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_Copyright 1902_

_Copyright 1903_

_Copyright 1905_



ZIONISM. _By Max Nordau_ 9

ANTI-SEMITISM IN EUROPE _By Gustav Gottheil._ 47





Among the persons of the educated classes who follow with any
attention all the more important movements of the times, it would now
be difficult to find one to whom the word "Zionism" is quite unknown.
People are generally aware that it describes an idea and a movement
that in the last years has found numerous adherents among the Jews of
all countries, but especially among those of the East. Comparatively
few, however, both among the Gentiles and the Jews themselves, have a
perfectly clear notion of the aims and ways of Zionism; the Gentiles,
because they do not care sufficiently for Jewish affairs to take the
trouble to inform themselves at first hand as to the particulars; the
Jews, because they are intentionally led astray by the enemies of
Zionism, by lies and calumnies, or because even among the fervent
Zionists there are not many who have probed the whole Zionist idea to
the bottom, and are willing or able to present it in a clear and
comprehensible fashion, without exaggeration and polemical heat.

I will endeavor to furnish readers of good faith, who are not biased,
and have no other interest than that of gaining authentic information
about a phenomenon in contemporary history, as concisely and soberly
as possible with all the facts, as they really are, not as they are
reflected in muddled brains, or distorted and falsified by


Zionism is a new word for a very old object, in so far as it merely
expresses the yearning of the Jewish people for Zion. Since the
destruction of the second temple by Titus, since the dispersion of the
Jewish nation in all countries, this people has not ceased to long
intensely, and hope fervently, for the return to the lost land of
their fathers. This yearning for, and hope in, Zion on the part of the
Jews was the concrete, I might say, the geographical, aspect of their
Messianic faith, which in its turn forms an essential part of their

Messianism and Zionism were really, for nearly two thousand years,
identical conceptions, and without caviling and hair-splitting
interpretation, it would not be easy to make a distinction between the
prayers for the appearance of the promised Messiah, and those for the
not less promised return to the historical home, - both of which stand
side by side on every page of the Jewish liturgy. These prayers were,
until a few generations ago, meant literally by every Jew, as they
still are by the simple believing Jews. The Jews had no other idea
than that they were a people which as a punishment for its sins had
lost the land of its forefathers, which was condemned to live as
strangers in strange lands, and whose great sufferings would first
cease when it was again assembled on the consecrated soil of the Holy

This gradually changed about the middle of the eighteenth century,
when enlightenment first began to find its way into Jewdom, in the
person of its first herald, Moses Mendelssohn, the popular
philosopher. The faith of the Jews became more lukewarm; the educated
classes, where they did not simply convert themselves to Christianism,
began to regard the doctrines of their religion in a rationalist
manner; for them the dispersion of the Jewish people was a final and
unalterable fact; they emptied the conception of the Messiah and of
Zion of every concrete meaning, and arranged for themselves a singular
doctrine, according to which the Zion promised to the Jews was to be
understood only in a spiritual sense, as the setting up of the Jewish
monotheism in the whole world, as the future triumph of Jewish ethics
over the less sublime and less noble moral teaching of the other
nations. An American rabbi reduced this conception to the striking
formula, "Our Zion is in Washington." The Mendelssohn teaching
logically developed in the first half of the nineteenth century into
the "Reform," which deliberately broke with Zionism. For the Reform
Jew, the word Zion had just as little meaning as the word dispersion.
He does not feel himself in any diaspora. He denies that there is a
Jewish people and that he is a member of it. He desires only to belong
to the people in whose midst he lives. For him Judaism is a purely
religious conception which has nothing whatever to do with
nationality. The land of his birth is his fatherland, and he will know
of no other. The idea of a return to Palestine excites him either to
indignation or to laughter. He answers it with the well-known, silly,
would-be witticism, "If the Jewish state is again set up in Palestine,
I will ask to be its ambassador in Paris."

