The name applied to those Jews in various parts of the world who have organized themselves into an association to promote the settlement of Jewish
colonies in the Holy Land
Out of this movement grew a project for the founding of a purely Jewish
political state in Palestine
, the chief advocate
of which was Dr. Theodore Herzl
, editor of the Neue Freie Presse
The Holy Land is under the political control of Turkey
, and while that country is willing to permit the Jews to colonize there for industrial purposes it has distinctly declared that it will not permit the erection of an independent state.
This determination confines the work of the Zionists, especially the Federation of American Zionists, to the purely industrial colonization of the ancient home of the race.
A convention of Zionists was held in Basle, Switzerland
, in August, 1897, when Max Nordau
, summarized the reasons for forming the association and stated its aims.
,” he said, “the Jews are oppressed by governments and subjected to cruelty and ridicule in private life.
The Jews are friendless among the races of the world; they must stand together and help each other.
The best course is to colonize Palestine
It will take about $100,000,000 to carry out the work, and the money is to be raised from the Jews themselves.
Every Jew in the world is to be asked to contribute at least 25 cents a year.
If successful, the association will plant 5,000,000 Jews in Palestine
; and each family must be provided with land, horse, cow, and implements of agriculture.”
The following extract from an official report by United States Consul Germain
, in June, 1897, shows what had been quietly accomplished up to that time: “The settlements founded by Russian
and Rumanian Jewish exiles in the last decade were at first confined to Samarin, to-day called Sichron-Ja'akob, and Rosch-Pinah, in Galilee.
Like all new enterprises, this one was subjected to many drawbacks.
The colonists, formerly merchants or artisans, were inexperienced in their new occupation, and had no one to advise them.
Mistakes in the selection and cultivation of the soil, and subsequent despondency, were the natural consequences.
Charitable gifts from the outside improved the situation.
To-day twenty-two villages, with an area of about 92,000 acres, have sprung up and flourish.
The agricultural school Mikweh-Israel, with an area of 593 acres, which serves as an experimental station and model farm, governs the colonies.
The net earnings of this school are already sufficient to support all the teachers, as well as the 100 pupils.
The largest settlement is the village of Sichron-Ja'akob, which, with an area of 4,942 acres, has 1,000 inhabitants, paved streets, a school-house in charge of five teachers, one synagogue, one physician, and a pharmacy.
The colonists raise principally vegetables and wine grapes, and at the same time, as a side issue, plant fruit trees and spend their spare time on bee culture.
They are also planting mulberry-trees, with a view to silkworm culture in the future.
The village of Rischol l'zion, with an area of 22,239 acres, possesses already 1,500,000 vine stalks (which in 1894 produced about 210,000 gallons of wine), 20,000 mulberry-trees, 10,000 fruit, almond, walnut, fig, and other trees.
Each colonist possesses a stone house, with a vegetable and flower garden
adjacent thereto, a horse and wagon, a cow, and an assortment of domestic fowl.
In the other villages similar conditions prevail.
At Gadrah, a settlement of former Russian
students, a distillery for the manufacture of brandy is already in operation.
All in all, the prospects are now good and encouraging.”
According to the latest statistics there were about 44,000 Jews in Palestine
, about one-half in Jerusalem
and its environs, the other half occupying farming lands near Carmel
and in the valleys of the plains of Sharon
The Rev. Stephen A. Wise
, rabbi of the Madison Avenue
Synagogue, New York City, and secretary of the second annual congress of Zionists in Basle
in 1898, commented as follows on the work then accomplished:
The first congress was held exactly a year ago, upon the initiative of Dr. Theodore Herzl, a gifted man of letters of Vienna, who in his book The Jewish State, has urged Zionism upon the Jewish people as the solution of the Jewish question.
In masterly fashion Dr. Herzl, in this work, portrays the evils engendered by anti-Semitism in almost every country in the world.
Such anti-Semitism being or seeming almost incurable, he declared that the time had come when the Jews must look to themselves to solve the question of their further survival.
This solution he declared to be Zionism.
In other words, the securing of a legally guaranteed home in Palestine or Syria under the necessary jurisdiction of the Ottoman Empire and further guaranteed by a true concert of the European powers.
Dr. Herzl, in convincing fashion, urged the wisdom of Zionism, in so far as it was calculated to put an end to the conflicting interests of the European nations at present contending for supremacy in the Holy Land.
Although Dr. Herzl gave a powerful impulse to the Zionist movement, it should be remembered, as has been well said, that Zionism was born when Israel was first
expelled from Zion.
