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Title: History of Zionism, Vol. I (of 2)


Author: Nahum Sokolow

Release Date: May 26, 2023 [eBook #70864]

Language: English

Produced by: Richard Hulse, Tony Browne, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive)

Book Cover


(‡ Dr. Theodor Herzl)

Transcriber’s Notes

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The text has been corrected based on the corrections noted in the Corrigenda of Volume 2.

The index from Volume 2 has been appended to the end of this text linking the references in this volume.

History of Zionism







Selected and Arranged









In this work an attempt is made to deal with a considerable portion of the history of Zionism that has hitherto been very imperfectly explored, namely, the origin and development of the Zionist idea principally in England, and partly in France, during the last centuries, among Gentiles and Jews.

In reviewing the gradual evolution of the Zionist idea over such a wide field, I could not restrict the meaning of the term “Zionism” to the Zionist Movement and Organization of the present day. I had to go back to the beginning of this idea, and to extend the meaning of “Zionism” to all aspirations and efforts tending in the same direction. There was in these aspirations, undoubtedly, a diversity of reasons and methods which continues to this day. It is the object of the present work to trace these various currents of the idea so that the reader, passing from period to period, and from section to section, may become acquainted with their relative value and their influence upon one another.

In this book I have striven more especially to consider the attitude of the English people towards Zionism, as revealed in the political history and in the literature of England. The Christian religious idea of the Restoration of Israel having been a subject of pre-eminent interest and importance and an influential factor in shaping public opinion in this country for many generations, the greatest care has been bestowed upon the investigation of this aspect, no less than on that relating to the support and encouragement which Zionism has received in England and in France merely on humanitarian or political grounds, apart from religious aspirations.

While tracing in detail the growth of these sympathies, I have endeavoured to throw some light on the motives and sentiments appertaining to the most significant instances on record. I had, therefore, to deal with a great variety of subjects which, at first sight, may seem somewhat remote from the main object of this book, but are after all closely connected with it, as for instance:—

The Biblical character of the English People;

The Bible in English Literature;

The Love for Palestine in England, and

English Politics in the Near East.

Concerning the last-mentioned subject, it is perhaps necessary to explain why I was compelled to deal at such length with the Wars and Treaties of 183940, of 185354, and The Lebanon events of 1860, etc. It can hardly be too often repeated that Zionism has to consider political conditions, and that its realization depends much on the general political situation. It is for this reason that it is necessary to devote much attention to all the events which have more or less determined English policy, and have influenced—in a favourable or unfavourable manner—the evolution of the Zionist idea. The events of 183940, for instance, were responsible for the extension of English protection to Palestinian Jews; those of 185354 caused a revival of Zionist schemes: The Lebanon developments of 186061 created a precedent in Syria for the Charter which modern Zionism included in its programme; while England’s engagements in the Near East in 1878 and 1882 on the one hand, and the Turkish Revolution of 1908 on the other hand, both of which, in different ways, led to the idea of a rejuvenation of the East, indicate the possible course of future events.

Taking the same view with regard to Zionism among the Jews themselves, I had to deal with the expression of different aspirations of that character in their successive and gradual evolution, no matter how they were named. From what is stated in the following pages, it is obvious that Messianic traditions and hopes led to the efforts put forth for the colonization of Palestine; but it is also evident that colonization requires political guarantees. Modern Zionism cannot be fully understood without the movement of the Chovevé Zion = Lovers of Zion , neither can it be properly appreciated without a knowledge of the influence of Hebrew literature, national propaganda, the movement at the Universities, and other preparatory agencies of great importance. Some readers will be more or less familiar with the most important events in connection with the Zionist Organization, but so far as I have been able to discover there are very few Zionists who have ever endeavoured to trace the history of the Idea. Hence, while the Zionist Organization and its institutions have, naturally, received special attention, an exhaustive examination of the history of the Zionist Idea has been no less necessary. The fact should not be overlooked that Zionism has its external and its internal aspects, its material realities as well as its spiritual character; and that the outward form of Zionism is the consequence and not the cause of the inner spirit. A real knowledge of Zionism presupposes an acquaintance with its intellectual sources. I felt, consequently, that a history of Zionism on broad lines must include a survey of the creative forces underlying the Zionist Idea.

In writing the history of Zionism as evolved principally in England and France, I do not intend to imply that the history of Zionism in any other country is unworthy of study. A history of Zionism in other countries would, no doubt, prove of the greatest interest. But it will be apparent that in England the Zionist idea has the oldest records, while as far as practical help for colonization is concerned, France is the great centre. In view, however, of the world-wide character of the Zionist Movement, I could not confine myself exclusively to these two countries, and had to deal briefly with such subjects as Zionist literature, colonization work, Zionism at the Universities, and the Zionist Organization in Palestine, Russia, and other countries.

In a single book, which deals with a vast mass of facts and with records extending over a period of nearly three centuries, it is impossible to do more than indicate in very general terms the nature of the different currents and variations of the fundamental Zionist idea. It would be a tedious, and indeed an impossible task, to attempt a full examination of the mass of material accessible in the form of literature and personal reminiscences. It would require several volumes. While, then, the magnitude of the subject prevents me from attempting to present my case with absolute completeness within the limits of this work, nevertheless it is sufficiently important to justify the endeavour to summarize its most prominent features. I shall indeed be thankful if my work succeeds in disposing of the most important points I touch upon. This book has not been written with a view to Zionist propaganda among the masses. But the propagandist may be able to make use of some of the material and reproduce it in popular articles and pamphlets. The book may also prove of interest to those who have the will and the patience to study the problem of Zionism more deeply. Students with the inclination to examine more closely into the subject will find the necessary indications in the text, as well as in the Appendices and the Indexes.

I have spared no pains in my endeavour to obtain the best sources of information and to secure accuracy, and have also made every effort to consult all the literature bearing upon the subject, making liberal use of all material accessible to me. I have given the authorities for my statements wherever possible, so that those who may be desirous of investigating the subject more fully may have an opportunity of judging for themselves as to the credibility of the evidence upon which my conclusions are based. It is almost certain, however, that small mistakes have crept in occasionally, and I shall be grateful for any corrections which may at any time be indicated to me by readers. This will be particularly the case with regard to the records dealing with the workers in the various countries, the movement at the Universities, and so forth. It was in some instances difficult to select names, and I have been under the necessity of omitting some just as important as those which I have recorded. And in connection with this part of my work I had very little literature, and it is quite possible that my memory has failed me in respect of the order and details of certain facts and events. But I hope that such errors can be easily corrected.

As regards general treatment, the subject presented the usual difficulty in the choice of a chronological or analytical method. In a strict chronological arrangement things of a similar character would often be widely separated, and the chain recording a certain development would be broken. In the other arrangement the points appertaining to the influence of a particular period would be obscured, and the survey rendered difficult. I have therefore combined as far as possible the advantages of both methods, and have endeavoured to avoid their drawbacks. I have arranged the material chronologically for every subject, but in order to explain activities connected with one another, I have often had to take a retrospective glance at an episode or a personality.

The elucidation of Zionist aims, with special reference to the present situation, is, apart from several allusions to it in the text of the present volume, mainly dealt with in the Introduction. The whole history, and particularly the Introduction, is, as I am perfectly aware, written from the Zionist standpoint. A historian should, it is true, put aside party interest. But nobody not himself a Zionist could penetrate into the kernel of Zionism, because one cannot fully comprehend any spiritual phenomenon without feeling it within himself. Those who have no experience in Zionism may have their opinions, but they are invariably found to be ignorant of the more minute features and finer points which are essential to a faithful portrayal of Zionism. Zionists, on the other hand, may be partial, but they are certainly better informed. Anyhow, I have endeavoured to be just to the best of my ability.

To Zionists themselves this history needs no recommendation. The records of an ideal of thousands of years for which the best of our nation have laboured, struggled, suffered and died cannot fail to interest most profoundly those who have inherited their principles and continue their work, thoroughly convinced that it is in harmony with humanity and justice, as well as with Jewish tradition.

Having said so much, I need only add one word of explanation concerning the term “Jewish Nationalism,” which is frequently used in this book. “Nationalism,” generally speaking, is a modern description of certain political parties and schools, which stand for an exaggerated racial self-consciousness. It is difficult to define this word without importing into our thought the idea of the contrast between broad-minded humanity and tribal or national exclusiveness and hostility towards other nations. This, however, would be an extremely unfair rendering of what we call “Nationalism” in relation to the Jews. In the present book, as indeed in the whole of Zionist literature, the word is used without any reference to narrow-minded exclusiveness, and it stands only for the recognition of the national character of the Jews in so far as they are an ethnic, historic, and cultural unit in the Diaspora, and in so far as they aim at a revival of their full national life in the land of their fathers. Obviously, this idea has nothing in common with what is usually called “Nationalism.” This distinction must always be borne in mind.

It is now my pleasant duty to express my grateful acknowledgments to colleagues and friends who have so generously and zealously assisted me in the preparation of this work.

Mr. Elkan N. Adler has kindly allowed me to take extracts from the correspondence that passed between his father, the Very Reverend Chief Rabbi Dr. Nathan Marcus Adler, and Sir Moses Montefiore, Bart., concerning the Holy Land.

Mr. Leon Simon has made many valuable suggestions, and most generously devoted considerable time to the reading and correcting the proofs.

I am, however, particularly indebted to Mr. Israel Solomons, who revised the chapters of the first volume, added considerably to the biographical and bibliographical details, and volunteered to see the work through the press.

He also placed at my disposal his unique collection of books and tracts on Anglo-Judaica, and having decided to illustrate the book, he generously undertook this part of the work, giving me the benefit of his great knowledge and experience and furnishing from his many portfolios rare portraits and other engravings. He also devoted much time and energy in procuring from sources far and wide the illustrations deemed necessary, when not in his own collection.

N. S.

N.B.—All Biblical references have been taken from תורה נביאים וכתובים The Holy Scriptures according to the Masoretic text. A new translation with the aid of previous versions and with constant consultation with Jewish Authorities.

Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America.

London: George Routledge and Sons, Limited. 5677—1917.


The Zionist idea has two distinctive features. On the one hand there is nothing in Zionism which is not more or less found elsewhere. The Promised Land, Jewish national distinctiveness, the future of the Jewish people—these ideas exist in Judaism and in Christianity. They go back to the remotest past; they take, during many generations, a thousand forms—sentimental, practical, sublime, even mystical. In Modern Zionism we find them all. On the other hand, while the elements of the older Zionism seem familiar, the total effect of Modern Zionism is that of something new and strange. The reason is that there is something in Modern Zionism which stamps it as unique, and raises it far above all older ideas and aspirations. Some of the old ideas of the Middle Ages about the restoration of Israel would nowadays be hardly acceptable. But the same ideas, when we see great masses of Jews inspired by them and aiming at their realization, become attractive. The same holds good as regards details.

In the Zionist programme every point of the old Zionist idea is preserved, but everything is modernized. Modern Zionism is the logical consequence of Jewish History. It does not appeal merely to old memories, which, however noble and moving, cannot be permanently sustained; it works by simple, intelligible means, by means of a Renascence. This Renascence kindles enthusiasm, renews courage, awakens in the heart fresh fervour and stimulus to action.

Zionism has tradition to support it; but if it were simply a thing of antiquity, it would perish; if it were simply a matter of history and not of living experience, it would be relegated to the sphere of archæology. Zionism, although old, like the Jewish people, thinks freshly and independently on Jewish subjects. The roots of Zionism are in the past, but its blossom is in the present and its fruit in the future. The reason is simply that everything really Jewish must be bound up with history. Zionism is, first of all, undoubtedly a great historical idea. It is a simple matter of fact that Israel’s history begins with Zionism. Israel’s history in ancient times shows the path to the realization of Zionism. The exodus from Egypt was an example of combined emigration and colonization. The Jewish people entered Canaan, occupied lands, and in a few generations became a glorious nation. The return from Babylon was a great Zionist event, without any supernatural miracle, dependent only on the grace of God and the approval of Cyrus the Great. The Jews who returned from Babylon were only an insignificant minority in numbers, but they were inspired, and therefore they succeeded in founding a centre, and that centre, Palestine, became a new light for Jews and Gentiles. In fact, the favourite idea of Modern Zionism, the idea of a spiritual centre in Zion for the whole Diaspora, the focussing of a pure Jewish life in Palestine, the creation of an intellectual and moral reservoir, from which a stream of influence should flow all over the scattered nation, and waves of Jewish inspiration and knowledge should spread in all directions, making the little land a metropolis of Judaism in religion and life—was not this Zionist programme laid down and carried out in the intentions and achievements of Zerubbabel, Ezra and Nehemiah?

In after years Jews went forth as emigrants to all parts of the world. They submitted to the laws of the various countries, and were capable of adapting themselves to surrounding circumstances. Wherever they went they carried with them their God and their traditions, their literature and their customs, nor did they ever forget the old, holy home which they had left.

This faithfulness is one of the most stirring and pathetic facts in the history of the world; it is the most sublime fact in the history of the Jews. The Jews never forgot Jerusalem, its ruined walls, its shattered palaces, its former grandeur, its old associations; they never forgot the old land and its desolate fields. This feeling never depended on individual Jews, it depended on the whole Jewish nation.

The Jews never forgot their old nationality. They never forgot that they were a nation apart, distinct in morality, in learning, in literature, in social arrangements and in agriculture: a civilized nation at a time when Western civilization was still unknown. For two thousand years after the loss of political independence, they believed with passionate intensity in their future as a nation in Palestine. While they were mingling with the world around them, no temptation, whether the hope of material success or the still more irresistible force of emulation, could withdraw them from their allegiance to the future. No inducement, however powerful, no suffering, no martyrdom, no agony could make them forget the sacred debt they owed to God, to their ancestors and to themselves. They always considered it their duty to be members of one great family, bound together not alone by a common past, but by a community of undying ideas, aspirations, and hopes for a national future. They remained unmistakably true to their duty. This strong conviction is deeply rooted in the hearts of millions of Jews. It is an unbroken chain stretching from the dawn of Jewish history through all generations from Abraham to our own times. This unshaken belief, which kept and still keeps together the Jews all over the world, is the quintessence of all Jewish prophecies, from Moses to Malachi, of all Jewish teaching, from the men of the Great Synod to Maimonides and to the present day.¹

This idea of a national future for Israel is the essence of all Jewish prayers, from the time when the “Eighteen Benedictions” were composed to the last of the Paitanim. It is the keynote of all Hebrew poetry, old and new, from the holy Psalms to the inspired poems of Jehudah Ha’levi, and from Jehudah Ha’levi to the living Hebrew poets of our own day. This everlasting, all-absorbing and unconquerable idea of a national future is absolutely Jewish. It has accompanied the Jews from the cradle to the grave. It is the secret of their long existence, which has no parallel in history. It has nothing to do with nationalistic tendencies and currents among the Gentiles in modern times. It existed as well in times of distress and misfortune as in times of prosperity. It was never the invention of individuals; on the contrary, there can be found occasionally the expression of individual views, in passages of little importance, which reveal a somewhat different standpoint. But the Jewish people as a whole, including even the most extreme sects, such as the Karaites and the Samaritans, remained faithful to this idea.

From an historical point of view, to speak of “Germans, Hungarians or Turks of the Jewish faith” in order to describe the Jews simply as persons of a certain religious faith similar to Protestants, Catholics or others, is nothing short of defying authentic history and hard facts. The Jews do not form a State within a State, as some anti-Semites maintain; but they are undoubtedly an old historic nation within other nations, an old nation which has outlived Egyptian Pharaohs, Assyrian Kings and Arabian Khalifs. That they at present do not live in their own land, but are scattered everywhere, that they have become acclimatized in different countries, and not only conform to their laws but belong to their most loyal citizens, that fact does not in the least alter the truth of our assertion. With a few unimportant exceptions Jews marry among themselves, and as far as the majority is concerned maintain their racial and historic peculiarities. Moreover, their entire religion abounds in historical ideas and national reminiscences. They can by no means be compared with Catholics or Protestants: there are French Catholics and German Catholics, English Protestants and German Protestants, but the Jewish religion has been a religion of the Jewish nation alone for thousands of years.

It is only in quite modern times that a kind of opposition to this idea has begun to find expression in some Jewish quarters, influenced by the general tendencies of the end of the eighteenth century, and chiefly represented by the so-called Mendelssohnian school. This opposition has been intensified to a certain extent, since Modern Zionism came into being with its clear programme and its up-to-date character.

The principal points of this opposition to the Zionist cause are the following:—

1. The Spiritual Character of Judaism.

2. The so-called Mission of the Jews.

3. The Progress of Modern Civilization.

4. The Duty of Patriotism, and

5. The Problem of Equality of Rights for the Jews.

The slightest examination of these objections shows that they are partly based on misunderstanding, and partly mere verbal criticism, which in no way affects the essence of Zionism.

1. It would be absurd to suppose that Zionism denies the spiritual or universal character of Judaism. Zionism does not worship “tribalism.” Far from it. Jewish religious doctrines are of value to the whole world, and their ethics undoubtedly tend to unite humanity. This is a truth so evident as to need no confirmation. But Jews are not ghosts; they are human beings, and they have to look upon Judaism in a human sense. And the human sense is that Jews, notwithstanding the spiritual character of their teachings, are, like any other ethnic group, a species of the genus homo, a distinct people united by their origin and by their common history. “God,” said Mazzini, “has written one line of His thought upon each people, and consequently each is to bring its gifts into the market-place of the world’s good.” In this sense Zionists are Nationalists: they look forward to the gradual and ultimate triumph of all national types, including their own. There is no reason for humanity to deny this natural right to the oldest nation of the world, and no justification for the Jews themselves to commit a sort of national hari-kari because of the spirituality of Judaism.

2. The Zionist conception of a living nationality, with all universal qualities, yet living and distinctive, holds good also for the idea of the Mission of Judaism. Frankly, Zionists do not like this idea as a justification of the Jew’s “right to exist.” But what exactly is the meaning of a mission of a people? This uncertain phrase of a mission of a people, the mystic form in which the knowledge won by a retrospective observation of history is expressed, the idea that a given people in a given way has influenced the development of the human moral system. In fact, this mode of expression confuses cause and effect. It presupposes that definite tasks are assigned to a nation beforehand and that it exists and acts with regard to the solution of these problems. The truth is, however, that every nation creates definite phenomena in the history of civilization, whilst it lives and acts as it can and must owing to its natural conditions and the influence of its surroundings. A nation has no other mission but to live and to develop fully all its latent capacities. Without intention and consciousness it then fulfils quite alone a rôle in human history. An oppressed, persecuted and despised Jewish people is worthless to humanity; a free, strong, happy Jewish people becomes a useful partner in the task of the progress of the whole human race. The co-operation in this task may be called a mission. In any case, this mission will certainly not be fulfilled by a Jewish people harassed by persecution or absorbed by assimilation; but, on the other hand, it may be fulfilled by a national self-centred Jewish people. Let us suppose that there are prospects of a “Jewish Mission” to spread far and wide the moralities that were revealed to the Jewish nation at the foot of Mount Sinai, to influence humanity by teachings given them and by examples which they are called on to offer. Surely, though such a mission may perhaps be carried out to a certain extent in the Diaspora, if circumstances are favourable and if the Jews themselves do not amalgamate and are not absorbed by others, it can be carried out best and most completely from a Jewish centre, from a Jewish Commonwealth living in that land from which the spirit of Judaism first passed into morality, into human society and institutions. There this mission will be on firm ground. Thence came the Divine literature, which has affected all subsequent literature, all hearts, all minds, and all studies. From Palestine the light of the Jewish genius will shine forth again with the light of a modern civilization according to the ideas and teachings of the Prophets. This will be the most efficient instrument of propaganda, because it will be the clearest manifestation of the real Jewish spirit and activity.

3. The progress of modern civilization has come to be regarded as a sort of modern Messiah for the final solution of the Jewish problem. Zionism considers this conception superficial and misleading. “Modern Civilization” is one of those vague, indefinite expressions which convey to the mind ideas large enough, no doubt, but still very nebulous, very indistinct. But our age is a mystery-dispelling age. Somehow during the last generations mysteries have become fewer and fewer; the light of truth has become more penetrating. Men begin to know what “modern civilization” is in its separate and distinctive aspects. “Modern civilization” connotes advanced thought, domestic comfort, railroads, telegraphs, telephones, airships, and many other things of the kind. It connotes the development of those rich physical resources by which man is surrounded; it connotes also guns and super-dreadnoughts and submarines, diplomacy and power. Zionists do not see how this “civilization” will become a Messiah for the Jews; they do not see how this “civilization” will solve any human or national problem. They see that in spite of all the admirable achievements of modern civilization something is wrong. Indeed, except for technical improvements everything is still lacking. One must go back and seek again the proper fountain-head of that real civilization, of that culture of the heart, whose triumph will be the “new heavens and the new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness.” If any one idea running through all the teachings of the Jewish prophets, and embodied likewise in the teachings of Christianity, is needed nowadays, it is the doctrine of Love and Justice and Truth.

Where are these ideals? We have seen all the Demons of Earth, all the Powers of Darkness let loose. The signs on Belshazzar’s wall appear again on the wall of modern civilization: Mene, Tekel, Upharsin. Never at any time has a crisis more momentous impended over humanity. Never at any time has a gloom more heavy darkened the world. Never did humanity long more than nowadays for Truth, Justice and Liberty, for the salvation of small, disinherited and oppressed nations. We all hope that good will come out of evil. But this good will not come automatically out of “Modern Civilization.” It will come from that Universal and National Justice to which Zionism appeals.

4. Of greater apparent importance is the question of Patriotism. But in reality, so far as Zionism is concerned, this is no question at all. It was an offensive and insulting question asked by anti-Semites: “Can a Jew be a patriot?” It is equally insulting to ask: “Can a Zionist be a patriot?” As a matter of fact there are no conflicting sentiments to be reconciled; there is only one sentiment: loyalty. A selfish materialist will never be attached to the old home of his fathers, nor to his present country. His maxim will be: Ubi bene, ibi patria. On the other hand, a man of character will as easily combine two objects of loyalty as he easily and naturally combines the love of his country and of his family.

The heart of the Jew beats warmly for the country in which he lives, the land in which is the home of his childhood, the school of his boyhood, the household of his mature life: the land in which he labours in his busy years, and in which he expects to rest when his struggles are over. No Englishman can love England better or labour for it more zealously than does the English Jew. The child will never forget the fostering warmth of the breast on which it has rested in happier days. This is natural. And Zionism has never interfered with this feeling. Zionists are as faithful patriots as non-Zionists: they work for their native lands, they sacrifice their fortunes and their lives. Even in countries where Jews have been deprived of the rights of citizenship they have been active as citizens, not only in war-time, but also in peace-time. There is no body of individuals more loyal, more charitable, more anxious at all times to do what they can for the country and to promote to their utmost its industry, arts and sciences. There is not the slightest difference in this respect between Zionists and non-Zionists. Zionists do not know or care whether it will please anti-Semites to recognize Zionist patriotism or not. It is equally impossible to know whether anti-Semites will recognize the patriotism of Jews who are not Zionists. Against sheer prejudice nothing can be done. But among Jews themselves and broad-minded Gentiles this question of the incompatibility of Zionism and patriotism should be eliminated at once on account of its manifest absurdity.

5. The question of equality of rights is another problem out of which anti-Zionists have endeavoured to make controversial capital. The Russian Revolution, with its recognition not only of individual but also of national equality of rights in the country where of all others this problem was most acute for the Jews, has taken the ground from under their feet; and we are no longer called on to treat seriously the contention that there is any sort of incompatibility between the Zionist claim for recognition of Jewish nationality and the claim of the individual Jew, wherever he may be, to be allowed the privileges, as he is ready to fulfil the duties, of citizenship. There is, in fact, unconscious humour in the attempt to reduce the problem to a sort of alternative formula: “Either rights or Palestine,” and therefore choose for yourself! “Hic Rhodus, hic salta!” This is surely the very height of naivete. Such a dilemma is a senseless invention. Every student of Jewish history knows that if there has been and if there is persecution of the Jews or any limitation of their rights, this has not been, and is not because the Jews were or are Zionists or non-Zionists, Orthodox or Reformers, and so on. One might more easily find some connection between anti-Semitism and the assimilation of those Jews who endeavoured to amalgamate too quickly. But even this point is irrelevant. The Jews must not ignore themselves, and ignoring themselves would not help them to get rights. The more they respect themselves the more they will be respected. And what is the self-respect of an ancient nation? Self-respect is faithfulness to one’s own history and traditions. There is no duality and no alternative. There is only one Jewish problem that requires solution. There is only one Justice—to man and to nations. Justice will consider Jewish needs; injustice will be deaf to any demand. Weak-minded and nervous people feared that Zionism which recognizes the Jews as a nationality will allow the anti-Semites to reproach us triumphantly as having no native land. Weakness of mind and nervousness are bad counsellors. The anti-Semites did not wait for Zionism in order to brand us as having no fatherland. The Christian peoples, however, amongst whom we may presuppose a sense of justice to exist, will believe us when we speak thus to them: “We Jews are true citizens of the States to which we belong. All interests of the country are also ours. We have no single interest which is opposed to any interest whatsoever of our country. We are strong and of deep feeling, and are attached therefore with more than ordinary love to that spot where our cradle stood and where the remains of our ancestors are buried.”

