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Teodoro (Biniamin Zeev) Hertzel
Father of the Zionism

Biniamín Zeev Herzl

Teodoro (Biniamín Zeev) Herzl, the visionary of the Zionism, was born in Budapest in 180. German - Jew of the epoch was educated in the spirit of the Iluminismo, learning to value the secular culture. In 1878 his family moved to Vienna, and in 1884 Herzl obtained his doctorate in Laws of the University of Vienna. It turned into writer, playwright and journalist. The correspondent in Paris of the influential Viennese liberal newspaper Neue Freie Presse was precisely Teodoro Herzl.

Herzl stumbled for the first time over the anti-Semitism, which would transform his life and the destination of the Jews in the XXth century, while he was studying in the University of Vienna (1882). Later, during his stay in Paris like journalist, it faced straight the problem. Then he was considering to the Jewish problem like a question of social character and he wrote a drama, The Ghetto (1894), in which the assimilation and the conversion were pushed back like probable solutions. Herzl was hoping that The Ghetto should drive to a polemic and finally to a solution, which was based on a mutual tolerance between Christians and Jews.

In 1894, captain Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish official of the French army, was accused unjustly of treachery, principally due to the reigning anti-Semitic ambience. Herzl attended as the plebs was shouting "Death to the Jews" in France, the cradle of the French Revolution, and decided that only one existed solution: the massive emigration of the Jews towards a country whom they could call proper. This way, the Case Dreyfus happened to be one of the determinant factors in the genesis of the Political Zionism.

Herzl came to the conclusion that the anti-Semitism was a stable and unchangeable factor in the human society, that the assimilation would not solve. He pondered on the idea of a Jewish sovereignty and, in spite of the ridiculous one to which the Jewish leaders would submit it, he published the brief treatise Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State, 1896).

Herzl argued that the extract of the Jewish problem was not individual but national. He declared that the Jews might be accepted in the world only if there were stopping being a national anomaly. The Jews are a people, he said, and his situation can be transformed into a positive force by means of the establishment of the Jewish state with the assent of the big potency. The vio the Jewish question as a problem of international politics, which must be treated in the sand of the international politics.

Herzl proposed a practical program for the compilation of funds of the Jews of the whole world by means of a company that would be a property of the shareholders and that would work towards the practical achievement of this goal. (This organization, when it was created possibly, was called the Zionist Organization). Model was considering the future state like the state from the social point of view, basing his ideas on the European model of the epoch, a modern illustrated society. It should be neutral and in favor of the peace, and of secular nature.

Jibat Tzión was a pre-Zionist movement that began in the decade of 1880, and it was fighting for the renaissance of the Jewish life in the Earth. His adherents worked for the physical development of the country and founded agricultural establishments in Palestine. When the First Zionist Congress met in 1897, they had already begun to transform the face of the country.

Herzl, nevertheless, was considering the international recognition to be the target of the Zionist movement for a Jewish national entity in the Earth of Israel, more than his slow development by means of establishments.

In his Zionist novel, Altneuland (Old New Earth, 1902), Herzl presented the future Jewish state like a socialistic utopia. It had the vision of a new society who would arise in the Earth of Israel on a cooperative base using the science and the technology in the development of the country.

It included ideas detailed with regard to the form in which it saw the political structure of the future state, the immigration, the collection of funds, diplomatic relations, social laws and the relations between religion and the state. In Altneuland, the Jewish state was foreseen like a society pluralista and of advanced post, a "light for the nations". This book had a big impact between the Jews of the epoch and turned into symbol of the Zionist vision in the Earth of Israel.

The ideas of Herzl were received enthusiastically by the Jewish masses in Eastern Europe, although the Jewish leaders showed less fervor. In spite of that, Herzl summoned and presided at the First Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland from August 29 until August 31, 1897, the first international meeting of Jews on a national and secular base.

Here the delegates adopted the Program of Basel, the program of the Zionist movement, and declared that "the Zionism tries to establish in Palestine a hearth for the Jewish people that is guaranteed by the public law". On the Congress the Zionist Organization was founded like political arm of the Jewish people, and Herzl was elect his first president.

The same year, Herzl founded the weekly paper Zionist Die Welt and initiated the activities to obtain the recognition for a Jewish establishment in the country. After the First Zionist Congress, the movement met annually in the frames of an International Zionist Congress. In 1936 the center of the Zionist Movement was moved to Jerusalem.

Herzl understood the need for an approval of the big potency for the targets of the Jewish people in the Earth. That's why, he traveled to the Earth of Israel and to Istanbul in 1898 to meet Kaiser Guillermo II of Germany and the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.

When these efforts demonstrated to be sterile, it returned to Great Britain and met Joseph Chamberlain, the British minister of colonies, and others. The only concrete offer that received on the part of the Britons was the proposal of a Jewish autonomous region in the East Africa, in Uganda.

The pogrom of Kishinev in 1903 and the difficult situation of the Russian judeidad, which he attended in person during a visit to Russia, caused him a strong impression. It presented to the Sixth Zionist Congress (1903) the British proposal of Uganda as temporary refuge for the Jews of Russia who were in immediate danger. Although Herzl left in clear that this proposition would not affect the final goal of the Zionism, a Jewish entity in the Earth of Israel, the proposal woke up a thunderstorm in the Congress and almost it provoked a schism in the Zionist movement.

The Program of Uganda was pushed back finally by the Zionist movement in the Seventh Zionist Congress in 1905. Herzl died in 1904 of pneumonia, and of a cardiac weakness due to the work excess for his incessant efforts to the advantage of the Zionism, but by that time the movement had already found his place in the world political map. In 1949 the Herzl mortal remains were brought to Israel and they buried in the Mount Herzl, in Jerusalem.

Herzl minted the phrase "If you want it, it will not be a legend", that turned into the motto of the Zionist movement. Although in his moment nobody had imagined it, the Zionism drove, in only fifty years, to the establishment of the State of sovereign Israel.

Source: MFA - Foreign Office of Israel

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