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Jewish Tours Argentina



The Heralders of Zionism 

Part II


May 13
Shabbat - the "Bechukotai" portion. The Jerusalem tailor R. Gershon, who makes clothes for the agricultural school students, suggests to Netter that he draw from the weekly Torah portion, Jeremiah 17:13: "O Lord, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you will be put to shame," and call the school Mikve Israel (Hebrew for "Hope of Israel.") Netter adopts the idea.


The Society for Working and Redemption of the Land is established in Jerusalem, which aims to establish the first agricultural settlement
- Petah Tikva. Preparations are made to acquire land near Jericho, and, soon after, south of Jaffa (later to become Rehovot). The Turks prevent the acquisition and the company disbands.


The Moses Montefiore Testimonial Fund (Mazkeret Moshe) is founded in London following Montefiore's 90th birthday. its aim is to aid Jewish settlement in Eretz Israel.


Moses Montefiore, aged 91, makes his seventh and final visit to Eretz Israel.

The Society for Working and Redemption of the Land is again established in Jerusalem, and calls for the establishment of an agricultural settlement. Among its founders are David Guttman and Eliezer Raab, later co-founders of Petah Tikva.

One of its slogans is: "lf there is no country in the world - there is no Israel in the world."

It is possible that the establishment of the association is influenced by a proposal made by Haim Gedalia, a close acquaintance of Moses Montefiore, which he published in 1875. The proposal suggests acquiring all the Sultan's lands in Eretz Israel from the Turks and establishing on them extensive Jewish settlement.


The book "Daniel Deronda" appears in England by the author George Eliot (the literary name of Mary Ann Owens). The book's heroes are English Jews with a national conscience, who aspire to establish a Jewish state in Eretz Israel. The book has enormous influence on generations of young Jews.


Within two months the first two agricultural settlements are established. In the north, Jews from Safed establish Gai Oni (Valley of My Strength) to the east of the city. In the south, Petah Tikva is founded by Jerusalemites among whom are Yoel Moshe Salomon, David Guttman, Joshua Stampfer, Zerach Barnett and Eliezer and Yehuda Raab. Gai Oni is abandoned after a short time and Petah Tikva after three years. The first seeds, however, have been sown.

Laurence Oliphant, an English member of Hovevei Zion (The Lovers of Zion), suggests establishing agricultural Jewish settlements in Eretz Israel. He contacts the Turkish authorities and in 1880 publishes his book, "Eretz HaGilad" (The Land of Gilead), in which he calls for the establishment of a Jewish region in the north of Transjordan. The Turks have reservations.


Yehiel Michel Pines, a representative of the Mazkeret Moshe fund, arrives in Eretz Israel -an important figure during the impending First Aliyah period.

Eliezer Peariman (better known as Eliezer Ben-Yehuda), aged 21, publishes an article called "A Dignified Question" in the fifth edition of "HaShachar" (April 1879). He calls for the return of his people to its land, determining of Jewish policy and renewal of the ancient language - Hebrew. The article is considered an important milestone in the annals of Zionism.
Edward Cazalet proposes that England help Jews immigrate to Syria and to Palestine in order to participate in large development projects in these countries.


March 13
Tsar Alexander 11 is murdered in Russia. This signals the beginning of Jewish pogroms, especially in the south of the country. Jewish emigration from Russia increases, especially to America. At the same time, the first associations of Hovevei Zion are established, which aim to settle Jews in settlements in Eretz Israel.

September - December
Towards the end of the year Jewish aliyah to Eretz Israel increases and among the new arrivals are Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, his wife Dvora and a group of olim from Yemen.


The pogroms in Russia continue. Hovevei Zion emissaries arrive in Palestine and go in search of suitable land for establishing settlements. A few thousand Jews arrive in the country in 1882 alone in what will later be called the First Aliyah. At the same time, Laurence Oliphant renews his efforts to settle Jews in Palestine.

The booklet "Auto-Emancipation" appears in Berlin, written by an unidentified author. He is, in fact, none other than Dr. Yehuda Leib Pinsker, a Jewish doctor from Russia. It is a fundamental publication in the annals of Hibbat Zion (The Lovers of Zion movement) and Zionism (see the chapter entitled Glossary of Terms).

February 6
BILU is established in Kharkov, southern Russia - an association founded by Jewish students who advocate aliyah to Eretz Israel, the establishment of communal settlements and revival of the Hebrew language. Within a few months, similar groups begin to organize throughout Russia.

March 18
Zalman David Levontin, an immigrant from Russia, establishes the Yesud haMa'ala Pioneers Committee in Jaffa, whose objective is to help acquire land and establish Jewish settlements in Palestine. This constitutes the beginning of the establishment of the moshava (village based on private ownership) Rishon leZion.

April 28
The Turks are concerned about increased Jewish aliyah and implement a ban on the immigration of Russian Jews to Palestine. The ban limits some members of Hovevei Zion, but the majority continue to operate.

July 6
The first group of BILU members arrive in Israel -13 young men and one woman. They live in Jaffa and work in Mikve Israel.

July 31
The first moshava, comprising members of the First Aliyah, is established - Rishon leZion (Petah Tikva and Gai Oni, established some four years before, no longer exist). By the end of the year, two additional moshavot are established: Zamarin (later to become Zichron Ya'akov) and Rosh Pina, where Gai Oni once stood.

October 18
Joseph Feinberg from Rishon leZion meets with Baron Edmond de Rothschild in Paris and recruits him to help the new settlement. This is the beginning of Baron Rothschild's involvement with settlement in Eretz Israel. A little later Rabbi Samuel Mohilever meets with the Baron and persuades him to help settle a group of Jewish farmers from Poland in Ekron (later renamed Mazkeret Batia).