This self-reliance is of the essence of Zionism. Zionism is a Jewish programme. It is a Jewish programme because it requires of Jews courage, initiative, resourcefulness, tenacity, will-power and sacrifice. For Jewish emancipation the most important condition is that others should be humane. For Zionism the most important condition is that Jews should be Jews, adhering with tenacious consistency to this truly national idea of their own. In the first case the real work has to be done by others; Jews can do very little, their rôle being chiefly passive. They may be persecuted or not; they may get rights or not. Essentially it depends on many factors outside their influence and their control. But Zionism is essentially an active Jewish programme. Zionism is real Jewish self-help. Zionism tends to make the Jews creators, not creatures of conditions and situations.

Zionists, like all Jews, are fundamentally optimists; but theirs is no mere “wait and see” optimism. Confidence in the Future has been the curse of the Jew. Confidence in “Progress” as an idol has been blindness. Away with idols! Jews have to take their cause into their own hands, for God helps those who help themselves. First of all, they have to look on the general situation of the world and on that of their own people as it is. They have also to read the signs of the time. Time does not stand still. We are no longer at the end of the eighteenth century. The fundamental character of the present age is clear. This is a Nationalist age.

Zionism looks at the 2000 years of the Jewish tragedy in the perspective of national justice. The Jewish problem is essentially (and independently of the necessity of human rights for the Jews everywhere) a question of national homelessness.

The world has been passing through a period which sometimes seems like a nightmare of blood and ruin, and sometimes like one of the greatest eras in which man can be called upon to live. All over Europe, almost all over the world, the storm of the greatest and most terrible war in history has burst with the fury of a thousand volcanic eruptions and a thousand hells. Flourishing countries have been reduced to heaps of smoking ruins. Vast fields have been saturated with the blood of millions of men. Large masses of population, almost whole peoples, have been ruined or driven out of their countries.

But, after all, peace will return to the troubled world, that peace which will be peace indeed—the peace of security, of justice for great and small nations everywhere. The present Armageddon is succeeded by new problems and their solutions. We are facing political, economic, and, above all, national problems. It is plain common sense, and needs no argument, that all present developments tend inevitably to accentuate afresh and emphatically historic traditions, claims and distinctions. There will be difficulties in settling all these questions, but all such difficulties will be overcome by determination and necessity. Plenty of work will have to be done, for it may be long before the set-back which the war has given to the progress of the world is made good and the effects of this cruel destruction are obliterated. But this work will be achieved sooner or later. The whole energy of Governments and nations will have to be devoted to reconstruction. At last the ploughman will return from the battlefield to the cornfield, the tradesman from the camp to the market, and everybody to his old home and business. Every nation which possesses a country of its own will be restored. They will make a slow or rapid recovery from the ills and losses of the war. Finally, the shattered agricultural, domestic, industrial and spiritual lives of the people will be re-established.

Now, among all the battlefields and graveyards of the war, there is not one to be compared with the battlefield of the Jewish Ghetto in Eastern Europe. Millions of Jews have waded through seas of blood and tears. Towns and villages have been dyed with their blood. The Jews have sacrificed their trade, their fortunes and themselves. The flower of their manhood has been lost or mutilated. The sources of life have been cut off, every link of the chain of existence has been broken. Their schools and spiritual centres are no more. The sword of Damocles is suspended over the heads of the survivors. Starving and ruined communities are trembling on the edge of the precipice.

And what has the future in store for these millions? What will be the outcome of this terrible crisis for the disinherited and homeless masses? Where are the fields to be cultivated by them again? Where will they be able to convert spears into pruning-hooks? They are in the air. Have all their sufferings been for naught? Will the Jewish masses have to migrate again to England and to America and elsewhere, to face the world again as mendicants and “undesirable aliens”? Much Jewish benevolence is uselessly diffused, losing itself in the sands of vain or ill-directed effort, and most runs to absolute waste. With all these diverse floods of unutilized kindness and brotherly love that yearns to help but lacks the means and knows not how to put an end to the suffering, the situation remains unchanged.

There is a solution for this problem. This solution is Zionism. Give to the Jews a footing on their own soil, house and home of their own! Palestine (and gradually the thinly populated neighbouring districts) can become a great outlet for Jewish population: Palestine can again be made to “blossom like a rose,” and be capable of supporting a great population as in the glorious days of David and Solomon. Vast tracts of the so-called Syrian Desert are only regions deforested, and wherever the hum of men comes peacefully, the arid soil bursts into life. The plains of the Hauran, the villages of the Jordan, and the land of Gilead would form one of the richest and largest food-producing areas in the world.

Palestine can again become a centre. Napoleon I. and Alexander the Great, in their days, recognized this country as the key to the gate between West and East. The latter won it and penetrated to the Punjab; the former failed and had to go home again. But whatever value Palestine possessed in those days is immensely enhanced now by the vast extension of European civilization and industry over Africa, Australia, India and all the East, and by steam power, railways, the telegraph and the Suez Canal, which have shortened distances, and made the world so very small in comparison with what it was before; so that Palestine is now ten times more valuable and is suited by her position to become a blessed and happy country.

Now the present situation is full of possibilities and significance. Great developments have taken place in connection with the old home of the Jewish nation. This is the hour of the Zionist. The time has come to act. History will condemn the Zionists if they do not use their present opportunity. But what can their activity be? The reply has been given by the Programme of Zionism, the Basle Programme, adopted at the First Congress, in 1897:—

The object of Zionism is to establish for the Jewish people a home in Palestine secured by public law.

The Congress contemplates the following means to the attainment of this end:—

“1. The promotion, on suitable lines, of the colonization of Palestine by Jewish agricultural and industrial workers.

“2. The organization and binding together of the whole of Jewry by means of appropriate institutions, local and international, in accordance with the laws of each country.

“3. The strengthening and fostering of Jewish national sentiment and consciousness.

“4. Preparatory steps towards obtaining government consent, where necessary, to the attainment of the aim of Zionism.

In constituting the organization for the purpose of carrying out this work Zionists are animated by one desire, namely, to establish a centre in the home of their fathers, where Jews shall earn their bread, and where the soul of the nation can be active in its own way. They wish to combine a judicious use of Jewish energies with the forces of Jewish capital and Jewish emigration. By means of these efforts they will lift some of the masses out of the Jewish homelessness of the Diaspora to a new level of material contentment and moral dignity in Palestine.

Zionists have started this work, and it has proved to be good work. The Chovevé Zion and Zionists have created the new colonization of Palestine. They are engaged in selecting suitable elements, in conveying them, in helping them to establish themselves, in supplying them with all kinds of information and encouragement. It has been said, and is still being obstinately repeated by anti-Zionists again and again, that Zionism aims at the creation of an independent “Jewish State.” But this is wholly fallacious. The “Jewish State” was never a part of the Zionist programme. The “Jewish State” was the title of Herzl’s first pamphlet, which had the supreme merit of forcing people to think. This pamphlet was followed by the first Zionist Congress, which accepted the Basle Programme—the only programme in existence.

The opposition, driven from one point of vantage to another, has made a certain confusion of ideas, arising from the term “political Zionism,” a pretext for decrying Zionism as a “political” movement. Zionism, it is true, is a political as well as a practical and a cultural movement. But wherein lies the political character of the movement? The term “political” covers two different conceptions. One is connected with the idea of adventure, intrigue, rivalry, antagonism or revolt; the other is that of a system which takes into account political conditions. A political movement in the first sense aims at carrying out its undertaking on the lines of political speculation; but a political movement in the second sense, like Zionism, aims at carrying on its work under all circumstances, and at the same time at convincing those in power of the utility of the work, in order to get the best possible conditions. The Basle Programme and the whole of Zionist activity bear witness to the fact that Zionism has nothing in common with political adventure. Zionists have never been influenced by any political aggressive spirit, nor have they in any way proposed to place themselves in antagonism to any Government or any other nation. Zionists have always desired to be supported (§ 4 of the Basle Programme) by all Governments on the merits of their object, and by all nations who know that Zionist work can only advance the interests of Justice and Freedom.

Zionism has the following objects in view:—

A home for Jews who are materially or morally suffering.

A home for Jewish education, learning and literature.

A source of idealism for Jews all over the world.

A place in which Jews can live a healthy Jewish life.

A revival of the language of the Bible.

The resurrection by civilization and industry of the old home of our fathers, long neglected and ruined.

The creation of a sound, strong Jewish agricultural class.

In this way Zionism will establish a Jewish society, bound together by similarity of feeling and unity of common ideas, working out its destiny in its own way. Zionists want a commonwealth of Jewish colonization and labour, a settlement of Jewish pioneers and workers who will be able to create and to develop a civilization of their own, undisturbed by any restrictions. This is possible only in Palestine, and is the paramount necessity of the whole Jewish people all over the world.

The creation of a settlement of this kind will help the Jews economically, but how much and how quickly it will help depends on the intensity of the work. It may be slow work, but it will be fundamental work. It is the foundation-stone for a great structure. Palestine may even become the home of considerable masses of Jews. But in any case the creation of a national home for the Jews will raise their prestige among the nations. It will never be an obstacle in the way of rights; on the contrary, it will help in this direction also.

On the spiritual and intellectual side this work will undoubtedly bring about a great revival of Judaism. Judaism will be no mere abstraction, but something real and living. “Jewish science” or Hebrew studies will not be merely a careful post-mortem analysis, to be undertaken exclusively by scholars and specialists. These studies will appear as the unbroken chain of the common cultural heritage of a living nation.

Zionists are under no misapprehension as to the gravity of the difficulties which may confront them. But they will meet these difficulties as serious men inspired by a great ideal and with a just cause. With a clear and distinct purpose in view, Zionists desire to work in full harmony with all the friends of Justice and Liberty and Truth, and while striving for the rescue of their own people they would not only not interfere with any just principle or cause injury to any patriotic aspiration of any other nation; they would accommodate and co-ordinate their cause with others. It is in this sense that we speak of “political Zionism.”

History shows that the Zionist idea and the continual renewal of efforts in this direction have been a tradition with the English people for centuries. English Christians taught the undying principles of Jewish nationality. Zionism was thus permanently connected with England. The Jewish national idea has always particularly appealed to English feeling, has touched the heart of the English nation. The facts and records disprove the absurd yet deeply rooted idea that Zionism is only a vision of sectarians or a hallucination of dreamers. The documents cited in this volume give ample and convincing proof of the high moral dignity and political value of the Zionist cause as championed by prominent English thinkers, men of letters and poets throughout many generations. For nearly three centuries Zionism was a religious as well as a political idea which great Christians and Jews, chiefly in England but to some extent also in France, handed down to posterity. And moreover, all the available evidence points to the fact that whenever the attention of the world has been invited to the question of Palestine and to measures for improving the development of the Near East, English opinion has given the most careful and sympathetic consideration to the Zionist idea. Thus the present Zionist movement is essentially a logical conclusion of all the premises which have been accepted from different points of view, not only by a considerable number of Jewish authorities, but also by public opinion in great civilized countries of Western Europe. Zionists, therefore, hope that English Christians will be worthy heirs and successors to the Earl of Shaftesbury, George Eliot, and many others; English Jews to Sir Moses Montefiore, French Christians to Henri Dunant, and French Jews to Joseph Salvador, Bernard Lazare, and others. One may also hope that as Zionism is not a source of conflicting element but a source of peace and unity, all the nations of the world will be open to conviction and will give strong support to its aims.

Zionism has started its work in Palestine, and will pursue it. Recognising the aspirations of the Jewish people with regard to Palestine and their historic rights, the British Government on November 2nd, 1917, made the well-known Declaration. This Declaration had been anticipated by the letter from the French Government of 4th June, 1917, and was fully endorsed in the letter from M. Stephen Pichon, Minister for Foreign Affairs, to myself, dated 14th February, 1918, and the letter to me communicating the concurrence of the Italian Government with these declarations, dated 9th May, 1918. (See Volume II., pp. 1 ff.) It will be the task of Zionism to accumulate by every effort the resources, material and moral, required for this purpose. Those Jews who are not yet in the movement will be brought into it by time and experience, because there is indeed no argument against this peaceful idea of national justice, except pure and unscrupulous prejudice, which must disappear. But Zionism is anxious to have also the moral support of the nations, and particularly in this country it is impossible for any Jew with a historic consciousness to forget the noble Zionist tradition of England during many centuries. Some of the most glorious pages in British history have been those in which she took a part, and an honourable and leading part, in the revival of ancient nations. The friends of Greece, of Italy, cannot forget this record.

Zionists can define only what they need. They need not only to continue their work, but to develop it on the largest possible scale. They want to do the peaceful work of agriculturists, craftsmen and intellectuals. They are ready to invest capital, energy and intelligence in order to establish a home for the Jews. Palestine is to be re-made. To this end national autonomy safeguarding the welfare of a Jewish Palestine is needed.

Let humanity do for Palestine only a small part of what has been done so liberally for the most exotic colony—nay, less than that, because Zionists ask for no material support, and for no embarrassing responsibility. They ask only for sympathetic consideration and help, for recognition and protection. And let humanity be sure of the loyalty of a people which, although sorely tried, has never grown cold in its affections, a people which by its resurrection will become again what it was in very ancient times, not a military power but a spiritual and peaceful power. Then the time will come when this people’s gratitude will recognize its indebtedness to the world for the co-operation which will assist its great and just cause.


By the Rt. Hon. A. J. Balfour, M.P.

Whether it be helpful for one who is not a Jew, either by race or religion, to say even the briefest word by way of introduction to a book on Zionism is, in my own opinion, doubtful. But my friend, M. Nahum Sokolow, tells me that I long ago gave him reason to expect that, when the time came, I would render him this small measure of assistance; and if he attaches value to it, I cannot allow my personal doubts as to its value to stand in his way.

The only qualification I possess is that I have always been greatly interested in the Jewish question, and that in the early years of this century, when anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe was in an acute stage, I did my best to support a scheme devised by Mr. Chamberlain, then Colonial Secretary, for creating a Jewish settlement in East Africa, under the British flag. There it was hoped that Jews flying from persecution might found a community where, in harmony with their own religion, development on traditional lines might (we thought) peacefully proceed without external interruption, and free from any fears of violence.

The scheme was certainly well-intentioned, and had, I think, many merits. But it had one serious defect. It was not Zionism. It attempted to find a home for men of Jewish religion and Jewish race in a region far removed from the country where that race was nurtured and that religion came into being. Conversations I held with Dr. Weizmann in January, 1906, convinced me that history could not thus be ignored, and that if a home was to be found for the Jewish people, homeless now for nearly nineteen hundred years, it was vain to seek it anywhere but in Palestine.

But why, it may be asked, is local sentiment to be more considered in the case of the Jew than (say) in that of the Christian or the Buddhist? All historic religions rouse feelings which cluster round the places made memorable by the words and deeds, the lives and deaths, of those who brought them into being.

Doubtless these feelings should always be treated with respect; but no one suggests that the regions where these venerable sites are to be found should, of set purpose and with much anxious contrivance, be colonized by the spiritual descendants of those who originally made them famous. If the centuries have brought no change of ownership or occupancy we are well content. But if it be otherwise, we make no effort to reverse the course of history. None suggest that we should plant Buddhist colonies in India, the ancient home of Buddhism, or renew in favour of Christendom the crusading adventures of our mediæval ancestors. Yet, if this be wisdom when we are dealing with Buddhism and Christianity, why, it may be asked, is it not also wisdom when we are dealing with Judaism and the Jews?

The answer is, that the cases are not parallel. The position of the Jews is unique. For them race, religion and country are inter-related, as they are inter-related in the case of no other race, no other religion, and no other country on earth. In no other case are the believers in one of the greatest religions of the world to be found (speaking broadly) only among the members of a single small people; in the case of no other religion is its past development so intimately bound up with the long political history of a petty territory wedged in between States more powerful far than it could ever be; in the case of no other religion are its aspirations and hopes expressed in language and imagery so utterly dependent for their meaning on the conviction that only from this one land, only through this one history, only by this one people, is full religious knowledge to spread through all the world. By a strange and most unhappy fate it is this people of all others which, retaining to the full its racial self-consciousness, has been severed from its home, has wandered into all lands, and has nowhere been able to create for itself an organized social commonwealth. Only Zionism—so at least Zionists believe—can provide some mitigation of this great tragedy.

Doubtless there are difficulties, doubtless there are objections—great difficulties, very real objections. And it is, I suspect, among the Jews themselves that these are most acutely felt. Yet no one can reasonably doubt that if, as I believe, Zionism can be developed into a working scheme, the benefit it would bring to the Jewish people, especially perhaps to that section of it which most deserves our pity, would be great and lasting. It is not merely that large numbers of them would thus find a refuge from religious and social persecution; but that they would bear corporate responsibilities and enjoy corporate opportunities of a kind which, from the nature of the case, they can never possess as citizens of any non-Jewish State. It is charged against them by their critics that they now employ their great gifts to exploit for personal ends a civilization which they have not created, in communities they do little to maintain. The accusation thus formulated is manifestly false. But it is no doubt true that in large parts of Europe their loyalty to the State in which they dwell is (to put it mildly) feeble compared with their loyalty to their religion and their race. How indeed could it be otherwise? In none of the regions of which I speak have they been given the advantage of equal citizenship, in some they have been given no right of citizenship at all. Great suffering is the inevitable result; but not suffering alone. Other evils follow which aggravate the original mischief. Constant oppression, with occasional outbursts of violent persecution, are apt either to crush their victims, or to develop in them self-protecting qualities which do not always assume an attractive shape. The Jews have never been crushed. Neither cruelty nor contempt, neither unequal laws nor illegal oppression, have ever broken their spirit, or shattered their unconquerable hopes. But it may well be true that, where they have been compelled to live among their neighbours as if these were their enemies, they have often obtained, and sometimes deserved, the reputation of being undesirable citizens. Nor is this surprising. If you oblige many men to be money-lenders, some will assuredly be usurers. If you treat an important section of the community as outcasts, they will hardly shine as patriots. Thus does intolerance blindly labour to create the justification for its own excesses.

It seems evident that, for these and other reasons, Zionism will mitigate the lot and elevate the status of no negligible fraction of the Jewish race. Those who go to Palestine will not be like those who now migrate to London or New York. They will not be animated merely by the desire to lead in happier surroundings the kind of life they formerly led in Eastern Europe. They will go in order to join a civil community which completely harmonizes with their historical and religious sentiments: a community bound to the land it inhabits by something deeper even than custom: a community whose members will suffer from no divided loyalty, nor any temptation to hate the laws under which they are forced to live. To them the material gain should be great; but surely the spiritual gain will be greater still.

But these, it will be said, are not the only Jews whose welfare we have to consider. Granting, if only for argument’s sake, that Zionism will on them confer a benefit, will it not inflict an injury upon others who, though Jews by descent, and often by religion, desire wholly to identify themselves with the life of the country wherein they have made their home. Among these are to be found some of the most gifted members of a gifted race. Their ranks contain (at least, so I think) more than their proportionate share of the world’s supply of men distinguished in science and philosophy, literature and art, medicine, politics and law. (Of finance and business I need say nothing.)

Now there is no doubt that many of this class look with a certain measure of suspicion and even dislike upon the Zionist movement. They fear that it will adversely affect their position in the country of their adoption. The great majority of them have no desire to settle in Palestine. Even supposing a Zionist community were established, they would not join it. But they seem to think (if I understand them rightly) that so soon as such a community came into being men of Jewish blood, still more men of Jewish religion, would be regarded by unkindly critics as out of place elsewhere. Their ancient home having been restored to them, they would be expected to reside there.

I cannot share these fears. I do not deny that, in some countries where legal equality is firmly established, Jews may still be regarded with a certain measure of prejudice. But this prejudice, where it exists, is not due to Zionism, nor will Zionism embitter it. The tendency should surely be the other way. Everything which assimilates the national and international status of the Jews to that of other races ought to mitigate what remains of ancient antipathies: and evidently this assimilation would be promoted by giving them that which all other nations possess: a local habitation and a national home.

On this aspect of the subject I need perhaps say no more. The future of Zionism depends on deeper causes than these. That it will settle the “Jewish question” I dare not hope. But that it will tend to promote that mutual sympathy and comprehension which is the only sure basis of toleration I firmly believe. Few, I think, of M. Sokolow’s readers, be they Jew or be they Christian, will rise from the perusal of the impressive story which he has told so fully and so well, without feeling that Zionism differs in kind from ordinary philanthropic efforts and that it appeals to different motives. If it succeeds, it will do a great spiritual and material work for the Jews, but not for them alone. For as I read its meaning it is, among other things, a serious endeavour to mitigate the age-long miseries created for Western civilization by the presence in its midst of a Body which it too long regarded as alien and even hostile, but which it was equally unable to expel or to absorb. Surely, for this if for no other reason, it should receive our support.

A. J. B.

Friday, 20 September, 1918


From the Rt. Hon. Viscount Bryce.

3, Buckingham Gate,
S.W. 1,
January 30th, 1918.

Dear Sir,

In response to your request for some observations by me on the value which your treatise may have for students of history, I send you these few lines. The pressure of heavy and urgent work forbids me to deal in any but the briefest way with the subject of your book, great as its interest is.

The history of Israel presents some of the most striking phenomena in world history. No other nation (with the exception of the two very ancient nations of the Far East) has annals so long as are those of the descendants of Abraham. Those annals go back, dim as are their earlier outlines, to a time long anterior to the earliest records of the Hellenic and Italic peoples. The records of the old civilization of Assyria and Egypt are, no doubt, even more remote in time, but the nations that created those civilizations have been so changed by conquest and the admixture of new elements that we can no longer recognise them as the same. But Israel has preserved its identity through all vicissitudes. It was carried into captivity in a far land, and returned thence after seventy years. It was, after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Emperor Hadrian, scattered over the face of the earth, and now counts its children everywhere, from Singapore to San Francisco. Its numbers have grown to be fifteen or twenty times greater than they were before the Great Dispersion. It has been kept in existence as a nation through many centuries of oppression and suffering by its Faith and its Literature, a faith embodied in a law which included both a moral and a ceremonial code, a Literature small in bulk but splendid in content, which has formed the mind of the people, sharpening their intelligence and intensifying their national self-consciousness. It is one of those three great literatures of the ancient world which still rule the thought and still help to form the character of mankind. This is a unique phenomenon, and perhaps the most striking testimony that history can show to the vivifying power of ideas.

This consciousness of an enduring national life has been constantly associated in the thoughts of Israel with the ancient home in Palestine, a little country, no bigger than Wales in Britain or Connecticut in North America. To its rocky hills and green valleys, its cities and its battlefields, its heroes and its prophets, the hearts of the people have turned in days of sorrow. The memories of these things have maintained the sense of national life. The flame has often burnt low, but it has never been extinguished. Quite recently it has leapt up with a brilliant glow. The idea that a part of the dispersed people should be gathered from the regions where their lot was worst and be re-settled in their ancient home, long desolated by the tyranny of the cruel and rapacious Turk, has gained strength, and the capture of Jerusalem by the British arms has now made it seem attainable. The sympathy of many thoughtful and sympathetic Christians has been gained, and the British Government has given clear expression to that sympathy. It is to the history of this idea of re-settlement, to which the name of Zionism is now given, that your book is devoted. There are, I am aware, some differences of opinion among Jews themselves as to the form in which this idea might be practically realized, and as to the way in which that form might affect the position of Jews in the countries where they now dwell and of which they wish to remain citizens, though I gather that these differences do not touch the question of the desirability of a large Jewish immigration into Palestine. Upon these differences of opinion I must not pronounce any judgment, though personally inclined to believe that the existence of a national home at the eastern end of the Mediterranean will not affect the loyalty to the other countries where they dwell of the Jews settled in those countries, nor expose them to any suspicion of disloyalty. It is as a student of history, and in that capacity only, that on this particular occasion I desire to speak, expressing my sense of the high interest of the subject of your book, and feeling that the rapid growth of the Zionist movement, the forces that have produced it, and the enthusiasm it has excited, well deserve to be fully, accurately, and impartially described.

