Theodor Herzl is the father of Political Zionism. The following Jerusalem Post articles by Gol Kalev give a taste for Herzl’s continued relevancy to today’s issues:
Herzl is mentioned often in other Jerusalem Post articles by Gol Kalev:
In 1895, Vienna elected an openly antisemitic mayor. The emperor and prime minister decided to intervene, refusing to confirm Karl Lueger to office.
Most Jews celebrated the decision, but one Viennese Jew was not among them. Theodor Herzl, the father of political Zionism, wrote at the time, “Many Jews rejoice foolishly about not accepting Lueger as mayor. As if antisemitism equals Lueger. On the contrary, I believe that the movement against the Jews will only be strengthened.”
Lueger was a staunch antisemite. Herzl even considered challenging him to a dual.
And yet, Herzl recognized that applying a stance of zero tolerance to antisemitism would have a price. He arranged a meeting with then-prime minister Count Kasimir Badeni, where he warned, “If you deny him, you will be responsible for the whole of Jew hatred.”
After winning repeatedly, Lueger was eventually confirmed. In the interim, hate against Jews mushroomed. Herzl carefully observed how Europe was changing in the 1890s and applied it to understanding shifts in sources and motives of Jew hatred.
The recent Austrian election beckons us to remember Herzl as we assess the contemporary threats emanating from Europe.
An Austrian journalist reporting from Paris in 1892 wrote: “Till recently antisemitism in France has been something comfortable and polite, one can even say pleasant.” That Jewish journalist, Theodore Herzl, sought to penetrate Parisian social circles and was at minimum tolerant to the antisemite movement, maintaining contact with proud antisemites.
He later wrote in his diary: “In Paris, I adapted a more liberated attitude towards antisemitism, which I began to understand historically and to pardon.”
But just like with today’s socially-driven Israel-bashing, Herzl recognized that this polite and pleasant fashion could turn dangerous. He wrote: “Antisemitism is a meeting point of the unsatisfied, sort of a salon of the deprived.”
Indeed, history shows that when a society in Europe felt humiliated, the Jews were often the ones who paid the price.
In Herzl’s time, it was France’s humiliating defeat by Prussia in 1870 which eventually led to the Dreyfus Affair. Fifty years later, it was Germany’s humiliating defeat in World War I which eventually led to the Holocaust.
Today, some in Europe have been amassing built-up frustration. The shift of global political and economic leadership to the United States, the rise of Islam in Europe, the trench war against Islamist terrorism and the emerging debate over Europe’s character all have elevated such frustrations to alarming levels.
Once again, it seems that some in Europe are choosing to address their misfortunes by entering that same “salon of the deprived” and directing their frustration at Israel.
In the last go-around, internalizing the immediacy of the danger, Herzl took action and founded political Zionism, which eventually resulted in the establishment of the State of Israel. Unfortunately that process took a few years too long, and much of European Jewry was eradicated.
Today, it is not too late to stop the madness of the Israel-bashing movement or its attempt to eradicate the Jewish state.
Bar-Ner points to the timing of the escalation of European hostility to Israel in the 1990s – decades after the 1948 War of Independence and the 1967 war that resulted in Israel taking control of the West Bank.
Bar-Ner’s views hark back to a similar argument made in the 19th century by Theodor Herzl, the founder of political Zionism. He claimed that competition is key in Europe’s aversion towards Jews.
The ample Jewish wealth and “excessive intelligence” that followed the emancipation intensified European competition against the Jews. Herzl argued that such circumstances will not go away.
Are the same European dynamics that were directed toward individual Jews in the past now directed to the collective of Jews?
Two decades prior to the declaration, in 1898, the German Kaiser became an advocate of the same idea.
After meeting Zionist leader Theodor Herzl, he agreed to ask the Turkish Sultan to grant the Jews a chartered company in Palestine under German protection.
The Sultan declined and Herzl had to resort to other avenues. He discussed with the British government the possibility of giving Jews territory right outside of Palestine, in the Sinai desert. When that was deemed unfeasible, the British offered territory in East Africa.
Herzl then hired a local British lawyer in 1903 to draft a proposal that became known as the Uganda Scheme. That lawyer was a rising politician named David Lloyd George.
Allenby rode his horse eastward on Jaffa Road to the cheers of the city’s residents.