The thinking Jew did not fail, however, to perceive, in the course of
time, that Reform Judaism is a half measure, a compromise, which like
every compromise, contains the germ of destruction, as it cannot for
one instant resist logical criticism. Whom shall the Reform Judaism
satisfy? The believing Jew? He rejects it with the greatest
abhorrence. The unbelieving Jew? He despises it as hypocrisy and
phrase-mongering. The Jew who really desires to break with his
national past and to be absorbed by his Christian surroundings? For
that Jew, Reform Judaism does not suffice; he goes a step farther, the
step that leads to the baptismal font. Still less does it satisfy the
Jew who desires to guard Jewdom against destruction and to preserve it
as an ethnical individuality. For to him an openly expressed
abandonment of all national aspirations is synonymous with a
self-condemnation of the Jewish people to a perhaps slow, but sure,
death. Reform Judaism without Zionism, that is to say, without the
wish and the hope for a reassembling of the Jewish people, has no
future. At the best, it can only be regarded as a somewhat crooked
path that leads to Christianity. He who desires to reach that goal can
find straighter and shorter routes.


And so it has come about that the generations which had been under the
influence of the Mendelssohnian rhetoric and enlightenment, of reform
and assimilation, have, in the last twenty years of the nineteenth
century, been followed by a new generation which seeks to take up a
standpoint other than the traditional towards the question of Zion.
These new Jews shrug their shoulders at that twaddle which has been
the fashion among rabbis and _literati_ for the last hundred years,
and which boasts of a "Mission of Jewdom," said to consist in this,
that the Jews must live forever in dispersion among the peoples in
order to act as their teachers and models of morality, and to educate
them gradually to pure rationalism, to a general brotherhood of
mankind, and to an ideal cosmopolitanism. They declare the mission
swagger to be either presumption or foolishness. They, more modest and
more practical, demand only the right for the Jewish people to live
and to develop itself, according to its abilities, up to the natural
limits of its type. They have become convinced that this is not
possible in dispersion, as, under that condition, prejudice, hatred,
and contempt continually follow and oppress them, and either stint
their development, or force them to an ethnical mimicry which
necessarily makes of them, instead of original types with a right to
existence, mediocre or bad copies of foreign models. They therefore
work methodically with a view to rendering the Jewish people once more
a normal one, which lives on its own soil, and accomplishes all
economical, intellectual, moral, and political functions of a
civilized nation.

The goal cannot be reached at once. It lies in a future more or less
near. It is an ideal, a desire, a hope, as the Messianic Zionism was
and is. The new Zionism, which has been called the political one,
differs, however, from the old, the religious, the Messianic one, in
this, - that it disavows all mysticism, no longer identifies itself
with Messianism, and does not expect the return to Palestine to be
brought about by a miracle, but desires to prepare the way by its own

The new Zionism has grown in part only out of the internal impulsions
of Judaism itself, out of the enthusiasm of modern educated Jews for
their history and martyrology, out of the awakened consciousness of
their racial qualities, out of their ambition to save the ancient
blood, in view of the farthest possible future, and to add to the
achievements of their forefathers the achievements of their posterity.

On the other hand, Zionism is the effect of two impulses which came
from without, - first, the principle of nationality, which for half a
century ruled thought and feeling in Europe, and governed the politics
of the world; secondly, Anti-Semitism, from which the Jews of all
countries have more or less to suffer.

The principle of nationality has awakened self-consciousness in all
the peoples; it teaches them to regard their peculiarities as
qualities, and gives them a passionate desire for independence. It
could not, therefore, pass over the educated Jews without leaving a
trace. It induced them to remember who and what they are; to feel
themselves, what they had unlearned, a people apart; and to demand for
themselves a normal national destiny. This slow and painful work of
the recovery of their national individuality was rendered easier by
the attitude of the peoples, who eliminated them from among themselves
as a foreign element, and put stress, without consideration or
courtesy, on the real and imaginary contrasts, or at least
differences, between themselves and the Jews.

