A Jewish State (1917 translation)/Front Matter

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search










The demand for a new and cheaper edition of The Jewish State at this time is significant of the growing interest in the ideas first published by Theodor Herzl, in April, 1896. Since the outbreak of the War, in August, 1914, much has happened in the greater world of affairs and within the confines of Jewish life to justify the belief that in writing The Jewish State and organizing the Zionist Movement, Theodor Herzl made a distinct contribution to the political idealism of the Nineteenth Century.

After mature consideration, it seems advisable to allow the preface of 1904 to stand, for it checks up the accomplishments toward the realization of The Jewish State from its publication in 1896 to February, 1904. Much has happened since which would demand more than a prefatory note to describe. Suffice, then, to say that all that which had to be done to refurbish what was accomplished up to 1904 has been done between 1914 and 1917. The Zionist ground had been more than recovered, and it is safe to suggest that the hopes for the restoration of Israel to Palestine, which at this time is one of the commonplaces of public discussion, will, in all probability, be achieved in form as well as in substance along the lines foreshadowed by Theodor Herzl.

 June 1, 1917.



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 loweriug 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 Jewish history. It was seeing and hearing these things, as an observer rather than as a participant, that Theodor Herzl came to the Jewish people with an old thought, "We are a people—one people," and an old corollary, "The restoration of the Jewish State"; unaware that, except in a vague way, there was at least fifteen years of active work, and some propaganda behind him. Fearful, perhaps, of being regarded as a visionary, he vaguely designated the land of the future Jewish State simply as "over there." And "over there" it would undoubtedly have remained had not the "Jewish State" responded to a thought, definite and concise, long pent up in Jewish bosoms. "Over there" must be Palestine. Herzl, as a cool thinker, argued that the propelling force needed to create a Jewish State exists in the misery of the Jews. The volume of that misery is unmistakable; but his book was taken up by and his following was created out of an element who, though in close touch with misery, often the actual sufferers, found within themselves a still greater motive power to national restoration than misery: to wit, love, faith and hope, a bundle of emotions wrapped in the praying shawl of the Jew; and these, when spread out, make up a flag which can only float in the breezes of Zion.

This "Jewish State," therefore, went through such violent natal sufferings as only great ideas suffer. The very fact that on this vision of a Jewish State, other visionaries wrote yet a more cloudy word: Palestine, was sufficient to condemn it in the eyes of most Western Jews. They had from the beginning of the century, in the endeavor to reconcile old Judaism with modern life, passed through several phases, sometimes concurrently, sometimes separated and distinct from each other,—spirituality, assimilation and science (Judaism is again being reduced to knowledge) in all of which the Palestinian and the one people theories were absent, obliterated and often forgotten. The Jews had become a religious community, and Judaism a religion with an extensive ritual. As a Western Jew, Herzl was a freak; his book, except as the dream of an idle moment—intolerable, and as a political suggestion, unthinkable and absurd. A popular verdict was that it was an "egregious blunder," notwithstanding which, the masses being brought into touch with the author, listened and approved. For the first time in modern history the Jewish masses—it was the first opportunity given them—began to move of their own accord. And the author of a political plan became, in a day and a night, the leader of a Jewish party, which decided to use modern methods to attain their goal—Palestine. Rabbis might proclaim every city as Zion; the rich might frown and refuse support—the modern Zionist movement "leapt full bodied into being," and asserted its existence six months after the author had spoken face to face with the "poor and lowly," who offered him at once their loyalty and their enthusiasm, and who, linking his profession as writer to his doctrine as Jew, regarded him as a new Ezra.

Dr. David Kaufmann, in his notable criticism of "Daniel Deronda" in 1879, observed: "Feelings and sentiments which are worthy to be cherished and preserved in the nation's soul against all the influences of time are wont to concentrate themselves in great personalities, and to impart to them a power of attraction before which moderation and half-heartedness fly like leaves before the storm. The history of Israel presents a number of such figures. Ezra and Nehemiah succeed to the Prophets of the Captivity; John of Giskala stands beside Judas Maccabaeus; Akiba ben Joseph defends the Star-Son of Bethar, and even through the darkness of the middle ages the fiery pillar of Jehudah ben Levi gleams forth. Shall we some day be able to say—'and so on?'" The Jewish masses, whose greatness is that they have miraculously conserved an ideal, answered this question by acclaiming Theodor Herzl as leader of the Jewish national movement.

