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Quotes: Herzl Speaks His Mind on Issues, Events and Men. 1

מאגר מידע » Jewish History » From 1860 - 1948: Early Zionist Age
כותב המאמר: Theodor Herzl

The Jewish People

Herzl believed that the survival of the Jewish people in the Diaspora was, in the main, due to the suffering imposed by external pressure. Even assimilation has failed because of external enmity. And so the Jews have remained a nation, and entitled to a State of their own in order to enjoy peace and well-being.
1. Whether we desire it or not we are now and shall remain a historic group who recognizably belong together. Yes, we are strong enough to form a State, and, indeed, a model state. We possess all the human and material resources necessary for the purpose.
2. There are more mistaken notions abroad about our people. And we have become so depressed and discouraged by our historic sufferings that we ourselves repeat and believe these errors. One of these is that we have an immoderate love of business. Now it is well known that wherever we are permitted to share in the rising of classes we quickly give up business.
3. Only we Jews could have done it. We only were in a position to create this New Society, this new center of civilization here. One thing dove-tailed into another. It could have come only through us, through our destiny. Our moral sufferings were as much a necessary element as our commercial experience and our cosmopolitanism.
4. Nations disappeared from history, others rose…this one people still remained unchangeable retaining its ancient customs, true to itself, rehearsing the woes of its forbears. Israel, a people of slavery and freedom, still prayed in ancient words to the Eternal its God.
5. How soon the machinery which we have prepared will begin to operate we cannot determine. It does not depend upon us here. We establish the plant, but we cannot supply the energy. The energy must be supplied by the Jewish people - if it so wills.
6. One of the major battles I shall have to wage will be against the Jewish spirit of scoffing. The spirit represents at bottom the impotent attempt of prisoners to give themselves the air of being free men. That is why their mockery touches me so closely.
7. The Jews of Eastern Europe cannot stay where they are. Where are they to go? If you find that they are not wanted here, then some place must be found to which they can migrate without by that migration raising the problems that confront them here. These problems will not arise if a home be found which will be legally recognized as Jewish.
8. You have outbreaks and persecutions which come rarely and then you have this long pressure every day. A man who does not know what it is to be a free man says "no, I am not persecuted" because he has not got his head wounded. He understands by 'persecution' something which we should find very dreadful.
9. It is an economic boycott: Is that persecution? Certainly, then they are persecuted. This question has many forms: in one place they are administrative, and in another place they are legal persecutions...but everywhere [in Russia] the Jew is the scapegoat, the whipping boy, and one day he tries no longer to be a scapegoat and he seeks other skies.
10. It is a permanent state of misery: and beyond that you have the fact that they [Jews in Russia] cannot better their lot. They cannot go into another town to find work. They are under a constant pressure...The present is the consequence of the past. ...[But added to that] this Jew is not sure of his life for tomorrow, and if his house is burned and his windows smashed, that is nothing. He lives in a perpetual fear of the madness of persecution.
11. But what makes the question so painful is that all the other people have homes where they can go back to, and the Jews have not.
12. Since I wrote that book, The Jewish State, the black cloud gathering in the East is worse than it was ...There are about 700,000 Jews in deep misery ...and when I read the evidence here about the housing conditions in East London, that is a paradise. They have in a small room of a few square meters four families and in every corner there is a family.
13. I will give you my definition of a nation, and you can add the adjective "Jewish." A nation is ...a historical group of men of a recognizable cohesion held together by a common enemy. That is in my view a nation. Then if you add to that the word "Jewish" you have what I understand to be the Jewish nation. ..And the common enemy is the anti-Semite.
14. First, they (the Jews in Rumania) are affected by the uncertainty of tomorrow, of the coming day. I think that is one of the greatest disadvantages a man can have, that he is uncertain of not being turned out tomorrow from his profession, and of his house or standing.
15. Every Jew has to go through parliamentary decision to get an authorization or a reception from the Parliament, and they vote upon each demand for citizenship, and they refuse or they grant. There are only about 300 among a quarter of a million who have the rights (of citizenship).
16. A gripping scene awaited me at Sofia. Lining the platform...stood a great throng - who had come on my account...Men, women and children were massed together, Sephardim and Ashkenazim, mere boys and white-bearded patriarchs. ..Everyone pressed around me to shake hands. They cried: leshonoh habo'h b'yerushalayim! ...I too was deeply moved. .
17. I was met at the station in Sofia by two members of the Zionist Association. ...Later I had to go to the synagogue, where hundreds were awaiting me ...I stood in the pulpit before the Holy Ark. When I hesitated for a moment as to how to face the congregation without turning my back to the Ark, someone exclaimed: "You may turn your back even to the Ark, You are holier than the Torah."