The principle of nationality has, in its exaggerations, led to
excesses. It has been led astray into Chauvinism, abased to idiotic
hatred of the foreigner, degraded to grotesque self-worship. From this
caricature of itself the Jewish nationalism is safe. The Jewish
nationalist does not suffer from self-inflation; he feels, on the
contrary, that he must make tireless efforts to render the name of Jew
a title of honor. He modestly recognizes the good qualities of other
nations, and seeks diligently to acquire them in so far as they
harmonize with his natural capacities. He knows what terrible harm
centuries of slavery or disability have done to his originally proud
and upright character, and seeks to cure it by means of intense
self-training. If, however, nationalism is on its guard against all
illusions as to itself, this is a natural phase in the process of
development from barbaric selfish individualism to free humanism and
altruism, - a phase the justification and necessity of which can only
be denied by him who has no comprehension whatever of the laws of
organic evolution, and is totally lacking in the historical sense.

Anti-Semitism has also taught many educated Jews the way back to their
people. It has had the effect of a sharp trial which the weak cannot
stand, but from which the strong emerge stronger or more confident in
themselves. It is not correct to say that Zionism is but a "gesture of
truculence" or an act of desperation against Anti-Semitism. It is true
that more than one educated Jew has been moved only by Anti-Semitism
to throw in his lot again with Jewdom, and he would again fall away if
his Christian fellow-countrymen would receive him anew in a friendly
spirit. But, in the case of most Zionists, Anti-Semitism only forced
them to reflect upon their relation to the nations, and their
reflection has led them to conclusions which would remain a lasting
acquirement of their mind and heart, even if Anti-Semitism were to
disappear completely from the world.

Be it well understood; the Zionism analyzed above is that of the
educated and free Jews, - the Jewish élite. The uneducated mass,
clinging to the old traditions, is Zionist without much reflection,
from feeling, from instinct, from distress, and yearning. They suffer
too much from the hardships of life, from the hatred of the peoples,
from legal disabilities, and social outlawry; they feel that they
cannot hope for any lasting amelioration of their situation so long as
they must live as a powerless minority among a hostile majority. They
desire to become a nation, to rejuvenate themselves by close contact
with mother earth, and to become once more the masters of their
destiny. This Zionist mass is still in part not quite free from
mystical tendencies. It allows its Zionism to be pervaded, to a
certain extent, by Messianic reminiscences, and blends it with
religious emotions. They have certainly a clear idea of the aim, the
reassembling of the Jewish nation, but not of the means. Still, even
they have realized already the necessity of themselves making efforts,
and there is a vast difference between their active readiness for
organization and their spirit of sacrifice, and the pious,
prayer-indulging passiveness of the purely religious Messianist.


The new or political Zionism has had here and there forerunners, whose
first appearance dates back to the early half of the nineteenth

In the beginning of the eighties terrible persecutions broke out in
Russia without any apparent reason, persecutions which cost hundreds
of Jews their lives, destroyed the prosperity of thousands more, and
induced tens of thousands to turn their backs on the land of their
birth. This calamity brutally aroused the Jews from their
hundred-year-old illusions and brought them again to a sense of
reality. A Russian Jew, Dr. Pinsker, at that time wrote a small
pamphlet entitled, "Auto-Emancipation," which was already a prelude to
the modern political Zionism, and sketched all its motives without
however developing them symphonically. He, at any rate, it was who
gave its watchword to the whole movement: "The Jews are no mere
religious community, they are a nation. They desire again to live in
their own country as a united people. Their rejuvenation must be at
the same time economical, physical, intellectual, and moral."

