The word “Zionism” is inseparably linked with the name of Theodor Herzl who was born 2nd May 1860 in Budapest, Hungary, part of the old Austrian empire.
He died 3rd July 1904, Edlach, Austria at only 44 years of age.
Herzl was born of well-to-do middle-class parents. His first taste of school life brought him considerable trauma due to violent anti-Semitism. Therefore in 1875 his parents transferred him to a school where most of the students were Jews. In 1878 the family moved from Budapest to Vienna, where Theodor entered the University of Vienna to study law. Although he received his doctorate and a licence to practise law in 1884, he chose to devote himself to literature, and for a number of years was a journalist and a moderately successful playwright. In 1889 he married Julie Naschauer, the daughter of a wealthy Jewish businessman in Vienna. The marriage was not a happy one, mainly because of his mother’s antagonism towards his wife. Theodor had a great attachment to his mother, and this didn’t help the marriage to work. However, they had three children.
In 1891 Herzl was transferred to Paris by his newspaper, Neue Freie Presse, as their Paris correspondent. He arrived with his wife in the autumn of that year, and was shocked to find that anti-Semitism was as strong there as in the Austria of his homeland. This attitude problem had caused him numerous headaches in the course of his life, causing him to read widely on the subject. At one stage he even wondered whether the solution to the problem would be the wholesale conversion of Jews to Christianity, thereby ending the unwarranted, mischievous, and gratuitous hatred of Germanic and French people towards the Jews. His voluminous diaries show how he toyed with several such ideas. But conversion was eventually ruled out as a betrayal of the Jewish heritage.
One of his assignments as Paris correspondent was to attend the trial of Alfred Dreyfus in 1894. The blatant anti-Semitism displayed in this case caused Herzl deep shock, and made him re-think all his previous considerations on behalf of the Jews, and as a result he became a convinced Zionist, a word that was coined to describe the new militant attitude that favoured Jews being restored to their native land.
He turned to one of the world’s wealthiest Jews, Baron Maurice de Hirsch (1831 – 1896) the railroad magnate and philanthropist, with a proposal for mass immigration. He visited him in Paris, but theBaron’s non-committal reply, refusing even to hear him out, caused Herzl to “go it alone”, and to write a pamphlet, Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State) published in Vienna in 1896 for general distribution amongst world Jewry. He used his journalistic skills to offer a vivid description of his envisioned Jewish state and a convincing account of the means by which it was to be achieved. Zionism for Herzl represented an act of will that could transcend everyday reality and create a new world.
One cannot help being struck by the rational, democratic, and progressive quality of the nation-building institutions that Herzl founded. The World Zionist Organisation (WZO) was embodied in its annual (later biennial) Congress, an assembly elected by all who paid a token annual fee. From 1898, women were allowed to vote for the congress, at a time when New Zealand was the only country with national female suffrage. The executive was fully responsible to the Congress, so also was the WZO’s bank, the Jewish Colonial Trust, and the Jewish National Fund, which was dedicated to land-purchase in Palestine.Herzl’s writings and speeches called for a liberal utopia, with economic justice, free education, and an advanced welfare system. Political leadership would be exercised by an elite selected by merit alone. The state would have no demagogy, no chauvinism, and no war.
All this began out of Herzl’s revulsion in witnessing the blatant national anti-Semitism at the Dreyfus trial. He said in later years, “Were it not for the Dreyfus case, I might never have become a Zionist.” It is strange how certain people, with certain ideas, suddenly become watersheds in history. Herzl was by no means the first to suggest a return to Palestine for the Jewish people. It is recorded that Napoleon suggested it in 1799; Benjamin Disraeli, the Jewish prime minister, had written about it in his novelTancred; Moses Hess, friend of Karl Marx, had published an important book, Rom und Jerusalem in 1862, in which he declared the establishment of a Jewish National State a world necessity. But it was this hitherto unknown Austrian journalist who rose to fame and fanned the flames of Zionism in Europe. Out of his pamphlet there arose a swelling, a yearning, a deep-seated desire amongst Jewry for a return to their land.
The first Zionist Congress was held in Basel, Switzerland, at the end of August 1897, and about 200 delegates attended, mostly from Central and Eastern Europe and Russia, but with a few from Western Europe and even the United States. They represented every stratum of society and thought, from Orthodox Jews to atheists, from businessmen to students. There were also hundreds of onlookers, including some sympathetic Christians, and of course reporters from the world’s press. When Herzl’s imposing figure appeared on the podium he was greeted with tumultuous applause. “We want to lay the foundation stone,”he declared, “for the house which will become the refuge of the Jewish nation. Zionism is the return to Judaism even before the return to the land of Israel.”
