Theodor Herzl And Zionism 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 Zionisms 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.