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Theodor Herzl

The Father of Zionism


1860 - Born in Budapest, Hungary.

1891 - Appointed Paris correspondent of "Neue Freie Presse".

1893 - Suggested baptism of all Jewish children.

1894 - Start of Dreyfus affair, and first trial of Alfred Dreyfus.

1895 - Proposed plan for a Jewish state to Dr. Max Nordau.

1896 - publication of "Der Judenstaat - The Jewish State".

1897 - August: First Zionist Congress held in Basle.

Adopted Basle Program: "The aim of Zionism is to create for the Jewish people a home in Palestine secured by public law."

1898 - Herzl meets with German Emperor; first in Constantinople, then in Jerusalem.

1902 - Herzl appears before Royal Commission on Alien Immigration in London; visits Constantinople again; publishes Altneuland (Old-New Land); is received by Joseph Chamberlain, British Colonial Secretary.

1903 - Herzl visits Cairo and St. Petersburg.

1904 - Herzl dies in Edlach, Austria, July 3rd.

"...Everything depends on our propelling force. And what is our propelling force? The misery of the Jews. Who would venture to deny its existence?

Everybody is familiar with the phenomenon of steam-power, generated by boiling water, lifting the kettle lid. Such tea-kettle phenomena are the attempts of Zionists and of kindred associations to check anti-Semitism.

Now I believe that this power, if rightly employed, is powerful enough to propel a large engine and to dispatch passengers and goods: the engine having whatever form men may choose to give it.

I am absolutely convinced that I am right, though I doubt whether I shall live to see myself proved to be so. Those who are the first to inaugurate this movement will scarcely live to see its glorious close. But the inauguration of it is enough to give them a feeling of pride and the joy of freedom of soul...

I shall therefore clearly and emphatically state that I believe in the practical outcome of my scheme, though without professing to have discovered the shape it may ultimately take. The Jewish State is essential to the world; it will therefore be created.

The plan would, of course, seem absurd if a single individual attempted to work it; but if worked by a number of Jews in cooperation it would appear perfectly rational, and its accomplishment would present no difficulties worth mentioning. The idea depends only on the number of its supporters. Perhaps our ambitious young men, to whom every road of progress is now closed, seeing in this Jewish State a bright prospect of freedom, happiness and honors opening to them, will ensure the propagation of the idea.

I feel that with the publication of this pamphlet my task is done. I shall not again take up the pen, unless the attacks of noteworthy antagonists drive me to do so, or it become necessary to meet unforeseen objections and to remove errors.

Am I stating what is not yet the case? Am I before my time? Are the sufferings of the Jews not yet grave enough? We shall see.

It thus depends on the Jews themselves whether this political pamphlet remains for the present a political romance. If the present generation is too dull to understand it rightly, a future, a finer and a better generation will arise to understand it. The Jews who wish for a State shall have it, and they will deserve it...

The whole plan is in its essence perfectly simple, as it must necessarily be if it is to come within the comprehension of all.

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 in the bulk 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...

Shall we choose Palestine or Argentina? We shall take what is given us, and what is selected by Jewish public opinion..."

The Jewish State, 1896


"At Basle I founded the Jewish State. If I were to say this today, I would be met with universal laughter. In five years,

perhaps, and certainly in fifty, everyone will see it. The State is already founded in essence, in the will of the people for the State."

The Diary of Thedor Herzl, 1897


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