The Ancient Scriptures and the Modern Jew/Chapter 15
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ZIONISM AND THE ZIONIST CONGRESS
[Since writing the following analysis of Zionism in Basle in August, 1899, the fourth Congress, at which I was also present, was held this year in London. I prefer, however, to give my notes of the third Congress (which I have corrected where necessary and brought up to date) because on the whole it gives a better insight into the aims and spirit of the movement than the proceedings in London. It was written in the form of a journal for The Scattered Nation, but it will be found not the less interesting on that account.]
ZIONISM AND THE ZIONIST CONGRESS
The Zionist Movement
BASLE, August i$th.
THIS is the first day of the great public meetings of the Zionist Congress.
We began the day by a united prayer-meeting in my room in the Hotel Victoria, at 8.30, at which eight Hebrew Christian brethren were present.
It was good for us, as those who anticipate our nation in allegiance to Zion's true King, in whom we have found life and salvation, to meet at the thrbne of grace to plead for our people, and especially for the delegates and leaders in this Zionist movement ; and that the day may be hastened when all Israel shall understand that wonderful inscription which was written on the Cross : " Jesus Nazarenus Rex Judaeorum."
9.45 a.m. I am now in my place at the journalists' table, in the body of the Congress Hall, among the delegates. What a splendidly convenient building is this Stadt Casino, popularly known as the "Jewish House of Commons."
This large hall would seat about 2,000 people, and there are quite a number of other smaller halls and rooms in the building besides.
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In the body of the hall only delegates and journalists are admitted, the former all wearing the Zionist badge a large gold or gilt pin in the shape of a Magen David (traditional shape of the shield of David) with a blue silk rosette for background.
The legend on the pin is the same as on the Zionist medal, designed by the renowned Jewish sculptor Beer. It is that of a poor wandering family, father, mother, with a babe at the breast, and two other children besides, the eldest of whom, a boy, has already a wanderer's staff in his hand.
This group is meant to represent the whole " tribe of the wandering foot and weary breast." To them, in their hopelessness and dejection, an angel appears, in the shape of a graceful female figure, representing Zionism, or "the National Idea," who lays her right hand on the shoulder of the dejected man, and with her left points eastward, where the sun of hope may be seen rising on their ancient fatherland, on the other side of the Mediterranean Sea. On the other side of this medal are words in Hebrew taken from Ezek. xxxvii., " Behold I will take the children of Israel from the midst of the nations and will bring them to their own land."
It is the appointed hour, 10 a.m., and the Congress is not yet opened. But look around at this indescribable scene of life and animation. There are, I should sup- pose, about 250 delegates, and they are all on their feet, divided into groups of twos and threes, noisily arguing and discussing with one another in almost all languages under heaven with an energy which is truly remarkable.
Most of the delegates seem young or middle-aged men, only a few grey or white heads being visible in
the company, and one is struck with the readiness, ability, and purposefulness which are written on most of the faces. A large proportion of them, as we see from looking over the list of names, are doctors of medicine or law, several professors, and a number of editors and literary men. There are also several lady delegates.
Another feature which I note is the great variety of types which is represented here, from the Russian and Polish Rabbis in their long kaftans and peyoth, who are beginning to take their places at the back of the plat- form, to the most polished English gentleman, and men known in the fashionable saloons of Paris and Vienna. In fact, it is like the whole Diaspora in miniature.
Next to me there sit several delegates from the Trans- vaal, while at several tables, a little to the left, is a targe delegation from America and Canada.
But already, from the predominance of the Russian language in a large part of the hall, one is made aware that probably one-third of the whole number of the delegates are from Russia ; and no wonder, for nowhere in the world is the Jewish Question more pressing than in this great country of the North, where there are between four and five million Jews in a more or less chronic state of wretchedness.
It is twenty minutes past the time ; still the formal proceedings of the Congress are not opened, the reason, I am told, being that some of the leaders are still engaged in committee-rooms, discussing programmes and resolutions, which are to be presented for the consideration of the Congress.
Meanwhile we might look round again on this extra- ordinary scene and ask by what right does this " Jewish Parliament " meet ?
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What proportion of the Jewish nation does it actually represent ?
And what is its aim and object?
Answers to these questions are found in the "Or- ganisations-Statut " and other official documents of the Congress. At the first two Congresses the representa- tive character of some of the delegates was somewhat questionable.
Any "Verein," or Association of Jews, professing adherence to the programme formulated at the first Basle Congress in 1897, could send a delegate.
But some of these " vereine " may perhaps have con- sisted of only ten or a dozen Jews, and it was therefore necessary, in order to test the real strength and progress of Zionism, to formulate the " Organisations-Statut," which now lies before me, and from which I translate the following items :
(1) The Zionist Organisation embraces those Jews who approve of the programme of the Zionist Con- gress, and are annual subscribers of the shekel to its funds.
(2) The chief organ of the Zionist organisation is the Congress, which is constituted of the delegates elected by constituencies of the required number of electors.
(3) The Executive Council of the Congress is the " Aktions-Comite," which has its chief seat in Vienna, with Dr. Theodore Herzl as President.