The outcome of this three-day congress was the establishment of the Zionist Organisation, with Herzl as President, and the slogan, “Zionism aspires to create a publicly guaranteed homeland for the Jewish people in the land of Israel.” In the next section we shall see what some of the world’s journals and newspapers thought of the Congress, and of Herzl himself.
Dr. Theodor Herzl
and the Zionist Congress
THE OBSERVER newspaper, on June 28th 1896, had some important news to give its readers. It concerned the possibility of the Jews returning to their original land of Palestine. And because of the sensation caused, the matter was taken up by THE JEWISH CHRONICLE on July 3rd, and made the leading article in that paper. Because of the importance of this, (even after such a long time) we now reprint this article in full.
“Although some points in the following statement which was published in THE OBSERVER on Sunday June 28th are not quite accurately stated, in the main, the facts are correctly given. We are enabled to add that Dr.Herzl has telegraphed that as the result of his visit to Constantinople – where he delayed his departure at the express wish of the Sultan – he will have matters of the highest importance, and of a most gratifying nature to communicate on Monday next, at the meeting of the Maccabaeanswhich will be held subsequently to the House Dinner, at which Dr.Herzl will be guest, and which will probably also be attended by Dr.Max Nordau and Mr.Holman Hunt:- [quote]
“We understand that the informal negotiations set on foot last year for the establishment of a Jewish Autonomous State in Syria, have made considerable progress, and that a meeting will be held on 6th prox., under the auspices of the Maccabaean Society, to consider the report of Dr.Theodore Herzl of Vienna, the author of the new scheme. This scheme, which Dr.Herzl has already expounded in a very able pamphlet, of which an English translation has lately been published by Miss d’Avigdor, differs both in its inception and its methods from the many similar projects by which it has been preceded. It is essentially modern. Hitherto the dreams of a re-establishment of the Jews in Palestine have been confined more or less to the ultra-orthodox Hebrews in retrograde countries like Russia and Morocco, where persecution is largely bound up with despotic forms of government. The present scheme has originatedwith the cultured wing of Young Jewry, and is a despairing reaction against the spread of anti-Semitism in constitutional countries like Austria and Germany, and its adoption as a party platform by a section of the electorate. The plan of the proposed State takes little account of the religious and mystical elements of former projects, and, put briefly, is an attempt, not so much to fulfil prophecy as to found a political centre for the Jewish race by the modern system of State evolution which begins with the Chartered Company, and passes through the stages of a Crown Colony – that is a Turkish Crown Colony – to constitutional autonomy. In the interest of this scheme which is likely to consecrate the hitherto scattered forces of many Jewish colonisation and national organisations, Dr.Herzl has travelled all over Europe, interviewing, not only the leading men in the various Jewish communities, but also many prominent statesmen. Several European Governments have been informed of the steps that have been taken, and Dr.Herzl has been lately received in audience by one sovereign prince who has expressed a strong sympathy with the project. By the Sultan of Turkey it has also been favourably received, and the recent advent of Herr Von Newlinsky to this country was not altogether unconnected with a proposed settlement in which the Jews as well as the Armenians should participate. Dr.Herzl has lately been in Constantinople, where he had a long interview with the Grand Vizier, and also with Nouri Bey, the Secretary-General of Foreign Correspondence at the Hardjie.”
Notice how, in the above article, Zionism is defined as a political force rather than a religious persuasion. However, one must sense that a new spirit was moving amongst Jewish people the world over, in those tumultuous days. Was it the Spirit of God, or was it just a last-ditch effort to free themselves from a never-ending round of violent and hated reactions?
The following article appeared in another Jewish newspaper, THE JEWISH WORLD a month later. It was written by one of its correspondents.
