The Jewish State
By Theodor Herzl
How much has been left unexplained, how many defects, how
many harmful superficialities, and how many useless repetitions in this
pamphlet, which I have thought over so long and so often revised!
But a fair-minded reader, who has sufficient understanding
to grasp the spirit of my words, will not be repelled by these defects. He
will rather be roused thereby to cooperate with his intelligence and energy in
a work which is not one man's task alone, and to improve it.
Have I not explained obvious things and overlooked
I have tried to meet certain objections; but I know that
many more will be made, based on high grounds and low.
To the first class of objections belongs the remark that
the Jews are not the only people in the world who are in a condition of
distress. Here I would reply that we may as well begin by removing a little of
this misery, even if it should at first be no more than our own.
It might further be said that we ought not to create new
distinctions between people; we ought not to raise fresh barriers, we should
rather make the old disappear. But men who think in this way are amiable
visionaries; and the idea of a native land will still flourish when the dust
of their bones will have vanished tracelessly in the winds. Universal
brotherhood is not even a beautiful dream. Antagonism is essential to man's
greatest efforts. But the Jews, once settled in their own State, would
probably have no more enemies. As for those who remain behind, since
prosperity enfeebles and causes them to dimin ish, they would soon disappear
altogether. I think the Jews will always have sufficient enemies, such as
every nation has. But once fixed in their own land, it will no longer be
possible for them to scatter all over the world. The diaspora cannot be
reborn, unless the civilization of the whole easth should collapse; and such a
consummation could be feared by none but foolish men. Our present civilization
possesses weapons powerful enough for its self-defence.
Innumerable objections will be based on low grounds, for
there are more low men than noble in this world. I have tried to remove some
of these narrow-minded notions; and whoever is willing to fall in behind our
white flag with its seven stars, must assist in this campaign of
enlightenment. Perhaps we shall have to fight first of all against many an
evil-disposed, narrow-hearted, short-sighted member of our own race.
Again, people will say that I am furnishing the
Anti-Semites with weapons. Why so? Because I admit the truth? Because I do not
maintain that there are none but excellent men amongst us?
Will not people say that I am showing our enemies the way
to injure us? This I absolutely dispute. My proposal could only be carried out
with the free consent of a majority of Jews. Actidn may be taken against
individuals or even against groups of the most powerful Jews, but Governments
will never take action against all Jews. The equal rights of the Jew before
the law cannot be withdrawn where they have once been conceded; for the first
attempt at withdrawal would immediately drive all Jews, rich and poor alike,
into the ranks of revolutionary parties. The beginning of any official acts of
injustice against the Jews invariably brings about economic crises. Therefore,
no weapons can be effectually used against us, because these injure the hands
that wield them. Meantime hatred grows apace. The rich do not feel it much,
but our poor do. Let us ask our poor, who have been more severely psoletarized
since the last removal of Anti-Semitism than ever before.
Some of our prosperous men may say that the pressure is not
yet severe enough to justify emigration, and that every forcible expulsion
shows how unwilling our people are to depart. True, because they do not know
where to go; because they only pass from one trouble into another. But we are
showing them the way to the Promised Land; and the splendid force of
enthusiasm must fight against the terrible force of habit.
Persecutions are no longer so malignant as they were in the
Middle Ages? True, but our sensitiveness has increased, so that we feel no
diminution in our sufferings; prolonged persecution has overstrained our
Will people say, again, that our enterprise is hopeless,
because even if we obtained the land with supremacy over it, the poor only
would go with us? It is precisely the poorest whom we need at first. Only the
desperate make good conquerors.
Will some one say: Were it feasible it would have been done
It has never yet been possible; now it is possible. A
hundred -- or even fifty years ago it would have been nothing more than a
dream. Today it may become a reality. Our rich, who have a pleasurable
acquaintance with all our technical achievements, know full well how much
money can do. And thus it will be: just the poor and simple, who do nor know
what power man already exercises over the forces of Nature, just these will
have the firmest faith in the new message. For these have never lost their
hope of the Promised Land.
Here it is, fellow Jews! Neither fable nor deception! Every
man may test its reality for himself, for every man will carry over with him a
portion of the Promised Land -- one in his head, another in his arms, another
in his acquired possessions.
Now, ail this may appear to be an interminably long affair.
Even in the most favorable circumstances, many years might elapse before the
commencement of the foundation of the State. In the meantime, Jews in a
thousand different places would suffer insults, mortifications, abuse, blows,
depredation, and death. No; if we only begin to carry out the plans,
Anti-Semitism would stop at once and for ever. For it is the conclusion of
The news of the formation of our Jewish Company will be
carried in a single day to the remotest ends of the earth by the lightning
speed of our telegraph wires.
And immediate relief will ensue. The intellects which we
produce so superabundantly in our middle classes will find an outlet in our
first organizations, as our first technicians, officers, professors,
officials, lawyers, and doctors; and thus the movement will continue in swift
but smooth progression.
Prayers will be offered up for the success of our work in
temples and in churches also; for it will bring relief from an old burden,
which all have suffered.
But we must first bring enlightenment to men's minds. The
idea must make its way into the mast distant, miserable holes where our people
dwell. They will awaken from gloomy brooding, for into their lives will come a
new significance. Every man need think only of himself, and the movement will
assume vast proportions.
And what glory awaits those who fight unselfishly for the
Therefore I believe that a wondrous generation of Jews will
spring into existence. The Maccabeans will rise again.
Let me repeat once more my opening words: The Jews who wish
for a State will have it. We shall live at last as free men on our own soil,
and die peacefully in our own homes.
The world will be freed by our liberty, enriched by our
wealth, magnified by our greatness.
And whatever we attempt there to accomplish for our own
welfare, will react powerfully and beneficially for the good of humanity.
2. The Jewish Question
3. The Jewish Company
4. Local Groups
5. Society of Jews and Jewish State
Source: Translated from the German by Sylvie D'Avigdor, This
edition published in 1946 by the American Zionist Emergency Council, Essential
Texts of Zionism