For election purposes the Zionistic Organisation is divided into " countries," " districts," and " associations," and each hundred shekel-paying members have a right to elect a delegate. There is no doubt that masses of Jews all over the world sympathise with this Zionist movement who are not yet formally enrolled members or shekel -payers, but I am informed that the delegates
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already in Basle this time represent 2,200 x mandates, of as many different constituencies. The minimum of the shekel is is. in England, 25 cents in America, and the equivalent sum in other countries. Some of the more popular Zionist leaders represent quite a number of different constituencies, but their vote only counts as one. So much for the actual representative character of the Congress.
As to the aim and objects of Zionism, these have been formulated at the first Congress.
" Zionism strives to procure for the Jewish people an openly recognised and legally assured home (offentlich- rechtlich gesicherten Heimatstatte) in Palestine.
With a view to the realisation of this object, one of the means Congress contemplates using is the cen- tralisation of the entire Jewish people, by means of a general institution agreeable to the laws of the lands in which they are now dispersed, and to strengthen in them patriotic sentiments and a Jewish national self- consciousness."
There is much from the Christian standpoint to criticise and to lament in the fact that the means proposed for the accomplishment of this great end are entirely material and political ; and that, so far, there is an utter forgetfulness of the cause of the long break in Jewish national history, and an ignoring of the words of their own prophets, that though He has doubtless used the nations to carry out His will, it was, all the same, God who scattered Israel on account of sin (Jer. xxxi. 10 ; Amos ix. 9), and therefore, though He may again use means to gather them, without God, and without repentance, they will never be restored in blessing ; nevertheless, even to the Christian, Zionism
1 At the fourth Congress in London in August, 1900, there were about 400 delegates present.
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is a movement which must be followed with the deepest interest, for what we are now beginning to see is nothing less than, to use the title of Professor Heman's book on the subject "Das Erwachen der Jiidischen Nation" " The Awakening of the Jewish Nation," after a sleep of nineteen centuries. A national awakening which, in spite of the dark but short night of trouble which still lies ahead, I greet as preparatory to the great spiritual awakening of Israel, the issues of which to the world will be as "life from the dead."
It is from this point of view that this Jewish Parlia- ment is nothing short of a miracle, which, unknown as yet to the great actors, is brought about by the power of God. Here is a people which for two thousand years has been supposed to be dead, and whom the nations have done their utmost to bury out of sight, who have even said to themselves, " Our bones are dried and our hope is lost ; we are cut off from our parts " (Ezek. xxxvii. 1 1), beginning to live and move and to have a corporate being.
What is this but the forming again of a living national body out of the " very dry dead bones, which for cen- turies were strewn over ' the open valley ' of Ezekiel's vision, preparatory to the time when the blessed Breath will come from the four winds, and breathe upon these slain, that spiritually, as well as nationally, they may live?"
10.30 a.m. A scene of great enthusiasm greeted Dr. Herzl a few minues ago, as he at last made his appear- ance, followed by Dr. Max Nordau, and other leaders of the movement. The whole assembly rise to their feet clapping, cheering vociferously, and waving handker- chiefs. These Zionists are evidently proud of their
ZIONISM AND THE ZIONIST CONGRESS 235
leader, who by his book " Der Juden Staat " may be said to have brought the whole movement into being.
He is a fine-looking man, with noble features and faultless bearing. "Just look at him," whispers one close by. " Does he not look like a king ? "
Dr. Herzl reads the opening address in German. His first word is one of thanks " an die schone, freie Stadt " Basle, which receives them so hospitably for now the third time.
" Basle, the Basle Congress, the Basle Programme these words," he says, " already sound familiarly every- where among our people, carrying with them comfort and hope." J
1 I append the first part of Dr. Herzl's opening speech at the fourth Congress in London in August, 1900 :
" Ladies and Gentlemen, I feel that there is no necessity for me to justify the holding of the Congress in London. England is one of the last remaining places on earth where there is freedom from Jew-hatred. This one fact will give you some idea as to the terrible state in which the Jewish nation finds itself. Through- out the wide world there is but one spot left in which God's ancient people is not detested and persecuted. But, from the fact that Jews in this glorious land enjoy full freedom and com- plete human rights, we must not allow ourselves to draw false conclusions.
" He would be a poor friend of the Jews in England, as well as of the Jews who reside in other countries, who should advise the persecuted to flee hither. Our brethren here would tremble in their joy, if their position meant the attraction to these shores of our desperate brethren in other lands. Such an immigration would mean disaster equally for the Jews here, as for those who would come here. For the latter, with their miserable bundles, would bring with them that from which they flee I mean anti- Semitism. Still, I doubt not that for the next few days we shall be allowed to set up the nomad-tent of our discussions, because we wish to enter into public debate upon the settlement of the Jewish Question.
"Between the intervals of Congress and Congress, our oppo- nents are industriously busy, endeavouring to cover our conten- tions and aims with a tissue of subtle misrepresentation, So that,
" For the third time," he continues, " we are here to discuss the grievances and the aspirations of our nation, which desires to be revivified. At the outset it might have seemed, perhaps it still seems so to some, that very little can be achieved by our coming here and making speeches speeches full of sighs. But those who are in doubt overlook the fact that in all representative bodies nothing is done except to make speeches. And who
at every gathering, our first business is to clear away, with a few sharp axe-strokes, the fungus that has attached itself to the tree of Zionism. Notwithstanding all, we are happy to note that our tree is sound, is healthy, and is flourishing. Zionism seeks to find for the Jewish people a public, legally secured home in Palestine. This programme we established three years ago for ever. It must have responded to a very deep need, a very ancient yearning of our people, otherwise there is to be found no reason- able explanation as to why it has effected what it has, and met with the reception that has been accorded to it. I need not specially detail those effects at this time of day. Everybody knows them, everybody sees them, and everybody hears them. Four years ago one might have felt hesitation to speak of a Jewish nation, fearing to appear ridiculous. To-day he makes himself ridiculous who denies the existence of the Jewish nation.