“Allow me to observe that if Dr.Herzl succeeds in carrying out his scheme, Palestine will become the future centre of Eastern civilisation and education, but the modest manners and politeness of its people will be more like Paris or London than an Eastern city. Jerusalem will become the home of literature, science, and art, its colleges, university, academies for different educational purposes, will surprise the world. From every part of the globe people will gather to Jerusalem to gain knowledge, because as is known the masters of Art and Science in Europe are mostly Jews, the skilled of every profession nearly in every country up to this day are co-religionists, or of Jewish descent. Well, if all the intelligent men of our race will settle in the Holy Land, the wonders of the world will be seen there. As for pleasure and liveliness, I can assure your readers that Jerusalem will be superior to London. Jerusalem will be a city of clubs, hotels, theatres, music halls, and sports. All this we may expect in the Holy City of the future, with its Town Hall, its lord mayor, aldermen, town councillors, sanitary officers, and relieving officers, its court, judges, lawyers, etc., everything carried out according to the law of Moses! How delighted Israel will be to see the flag of Judah once more raised over the ancient capital!”
One may ponder to what extent these dreams have been realised in the State of Israel not 100 years later. However, not all the Jews of that era were quite as “socially minded”. Another correspondent in the same newspaper wrote from a more religious point of view, and finished his article with these words:-
“How long will our dreamy millionaires go on constructing railways, and connecting one end of the globe to another? Will they never remember their own house? It is they, the shepherds of Israel who are responsible. My brethren! is it not more glorious to be a ‘Nassi’ [ie. a prince] in Israel than a railway king? A president over the Sanhedrin than a banker? Now is our opportunity, and God only knows how long our children will suffer if we neglect this opportunity.”
Once again there is an element of prophetic truth present. It seems that this correspondent saw through the “social iniquities” that denigrated his people, and what would he have said if he really knew in advance of the sufferings of the Jews in the second world war?
Another factor of those days which may have escaped the attention of later writers, was highlighted by none other than Rev. David Baron, the great Messianic Jewish writer of those days. In a Christian journal he is reported as saying:-
“Notice the wonderfully rapid increase of the Jewish people during this century [ie. the 19th century]. Two hundred years ago, according to the greatest Jewish historian, the total number of Jews in the world did not exceed three million; now there are probably not less than twelve million, the present increase of Jews to that of the Gentiles being as three or four to one. See Exodus 1:12, where the increase of the nation was the precursor of its redemption. The Jews are not merely a nation of the past; indeed, there never was a time when they manifested more wonderful vitality than now.”
David Baron then went on to say that, as with Israel in Egypt, the rapid population growth was accompanied by a rise in anti-Semitism, and so it was in Europe in those days. He quoted Psalm 105:24-25, saying that when God’s time was near to deliver Israel, “He [God] turned their heart to hate His people.” And as for Israel in any country other than his own land, the Lord said, “Thou shalt find no rest for the sole of thy foot.” (Deut.28:65) So God will not allow Israel to settle comfortably in any foreign nest in these last days.
Another little known fact of those later years of last century may be found in THE INDEPENDENT. The Rev.J.R.Potter wrote of a Jewish community in Persia who were expecting the Messiah. –
“Demavand, forty miles east of Teheran, has had a Jewish community from ancient times. Coming to the Palace on an evangelistic tour, permission was granted us to visit the synagogue and witness the reading of the Scriptures from “The Roll of the Book,” so the party, including ladies, went over Saturday morning to the service. When the Scripture lessons were finished, the eyes of the congregation turned towards me, and I was allowed to speak, and for perhaps an hour to set forth some of the Old Testament marks of the Messiah, signally fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth, His miraculous birth, divine and human nature, sacrificial death, time and place of His advent etc., and to show how the spiritual significance of the Mosaic ritual was realised in Him, and earnestly to urge their personal acceptance of Jesus as the predicted Messiah, the glory of Israel, and the divine Saviour of sinners. The question of absorbing interest with them is, “When will the Messiah come?” And some have ventured an authoritative answer, – in 22 years. This they deduce from Daniel 12:12 by subtracting the present year of the Moslem era from the number of days mentioned in the verse: 1335 – 1313 = 22. When it was urged that the Messiah when He comes will be the very Jesus of Nazareth whom they reject, and that He comes for judgment upon those who will not have Him to reign over them, one old man declared that he was perfectly willing to be lost for ever, if only Messiah would appear. Some of them think the long expected advent is now at hand, and even from this little town in Persia are getting ready to move to Jerusalem, and they say some families have already gone.”
It is indeed amazing that 22 years after this event, in December 1917, Jerusalem was released from the Turkish rule by General Allenby, and it was in that year that the Moslem calendar was in the year 1335, and a coin was struck in 1917 showing the date 1335 in Arabic numerals.
