The Jewish State
By Theodor Herzl
Society of Jews
and Jewish State
This pamphlet is not intended for lawyers. I can therefore touch only
cursorily, as on so many other things, upon my theory of the legal basis of a
I must, nevertheless, lay some stress on my new theory, which could be
maintained, I believe, even in discussion with men well versed in
According to Rousseau's now antiquated view, a State is formed by a social
contract. Rousseau held that: "The conditions of this contract are so
precisely defined by the nature of the agreement that the slightest alteration
would make them null and void. The consequence is that, even where they are
not expressly stated, they are everywhere identical, and everywhere tacitly
accepted and recognized," etc.
A logical and historic refutation of Rousseau's theory was never, nor is now,
difficult, however terrible and far-reaching its effects may have been. The
question whether a social contract with "conditions not expressly stated,
yet unalterable," existed before the framing of a constitution, is of no
practical interest to States under modern forms of government. The legal
relationship between government and citizen is in any case clearly established
But previous to the framing of a constitution, and during the creation of a
new State, these principles assume great practical importance. We know and see
for ourselves that States still continue to be created. Colonies secede from
the mother country. Vassals fall away from their suzerain; newly opened
territories are immediately formed into free States. It is true that the
Jewish State is conceived as a peculiarly modern structure on unspecified
territory. But a State is formed, not by pieces of land, but rather by a
number of men united under sovereign rule.
The people is the subjective, land the objective foundation of a State, and
the subjective basis is the more important of the two. One sovereignty, for
example, which has no objective basis at all, is perhaps the most respected
one in the world. I refer to the sovereignty of the Pope.
The theory of rationality is the one at present accepted in political science.
This theory suffices to justify the creation of a State, and cannot be
historically refuted in the same way as the theory of a contract. Insofar as I
am concerned only with the creation of a Jewish State, I am well within the
limits of the theory of rationality. But when I touch upon the legal basis of
the State, I have exceeded them. The theories of a divine institution, or of
superior power, or of a contract, and the patriarchal and patrimonial theories
do not accord with modern views. The legal basis of a State is sought either
too much within men (patriarchal theory, and theories of superior force and
contract), or too far above them (divine institution), or too far below them
(objective patrimonial theory). The theory of rationality leaves this question
conveniently and carefully unanswered. But a question which has seriously
occupied doctors of jurisprudence in every age cannot be an absolutely idle
one. As a matter of fact, a mixture of human and superhuman goes to the making
of a State. Some legal basis is indispensable to explain the somewhat
oppressive relationship in which subjects occasionally stand to rulers. I
believe it is to be found it; the negotiorum gestio, wherein the body
of citizens represents the dominus negotiorum, and the government
represents the gestor.
The Romans, with their marvellous sense of justice, produced that noble
masterpiece, the negotiorum gestio. When the property of an oppressed
person is in danger, any man may step forward to save it. This man is the gestor,
the director of affairs not strictly his own. He has received no warrant --
that is, no human warrant; higher obligations authorize him to act. The higher
obligations may be formulated in different ways for the State, and so as to
respond to individual degrees of culture attained by a growing general power
of comprehension. The gestio . is intended
to work for the good of the dominus -- the people, to whom the gestor
The gestor administers property of which he is joint-owner. His joint
proprietorship teaches him what urgency would warrant his intervention, and
would demand his leadership in peace or war; but under no circumstances is his
authority valid qua joint proprietorship. The consent of the numerous
joint-owners is even under most favorable conditions a matter of conjecture.
A State is created by a nation's struggle for existence. In any such struggle
it is impossible to obtain proper authority in circumstantial fashion
beforehand. In fact, any previous attempt to obtain a regular decision from
the majority would probably ruin the undertaking from the outset. For internal
schisms would make the people defenceless against external dangers. We cannot
all be of one mind; the gestor will therefore simply take the
leadership into his hands and march in the van.
The action of the gestor . of the State is
sufficiently warranted if the common cause is in danger, and the dominus .
is prevented, either by want of will or by some other reason, from
But the gestor becomes similar to the dominus by his intervention, and
is bound by the agreement quasi ex contractu. This is the legal
relationship existing before, or, more correctly, created simultaneously with
The gestor .. thus becomes answerable far
every form of negligence, even for the failure of business undertakings, and
the neglect of such affairs as are intimately connected with them, etc. I
shall not further enlarge on the negotiorum gestio, but rather leave it
to the State, else it would take us too far from the main subject. One remark
only: "Business management, if it is approved by the owner, is just as
effectual as if it had originally been carried on by his authority."