" One glance at this great hall, filled with delegates from all parts of the world, is sufficient, were there nothing else, to prove it. This fact means, not alone much for us, it also means some- thing for others. It not only opens up to every country a prospect of the settlement of the Jewish Question in a manner worthy of mankind, but it also contains at the same time the elements of a great perspective for the Orient.
" Our reappearance in the land of our fathers, prophesied by Holy Writ, sung by our poets, yearned for midst tears by our stricken nation, and jeered at by miserable scoffers that return is a matter of political moment to the Powers that have interests in Asia. Permit me to quote a few words of the opening speech of the second Congress. In the year 1898, when that second Congress was held at Basle, the following words were said :
" ' The land of Palestine is not only the home of the highest ideas and of the most unhappy nation, but it is also by reason of its geographical position, of immense importance to the whole of Europe. In time, and to my mind the time is not far distant, a
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will deny that speeches from such places exercise the strongest influence on the present and the future of the people ? Possessed of this knowledge, we have exerted ourselves to establish for ourselves a place from which our words will be heard this Jewish Tribune. As our people have no desire to return to the life of the past, but rather to awaken to the life of the present, it must before all possess a modern organ, in order to be able to give expression to the wish for existence. This tribune is therefore a precious possession, which we have acquired. Let us guard it effectually ! Through the earnestness and the tranquillity of our deliberations we can raise the authority of this tribune ever higher. Through indiscretion and disputes we should speedily destroy it. The tribune must be as elevated as the speeches that are delivered in it."
road of civilisation and commerce will lead to Asia. Asia is the diplomatic problem of the next decade.'
"These words of 1898 to-day sound banal, so amply have they been confirmed by the events of the last few months. The Asiatic problem grows from day to day more serious, and will, I fear, for some time be deeply tinged with blood.
" It is thus of increasing importance to the nations of civilisation that on the road to Asia the shortest road to Asia there should be set up a post of civilisation which would be at the service of civilised mankind. This post is Palestine and we are those who are ready with our blood and our substance to provide this post for civilisation. Any student of politics must perceive, quick as lightning, that here is presented a valuable opportunity for providing an easy approach to Asia. On this post of civilisation, which will be speedily set up by the powerless Jewish people, under the suzerainty of His Imperial Majesty the Sultan, no Power need look with apprehension. The Jews would be helped, others also, and at the same time ; but the greatest gainer of all would be the Turkish Empire. England, great England, free England, England commanding all the seas, will understand our aims. We may be certain that from here the Zionist idea will take its flight to higher and more distant regions."
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After referring, in passing, to the aims and objects of Zionism, he said :
"We must continue our work assiduously, even if there have been no outward visible signs of progress during the past year. Even if nothing had happened which denoted a strengthening of our movement, an increase in its importance and its means, even then we should have to go on working indefatigably. But the past year was not a bad one for our movement. It was a good one. We have accomplished something, we have gone one step forward.
" An important event which as usual was partly passed over in silence and partly made public in a distorted form was the reception of the Zionist deputation by the German Emperor in Jerusalem. The fact alone that the German Emperor had given his attention to our National Idea would have sufficed to give us confidence. Insignificant movements are not noticed in such high quarters."
Turning to the mass of Zionists who keep aloof from the Basle Congress, and who think they can accomplish their ends by a process of slow colonisation, he says :
" Some people wish to plant a population in the country without having beforehand made their entire plan public. If any one enters in the night and in the mist he must not wonder if he is met with the challenge, ' Halt ! who goes there ? ' All the worse is it for him if he cannot give a satisfactory and precise answer. More- over, his position is not such in which the answer will have no suspicious ring about it. We act differently. We declare our views in the open daylight, because, thank God, we have nothing to be afraid of, and we desire to obtain sanction before we undertake at all this most difficult of all experiments. For it is not a question
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only of getting people in, but also of their remaining, and remaining in security.
" What is to be the nature of our present endeavours ? We will say it in one word : a Charter ! Our exertions are directed towards obtaining a Charter from the Turkish Government : a Charter under the sovereignty of his Majesty the Sultan. Not until we are in posses- sion of this Charter, which must embody the necessary public legal guarantees, can we commence a great practical colonisation. In return for the grant of this Charter we shall afford the Turkish Government great advantages. These transactions can, however, not emanate from Congresses which do not possess the necessary legal qualifications for such a purpose. For the purpose of these arrangements a special partnership must be created. This is the Jewish Colonial Bank. If any one should still put the question whether the Zionist movement is to be regarded as a serious factor, the hun- dred thousand subscribers x to the Jewish Colonial Bank have supplied the answer. The reply has come from Siberia, from the borders of China, and from the southernmost part of Argentina, from Canada, and the Transvaal. To-day the Colonial Bank exists."