I am, 

Faithfully yours, 


Mr. N. Sokolow.

From Colonel Sir Mark Sykes, M.P.

9, Buckingham Gate,
S.W. 1,
May 27th, 1918.

My dear Mr. Sokolow,

After many days’ delay, I write to you my message of goodwill and good hope for the success of this your great work on the cause which you have at heart and for which you have laboured so long.

It is an odd thought which crosses my mind at this moment—if it be egotistical I cannot help it—nevertheless I will set it down. I foresee myself handed down to posterity as one of those enduring obscurities, who did nothing in any way remarkable, yet whose names last for all time, because they scratched their fleeting impressions on the Memnon at Luxor.

In languages yet unknown, and in States unborn, this your work will be read by people who will know perhaps as little of the details of life in these days as we do of those of the times of the first dispersion of the Jews.

Your cause has about it an enduring quality which mocks at time; if a generation is but a breath in the life of a nation, an epoch is but the space ’twixt a dawn and a sunrise in the history of Zionism.

When all the temporal things this world now holds are as dead and forgotten as the curled and scented Kings of Babylon who dragged your forefathers into captivity, there will still be Jews, and so long as there are Jews there must be Zionism.

We live in an age when mankind is reaping the whirlwind of its wickedness and folly. Wherein the past men have sown those dragons’ teeth of intolerance, tyranny, injustice, and race hatred, legions of armed men now spring up to destroy and shatter the husbanded resources of progress.

The War of to-day is the logical result of the “peace” of yesterday. The grand problem which we have to consider is whether or no the peace of to-morrow is to be the precursor of a future war which will overwhelm civilization for ever. Unless forces different to those which have counted in the direction of the affairs of men hitherto are in the ascendant, I feel no doubt that what is called Civilization is predestined to suicide, and that in the real meaning of the words “felo de se.” The blind genius which people call “science” wrests mechanical discoveries and chemical formulæ from the accumulated experience of the past and gives men hygiene, transit, and commerce with one hand, and explosives and military organization with the other. You, my dear Mr. Sokolow, represent a people who have watched this process of constructive destruction in the course of evolution, and have seen the higher men climb in pride and vanity the more deplorable is their fall.

If the peace which is to follow the War is to be a real peace, and not a pause in war, then you and your people must be watchers no longer. In Zionism lies your people’s opportunity. In alliance with those other forces of regeneration and illumination which are centred on Jerusalem and which radiate through the world, it may be that you and your successors will play a part in establishing a moral order which will enable mankind to combine universal material progress with mutual subjection and charity.

Yours very sincerely, 

Mark Sykes.


The privilege afforded me by my friend the Author of participating in the production of a work on so epoch-marking a question as Zionism, has more than compensated me for any time and trouble I have expended on the particular section allotted to me. There are eighty-nine illustrations in the book, to which I have fortunately been able to contribute thirty, dealing mainly with the earlier period. For the portraits, etc., of many of our contemporaries, I must accord my sincere thanks to those whose courtesy and kindness have enabled me to carry out my purpose.

I am indebted for the lithograph of Elim H. d’Avigdor¹ to his recently deceased widow. Mr. Semi Tolkowsky obtained for me an unpublished photograph of Colonel C. R. Conder from his daughter, Mrs. Julian G. Lousada. That venerable lady, Mrs. Finn, lent me a photograph of her late husband, “The British Consul of Jerusalem and Palestine.” Mr. Joseph Cohen Lask granted me the loan of the Hebrew periodical, Keneseth Israel, containing a woodcut of David Gordon, the editor. The celebrated artist, Leopold Pilichowski, entrusted me with the negative of his famous painting of Theodor Herzl, known as the “Congress” portrait. It was done from sketches taken from life during the Uganda Congress, and finished in 1906 to the order of the late President, David Wolffsohn, for the Actions Committee, to be exhibited at Zionist congresses. The illustration of Grand Rabbin Zadok Kahn is taken from a pastel by the Jewish artist, J. F. Aktuaryus, in the collection of Mr. Elkan N. Adler. Dr. Hartwig Hirschfeld lent me a lithograph of his father-in-law, Dr. Louis Loewe; and Professor Dr. Arnold Netter sent from Paris a lithograph of his uncle, Charles Netter. The portrait of Laurence Oliphant was reproduced from an unpublished photograph in the possession of his relative, Mr. Lancelot Oliphant. To procure a likeness of Dr. M. J. Raphall I had some difficulty. The Birmingham congregation to whom he ministered from 18411849 knew nothing of any portrait. From an advertisement in the Jewish Chronicle, 27 July, 1849, it appears that the learned Rabbi possessed a painting done of him by W. H. Vernon, from which Mosely Levi of Birmingham produced a lithograph, but I failed to discover the whereabouts of either. Knowing that on leaving this country he settled in the United States, I communicated with Mr. Albert M. Friedenberg, the corresponding secretary of the American Jewish Historical Society, to whom my particular acknowledgments are due for discovering a small oil painting of the Doctor, copied from a photograph taken in his later years, in the possession of the B’nai Jeshurun congregation of New York, whose Rabbi he was from his arrival in America until 1866, two years before his demise. With the consent of the Trustees, and by the courtesy of Mr. Herman Levy, the President, an excellent reproduction was placed at my disposal.

The frontispiece to the second volume, “Edmond de Rothschild,” is a facsimile of a photograph¹ from the painting by M. Aimé Morot. From M. A. Salvador, Mdme. L. J. Raynall and M. André Spire of Paris were instrumental in procuring a photograph of his uncle M. Joseph Salvador, whose portrait has hitherto never been published.

Miss Marian O. Wilson came to my assistance in permitting me to take a copy of a photograph of her father, Sir Charles W. Wilson, and Mr. Joseph Cowen lent J. H. Kann’s Erez Israel, containing a likeness of President David Wolffsohn. The illustration, “Members of the Maccabean Pilgrimage,” I have been enabled to reproduce, thanks to the kindness of Mr. Herbert Bentwich, its organizer, who also furnished me with the names of the pilgrims. The President and Council of the Jews’ College were pleased to grant me the privilege of having a photograph taken of the historical painting, “The Conference between Menasseh Ben-Israel and Oliver Cromwell,” by Solomon Alexander Hart, R.A., formerly in the collection of Sir Julian Goldsmid, Bart., and subsequently presented to the College by Frederic David Mocatta in 1896.

My thanks must also be accorded to the proprietors of the Century for the use of the portrait of Emma Lazarus; to the Graphic for the sketch from life of Bernard Lazare taken by Paul Renouard during the Dreyfus trial; to the Illustrated London News for the likeness of Baron Hirsch; to the Jewish Encyclopedia for the portraits of Samuel Joseph Fuenn, R. Zebi Hirsch Kalischer, Samuel David Luzzatto, and Mordecai Manuel Noah; and to the Jewish World for that of Dr. Israel Hildesheimer.

There are many eminent Zionists whose lineaments I should like to have seen in this work, but owing to present conditions the portraits were not procurable.

The following portraits and illustrations may not be reproduced without authority:—Col. C. R. Conder, James Finn, Theodor Herzl by Pilichowski, R. Zadok Kahn, Laurence Oliphant, Dr. M. J. Raphall, Edmond de Rothschild, Joseph Salvador, Sir Charles W. Wilson, “The Conference between Manasseh Ben-Israel and Oliver Cromwell,” and the “Members of the Maccabean Pilgrimage.”

Israel Solomons.



The Author’s Introduction

Introduction by the Rt. Hon. A. J. Balfour, M.P.

Letters to the Author

The Illustrator to the Reader

CHAPTER I. England and the Bible

Hellas, Rome and Israel—The Englishman’s Bible—Its influence upon English Literature—Rev. Paul Knell, Matthew Arnold, Sir H. Havelock, Gordon, Livingstone, Ruskin, Carlyle, Taine, Sir L. T. Dibdin, Huxley, and J. R. Green—The Puritans—The Pilgrim Fathers—James I.—Cromwell.

CHAPTER II. The Hebrew Language

Its survival and revival—Its influence upon the English mind—De Quincey—Bacon—Shakespeare—Milton—Cowley—Taylor—Tillotson—Barrow—Dryden—Parnell—Pope—Addison—Young—Akenside—Gray—Warton—Cowper—Byron—Shelley—Southey—Moore—Sir Thomas Brown[e]—Earl of Clarendon—John Pym—Viscount Falkland—Sir Henry Vane—Earl of Chatham—Browning—Tennyson—John Bright.

CHAPTER III. The Re-admission of the Jews into England

Manasseh Ben-Israel—Aaron Levi alias Antony Montezinos—Moses Wall—Leonard Busher—David Abrabanel [Manuel Martinez Dormido]—Oliver St. John.

CHAPTER IV. Manasseh Ben-Israel

Manasseh as a Jewish Rabbi and as a Hebrew writer—His activity as a publisher and corrector of Hebrew books—The Bible editions, the Psalms and the Mishnah—Manasseh’s connection with Safed in Palestine—Enseña a Pecadores—The influence of Rabbi Isaiah ben Abraham Horwitz—Solomon de Oliveyra—Manasseh’s De Termino Vitae—The influence of Don Isaac Abrabanel—The Lost Ten Tribes and the Marranos.

CHAPTER V. Manasseh’s Nishmath Chayyim

Quotations from Gebirol, Bedersi, R. Kalonymus, R. Zerahiah Ha’levi, and others—Plato, Aristotle, and Philo—Cabbalistic ideas—R. Isaac Luria—Miracles and Christian Saints—Manasseh’s Jewish Nationalism—“The Jewish Soul”—The ZoharR. Jehudah Ha’levi—The holiness of the Land of IsraelR. David Carcassone, the messenger from Constantinople.

CHAPTER VI. Some of Manasseh’s Views

The massacres of Podolia—The Marrano tragedy—Manasseh’s views on the mission of Israel—Dispersion and Restoration—R. Jacob Emden’s annotations—Manasseh’s theory of the Jewish race.

CHAPTER VII. Manasseh’s Contemporaries

The Renaissance and the Reformation—John Sadler—Milton’s belief in the Return—Edmund Bunny—Isaac de La Peyrère—Leibnitz—Thomas Brightman—James Durham—The pamphlet “Doomes-Day”—Thomas Burnet—The pamphlet “The New Jerusalem”—Thomas Drake—Edward Nicholas, John Sadler, Hugh Peters, Henry Jesse, Isaac Vossius, Hugo Grotius, Rembrandt, Isaac da Fonseca Aboab, Dr. Ephraim Hezekiah Bueno, Dr. Abraham Zacuto Lusitano, H. H. R. Yahacob Sasportas, Haham Jacob Jehudah Aryeh de Leon [Templo]—Manasseh’s origin.

CHAPTER VIII. Puritan Friends of the Jews

Newes from Rome—Rev. Dr. William Gouge—Sir Henry Finch, Sergeant-at-law—King James I.—Archbishop Laud—Archbishop Abbot—Roger Williams—Johanna Cartwright and her son Ebenezer—John Harrison—Rev. John Dury—Rev. Henry Jessey—Rev. Thomas Fuller—Re-admission and Restoration—Manasseh and the Puritans.

CHAPTER IX. Restoration Schemes

Dr. John Jortin—Thomas Newton, Bishop of Bristol—Edward King—Samuel Horsley, Bishop of Rochester and St. Asaph—Jewish Colonies in South America—Marshal de Saxe’s scheme—Anecdote by Margravine of Anspach—Earl of Egmont’s project—Proposed settlement of German Jews in Pennsylvania—Viscount Kingsborough’s Mexican colony—John Adams, President of the United States.

CHAPTER X. Palestine

The Love and Knowledge of the Holy Land—The Land of the Bible—The Bible Societies and the Institutions for the Investigation of the Holy Land—The Palestine Exploration Fund—Colonel Conder—Sir Charles Wilson—Sir Charles Warren—Lord Kitchener.

CHAPTER XI. Napoleon’s Campaign in the East

The Appeal of Bonaparte to the Jews of Asia and Africa—Haim Mu’allim Farhi—The Fortress of Acre—Jewish opinion in Palestine—El-Arish—GazaJerusalem—Moses Mordecai Joseph Meyuchas—“A Letter addressed by a French Jew to his Brethren”—France and England—The real motives of Bonaparte’s Appeal.


Saul Farhi—Ahmad Jazzár—Saul Farhi’s sons: Haim, Solomon, Raphael and Moses Farhi—Jewish communities in Palestine and Syria—The importance of Palestine in the struggle between Bonaparte and the Ottoman Empire—Haim Farhi’s martyrdom.

CHAPTER XIII. Napoleon in Palestine

Bonaparte approaching Jerusalem—Anti-Jewish accusations—Bonaparte and the Christians—Suleiman Pasha—Abdallah Pasha—Haim Farhi’s martyr death—The Farhi family—Generations of martyrs.

CHAPTER XIV. Two Jerusalem Rabbis

Rabbi Moses Mordecai Joseph Meyuchas—The Spanish Jewish traditions—Rabbi Israel Jacob Algazi—The importance of the Jewish settlement in Palestine—Zionist aspirations.

CHAPTER XV. Napoleon’s Sanhedrin

The “Sanhedrin”—R. David Sintzheim—M. S. Asser—Moses Leman—Juda Litvak—Michael Berr—Lipman Cerf-Berr—The Decisions and Declarations—Napoleon I. and the Jews.

CHAPTER XVI. English Opinion on the Sanhedrin

F. D. Kirwan—Abraham Furtado—Rev. James Bicheno—The Declaration of the Sanhedrin and English comment—M. Diogène Tama—The Prince de Ligne.

CHAPTER XVII. The Zionist Idea in England

The spirit of the time—Different currents—Thomas Witherby—Dr. Joseph Priestley—Anti-Socinus, alias Anselm Bayly—John Hadley Swain—William Whiston—Bishop Robert Lowth—Dr. Philip Doddridge—David Levi.


The Biblical drama “Cain”—Byron and the Bible—The Hebrew Melodies—A poet and a hero—The Hon. Douglas Kinnaird—Isaac Nathan—John Braham—Lady Caroline Lamb—Sir Walter Scott—Dr. John Gill—Dr. Henry Hunter—The Rev. John Scott—Mr. Joseph Eyre.

CHAPTER XIX. The Palmerston Period

The conflict between Turkey and Egypt—Mahmud II., Sultan of Turkey—Mehemet Ali, Pasha of Egypt—The victory of Nezib—The Turkish Fleet—Wellington’s policy—The Eastern Question—Wellington’s opinion—The London Conference, 1840—The Insurrection in Syria and the Lebanon—An Ultimatum—The capture of Acre by the British Fleet, 1840—Schemes of annexation.

CHAPTER XX. The Syrian Problem

The conflicting interests of the Powers—Was the conflict irreconcilable?—Public opinion—A new principle—The independence of Syria—A neutral position—The Zionist idea as the only solution—A practical proposition.

CHAPTER XXI. England and the Jews in the East

Damascus and Rhodes, 1840—The anti-Jewish accusations—Jewish opinion in England and France—Two views—The persecutions and the Zionist idea—The difficulties of a Jewish initiative—Sir W. R. W. Wilde.

CHAPTER XXII. Sir Moses Montefiore

The project “for Cultivation of the Land in Palestine”—Abraham Shoshana and Samuel Aboo—Sir Moses and Lord Palmerston—Great Britain’s protection of the Jews in the East—Lord Aberdeen—Sir Stratford Canning—Dr. Edward Robinson—Burghas Bey—A new journey to the East.

CHAPTER XXIII. Earl of Shaftesbury

Diaries of 183040—The first English Vice-Consul for Jerusalem—Lord Lindsay’s travels in Egypt and the Holy Land—A guarantee of five Powers—Lord Shaftesbury’s conception of a spiritual centre for the Jewish nation.

CHAPTER XXIV. Memorandum of the Protestant Monarchs

The London Convention of 1840—The new Treaty of London for the pacification of the Levant—Viscount Ponsonby—Reschid Pasha—Lord Shaftesbury’s “Exposé” addressed to Lord Palmerston—The articles in The Times—A Memorandum to the European Monarchs—“Enquiries about the Jews”—The Allgemeine Zeitung des Judentums.

CHAPTER XXV. Restoration and Protection

A new Memorandum—The “Balance of Power”—Palestine and “Rights” in other countries—A “Memorial of the Church of Scotland”—Protection for the Jews in the East.

CHAPTER XXVI. Protection and Restoration

The Don Pacifico case—Admiral Sir William Parker—Lord Stanley—Mr. J. A. Roebuck—Lord Palmerston’s policy attacked—Peel and the Opposition—Plans for colonization of Palestine—Mordecai Manuel Noah—Warder Cresson—Rev. A. G. H. Hollingsworth—Colonel George Gawler—“The Final Exodus”—Dr. Thomas Clarke.

CHAPTER XXVII. Earl of Beaconsfield

Christianity and Judaism—Disraeli’s character—Jewish features—AlroyTancred—The defence of Jewish rights—Oriental policy.


Russia and Turkey—A protectorate over the Greek Christians—The question of the “Holy Places”—The Greek Church—Sultan Mahmud II. and the Tsar Nicholas I.—Jurisdiction in Turkey—Prince Menschikoff—The Alliance between France, Great Britain and Turkey—Sardinia—Alexander II.—The fall of Sebastopol—The conclusion of peace in Paris—The question of reforms—The Jewish point of view—The Crimean War and Palestine—Dr. Benisch in the Jewish Chronicle—The Christian Zionist propaganda—Rev. W. H. Johnstone—Mr. Robert Young.

CHAPTER XXIX. Britain’s Mission in the East

Colonel Charles Henry Churchill—Sir Austen Henry Layard—“The Key to the East”—European Consuls in Palestine—The Hatti Sheerif of Gulharch—Lord Palmerston’s Circular of April, 1841—Mr. James Finn.

CHAPTER XXX. British Interest and Work in Palestine

Mr. Rogers—Mr. Finzi—Agricultural work in Palestine under the auspices of the British Consul—W. Holman Hunt—Thomas Seddon—A new Appeal—Prof. D. Brown—Rev. John Fry—Rev. Capel Molyneux—Prof. C. A. Auberlen—Dr. W. Urwick—Dr. E. Henderson—Prof. Joseph A. Alexander—Dr. Patrick Fairbairn—Dr. Thomas Arnold.

CHAPTER XXXI. The Lebanon Question

Selim I.—The Emir Beshir of The Lebanon—A Conference of five Powers—Druses and Maronites—Massacres in Damascus—A Military Expedition—The Protocol of August 3rd, 1860—General Beaufort d’Hautpoul—Achmet Pasha—David Pasha—Joseph Karan—The Constitution of The Lebanon—The boundaries—The alterations from 1861 to 1902—The Earl of Carnarvon’s views—Jewish charity—Anti-Jewish accusations and riots—M. E. A. Thouvenal—Lord John Russell—George Gawler’s letter.

CHAPTER XXXII. Zionism in France

Joseph Salvador—L. Lévy-Bing—Maurice [Moses] Hess—D. Nathan—Benoît Levy—Dr. A.-F. Pétavel—Ernest Laharanne—Crémieux—The “Alliance Israélite Universelle”—Albert Cohn—Charles Netter.

CHAPTER XXXIII. Jewish Colonization

New developments—Two tendencies—Societies in London for supporting Jewish colonization of Palestine—Rabbi Chayyim Zebi Sneersohn—Sir Moses Montefiore’s further journey to Palestine.

“Montifiore’s” replaced with “Montefiore’s”

CHAPTER XXXIV. Zionism versus Assimilation

The first difficulties—The traditions of Anglo-Jewry—The influence of the English people on the Jews—Assimilation and the Jewish National idea—The Zionist conception of the Jewish problem—The tragedy of a minority.

CHAPTER XXXV. Colonization and Restoration

Henry Wentworth Monk—Zionism in France—Jean Henri Dunant’s “Le Renouvellement de l’Orient”—Napoleon III.—Bishop Stephen Watson—“L’Orient” in Brussels.

CHAPTER XXXVI. Appeals for Colonization

A Rabbinical appeal—Rabbi Elias Gutmacher—Rabbi Hirsch Kalischer—Correspondence with Sir Moses Montefiore—Servian Jews ready for Palestine—Rabbi Sneersohn—Another appeal of Henri Dunant—A Committee in Paris under the patronage of the Empress of the French—Zionism in French fiction.

CHAPTER XXXVII. Christian Propaganda in England

A new Appeal—Earl of Shaftesbury in 1876—Edward Cazalet—Laurence Oliphant—Zionism in English fiction—George Eliot—“Daniel Deronda”—The Jewish nationalism of Mordecai Cohen—A quotation from Dr. Joseph Jacobs.

CHAPTER XXXVIII. The Russian Pogroms of 18811882

The new period of Jewish martyrdom—Public opinion in England—Mass meetings, questions in Parliament and collections—Protests from France, Holland, America and other countries—An instructive lesson—Emigration of Jewish masses—The problem—The “Lovers of Zion.”

CHAPTER XXXIX. Dr. Leo Pinsker

His life and experiences—His Auto-emancipation—The old idea of self-help in Jewish teaching—Individual and national self-help—The revival of an old doctrine—An analysis of Auto-emancipation—The results of Pinsker’s idea.

CHAPTER XL. The Colonization of Palestine

Jewish immigration into England—A meeting for the establishment of Jewish colonies in Palestine—The foundation of the Society “Kadima”—The Opposition—The opinions of English authorities on Palestine—Col. Conder—General Sir Charles Warren—Lord Swaythling—Earl of Rosebery—A petition to Abdul Hamid, Sultan of Turkey.

CHAPTER XLI. The “Lovers of Zion” in France and England

The work in France—Baron Edmond de Rothschild and his activity in the colonization of Palestine—The effects in England—Colonel A. E. W. Goldsmid—Elim d’Avigdor.

CHAPTER XLII. The Movement in England

William Ewart Gladstone—Father Ignatius—Gladstone’s ideas on Judaism—Concessions of the Jewish opposition—Goldsmid’s and d’Avigdor’s nationalistic replies.

CHAPTER XLIII. The Movement in America

Zionism echoed in America—Emma Lazarus—A call—Emma Lazarus and George Eliot—Mrs. Rose Sonnenshein—The Opposition—A Tour to Palestine—The Colonies.

CHAPTER XLIV. Baron de Hirsch

His philanthropic activity—The Oriental Jews and the “Alliance”—Emanuel Felix Veneziani—Lord Swaythling—Dr. A. Asher—Laurence Oliphant.

CHAPTER XLV. An Attempt to Solve the Jewish Problem

The “Jewish Colonization Association” (1891)—Statutes and shareholders—Baron de Hirsch’s letter to the Russian Jews—His articles in the Forum and the North American Review—Baroness Clara de Hirsch.

CHAPTER XLVI. The Argentine versus Palestine

Expeditions and investigations in various countries—The decision in favour of The Argentine—Dr. G. Löwenthal—Colonel A. E. W. Goldsmid—The “Lovers of Zion” and Baron de Hirsch in 1891—Baron and Baroness de Hirsch’s charitable works.

CHAPTER XLVII. Modern Zionism

Theodor Herzl—The first conception and the acceptance of Palestine—Max Nordau—The ideas of Modern Zionism.

CHAPTER XLVIII. The First Zionist Congress

The general impression—The proclamation of the Jewish national idea—The Basle Programme—The first Executive Central Committee—Prof. Hermann Schapira—Christian visitors at the first Congress—Letters of the Grand Rabbin of France, M. Zadoc Kahn, and of the Haham of the Spanish and Portuguese Jewish community of London, Dr. Moses Gaster.

CHAPTER XLIX. The Motive Forces of Zionism

Modern Hebrew literature—The Chovevé Zion—The pioneers in Palestine.

