|מאגר מידע » Zionism » Essential Texts|
|כותב המאמר: Theodor Herzl|
Men of affairs who are in the mainstream of life often have an astonishingly slight knowledge of economics. This is the only explanation for the fact that even Jews faithfully parrot the catchword of the anti-Semites: we are supposed to be living off the "host nations," and if we had no "host nation" surrounding us, we should have to starve. This is one of the points at which the undermining of our self-respect through unjust accusations manifests itself. What is the truth about this "host nation" theory? To the extent that it is not based on old, narrow, physiocratic views, it reflects the childish misconception that in the life of commodities the same things keep going around. We need not wake from many years of slumbering, like Rip van Winkle, to realize that the world is changed by the incessant production of new commodities. In our time, which is made wonderful by technical progress, even the most stupid of men with his dim vision sees new commodities appearing all around him. The spirit of enterprise has created them.
Without the spirit of enterprise, labor remains stationary and antiquated; typical of it is the labor of the farmer, who still is at the point where his forebears were a thousand years ago. All our material welfare has been brought about by entrepreneurs. One is almost ashamed of writing down such a banal remark. Even if all of us were entrepreneurs - which is what fatuously exaggerated accounts claim we are - we should not need any "host nation." We are not dependent upon the circulation of the same commodities, because we produce new ones.
We now have slave labor of unparalleled productivity whose appearance in the civilized world meant fatal competition for handicrafts; these slaves are our machines. It is true that workmen are needed to set these machines in motion; but for such requirements we have manpower enough - too much, in fact. Only those who are unfamiliar with the condition of the Jews in many parts of Eastern Europe will dare assert that the Jews are unfit or unwilling to perform manual labor.
But in this pamphlet I intend to offer no defense of the Jews. It would be pointless. Everything that reason and even sentiment can say on this subject has already been said. But it is not enough to find arguments that reach the head and the heart; one's audience must first of all be capable of grasping them, for otherwise one will be preaching in the wilderness. But if the audience has advanced to such a high estate then the entire sermon is superfluous. I believe in the ascent of man to ever higher ethical levels, but in my estimation this rise is a desperately slow one. If we wanted to wait until even average people became as charitably inclined as Lessing was when he wrote his Nathan the Wise, we might have to wait beyond our lifetime, beyond the days of our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. But here the spirit of the age comes to our aid from a different angle.
This century has brought us a splendid renaissance through its technical achievements; but this fabulous progress has not yet been utilized for the benefit of humanity. The distances of the surface of the earth have been overcome, and yet we are beset by problems of congestion. Swiftly and safely our great steamships now rush us over hitherto unknown areas. We build safe railroads in a mountain world which people once scaled on foot and with trepidation. Events occurring in countries which were not even discovered when Europe confined the Jews in ghettos are known to us within an hour. This is why the distress of the Jews is an anachronism - and not because there was the Age of Enlightenment a hundred years ago, something that actually existed only for the noblest spirits.
To my mind, the electric light was certainly not invented so that a few snobs might illuminate their sumptuous rooms, but, rather, that we might solve the problems of mankind by its glow. One of these problems, and not the least important, is the Jewish Question. In solving it we are working not only for ourselves, but for many other struggling and overburdened human beings as well.
The Jewish Question exists. It would be foolish to deny it. It is an atavistic bit of medieva lism which the civilized nations have not been able to shake off to this day, try as they might. They did show a magnanimous desire to do so when they emancipated us. The Jewish Question exists wherever Jews live in appreciable numbers. Where it does not exist, it is brought in together with Jewish immigrants. Naturally we move where we are not persecuted; our appearance then gives rise to persecution. This is a fact and is bound to remain a fact everywhere, even in highly developed countries - France is a case in point - as long as the Jewish Question is not solved politically. The unfortunate Jews are now importing anti-Semitism into England; they have already introduced it into America.
I believe I understand anti-Semitism, a highly complex movement. I view it from the standpoint of a Jew, but without hatred or fear. I think I can discern in it the elements of vulgar sport, of common economic rivalry, of inherited prejudice, of religious intolerance-but also of a supposed need for self-defense. To my mind, the Jewish Question is neither a social nor a religious one, even though it may assume these and other guises. It is a national question, and to solve it we must first of all establish it as an international political problem which will have to be settled by the civilized nations of the world in council.