The last words of Dr. Herzl's opening address are pathetic.
"Our appeal for support," he says, " goes forth to the upright of all creeds and nations, but we require no other external help than moral aid. ... A people is contending here for its existence, its honour, and its freedom. It desires to emerge from darkness into sun- shine. The present situation of the Jews tends towards three directions. The first is apathetic submission to insult and misery. The other is a revolt against a
1 There are now about 300,000 subscribers to the "Jewish Colonial Bank."
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stepmotherly society. Ours is the third way : To soar upwards, to a higher degree of civilisation, to promote the general welfare, to prepare new paths for intercourse among the nations, and to seek an awakening for social justice. And just as our beloved poet gave forth songs out of his woes, so dp we prepare out of our sufferings progress for mankind whom we serve."
Dr. Herzl's address is received with great acclamation, and after the nomination 'lists for the election of Presi- dent, Vice-Presidents, Assessors, and Secretaries for this third Congress are submitted to the delegates by Herr York Steiner, there is another scene of wild enthusiasm as the great orator of the Zionist movement, Dr. Max Nordau, ascends the tribune to speak on " The general condition of the Jews." To me it is a sign of the times in itself to behold this world-famed author of such terrible books as " Die Conventionellen Liigen der Cul- turmenschheit " and " Paradoxe," who did so much to destroy the faith of Jew and Christian, with a view to remove what was thought to be the only cause of separa- tion and estrangement between the two, now standing in this tribune, and with fiery eloquence, preaching the doctrine of Jewish nationalism and separation, and pro- claiming the fact in the face of the whole world, that the only solution of the ever more perplexing Jewish Question is that of a great exodus. But in this respect Dr. Nordau (like some of the other leaders) represents, in his own person, one of the most significant facts in connection with this Zionist movement, and this is the confession that it is impossible for the Jews to amal- gamate with the nations, even if they would.
This, indeed, was the pathetic cry of the founder of the movement in his original manifesto.
" We have honestly striven everywhere," he says, " to merge ourselves in the social life of surrounding com-
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munities, and to preserve only the faith of our fathers. It has not been permitted to us. In vain are we loyal patriots, in some places our loyalty running to extremes ; in vain do we make the same sacrifices of life and pro- perty as our fellow-citizens ; 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 made experience of suffering.
" We are one people our enemies have made us one in our despite, as repeatedly happens in history. Dis- tress binds us together, and thus united, we suddenly discover our strength. Yes, we are strong enough to form a State, and a model State."
But it is a greater power than " our enemies " who is keeping Israel distinct " in their own despite," and who, all through the ages, has continued to stir up the Jewish nest, whenever they have wanted to assimilate with the nations. It is the power of God, who swore, that " as long as sun and moon endure, Israel would abide a nation before Him for ever" of the irresistible Ruler among the nations, who has warned them long in advance that " that which cometh into your mind shall not be at all, that ye say we will be as the nations, as the families of the countries. ... As I live, saith the Lord God, surely with a mighty hand, and with a stretched-out arm, and with fury poured out, will I rule over you ; and I will bring you out from the people, and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with a stretched-out arm, and with fury poured out."
But it is hard to recognise the famous agnostic in the Zionist orator. Is it because the very association with
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Zionism has drawn him and some of the other leaders back to a measure of faith in the God of their fathers, whose hand is so clearly to be discerned in the history of their nation ?
Or is it, as Professor Heman suggests, that the agnos- ticism and " Freigeist " of these cultured modern Jews is a mere outward garment, put on so as to be in fashion with the unbelieving Gentile world around them, but in reality covering hearts full of religious dissatisfac- tion, and longings for light and truth which neither effete Rabbinism, nor the corrupt forms of Christianity with which they are acquainted could supply ?
Anyhow, as I am carefully following this masterly address of Dr. Nordau, there seems nothing in it to which from a Jewish point of view even the most orthodox of them could object, and as a matter of fact the Russian and Galician Rabbis in their long kaftans are among the loudest in their applause.
Some of the passages in this speech are touchingly picturesque.
Speaking of the origin of the Zionist movement and of the enthusiasm which pervaded the first two national assemblies in Basle, he says :
" It seemed as if we were witnessing a miracle which affected ourselves and all around us. We felt ourselves part and parcel of a fairy tale, in which we saw our brethren, thousands of years buried, again become flesh and blood. We wanted, in the joy of this reunion, to rehearse the sad history of the hundreds of years in which we had been dead and in our tomb, in a grave which lacked the peace of the grave. In these three years the general condition of the Jewish nation in all lands has been ascertained. No modification occurs, or is likely to occur, unless Jews themselves bring it to pass."
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Discussing the various proposed solutions of the Jewish Question, he says :
" Three things only can effect an improvement of their condition. Firstly, an entire change of the human nature of to-day, as it shows itself in its treatment of their helpless minority ; secondly, the self-effacement of the minority, implying change of faith, customs, traditions, and even of their features ; thirdly, trans- planting the Jewish nation to their own land, there to be no more a minority, tolerated merely, but a majority, with full exercise of civil rights.
" You have already judged that this last-named third way is the only worthy one, the only one which promises any success, and we have voiced our Zionism in a last effort to apply a remedy for the sufferings of the Jewish nation."