18. Only those who do not know the state of the Jews in many parts of Eastern Europe would dare to claim that! Jews are either unfit for or unwilling to engage in manual labor.
19. We are a people - one people.
20. We have honestly tried to submerge ourselves everywhere in the surrounding communities and to preserve only the faith of our fathers. We are not permitted to do so ...In countries where we have already lived for centuries, we are still proclaimed strangers: often by those whose ancestors were not yet in the land when our forefathers were already sighing there.
21. Oppression and persecution cannot exterminate us. No nation on earth has survived such struggles and sufferings as we have. Jew-hating has caused only our weaklings to fall away. Strong Jews stubbornly return to their stem when persecution breaks out.
22. The national personality of the Jews neither can, will, nor need he destroyed. It cannot he because external foes hold it together. It will not he; this it has shown during 2000 years of appalling suffering. It need not be; and this I am trying to prove once more in this pamphlet...Whole branches of Jewry wither and fall, hut the trunk always remains.

Jewish Society

This sketch of Jewish middle class society in Central and Western Europe in the last years of the last century is startling. Herzl paints his contempt for its complacency in cold colors.
23. Educated Jews without means are now all driven into arms of Socialism. Hence we are certain to suffer very severely in the struggle between classes because we are at the most exposed positions of Socialism and Capitalism alike.
24. We are well aware that Jews, with the exception of the richest, have next to no contact with Christians. In some countries, the Jew who does not maintain a couple of spongers, borrowers and dependents, knows no Christian at all. The Ghetto continues to exist within.
25. They who had some means gradually used them up, or else continued to live on the paternal purse. Others were on the lookout for eligible parts, facing the delicious prospect of servitude to wealthy fathers-in-law. Still others engaged in ruthless and not always honorable competition in pursuits, where genteel manners were requisite.
26. Dr. Weiss, a simple rabbi from a provincial town in Moravia, did not know exactly in what company he found himself, and ventured a few shy remarks. "A new movement has arisen within the last few years, which is called Zionism. Its aim is to solve the Jewish problem through colonization on a large scale. All who can no longer bear their present lot will return to our old home, to Palestine."
27. He spoke very quietly, unaware that the people about him were getting ready for an outburst of laughter. "And I'll be ambassador at Vienna!" shouted Gruen. The laughter broke out once more, "I too!" "I too!" The old rabbi, deeply embarrassed, did not again raise his eyes from his plate while the humorists zealously dissected the new idea.
28. For the present there is no helping the Jews. If someone showed them the Promised Land they would scoff at him. For they are demoralized.
29. We shall have to sink still lower, we shall have to be more widely insulted, spat upon, mocked, beaten, robbed and slain before we are ripe for the idea.
30. At present we shall have to swallow the affronts; in high society, where we try to push our way; among the middle classes, the economic squeeze, and at the bottom layer, the most horrible misery. We are not yet desperate enough. So a rescuer is greeted with laughter. Laughter? No, smiles. We no longer have the strength to laugh.
31. As a body the French Jews are hostile to the matter. I expected nothing else. Things here go too well with them to admit thought of a change...Let them only beware of three things: First, lest Jews in other parts of the world discover how enviable is the situation of Jews in France; it would result in a dangerous mass influx of Israelites into your country.
32. Secondly, lest they become much too brilliant Frenchmen, mount too rapidly in the social scale -in short, let them take care not to rise in the world. And thirdly, let them cease troubling themselves about the Jews in other lands... whoever does not declare himself ready to cast his lot with the migrants has no right to tell them where to go or stay. Israelite Frenchmen -if such exist -are therefore in our view not Jews at all, and our cause is none of their business.
33. In the evening I heard "all the snide gossip current among the Jews" who cannot understand why I have undertaken such a thing, in view of my position and without needing to. I answered with a word Professor Kellner said to me the other day: "There are Jews who live on Judaism and those who live for it."
The Jewish Question
To Herzl, the Jewish question is a reality that cannot be wished away by either Jews or non-Jews. It is likewise a political problem, fundamentally, which can be answered only by the concerted action of the civilized world. He, therefore, assumed the task of forcing the Question onto, the agenda of international society.
34. If we assume that there are nine million Jews in the world and that it would be possible to colonize 10,000 Jews in Palestine every year, the Jewish Question would require 900 years for its solution. This would seem to be impracticable.
35. If the Near East question is partially solved together with the Jewish Question it will surely be of advantage to all civilized peoples.
36. Once a satisfactory agreement is concluded with the various political powers involved and a systematic Jewish migration begins, it will last in each country as long as it desires to be rid of its Jews. How will the current be stopped? Simply by the gradual decrease and the final cessation of anti-Semitism. In this way we understand and anticipate the solution of the Problem.