And how does all this affect our case?
The Jewish people are at present prevented by the Diaspora from conducting
their political affairs themselves. Besides, they are in a condition of more
or less severe dis- tress in many parts of the world. They need, above all
things a gestor . This gestor . cannot,
of course, be a single individual. Such a one would either make himself
ridiculous, or -- seeing that he would appear to be working for his own
interests -- contemptible.
The gestor of the Jews must therefore
be a body corporate.
And that is the Society of Jews.
THE GESTOR OF THE JEWS
This organ of the national movement, the nature and functions of which we
are at last dealing with, will, in fact, be created before everything else.
Its formation is perfectly simple. It will take shape among those energetic
Jews to whom I imparted my scheme in London [Dr. Herzl addressed a meeting of
the Maccabean Club, at which Israel Zangwill presided, on November 24th,
The Society will have scientific and political tasks, for the founding of a
Jewish State, as I conceive it, presupposes the application of scientific
methods. We cannot journey out of Egypt today in the primitive fashion of
ancient times. We shall previously obtain an accurate account of our number
and strength. The undertaking of that great and ancient gestar of the Jews in
primitive days bears much the same relation to ours that some wonderful melody
bears to a modern opera. We are playing the same melody with many more
violins, flutes, harps, violoncellos, and bass viols; with electric light,
decorations, choirs, beautiful costumes, and with the first singers of their
This pamphlet is intended to open a general discussion on the Jewish
Question. Friends and foes will take part in it; but it will no longer, I
hope, take the form of violent abuse or of sentimental vindication, but of a
debate, practical, large, earnest, and political.
The Society of Jews will gather all available declarations of statesmen,
parliaments, Jewish communities, societies, whether expressed in speeches or
writings, in meetings, newspapers or books.
Thus the Society will find out for the first time whether the Jews really
wish to go to the Promised Land, and whether they must go there. Every Jewish
community in the world will send contributions to the Society towards a
comprehensive collection of Jewish statistics.
Further tasks, such as investigation by experts of the new country and its
natural resources, the uniform planning of migration and settlement,
preliminary work for legislation and administration, etc., must be rationally
evolved out of the original scheme.
Externally, the Society will attempt, as I explained before in the general
part, to be acknowledged as a State-forming power. The free assent of many
Jews will confer on it the requisite authority in its relations with
Internally, that is to say, in its relation with the Jewish people, the
Society will create all the first indispensable institutions; it will be the
nucleus out of which the public institutions of the Jewish State will later on
Our first object is, as I said before, supremacy, assured to us by
international law, over a portion of the globe sufficiently large to satisfy
our just requirements.
What is the next step?
THE OCCUPATION OF THE LAND
When nations wandered in historic times, they let chance carry them, draw
them, fling them hither and thither, and like swarms of locusts they settled
down indifferently anywhere. For in historic times the earth was not known to
man. But this modern Jewish migration must proceed in accordance with
Not more than forty years ago gold-digging was carried on in an
extraordinarily primitive fashion. What adventurous days were those in
California! A report brought desperados together from every quarter of the
earth; they stole pieces of land, robbed each other of gold, and finally
gambled it away, as robbers do.
But today! What is gold-digging like in the Transvaal today? Adventurous
vagabonds are not there; sedate geologists and engineers alone are on the spot
to regulate its gold industry, and to employ ingenious machinery in separating
the ore from surrounding rock. Little is left to chance now.
Thus we must investigate and take possession of the new Jewish country by
means of every modern expedient.
As soon as we have secured the land, we shall send over a ship, having on
board the representatives of the Society, of the Company, and of the local
groups, who will enter into possession at once.
These men will have three tasks to perform: (1) An accurate, scientific
investigation of all natural resources of the country; (2) the organization of
a strictly centralized administration; (3) the distribution of land. These
tasks intersect one another, and will all be carried out in conformity with
the now familiar object in view.
One thing remains to be explained -- namely, how the occupation of land
according to local groups is to take place.
In America the occupation of newly opened territory is set about in naive
fashion. The settlers assemble on the frontier, and at the appointed time make
a simultaneous and violent rush for their portions.