CHAPTER L. Zionism in France

David Wolffsohn—France—M. Léon Bourgeois—Michel Erlanger—Zadoc Kahn—Baron Edmond de Rothschild—Professor Joseph Halévy—Dr. Emil Meyersohn—Dr. Waldemar Haffkine—The brothers Marmorek—Bernard Lazare.

CHAPTER LI. Zionism in England

The first leaders—Herzl before the Royal Commission on Immigration—The East Africa offer—Death of Herzl—Holman Hunt—Report of United States Consul at Beirut on Zionism—Lord Robert Cecil—The Palestine Exploration Fund—Colonel Conder—Lord Gwydyr—Zionism and the Arab question.

CHAPTER LII. British Policy in the Near East

The Russo-Turkish War, 187778—The Turkish Revolution—Disappointed hopes—Jewish colonization and British commercial interests in Palestine.

CHAPTER LIII. The Principles of Zionism

Palestine as the Homeland—The rebirth of Jewish civilization—The security of public law—The aims of Political Zionism—A modern Commonwealth for the Jewish people.


The index from Volume 2 has been appended to the end of this text linking the references in this volume.


Theodor Herzl

Conference between Manasseh Ben-Israel and Oliver Cromwell

H.H.R. Yahacob Sasportas

Dr. Ephraim H. Bonus

Dr. Abraham Zacut

H.H.R. Manasseh Ben-Israel

H.R. J. J. A. de Leon (Templo)

H.H.R. Isaac Aboab da Fonseca

Sir Oliver St. John

Thos. Brightman

Rev. Dr. William Gouge

Hugo Grotius

Rev. Henry Jessey

Gen. Sir Charles Warren

Maj.-Gen. Sir Charles W. Wilson

Earl Kitchener

Dr. Edward Robinson

Col. Claude R. Conder

Grand Sanhédrin, 1807

Abraham Furtado

Rabbi Abraham de Cologna

Rabbi Baruch Gouguenheim

Rabbi Emmanuel Deutz

Rabbi Jacob Meyer

Rabbi J. David Sinzheim

Napoleon Le Grand rétablit le culte des Israélites, 1806

Rev. James Bicheno

David Levi

Rev. William Whiston

Dr. Joseph Priestley

President John Adams

Sir Moses Montefiore, Bart.

Joseph Salvador

Benjamin Disraeli

Samuel David Luzzatto

Bernard Lazare

Albert Cohn

Charles Netter

Isaac M. A. Crémieux

Rabbi Zadok Kahn

Salomon Munk

Rabbi Zebi Hirsch Kalischer

Rabbi Isaac Jacob Reines

Rabbi Mordecai Eliasberg

Rabbi Samuel Mohilewer

Rabbi Dr. Israel Hildesheimer

Rabbi Isaac Rülf

Rt. Hon. Joseph Chamberlain

Earl of Shaftesbury

George Eliot

James Finn

Laurence Oliphant

David Gordon

Samuel J. Fuenn

Dr. Leon Pinsker

Moses L. Lilienblum

Perez Smolenskin

Elim H. d’Avigdor

Col. A. E. W. Goldsmid

Jean Henri Dunant

Father Ignatius

Dr. E. W. Tschlenow

Dr. Max Mandelstamm

Judah Touro

Emma Lazarus

Mordecai Manuel Noah

Rabbi Dr. Morris J. Raphall

The Maccabean Pilgrimage, 5657 = 1897

Theodor Herzl

Dr. Max S. Nordau

Dr. Louis Loewe

Rabbi Dr. N. M. Adler

Baron Maurice de Hirsch

Prof. Dr. Hermann Schapira

Moses Hess

David Wolffsohn




Hellas, Rome and Israel—The Englishman’s Bible—Its influence upon English Literature—Rev. Paul Knell, Matthew Arnold, Sir H. Havelock, Gordon, Livingstone, Ruskin, Carlyle, Taine, Sir L. T. Dibdin, Huxley, and J. R. Green—The Puritans—The Pilgrim Fathers—James I.—Cromwell.

No great idea, once proclaimed, has ever yet perished from the earth. An idea may assume new forms, may change its mere outward semblance—for all great ideas are plastic in their attributes and immutable in their essentials—but, once it has been enunciated, human life absorbs it within itself for ever.

The Greek spirit of freedom, and the order, discipline and law of Rome survive in Anglo-Saxon institutions, not by mere enforcement of victorious arms, but because men have recognized them as the happiest approximation to the independence of each and the subordination of all that has ever yet been conceived.

To Greece was entrusted the cultivation of reason and taste. Her gift to mankind has been science and art. To the Greeks we owe the science of logic, which has dominated the minds of all modern thinkers. Much of the spirit of modern politics, too, comes from Greece. On the other hand, the sentiments and the organizing force behind all States and Governments, which are absolutely indispensable to their vigour, are to a great extent Roman. Justinian’s¹ laws have penetrated into all modern legislation. Thus Greece may be said to have disciplined human reason and taste, and Rome human organization and power.

But England has been influenced by Israel even more than by Hellas and Latium; by the power and the light of the Hebrew genius—by the Bible.

The mission of the Hebrew race was to lay the foundation of morality and religion on earth. Their works and their Book are great facts in the history of man; the influence of their mind upon the rest of mankind has been immense and peculiar. The Hebrews may be said to have disciplined the human conscience; and to the pages of their sacred books humanity has turned again and again for new inspiration.

No people has been so devotedly attached to the Bible as the English, and the effect may be traced in all the great movements of English history. The Bible has dominated the whole domestic and political life of the English people for some centuries, and has provided the basis of the English conception of personal and political liberty.

The education of a large number of Englishmen has consisted mainly in the reading of the Scriptures. There is indeed no book, or collection of books, so rich in teaching or capable of appealing so forcibly to the unlearned and the learned alike. That the growth and gradual diffusion of religious and moral thinking is due to the supreme influence of the Bible is a fact which can be recognized throughout the whole of English history. As a single instance, we may take two writers who lived at different periods, and dealt with this subject from dissimilar points of view—the Rev. Paul Knell (16151664) and Matthew Arnold (18221888). Knell compared England with Israel. The name “Israel” was used by writers of his age with so much laxity, that it is impossible to define the sense which it was generally intended to convey. It often meant the Religion of Israel; at other times it was used as if it was a synonym of the word “Church.” But Knell used the word in its plain meaning: for him “Israel” meant simply the People of Israel in the Land of Israel (Appendix ii). If we compare the general tone and attitude of Christian preachers in those times in other countries with the attitude taken up by the English clergy, we must acknowledge that the latter have a much greater appreciation of the value and dignity of the Jewish people and of its great influence on the character of the English nation.

In spite of all modern developments, and notwithstanding the fact that modern science has undermined some of the old beliefs, the fundamental attitude of Englishmen to the Bible remains unchanged. There is no need to quote many writers; it is sufficient to refer to Matthew Arnold, who insists that Righteousness is the burden of Old Testament teaching, and that this idea has greatly influenced the formation of the English character (Appendix iii).

The indebtedness of English literature to the Bible is immeasurable. The Bible has inspired the highest and most ennobling books in the English language. No other book has been so universally read or so carefully studied. The Bible has been an active force in English literature for over twelve hundred years, and during that whole period it has been moulding the diction of representative English thinkers and literary men. The Bible is “the book upon which they have been brought up,” says Thomas Carlyle (17951881), Nor has its influence on men of action been less marked. Englishmen picture Sir Henry Havelock (17951857) sustaining himself upon the promises of the Bible through the darkest hours of the Mutiny; Charles George (Chinese) Gordon (1833 1885) writing with his Bible in front of him at Khartoum; and David Livingstone (18131873) in the loneliness of Central Africa reading it four times through from beginning to end, drawing from it patience, fortitude and perseverance. One of the mightiest moral forces of the last century in England, John Ruskin (18191900), acknowledges his great indebtedness to the Bible. “In religion,” he says, “which with me pervaded all the hours of life, I had been moved by the Jewish ideal, and as the perfect colour and sound gradually asserted their power on me they seemed finally to agree in the old article of Jewish faith that things done delightfully and rightfully were always done by the help and spirit of God.”

“I have before me one of those great old folios in black letter in which the pages, worn by horny fingers, have been patched together,” writes Hippolyte Adolphe Taine (18281893), in his Histoire de la Littérature Anglaise (Paris, 18634).¹... “Hence have sprung much of the English language and half of the English manners. To this day the country is Biblical; it was these big books which had transformed Shakespeare’s England. To understand this great change, try to picture these yeomen, these shopkeepers, who in the evening placed this Bible on their table and bareheaded, with veneration, heard or read one of its chapters. Think that they had no other books, that theirs was a virgin mind, that every impression would make a furrow, that they opened this book not for amusement but to discover in it their doom of life and death.”

“The Bible stands for so much in England: it is the foundation of our laws,” said Sir Lewis Tonna Dibdin, “for when you get back behind judicial decisions and Acts of Parliament you come at the bottom to the moral laws, of which the Ten Commandments were the first written summary.”

“The Bible,” says Thomas Henry Huxley (18251895), in his Essays on Controverted Questions, “has been the ‘Magna Charta’ of the poor and the oppressed.”

There is no Christian people even among the Protestant nations which could be compared with the English in knowledge of the Old Testament and in devotion to its teachings. This was the avowed object and the undeniable result of the English Reformation.

“Elizabeth (15331603) might silence or tune the pulpits,” says John Richard Green (18371883), “but it was impossible for her to silence or tune the great preachers of justice and mercy and truth who spoke from the Book.... The whole temper of the nation was changed. A new conception of life and of man superseded the old. A new moral and religious impulse spread through every class.”

This Biblical influence was felt long before the translation of the Bible into English. When King James I. (15661625) in 1604 sanctioned a new translation of the Bible, he let loose moral and spiritual forces which transformed English life and thought. But before this the Renaissance, or revival of learning, had led to the study of the Scriptures and so had helped to make men Puritans.

The Pilgrim Fathers crossed the ocean with little more than this sacred volume in their hands and its spirit in their hearts. The men who founded new Commonwealths built up their constitutions upon the teachings of the Bible; and tradition has long asserted that every soldier in Cromwell’s army was provided with a pocket edition, which consisted of appropriate quotations from the Scriptures, mostly from the Bible of the Jews.¹

A close parallel can be drawn between the Puritans, of whom Oliver Cromwell (15991658) was the principal type, and the enthusiasts who shared with Judas Maccabæus (ob. 3628 a.m.) the dangers and glories of his illustrious career. Both were stern warriors forced into battle by the stress of great principles, and by the strongest sense of obligation to a sacred cause. Both fought for liberty against tyranny, against religious persecution and unrighteousness. The spirit which inspired them all was the secret of the world’s greatest achievements. The parallel can be traced even further. Cromwell’s life was shaped by the influence of the Bible. For a figure to compare with Cromwell we must turn neither to ancient history nor to early English history, but to the pages of Jewish national history in the Bible. Cromwell’s examples were Joshua (24062516 a.m.), Gideon (fl. 2676 a.m.) and Samuel (ob. 2882 a.m.). Hebrew warriors and prophets were his ideals. And that is not to be wondered at, for Cromwell studied the Bible every day with attention and reverence and with a desire to be guided by it. He was an intellectual and spiritual child of the Old Testament, and he “imagined himself to be a second Phineas, raised up by Providence to be the scourge of idolatry and superstition.”¹


Its survival and revival—Its influence upon the English mind—De Quincey—Bacon—Shakespeare—Milton—Cowley—Taylor—Tillotson—Barrow—Dryden—Parnell—Pope—Addison—Young—Akenside—Gray—Warton—Cowper—Byron—Shelley—Southey—Moore—Sir Thomas Brown[e]—Earl of Clarendon—John Pym—Viscount Falkland—Sir Henry Vane—Earl of Chatham—Browning—Tennyson—John Bright.

The Hebrew language, mysteriously preserved like Israel, the people after whom it is called, through the tempests of many centuries, politically annihilated, but spiritually full of vigour, has never ceased to be a vehicle for the expression of sublime thoughts and sentiments. Not only in the brilliant epoch of Hebrew literature in Spain, from the tenth to the fifteenth centuries, but since then, Hebrew has been written in prose and in poetry with power and effect unattainable in any of the languages that have ceased to live. It is entirely wrong to consider Hebrew a dead language. Hebrew has never been dead. At no time in its long history has it ceased to be employed by the Jewish people, as a medium for the expression, whether in speech or in writing, of the living thoughts and the living feelings of the Jew. Its use as a national medium of everyday speech came, indeed, to an end with the destruction of the political organization of the Jewish people. But that catastrophe did not destroy the life of the language any more than it destroyed the life of the nation. The marvellous revival of the Hebrew language in our times in Palestine, which is one of the greatest achievements of the Zionist movement, shows that the language was only neglected, and that it was essentially a living language.

The Hebrew language, with its naturalness and noble simplicity, has exerted an influence not less powerful than that of Biblical ideas on the English mind. Knowing little of artificial forms, it has a natural sublimity of its own, and a great logical clearness in discriminating between nice shades of meaning. It appeals strongly to the English mind, because it is the holy language, bringing the Divine Word and coming from the sanctuary of that ancient covenant, whose faithful guardians are the people of Israel. The Semitic word has within historic times exercised on the civilisation of the whole human race an influence to which no parallel can be found, and which, if the future may be measured by the past, is destined triumphantly to extend, for the incalculable benefit of mankind, to the uttermost bounds of the earth. The poetry of the Bible has no rival.

“The Hebrew language,” says Thomas De Quincey (17851859), “by introducing himself to the secret places of the human heart, and sitting there as incubator over the awful germs of the spiritualities that connect man with unseen worlds, has perpetuated himself as a power in the human system: he is co-enduring with man’s race, and careless of all revolutions in literature or in the composition of society....”¹

The Hebrew language deals best with concrete things, and is essentially personal. In poetry it is best adapted to re-echo the poet’s own thoughts, and to set forth the various phases of his intimate experience.

“Now, this poetry derives its excellence from its great outward simplicity: it acknowledges no rule of metrical art. Its poesy is esoteric, not exoteric. The outward characteristic of Hebrew poetic style is its parallelism, or the logical symmetry between two distichs of the same verse. The graceful execution of this difficult problem—unity of design under a diversity of forms—constitutes the incomparable charm of Hebrew poetic diction. Parallelism is the law of perfection. Thought and speech, body and spirit, here and hereafter, are divinely conceived parallelisms.”¹

The Hebrew language is pre-eminently intuitive, and adapted for teaching morality and expressing with authority religious and ethical truths in brief, pregnant utterances.

The best of English literature has been inspired by the Hebrew language of the Bible. Throughout the entire works of Francis Bacon (15611626)¹ Scriptural influence is sufficiently apparent: but in his Essays—his favourite work—which he so carefully revised and re-wrote in the ripeness of his age and experience, and which, therefore, may be considered the very cream and essence of his genius, this characteristic element obtains a prominence that cannot fail to strike every reader. So natural was it—to borrow a figure of speech from Bacon himself—for his great mind “to turn upon the poles of truth,” and to revert to its great fountain-head, in support and confirmation of his own profound conclusions.

But by far the most prominent example of the deference and homage paid to the Bible will be found in the works of William Shakespeare (15641616). As he excels in nearly all other points, so also is he greatest in this respect. His works are so perfectly impregnated with the Bible that we can scarcely open them without encountering one or other of the Bible’s great truths, assimilated by Shakespeare and reproduced in words that renew the Bible’s authority and strengthen its claim upon men’s attention. The influence of the Bible is apparent not only in the tone of Shakespeare’s poetry but also in the shape and character of it.¹ Both the spirit and the letter bear witness to this fact. The Bible has left its impression not only on Shakespeare’s mind but on his idiom, on the exquisite simplicity of his diction, while his innumerable allusions, direct and indirect, to Scripture history, persons, places, events, doctrines, parables, precepts, and even phrases show a great familiarity with the Bible.² The Reformation introduced the same spirit into all the English literature of the Elizabethan era. It was the distinguishing feature of the period, and naturally enough culminated in the greatest genius of the time.

The influence of this Hebrew spirit is clearly visible in John Milton’s (16081674) poetry. “Paradise Lost,”¹ the most glorious cosmological epic of the world’s literature, could have been written only by a man who knew the Bible by heart, and whose verse, when he so chose, could consist simply and solely of combinations of texts from the Bible or images influenced by Biblical ideas. The way in which he tells his stories, the elevation of his style, the music of his verse, changing from the roar of the hurricane and the tramp of bannered hosts to the hum of bees and the song of birds, the numerous gem-like phrases and passages which are sure to be quoted for all time—all these wonderful qualities are Biblical. Milton knew Hebrew, and his verse is throughout inspired by the genius of that language. And the spirit which found voice in Milton caused England to take the lead in bringing about religious liberty. This recognition of righteousness and fair play among the nations of the world benefited not only the Jewish nation: some months before Manasseh Ben Israel visited England, the Commonwealth had made a most vigorous protest against the outrage on humanity perpetrated by the persecutors of Protestants in Piedmont.

“We shall conclude our account of this period by ... [referring to] the ‘Davideis¹ of the melancholy [Abraham] Cowley (16181667) in which he seems to have borne in mind the language of the Bible.. ..’ ‘It will be in the recollection of every person, that there flourished in the latter half of the seventeenth century three churchmen, whose works are still regarded as models of style and mines of learning and thought—[Bishop Jeremy] Taylor (16131667), [Archbishop John] Tillotson (16301694) and [Dr. Isaac] Barrow (16301677); whose writings, if they have ever been equalled, have certainly never been surpassed. The familiarity with the pages of Holy Writ which these illustrious men must infallibly have acquired during the course of that severe education which made them what they were, could not but have exercised a very great influence upon their works....’”

“There are many allusions to Sacred Writ in the works of [John] Dryden (16311700), particularly in his polemical works,... In the Hind and Panther....¹

“In [Thomas] Parnell’s (16791718) beautiful poem of the ‘Hermit’¹ there are several traces of Biblical influence:...

“A perusal of [Alexander] Pope’s (16881744) Messiah,¹ in which many of the expressions are taken, word for word, from the book of Holy Writ, will convince any reader of the influence which has been exercised by it upon this poet. We have the authority of Mr. [Joseph] Addison (16721719) himself for the assertion, that he was fully sensible of the beauties of the English translation. ‘Our language,’ says the writer, in the 405th Number of the Spectator, ‘has received innumerable elegancies and improvements from the infusion of Hebraisms which are derived to it out of the poetical passages of Holy Writ;—they give a force and energy to our expression, warm and animate our language, and convey our thought in more ardent and intense phrases than any that are to be met with in our own tongue.’ Addison was the founder of that pure, classical, and polished style which has, ever since the publication of the Spectator, been considered as the ne plus ultra of that manner of writing. Knowing then, as we do, the sentiments of this accomplished writer, it is not to be supposed that he would, in the formation of his own style, have neglected to borrow largely from that which he praised so much; and thus it appears probable that the translation, throughout in this case itself a direct agent, has yet exercised a beneficial influence upon the prose even of modern writers....”

“In the poems of [James] Thomson (17001748) there are a few passages for which he was, probably, in some measure, indebted to the Bible Translation—....”

“In the writings of [Edward] Young (16831765), many expressions may be found indebted for the idea or manner of expression to Scripture. In his paraphrase of the Book of Job, one of his earlier works, first published in 1719.”

“In the Night Thoughts,¹ traces of Biblical influence are not so traceable, but it is probable that they exist....”

“[Dr. Mark] Akenside (17211770), in one of his poems;¹ [Thomas] Gray (17161771), in his admirable lines on Milton,² and [Thomas] Warton [the Elder] (1688?1745), in his Address to Night,³ had clearly in mind some of the passages in the Psalms.”

“There is a real strain of religious feeling, of the very strongest description, which breathes through the poetry of [William] Cowper (17311800); but though he no doubt felt that admiration for the translation with which a person of his great taste and love of religious writings especially must have been imbued, there is no very perceptible evidence of its having exercised more than a general influence upon his language....”

“The mind of [George Gordon] Byron [Sixth Baron Byron] (17881824) had been early tinctured by a love of the poetical parts of the Bible; ... and there are several traces to be found in his works of the influence which this book exercised upon his mind....”

“There are some expressions in the Revolt of Islam¹ that would seem to indicate that the author of that poem had kept in memory some of the descriptive and mystical passages of Ezekiel....”

“In [Robert] Southey (17741843) there are several Biblical expressions and ideas....”¹

“In the beautiful songs of a justly celebrated ... writer, Mr. [Thomas] Moore (17791852), there is much that can be traced to a scriptural origin.”¹

“It can now be seen, we hope, satisfactorily demonstrated, that the translation of the Bible into English has exercised a considerable influence upon the poetry of the last two centuries; it is now time to speak of the effects which it has produced upon our prose.... There are, ... to be found in the writings of many of the most distinguished prose authors in our language, passages which, from the general character of their style, or the form of the ideas they express, may be concluded to have been suggested, or at least modified, by the influence of the Bible Translation ... in the writings of Sir Thomas Brown[e] (1535?1585), an author who enjoyed a considerable degree of fame in the days of Queen Elizabeth (15331603), great traces are to be discovered of Biblical influence;—while at a much later period [Edward] Hyde (16091674), Earl of Clarendon (particularly the introduction, and part of the first volume)¹ will convince the most sceptical reader, that the translation of the Bible has not been disregarded by that writer....”

“It may, perhaps, ... seem paradoxical to affirm, that the art of public speaking, ... can have been indebted to so remote an event as the translation of the Bible; but this supposition will nevertheless be found to be correct:... The speeches of [John] Pym (15841643) and others upon the Earl of Strafford’s (15931641) impeachment [1640], of Viscount Falkland (1610?1643), Sir Henry Vane (15891655), etc., upon the Episcopacy Reformation question, will suffice as instances of discourses in which many proofs may be found, upon perusal, of Biblical influence.”

“It is well known that [William Pitt] the [First] Earl of Chatham (17081778), the most eloquent orator that England has ever produced, recommended to every person who wished to become acquainted with the force of the English language, and to acquire the power of expressing himself with facility, to study the writings of the copious Barrow. Now we know that Barrow was deeply read in the Holy Scriptures; we know that his style is greatly tinctured by the influence which they exerted upon him; will it, then, be too much to assert that English speaking, in general, ... has been considerably influenced by the Bible translation?...”

“It may be concluded from the foregoing observations, that the translation of the Bible into our language is a most remarkable event in the history of English literature:... Those who have compared most of the European translations with the original have not scrupled to say that the English translation is the most accurate and faithful of the whole.... Besides, our translators have not only made a standard translation, but they have made their translation a standard of our language. The English tongue of their day was not equal to such a work; but God enabled them to stand as upon Mount Sinai; and crane up their country’s language to the dignity of the originals, so that after the lapse of two hundred years, the English Bible is still with a very few exceptions the standard of the purity and excellence of the English tongue.”¹

This influence of the Hebrew language can be traced not only in the masterpieces of great poets; it was also of a general and popular character. The study of the Hebrew language among Christians, which had only casually and at intervals occupied the attention of ecclesiastics during the Middle Ages, received an immense impulse from the revived interest in the Bible caused by the Reformation.

Scientific progress in Hebrew was perhaps more considerable in other countries where the Reformation was gaining ground, but while in other countries this influence was felt chiefly among scholars, in England the influence has been popular and has been felt in the daily life of the nation. The process of enrichment and ennoblement of the English language has been going on for centuries among all classes of the population, and one of the chief agencies by which it has been effected is certainly the influence, direct and indirect, of the Hebrew Bible.

To penetrate into the history, prophecy, and poetry of the Hebrew Bible, to revere them as the effusion of Divine inspiration, to live in them with all the emotions of the heart, and yet not to consider Israel, who had originated all this glory and greatness, as the “Chosen People,” was impossible.¹

Hence among the Puritans there were many earnest admirers of “God’s Ancient People,” and Cromwell himself joined in this admiration. It was by this Biblical Hebrew movement that public opinion in England had been prepared for a sympathetic treatment of the idea of a readmission of the Jews into England.

The Conference between Manasseh Ben-israel and Oliver Cromwell (1655)

Solomon Alexander Hart, R.A. (1873)

 Dr. Samuel
 Dr. John
 Dr. Thos.
 Sir John
Ben Israel

From the painting at the Jews’ College, Queen Square House, London


Manasseh Ben-Israel—Aaron Levi alias Antony Montezinos—Moses Wall—Leonard Busher—David Abrabanel [Manuel Martinez Dormido]—Oliver St. John.