What strikes me in hearing and observing these leaders of Zionism is that they have evidently looked into the very soul of their people's long-continued misery, and are burdened with its weight.
Listen to this pathetic plaint :
" We are living like Troglodytes, in perpetual dark- ness. To us the sun of justice is not shining. We are living like the creatures in the depths of the ocean. Upon us press the weight of a thousand atmospheres of mistrust and disdain. We have lived for centuries in a glacial period, surrounded by the bitter cold of malice and hatred. Those are the permanent powers which have permanently influenced us, without noise, without incident, to give rise to sensational reports, yet under which we have retrograded steadily, gradually, and unmistakably."
This, alas ! is all true, but oh ! when will Israel acknowledge the cause of it all ? When will they see not only the rod, but Him who uses it ?
" Who among you will give ear to this ? Who gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers? Did not Jehovah, He against whom we have sinned? For they would not walk in His ways, neither were they obedient unto His law. Therefore He hath poured upon him the fury of His anger, and the strength of battle, and it hath set him on fire round about, yet he knew it not ; and it burned him, yet he laid it not to heart" (Isa. xlii. 22-25).
Perhaps no part of Dr. Nordau's address was so loudly applauded by the entire Congress as his laconic reference to the so-called " Protest-Rabbis," of the Continent and England, who have ranged themselves in bitter opposition to the Zionists. I mention it because in this growing estrangement between the masses of the Jewish people, and these modern Rabbis, lies another point of great significance in connection with this Zionist movement.
And what is the meaning of this opposition on the part of the Rabbis ?
The answer is very simple : they are angry because the Zionists have unmasked the hollowness of their pretensions, and have shown them up to the world as strutting about with a lie in their right hand. These modern " reformed " Rabbis have tried to deceive them- selves and their followers into the belief, that their dispersion among the nations, instead of being a punish- ment for apostasy from their God, was, on the contrary, a blessing in fact the realisation of the Messianic ideal, for only as a Diaspora can they fulfil their mission of bearing witness to the nations.
It may be news to the so-called Christian nations of Europe and America to learn, that these modern Rabbis are the true lights of the world, the salt of the earth, who must remain scattered to illumine the nations, and to
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preserve them from corruption ; and that it is to them, and to the Rabbis who preceded them, that the nations owe what knowledge they possess of the true and living God but so they speak and write of themselves.
Now it was bad enough to hear it from missionaries and Christians that this is all false ; that neither from the "orthodox" Talmudic, who are the successors of the Pharisees, nor yet from the "progressive" or " reformed" Rabbis, who are no improvement on the Sadducees of the time of our Lord, did the Gentiles learn to know of the true and living God of Israel, but from the Jewish apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ, the true light of the world, whose true glory these Rabbis have done their utmost to hide and misrepresent before their nation ; that since the rejection of Christ and the destruction of Jerusalem, while the gospel of Christ has continued its triumphal march among the nations, the Synagogue has been struck with impotence, and unbelieving Israel with barrenness ; that the Jews in their dispersion have indeed a mission, but quite different from that of which these modern Rabbis and their disciples boast the mission, namely, of witnessing to God's righteous severity, as a warning to these " Christian " nations that they also, if they continue not in God's goodness, shall be " cut off." (Rom. xi. 22.)
It was bad enough, I say, to hear all this from Christians, but for these leaders of Zionism to come and tell them "A plague on you and your so-called mission; the nations do not want us in their midst ; your antagonism to the national movement on the ground of ' the Messianic ' idea and patriotic love to the countries which have granted you civil rights, is but veiled hypocrisy, covering your selfishness, and fear lest your comfortable nests should be stirred. Should not the shepherds feed the flocks ? but ye modern ' progressive '
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Rabbis and yqur rich worldly-minded followers, who by their wealth, and at the cost of the sacrifice of Jewish principles,, have succeeded in gaining for themselves a position" in Gentile society what have ye done for the masses of your people ? "
In the words of Dr. Herzl's opening address " You are satisfied because your powers of imagination have been weakened by your favourable circumstances, and therefore are not able to understand us Zionists. But the poor and the wretched understand us ; they have the imagination created by distress. They know from the experience of to-day and yesterday what the pangs of hunger will be to-morrow. In this condition there are many hundreds of thousands of our people. . . . Judaism is an immense hostelry of misery, with branches through- out the world, and you not only do nothing yourselves, but hinder others, who by this national movement try to bring to them a ray of hope." No wonder that a number of these modern Rabbis hate Zionism, and have bound themselves into a union in order to "protest" and oppose ; and no wonder also that when Dr. Max Nordau, towards the end of his address, said, " I will not speak of the so-called Protest-Rabbis of the West. With those we have already settled, and I hope that soon the whole Jewish people will have settled with them," the whole Congress cheered and applauded.
With Dr. Nordau's speech, the first public session of the Congress, which in some respects turned out to be the most interesting, was brought to a close.
BASLE, August ijfJt.
I have been at almost all the meetings in the Congress Hall from the beginning, and have followed with the utmost interest all the long and sometimes very agitated discussions on the subjects of "Organisation," "Finance,"
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"The Colonial Bank," &c., but, excepting the first sitting, I find only very few notes in my -diary apart from those relating to conversations on religious and spiritual topics, with some of the delegates and visitors, which 'are not meant for the public eye or ear.