We shall not proceed thus to the new land of the Jews. The lots in
provinces and towns will be sold by auction, and paid for, not with money, but
in work. The general plan will have settled on streets, bridges, waterworks,
etc., necessary for traffic. These will be united into provinces. With- in
these provinces sites for towns will be similarly sold by auction. The local
groups will pledge themselves to carry the business property through, and will
cover the cost by means of self-imposed assessments. The Society will be in a
position to judge whether the local groups are not venturing on sacrifices too
great for their means. The large communities will receive large sites for
their activity. Great sacrifices will thus be rewarded by the establishment of
universities, technical schools, academies, research institutes, etc., and
these Government institutes, which do not have to be concentrated in the
capital, will be distributed over the country.
The personal interest of the buyers, and, if necessary, the local
assessment, will guarantee the proper working of what has been taken over. In
the same way, as we cannot, and indeed do not wish to obliterate distinctions
between single individuals, so the differences between local groups will also
continue. Everything will shape itself quite naturally. All acquired rights
will be protected, and every new development will be given sufficient scope.
Our people will be made thoroughly acquainted with all these matters.
We shall not take others unawares or mislead them, any more than we shall
Everything must be systematically settled beforehand. I merely indicate
this scheme: our keenest thinkers will combine in elaborating it. Every social
and technical achievement of our age and of the more advanced age which will
be reached before the slow execution of my plan is accomplished must be
employed for this object. Every valuable invention which exists now, or lies
in the future, must be used. By these means a country can be occupied and a
State founded in a manner as yet unknown to history, and with possibilities of
success such as never occurred before.
One of the great commissions which the Society will have to appoint will be
the council of State jurists. These must formulate the best, that is, the best
modern constitution possible. I believe that a good constitution should be of
moderately elastic nature. In another work I have explained in detail what
forms of government I hold to be the best. I think a democratic monarchy and
an aristocratic republic are the finest forms of a State, because in them the
form of State and the principle of government are opposed to each other, and
thus preserve a true balance of power. I am a staunch supporter of monarchial
institutions, because these allow of a continuous policy, and represent the
interests of a historically famous family born and educated to rule, whose
desires are bound up with the preservation of the State. But our history has
been too long interrupted for us to attempt direct continuity of ancient
constitutional forms, without exposing ourselves to the charge of absurdity.
A democracy without a sovereign's useful counterpoise is extreme in
appreciation and condemnation, tends to idle discussion in Parliaments, and
produces that objectionable class of men -- professional politicians. Nations
are also really not fit for unlimited democracy at present, and will become
less and less fitted for it in the future. For a pure democracy presupposes a
predominance of simple customs, and our customs become daily more complex with
the growth of commerce and increase of culture. "Le ressort d'une
democracie est la vertu," said wise Montesquieu. and where is this
virtue, that is to say, this political virtue, to be met with? I do not
believe in our political virtue; first, because we are no better than the rest
of modern humanity; and, secondly, because freedom will make us show our
fighting qualities at first. I also hold a settling of questions by the
referendum to be an unsatisfactory procedure, because there are no simple
political questions which can be answered merely by Yes and No. The masses are
also more prone even than Parliaments to be led away by heterodox opinions,
and to be swayed by vigorous ranting. It is impossible to formulate a wise
internal or external policy in a popular assembly.
Politics must take shape in the upper strata and work downwards. But no
member of the Jewish State will be oppressed, every man will be able and will
wish to rise in it. Thus a great upward tendency will pass through our people;
every individual by trying to raise himself, raising also the whole body of
citizens. The ascent will take a normal form, useful to the State and
serviceable to the National Idea.
Hence I incline to an aristocratic republic. This would satisfy the
ambitious spirit in our people, which has now degenerated into petty vanity.
Many of the institutions of Venice pass through my mind; but all that which
caused the ruin of Venice must be carefully avoided. We shall learn from the
historic mistakes of others, in the same way as we learn from our own; for we
are a modern nation, and wish to be the most modern in the world. Our people,
who are receiving the new country from the Society, will also thankfully
accept the new constitution it offers them. Should any opposition manifest
itself, the Society will suppress it. The Society cannot permit the exercise
of its functions to be interpreted by short-sighted or ill-disposed
It might be suggested that our want of a common current language would
present difficulties. We cannot converse with one another in Hebrew. Who
amongst us has a sufficient acquaintance with Hebrew to ask for a railway
ticket in that language! Such a thing cannot be done. Yet the difficulty is
very easily circumvented. Every man can preserve the language in which his
thoughts are at home. Switzerland affords a conclusive proof of the
possibility of a federation of tongues. We shall remain in the new country
what we now are here, and we shall never cease to cherish with sadness the
memory of the native land out of which we have been driven.