We are a people, one people.
Everywhere we have sincerely endeavored to merge with the national communities surrounding us and to preserve only the faith of our fathers. We are not permitted to do so. In vain are we loyal patriots, in some places even extravagantly so; in vain do we make the same sacrifices of life and property as our fellow citizens; in vain do we strive to enhance the fame of our native countries in the arts and sciences, or their wealth through trade and commerce. In our native lands where, after all, we too have lived for centuries, we are decried as aliens, often by people whose ancestors had not yet come to the country when our fathers' sighs were already heard in the land. The majority can decide who the strangers are; like everything else in relations between peoples, this is a matter of power. I do not waive any part of our prescriptive right when I make this statement as an individual, one with no particular authority. In the world as it is now constituted and will probably continue to be for an indefinite period, might precedes right. So it avails us nothing to be good patriots everywhere, as were the Huguenots, who were forced to emigrate If only we were left in peace…
But I think we shall not be left in peace.
Oppression and persecution cannot exterminate us. No nation in history has endured such struggles and sufferings as we have. Invariably Jew-baiting has induced only our weaklings to become apostates. The strong Jews defiantly return to their own when persecution breaks out. This was readily apparent in the period immediately following the emancipation of the Jews. Those Jews who were on a higher intellectual and material level completely lost any sense of identification with their people. Given extended political well-being, we assimilate everywhere; I think there is nothing discreditable about that. Thus any statesman who wishes to have a Jewish strain added to his nation must see to it that we remain politically secure. But not even a Bismarck could achieve that.
For in the hearts and minds of the people there are still deep-seated prejudices against us. Anyone who wants proof of this need only listen to the people where they speak frankly and simply: fairy-tales and proverbs are anti-Semitic. People everywhere are big children that can be educated, to be sure; but even in the most favorable circumstances this education would take such an enormous amount of time that, as I said before, we could far sooner help ourselves by other means.
Assimilation, by which I mean not only externals in attire, certain ways of life, cus, and speech, but also conformity in feeling and manner-the assimilation of Jews could be accomplished everywhere only by intermarriage. But this would have to be regarded as a necessity by the majority; it would certainly not suffice to declare that intermarriage was legally admissible. The Hungarian Liberals, who have recently legalized intermarriage, labor under a remarkable misconception. The doctrinaire character of this legislation was well illustrated by one of the first cases: a baptized Jew married a Jewess. The fight for the present marriage laws has greatly exacerbated the conflicts between Gentiles and Jews in Hungary, thus impeding rather than promoting the mingling of the races. Those who really desire the disappearance of the Jews through interbreeding can envisage only one possible way of bringing this about. First the Jews would have to gain so much economic power that the old social prejudices against them would be overcome. An example is provided by the aristocracy, among which the greatest proportion of intermarriage occurs. The old nobility has itself refurbished with Jewish money, and in the process Jewish families are absorbed. But what form would this phenomenon take in the middle classes, where, the Jews being a bourgeois people, the Jewish Question is mainly concentrated? There the prerequisite acquisition of power would be tantamount to the economic sovereignty of the Jews, something which they are already falsely accused of. And if the present power of the Jews elicits such cries of indignation and distress signals from the anti-Semites, what outbursts would be produced by a further increase in this power! Such a first step toward absorption cannot be taken, for it would mean the subjugation of the majority by a minority that was but recently despised, a minority that would, not possess any military or administrative power. I therefore think that the absorption of the Jews even by way of their prosperity is unlikely. In countries which are now anti-Semitic my views will be shared. In other countries, where the Jews are doing well at present, my coreligionists will presumably dispute my statements most violently. They will not believe me until they are once again beset by Jew-baiting. And the longer anti-Semitism lies in abeyance, the more fiercely it is bound to erupt. The infiltration of immigrating Jews attracted by apparent security and the rising class status of autochthonous Jews will then combine powerfully to bring about a revolution. Nothing is plainer than this rational conclusion.