Manasseh Ben-Israel (16061657), the Amsterdam Jewish preacher and Hebrew-Spanish author, was the chief promoter of the readmission of the Jews to England and the leading figure in the history of that great event. He had all the virtues and accomplishments of a leader. He was a man of fine intellect and high moral character, unselfish in thought, word and deed, straightforward and sincere, extraordinarily endowed and irresistibly attractive, at the same time a faithful religious believer and a practical man of action. All the sorrows and all the hopes of the old Jewish nation were in him, and all the beauty of the Bible was in his visions.

Manasseh was neither a first-rate Talmudical authority, nor the principal of a great Rabbinical school, nor a celebrated and officially recognized leader of Rabbis. He achieved nothing striking in the field of Halachah,¹ where alone, according to traditional views, authority can be won among learned Rabbis and their followers. In high Rabbinical quarters he may have been considered a dilettante or an eclectic, perhaps a sort of dreamer; and not without justice. The “practical” people of the period, again, may have pointed out that there was plenty of immediate “practical” work for Manasseh to do in congregations, in societies, in charities and in schools among the Portuguese Jews of the “Jodenbreestraat” in Amsterdam, and that he would do better if he devoted himself to ordinary local work, instead of chasing chimeras and planning Utopian schemes in close agreement with the Puritan Saints and Marrano travellers. And yet, in spite of all the immediate needs of the hour, this remarkable man, inspired by a vision of the lost Ten Tribes of Israel, wrote one book after another; not the traditional commonplace Rabbinical books dealing with questions and details of the conduct of everyday Jewish religious life, but books about the past and the future, about the Ten Tribes and about Israel as a nation—and with an inimitable touch of mysticism and poetry. He thought that Judaism required something more than local activities, that it needed clear-sighted and fearless self-defence, emancipated from routine, and not localized within the boundaries of one country. And he not only wrote books in Hebrew, Spanish, and Latin on this subject, but had several of them translated into other languages; he also entered into personal relations with non-Jewish “dreamers” who had proved by their ideas their intellectual kinship with him, although they challenged him to controversy on some essential points. He wrote petitions and proposals, and interfered to a certain extent with what should, according to some other rabbis, be confidingly left to Providence. It had dawned upon him that the Jews should resettle in England, to pave the way for their final resettlement in Palestine.

Manasseh was nothing if not a Zionist, if we look upon Zionism in the light of his time. He was undoubtedly a dreamer, but one of those dreamers to whom the word of the Psalmist applies, “... We were like unto them that dream.”¹ He combined worldly wisdom with the prophetic spirit. There was some ancient magic about him; there was a deep sense of religion in all his writings. This religious character enabled Manasseh to stir up Christian England at a time when there was a great rekindling of the religious consciousness. No wealthy Jew could have influenced England as did this poor Hebrew scholar; no powerful Jewish community could have produced an impression equal to that produced by this Jewish dreamer, not only by his boundless activity, determination and persistence, but chiefly because he was an inspired man. He brought to his task deep religious feeling, and a mind ripened by Jewish historical studies. He thus set himself to perform with energy and moral courage an exceedingly responsible service to the Jewish people, which he carried out with singular fidelity, inspiration and enthusiasm, as well as with discretion and tact.

He sent his brother-in-law, David Abrabanel [Manuel Martinez Dormido]¹ to England in 1654, to present to the Council a petition for the readmission of the Jews, and followed up this visit by his own journey to England, in order to support this petition.

There were undoubtedly several auxiliary causes which made the readmission of the Jews possible, and the general conditions of the time and the country were assuredly favourable. Still, the fact remains that Manasseh’s powerful imaginative impulse and his emotional Messianic conception were the most important driving force in the wonderful story of the resettlement of the Jews in England.¹ It is true that he did not succeed in obtaining that formal permission for the resettlement which he wanted, but by the publicity of his appeal he brought the subject prominently before the ruling minds of England, and thus indirectly led to the recognition of the fact that there was nothing in English law against the readmission of the Jews.²

One can say, without exaggeration, that there was a Biblical and Messianic idea at the very root of this great event. In effect, Zionism stood at the cradle of the resettlement of the Jews in England. This is clear to everybody who has studied Manasseh’s writings, particularly in the original Hebrew, the language in which he can best be understood and appreciated. His favourite idea was that the return of the Jews to their ancient land must be preceded by their general dispersion. The Dispersion, according to the words of the Bible, was to be from one end of the earth to the other, and must therefore include the British Isles, which lay in the extreme north of the inhabited world. Manasseh made no secret of his Messianic hopes, because he could and did reckon upon the fact that the “Saints” or Puritans wished for the “assembling of God’s people” in their ancestral home and were inclined to help and promote it.

What was the difference between Manasseh and other Rabbis? No Rabbi could fail to be well acquainted with the familiar prophecies of the Bible, and to know that the Dispersion was to be from one end of the earth to the other. Are not these prophecies quoted in the Jewish daily prayers, prayers that have been lost unheard, as it seems, in the dark depths of 2000 years of dispersion, and are known to every Jewish child? Or did not the Rabbis cherish those Messianic hopes which inspired Manasseh? There was only one difference: the difference between passivity and activity, between purely spiritual impulses and impulses which lead to action. If the dispersion has to be complete, let Providence make it complete—this was the usual point of view. Those who merely believed declined to do anything, as they did not wish to face the danger of failure. They lived on that, of which other nations die—on sorrow. Their melancholy had much of majesty in it, but it led to nothing and ended in nothing. They dared not attempt to penetrate into the secrets of the Almighty; for God alone can see what will happen, and no man can avoid his destiny. They refused to undertake any effort for the readmission of their brethren not only into Palestine, but even into England. They were believers, not men of action. Manasseh took matters into his own hands. He not only believed, he acted in accordance with his belief. He collected evidence with judicious care, weighing and measuring difficulties, keeping facts calmly before his mind, studying the facts of the dispersion with interest and zeal. He occupied himself with Messianism more than any Jewish scholar since Don Isaac de Judah Abrabanel (14371508), and more effectively than the latter, because of the active character of his plans.

In his מקוה ישראל, Esperança de Israel (Appendix iv), Manasseh relates how the Marrano traveller, Aaron Levi, alias Antony Montezinos, while travelling in South America, had met a race of natives in the Cordilleras, who recited the Shema, practised Jewish ceremonies, and were, in short, Israelites of the tribe of Reuben. Montezinos had related his story to Manasseh, and had even embodied it in a sworn affidavit before the heads of the Amsterdam Synagogue. Montezinos’ story seemed to be a proof of the increasing dispersion of Israel. Daniel (xii. 7) had foretold in his prophecies that the dispersion of the Jewish people would be the forerunner of their restoration.

“And the Lord shall scatter thee among all peoples, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth;...” (Deuteronomy xxviii. 64).

It was clear from Montezinos’ and other travellers’ reports that the Jews had already reached one end of the earth. “Let them enter England and the other end would be reached.” In this sense Manasseh wrote his book, which, at the instigation of John Dury (15961680) was translated into English by the Puritan Moses Wall,¹ from the Latin version (Appendix v), of the original Spanish under the title of The Hope of Israel (Appendix vi), which produced a profound impression throughout England. It was followed in the next few years by two other tracts by Manasseh, The Humble Addresses [1655] (Appendix vii) and Vindiciæ Judæorum [1656] (Appendix viii).

These tracts followed the remarkable evolution of English religious ideas which occurred in the seventeenth century. It is a well-known fact that the recognition of religious liberty in England was due chiefly to the struggle between the True Believers and other Nonconformists. The Reformation had granted only a limited form of religious liberty: when the True Believers themselves began to be persecuted the demand for religious liberty became very strong. The earliest pamphlet on this subject, by Leonard Busher, published in 1614,¹ had already demanded religious liberty for the Jews as well.

The English refugees in Amsterdam came into contact with the Jews of that town, and above all with Manasseh, whom they admitted to the innermost circle of friendship. The intercourse was continuous, and did much to dispel the mutual prejudices which old enmities had created and ignorance had nourished. Intimacies were formed which proved salutary to both, particularly to the Saints. Manasseh was also on terms of intimacy with Oliver St. John (1598?1673), the English Ambassador in Holland (1651), who was afterwards a member of the Committee selected to consider the readmission of the Jews into England.


Manasseh as a Jewish Rabbi and as a Hebrew writer—His activity as a publisher and corrector of Hebrew books—The Bible editions, the Psalms and the Mishnah—Manasseh’s connection with Safed in Palestine—Enseña a Pecadores—The influence of Rabbi Isaiah ben Abraham Horwitz—Solomon de Oliveyra—Manasseh’s De Termino Vitae—The Influence of Don Isaac Abrabanel—The Lost Ten Tribes and the Marranos.

The literature concerning Manasseh, which is chiefly in English, but partly also in Dutch, German, Hebrew and Spanish, is very rich in detail and affords an accurate and thorough insight into Manasseh’s intellectual relationship to contemporary Christian scholars and statesmen, and extensive information as to his writings in defence of Judaism, his missions, etc. The Jewish Historical Society of England has played a prominent part in the researches on the subject by arranging lectures and publishing excellent papers, and the ground has been covered on the whole very thoroughly. There is, however, one point which has not yet been sufficiently elucidated, viz., Manasseh’s attitude as a Jewish Rabbi and as a Hebrew writer. His literary communications with Christian divines, his apologetic writings in Spanish and Latin, and his Spanish translations present after all only one view of his individuality and activity, the view seen by the outside world. If, however, we wish to describe Manasseh in his private, inner life, and to understand his particular views and methods, we have to leave the apologist and the polyglot translator and to discover the author when he writes for his nation in the national language. Here, and only here, we discover the Jewish scholar in his originality.

In this connection we meet Manasseh as publisher or corrector (proof reader) of his three partial and complete Bible editions: (1) Chamisha Chumshé Thora, Amsterdam, 1631; (2) Sefer T’hillim (Psalterium Hebraicum ex recens. Manasseh, etc.), Amsterdam, 1634; (3) Esrim V’arba (Biblia Hebraica), Amsterdam, 1639.

These books were edited by Manasseh with great care and fine judgment. Heer J. M. Hillesum, the scholarly librarian of the Bibliotheca Rosenthaliana (Universiteits—Bibliotheek, Amsterdam), supposes that the first Hebrew book printed in Amsterdam¹ was the “Daily Prayers” according to the Spanish rite dated January, 1627, and edited by Manasseh.² Whatever view may be taken of this assumption, it is, at all events, certain that Manasseh was one of the pioneers of Amsterdam Hebrew printing, which will for ever have a distinguished place in the annals of Hebrew publications. He not only displayed artistic taste worthy of the friend of Rembrandt in creating the first specimens of beautiful Hebrew books, but by the precision of his corrections he proved himself an excellent Hebrew grammarian. It must be borne in mind that Hebrew grammarians among the Rabbis of his time were seldom met with, and found only among scholars of a somewhat progressive type.

He showed his competence also in the Mishnah, three volumes, Amsterdam, 5404, corrected with great care by Manasseh Ben-Israel, Teacher of the Law and Preacher, and published by Eliahu Aboab.¹ In this edition we see mere corrector’s work. As we gather from the preface, manuscripts of the Mishnah were brought from “the town which is full of Scholars and writers, Safed in the Land of Israel, may God rebuild it soon!”

In the course of our inquiry we shall show that Manasseh was in close touch with the Holy Land; here attention is called only to the fact that in this editorial work Manasseh was actuated by a desire to compare the various manuscripts. These Mishnaioth are a wonderful pocket edition, containing the text without any commentary, and evidently destined for repetition. Talmud students will find here a good many instructive variants.

Another book edited by Manasseh, though it is merely a translation, throws some light on the tendencies of the time and on Manasseh’s Jewish connections. This is the Libro Yntitulado Enseña a Pecadores.¹ (Appendix ix). This little book contains, in addition to a translation of a prayer composed by Rabbi Isaac (15341572) ben Solomon [Ashkenazi] Luria, a translation of a section of Rabbi Isaiah (15551630) ben Abraham Horwitz’s Sepher Shné Luchot Ha’brith ... Amsterdam ... 5409. The author’s name has come down to posterity by the initials of his great work “S. L. H.”² with the attribute Hakadosh.³ He was Rabbi in Frankfort-on-the-Main, Prague, Posen, and Cracow, and then went to the Holy Land, where he was called מרא דארץ ישראל His Shné Luchot Ha’brith is a work of admirable erudition in the Agadah (Legend, Saga) of the Talmud, as well as in homiletics and Cabbalah. Rabbi Isaiah Horwitz was a religiously inspired Zionist. His enthusiasm in expounding the glory of the Holy Land (Shné Luchot Ha’brith, p. 275, sermon to Lech L’cha, and p. 389, sermon to Va’etchanan) was almost unique in the literature of that time. He combined moreover a rare religious ecstasy and Cabbalistic visions with progressive ideas on education, in which he recommended a systematic method, contrary to the customs of that time—a tendency also found in Manasseh. Rabbi Isaiah lived to an advanced age, and his activities came to an end in the Holy Land. His manuscript was brought to Amsterdam and published there, with additions by his son David, who was also a distinguished scholar. This book seems to have impressed Manasseh so much that he published a translation of a part of it, containing prayers and contemplations for repentant sinners, evidently for Marranos, for whom a great many prayer-books and religious tracts were published at that time in Spanish and Portuguese.

This book, while proving the fact of Manasseh’s connection with a great Palestinian authority, shows also that he was in touch with the Hebrew poet and grammarian, Haham Ribi Solomon¹ de David de Israel d’Oliveyra, the author of Sharshot GabluthAyeleth Ahabim, which were both published in Amsterdam in the year 5425 [1665], and many other books and treatises on Hebrew poetry. He is considered to be one of the precursors of the revival of modern Hebrew literature in Holland, and wrote poems and compositions of a didactic character. In the course of our inquiry we shall discover that Manasseh himself had a great predilection for Hebrew poetry. Embodied in the Enseña a Pecadores is a “Confession of Penitence” composed by Haham d’Oliveyra in Hebrew וידוי כפרה and Portuguese [Viduy Penetencial], which includes a prayer for the rebuilding of the “Holy City,” using the Biblical phrase:—תבנה חומות ירושלים Fabricarás murallas de Yerusalaim.

Another work of Manasseh in Latin, De Termino Vitae, Amsterdam, 1639 (Appendix x), was written with the object of answering a question which was addressed by his friend the Christian scholar Jan van Beverwijck [Johannes Beverovicius] (15941647) to various divines and scholars, and is, consequently, apologetic in character. But two passages throw some light on Manasseh’s views as to the Land of Israel and Messianism. In one of them he emphasizes the fact that the Jews frequently collect alms for those who live in the Holy Land;¹ and in the other he says that “if anyone desires to know all the controversies of the Jews concerning the explanation of Daniel’s (fl. 3389 a.m.) Prophecies, he may read Abrabanel’s Treatise, which the learned Johannes Buxtorf II. (15991664) has translated into Latin.”² In this way he identifies himself with the ideas expounded by Abrabanel in his Mayy’neh Hayeshuah, which showed that Abrabanel was not only Messianistic in the usual sense, but was firmly convinced that the end of the Captivity might be expected in the near future.

Manasseh was a Hebrew grammarian concerned with the correctness of ancient sacred texts, and an editor of keen discrimination. In his scholarly work he kept in close touch with the scholars of Safed; he was moreover influenced by the religious Zionistic enthusiasm of Rabbi Isaiah Horwitz. In his Messianic hopes he was a disciple of Abrabanel, and he highly appreciated the modern though religious Hebrew poetry of his time, which poetry he introduced in his devotional book as a Viduy, concluding with an apotheosis of Zion and Jerusalem.

Regarded from the point of view of these ideas, Manasseh of the “Conciliador” appears to us in his proper light. Broad-minded, highly accomplished, interested in all the discoveries of his time—an important period for discoveries—he sincerely believed in Montezinos’ report concerning his distant brethren, while, on the other hand, his great devotion to Palestine and his belief in Abrabanel’s predictions made the question of the Lost Ten Tribes for him not one of curiosity but one of vital importance for the national salvation. Judah and Israel are to return—where, then, is Israel? Is the Return thinkable so long as Israel is lost? All the legends concerning the Sambatyon and the various reports of Eldad ben Mahli Ha’dani (fl. 9th century) concerning the tribe of Dan and the “Sons of Moses” who live somewhere as an independent, strong nation, were essentially the reflex of a powerful national aspiration. The descendants of Judah, Benjamin and half of the tribe of Manasseh felt themselves too weak, too humiliated and too few in number to achieve the great work of Restoration, but believing as they did in the impossibility of the disappearance of the ancient nation, they were sure that the descendants of Israel, uniting with and absorbed by other nations though they might be at present, would one day be awakened to consciousness as to their origin and join Judah in repopulating the Holy Land. This is the reason why they were so fascinated by the reports respecting the Lost Ten Tribes. Is it to be wondered at that Marranos were particularly ready to believe in this miracle? Were they not themselves like one of the Lost Ten Tribes in that, after all the tortures of the Inquisition, and after having apparently been ultimately denationalized, converted and absorbed, they had reasserted themselves and were now awakening to a new Jewish revival? Considering that these aspirations happened to coincide with the hope for the Restoration and the rediscovery of the Lost Ten Tribes, in which reformed Christianity, and especially the Puritans, believed, we can fully realize the popularity which Manasseh’s ideas had gained in these circles, and we can quite understand how they led to the readmission of the Jews to England.


The most important of his Hebrew writings—Quotations from Gebirol, Bedersi, R. Kalonymus, R. Zerahiah Ha’levi, and others—Plato, Aristotle and Philo—Cabbalistic ideas—R. Isaac Luria—Miracles and Christian Saints—Manasseh’s Jewish Nationalism—“The Jewish Soul”—The ZoharR. Jehudah Ha’levi—The holiness of the Land of IsraelR. David Carcassone, the messenger from Constantinople.

The most important of Manasseh’s Hebrew writings, though it is only alluded to incidentally, or dismissed with derisive criticism in some biographies, was his Nishmath Chayyim...,¹ Amsterdam, 1651 (Appendix xi). Sarcastic observations have been made with regard to the legends and superstitions with which this book abounds. It is true that the book contains many legends and superstitious beliefs; but that is just why, from a literary point of view, it contributes far more to a real knowledge of Manasseh than the writings in which he advocated certain causes as apologist or translator. In this book we get Manasseh himself, a national Jew, preaching to his brethren in the national language. A careful study of the book in the original, with its peculiar style, its wide range of allusion, and its distinctive spirit, gives us a clear idea of Manasseh’s religious views, his Jewish national self-consciousness, or—to use the modern term—his Zionism.

The book is a careful compilation, skilfully put together and well chosen in every part. Though somewhat florid in certain portions, it is on the whole excellently written. Its style reminds one of that of Abrabanel, with a touch of R. Isaac (1402?1494) ben Moses Arama. The author often quotes poetical sentences of Solomon (1021?1058) ben Judah Ibn Gabirol [Abu Ayyub Sulaiman Ibn Yahya Ibn Jabirul], known as Avicebron: R. Jedaiah (1270?1340?) ben Abraham Bedersi [Bedaresi].¹ Kalonymos (1286post 1328) ben Kalonymos ben Meir [Maestro Calo]; Zerahiah (1131?1186?) ben Isaac Ha’levi Gerondi, and others, and thus shows himself well versed not only in the ancient texts, but also in the beauties of comparatively recent Hebrew poetry.

Manasseh’s argument aims at proving that the immortality of the soul is an old Biblical as well as a Talmudical, Rabbinical and Cabbalistic principle. He defines the Nefesh (Soul) as the internal ultimate principle by which man thinks, feels and wills. The term Ruach (Mind) denotes this principle as the subject of man’s conscious state, while Nefesh denotes it as the source of man’s physical activities as well. The question of the reality of the soul and its separate existence apart from the body is for him one of the most important problems of religion, for with it is bound up the doctrine of a future life. He knows Plato (427?347? b.c.e.), Aristotle (384 322 b.c.e.) and Philo (20? 40 c.e.). It is well known that Mysticism shares to a great extent the ideas of the system of Plato, e.g. in his theory of the world of ideas, of the origin of the world-soul and the human soul. The two standpoints, the cosmological and the epistemological, are found combined in Plato. In the Phædo the chief argument for the immortality of the soul is based on the nature of intellectual knowledge interpreted by the theory of memory; this of course implies the pre-existence of the soul. This doctrine developed into an extreme Transcendentalism. Aristotle, on the other hand, emphasized the intimacy of the union of body and soul. The difficulty in his theory is to determine what degree of distinctness or separateness from the matter of the body is to be conceded to the human soul. He fully recognizes the spiritual element in thought, and describes the “active intellect” as separate, but the precise relation of this “active intellect” to the individual mind was an obscure point in his theory. Philo combined the Platonic theory with the data of the Bible, and taught that every man, by freeing himself from matter and receiving illumination from God, may reach the mystic, ecstatic or prophetic state, where he is absorbed in the Divinity. The Stoics taught that all existence is material, and described the soul as a breath pervading the body. They also called it Divine, a particle of God. Manasseh’s system is a syncretism of the ideas of Plato, Philo and the Stoics, while he rejects the Aristotelian ideas. He endeavours to prove that Moses Maimonides (11351204) did not follow the great Peripatetic, and opposes the commentator of Maimonides’ Moreh-Nebuchim Moses (fl. 14th cent.) ben Joshua Narboni [Mestre Vidal], in a somewhat forced dialectical manner.

Accepting on these grounds the pre-existence of the soul, the continuance of the soul in the world to come, and reincarnation, he comes to the Cabbalah, quotes the Zohar, and declares himself a disciple of R. Isaac Luria. According to the Zohar, man is composed of three things: Life, or Nefesh, Spirit, which is Ruach, and Soul, which is Neshamah. By this man becomes a Ruach Chajah (Living Spirit).¹ Manasseh’s doctrine may be summarized as follows:—

(1) The human soul is endowed with special gifts fitting it for an intimate union with the Divinity—the Stoic “particle of God,” corresponding to the HebrewChelek Eloha Mimaal”;

(2) The gifts or graces through which every man is equipped for his perfection form his Life, Spirit and Soul into an organized whole, whose parts are knit together;

(3) Through contemplation and piety the human soul enters into that higher heavenly soul, into the mystical cosmos whose parts are united in divine eternity. This is, to his mind, the meaning of the Biblical teaching that man is made in the image and likeness of God.

The Cabbalistic ideas once accepted, Manasseh accepts also the transmigration of souls, physical resurrection, expelling of demons, and so on. He indulges in theosophical visions and metaphysical speculations. All these seem strange from a modern point of view, but he should be considered in the light of his time. He believed in miracles. Did not the Fathers of the Christian Church believe in them? Origen (185?253(4)) says that he has seen examples of demons expelled.¹ St. Athanasius (293373) writes in the Life of St. Anthony (251(2)356(7)) from what he himself saw and heard from one who had long been in attendance on the saint. Justin Martyr (100?1637), in his second apology to the Roman Senate appeals to miracles wrought in Rome and well attested. Tertullian (155?222?) challenges the heathen magistrates to work the miracles which the Christians perform²; St. Augustine (354430) gives a long list of extraordinary miracles wrought before his own eyes, mentioning names and particulars. And even in the time of the Reformation, did not Johann von Reuchlin (14551522) adhere to Cabbalistic mysticism in his De arte cabalistias and De verbo mirifico? Paradoxical as it may seem at first sight, Manasseh even in his metaphysical beliefs was somewhat of a rationalist, in the sense that he accepted only evidence of trustworthy authority. The Safed authorities, who were supposed to have witnessed the miracles of Luria, of course impressed him in the same way as Montezinos’ reports, because they were in harmony with his theory. At any rate, it is characteristic of his way of thinking that he was anxious to build upon facts and evidence.

We have had to wander to some extent into a domain outside our province in order to appreciate fully Manasseh’s general ideas. His Jewish nationalism, which is for us the principal point, can be understood only in connection with his whole system of ideas. This nationalism is outspoken in the Nishmath Chayyim. What we, in modern language, call race, national (from natusnatio) individuality, i.e. what the Jew is by himself, by the fact of being born a Jew, is termed by Manasseh “the Jewish soul.” His system is rooted in his faith in the excellency of the Jewish soul, which is a profound act of homage to the race; that is the point of view from which he regards Jewish history. History, he thinks—and in this point again he is guided by the evidence of historical facts—bears witness to the beneficial influence that the soul of Israel, or—more precisely—the Israelitish soul, has exerted on the intellectual life of mankind.