37. Nowhere can there be a question of an exodus of all the Jews. Those who are able or wish to be assimilated will remain behind and be absorbed.
38. It is our opinion that the Jewish question can only be solved by the Jews themselves. …That is why we have abandoned previous methods. ..We no longer want to wear the mask of any other nationality. ...We are not working for the overthrow of all things...We believe that the means of solving the Jewish question are to be found in the existing order of law and society.
39. They [the anti-Zionists] have discovered America. Unfortunately, this discovery was made a little too late. America has no longer any use for poor immigrants, nor has England. ..Even in America it is generally acknowledged that the solution which we propose is the correct one…
40. The artificial means heretofore employed to overcome the state of Jewish distress have been either too petty, such as various attempts at colonization, or mistaken in principle, like the attempts to convert the Jews into peasants in their present homes.
41. Neither a diversion of the stream nor an artificial depression of the intellectual level of our proletariat (by converting them into peasants) can be of avail. The supposedly infallible expedient of assimilation has already been dealt with.
42. I invent nothing. ..I have invented neither the historic condition of the Jews nor the means of improving it.
43. I must ask those Jews who have most earnestly tried to solve the Jewish Question to look upon their previous attempts as mistaken and ineffective.
44. The Jewish Question exists. It would be foolish to deny it. It is a remnant of the Middle Ages which civilized nations do not seem able to shake off even now, try as they will. They certainly showed a generous desire to do so when they emancipated us.
45. I think the Jewish Question is neither a social nor a religious one, although it may likewise take these and other forms. It is a national question, which can be solved only by making it a political world-question to be dealt with by the civilized nations of the world in council.
46. There is the proposal of assimilation ...as a solution of the Jewish question... They mean ...assimilation by intermarriage, so that the small stream of our race may be merged and lost in the broad stream of peoples among whom they live... Suppose the Jews were willing - a very large supposition - how is it to be imagined that people who will not put up with us as neighbors will become allied to us as members of our families? When the world came to appreciate the Jew at his true worth ... then the world would probably recognize his value as a separate entity, and give us our right to exist as a separate people, according us our rightful place among the nations of the world.
47. I am ... arguing this matter... on the presumption that our people were willing to intermarry. But there is nothing the great body and bulk of our people hold to more strongly than the sentiment as to marriage. Intermarriage is not regarded with aversion even by the most Orthodox, so long as the person contracting a marriage with a Jew or Jewess become also a Jew or a Jewess.
48. I myself was an assimilated Jew, and I speak from experience. I think the Jews have rather a natural tendency to assimilate. There arrives a moment when they are well on the way. And then just at that moment comes anti-Semitism...
49. It could not have been the historic import of our emancipation that we cease to be Jews, for we were repulsed whenever we wanted to intermingle with the others. The historic import of our emancipation was rather that we provide a home for our liberated nationality. This we could not have done before. We can do it now if we desire it with all our might.


Herzl regarded anti-Semitism as ineradicable and nourished, inevitably, by the growth of the Jewish population in every land. Accordingly it became a principal motivation in the awakening of his Jewish consciousness and for his solution of the Jewish question in the Jewish State.
50. And in these times, so progressive in most respects, we know ourselves to be surrounded by the old, old hatred. Anti-Semitism...is the up-to-date designation of the movement. The first impression which it made on modern Jews was one of astonishment, then it gave way to pain and resentment. Perhaps our enemies are quite unaware how deeply they wounded the sensibilities of just those of us who were possibly not the primary object of their attack. That very part of Jewry ...that has outgrown the ghetto and lost the habit of petty trading, was pierced to the heart.
51. The new Jewish movement came before the world as a strange apparition, incomprehensible to many. ..Some considered it a ghost of olden times. Was not the Jewish people dead and forgotten? But we had felt dimly, half consciously as it were, that this was not true. Death is the end of all suffering - whence came it that we suffer? In us the words of the thinkers were paraphrased: "I suffer, therefore, I am."
52. Far and near …Jew hatred springs up. No civilized country lies so far to the West that it has not echoed to this ancient hue and cry; no semi-civilization is so backward that it has not acquired the newest forms and catchwords. Suddenly a mob will rush through the streets and flames will consume Jewish property, and sometimes its owners as well.
53. Even though our times are clouded by anti-Semitism we must not forget that they were preceded by more magnanimous days where all civilized nations granted us equal rights. Their intentions were good, but the results were inadequate. Who is to blame - we or others? Perhaps both, or rather conditions of long standing, which were not to be eradicated by laws and ordinances.