However, the fact that 1 draw this conclusion ingenuously and guided only by the truth will probably net me the opposition and enmity of those Jews who are in comfortable circumstances. Insofar as it is only a matter of private interests held by people who feel endangered because they are narrow-minded or cowardly, they might be passed over with contemptuous laughter, for the cause of the poor and downtrodden is more important. But from the outset I wish to keep any erroneous ideas from arising, particularly the notion that Jewish property might be harmed if this plan ever materialized. Therefore I shall give a detailed explanation of everything that concerns property rights. If, on the other hand, my plan never becomes anything but a piece of literature, things will remain as they are anyway.
A more serious objection would be that I am aiding the anti-Semites when I say that we are a people, one people, that I am impeding the assimilation of the Jews where it is being attempted and retroactively endangering it where it has already taken place - to the extent that a solitary writer like myself can impede or endanger anything.
This objection will be brought forward in France especially. I expect it to be raised in other places as well, but I will answer only the French Jews beforehand, because they furnish the most striking example.
However greatly I may esteem personality-the strong individual personality in statesmen, inventors, artists, philosophers, and military leaders, as well as the collective personality of a historic group of human beings which we call "nation"-however much I may esteem personality, I still do not mourn its decline. Whoever can, will, and must perish, let him perish. But the distinctive nationality of the Jews cannot, will not, and need not perish. It cannot, because external foes hold it together. That it does not want to perish it has proved through two thousand years of enormous suffering. It need not perish; this is what I am trying to demonstrate in this pamphlet, following many other Jews who did not abandon hope. Whole branches of Jewry may wither and fall off, but the tree remains alive.
If any or all of French Jewry protest against this plan, saying that they are already "assimilated," my answer is simple: The whole thing is none of their business. They are Israelitic Frenchmen; splendid! But this is a private affair of the Jews.
Actually, the state-forming movement which I am here proposing would not harm Israelitic Frenchmen any more than it would harm those who have "assimilated" in other countries. On the contrary, it would benefit them-yes, benefit them! For they would no longer be disturbed in their "chromatic function," as Darwin put it. They could go ahead and assimilate, because present-day anti-Semitism would have been checked for all time. They would certainly be credited with being assimilated to the depths of their souls if they remained in their present homes even after the new Jewish State, with its superior institutions, had become a reality.
The departure of the ethnically faithful Jews would be even more to the advantage of the "assimilated" than of the Gentile citizens, for they would be rid of the disquieting, unpredictable, unavoidable competition of the Jewish proletariat which is driven from place to place, from country to country, by political pressure and economic distress. This drifting proletariat would become stabilized. At present a number of Gentile citizens, called anti-Semites, are able to oppose the immigration of foreign Jews. Jewish citizens cannot do this, although they are affected far more severely, for they are the first to feel the competition of individuals who engage in similar branches of industry and, furthermore, import anti-Semitism or aggravate the local variety. This is a secret sorrow of assimilated Jews which finds expression in "philanthropic" undertakings. They organize emigration societies for immigrating Jews. This phenomenon contains a paradox which might be comical if it did not involve suffering human beings. Some of these charitable institutions exist not for but against the persecuted Jews. The poorest are to be sent away as fast and as far as possible. And thus, upon closer examination many an apparent friend of the Jews turns out to be only an anti-Semite of Jewish origin dressed up as a philanthropist.
But even the attempts at colonization made by truly well-intentioned men have been unsuccessful so far, interesting experiments though they were. I do not believe that one or another person did it only as a pastime, that they made Jews wander the way one makes horses race. It is too grave and too sad a matter for that. These experiments were interesting in that they constituted on a small scale the practical forerunners of the idea of a Jewish State. They were even useful, for the mistakes made there can serve as lessons when the idea is put into practice on a large scale. To be sure, these attempts have also done harm. The least of the evils, to my mind, is the transplantation of anti-Semitism to new areas-the inevitable consequence of such an artificial infiltration. Far worse is the fact that the unsatisfactory results have made the Jews themselves doubt the fitness of their own human material. However, the following simple argument will serve to dispel such doubts among reasoning persons: What is not practical or feasible on a small scale need not be so on a large scale. A small enterprise may result in a loss under the same conditions that make a large one show a profit. A rivulet cannot be navigated, even by canoes; the river into which it flows carries stately iron vessels.