We shall give up using those miserable stunted jargons, those Ghetto
languages which we still employ, for these were the stealthy tongues of
prisoners. Our national teachers will give due attention to this matter; and
the language which proves itself to be of greatest utility for general
intercourse will be adopted without compulsion as our national tongue. Our
community of raceis peculiar and unique, for we are bound together only by the
faith of our fathers.
Shall we end by having a theocracy? No, indeed. Faith unites us, knowledge
gives us freedom. We shall therefore prevent any theocratic tendencies from
coming to the fore on the part of our priesthood. We shall keep our priests
within the confines of their temples in the same way as we shall keep our
professional army within the confines of their barracks. Army and priesthood
shall receive honors high as their valuable functions deserve. But they must
not interfere in the administration of the State which confers distinction
upon them, else they will conjure up difficulties without and within.
Every man will be as free and undisturbed in his faith or his disbelief as
he is in his nationality. And if it should occur that men of other creeds and
different nationalities come to live amongst us, we should accord them
honorable protection and equality before the law. We have learnt toleration in
Europe. This is not sarcastically said; for the Anti-Semitism of today could
only in a very few places be taken for old religious intolerance. It is for
the most part a movement among civilized nations by which they try to chase
away the spectres of their own past.
When the idea of a State begins to approach realization, the Society of
Jews will appoint a council of jurists to do the preparatory work of
legislation. During the transition period these must act on the principle that
every emigrant Jew is to be judged according to the laws of the country which
he has left. But they must try to bring about a unification of these various
laws to form a modern system of legislation based on the best portions of
previous systems. This might become a typical codification, embodying all the
just social claims of the present day.
The Jewish State is conceived as a neutral one. It will therefore require
only a professional army, equipped, of course, with every requisite of modern
warfare, to preserve order internally and externally.
We have no flag, and we need one. If we desire to lead many men, we must
raise a symbol above their heads.
I would suggest a white flag, with seven golden stars. The white field
symbolizes our pure new life; the stars are the seven golden hours of our
working-day. For we shall march into the Promised Land carrying the badge of
RECIPROCITY AND EXTRADITION TREATIES
The new Jewish State must be properly founded, with due regard to our
future honorable position in the world. Therefore every obligation in the old
country must be scrupulously fulfilled before leaving. The Society of Jews and
the Jewish Company will grant cheap passage and certain advantages in
settlement to those only who can present an official testimonial from the
local authorities, certifying that they have left their affairs in good order.
Every just private claim originating in the abandoned countries will be
heard more readily in the Jewish State than anywhere else. We shall not wait
for reciprocity; we shall act purely for the sake of our own honor. We shall
thus perhaps find, later on, that law courts will be more willing to hear our
claims than now seems to be the case in some places.
It will be inferred, as a matter of course, from previous remarks, that we
shall deliver up Jewish criminals more readily than any other State would do,
till the time comes when we can enforce our penal code on the same principles
as every other civilized nation does. There will therefore be a period of
transition, during which we shall receive our criminals only after they have
suffered due penalties. But, having made amends, they will be received without
any restrictions whatever, for our criminals also must enter upon a new life.
Thus emigration may become to many Jews a crisis with a happy issue. Bad
external circumstances, which ruin many a character, will be removed, and this
change may mean salvation to many who are lost.
Here I should like briefly to relate a story I came across in an account of
the gold mines of Witwatersrand. One day a man came to the Rand, settled
there, tried his hand at various things, with the exception of gold mining,
till he founded an ice factory, which did well. He soon won universal esteem
by his respectability, but after some years he was suddenly arrested. He had
committed some defalcations as banker in Frankfort, had fled from there, and
had begun a new life under an assumed name. But when he was led away as
prisoner, the most respected people in the place appeared at the station, bade
him a cordial farewell and au revoir -- for he was certain to return.
