Essay, Research Paper: Theodor Herzl And Zionism


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One of the most important influences in the movement that led to the creation of
the state of Israel was Jewish writer and journalist Theodor Herzl. He was born
on May 2, 1860 in Budapest, Hungary. Herzl studied law in Vienna, but later on
went into a literary career. This proved a good decision, as he became a
well-known playwright and essayist and in 1891, Hertzl was appointed Paris
correspondent for the Vienna Neue Freie Presse (New Free Press). During the
Alfred Dreyfus affair in 1894, anti-Semitic feelings in France spread greatly.
This greatly affected Hertzl because before that he believed that the best
solution of anti-Semitism in Europe was the assimilation of the Jews with the
Christian people. After the court-martial of Dreyfus, Hertzl was certain that
the only way anti-Semitism could be solved was with the creation of a Jewish
state. In 1896, Theodor Hertzl published a short book, Der Judenstaat (The
Jewish State), which promoted the establishment of a Jewish State. Although
Hertzl was not the first to suggest a Jewish State, he was the first to call for
immediate action. Even though some wealthy leaders, such as German emperor
William II and Sultan Abd al-Hamid II of Turkey, were sympathetic towards the
idea of a Jewish homeland, they were not willing to put up the money to back
such a project. After the wealthy leaders rejected Hertzl, he called for a
Zionist Congress in 1897, which met in Basel, Switzerland. Nearly two hundred
delegates attended the congress. The congress founded a permanent World Zionist
Organization that was to establish branches in every country with a substantial
Jewish population. They also formulated the Basel Program, which defined
Zionism’s goal as the creation “for the Jewish people of a home in Palestine
secured by public law.” Herzl now directed his diplomacy towards Great
Britain. The British offered to help start Jewish colonization in East Africa in
Uganda, but this nearly split the Zionist movement in two because most Zionists
were in support of having a Jewish homeland in Israel. This split greatly upset
Hertzl and he died a broken man soon after in 1904. The seventh Zionist Congress
rejected the East India Scheme. The Zionist movement worked very hard in the
20th century to see a Jewish homeland come true. First, a British Zionist leader
received a declaration from British Foreign Secretary Arthur J. Balfour that
approved the establishment in Palestine of a “national home for the Jewish
people.” This provided the Zionists with the charter they had been seeking
from a wealthy backer. Now all the Zionists had to do was get Jewish people to
move to Israel. This was not done so easily. The new Soviet government sealed
off the tradition source of Zionist migration, which was Russian Jewry. Also,
the leader of American Zionism, Judge Louis Brandeis, and Dr. Chaim Weizmann,
the man credited with obtaining the Balfour Declaration, got into an argument
over the future of Zionism, which slowed the migration of Jews to Israel
greatly. Despite these two critical setbacks, the Yishuv grew from fifty
thousand to six hundred thousand people from nineteen twenty to nineteen
forty-eight. Most of these new immigrants were refugees from Nazi persecution in
Europe. The New Zionist party was formed in nineteen thirty-five when a
revisionist group led by Ze-ev Vladimir Jabotinsky split from the Zionist
movement. Jabotinsky promoted a Jewish state on both sides of the Jordan River
and devoted his time to set up the mass evacuation of European Jews to
Palestine. Relations between the Arabs of Palestine and Jews immigrating there
during the nineteen twenties were not very good and became an intractable
problem. The Palestinians did not like the Jews overtaking their land so they
rebelled and fought the Jews. Although the Palestinians fought against the Jews,
they were no match for the skill of the Jewish Army, called the Hagana. On May
14, 1948, at midnight, the Jewish state of Israel was born. Zionism had achieved
its goal of having a homeland for the Jews in the Middle East. Although the Arab
nations have denounced Zionism as a “tool of imperialism” and have fought
many wars with Israel on the topic, they have been unsuccessful in breaking up
the heart of the Jewish people, the state of Israel.
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