Remembering Herzl on his 116th yahrzeit – The Jerusalem Post

Posted By on July 13, 2020

Sunday 20 Tammuz (July 12) marks the 116th yahrzeit of Theodor Herzl, the father of modern Zionism.Herzl was born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1860, where he was educated in the secular Jewish-German enlightenment milieu. In 1878, following the death of his sister he moved with his parents to Vienna, where Herzl studied law, receiving his doctorate in 1884. The young Herzl quickly turned away from the bar, however, opting instead to pursue writing, playwriting and journalism as a career. He became the Paris correspondent for the liberal Viennese newspaper Neue Freie Presse, and it was there that he first encountered the antisemitism which would be the driving force behind his dream of building a Jewish State in Israel. In 1894 Herzl wrote a play, The Ghetto, rejecting assimilation and conversion as solutions to the problem of antisemitism. That same year, the Dreyfus affair - that of a French Jewish army officer who was wrongly accused of treason and sentenced to life imprisonment - ruptured French society.Herzl witnessed large rallies at which people shouted "Death to the Jews" in the streets of Paris. This, combined with other influences, led Herzl to conclude that the Jewish people needed a homeland of their own. In June 1895, he wrote in his diary: "In Paris, as I have said, I achieved a freer attitude toward antisemitism ... Above all, I recognized the emptiness and futility of trying to 'combat' antisemitism." Over the next few years Herzl engaged himself in meeting with wealthy and influential people who might assist in realizing his vision of a Jewish state. He reached out to Baron Morris Hirsch and Baron Edmond de Rothschild for funding, as well as proposing a funding organization owned by stockholders for Jews to contribute to. This proposal would eventually be realized as the Zionist Organization. Meetings with the Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire in 1898 to encourage world powers to back the Jewish state were less successful, as were meetings in England with Joseph Chamberlain, the British colonial secretary and others. However, the only concrete offer he received from the British was the proposal of a Jewish autonomous region in Uganda. Herzl's most famous quote stands as a testament to his tenacity. "Wenn ihr wollt, ist es kein Mrchen," he wrote in the preface to his Zionist utopian novel Altneuland, titled Tel Aviv in Hebrew, or The Old New Land in English. The phrase is commonly translated as , ('im tirtzu, ein zo agada') in Hebrew, or in English: 'If you will it, it is no dream.'Although his death in 1904 meant that Herzl never saw the founding of the independent State of Israel, his convening of the first Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland in August 1897 paved the way. The Congress ratified the goal of Zionism as being "to establish a National Home for the Jewish People in Eretz Yisrael, that will be secured on the basis of the Law of Nations." The Congress also established the Zionist Organization, and elected Herzl as President, a position he served in until his death.Herzl later wrote in his diary: "In Basel I established the Jewish State. If I were to say it publicly today, the response would be laughter from all directions. Perhaps in another five years, 50 years at the most, everyone will recognize it."He was interred in the Jewish cemetery in Doblingen, near Vienna alongside his parents and wife, but so steadfast was he in his belief in a Jewish state that he left instructions for the family's remains to be re-interred in Israel upon its creation. In August 1949 the first Knesset passed a law stipulating that the Israeli government and World Zionist Organization would together bring Herzl's coffin, and that of his wife and parents to Israel, and on August 17 that same year the family were buried in a state ceremony on Mount Herzl. Herzl is immortal," Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion said. "His tombstone is the State of Israel, which will be built and will grow in love with its sons and builders." The ceremony, Ben-Gurion said, was not "a procession of mourning but a journey of victory, the triumph of the vision that became reality.

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Remembering Herzl on his 116th yahrzeit - The Jerusalem Post

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