Modern History Sourcebook:
On the Jewish State, 1896
There were Jew leaders who called for the return of the Jews
to Palestine for decades before Theodor Herzl (1860 1904)
wrote his influential pamphlet, The Jewish State. But Herzl's
work pushed the formation of a political movement to establish
a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The first Zionist Congress, convened
by Herzl, was held in Basel, Switzerland, in 1897. Herzl was
less attached to Palestine than some other "Zionists",
and considered at one stage the creation of a Jewish state in
what is now Uganda.
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 fellowcitizens; in vain do we strive to increase the
fame of our native land in science and art, or her wealth by trade
and commerce. 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. I do not here
surrender any portion of our prescriptive right, when I make this
statement merely in my own name as an individual. In the world
as it now is and for an indefinite period will probably remain,
might precedes right. It is useless, therefore, for us to be loyal
patriots, as were the Huguenotsl who were forced to emigrate.
If we could only be left in peace....
. . .
[However,] 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....
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 extemal enemies consolidate it. It will not be destroyed;
this is shown during two thousand years of appalling suffering.
It must not be destroyed .... Whole branches of Judaism may wither
and fall, but the trunk will remain.
. . .
The Jewish Question
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!"
Attacks in Parliaments, in assemblies, in the press, in the pulpit,
in the street, on journeys-for example, their exclusion from certain
hotels-even in places of recreation, become daily more numerous.
The forms of persecutions varying according to the countries and
social circles in which they occur....
. . .
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
The Society of Jews will do the preparatory work in the domains
of science and politics, which the Jewish Company will afterwards
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.
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 and obloquy.
Theodor Herzl, The Jewish State, An Attempt at a Modern Solution
of the Jewish Question, ed. Jacob M. Alkow (New York: American
Zionist Emergency Council, 1946), pp. 69, 7677, 7980,
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(c)Paul Halsall Aug 1997