No man is powerful or wealthy enough to transport a people from one domicile to another. Only an idea can achieve that. The idea of a State probably has such a power. All through the night of their history the Jews have not ceased to dream this royal dream: "Next year in Jerusalem!" is our age-old watchword. Now it is a matter of showing that the dream can be transformed into an idea that is as clear as day.
To achieve this, our minds must first be turned into a tabula rasa [clean slate], purged of many old, outworn, confused, shortsighted notions. Dullards, for example, might imagine that our migration must proceed from civilized regions to the desert. Not so! The migration will take place in the mainstream of civilization. We shall not revert to a lower stage, but rise to a higher one. We shall not move into mud huts but into more beautiful, more modern houses which we shall build and own in safety. We shall not lose our acquired possessions; we shall put them to use. We shall surrender our rights, but in return for better ones. We shall not give up 6ur cherished customs; we shall find them again. We shall not leave our old homes until the new ones are ready. Only those will depart who are certain of improving their lot thereby: first those who are desperate, then the poor, after them the well-to-do, and finally the wealthy. Those who go first will have raised themselves to a higher level by the time the members of the higher class follow. Thus the migration will be an ascent in class at the same time.
The departure of the Jews will not leave in its wake any economic disturbances, any crises or persecutions; instead, a period of prosperity will begin in the countries the Jews have left. There will be an internal migration of the Gentile citizens into the positions the Jews have abandoned. The outflow will be a gradual one, without any upheaval, and its very beginning will mean the end of anti-Semitism. The Jews will leave as honored friends, and if some of them return later, they will be given the same kind of reception and treatment at the hands of civilized nations as the citizens of other foreign states. Nor will their exodus be a flight, but it will be an orderly process under the control of public opinion. Not only should the movement be inaugurated in absolute accordance with the law, but it cannot be carried out at all without the friendly cooperation of the interested governments, which will derive material benefits from it.
Ensuring the integrity of the idea and its vigorous execution will require guarantees which can be supplied only by so-called "moral" or "juridical" persons. I will distinguish between these two designations, which are frequently confused in legal terminology. As a "moral person," to deal with all rights outside the field of private property, I propose to found the "Society of Jews." Next to it there will be the "juridical person" of the "Jewish Company," a commercial body.
Any individual who even considered undertaking such an enormous enterprise might be a swindler or a madman. The integrity of the "moral person" will be guaranteed by the character of its members. The adequate capacity of the "juridical person" will be demonstrated by its capital funds.
The above prefatory remarks were intended as a hasty defense against the first spate of objections which the very words "Jewish State" are bound to evoke. From this point on we shall proceed more slowly, refuting other objections and elaborating on some points that have already been outlined, although we shall try to avoid a ponderous tone in the interests of a lively pamphlet. Short, aphoristic chapters will probably serve this purpose best.
If I wish to replace an old building with a new one, I must demolish before I construct. So I shall observe this sensible sequence. In the first, or general, section concepts must be clarified, stifling old misconceptions swept away, politico-economic premises established, and the plan developed.
In the specific part, which is divided into three main sections, the execution must be described. These three main sections are: The Jewish Company, Local Groups, and Society of Jews. Actually, the Society is to be created first and the Company last; but in this exposition the reverse order is preferable, because the greatest doubts will be voiced as to the financial feasibility, and these doubts must be dispelled at the outset.
In the Conclusion I shall have to do final battle with the remaining objections that may be expected. I hope that my Jewish readers will follow me patiently to the end. Some will raise their objections in another order than that chosen for their refutation. But whoever finds his doubts reasonably dispelled, let him embrace the cause.
In speaking here in terms of reason, I am well aware that reason alone is not sufficient. Old prisoners do not willingly leave a prison. We shall see whether the new blood that we need is already available-the young people who sweep the old ones along, carry them forward on strong arms, and translate reason into enthusiasm.
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