The fact is that many of these discussions in Congress relate to what I may call inner Zionism, and though of very great importance for the future working of the movement, it is of no special interest to the outside world, or to those who watch Zionism from the stand- point of the Kingdom of God.
A few impressions and incidents, however, I must record. First, I am more and more impressed with the dead earnestness of these elected representatives of the Diaspora. From the eagerness, and air of seriousness, in all their discussions, especially in their committee-rooms) and in the intervals between the public meetings, you might think that not only are they themselves on the very eve of the proposed exodus to Palestine, and that there is not a moment to lose in making the necessary arrangements, but that on this exodus depends the destiny of the nations, and that the settlement can brook not a moment's delay.
Yesterday, after a sitting which lasted almost con- tinuously from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., with one or two short breaks, they assembled again at 10 p.m., for further dis- cussion on some points connected with " The Jewish Colonial Trust," and continued till a quarter past one in the morning, and to-day, when I arrived at the Town Casino about half an hour before the Congress opened at 10 a.m., the delegates were all in or about the build- ing, and there was as much hurry and bustle and noisy discussion as if they had only just assembled for the first time, after a comfortable night in bed.
After carefully studying the various elements of which
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the Congress is made up, I am of the conviction that if Zionism does not as yet sufficiently represent the wealth and material resources of the Jewish nation, it does cer- tainly represent a large proportion of its heart and brain ; and as I look upon those hundreds of earnest, intelligent faces, gathered from all parts of the earth, and listen to the able, and often impassioned speeches made in different languages, I feel in my soul that Israel is God's great reserve force for the future blessing of the world, and my heart goes out in yearning for the time when " the Spirit shall be poured upon us from on high," and when these remarkable gifts, and this zeal and ability, shall be consecrated to the service of making known their long-rejected Messiah and King among the nations.
One or two incidents in the continuous excitement of the last three days are specially worth noticing. One occurred yesterday morning, when, in the midst of an agitated discussion on the question of finance, a chassidic Rabbi I am not certain whether from Roumania or Galicia ascended the tribune, pulled out a manuscript from his pocket, and after reading in Hebrew and German Isa. Ix. 1-3, " Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of Jehovah is risen upon thee," &c., began to preach a sermon, the substance of which was a glorification of Israel.
Personally, the picturesque figure, in the long kaftan and peyoth, whose face and voice reminded me very much of dear old Rabbi Lichtenstein, was a great object of interest to me ; but the Congress, bent on business, was in no mood for a sermon, and vociferously called on the chairman, who happened to be Professor Mandelstamm, to call the Rabbi to order, and to remind him of the particular point under discussion. But in vain. The chairman kept knocking with his
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hammer; Dr. Herzl himself more than once quietly whispered from behind to the Rabbi to come to the point; but what did he know or care about finance?
Was he not a duly elected delegate ?
He had laboured perhaps for months to prepare his sermon, and in as good German as possible, and now, with such a splendid opportunity before him, was he to be debarred from delivering it? So the chairman remonstrated, the delegates laughed, talked, shouted noisily, but the Rabbi bravely proceeded, until his voice was finally drowned, and he had with a sigh, and an expression of great sadness on his face, to fold his manuscript together, and descend from the tribune.
Quite a different reception was accorded this afternoon to another but much better known Rabbi, Dr. Gaster, the Haham of the Sephardi Jews in London. Dr. Gaster, who is a scholar, and a native of Roumania, from which country he was banished for being a for- midable champion of the cause of his oppressed brethren, represents " die Culturfrage " in the Zionist movement, but after reading his previous speeches, and listening to him very closely to-day, I am still at a loss clearly to define what is meant by it.
Perhaps I am very dense, but I was glad to find that the president of the Congress was equally slow of com- prehension, for yesterday morning, in a most able reply to a number of criticisms from delegates on various shortcomings of the executive committee (one of which was that the culture question was not included in the agenda), Dr. Herzl humorously said, " Meine Herrn, I will repeat a question that I asked Dr. Gaster him- self this morning, in the course of private conversation,
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and that was : ' Please tell me what is this Culturfrage ? I have listened to many addresses on it, but I do not understand it.'"
Dr. Herzl did not repeat Dr. Gaster's answer to his question, but proceeded to observe that if a particular phase of the Jewish " religion " is meant, then he is determined that it shall be excluded from the dis- cussions of the Congress, "because we Zionists respect every form of religious belief. Our movement is a national one, and religious discussions would only divide us."
In justice to Dr. Herzl, and the other Zionist leaders, I must say that this does not necessarily imply that they are anti-religious, but that they have no regard for the strife between the various religious factions in modern Judaism.
For my own part, I do not know what I would rather choose, whether to have religion altogether left out of their deliberations, or to have it brought up by men, whether "orthodox" or "progressive," whose concep- tions of God and spiritual truth are as opposed to the principles of Israel's true " religion " revealed in Old and New Testament, as darkness to light.
For the present, Zionism, like all Israel, is religiously a heterogeneous mass, embracing in its following all shades of belief and unbelief, held together only by the " National Idea." One can understand, therefore, the anxiety of the responsible leaders to keep questions of cult out of its programme.