In June 1897 the Orthodox Jews in Chicago, United States, dedicated “a new Hebrew National Flag” which had a white background on which was printed in blue the double triangle known as the MOGEN DAVID, “the star of David.”
The PALL MALL GAZETTE of July 30th 1897 contained a transcript of a long interview with Dr.Herzl, prior to the first Zionist Congress. The following are extracts from that paper’s report:-
“For founding the Jewish State,” said Dr.Herzl, “my plan might be styled a Jewish Rhodesia, but with this difference, that within a year or so of Palestine being acquired from the Turk, I shall have a million colonists in the country.”
“This is a case of greatness being thrust upon you Dr.Herzl. They have already dubbed you the new Moses!”
“Oh la-la-la!” said the worthy doctor with a kind of French shrug. “I do not lay claim to any inspiration. – -”
“So all you have to do now is to get the country?”
“Just so, and I think we shall find Palestine at our disposal sooner than we expected. Last year I went to Constantinople and had two long conferences with the Grand Vizier, to whom I pointed out that the key to the preservation of Turkey lay in the solution of the Jewish question. That the Sultan has taken no unfavourable view of my proposals is proved by his having decorated me. – -”
“But suppose Turkey rejects your proposals?”
“It is to confer over this point that a congress has been arranged for at Basle on August 29th . I am told that among the Bulgarian Jews there is a belief that on that date a Messiah will arise; but whatever may happen, there is no doubt that that congress will be the Redeemer of the Jews. The immediate results of the Zionistic movement have been to unite the most antagonistic Jewish elements, and bring into actual life a new school of Jewish literature.”
At this Congress, Jews from all parts of the world met for three days to discuss the problem of the near-future. A Zionist Badge was issued to commemorate the occasion. It was a shield of azure blue with a red border bearing the inscription (in German) “The Organisation of a Jewish State is the only possible solution of the Jewish Question.” Twelve stars, representing the 12 tribes, surround a Shield of David in the centre of which is a Lion rampant, the crest of Judah.
THE PALL MALL GAZETTE carried a lengthy article about the congress, which makes fascinating reading at this distance in time, as indeed do all these snatches from the past. To quote just the last paragraph:-
What has the congress meant, what has it achieved? In the first place the Congress had as its object the obtaining of an expression of opinion from Zionists in all lands in favour of the establishment of a Jewish common centre, next the formation of machinery to carry out this idea. It achieved both by acclamation after seven open sittings and many meetings of the various groups. It may be truly said that every individual rose to the height of a great event in Jewish history – no mean fact in the record of a people who hold themselves to be the most individualistic, and therefore the most self-opinionated of all people. The political world will have to reckon with this movement in the very near future. The Jews are not yet in Palestine, but the earnestness of the gathering promises much for the realisation of the 2000 year old dream of Israel. The world of philosophy will also have to take note of this congress, for Hebraic thought has through it, taken a step forward, and a new literature – new to the world at large- Hebraic nationalism mingled with the purest Hellenesticism- will demand attention. Many things indeed are entangled in the skein of Jewish Zionism.
The above words require little or no comment, except to say that yet again, subsequent history has shown the degree to which Jewish aspirations have been fulfilled. But Zionism must not be confused with the movement of God’s Spirit, even though undoubtedly the Lord has been using the Zionist movement to obtain His own ultimate goal, a goal that may not be quite like what many modern pro-Jewish Christian movements expect.
And now, to show to what heights the new enthusiasm amongst Jews rose in that momentous year (1897), we record the following, taken once again from THE PALL MALL GAZETTE of October 30th that year.
REBUILDING THE TEMPLE IN JERUSALEM.
It is not a little curious to regard the rebuilding of the Temple of Jerusalem as within the range of practical politics, but the latest information to hand with respect to the Zionist movement unquestionably presents the view of the probability of the prophecy being fulfilled in the very near future. – – –
There has been some talk of forming a huge syndicate with a capital of five million sterling. – – There is a strong conviction that a fitting way will be found of acquiring the Holy Land, and that the time is at hand. So strong is this conviction that preparations are actually being made for the rebuilding of the Temple, which would unquestionably be the first act of the restored nation. Orders have been given in England and in Italy for material that would be required in the work of restoration, and at the present moment marble is being carved in Italy for the capitals of pillars, and wrought iron is being produced in England for outer gates together with work of other kinds. No doubt when matters have progressed somewhat, orders will be given in other European countries, though at present there is no indication that any part of the new Temple will be made in Germany. – – –
In November of that year there was a great Zionist movement in London, chaired by Dr.Herzl of course. THE JEWISH WORLD in reporting the event, gave the following description of Dr.Herzl.
