate the best
modern constitution possible. I believe that a good constitution should
be of moderately elastic nature. I think a democratic monarchy and an
aristocratic republic are the finest forms of a State, because in them
the form of State and the principle of government are opposed to each
other, and thus preserve a true balance of power. I am a staunch
supporter of monarchial institutions, because these allow a continuous
policy, and represent the interests of a historically famous family born
and educated to rule, whose desires are bound up with preserving the
State. But our history has been too long interrupted for us to attempt
direct continuity of ancient constitutional forms, without exposing
ourselves to the charge of absurdity.
A democracy without a sovereign's useful counterpoise is extreme in
appreciation and condemnation, tends to idle discussion in
Parliaments, and produces that objectionable class of men -professional politicians. Nations are also really not fit for unlimited
democracy at present, and will become less and less fitted for it in the
future. For a pure democracy presupposes a predominance of simple
customs, and our customs become daily more complex with the I do not believe in our political virtue; first, because we are no better
than the rest of modern humanity; and, secondly, because freedom
will make us show our fighting qualities at first. I also hold a settling
of questions by the referendum to be an unsatisfactory procedure,
because there are no simple political questions which can be answered
merely by Yes and No. The masses are also more prone even than
Parliaments to be led away by heterodox opinions, and to be swayed
by vigorous ranting. It is impossible to formulate a wise internal or
external policy in a popular assembly.
Shall we end by having a theocracy? No, indeed. Faith unites us,
knowledge gives us freedom. We shall therefore prevent any
theocratic tendencies from coming to the fore on the part of our
priesthood. We shall keep our priests within the confines of their
temples in the same way as we shall keep our professional army
within the confines of their barracks. Army and priesthood shall
receive honors high as their valuable functions deserve. But they must
not interfere in the administration of the State which confers
distinction upon them, else they will conjure up difficulties without
and Every man will be as free and undisturbed in his faith or his disbelief
as he is in his nationality. And if it should occur that men of other
creeds and different nationalities come to live amongst us, we should
accord them honorable protection and equality before the law. We
have learnt toleration in Europe. This is not sarcastically said; for the
Anti-Semitism of today could only in a very few places be taken for
old religious intolerance. It is for the most part a movement among
civilized nations by which they try to chase away the spectres of their
When the idea of a State begins to approach realization, the Society of
Jews will appoint a council of jurists to do the preparatory work of
legislation. During the transition period these must act on the
principle that every emigrant Jew is to be judged according to the
laws of the country which he has left. But they must try to bring about
a unification of these various laws to form a modern system of
legislation based on the best portions of previous systems. This might
become a typical codification, embodying all the just social claims of
the present day.
the Here it is, fellow Jews! Neither fable nor deception! Every man may
test its reality for himself, for every man will carry over with him a
portion of the Promised Land -- one in his head, another in his arms,
another in his acquired possessions. Now, all this may appear to be an
interminably long affair. Even in the most favorable circumstances,
many years might elapse before the commencement of the foundation
of the State. In the meantime, Jews in a thousand different places
would suffer insults, mortifications, abuse, blows, depredation, and
death. No; if we only begin to carry out the plans, Anti-Semitism
would stop at once and for ever. For it is the conclusion of peace.
Prayers will be offered up for the success of our work in temples and
in churches also; for it will bring relief from an old burden, which all
have suffered. But we must first bring enlightenment to men's minds.
The idea must make its way into the mast distant, miserable holes
where our people dwell. They will awaken from gloomy brooding, for
into their lives will come a new significance. Every man need think
only of himself, and the movement will assume vast proportions.
And what glory awaits those who fight unselfishly for the cause!
Therefore I believe that a wondrous generation of Jews will spring
into existence. The Maccabeans will rise again. The Jews who wish
for a State will have it. We shall live at last as free men on our own
soil, and die peacefully in our own homes. The world will be freed by Herzl’s Ascendancy to the Zionist leadership
The Meeting with Hechler- In March 10, 1896, William
Hechler the Anglican minister for the British Embassy in
Vienna and a devout Evangelist. Herzl recognizes the
potential in his visitor’s contacts and asks him a favor:
“I must put myself into direct and publicly known relations
with a responsible or non responsible ruler – that is, with a
minister of state or a prince. Then the Jews will believe in
me and follow me. The most suitable personage would be
the German Kaiser.“
Hechler grants him his wish and arranges the meeting, first
with Frederick I, Grand Duke of Baden (April 1896), the
Kaiser’s uncle, and then with Kaiser Wilhelm himself (1898).
The meetings gave Herzl the legitimacy and respectability
he sought but nothing concrete regarding the Zionist plan.
he The same pattern of using personal contact through mediators
to the power wielders returned a year later when Count
Philip Nevlenski, a sympathetic Polish émigré with contacts
in the Ottoman Court, introduced Herzl to the Grand Vizier
and later to Sultan Abdulhamid himself. Herzl’s reputation
as a world leader peaked as well as the Jews’ admiration.
En route back from Constantinople, Herzl received a formal
invitation to London where he addressed a mass rally of
thousands, July 12, 1896. He was received with acclaim.
The strong Jewish community of London granted Herzl the
mandate of leadership for Zionism. Within six months this
mandate had been expanded throughout Zionist Jewry. The
Zionist movement continued growing very rapidly.
In August 1897 Herzl convened the first world Zionist
congress in Basel Switzerland where he was elected
president before hundreds of cheering delegates.
president In 1898 Herzl makes his only visit to Palestine and is
welcomed as king by the Jewish population. He meets the
German Kaiser again and is greeted by Ottoman dignitaries.
In 1902–03 Herzl was invited to give evidence before the
British Royal Commission on Immigration. The appearance
brought him into close contact with members of the British
government, particularly with Joseph Chamberlain, then
secretary of state for the colonies.
Herzl is invited to attend The Hague Peace Conference where
he enjoyed a warm reception by many other statesmen and
recognized as a fellow world leader.
By the time of his death on July 3rd, 1904 Herzl had become an
icon, a larger than life symbol and was crowned the savior
of the Jewish people or even the New Messiah.
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This note was uploaded on 11/12/2011 for the course MIDDLE EAS 563 taught by Professor Peleg during the Fall '11 term at Rutgers.
- Fall '11