But let me give a few of the more striking passages of Dr. Gaster's speech. I suppose in answer to Dr. Herzl's question as to "what is really meant," he said :
" As a matter of fact, our culture question is one of the greatest prophetic dreams of our people, the greatest
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prophetic vision which our people have cherished throughout thousands of years ; the greatest ideal which has hovered before the spiritual sight, and which has deeply influenced the lives of our people. We have always had a great ideal before us, which is not to be compared with the ideals that have influenced other nations, and we have pursued this ideal, undismayed, through thousands of years. For we dream of possess- ing our own state on earth, where justice and love shall reign, and we name this heavenly state on earth the ideal of the Jewish people. It is entirely different to the efforts of the whole world, and therefore we have remained different, and I assert it here on a higher plane than all other nations of the world, for there is no other nation that can compare with ours. All the attempts that have been made against us, to degrade and persecute us, have failed, and we, as Zionists, now declare we remain as true to our ideal as were our ancestors thousands of years ago. You will naturally ask me, What is the connection between this heavenly state on earth with Zionism ? In fact the connection is of the closest. The one is hope, the other is reality. We have now before our spiritual eyes the picture of the glorious future, and this is the secret of our eternity and indestructibleness. If our bodies have been broken, our spirit has never been broken."
This is partially true. The establishment of God's kingdom on earth, with Israel as the centre, was the divinely communicated " ideal " of Israel's prophets and seers, but between the present and the time when that ideal shall be realised lies Israel's repentance and conver- sion, about which Dr. Gaster, and the other repre- sentatives of the " Culturfrage " say, as yet, not a word ; the time when Israel's proud spirit shall at last be broken before God, and when in true contrition of heart they
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shall turn not only to Zion, but to Zion's true King, through whom alone, and never through Israel apart from Him, will this prophetic " dream " be fulfilled.
Then Israel will no longer boast as if by their innate goodness and power they were on " a higher plane than all other nations," but in the spirit of Paul, the type of his nation, they will say, " I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious ; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief . . . By grace I am what I am."
To me, one of the saddest passages in Dr. Caster's speech was the following, because it reveals an utterly mistaken view as to the real character and influence of Rabbinic Judaism :
" When the Temple of ancient times was destroyed," he said, " the leaders of the spiritual party asked of the Roman conquerors not the liberation of the Jewish people from slavery ; they asked that the Jewish spirit should be liberated ; they prayed for one modest thing, only to open a school. This school has never ceased to exist. Its doors, once opened, have never been closed, and through these portals the spirit of mankind has been re-created to return here in a purified form. We have acquired knowledge from all quarters; but we have also worked in every direction as spiritual teachers of the highest teachings."
Was this so ? I ask again. Was it from the portals of the synagogue or Beth-Hammedrash that the power went forth for the re-creation "of the spirit of man- kind"?
I have already shown up this delusion.
The utmost which the synagogue has done since the destruction of the second Temple was to shut
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in its antiquated doors, and preserve in isolation those within.
Not from the synagogue, where the quibblings of Rabbis took the place of the reading of God's pure Word in Moses and the prophets, but from the new " House," the Ecclesia of the living God, of which Christ became the head, and the Jewish Apostles the stewards, did blessing and renewal come to the nations, and, it is a pity that Dr. Gaster being an historian does not seem to be aware of it.
And as to the effects of Talmudism upon the Jews themselves, was it really " a liberation of the spirit " ? This is not the place to analyse the Talmud, or to show the part it has played in moulding Jewish character, even if I were able for such a task, but we know some- thing of the Talmud and its effects on the masses of the Diaspora, and I must endorse the conviction of many others who are capable of judging, that instead of "a liberation," the Talmud has brought poor Israel into a spiritual and even mental bondage, corresponding only to the outward bodily captivity, in which they have been since the Temple was destroyed by their Roman conquerors.
The concluding passage of Dr. Caster's speech was a fine piece of oratory, with a germ of truth wrongly apprehended.
" And now, in conclusion," he said, " what is there left for me to say ?
" Only to remind you of an old legend, the legend of the Phoenix, to which our wise men long ago compared our people. The Phoenix is immortal, but in a specified time it grows old and weak, and is consumed inwardly ; it becomes ashes, and only a very small germ remains. This the priest takes to Heliopolis, the City of the Sun, where he guards the germ and gradually the Phoenix
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develops, and when it is fully matured, it shakes its pinions and takes flight to the sun to thank God for having permitted it to be born again.
" We also have been burnt and scattered like the ashes of the earth. Only the germ remains, and now we Zionists, the priests of the new age, we come to bring the germ to the City of the Sun, of truth, of fidelity, of devotion. We preserve it and shall preserve it, until Judaism, like the Phcenix, rises again from its ashes and soars upwards to the sun of truth, carrying the nations with it."
This reminded me of Isaiah vi., where to the prophet's question " Lord how long ? " God says : " Until cities be waste without habitation, and houses without men, and the land becomes utterly waste, and Jehovah have removed men far away, and the forsaken places be many in the midst of the land. And if there be yet a tenth in it, it shall again be eaten up ; as a terebinth, and as an oak, whose stock remaineth when they are felled, so the holy seed is the stock thereof."