And from the moment he was so acclaimed, the Jewish State had ceased to be a paper plan; indeed, the brochure had no circulation commensurate with its effect—but it had made a page of Jewish history. Between the printed word and its objective are eight remarkable years of history; the story of the reuniting of the elements of the Diaspora; the creation of a Jewish public opinion; the organization of unwieldy and widely separated masses, largely ignorant of the methods of modern political life; political negotiations, and finally political recognition by the Great Powers of the loyalty, utility and representative character of the movement—it is the story of another Exodus with Israel still in the wilderness.

Those who read the "Jewish State" on its first appearance, either rejected its teachings, or accepted them with the eye of hope. Those who will now read it for the first time will probably be guided by the answer that is given to the question, "What has been accomplished in the direction of a 'Jewish State' since this book—for which a niche in history is claimed—first appeared?" And it is because of that question that this preface has been written. A brief chronological table will supply the outline of the answer.

1896, April—Publication of English edition of "Jewish State."
1896, June—Dr. Herzl visits Constantinople; on return journey received at Sofia a deputation of Bulgarian Jews.
1896, July—Dr. Herzl addresses East London mass meeting.
1897, January—Founding of Zionist organ, "Die Welt."
1897, February—Proposal to call Congress in Munich; rabbis protest.
1897, March—Zionist Congress convened at Basle.
1897, August—First Zionist Congress held, at which the national platform was adopted:
"The aim of Zionism is to create for the Jewish people a publicly legally assured home in Palestine.
"In order to attain this the Congress adopts the following means:
(1) To promote the settlement in Palestine of Jewish agriculturists, handicraftsmen, industrialists and those following professions.
(2) The centralization of the entire Jewish people by means of general institutions, agreeably to the laws of the land.
(3) To strengthen Jewish sentiments and national self-consciousness.
(4) To obtain the sanction of governments to the carrying out of the objects of Zionism."
1898, August—Second Zionist Congress held, at which it was resolved to found Zionist bank.
1898, November—Dr. Herzl and Zionist deputation received by the German Emperor at Jerusalem.
1899, August—Third Zionist Congress held.
1900, August—Fourth Zionist Congress held in London, and stability of Jewish Colonial Trust as a banking concern assured.
1901, May—Dr. Herzl repeatedly received in audience by the Sultan of Turkey.
1901, December—Fifth Zionist Congress held; scheme of organization remodelled, and Jewish National Fund founded.
1902, January—Dr. Herzl again received in audience by Sultan of Turkey.
1902, August—Dr. Herzl appears as witness before British Royal Commission on Alien Immigration.
1902, August—Dr. Herzl again received in audience by Sultan of Turkey.
1903, January—British Government offer, and expedition is sent to El Arisch, on the Egyptian border of Palestine.
1903, July—Dr. Herzl received by M. von Plehve and M. de Witte on behalf of the Russian Government.
1903, August—Sixth Zionist Congress held, and offer from the British Government to permit Jewish national settlement in British East Africa.
1904, February—Dr. Herzl received in audience by the King of Italy and the Pope.