On this point he is even carried away by his imagination to make exaggerated statements of the following kind, again backed up by authorities: “It is a truth confirmed by innumerable writers, that all the learning of the Greeks and Egyptians was derived from the Jews: Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria (150?213?) and Theodoret (386?247) assert that all the best philosophers and poets owe their learning to the Holy Scriptures, for which reason they call Plato the ‘Attic Moses’; the ‘Athenian Moses.’ Clearchus the Peripatetic (320 b.c.e.) writes that Aristotle gained most of his learning from a Jew with whom he had much conversation; Ambrose (340?397) writes that Pythagoras (fl. 540510 b.c.e.) was by origin a Jew, and like a pilferer robbed them of many things; Cornelius Alexander Polyhistor (80 b.c.e.) writes that he was a disciple of the prophet Ezekiel (fl. 3332 a.m.). Lastly, it is certain that Orpheus (14th or 13th cent. b.c.e.), Plato, Anaxagoras (500428 b.c.e.) Pythagoras, the Milesian Thales (640546 b.c.e.), Homer (fl. 962927 b.c.e.) and many other very learned men, derived their knowledge from the wide ocean of the knowledge of Moses (23682488 a.m.) and the Sages and professors of his most Holy Law; for, according to the Psalmist,

“He declareth His word unto Jacob, ...”  (Psalm cxlvii. 19).

“He hath not dealt so with any nation; ...”  (Ibid. 20).

In his preface to Nishmath Chayyim he makes this statement in a more general form, saying that “wherever he quoted the non-Jewish authorities, he wanted only to show that most of their teachings were derived from our ancient sources.” He repeats that “Pythagoras was a Jew, and all he taught and wrote was copied from our Holy Law and true Tradition” (fol. 171a), and that “Plato had learned the teachings of our prophet Jeremiah” (fol. 171b) (fl. 3298 a.m.). Not that he was lacking in love and consideration for other nations. Far from it: on the contrary, he lays stress upon the sentence of the Mishnah, that the pious men even of heathen nations have their share in the future life, inasmuch as they observe the Seven Commandments of the Noahides; and, needless to say, he highly respected Christianity, and was practically the first Hebrew author who quoted so often and with such great reverence the authority of the Christian Church. Even when he speaks of the Spanish Inquisition, of which his father was one of the tortured victims, no word of contempt or hostility escapes his pen, although, living in Holland, and dealing almost exclusively with the adherents of the Reformation, he could have expressed his ideas on this subject quite frankly. But,nevertheless, he is convinced that “God gave to the Israelitish soul a very special grace, by which it is enabled to feel his sensible presence,” that “the Israelites are and have to remain a distinct nation, having essentially the prerogative of sanctifying life,” and he continually quotes and illustrates the Biblical verses:—

“... Blessed be ... Israel, Mine inheritance”  (Isaiah xix. 25).

“... Israel is the tribe of his inheritance;...”  (Jeremiah x. 16).

“And who is like Thy people, like Israel, a nation one in the earth,...”  (2 Samuel vii. 23).

as well as several passages of the Zohar, which emphasize the particular dignity of the Jewish soul, and R. Judah (1085(6)post 1140) ben Samuel Ha’levi’s [Abu al-Hasan al-Lawi] well-known views, expounded in the Kuzari (chap. i., par. 46):—

“The Israelites are favoured, for God gives them holy souls.”

This sentence from the Zohar is the keynote of Manasseh’s teachings, and his favourite phrase when he speaks of all Israel is,

“... shall ... surname himself by the name of Israel”  (Isaiah xliv. 5).

Whenever he means to lay stress on Jewish origin, without distinction of country, party, school, etc. (a significant allusion also to the Marranos), he uses this phrase. If we add that he emphasizes the holiness of Palestine, enumerating the seven degrees of sanctity, explains the desire of pious men to find their rest after death in Palestinian soil by the fact that the Shechina will dwell in the Holy Land, and so on—we can realize the depth of his national Palestinian enthusiasm. His devoted attachment to the cause of his persecuted brethren is expressed when he speaks of Rabbi David Carcassone, the messenger from Constantinople, “who came to our city to collect funds for the relief of our brethren who had fallen a year before into the hands of the Cossacks, ... may God send His angel before him” (fol. 173b)—referring to the massacres in Poland, 1648. The most interesting reference to his propaganda among Christians on behalf of the Restoration is made in his preface, where he relates that towards morning he had a vision: “And I raised my eyes and I saw behold an Angel touched me and said unto me ... I have given thee for a light to the Nations in the book which thou hast written about the Ten Tribes to possess desolated heritages....”


The massacres of Podolia—The Marrano Tragedy—Manasseh’s views on the mission of Israel—Dispersion and Restoration—R. Jacob Emden’s annotations—Manasseh’s theory of the Jewish race.

The frightful massacres of the Jewish communities in Podolia, Volhynia, and other provinces of Poland, entirely startled and horrified Jewry all over the world. For months and years the murder of the Jews went on. No language can describe the cruelties and sufferings inflicted upon this unfortunate people from the Dnieper to the Vistula. There was “a kind of chase taking place within an enclosed area.” Some of the aged and prominent Jews were kept as hostages in the hands of the mob, who demanded heavy ransoms from the Jews of other countries. This was the purpose of Carcassone’s mission from Constantinople to Amsterdam. Turkey offered an asylum for the hunted refugees who were fortunate enough to cross the boundary, but only very few succeeded, while thousands of those who tried to escape were murdered, or languished in the galleys and prisons as hostages. Manasseh, himself the son of a refugee and a martyr, felt this tragedy. On the other hand, the news concerning the Inquisition in the country of his birth was still horrifying the world, for Jews were still being burnt alive there. Putting together the brief note in the Nishmath Chayyim regarding the massacres of 1648 with the remarks in De Termino Vitae on the Inquisition, we obtain a terrible picture. In De Termino Manasseh alludes to the emigration of the Marranos.

The Marranos! What a splendid record of noble deeds, of spontaneous, gentle piety, of triumphant suffering, is called to memory at the mere mention of the word! What powerful endurance is described in the history of these Jewish martyrs! What an inspiration to attempt even the impossible in the cause of liberty of conscience! What a great tragedy theirs was—a tragedy illumined by personal deeds of self-sacrifice! Their story is a story of thrilling personal experiences and of sorrow and separation and death.¹

They flock, says Manasseh, in thousands to other countries, and it is useless to attempt to tell in a few words the incalculable loss that Spain and Portugal have sustained in losing wealth, and inhabitants, by the inhuman acts of the Inquisition. Apart from their execrable inhumanity, the utter folly of the atrocities is apparent from the fact that the Inquisition forces the wealth, trade and skill of the country to leave it. Here he speaks as a statesman who knows the countries in question. In Nishmath Chayyim the note is one of sober-minded resignation. He does not inveigh against the Cossacks as he did against the Portuguese; he simply expresses the hope that Carcassone may raise the necessary funds, and that God may send His angel before him. By using this Biblical phrase¹ Manasseh expresses his high appreciation of the importance of the mission. The general situation of the Jews in the Diaspora is described by him in short but plain terms: “If the nations would ask, Why are you in captivity, exposed to outrage and contempt, dispersed and scattered...?” Manasseh clearly rejected the idea that Israel’s mission demands an everlasting dispersion. It seemed to him that the dispersion ought to be made complete, because it must lead to the Restoration. In this respect his views were not only in accordance with Scripture, but the outcome of a train of reasoning. The process of dispersion has to reach its climax, and then the process of restoration will begin. The Hagadic sentence:—

²צדקה עשה הקדוש ברוך הוא בישראל שפזרן לבין האומות. פסחים, פז׃

often quoted by the adherents of the dispersion in support of the Galuth, was interpreted by Manasseh to mean that so long as the Israelites must live dispersed they should live dispersed among several nations, because in this way their complete destruction is more difficult than if they were dependent upon one or two nations. But dispersion is not for him the ideal state of the Jewish nation.

The law of Divine providence with regard to the nation of Israel has ever been that defection is eventually to be followed by dispersion and reconciliation by restoration.

“Son of man, when the house of Israel dwelt in their own land they defiled it....”  (Ezekiel xxxvi. 17).

“... and I scattered them among the nations, and they were dispersed through the countries;...”  (Ibid. 19).

“... from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you”  (Ibid. 25).

“And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be My people, and I will be your God”  (Ibid. 28).

There is not one passage in which the promised restoration is represented as anything other than a distinct proof of reconciliation between God and his ancient People, or dispersion as anything other than a punishment. The People and the Land of Israel are so linked with one another that whatever continuity is ascribed to the one must, on all strict principles of interpretation, be also attributed to the other. In the twenty-sixth chapter of Leviticus we find Moses giving the people, as warning and encouragement, a prophetic outline of their future history, which forms the real basis, and, in fact, makes up the substance of all that is found in the later prophets as regards the people of Israel. It is true that both the judgments there threatened and the mercies there promised are set forth hypothetically, on the supposition of their wickedly departing from the Lord and afterwards repenting—“if ye walk contrary unto Me, and will not hearken unto Me,” on the one hand; “if they shall confess their iniquity” on the other. But since the conditional statements are changed—as they are in other places—into absolute announcements of what is to take place, the hypothetical forms of expression must be regarded as merely the appropriate mode of conveying warnings against defection and an encouragement to repentance:—

“And they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, ... and also that they have walked contrary to Me”  (Leviticus xxvi. 40).

“I also will walk contrary unto them, and bring them into the land of their enemies; ... and they shall then be paid the punishment of their iniquity”  (Ibid. 41).

“then will I remember My covenant with Jacob, and also My covenant with Isaac, and also My covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land”  (Ibid. 42).

It is impossible to deny that the “remembrance of the covenant” and the “remembrance of the land” here go together. If we allegorize the one, we must allegorize the other as well, and then there is neither land, people, covenant, prophets nor law—an obvious absurdity which at once refutes itself. The fundamental Mosaic principle is clear, plain and positive. The land is to be held in perpetuity by the Jewish nation, provided the conditions of the covenant are fulfilled. The infringement of the covenant subjects the rebel to bondage and makes him an outcast from the land of his inheritance. The promise of redemption is a rescue from the penalties thus incurred. Therefore, he explains, the Agadist did not say heglom, “He drove them out,” which is the usual expression, but pizrom, “He spread, scattered them,” because, so long as the Galuth lasts, they have to live in various countries. Yet it is absurd to think that the state of Galuth, predicted by Moses as a curse, is a blessing. Here we have in short Manasseh’s ideas as to the Galuth and Restoration. We know that he also acted in full accord with these ideas.¹

The constitution established by Moses was a theocracy. The true King of Israel was God, and the constitution was the Law. The priests and Levites were God’s ministers; the prophets were God’s ambassadors, commissioned to convey his instructions not only to the people but to the King himself. The Kingdom was thus emphatically the Kingdom of God, and the King was the earthly viceroy of the invisible Sovereign. He was more limited than a constitutional monarch; he was subject not only to the Law, but also to those who were entitled to explain the Law. Such a state of things never existed in any other nation, either in ancient or in modern times. The Jewish nation regards it as an Ideal State, and looks forward to a future in which this idea will be accepted by the whole world, when God will be the King; but this will take place only after the establishment of this Divine order in Palestine. Therefore Jews pray to God to give them their judges and their counsellors as in ancient times, i.e. to restore their life under God’s order, a life of justice and peace and wisdom; they hope also that this will influence all mankind to recognize the Kingdom of God, i.e. the rule of justice, mercy and love. Then the promise to Abraham will be fulfilled:—

“... and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; ...”  (Genesis xxii. 18).

and the blessings and privileges of God’s Kingdom will be offered freely to all mankind. Here the influence of Abrabanel is evident.¹ Another interesting point in Manasseh’s theory is his combination of the idea of the Nefesh Ha’yisraelith with the principle of heredity. He terms this principle Mizgé² Ha’aboth, that is, the particular character of the nationality inherited from the ancestors. This is Jewish nationality, which is part of the Jew’s inheritance at birth.³

This is more than the religious idea of the Z’chuth Aboth (Merits of the Fathers); it is, though mixed up with Cabbalistic notions, an ethnological conception—the real basis of the modern Jewish national idea.

Manasseh’s conception of the character (or particular blood mingling) of ancestors, which lives on in the nation, accords entirely with the mode of thought of a modern national Jew as this finds expression in the best writings of the new Zionistic literature. When the Jew feels the pulse-beat of nature in his heart, then the history of his forefathers comes to life within him. He no longer struggles alone through life, he is sensible of connections between himself and millions who have been and of whose spirit and soul he has received a share in life. The most glorious, invigorating feeling which an old race can offer; the consciousness of individual transitoriness and universal constancy, begins only then to be of value for him because the easily intelligible national future has made comprehensible his own infinite one. This psychic process is the unconscious aim of that which he perceives as national longing. The free individual must become a problematic nature if he cannot force the roots of his spiritual and physical personality into the soil of a soul-related community. The unit goes adrift in the chaos of social struggles when it is not linked by a thousand tender and yet untearable threads with the ethnical community of a nation. This ethnical community is the fount of two infinite perceptions which have become the mightiest supports of human civilization; first of all arises the consciousness of national control which develops into the unnoticed, yea, self-evident foundation of the ethnical unit, the moral consciousness of duty and sense of responsibility. National responsibility finds its complement in the right of recovery of the individual against the community. In the wrestle with other morals and conceptions of life, the individual has often to lean on those who are like-minded because like-born so as not to lose himself. It has been repeatedly experienced in Jewish history that many Jews have not only lost their veriest substance but have voluntarily surrendered it, so that their culture subsisted only through an ingenious system of exquisite imitations of foreign nature and foreign customs.

What Manasseh understood under “Character of Ancestors” pertains as little to atavism as the modern Jewish national idea. Atavism is something unconscious, it is found even among the dejudaized Jews. But what with the dejudaized is atavism becomes with nationalist Jews the historic basis of their whole life tendency. The comprehension of the past wafts the first breath of life into the present, upon the wreckage of bygone times dawns the premonition of the greatness of each lived moment—and new life blossoms upon the ruins. Therein lies also the power of the national consciousness to create cultural values. What is based upon heredity and tradition is no longer sacrificed to thoughtless recession of self—misconstrued as civilization—but replenished with national love. It is no longer the anarchy of aimless “culture” which wants to link up with the attainments of unfamiliar races so as to become like them, and which as an imitation it can never attain, but it is a strongly rooted culture, which reaches deep down to the national wells of life, and can thereby become equal to all other great and deep-rooted cultures.

The individual is the outcome of a nation, its ultimate aim. The nation is the circuitous way of nature to produce an individual. A nation is great, not only when great creative minds arise from its midst, but also when the many live intensively, so that they receive impulses from the few, and return impulses to the few—and when the past lives on in the present. It is this idea of Jewish nationality which Manasseh had forefelt in spite of his mysticism. He was permeated with religious enthusiasm and, at the same time, all aglow with intense national feeling. Therefore, his thoughts and sentiments tended to greatness; he understood that the best means of strengthening and reaffirming the national consciousness of a people about to lose the knowledge of its ethnical individuality, is just that it should be told its history, that its ancestors should be recalled to memory, their great deeds sung and praised, and that pride of the past should be instilled. As he poetised so sublimely he could also accomplish great deeds, because he kept his eye upon Palestine he was also able to achieve great results in the Diaspora. He was the father of post-exilic English Judaism, and this Judaism ought to follow in his footsteps.

To conclude, reference should be made to the Hebrew writer Perez Smolenskin, himself a pioneer of modern Zionism, who, though he did not deal with the matter in detail, was guided by a sound intuition when he characterized Manasseh in his Am Olam (1880) as a great pioneer of the national idea.


The Renaissance and the Reformation—John Sadler—Milton’s belief in the Return—Edmund Bunny—Isaac de La Peyrère—Leibnitz—Thomas Brightman—James Durham—The pamphlet “Doomes-Day”—Thomas Burnet—The pamphlet “The New Jerusalem”—Thomas Drake—Edward Nicholas, John Sadler, Hugh Peters, Henry Jesse, Isaac Vossius, Hugo Grotius, Rembrandt, Isaac da Fonseca Aboab, Dr. Ephraim Hezekiah Bueno, Dr. Abraham Zacuto Lusitano, H. H. R. Yahacob Sasportas, Haham Jacob Jehudah Aryeh de Leon [Templo]—Manasseh’s origin.

As a result of the impulse given to Letters generally by the Renaissance in the fifteenth century, and by the Reformation in the sixteenth century, the knowledge of the Hebrew language and literature spread rapidly in the literary world, and particularly in the first half of the seventeenth century. Hebrew was a favourite study with Puritan ministers, who dwelt much upon the Messianic hopes and promises of the Scriptures and Rabbinical works. A great stir was caused among Jews as well as Christians by Montezinos’ report and other rumours concerning the lost Ten Tribes. John Sadler (16151674) (Appendix xii), Town Clerk of London, a friend of Cromwell, and probably also of Milton and Dury, stated that there was an old prophecy which fixed the time of the Restoration at the year 5408 = 1648 A.D. Puritans and Sectarians began to take the greatest interest in Jewish Messianic affairs just before King Charles I. (16001649) was executed, for most of them were looking forward to some new reformed Commonwealth, some new communion of saints, some republic, some peaceful kingdom of Truth and Justice, and they connected the restoration of Israel scripturally with its advent. That was one reason why Sadler and Cromwell and others were favourably disposed towards the Jews and inclined to let them come back to England, for the idea prevailed that the Jews had first to be dispersed throughout the whole world before the Lord would return to set up His millennial Kingdom. Milton thought that the whole twelve tribes would return to Zion;¹ and similar sympathetic views are expressed in an anonymous romance published in London in 1648, entitled Nova Solyma (Appendix xiii), of which it has been claimed he was the author.

Edmund Bunny (15401619), a theological writer, devoted himself to the work of an itinerant preacher, visiting towns and villages. His doctrine was Calvinistic, but his warm attachment to the ideals of ancient Israel was a singular feature of his theological views.¹

The distinguished French-Huguenot scholar Isaac de La Peyrère (15941676) of Bordeaux, probably of marrano Jewish blood, author of many works, wrote and published anonymously Dv Rappel des Ivifs, M.DC.XLIII.¹ (Appendix xiv) which was intended to be part of a greater work on the same subject.² He demands in this book the restoration of Israel to the Holy Land in an unconverted state, in the belief that this restoration will lead to the final triumph of Christianity. He expects France to carry out this idea, and appeals in this sense to the Royal Dynasty in a somewhat strange homiletical manner.³ In 1644 he was appointed French Ambassador at Copenhagen. Being on intimate terms with the eminent scholars Isaac [Vos] Vossius (Appendix xv) (16181689) and Hugo Grotius [Huig van Groot] (15831645) he became acquainted with their mutual friend Manasseh and with Manasseh’s friends, Caspar [van Baerle] Barlaeus (15841648), Simon Episcopius (15831643), Gerard John [Vos] Vossius (15771649), Johannes [van Meurs] Meursius (15791639), David Blondel (15911655), [Peter] Petrus [Serrurier] Serrarius (fl. 16501700) and Paulus Felgenhauer (circa 1625), who all supported similar ideas.

The Rev. Thomas Draxe¹ (ob. 1618), a theologian of great knowledge and influence, demonstrated that “all the particular promises, such as the land of Canaan, a certain form of government ... were proper to the Jews...,” and “that we (Christians) must therefore acknowledge ourselves debtors unto the Jews, and deeply engaged unto them, we must be so far off from rendering or returning them evil for good....”²

Thomas Brightman (15621607), a Puritan Divine and Bible exegete, in his comment on:—

H. H. Reby Yahacob Saportas

P. van Gunst, sculp.

From a line engraving (proof before all letters)
lent by Israel Solomons

“And the sixth [angel] poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared”  (Revelation xvi. 12).

gives reasons why these “kings of the east” must mean the Jews, and then says: “What! Shall they return to Jerusalem again? There is nothing more certain: the prophets do everywhere confirm it.”¹

The Rev. James Durham (16221658) not only upholds, but gives solid reasons for his belief in the Restoration of the Jews.¹

Mr. Vavasor Powel (16171660) expounds with abundant references to scriptural prophecy, the return and re-establishment of the Jews, attended with many miracles and peculiar circumstances.¹

An anonymous writer relates:—

“... the Jewes ... are ... assembling ... from out of all countreys ... to regaine the holy land once more out of the hand of the Ottaman:”¹  (Appendix xvi).

Thomas Burnet (1635?1715), Master of the Charterhouse, a great scholar and celebrated author in English and Latin, writes:—

Deum nunquam deserturum esse finaliter populum suum Israeliticum.

Secundò, Nondum impleta esse promissa omnia Israelitis data.¹

Another anonymous theologian published in 1674, A Paper, shewing that the great ... Restauration of all Israel and Judah will be fulfilled ... and that the New Jerusalem is most probably then to be set up (Appendix xvii).

Among the Christian friends of Manasseh, the following distinguished persons may be named: Edward Nicholas, the author of An Apology for the Honorable Nation of the Jews, 1648 (Appendix xviii); the above-mentioned John Sadler, who petitioned Richard Cromwell (16261712) for a pension for Manasseh’s widow; Hugh Peters (15981660), one of Oliver Cromwell’s army chaplains, and a strong advocate for the unrestricted admission of the Jews (Appendix xix), Isaac Vossius, the scholarly Protestant ecclesiastic, with whom he was in correspondence.¹ Vossius, at one time a member of the Court of Queen Christina of Sweden, was instrumental in bringing Manasseh to her notice.² Dr. Nathanael Homes (15991678), the famous Puritan divine and author,³ and the great painter Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Ryn (1606(7)1669). The most notable of his Jewish friends were, Isaac da Fonseca Aboab (16051693) (Appendix xx), Haham of the Sephardi community at Amsterdam, on whose initiative the Great Synagogue there was erected. Dr. Ephraim Hezekiah (ob. 1665) [de Dr. Joseph (ob. 1641)] Bueno (Bonus), author of several liturgical works and the subject of Rembrandt’s famous etching “The Jew Doctor”; Dr. Abraham Zacuto Lusitano (15801642) (Appendix xxi), one of the most celebrated physicians of his age; Jacob Jehudah Aryeh de Leon [Templo] (16031675), chiefly known as having designed models of the Tabernacle and Temple and was called “Templo” for that reason, which was assumed as a surname by his descendants. In anticipation of his visit to England, to exhibit the models before Charles II. (16301685) and his Court, he published in Amsterdam a pamphlet in English describing them (Appendix xxii): and H. H. R. Yahacob Sasportas (16101698), who accompanied Manasseh to England in 1655, was appointed in the month of Nisan, 1664, Haham of the Sephardi community in London. He was the author of one of the treatises in Sepher Pene Rabah edited by Manasseh Ben Israel ... Amsterdam 5388, and also wrote Sepher Ohel Ya’acob and Sepher Kizur Zizath Nobel Zebi, which were published together at Amsterdam 5497, against the adherents of Sabbatai Zebi (16261676). His stay here was of short duration—not quite two years. He left the country to escape the plague which was then raging, and subsequently, in 1681, became the Ecclesiastical Head of the Sephardi Jews in Amsterdam. It is noteworthy that two of these friends of Manasseh, Aboab and Sasportas, were particularly interested in the Messianic hopes, though from different points of view. Aboab, a Cabbalist, whose religious poetry is remarkable for chaste diction and wealth of imagination, was supposed to be a secret Sabbatian, while Sasportas, sober-minded and a strict Talmudist, was strongly opposed to the mystical tendencies of pseudo-Messianism, and hoped for the restoration in the traditional way.