There is, indeed, an indestructible germ " a holy seed " in Israel, which always survives the terrible judgments and desolations which befall them, and over this germ Israel's Shepherd and Great High Priest is watching. Before long He will carry it back to the city of God, and there under the rays of the sun of righteous- ness it will take root and live anew. Then " Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit."
FRIDAY, August i8th.
It is the last day of the Congress, and being the eve of the Sabbath, a number of the delegates have already left, but still there is as much bustle and hurry as ever. The chief feature of the morning sitting was a speech in German by Sir Francis Montefiore, nephew and heir of
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the famous Sir Moses, whose name is still held in the highest esteem by the Jews in all parts of the world.
Sir Francis is a fair-haired thorough English gentle- man, whose advocacy of Zionism shows that not all the Jewish monied aristocracy hold aloof from the move- ment. " I am with you," he said ; " my services, I can assure you, are ever at your command. For I shall indeed consider it the highest of all privileges if only, and in any way, be it even in the humblest of capacities, I can do but the least thing to further and promote this great and glorious cause," and to these assurances the delegates responded with tremendous cheering. The final sitting in the afternoon was taken up with election of committees and the reading of the report of the Palestine Colonisation Committee, after which there followed a scene of tumult, occasioned by Mr. Davis Trietsch, who, from the tribune, tried to unfold his plan for the temporary colonisation of Cyprus.
The Russian delegates in particular, who will hear of no other land but Palestine, worked themselves up into a frenzy, and there was confusion till their motion was carried by Congress that Mr. Trietsch should not be heard.
When calm was restored, Dr. Herzl dismissed the Congress with a brief and dignified speech, followed by tremendous cheering, during which all rose to their feet. A resolution of thanks to the president, and the third Zionist Congress passes into history, having certainly put the Zionist movement on a more consolidated basis than before. 1
1 I subjoin the following account of a pathetic incident at the close of the fourth Congress in London in 1900 : " At the close there was a very strange scene. The members rose and started singing a national Hebrew song. It was all in the minor key, ending with a refrain which sounded like the sad wail of a woman
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Before leaving Basle, let me bear my testimony to the kindness and courtesy of the officials and leaders of the Congress to the few Jewish Christians who were present in their midst.
A spirit of tolerance has characterised the Zionist movement from the beginning, on which account it has attracted the sympathy of intelligent Christians, who have never ceased to cherish the hope of Israel's re- storation and future blessing.
A REMARKABLE SCENE.
As an illustration of this spirit of tolerance, I may refer to a scene which I witnessed in the course of this morning, when, during a pause in the proceedings of Congress, I found in the spacious lobby leading to the galleries of the large hall, a tall Franciscan monk, surrounded by quite a large number of delegates, who were noisily disputing with him on religious topics ; while on the outskirts of the little crowd was a dear, earnest Gentile Christian " Brother," with an open New Testa- ment in his hand, in which he was pointing out some particular passages to the Jews.
in distress, or the moan of a suffering patient racked with pain, it reminded one of some of the sad plaintive songs of the negro slaves on the American plantations. It was weird and made one shudder so might slaves sing in their despondency when filled with an insatiable craving after freedom. But suddenly from another part of the hall came other sounds and another song. For a time it was difficult to distinguish it, both seemed mingled, but gradually the Hebrew slave dirge died away, the minor key gave way to the major, and England's National Anthem burst forth, and was taken up quickly by the Jew from Russia and New York, Roumania and South Africa, Jerusalem and Paris ; it was the song of a free nation, a nation that had never known slavery, a nation that had helped many to freedom. Would it begin the new century by helping the nation longest enslaved to a home they would never leave again, to a freedom they would never forfeit ? "
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It was indeed a case of extremes meeting ; to see these two men the one with the rosary and cross hano-. ing from his neck, and the other with the Word of God both arguing with the Jews.
Before I was recognised by some in the party, I managed to overhear fragments of the discussion. The monk must be very different from the majority of his confraternity and of the Roman Church in general if what he said was true.
He assured them that he was a great lover of the Jews, and that he believed they would soon go back to Palestine.
" What about Deckert ? " interrupted an Austrian delegate.
Deckert, I should explain, is that Catholic parish priest near Vienna referred to in another part I who not long ago preached a series of sermons against the Jews in his church, and ended one with the words: "Verbrennt die Juden zur Ehre Gottes. Amen." (" Burn the Jews for the glory of God. Amen.")
The Franciscan professed not to know anything about this Deckert nor of any hatred on the part of the Roman Catholic Church toward the Jews.
" You speak of love," interrupted another Jew, " but all we know is that for centuries we have experienced from the Christians nothing but hatred and cruelty."
The dear " Brother " with the New Testament whose name, according to his own writing in my notebook, is Herr Alfred Rosshard, of Papperswyl gave me quite a hug when he discovered who I was, and pressed me to come and stay with him in his home. His words of testimony seemed much more effective than the monk's. When one of the Jews in the group appealed to him what he thought of the anti-Semites, he replied, " The
1 See page 218. 18
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anti-Semites they are only a scourge in the hand of our God, but as soon as you return to Him, He will throw the hateful scourge from Him, and visit upon them all their own cruelty. No true Christian who loves his Saviour and his Bible can hate the Jews, but there are many false Christians, even as Christ foretold. But you must not judge Him by these false professors." To this I could only say "Amen."