Even in the bald form of a chronological table, it is evident that the record of those who hearkened to the "Jewish State" idea is a notable one, sufficient to claim the sympathy and support of every Jew and Jewess. The book was moulded into the platform of 1897, in the framing of which more than one cautious brain had a share; and in turn the question arises in how far has this program become living fact. A comparison of these facts and the author's idea will show that, in as far as he shaped the movement, he was most tenacious of his ideas. The work has proceeded much on the lines he suggested, this perhaps by reason of their simplicity—for much that has made the Zionist movement grew up and around him. Those who joined Theodor Herzl in the effort to realize his plan brought with them the instincts, hopes and desires of the Jewish people, thoughts and ideals red with the blood that gave them, birth, truer and more significant of that which is eternal in each people than all that the study and the school room can suggest. A stupendous work awaited those who proclaimed Palestine, as the third part of the thought, one people—national Jewish restoration. Only the most rudimentary scheme of organization was established in 1897, yet it called forth so much enthusiasm that it has been twice revised in accordance with the growing needs of a movement that actually circles the globe, an organization which is at once centripetal and centrifugal, and yet has in each country to correspond with the social customs of the people and keep within the laws that restrict international and even national organization in Eastern Europe. Here alone is a task for a generation, and room for the brains of the most able organizers. Yet all the rough work has been done, and the second clause of the program has been fulfilled at comparatively no expense.

The self-volition of the movement checked the assimilative thought and revived the Jewish brotherhood idea; the "bent back" of the Jew grew straight in the presence of the Jewish flag; a new poetry and a new prosody, deep with the feelings that stir a people, have arisen; a school of young artists have given themselves over to the creation of a Jewish art; others have planned an international Jewish university; a cultural movement—combated for the time being by the more orthodox—has spread so strongly as sometimes to shake the main movement from its true centre; the Hebrew tongue has found need and occasion to blossom into a living language; and with the national, intellectual renaissance—which sweeps within itself the revival of conservative Jewish thought, which is the present phase of American Jewish life—has come a desire for the development of the physical powers of the Jews, so that Jewish gymnasiums and Jewish gymnastic journals exist to the surprise of all those who know the Jew only as a brainy creature. The thousand facets of a national movement have sent rays of light, of hope, and of a new sense of security into the lives of an erstwhile broken and dispirited people. In eight short years helpless masses have been so well taught how human effort can accomplish great things that they have rejected the possibilities of immediate aid in favor of the task of striving for independent life. A distracted and divided people have been so well instructed in the thought that the unity of Israel is greater than all the differing religious, social, economic and political views of the individuals who make up a nation, that the Rabbis of Eastern Europe have entered in full force into the vanguard of the movement. The third clause of the program has been literally fulfilled, though much remains to be done.

Palestine has not been repeopled; the settlement of colonists has been checked rather than assisted, because the condition of settlement is governed by the preamble of the platform. Nevertheless, a new spirit has manifested itself in Palestine, as well in the minds of those who have dealt with the practical administration of the colonies, and a Zionist bank has been started in Jaffa, which is already giving an impetus to Palestinian trade. That which interests the majority who would like to weld all the details into broad achievement is contained in the fourth paragraph. "The sanction of the governments" has been gradually obtained. The German Emperor was the first to express his "benevolent attitude"; French and English ministers have listened with sympathy; the King of Italy has approved; the Pope has discussed; the Sultan of Turkey has repeatedly sent for Dr. Herzl. The negotiations were inconclusive, but since the last known phase of the Constantinople pourparlers the British and Russian governments publicly recognized Zionism; and the latter offered to assist in the Palestinian negotiations when resumed. From paper plan to this stage is a remarkable achievement in eight years, and the strongest opponent of the cause, the London Jewish Chronicle, affirmed in September, 1903, that in its opinion "the creation of a Jewish State in Palestine is now the settled policy of European statesmen, who are dealing with the near Eastern question."

Far be it from one who has abiding faith in the Jewish democracy to ascribe all these things to one man and one book. The living element in a people has forced an old thought upon a new world; and such an element, ever young in its hopes and effort, will continue to force it upon the consciousness of an ever new world, until one generation shall witness the triumph of this idea. Theodor Herzl revived and reorganized the Jewish people. This is his achievement and the message of his book. It caught its echoes from the ages that preceded its writing, and it will ring on into new born days in an ever-accumulating volume of sound; the message is—the union of Israel and Zion.

 * * * * 

Since the foregoing was written, Theodor Herzl, man and leader, has passed away, and this publication of his first Zionist writing becomes a tribute to his memory. His death has proved his life's work — he built beyond himself — and his demise is but a consecration and a sanctification of Zionism. The manner of the man, the life he led, all this is written elsewhere. In these pages will be found, as it were, his testament, his thought modified by the conditions of its nationalization, and, it is the thought, the hope, the regenerative idea, which is Theodor Herzl's bequest to Israel.


