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Update 24 June 2007

"The Jewish State"

Like most founders of movements, Herzl was an idealist and like Marx and others, his Zionist ideals foundered on the rocky shores of reality. Herzl was a Hungarian jounalist. In covering the Dreyfus affair for a Vienna newspaper he was incensed over the associated anti-semitism. His response was to compose a pamphlet, Der Judenstaat, in which he argued that the Jews should have their own state.

Herzl stated his basic philosophy

    "It might further be said that we ought not to create new distinctions between people; we ought not to raise fresh barriers, we should rather make the old disappear."

    "...The Jews who wish for a State will have it. We shall live at last as free men on our own soil, and die peacefully in our own homes.

    The world will be freed by our liberty, enriched by our wealth, magnified by our greatness.

    And whatever we attempt there to accomplish for our own welfare, will react powerfully and beneficially for the good of humanity."

It was not to be. Herzl's idea grew steadily into a movement that eventually imposed a mind of its own. This is a classic case where idealism ignited its opposite. Instead of living in a diaspora, Zionists today are under constant seige by those they dehumanized as being less than people: "They are nothing" famously quoted by no less than Golda Mier. And so it came to pass the battle lines Jabotinsky feared were drawn

Jabotinsky, an important Russian convert to the cause, was infinitely more realistic than the dreamer Herzl; he knew, for example, that Zionists would never be welcomed in the Middle East. Jabotinsky also predicted the need for an external patron as well as the necessity for an Iron Wall if radical Zionists had their way in establishing a homeland by force.

Would Herzl recognize Israel, Palestine, and the world of today?
What do you suppose he would have said to Sharon?


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