Page:A Jewish State 1917.djvu/8
EDITOR'S PREFACE TO THE
EDITION OF 1904
Though proportionately heretofore but little read or studied, the pages that follow this introduction will eventually occupy a noteworthy place in Jewish and universal history. Whilst the author, Dr. Theodor Herzl, was, confessedly, not moved by the novelty of the Jewish State idea, yet he was in the main unconscious in the winter of 1895 of the parentage of his thoughts; for those who had labored before him, excepting George Eliot, were comparatively obscure, and their words had only found acceptance amongst eclectic bands of enthusiasts in Eastern Europe. It is, however, curious that though argumentative, polemical or enthusiastic, none of the forerunners of the Jewish State were, in the real sense, visionaries; and this brochure is only grandiose in the simplicity of its presentation of an idea, and historic by what its publication has already achieved. Though the Jewish State idea may be Utopian, which its advocates deny, its author sketched no Utopia, and offers no picture of an ideal human future—it was sufficient for him to point out how the wounds of Israel might be healed and to remove the chafing which the conjunction of Jew and anti-Semite brings about. He offered a temporal and not a spiritual salvation to a suffering people, though those who regard him as thereby doing an allotted task towards a destiny divinely decreed, are not without reasonable justification for their opinion.
The Jewish position became so critical in 1890 that Baron de Hirsch thought out his Argentine plans, and began founding his colonies, in the pampas grass districts of the Spanish-American Republic, in order to aid the Jews to remove themselves from persecuted countries.
The rise of Ahlwardt in Germany, the break-up of the Liberal party in Austria, and the particular success of the anti-Semitic factions in Vienna, the trial and sentence of Dreyfus in Paris, and the immediate of the position of the Jews in France which followed, and for which Drumont had labored partially, the failure of the Argentine experiments—these facts, and others of lesser and greater degree will mark out the first half of the last decade of the nineteenth century as black years in