Settlers from Petah Tikva evacuate their village temporarily because of the danger of malaria, and move to Yehud for a number of years before returning home. The moshava of Ekron is established. The Lerer family settles in Wadi Hanin (later Nes Ziona) and the Felman family settles to the north of Jaffa and plants a citrus orchard. All are members of the Hovevei Zion association.


A second moshava is established in the Galilee - Yesud haMa'ala - and towards the end of the year the BILU establishes its moshava - Gedera. The moshava of Bnei Yehuda, founded by people from Safed, is the first attempt to establish a foothold in the southern Golan.

November 6-8
The first committee meeting of the Hovevei Zion movement, which unionizes the Hovevei Zion association, takes place in Katovich in Poland. Yehuda Leib Pinsker is voted movement head.


The establishment of the first wave of Jewish moshavot in Eretz Israel comes ot an end. Without the help of Baron Rothschild it is doubtful they would have survived the harsh living conditions. The Turks hinder Jewish Aliyah and the establishment of moshavot.


June 28 - July 1
There is a second meeting of the Hibbat Zion movement in Druzgnik, Russia in which religious and secular members seriously disagree on the character of the movement. The members resolve to strengthen the moshavot in Eretz Israel and acquire additional land.


March 15
An article, "That Isn't the Way," appears in the Hebrew paper "HaMelitz", which is published in St. Petersburg. It is written by an unknown author calling himself Ahad HaAm. He is in fact none other than Asher Zvi Ginzberg, the Hebrew essayist and thinker and one of the first spiritual Zionists. He attacks the settlement work being done in Eretz Israel, claiming it should have been preceded by the spiritual and cultural regeneration of the Jewish people. At the same time, in Odessa, south Russia, the secret association Bnei Moshe is established, under the leadership of Ahad HaAm, who aspires to realize the ideas presented in his article.


Aliyah to Palestine once again increases. Delegations and individuals stream into Palestine, buy land and plan the establishment of new settlements. Within two years the moshavot of Rehovot, Hadera, Mishmar Hayarden and Ein Zeitim are established.

April 1
A new term -"Zionism"- is born, created by Nathan Birenbaum in an article in his paper "Shichrur Atzmi" (Auto-Emancipation) in Germany.

April 26
The first General Assembly of the Society for the Support of Jewish Farmers and Artisans in Syria and Eretz Israel, the nickname given the Hovevei Zion in the framework of the Russian government license, takes place in Odessa. The more accepted name is the Odessa Committee. Among its resolutions is the opening of an office in Jaffa, headed by the engineer Vladimir (Zev) Tiomkin, for promoting the subject of settlement.


Jews continue to arrive in Eretz Israel until the middle of the year. In July the Turkish authorities declare a halt to aliyah and cancel all land acquisition deals. This heralds the beginning of a protracted crisis.

Theodor Herzl, a 31 year-old assimilated Jewish journalist and playwright, is chosen by the Viennese paper "Neue Freie Presse" as its Paris correspondent. This is a turning point in his life, which brings him to the pinnacle of Zionist accomplishment in a few short years.

Over 400 individuals, both Jewish and gentile, sign a petition sent by the religious American William E. Blackstone (once dubbed the American Christian "Father of Zionism,") to the President of the United States, Benjamin Harrison, in which he calls on the President to help the Jews return to their historic homeland.


The beginning of the Dreyfus affair in France. Herzl is shocked by the anti-Semitism rampant in all layers of French society and comes to the conclusion that if such a thing can happen in enlightened France, there is only one solution to the Jewish question: mass exodus from Europe and their concentration in their own territory. He decides to act on behalf of the suffering Jews by meeting, as a first step, with wealthy Jews in order to acquire financial backing for his plans.


June 2
Herzl meets with Baron Maurice de Hirsch, one of the wealthiest magnates of his generation, and fervently explains his plans. The meeting, which constitutes the beginning of Herzl's Zionist activity, does not go well and Hirsch stops him in mid-sentence.

June 3-17
Herzl puts his ideas down in writing day and night for two weeks. This constitutes the first draft of "Der Judenstaat" (The Jewish State).

In the second half of 1895, Herzl, who had left Paris and returned to Vienna, travels throughout Europe, arranges meetings and gives lectures outlining his plan. Most greet him with indifference and even ridicule. Only the philosopher and writer Max Nordau supports him.


February 14
In Vienna, "The Jewish State" appears in German as a booklet, with a sub-title reading: A Political Solution to the Jewish Question. In the same year it is translated into Hebrew, English and other languages. Most reactions are negative but Herzl is not concerned.

Herzl makes his first trip to Turkey, where he is granted an audience with the Great Vizier (prime minister). He offers to cover Turkey's national debt if the Sultan relinquishes Palestine in favor of the Jews.

July 18
Herzl travels to Paris to meet with Baron Edmond de Rothschild, the well-known benefactor and patron of the new settlement in Palestine, to raise money for the realization of his plan. The meeting fails and Herzl decides to act alone without the help of wealthy Jews.


March 6
Herzl assembles representatives from the Hovevei Zion societies in Germany, Austria and Galicia to discuss his plans. He suggests convening a Zionist Congress as soon as possible with the participation of representatives from the entire Jewish world. The plan meets with strong resistance in many circles, among them rabbis, community heads and even Hovevei Zion activists.

June 4
The first edition of the weekly "Die Welt" (The World) appears, edited and partly financed by Herzl. It is the mouthpiece of the new movement he is establishing.

Preparations for the First Zionist Congress are complete. When Jewish leaders and rabbis foil Herzl's plans to hold the Congress in Munich, Germany, he moves the meeting to Basle, Switzerland. The Congress is set to take place during the last days of August 1897.


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