Just 20 years prior, someone else was riding the exact same road, in the same direction, to similar cheers. That was Allenby’s arch-rival: German Kaiser Wilhelm II.
Back then, in October 1878, when the kaiser passed through the Jewish gate (today’s Davidka Square), an Austrian Jewish journalist observed the procession from a distance, from the nearby Kaminitz Hotel. Theodor Herzl, the founder of political Zionism, came to Jerusalem hoping to meet the kaiser, who was to lobby the sultan to grant the Jews a chartered company in Palestine under German protection.
The kaiser then proceeded to the Old City and entered it through a breach in the Holy City walls that was carved in his honor. The breach, right near Jaffa Gate, was large enough to allow the kaiser to enter by carriage.
A few days after the kaiser entered by carriage, Herzl entered by foot; 20 years later, Gen. Allenby decided to do the same.
….Indeed, Herzl’s work came to fruition not by the German kaiser breaking through the walls in arrogance, but by Allenby, 20 years later, walking into Jerusalem in reverence.
…..100 years since entering Jerusalem, it might be time for Europeans to finally go back home to Europe. Then, they can return as civilians, walk through the gates of Jerusalem, and like Allenby and Herzl, unveil their eyes and see its wonders.
This international presence helps turn Sha’arei Hessed into an icon ofevolving Zionism, not just in terms of contribution and employment, but also in terms of Zionism’s very core: Israel being the homeland of the Jewish people.
Over the past few years, many wealthy haredi families in the US, Latin America and Europe have purchased a vacation home in the neighborhood.
Consistent with Theodor Herzl’s vision of the promised land in which everyone would carry in himself a piece of it in his own way, “this one in his head, that one in hands, the third in his savings,” the neighborhood serves as beachhead of importing Jewish intellect and wealth into the Jewish state.
Each visit brings capital that fuels Jerusalem’s economy and keeps restaurants and shops in business.
Moreover, it imports expertise and know-how to Israel and allows Israelis to establish valuable international business connections.
This will inevitably affect the capital – and the big question is how.
Around the world, it has been common to belittle the effect of a new railway line or other fast connections between two cities. Historians point to the great underestimation of the revolutionary nature of the first trains when they arrived in the mid-19th century.
One late-19th-century commentator reflected that “in the earliest period of European railway construction, some practical people were of the opinion that it was foolish to build certain lines because there were not even sufficient passengers to fill the mail-coaches.” That commentator was Theodor Herzl.
Herzl himself took a four-and-a-half-hour train ride from Jaffa to Jerusalem in 1898, which he described as pure torture, “sitting in a cramped, crowded, burning- hot compartment.” As a result of the rough ride, he developed a high fever on the train. The Friday train was also delayed an hour in leaving Jaffa and therefore arrived after the start of Shabbat, forcing the sick Herzl to limp his way from the station to his hotel.
Now, 120 years later, this torturous ride will be replaced by a journey of less than half an hour on a state-of-the-art high-speed train. But what will that mean for Jerusalem?
……This would radically expand the accessibility range to Jerusalem. Suddenly over 60 percent of the country’s population would be within less than an hour’s travel of Jerusalem. As Herzl wrote, “Travelers do not produce railways, but conversely, railways produce travelers.”
…..When faced with deciding in which of the two cities he should spend the majority of his visit to the Holy Land, Herzl opted for Jerusalem. Six of the only 10 days he ever spent in his ancestral homeland were in Jerusalem. Since he was waiting to be summoned for a much-desired audience with German Kaiser Wilhelm II, who was on a royal visit to Jerusalem, the commute to Jaffa would have been impractical. Like many of today’s government employees who execute the vision Herzl crafted, Herzl’s own decision was driven by practicality: The length and uncertainty of the four-and-a-half-hour commute left him little choice.
But a mere 20 years later, Zionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky did have a choice – and, riding on the same railway tracks that Herzl had ridden before him, he opted to move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
……On the western end, the city named after Herzl’s utopia is one of the world’s premier bastions of creativity, innovation and ingenuity. On the eastern end, the city that served as a prime inspiration for this utopia is one of the world’s premier centers for spirituality, intellect, culture and diversity, an exporter of Torah of all kinds.
Whatever selection each individual makes, it is a choice between two superb alternatives of which the founding fathers could only dream.