The Jewish youth of the middle schools and universities of Russia were
profoundly affected by Pinsker's arguments. They began to found
national Jewish societies. A number of students who studied at foreign
universities became in their new surroundings apostles of Dr. Pinsker's
idea, and found adherents here and there, for the most part among the
young Jews of Vienna. Others preferred action to word, example to
sermon, abandoned their studies, and emigrated to Palestine in order to
become peasants there, - Jewish peasants on historically Jewish soil.
Deeply moved by this idealism of a peculiarly enthusiastic élite,
cooler headed Jews in Russia and Germany began also to form societies
in order to support from a distance the Palestine settlements of the
Jewish pioneers. This took place without any combined plan and with no
clear notion of the aim and the means. The societies were not
conscious of the fact that they felt and acted as Zionists. They did
not perceive the connection between the Jewish colonization of
Palestine and the future of the whole Jewish nation. It was in their
case rather an instinctive movement in which all kinds of obscure
feelings are dimly discernible, - piety, archæological-historical
sentimentality, charity, and pride of pedigree. At any rate, the minds
of the Jews were prepared, the feeling was in the air, Jewdom was ripe
for a change.

As is always the case in such historical moments, the man also
appeared whose mission it was to express clearly the ideas obscurely
felt by many, and to proclaim loudly the word they were waiting to
hear. This man was Dr. Theodor Herzl. He published in the autumn of
1896 a concisely written booklet, "Der Judenstaat" (The Jewish State),
which proclaimed, with a determination that till then had no
precedent, the fact that the Jews are a people who demand for
themselves all the rights of a people, and who desire to settle in a
country where they can lead a free and complete political existence.

"Der Judenstaat" has become the real starting point of political
Zionism, - the starting point, not the programme. Herzl's book is still
the subjective work of a solitary thinker who speaks in his own name.
Many details in it are literature. It is not easy to draw a sharp
boundary line between the sober earnest of the social politician and
the imagination of the prophetical poet. The real programme had to be
a collective work which was certainly based on Herzl's book, and
inspired by Herzl's visions of the future, but which rid itself of all
fantastic details, and was built up solely from the elements of

Herzl's book was at once greeted by tens of thousands of Jews, chiefly
the young, as an act of redemption. It was not to remain merely
printed paper, but should be transformed into a practical creation.
New societies were founded everywhere, no longer with a view of the
slow, petty settlement of Palestine by means of groups of Jews
creeping surreptitiously as it were into the country, but by the
preparation for an emigration "en masse" into the Holy Land, based on
a formal treaty with the Turkish Government, guaranteed by the Great
Powers, by which the former should accord the new settlers the right
of self-government.

The premises of political Zionism are that there is a Jewish nation.
This is just the point denied by the assimilation Jews, and the
spiritless, unctuous, prating rabbis in their pay. Dr. Herzl saw that
the first task he had to fulfil was the organizing of a manifestation
which should bring before the world, and the Jewish people itself, in
modern, comprehensible form the fact of its national existence. He
convoked a Zionist congress, which in spite of the most furious
attacks and most unscrupulous acts of violence, - the Jewish community
of Munich where the congress was originally intended to be held
protested against its meeting in that town, - assembled for the first
time in Basel, the end of August, 1897, and consisted of two hundred
and four selected representatives of the Zionist Jews of both

The first Zionist congress solemnly proclaimed in the face of the
attentive world that the Jews are a nation, and that they do not
desire to be absorbed by other nations. It vowed to work for the
emancipation of that part of the Jewish race which is deprived of all
rights, and which is dragging out its existence in undeserved misery,
and to prepare for it a brighter future. It puts its aims on record in
a programme unanimously adopted with the greatest enthusiasm. This ran
as follows: -

"Zionism works to create for the Jewish people a home in Palestine
guaranteed by public law.

"For the reaching of this goal the congress proposes to adopt the
following means: -

"(1.) The well-regulated promotion of the settlement of Palestine by
Jewish agriculturists, artisans, and manufacturers.

"(2.) The organization and knitting together of the whole Jewish
community by means of proper local and general institutions, in
accordance with the law of the different countries.

"(3.) The strengthening of the Jewish self-respect and national

"(4.) Preparatory steps for obtaining the consent of the governments,
which is necessary for the achievement of the aims of Zionism."