Dr. Ephraim H. Bonus Dr. Abraham Zacut

H. H. R. Manasseh Ben-israel

Haham J. J. A. de Leon
 H. H. R. Isaac Aboab
da Fonseca

From rare engravings lent by Israel Solomons

In 1603 Joseph Ben-Israel, the father of Manasseh, and his wife Rachel Soeiro, secretly left Lisbon. He had been a victim of the Inquisition, which deprived him of his wealth, and on three distinct occasions had been subjected to excruciating tortures, which undermined his health. They apparently fled to La Rochelle, France, for it was here that Manasseh was shortly afterwards born, in 1604, as is attested by his marriage certificate, deposited in the Archives of the City of Amsterdam (Puiboek, No. 669, fo. 95 verso, 15 Aug. 1623). Here he was also baptized, as it was not until his parents arrived at Amsterdam that they dared avow their faith in the God of Israel. In a holograph letter¹ of Manasseh to an unknown correspondent (suggested by Mr. E. N. Adler, the owner, to be Gerard John Vossius) he writes: “... and the Thesoro delos Dinim (Appendix xxiii) of our rites and ceremonies, the last in my Portuguese mother tongue, for I am a Lisbonian by patrimony....” He did not claim Lisbon as his own birthplace, but as that of his father. Most of his connections were with Spanish and Portuguese Jews, though he was opposed to any sort of separation, condemning it in his writings, and emphasizing the necessity of Jewish unity and brotherhood. It is noteworthy that a hundred and twenty-six years later, when the father of Jewish Rationalism, Moses Mendelssohn (17291786), had to defend Judaism and the Jewish people, he found no better apology than Manasseh’s Vindiciae Judæorum (1656), which was translated into German, and for which he wrote the admirable Vorrede (Appendix xxiv).


Newes from Rome—Rev. Dr. William Gouge—Sir Henry Finch, Sergeant-at-law—King James I.—Archbishop Laud—Archbishop Abbot—Roger Williams—Johanna Cartwright and her son Ebenezer—John Harrison—Rev. John Dury—Rev. Henry Jessey—Rev. Thomas Fuller—Re-admission and Restoration—Manasseh and the Puritans.

The publication of a tract in 1607, entitled:—

Newes from Rome ... of an Hebrew people ... who pretend their warre is to recouer the land of Promise....  (Appendix xxv)

is remarkable for the interest evinced at a time when the presence of a Jew in England was deemed unlawful. It purports to be a translation from the Italian of a letter dated 1 June, 1606, sent by Signior Valesco to Don Mathias de Rensie of Venice. In it he is informed of the perturbed state of the world, and that Hungary, Bohemia and Muscovia are to declare war, seize Constantinople, and drive the Turk out of Europe. Tunis, Morocco, with the Arabians, and others, are to expel the Turk entirely out of Africa. The Soffie, the Medes, the people of Melibar on the border of India are in revolt. The most alarming news is to the effect than an unknown people, strong, mighty and swift, from beyond the Caspian mountains, claiming to be descendants of the lost Ten Tribes, are coming to recover the Land of Promise from the Turk. This is followed by a detailed account of the leaders of each tribe, the strength of each army, with the particulars of its equipment. The letter concludes by a promise of more news in a few days.

It was, however, a Puritan England that welcomed back the Jews as an ancient nation and as the “People of the Book.” In 1621 the Rev. Dr. William Gouge (15781653) published the anonymous work:—

The World’s Great Restauration. Or, The Calling of the Iewes   (Appendix xxvi).

In the preliminary leaf, “To the Reader,” signed “Thine in the Lord, William Gouge. Church-Court in Black-fryers, London 8. Ianuary. 1621.” he states:—

... I haue bin moued to publish this Treatise ... and to commend it to thy reading. And this is all that I haue done. The worke it selfe is the worke of one who hath dived deeper into that mysterie then I can doe. His great understanding of the Hebrew tongue hath bin a great helpe to him therein. How great his paines haue beene, not in this onely but also in other poynts of Diuinitie, his Sacred doctrine of Diuinitie, first published in a little Manuel, after set forth in a larger volume, his Old Testament, or Promise, Therein the mysteries of the Iewish types and ceremonies are opened, his Exposition of the song of Salomon,¹ and this, The World’s great restauration, or Calling of the Iewes (workes of his heretofore and now published) doe witnesse.”

The writer, Sir Henry Finch (15581625), Serjeant-at-Law (1616), was a distinguished author of many legal works. Mr. J. M. Rigg, in the Dictionary of National Biography, vol. xix., 1889, tells us, that in this treatise “he seems to have predicted in the near future the restoration of temporal dominion to the Jews and the establishment by them of a world-wide empire.” This caused James I. to treat the work as a libel, and accordingly Finch was arrested in April, 1621. He obtained his liberty by disavowing all such portions of the work as might be construed as derogatory to the sovereign and by apologizing for having written unadvisedly. William Laud (15731645), Bishop of St. David’s, 1621,¹ in a sermon preached in July of that year, took occasion to animadvert on the book. It was suppressed, and is now extremely rare.

In spite of the official proceedings, in consequence of which he was forced to sign his recantation and acknowledge his loyalty to the sovereign, Finch clearly never renounced the principal idea of his book. A letter from the pen of a celebrity of the day gives a fair idea not only of the sensation which Finch’s Apocryphal Apocalypse created at the time, but also of the personal and somewhat strange motives underlying King James’s indignation (Appendix xxvii).

Dr. Gouge was considered equally culpable. He was imprisoned for nine weeks, and only released on giving certain explanations, which [George Abbot (15621633)] the Archbishop of Canterbury (1611) deemed satisfactory. He was a fellow of King’s College, Cambridge, where he taught Hebrew, having been the only steadfast pupil of a Jew (Appendix xxviii) who came to Cambridge to give instruction in that language.

Roger Williams (1604(5)1683), the son of James (ob. 1621) and Alice Williams, was a native of London. He was one of the great pioneers of Religious liberty, his prime contention being that the civil powers should have no authority over the consciences of men. Ecclesiastical tyranny induced him to emigrate in 1631 to America. In 1635 he was banished from the state of Massachusetts for his heretical and political opinions. The following year he and a few other malcontents, after many hardships and trials arrived at Rhode Island, and in gratitude to God’s mercy he named the first settlement “Providence.” In 1638 he purchased land from the aborigines, and the state of Rhode Island was founded. In June, 1643, he set sail for his native land to obtain a charter, which was granted, dated 14 March, 1644, giving the “Providence Plantations” full power to rule themselves by any form of government they preferred. During his stay here of but a few months, he published two tracts advocating religious and political freedom. In one he writes: “For who knowes not but many ... of the ... Jewish Religion, may be clear and free from scandalous offences in their life, and also from disobedience to the Civill Lawes of a State?”¹

In July, 1644, he left the English shores, and in the following month, the tract containing this plea for the Jews, was by the order of the Commons publicly burnt by the common hangman. The author arrived at Boston on the seventeenth of December following. In 1651 he again embarked for England, in connection with matters concerning the State he had founded and remained for two and a half years.

Ecclesiastical affairs here were in an unsettled condition, so a “Parliamentary Committee,” known as “The Committee for the Propagation of the Gospel,” was formed, of which Cromwell himself was a member, to consider certain proposals of some twenty leading divines. Among the papers, one presented by Major Butler and others, contained the following clause:—

4. “Whether it be not the duty of the Magistrates to permit the Jews, ... to live freely and peaceably among us.”

This was accompanied by a comment, signed R.W.,¹ in which he argues at length under seven different heads why “this wrong”—their exclusion should not be continued:—

“I humbly conceive it to be the Duty of the Civil Magistrate to break down that superstitious wall of separation (as to Civil things) between us Gentiles and the Jews, and freely (without this asking) to make way for their free and peaceable Habitation amongst us.”

“As other Nations, so this especially, and the Kings thereof have had just cause to fear, that the unchristian oppressions, incivilities and inhumanities of this Nation against the Jews have cried to Heaven against this Nation and the Kings and Princes of it.”

“What horrible oppressions and horrible slaughters have the Jews suffered from the Kings and peoples of this Nation, in the Reigns of Henry 2 (11331189), K. John (11671216), Richard I. (11571199) and Edward I. (12391307), concerning which not only we, but the Jews themselves keep Chronicles.”¹

He returned to Providence in 1654, and in September, shortly after his arrival, was elected President or Governor of Rhode Island, one of the thirteen original states of the Union, and the first to accord Jews rights and privileges similar to other colonists. He held office until May, 1658, and it is worthy of note that one who took a significant part in securing the admission of Jews to England in the Old World, was the founder of a state in New England in the New World, which was the first to grant equal rights to Jews at a time when he was its President. He died at Providence in the early part of April, 1683.¹

In 1899 a tablet, with the following inscription:—

In Memory of Roger Williams,
Formerly a Scholar of Charterhouse
Founder of the State of Rhode Island, and the
Pioneer of Religious Liberty in America. Placed here by
Oscar S. Straus, United States Minister to Turkey, 1899.

was presented to the Charterhouse, where Williams was a scholar in the year 1624.

In 1649 two Baptists of Amsterdam, Johanna Cartwright and her son Ebenezer, presented a petition to Lord Fairfax (161271) and the “generall Councell of Officers” in favour of the Jews (Appendix xxix). Religious fervour had been stirred to a high pitch, and there were few men whose minds had not been influenced by Messianic beliefs and other religious and mystical ideas.

John Harrison (fl. 1630), a famous traveller and diplomatist, envoy to Barbary, published The Messiah already come, etc. (Appendix xxx). He took a lively interest in the disputes which arose between partisans of the new Puritan movement and those who adhered to the old doctrines, besides dwelling on the question of religious liberty, and he argued that so long as the Jews were not equal in their rights to others as a nation, “the heart will be filled with violence.”

John Dury (Durie), the ubiquitous Protestant divine, who travelled much and endeavoured to bring together all sections of Protestantism, was a great friend of the Jews. He was one of those who drew up the “Westminster Confession” and “Catechisms.” In 1649 50 he wrote An Epistolicall Discourse of Mr. Iohn Dury, to Mr. Thorowgood, concerning his conjecture that the Americans are descended from the Israelites (Appendix xxxi), and during his stay at Cassel, in Germany, A Case of Conscience, Whether it be lawful to admit Jews into a Christian Commonwealth? (Appendix xxxii).¹

Another great friend of the Jews was Henry Jessey, or Jacie (16011663), a Baptist divine. He began his studies in 1618 at Cambridge, where at St. John’s College in 1622 he was admitted Constable’s scholar. Hebrew and Rabbinical literatures were his favourite studies. He projected a revised translation of the Bible and made some progress in it. He collected £300 for the poor Jews of Jerusalem, who in consequence of the war between the Swedes and Poles in 1657 were reduced to great extremity, as the main source of income derived from their charitable coreligionists in European countries was thereby cut off. This is, as far as is known, the earliest instance of English Christians helping the Jews of Palestine (Appendix xxxiii).

In 1653 he wrote a treatise for the purpose of reconciling the various religious opinions of Jews and Gentiles, entitled, The Glory of Jehudah and Israel (Appendix xxxiv).

His liberality to Jews was memorable on other occasions. He claimed for them the rights of citizenship and admission to this country which was then under consideration.

He was one of the members of the Assembly convened by Cromwell to consider Manasseh Ben Israel’s proposals for the return of his coreligionists to England. He is supposed to be the author of an anonymous tract, entitled A Narrative of the late Proceeds at White-Hall, concerning the Jews (Appendix xxxv).

Thomas Fuller (16081661),¹ Prebendary of Salisbury, delivered several sermons, in which he argued that the Jewish nation was fulfilling an important office in the world and was, under the order of Providence, an instrument in giving the victory to good over evil. This nation ought not, therefore, to content itself with mere existence, but should throw its elements, or the best of them, into another mould and constitute out of them a new society which would become a blessing to the world.

Sir Oliver St. John  Thos. Brightman

Rev. Dr. William Gouge

Hugo Grotius  Rev. Henry Jessey

All these Christian pioneers of religious liberty and Zionism were in close connection with Manasseh, and helped him to prepare the way for the re-admission of the Jews into England.

The view held by many Christians, especially in England, was that the Israelitish race, now scattered over the face of the earth, would eventually be brought back to its own land. To this was generally added the belief that the Jews would return in a converted, i.e. Christian, state.¹ In conformity with the general spirit of the period, all these ideas had a religious colouring in the minds both of English theologians and writers and of the Jews themselves.

Why were these considerations particularly important with regard to England? In seeking an answer to this question we are met at once by the significant fact dealt with in the first chapter of this book: the attachment of Englishmen to the Bible.

The men and women who live in the pages of the Bible had long ago become recognized types for the English nation. As early as the seventeenth century interest in the restoration of Israel had become deep and general, England providing the earliest stimulus to Zionism. The connection between this idea, and the idea of the readmission of the Jews into England after long years of exclusion, following their final expulsion under Edward I. in the year 1290, and the steady progress of the latter idea, supported and determined by the former, is characteristic not only of Manasseh’s writings, efforts and plans, but of the whole epoch. Facts prove with what steadfastness of aim and consistency of thought the problem was attacked and conquered by the Puritan theologians and writers, and to what an extent their defence of the Jews formed one comprehensive and consistent scheme, of which the readmission of the Jews (justice applied to individuals) was one part, and the Restoration of Israel (justice applied to the nation as a whole) was another.

Whoever studies Manasseh’s writings and the Puritan literature of that epoch will have no difficulty in recognizing that the idea of national justice to the Jews underlies all the discussions and controversies and is common to all schools of thought. Thus Zionism has but brought to light and given practical form and a recognized position to a principle which had long consciously or unconsciously guided English opinion. The ideas of Readmission and Restoration originally formed a single stream in England, before they separated to flow in distinct but parallel channels. Readmission, however, became an immediate practical result, whilst Restoration was left for the future.


Dr. John Jortin—Thomas Newton, Bishop of Bristol—Edward King—Samuel Horsley, Bishop of Rochester and St. Asaph—Jewish Colonies in South America—Marshal de Saxe’s scheme—Anecdote by Margravine of Anspach—Earl of Egmont’s project—Proposed settlement of German Jews in Pennsylvania—Viscount Kingsborough’s Mexican colony—John Adams, President of the United States.

The books and pamphlets, consisting largely of interpretations of the Bible, naturally contain many ideas open to serious criticism on the part of a modern reader. Inevitably also (seeing that the writers were theologians) they exhibit a persistent tendency to conversionism. But one thing that continually impresses one is the earnestness and sincerity revealed throughout. The readmission of the Jews into England was likewise connected in some quarters with conversionist tendencies, but on the whole it was an act of justice, and the Jews profited by it.

The writers with whom we have been dealing were men trained from childhood to read the Holy Scriptures, to reflect upon what they read, and to consider every question from the standpoint of their religious convictions. A certain weakness will no doubt be found in the one-sided exegetical tendency shown in the numberless explanations of the seventh chapter of the Book of Daniel, and various Apocalyptic prophecies. But have not all the different denominations done the same? Has not each one made use of some part of the Bible in order to support its ideas? Does not every sect explain the word of God according to its own way of thinking? Do not the opinions of one sect conflict with and contradict those of another? It must be remembered that this method of Scriptural interpretation was in keeping with the spirit of the time, and that the entire question was still in its infancy. Be that as it may, one cannot but be grateful for the devotion of these Christian champions, in spite of the peculiarity of some of their notions. Although as Jews we often differ from them as regards the interpretation and application of certain verses, still we cannot withhold our admiration for the sincere enthusiasm which is evinced in most of their writings.

Dr. John Jortin (16981770), an ecclesiastical historian and critic, the author of The Life of Erasmus ... London ... 17581760, and of many books dealing with the problem of the Jewish people, developed the idea that the preservation of this people, “under such long, such signal and such unexampled persecutions and calamities inclines one to think that they are reserved for some illustrious purpose of Providence.”

Thomas Newton (17041782), Bishop of Bristol (1761), a divine of great authority, defended the idea of the Restoration of Israel in words which no Jewish national enthusiast could excel. The Jews, he believes, will be restored to their native city and country. At the same time, he emphasizes the dignity and the necessity of Jewish distinctiveness all over the world, and condemns anti-Jewish prejudice:—

“We see that the great empires, which in their turns subdued and oppressed the people of God, are all come to ruin; because, tho’ they executed the purposes of God, yet that was more than they understood; all that they intended was to satiate their own pride and ambition, their own cruelty and revenge. And if such hath been the fatal end of the enemies and oppressors of the Jews, let it serve as a warning to all those, who at any time or upon any occasion are for raising a clamor and persecution against them”¹ (Appendix xxxvi).

Edward King (17251807), a miscellaneous writer and essayist, was a zealous champion of more enlightened theological views than were approved in his day by the orthodox believers. In one of his books,¹ which is written with intense faith and enthusiasm, and abounds in beautiful passages that appeal to the imagination and heart, the one point in which he is particularly emphatic is the return of the Jews as Jews to the Holy Land.

Samuel Horsley (17331806), Bishop of Rochester (17931802), Bishop of St. Asaph (18021806), considered King’s book of sufficient importance to publish another¹ in reply, from which one gathers, that the opinions expressed by King were not entirely rejected. “I agree with you,” wrote the Bishop, “that some passages in Zechariah (fl. 3408 a.m.) in particular, make strongly for this idea of a previous settlement ... and so far I can admit....”

This declaration must have made a profound impression. It was the declaration of a man who was, as a contemporary biographer says, “an ornament to the Senate, an honour to the Church of England, and one of the first characters of the age in which he lived.”

In some tracts written at the beginning of the nineteenth century a semi-political note is already sounded, as, for instance, in the tract A Call to the Christians and the Hebrews, by Theætetus (Appendix xxxvii). This call did not find an immediate response; nevertheless, the political idea of the Restoration of Israel reappeared at various epochs in England as well as in the other English-speaking countries and elsewhere.

The various efforts to establish autonomous Jewish Colonies in America during the early history of that country are not strictly Zionism, but are not without interest from the Zionist point of view. “Under the authority of the Dutch West India Company.... In 1652, a tract of land ... was granted in the island of Curaçao to Joseph Nunez da Fonseca, and others, to found a colony of Jews in that island ... but it was not successful....”¹

About 1654 a project was formed for a settlement in Surinam, then a British colony, with Jewish fugitives from Brazil. The scheme is referred to as “Privileges Granted to the People of the Hebrew Nation that are to goe to the Wilde Cust” (Egerton MSS., vol. 2395, No. 8. [B. M.]).

A grant was made by the French West India Company to David Nasi, a Portuguese Jew, in 1659, by a charter which authorized him to found a Jewish colony in Cayenne.

Some of the later projects are even more interesting. About the year 1749 Marshal de Saxe¹ contemplated erecting a Jewish state in South America of which he would be King. “... We have only meagre accounts of this scheme; I am unable even to say whether he had abandoned it prior to his death....”²

The Margravine of Anspach¹ tells us in her anecdotes about him, that “He took a fancy to become a king: and on looking around..., as he found all the thrones occupied, he cast his eyes upon that nation which for seventeen hundred years had neither sovereign nor country; which was everywhere dispersed, and everywhere a stranger.... This extraordinary project occupied his attention for a considerable time. It is not known how far the Jews co-operated with him, nor to what point their negotiations were carried; nor was his plan ever developed: but the project was well known to the world, and his friends sometimes even joked with him on the subject.”²

John Perceval (17111770), the second Earl of Egmont, when scarce a man, had a scheme of assembling the Jews, and making himself their King.¹

Hardly was the constitution of Pennsylvania of September 28th, 1776, adopted.... A German Jew, whose name and domicile are not mentioned, forwarded a letter to the President of the Continental Congress ... that a number of German Jews had the intention of settling in America.... Let the conditions be stated to us, gracious President....¹

Edward King (17951837), Viscount Kingsborough, eldest son of George, third Earl of Kingston (17711839), promoted and edited with copious notes a magnificent work, entitled Antiquities of Mexico ... 9 vols. Imperial Folio and 60 pp. of a tenth volume. London, 18301848. The drift of King’s speculations was to establish the colonization of Mexico by the Israelites.¹

In this connection special mention should be made of a great American who was undoubtedly inspired by English Puritanism and displayed the same broad-mindedness as the Puritans in relation to the Jewish problem. This was John Adams (17351826), the second President of the United States of America (17971801), and one of the most distinguished patriots of the Revolution. He was one of the most enthusiastic supporters of the Zionist idea. In a letter addressed to Major Mordecai Manuel Noah (17851851), he says: “I really wish the Jews again in Judea, an independent nation, for, as I believe, the most enlightened men of it have participated in the amelioration of the philosophy of the age; once restored to an independent government, and no longer persecuted, they would soon wear away some of the asperities and peculiarities of their character,...” But, anticipating that he might be wrongly supposed to desire the return of the Jews to Palestine for the purpose of getting them away from America or limiting their rights in that country, he continues: “I wish your nation may be admitted to all the privileges of citizens in every part of the world. This country (America) has done much; I wish it may do more, and annul every narrow idea in religion, government and commerce.”¹


The Love and Knowledge of the Holy Land—The Land of the Bible—The Bible Societies and the Institutions for the Investigation of the Holy Land—The Palestine Exploration Fund—Colonel Conder—Sir Charles Wilson—Sir Charles Warren—Lord Kitchener.

The love and knowledge of the Holy Land were scarcely less valuable than the influence of the Bible and its language in paving the way for an understanding of Zionist aspirations. What is more natural than that the Land of Israel most strongly attracted the Christian Englishman by its past history and its present condition? He could not lay his hand upon his Bible without being reminded of the Jordan, of the Lebanon, of the Mount of Olives. Every Sunday called to his mind the ancient history and lost prosperity of the “glory of all lands,” while the existing ruin and desolation of the country gave testimony to the truth of the Bible and the certainty of the promised blessings.

While the familiar passages of Scripture concerning the Restoration were calculated to promote human effort in this great cause—for in many of these passages the spiritual application is not the most obvious, and all of them seem inspired by the vision of a real and natural return to the Land—the Biblical descriptions of the Holy Land contributed not less to the propaganda of what we may call the Zionist idea. There is no country whose geography is, if not better known, at any rate dearer to the heart of man than that of the land of which the Bible speaks.

Apart from the divine character of the Scriptures, they have handed down through the centuries the earliest history of which we have any records, and have preserved for all time records of the economic, domestic and political life of a people which inhabited one of the most important provinces of the ancient world. The people and the land are no allegory, no abstraction; they are realities. They still exist, and they can be brought together again as they were in their natural condition. They are both equally typical, almost unique. There is no other country whose geographical features are so strongly marked as those of Palestine, the character of whose inhabitants so strikingly depends on peculiarities of position, soil and climate. And there is no other people whose character, history and destinies are so peculiar as those of the Jewish people.

Two kinds of English organizations, without parallel in any other country—Bible Societies and Palestine Societies—have contributed particularly to the investigation of Palestine. Apart from their conversionist tendency, the Bible Societies were founded in order “to promote the circulation of the Holy Scriptures, both at home and in foreign lands.” This idea could take deep hold of the minds of the people only in England. The first Bible Society of Great Britain was founded in 1802 (Appendix xxxviii). Shortly afterwards—in 1805—a “Palestine Association”¹ was established for the purpose of promoting the knowledge of its geography, natural history and antiquities, with a view to the illustration of the Holy Writings. The inquiries of the Society were directed in the first place to ascertaining the natural and political boundaries of the several districts within the limits of the Land of Israel, the topographical situation of the towns and villages, the courses of streams and rivers, the ranges of mountains, and the manners and customs of the inhabitants. They extended to the natural products of the Holy Land and adjacent countries, to peculiarities of soil, climate and minerals, and to the exploration for Jewish antiquities. This was, however, by no means the beginning of the study of Palestine: it was rather a new organization of the studies in question. But notwithstanding the learned and laborious compilations of Christianus Adrichomus (15331585), Petrus Ravanellus (ob. 1680), Christophorus Cellarius (16381707), Thomas Fuller (16081661), John Lightfoot (16021675), and the more recent work of Dom [Antoine] Augustin Calmet (16721757), Johann Heinrich Michaelis (16681738), Thomas Harmer (17151788), Willem Albert Bachiene (17121783), and Ijsbrand van Hamelsveld (17431812), many of the most important points were still left unexamined. “No country should be of so much interest to us as Palestine, and at the same time no country more urgently requires illustration.” With this motto the “Palestine Association” started its fruitful work, which it continued during the whole of the last century with growing skill and success.