New York, Tammuz 25, 5664.


The idea which I have developed in this pamphlet is a very old one: the restoration of the Jewish State.

The earth resounds with outcries against the Jews, and these outcries have awakened the slumbering idea.

I wish it to be clearly understood from the outset that no portion of my argument is based on a new discovery. I have discovered neither the historic condition of the Jews nor the means to improve it. In fact, every man will see for himself that the materials of the structure I am designing are not only in existence, but actually ready to hand. If, therefore, this attempt to solve the Jewish Question is to be designated by a single word, let it be called a "combination," certainly not a "phantasy."

I must, in the first place, guard my scheme from being treated as Utopian by superficial critics who might commit this error of judgment if I did not warn them. I should obviously have done nothing to be ashamed of, if I had described a Utopia on philanthropic lines; and I should also, in all probability, have obtained literary success more easily if I had set forth my plan in the irresponsible guise of a romantic tale.[1] But this Utopia is far less attractive than any one of those portrayed by Sir Thomas More and his numerous forerunners and successors. And I believe that the situation of the Jews in many countries is grave enough to make preliminary trifling superfluous.

An interesting book—"Freiland," by Dr. Theodor Hertzka—which appeared a few years ago, may serve to mark the distinction I draw between my conception and a Utopian one. His is the ingenious invention of a modern mind thoroughly schooled in the principles of political economy, and is as remote from actuality as the Equatorial mountain on which his dream State lies. "Freiland" is a complicated piece of mechanism with numerous cogged wheels catching into each other; but there is nothing to prove that they can be set in motion. Even supposing "Freiland societies" were to come into existence, I should look on the whole thing as a joke.

The scheme in question, on the other hand, includes the employment of an existent propelling force. In consideration of my own inadequacy, I shall content myself with indicating the cogs and wheels of the machine to be constructed, and shall rely on more skilled mechanics than myself to put them together.

Everything depends on our propelling force. And what is our propelling force? The misery of the Jews.

Who would venture to deny its existence? We shall discuss it fully in the chapter on the causes of Anti-Semitism.

Everybody is familiar with the phenomenon of steam-power, generated by boiling water, lifting the kettle-lid. Such tea-kettle phenomenon 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 despatch 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 self-respect and the joy of freedom of soul.

I shall not be lavish in artistically elaborated descriptions of my project, for fear of incurring the suspicion of painting a Utopia. I anticipate, in any case, that thoughtless scoffers will caricature my sketch and thus try to weaken its effect. A Jew, intelligent in other respects, to whom I explained my plan, was of opinion that "a Utopia was a project whose future details were represented as already extant." This is a fallacy. Every Chancellor of the Exchequer calculates in his estimate with suppositious figures, and not only with such as are based on the average returns of past years, or on previous revenues in other States, but sometimes with figures for which there is no precedent whatever; as, for example, in instituting a new tax. Everybody who studies a Budget knows that this is the case. But even if it were known that the estimate would not be rigidly adhered to, would the new system of administration be therefore considered Utopian?

But I am forming greater expectations of my readers. I ask the cultivated men whom I am addressing to set many preconceived ideas entirely aside. I shall even go so far as to ask those Jews who have most earnestly tried to solve the Jewish Question, to look upon their previous attempts as mistaken and futile.

I must guard against a danger in setting forth my idea. If I describe future circumstances with too much caution, I shall appear to doubt of their possibility. If, on the other hand, I announce their realization with too much assurance, I shall appear to be describing a chimera.

I will 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 co-operation, it would appear perfectly rational, and its accomplishment would present no insurmountable difficulties. The idea depends only on the number of its supporters. Perhaps those 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 becomes 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.

Now it depends on the Jews to make of this either a political pamphlet or 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 wish for a State—they shall have it, and they shall earn it for themselves.

  1. He subsequently did so in "Altneuland."