The first congress did not separate without having created a lasting
organization. It elected a "Great Committee of Action," in which all
countries with a somewhat considerable Jewish population are
represented, and which in its turn selected a smaller "permanent
committee" with its headquarters in Vienna, under the presidency of
Dr. Herzl. It was followed in the three ensuing years by three
further congresses, in 1898 and 1899, again in Basel, and in 1900 in
London. The number of the delegates rose in 1898 to two hundred and
eighty, in 1899 to three hundred and seventy, and in 1900 to four
hundred and twenty. At every succeeding congress the regulations for
election were more strictly enforced, the mandates more closely
examined, and at the present moment the congress, which has become a
permanent institution of the Zionist Jewdom, and which met for the
fifth time in December, 1901, again in Basel, can with justice claim
to be the real representative of one hundred and eighty thousand

He who desires to know what the Jews who have been represented at the
congress have done up to the present time to realize the programme of
Zionism drawn up by the first congress, has only to compare the
various points of this programme with the facts we are going to

"(1.) The well-regulated promotion of the settlement of Palestine by
Jewish agriculturists, artisans, and manufacturers."

Zionism rejects on principle all colonization on a small scale, and
the idea of "sneaking" into Palestine. The Zionists have therefore
devoted themselves preëminently to a zealous and tireless advocacy of
the uniting of the already existing Jewish colonies in Palestine with
those who until now have given them their aid and who of late have
inclined towards the withdrawal of their support from them. The
Zionists have also prepared the way for founding factories in the Holy
Land, which will give employment to the Jewish workmen there, and have
assured, by according a yearly subvention, the future existence of the
model Hebraic school in Jaffa, which was about to close its doors for
want of funds. They take care that the existing and promising
beginnings of a Jewish colonization shall be looked after and
maintained till the movement will be possible on a large scale.

"(2.) The organization and knitting together of the whole Jewish
community by the means of proper local and general institutions in
accordance with the law of the different countries."

The Zionist Jewish community is at present organized in both
hemispheres in about nine hundred societies, which display great
activity. In the matter of organization covering the whole of Jewdom,
Zionism possesses national federations of its societies, - the "great"
and the "smaller committee of action," and the congress which
maintains a permanent secretarial office in Vienna. The cost of this
apparatus is covered by the voluntary yearly offerings of the
Zionists, to which offerings the name of the old Jewish coinage is
applied, and which accordingly are known as "shekels," - their amount
being in America forty cents, and in Western lands a unit of the
coinage (one mark, one franc, one shilling, etc.). The payment of the
shekel gives the right of vote for the congress. Zionism possesses its
official organ, "Die Welt," published in German in Vienna. Its ideas
are further set forth in about forty other periodicals in the Hebrew,
German, Russian, Polish, Italian, English, French, and Roumanian
languages, and in the Jewish-German and Judeo-Spanish jargons. Its
American organ is the periodical, "The Maccabæan." It has founded
numerous schools, Toynbee Halls, and educational institutes, and has
recently begun to acquire a share in the administration of the Jewish
communities, in order to devote their resources, more than has
heretofore been the case with the anti-national or unthinking leaders,
to the promoting of national Jewish instruction, education, and

"(3.) Strengthening of the Jewish self-respect and national

The Zionist societies use every effort that the members and the Jewish
masses in general may know the history of their nation, and become
acquainted with the sacred and profane literature in the Hebrew
tongue. They teach the Jews to hold their heads high, to be proud of
their descent, and to despise the Anti-Semitic lies, calumnies, and
insults. They care, in the measure of their strength, for the
amelioration of the hygiene of the Jewish proletariat, for its
economic improvement by means of association and solidarity, for
well-directed education of children, and for the instruction of the
women. They give the young students a goal for their efforts and an
ideal in life. They preach the duty of leading a faultless, spiritual

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Online LibraryMax Simon NordauZionism and Anti-Semitism → online text (page 1 of 3)