“As Dr.Herzl arose there was a great cheer, but this was very quickly followed by silence. As he stood alone it was easy to realise the hold he has on the hearts of all whom he is placed in contact. Tall, remarkably well-proportioned, an ease and grace of manner which indelibly stamps the born gentleman; a half-nervous but confidential manner, Dr.Herzl’s is a personality that would stand out among an army of men. Even to the insular Englishman he appears exceptionally handsome. A full, open face, black hair, large sympathetic eyes, a full, very dark beard, not matted, but bearing the growth of early manhood, the Zionist leader although a commanding figure on the platform, strikes me as the ideal build for a dashing cavalry general.”
Now we come to another angle altogether on the rising tide of Zionism, – that of the Roman Catholics. In 1896 a correspondent in Vienna (the home town of Dr.Herzl) sent a telegraph back to THE STANDARD in London. It read as follows:-
“THE VATERLAND, the clerical organ of Vienna, reports today (July 2nd 1896) that the Pope in a recent address to some Hungarian priests, took occasion to express his opinion of Hungary. This his Holiness did in words which are likely to excite astonishment in many quarters. Pope Leo said, “Freemasonry and the money of the Jews, and that tyrannical Liberalism which is supported, animated, and kept up by that money, are the pernicious and dangerous foes which infect the good-natured Hungarian people.”
The similarity of the Pope’s sentiments to those of the Vienna Anti-Semites is, at all events, very striking.
But this is not all. Just after the first congress, a correspondent of THE DAILY NEWS sent back the following report from Rome.
THE RETURN OF THE JEWS.
Opposed by the Pope.
France appealed to.
“The Pope, being uneasy at the extent of the Zionist movement for the return of the Jews to Palestine, and the statement that promises have already been made in their favour by the Sultan, has called Mgr.Bonetti, Apostolic Delegate at Constantinople, to Rome to devise means for opposing the Jewish plans, which are naturally regarded with horror by all good Catholics. In fact, this project interferes with the Pope’s own desire to collect the necessary money to redeem the Holy Land from the infidel. The Vatican has also made representations to France, which has the protection of Catholic interests in the East.”
And so we finish our collection of records of the early rumblings of Jewry to return to their land, a process which was to be a long drawn out affair that had tragic consequences in some directions, and was only achieved finally after the most horrific genocide of recent times.
After 1948, the year of the birth of the Israel nation, history records a number of wars in the Middle East, brought about because the Moslem Arabs could not allow other people to occupy land which they had taken. It is an unspoken certainty amongst Islamics that the whole world must be brought under the domination of Allah, and any land which once was theirs, and had been subsequently occupied, (such as Spain) must eventually be restored by whatever means are available. The Western World does not accept this as fact, but tries all the time (as far as Israel is concerned) to create a two-state solution in what used to be called Palestine. But no matter what American, British, or European politicians attempt to do, for them it is a losing battle. It cannot and will not work.
At the time of writing this article (June 2007) all surrounding nations are equipping themselves for the eradication of Israel as a people, and the return of Israeli land for “Palestinians”. We are living in a most dangerous era, and the Western World is asleep to the rising waves of conflict that the Iranian President refers to as “wiping Israel off the map.”
At the same time, those with a true vision will be seeing the world rising in its antagonism towards Christianity. In both Israel and in the Christian West there has recently been a terrible loss of true direction, and a consequent watering down of those things which have always been their foundation stones of belief. Just as Islam wants to eradicate Israel, so the Devil wants to eradicate Christianity from the earth. We are in an advanced stage of battle, and are in a very weak position, having renounced much of our strength to stand against these enemy forces. It will be interesting to see just how the God of Israel and the God of Christianity will intervene to save both from ultimate destruction, for He must in order to stand by the very word He has Himself spoken through many prophets. I believe we must be humbled greatly because of our apostasy, and it will be a difficult and painful time, but the pain will act cathartically, to restore, equip, and overcome the enemy. No more will be said about this just now, except to state that these two things are occurring side by side, and need to be seen as spiritually associated and interconnected phenomena.