For 800 years and more this love of Zion has formed no small part of the faith and aspirations of the Jewish people, notably in the second century of the present era, and, as a result, an attempt was made on the part of some Jewish heroes, whose spirit was mightier than their flesh, to wrest Judea from the hands of the Roman victors.
The love of Zion on the part of “Jewish dreamers” translated itself into action.
All such endeavors, however courageously planned and even nobly executed, have been in vain.
Singularly enough, it remained for the nineteenth century, with all its muchboasted enlightenment and wide-spread spirit of toleration, to force upon the Jewish nation, if not the motif, the necessity for looking back with eager longing upon the land of our fathers, owing to the constant persecution to which the house of Israel has been subjected in renewed measure and with redoubled violence during the last score of years.
Nevertheless, as if in answer to the protest of a distinguished Anglo-Jewish leader, Dr. Herzl maintained in his remarkable words incident to the closing of the congress, with calmness and dignity, that Zionism was not merely a sad necessity, but a glorious ideal—a sad necessity, for how few are the lands in which the Hebrews are permitted to dwell in peace and concord by the side of their fellow-men, and a glorious ideal, because Zionism held forth a promise of a higher, larger development of the intellectual and spiritual capabilities inherent within the Hebrew race.
No less than 250,000 Jews have within two years formally and actively identified themselves with the Zionist movement, as is best evidenced by the payment of the “shekel,” which is the annual levy imposed upon the Zionists for the support of the work.
Such number, however, represents at least 1,000,000 or 1,500,000 of Jews, seeing that such contributions are gathered mainly from heads of Jewish families, which are, as a rule, goodly in number, as the world well knows.
In the second place, the congress not merely authorized, but actually established a bank, to be known as the Jewish Colonial Bank, which will have a preliminary capitalization of 50,000,000 francs, such money to be used to further the interests of the cause.
Zionism, however, aims to be worthily representative of all the Jews by proclaiming itself law abiding, and in the light of such principles all further infiltration of foreign Jews into Palestine and Syria will be frowned upon in every way and hindered until all legal restrictions which at present bar the way of the immigrant Jew into the Holy Land shall have been formally and finally removed by Ottoman decree.
In conclusion, I desire to state that for the present, greater than the mere facts, however great, which are to be chronicled, is the tremendous influence upon Jews of every land which Zionism exerts among them.
Even the sternest critics must allow that Zionism has already brought back within the ranks of Judaism hosts, aye, even multitudes, of gifted, forceful men and women, drawn from every rank and circle of condition of Jewish life, who heretofore have held aloof from all touch with the Jewish body politic.
And, in the end, whether it be true or not, as is so stoutly held, that many Zionists have returned to Judaism only by way of Zionism, wherefore the greater is the victory, for, as said by Dr. Max Nordau, “Zionism is Judaism, and Judaism is unthinkable without Zionism.”
The fourth annual convention of the Federation of American Zionists was held in Philadelphia, Pa.
, on June 16-17, 1901.
In his annual report President Richard Gotthiel
We are now reaping the harvest, in many cases a hard harvest, sown by the disorganization which has been produced by want of common purpose, and by our having lived under so many civilizations.
The ultra-democratic spirit that saved the Jew in former times may work his ruin to-day, now that organization and combination are the keynotes of the economic development of our time.
That the change will be accompanied by a wrench it would be foolish to deny, but we must meet the difficulty in the only way that such difficulty can be met, with steadfast heart and the beacon-light of our goal steadily before our eyes.
We must do away with the individualism that has almost become our second
nature, we must learn to obey as well as to rule.
Our Zionist organization, while built upon a solid foundation and reared of parts that closely fit one into the other, is still democratic in spirit in the best sense of the word.
The assertion of Jewish consciousness, not for the purpose of greater gain or more extended power, but with the end in view of making us better men and women, in so far as we become Jews, ought to be at the bottom of all our work.
Secretary Isador D. Morrison
said in his report:
This has been the most prosperous year in the history of the Zionist movement.
The gains have been large, and there are now 151 organizations spread over twenty-seven States and eighty-nine cities, including Manila in the Philippines.
These are all compact bodies and are all working for a common awakening of Jewish sentiment and national con-
We American Jews who have the good fortune to be citizens of a land of freedom and equal rights, have at last come to realize that our brethren living in lands of darkness and persecution are kinsmen bound to us by a common history, religion, and literature; and while we will always remain loyal citizens of this beloved country of ours, we must and will stretch out a helping hand to our brethren across the sea.