54. We must roam the whole of the earth's surface to find a spot where God's ancient people is not cursed and persecuted.
55. Let us draw no false conclusions from the fact that in glorious England the Jews enjoy complete freedom and full human rights... Our English brethren could not enjoy their fortunate situation otherwise than in fear and trembling if it proved attractive to the despairing ones of our people. Immigration of this sort would constitute a danger not only to those who are living here hut to the newcomers as well. For they would unwittingly import in their wretched bundles the very thing from which they were fleeing - anti-Semitism.
56. Misery has swept over Jewry like a tidal wave. Those who have lived in the depths have been submerged. If the inhabitants of higher, more protected spots deny the truth of this shocking fact they are not doing credit to their insight or to their hearts.
57. Kishinev exists wherever Jews undergo bodily and spiritual tortures, wherever their self-respect is wounded and their possessions are damaged because they are Jews. Let us save those who can still be saved.
58. We are what we were made in the Ghetto.
59. Modern anti-Semitism should not be confused with the religious Jew-hate of former times, even if it still occasionally assumes a confessional hue in a few countries. The main current of the anti-Jewish movement has now changed. In the principal countries where anti-Semitism prevails, it does as a result of the emancipation of the Jews...Our emancipation came too late. It was no longer legally possible to remove our disabilities in our established domiciles.
60. Its remote cause is our loss of "assimilability" during the Middle Ages; its immediate cause is our excessive production of average intellects who have no outlet either downward or upwards - that is to say, no wholesome outlet in either direction. When we sink, we are proletarized as revolutionaries, the non-commissioned officers of all revolutionary parties; and at the same time our terrible power of the purse grows above.
61. I do not for a moment imply that I desire such an end [assimilation]. Our national character is too historically famous and, in spite of every degradation, too fine to make its annihilation desirable. We might perhaps be able to dissolve ourselves without a trace in surrounding races if we were left in peace for only two generations on end. But we shall not be left in peace.
62. There seems to be something provoking about our well-being. ..In the world's ignorance and narrowness of heart, it fails to observe that our wellbeing weakens us as Jews and eliminates our peculiarities. It is only pressure that forces us back to the parent stem; only the hatred encompassing us turns us into strangers once more.
63. Only in few places can the anti-Semitism of today be taken for the old religious intolerance. For the most part it is a movement by which civilized nations try to chase away the spectres of their own past.
64. We are probably as much hated for our gifts as for our faults.
65. The nations in whose midst Jews live are either overt or covert anti-Semites.
66. The persecutions were social and economic. Jewish merchants were boycotted, Jewish working-men starved out, Jewish professional men proscribed -not to mention the subtle moral suffering to which a sensitive Jew was exposed... Jew-hatred employed its newest as its oldest devices...The Jews were accused of poisoning the press, as in the Middle Ages they had been accused of poisoning the wells. They were humiliated everywhere in civil life. It became clear that, in the circumstances, they must either become the deadly enemies of a society that was so unjust to them or seek out a refuge for themselves. The latter Course was taken, and here we are. We have saved ourselves.
67. The fact that there is now for the first time since Cromwell a perceptible number of our people in England is the true cause of this Commission [on Alien Immigration] being called together.
68. The cry of restriction in alien immigration arises from the presence here of a perceptible number of Jews and the desire that that number shall not be perceptibly increased.
69. If the number of immigrants grows, I think you will get an anti-Semitic feeling which does not exist in England generally. ..England is not an anti-Semitic country, but I am afraid it could become one some day.
70. Towards evening I went to the Landstrasse district. A silent, tense crowd before the polling station. Suddenly Dr. Lueger appeared in the square. Wild cheering; women waving white kerchiefs from the windows. The police held the people back. A man next to me said with loving fervor but softly: Das ist unser Fuehrer [That is our Leader]. More, than all the declamation an abuse, these few words told me how deeply anti-Semitism is rooted in the heart of the people.
71. The Jewish Question exists wherever Jews live in perceptible numbers. Where it does not exist it is dragged in by immigrating Jews. We naturally move to places where we are not persecuted; and by our presence the persecution then comes about. This is true and must remain true everywhere ...as long as the Jewish Question does not find a political solution. The poor Jews are now carrying the seed of anti-Semitism into England; they have already introduced it into America.
72. Old prejudices against us still lie deep in the hearts of the people ...proverb and fairy-tale are both anti-Semitic. The people everywhere is a great child which can certainly be educated; but its education would require so vast an amount of time that ...we could help ourselves by other means far more swiftly.
73. The infiltration of immigrating Jews, attracted by apparent security and the rise of native Jews in the social scale combine with tremendous force and press towards a bouleversement. Nothing is plainer than this logical conclusion.
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