How much this story reveals! A new life can regenerate even criminals, and
we have a proportionately small number of these. Some interesting statistics
on this point are worth reading, entitled "The Criminality of Jews in
Germany," by Dr. P. Nathan, of Berlin, who was commissioned by the
"Society for Defense against Anti-Semitism" to make a collection of
statistics based on official returns. It is true that this pamphlet, which
teems with figures, has been prompted, as many another "defence," by
the error that Anti-Semitism can be refuted by reasonable arguments. We are
probably disliked as much for our gifts as we are for our faults.
BENEFITS OF THE EMIGRATION OF THE JEWS
I imagine that Governments will, either voluntarily or under pressure from
the Anti-Semites, pay certain attention to this scheme, and they may perhaps
actually receive it here and there with a sympathy which they will also show
to the Society of Jews.
For the emigration which I suggest will not create any economic crises.
Such crises as would follow everywhere in consequence of Jew-baiting would
rather be prevented by the carrying out of my plan. A great period of
prosperity would commence in countries which are now Anti- Semitic. For there
will be, as I have repeatedly said, an internal migration of Christian
citizens into the positions slowly and systematically evacuated by the Jews.
If we are not merely suffered, but actually assisted to do this, the movement
will have a generally beneficial effect. That is a narrow view, from which one
should free oneseli, which sees in the departure of many Jews a consequent
impoverishment of countries. It is different from a departure which is a
result of persecution, for then property is indeed destroyed, as it is ruined
in the confusion of war. Different again is the peaceable voluntary departure
of colonists, wherein everything is carried out with due consideration for
acquired rights, and with absolute conformity to law, openly and by light of
day, under the eyes of the authorities and the control of public opinion. The
emigration of Christian proletarians to different parts of the world would be
brought to a standstill by the Jewish movement.
The States would have a further advantage in the enormous increase of their
export trade; for, since the emigrant Jews "over there" would depend
for a long time to come on European productions, they would necessarily have
to import them. The local groups would keep up a just balance, and the
customary needs would have to be supplied for a long time at the accustomed
Another, and perhaps one of the greatest advantages, would be the ensuing
social relief. Social dissatisfaction would be appeased during the twenty or
more years which the emigration of the Jews would occupy, and would in any
case be set at rest during the whole transition period.
The shape which the social question may take depends entirely on the
development of our technical resources. Steampower concentrated men in
factories about machinery where they were overcrowded, and where they made one
another miserable by overcrowding. Our present enormous, injudicious, and
unsystematic rate of production is the cause of continual severe crises which
ruin both employers and employees. Steam crowded men together; electricity
will probably scatter them again, and may perhaps bring about a more
prosperous condition of the labor market. In any case our technical inventors,
who are the true benefactors of humanity, will continue their labors after the
commencement of the emigration of the Jews, and they will discover things as
marvellous as those we have already seen, or indeed more wonderful even than
The word "impossible" has ceased to exist in the vocabulary of
technical science. Were a man who lived in the last century to return to the
earth, he would find the life of today full of incomprehensible magic.
Wherever the moderns appear with our inventions, we transform the desert into
a garden. To build a city takes in our time as many years as it formerly
required centuries; America offers endless examples of this. Distance has
ceased to be an obstacle. The spirit of our age has gathered fabulous
treasures into its storehouse. Every day this wealth increases. A hundred
thousand heads are occupied with speculations and research at every point of
the globe, and that any one discovers belongs the next moment to the whole
world. We ourselves will use and carry on every new attempt in our Jewish
land; and just as we shall introduce the seven-hour day as an experiment for
the good of humanity, so we shall proceed in everything else in the same
humane spirit, making of the new land a land of experiments and a model State.
After the departure of the Jews the undertakings which they have created
will remain where they originally were found. And the Jewish spirit of
enterprise will not even fail where people welcome it. For Jewish capitalists
will be glad to invest their funds where they are familiar with surrounding
conditions. And whereas Jewish money is now sent out of countries on account
of existing persecution and is sunk in most distant foreign undertakings, it
will flow back again in consequence of this peaceable solution, and will
contribute to the further progress of the countries which the Jews have left.
2. The Jewish Question
3. The Jewish Company
4. Local Groups
Source: Translated from the German by Sylvie D'Avigdor, This
edition published in 1946 by the American Zionist Emergency Council, Essential
Texts of Zionism