The Society known as the “Palestine Exploration Fund” was first formally constituted in 1865. The object of the founders was the prosecution of systematic and scientific research in all branches of inquiry connected with the Holy Land, and the principal reason alleged for conducting this inquiry was the illustration of the Bible which might be expected to follow such an investigation. The Society numbered among its first supporters both Christians and Jews. The War Office granted the services of Royal Engineers for the execution of excavation work—Colonel Claude Reignier Conder (18481910), Sir Charles William Wilson (18361905), and Sir Charles Warren. Colonel Conder devoted his whole life to Palestinian research. Earl Kitchener (18501916) surveyed Galilee for the Society, and his work aroused general interest and led to important results (Appendix xxxix). Hitherto knowledge regarding the country had been very limited; reconnaissance sketch-maps of parts of the country had been made, but every successive traveller was able to point out deficiencies, errors and unexplored tracts. With trained skill, thoroughness and conscientious work the Society combined a love and enthusiasm for Palestine which made it possible to obtain the most admirable results. The progress from the theological character of the first “Palestine Association” to the scientific methods of the “Palestine Exploration Fund” typifies the evolution of the whole Palestinian idea from a traditional belief to a great human and historical aspiration—the same evolution which can be traced in the development of the Zionist idea.

Gen. Sir Charles Warren
Elliott and Fry, Ltd.
  Maj.-Gen. Sir
Charles W. Wilson

Earl Kitchener
London Stereoscopic Co.

Dr. Edward Robinson   Col. Claude R. Conder


The Appeal of Bonaparte to the Jews of Asia and Africa—Haim Mu’allim Farhi—The Fortress of Acre—Jewish opinion in Palestine—El-Arish—GazaJerusalem—Moses Mordecai Joseph Meyuchas—“A Letter addressed by a French Jew to his Brethren”—France and England—The real motives of Bonaparte’s Appeal.

Napoleon Bonaparte (17691821) issued in 1799 a summons to the Asiatic and African Jews to march under his banner, promising “to give them the Holy Land,” and “to restore ancient Jerusalem to its pristine splendour” (Appendix xl). One hardly knows whether this was to be taken quite seriously. The Jews in Jerusalem appear either not to have put much trust in Bonaparte’s flattering words, or to have been utterly ignorant of the proclamation. The question was so important, and so much confusion prevailed regarding it, that the appeal, being vague in its terms, could not lead to any practical action. Some historians suppose that this proclamation was only a trick which Bonaparte played with the intention of winning over to his cause the Jewish minister of the Pasha of Acre, Haim Mu’allim Farhi (1750?1820), the soul of the defence of that important sea-fortress. This supposition, however, is based on no evidence. It is pure speculation, and is highly improbable.

No Jew seriously believed in the success of Bonaparte’s ambitious design or in the possibility of his victory, and no attention was paid to his promises. On the other hand, it would not have been impossible to suppose that Bonaparte’s plan might succeed after he had conquered Syria and carried the war into the heart of Turkey. He would then perhaps have assigned a share in his government to members of the Jewish nation upon whom the French could rely.

Bonaparte’s idea was simple and his intentions were sincere. He regarded the Jews—particularly those living in Asia and Africa—as a nation, and as having indisputable historical claims on the Holy Land and Jerusalem. He was sure that they would help him and hail his victory as a happy triumph¹ if they knew that their national ideal was to be realized and “ancient Jerusalem” to be restored to its “pristine splendour.” Was this not the same policy which he applied in later years in his relations with the small nationalities in Europe?

Jewish opinion in the East was reserved and somewhat pessimistic, not with regard to the purpose, but concerning the opportunity and the means. The Jews were willing to make any sacrifices in order to restore “ancient Jerusalem” in a peaceful way, but not to revolt against the rulers of the country. Moreover, they knew that this campaign was bound to be a failure.

The Turks followed the plan of allowing the inadequate forces of Bonaparte to advance as far as possible from their Egyptian base, while they massed heavy forces in Syria. El-Arish and Gaza in the south-west of Palestine fell into the hands of Bonaparte’s army on the 17th and 25th February, 1799. The Jewish community of Gaza had fled. In Jerusalem the news of victories and atrocities created a general panic. It was rumoured that Bonaparte was about to enter the Holy City. At the command of the deputy Governor the inhabitants began to throw up ramparts, the Jews also taking part in the work. One of the Rabbis, Moses Mordecai Joseph Meyuchas, encouraged and even assisted them in their operations. After these occurrences the success of Bonaparte in Egypt and Syria was arrested, chiefly by the arms of Great Britain, and his schemes in the East were frustrated.

The appearance of Bonaparte in Palestine was like the passing of a meteor, which, after causing much perturbance, disappears. His dream of becoming Emperor of the East faded away quickly. Still the fact remains that the idea of the Restoration of Israel had occupied the mind of this great conqueror in the prime of his youth, at the very beginning of his unexampled career. He and his adherents seemed, even after this failure, to persist in gazing with a wistful eye towards the same quarter, and their ambitious plans evidently involved the future fortunes of those Eastern countries which have so long been the monotonous scenes of isolation and ignorance.

Whatever judgment we may form as to the practical value of Bonaparte’s scheme in those days, the suggestion of restoring Palestine to the Jews remains highly significant. It is obvious that had there not been Jewish aspirations of this kind in France such a suggestion could not have arisen even as a fantastic plan or as a caprice of military headquarters in a distant country. Bonaparte had too much political foresight even in his younger years to run the risk of engaging himself in an undertaking before he had sounded the competent circles in his own country. As a matter of fact these aspirations were expressed, and, imaginary as they were, seem to have been very popular among French Jews. There is, consequently, reason to conclude that Bonaparte’s scheme was, in reality, more serious than it might have seemed at first sight.

A most curious document, almost entirely overlooked or underestimated by French historians, throws some light on the real tendencies of that time among French Jews. This is a “Letter addressed to his brethren by a Jew” in 1798¹—one year before the Bonaparte Proclamation (Appendix xli). This letter is a sort of Zionist programme. It is a mixture of different elements, partly Jewish, partly pan-French Imperialist, expounded in a manner that only a deep Jewish national feeling could have inspired. The impenetrable political speculations of those days already contain the germs of some ideas which are developed to full consciousness and clearness a hundred years later in modern Zionist speeches, pamphlets and programmes.

The author of this “Letter” rightly proclaims in the first place the pre-eminent interest of his theme, “the greatest theme of Jewish history.” “It is at last time to shake off this insupportable yoke—it is time to resume our rank among the other nations of the universe.” The nations of the world—he now hopes—will support the Jewish claim that the Jewish nation should be treated on the lines of the national idea. The design of the author, then, is to suggest a solution of no less a problem than the Jewish Tragedy. He begins with a review “of the Jewish situation during many ages under the weight of the cruellest persecutions,” and this review is not less tragic than the Jewish elegies of the Middle Ages, though it was written a few years after the great Revolution. He then addresses himself to his main task, the exposition, based, as far as he is able to base it, on lessons learnt from contemporary events, of that system of Restoration which he regards as the most practical.

This author was, no doubt, the agent and mouthpiece of the people behind him. The fact that this “Letter” was published at the suggestion of those then in power in France shows that the scheme suggested in it was in accordance with the views of the Government. This being the tendency of the Government, the appeal addressed by Bonaparte to the Jews of Asia and Africa one year after the publication of the “Letter,” in 1798, appears to be a logical consequence of prevailing opinions. Moreover, the fact that schemes of this kind had gained great currency in England, and that the Restoration of Israel was a favourite idea of the English, could not be unknown in France. It is scarcely necessary to point out what was the fundamental idea of the Egyptian and Syrian campaign. The idea of the Restoration of Israel, as suggested in the “Letter of the French Jew” in 1798 and in Bonaparte’s Appeal of 1799, was merely a link in the same chain.

To sum up, the situation of affairs, in view of the possibility of great changes in the East, seemed to afford an opportunity for the solution of the Jewish problem on national lines. Bonaparte may also have been anxious to avail himself of the services of the Jews of Asia and Africa. But the essential point is that many influential Christians as well as Jews considered the Jewish problem from a national point of view at the end of the eighteenth century.


Saul Farhi—Ahmad Jazzár—Saul Farhi’s sons: Haim, Solomon, Raphael and Moses Farhi—Jewish communities in Palestine and Syria—The importance of Palestine in the struggle between Bonaparte and the Ottoman Empire—Haim Farhi’s martyrdom.

In order to grasp the real importance and meaning of Bonaparte’s idea, we have to occupy ourselves with the dramatis personæ, and first of all with Haim Farhi. The life of this man was full of romance and of a devotion which has not yet met with such appreciation from Jewish historians as it deserves.

Haim Farhi was born at Damascus about the middle of the eighteenth century. The Farhis were an old Jewish family, whose members for several generations devoted their energies to the task of defending their ancient nation, while remaining loyal subjects of the Ottoman Government. Haim’s father, Saul, was “Katib” to Ahmad Jazzár (1735?1808), who was first Pasha of Acre and Sidon, then for a few years Pasha of Damascus, and afterwards for many years again Pasha of Acre and Sidon, and exercised a great influence over Syria and Palestine. Ahmad Jazzár (the Butcher) was a man without morals, as cruel as he was capricious and impetuous. Instead of using his influence and great wealth to promote the happiness of his subjects, he left the large plain near Acre almost a marsh. Pomp and luxury were greatly encouraged by him, while agriculture was neglected. His conduct was the exact opposite of that of the Sheikh Daher, his predecessor, who raised Acre from a village to a large town, and during whose reign the population of the district increased immensely. The main source of the riches of Jazzár was the pashalik of Damascus, which he contrived to add to his former dominion. Till the year 1791 the French had factories at Acre, Sidon and Beyrout. In that year they were all expelled from the territory of Jazzár by a sudden edict, which allowed them only three days in which to leave their respective abodes, under the penalty of death.

Jazzár retained his ill-gotten pashalik of Damascus a few years only. His government knew no methods but those of oppression and cruelty; he extorted from his people a considerable part of its fortunes, and put to death several hundred persons, who were mostly innocent. His own suspicious conduct, as leader of the caravan to Mecca, combined with the machinations of his enemies at the Porte, led finally to his deposition; but he left behind living monuments of his cruelty in the shape of mutilated subjects who by his orders had had their noses and ears cut off. Thus driven from Damascus, he returned to his former pashalik of Acre and Sidon.

Jazzár, who was full of energy and life, and was possessed of some heroic qualities, but was a monster in human form, and a true specimen of the Eastern “satrap,” addressed himself to his Katib for assistance and advice. Katib in Arabic, like Yazgy in Turkish, means no more than “writer” or “scribe,” but the office confers greater power than the name implies. The Katib is often at once government secretary and treasurer; and, as he is generally a permanent official in the pashalik for life, while the pashas are often changed, by removal or death, it necessarily happens that he is master of the business of the pashalik, and of its revenues and resources, while the pashas, coming from distant provinces, enter upon a rule of which the key is in the Katib’s hands, and are compelled to keep him in their service and to be guided by him. The pashalik of Damascus was, moreover, singularly placed, in so far as its pasha and chief officials had to go every year on the pilgrimage to Mecca, and consequently were more than ever bound to confide their affairs to the Katib. It is said that the order of march, the ordinances and regulations for the pilgrims, the quantity of provisions required and various other essential facts connected with this important occasion, had somehow become secrets in the keeping of the Jews, and that Saul Farhi was considered a great expert and a recognized authority in these matters. He had four sons: Haim, Solomon, Raphael and Moses (ob. 1840) and one daughter. Haim, the eldest, was initiated by his father into all the professional secrets of his office. He was a young man of excellent abilities and learning. In the early part of his life, when he was still in Damascus, the machinations of his enemies prevailed in so far that he was summoned to Constantinople to answer certain accusations made against him; and, being mulcted in a fine which he was unable to pay, he was thrown into prison. His sister, a woman of great energy, undertook the journey from Syria to Constantinople to petition for her brother’s release. She succeeded, and brought her brother back to his house. Haim’s loyalty and integrity were placed beyond doubt, and his experiences in Constantinople must have helped to give him knowledge of the laws and insight into the central government, to which he was sincerely devoted. He was then appointed by Jazzár to the post of Katib or minister at Acre, where there lived at that time thirty-six Jewish families. Jerusalem had, besides 9000 Moslem and Christian inhabitants, about 1000 Jews; and old communities of considerable size existed in Tiberias, Safed, Jaffa and Hebron. Although not important in numbers, the Jews, owing to their connection with the communities of Damascus, Aleppo, Bagdad, Constantinople, Smyrna and Salonica, which possessed numerous religious schools, and big business enterprises extending as far as Egypt and India, were justly considered an important element. The fact that Saul Farhi was Katib at Damascus, and his son Haim at Acre, and that, according to the general opinion, the Jews were better acquainted than anyone else with the route to Mecca, and with the ordinances and regulations, which were not only of a fiscal and commercial value, but also of great strategic importance—this fact did not fail to appeal to the imagination of Bonaparte. From this point of view, and considering all the circumstances, it would appear that Bonaparte’s appeal to the Jews was not so fantastic as it might seem at first sight. It was a well-considered scheme.

Haim Farhi’s activity was twofold. It fell to his lot to look after the communications with Damascus and the Hedjaz, to remain in touch with all the distant centres of commerce and resources, and at the same time to cultivate very carefully relations with Constantinople. Both these departments of official activity abounded with difficulties and responsibilities. The roads were bad, the tribes, clans, and families much divided and continually at feud with one another. Communications were unsafe, and the danger of being cut off was always imminent. On the other hand, the maintenance of peaceful relations between a powerful, capricious Pasha and the Padishah with all his camarilla was naturally a hard task. Farhi had secured a reputation for exceptional ability in both directions. Having been brought up in the atmosphere of the Katib’s profession, he was better informed than anyone else concerning the communications and the state of affairs in Damascus and elsewhere, while his dignity of manner, worthy of the descendant of an old Jewish family, his intellectual gifts and wonderful knowledge of Eastern languages, enabled him to cope most successfully with the duties of a diplomatic career. As to the latter function, there is the testimony of Jazzár, to whom is ascribed the statement that “Farhi’s notes to the Porte have the wonderful quality of being polite as well as expressive.”

Needless to say, Farhi’s influence and activity, which would have been important even in times of peace, proved of exceptional importance at the eventful period when for the first time since the Crusades East and West were involved in a struggle for existence. It was one of the strangest caprices of history that this contest of strength between the greatest powers of the world—Bonaparte and the Ottoman Empire of that time, backed up by Great Britain—was to be decided in the Holy Land, in the neighbourhood of that little port, and that a son of the nation which had possessed this land and made it a land of glory, and to which God had promised it as an “everlasting inheritance,” was the very soul of the defence, frustrating all the plans of the enemy.

Haim’s career, romantic as it was, derives a peculiar interest from one of its incidents, which makes the Pasha appear as a monster of barbarity and madness. The story sounds like the invention of a wild imagination, but is a real, indisputable fact. We mentioned with regard to Jazzár’s activities in Damascus that living monuments of his cruelty remained behind in the shape of the noseless faces and earless heads of the Damascenes. This passion for maiming and mutilating seems to have grown with him in Acre.

The Rev. John Wilson¹ (18041875) tells us: “Almost every one in his domestic establishment was maimed. Some wanted a hand, some a foot; others mourned over the loss of a toe, a finger or an ear, according as the rage of the tyrant happened to be directed. Haim Farhi was an able man and withal of fine figure and prepossessing address. He enjoyed the confidence of the Pasha, and grew rich in his employment. One day Ahmad (Jazzár) said to him: ‘Haim, you have a fine person, you are very beautiful, you are the most athletic of men; when visitors come, it is you, not me, they admire; every one seems to say how happy is the Pasha to have such a man: Now, because of this I had some thoughts of dismissing you from your office; but my great love to you prevents that; you cannot, however, have any objection to my putting out one of your eyes.’ The barber was instantly sent for; and Haim Farhi lost his eye. He continued in his office, and faithfully discharged its duties, and the Pasha continued to heap favours upon him. The Jew, however, was attentive to his appearance, and dexterously contrived to edge down his turban so skilfully that his visual defect was not much observed. Jazzár noticed this, and said to him one day, ‘All I have done has been of no use, you have become as beautiful and as attractive as ever; I must cut off your nose.’ The barber was again sent for, and Haim lost his nose. He still continued in the service of the Pasha, and discharged his duties faithfully, and even presided over the obsequies of his tyrannical benefactor.”


Bonaparte approaching Jerusalem—Anti-Jewish accusations—Bonaparte and the Christians—Suleiman Pasha—Abdallah Pasha—Haim Farhi’s martyr death—The Farhi family—Generations of martyrs.

Through the primitive but excellent channels of information of the Eastern caravans, Bedouins and Dervishes, Bonaparte must have heard of this treatment of the Jewish minister by the “Butcher,” and of the other atrocities committed by him. The expulsion of the French from Acre, Sidon and Beyrout by this Pasha in 1791 was still fresh in his memory as an insult to France.

Haim Farhi continued his services; his popularity suffered no diminution, and it was evidently he who provided Acre with the necessary supplies, kept communications open with the hinterland, and made it possible to offer the stoutest resistance ever recorded in history. Great Britain helped, the Turks and Arabs were brave, and Jazzár with all his savage caprices possessed, no doubt, remarkable abilities as a general; but the soul of the entire organization was Haim. Winning him over would have meant breaking down the defence; but it was impossible to win him over.

Under such conditions Bonaparte approached Jerusalem. He had reached Ramleh (between Jaffa and Jerusalem) and intended to besiege the Holy City, but he changed his mind and turned to Acre. Meanwhile rumours spread that the Jews were helping the French as spies, and that they sympathized in their hearts with Bonaparte. This is the familiar story which hatred and calumny set on foot whenever people are excited, and there is any opportunity of stirring up thoughtless credulity and brutal instincts against a weak and defenceless minority. Bonaparte captured Gaza on the 25th December, 1799. The Jews of that place had to endure brutal treatment at the hands of Bonaparte’s soldiers, so that many seized the opportunity of escaping. The Jews of Jerusalem were, meanwhile, in the greatest danger of being massacred by the Mohammedan inhabitants, who accused them of being in secret communication with Bonaparte with a view to the surrender of the city. The Mohammedans actually believed that all the Jews of Jerusalem were spies and traitors, and they secretly resolved among themselves to kill all the Jewish inhabitants as soon as Napoleon marched on Jerusalem. This resolution, however, got abroad and was communicated by a Mohammedan, a confidant and friend of the Jews, to two Rabbis named Algazi and Meyuchas, who saved Palestinian Jewry, and particularly the Jerusalem Jews, by their presence of mind and wise precautions, such as arranging public prayers, helping to fortify the city, etc. The sight of the venerable, grey-headed Haham Meyuchas standing with a spade in his hand did not fail to impress the Mohammedans. The Jewish community was thus saved; still at Tiberias and Safed the Jews were savagely treated by Bonaparte’s soldiers.

It is impossible to know who circulated the accusation against the Jews. Such accusations are like proverbs; nobody knows their author, they are in the air, they appeal to the imagination, gain currency and subsequently become dogmas; nobody has examined their soundness, there is no evidence, no reason, there is merely a vague generalization, and yet people believe in them. We cannot know what some Jews may have thought of Bonaparte’s attempt: oppressed, persecuted, insulted as they were by the Jazzárs, some of them may have thought that Bonaparte’s victory would be their salvation, although, on the other hand, the behaviour of his soldiers caused great suffering. But in practice the Jews were most loyally devoted to the Ottoman cause.

The Jews were saved, and the outraged Farhi remained in service. According to the testimony of all his Christian contemporaries, this Jew, like a real Christian, “loved his enemy.” When Jazzár died, in 1808, he arranged the ceremonies of the funeral with remarkable devotion. Jazzár was succeeded by Suleiman Pasha, who confirmed Haim in his dignity. Suleiman, an ex-mameluk, ruled with Farhi sixteen years, and this was the happiest period for Palestine. Suleiman died in 1824, and Abdallah, the son of Ali Pasha of Tripoli (ob. 1815 at Acre), who was educated and looked after with great care by Farhi, was appointed Pasha of Acre. Very soon after the appointment of Abdallah Pasha the Jewish minister came to a tragic end. Abdallah showed himself not an impetuous barbarian of the Jazzár type, but a miserable and treacherous murderer. Jealous of his benefactor’s popularity, and seeing that it was impossible to disfigure him further, he ordered his Kiaja (minister of the police) to assassinate the old and venerable statesman, and to throw his body into the sea. The implacable tyrant was deaf to the entreaties of the dead man’s family and friends, who implored him to allow the body to be buried. It is said that the body was left floating for several days near the harbour, and that the Pasha ordered his servants to attach heavy stones to it and then to throw it into the sea. Farhi’s property, the personal fortune which he had acquired not as the result of his official occupation but as a member of an old and wealthy family, was ransacked and confiscated. His family escaped, and his widow died, in consequence of hardships, on her way to Damascus. As to the pretext for the murder of Farhi there are various accounts. According to Damoiseau, a French renegade, Abdallah (in whose service he was) proposed the building of some new fortifications. There was no practical reason for the fortifications; relations with the European powers being friendly, the measure could only stimulate the suspicions of the Porte. Moved by these reasons and by considerations of economy, Farhi objected. He was sentenced to death, and the Kiaja was authorized to carry out the execution. This he did by attacking the old man suddenly in his house, and murdering him in the night. But Abdallah never thought afterwards of building any new fortification. The version given by Rabbi Joseph Schwarz (18041860) in his T’buoth Ha’arez (Jerusalem, 1845) is somewhat different in details, but the facts are essentially the same. Another traveller, Professor J. M. A. Scholz (17941852), happened to be at that time in the neighbourhood of Acre, and he confirms the first version. He gives also the precise date of the assassination: the 24th August, 1824.

Peaceful and loyal as the Jews in the East were, this monstrous crime seems to have put an end to their great patience. The brothers of Haim in Damascus arranged to send an expedition of revenge. This was the first time for several centuries that Jews had gone forth as fighters in their own cause. The Pashas of Aleppo and Damascus concluded a treaty, and supported the expedition arranged by the Farhis. They besieged Acre, and had it not been for a spy sent to the camp of the Farhis, who succeeded in treacherously poisoning Solomon Farhi, the expedition would have had an excellent chance of success. The death of Solomon, however, put an end to the expedition, of which he was the organizer and leader. The last survivor of Haim’s brothers was Raphael. He also was a distinguished statesman. He was Minister at Damascus in 1820, and after the restoration of Ottoman rule in Syria was elected to the Council of that town.

Rev. John Wilson¹ gives a further account of his visits to Damascus in 1843. “6th June.—Mr. Graham and I visited the house of the chief Rabbi, Haim Maimon Tobhi. He had been eighteen years resident at Damascus, but is a native of Gibraltar. He had obtained, he said, an English passport, entitling him to British protection, from Lord Palmerston (17841865); and he had been elected to office on account of the privilege which he thus enjoyed, it having been conceived by the Jews, that the name of an English subject, borne by him, would give weight to his dealings with the Turkish Government” (Ib. 330). “On the second day of our excursions among the Jews we visited one of the princely mansions of the Farhis, the richest bankers and merchants of Damascus.” In a footnote Wilson quotes [Sir John] Bowring’s [F.R.S.] (17921872) Report on Syria, p. 94: “As a class, the Jewish foreign merchants of Damascus are the most wealthy.... The two most opulent are believed to be Mourad Farhi and (Raphael) Nassim Farhi, whose wealth in trade exceeds one and a half millions each. Most of the Jewish foreign houses trade with Great Britain.” In the first of these mansions Wilson admired the library, containing nearly the whole of Jewish literature, to which Jewish students had free access for purposes of study. He met there some of the Rabbis, who told him that the Jews of Damascus were supposed to number 5000 souls, and those of Aleppo 6000. He and Mr. Graham, who accompanied him, were then introduced to the female members of the household, who “deported themselves with a dignity and grace which would have done credit to the nobility of Europe.” “On the 8th of June we visited the mansion of Raphael, the chief of the Farhis. On our arrival we were received by a Jew, who humbly described himself to us as the ‘worthless Jacob Peretz,’ a quondam tutor to the children of the great man, and who in acknowledgment of his services is, with his whole family, retained as part of his household, which, he informed us, consists of from between sixty to seventy souls.” This establishment was even grander than that which we visited yesterday.... Mr. Graham expressed his doubts whether those in our own Royal palaces are superior to them. He then gives particulars of the principal apartments and reproduces a Hebrew inscription with an English translation (of his own). Of special interest is Mr. Wilson’s description of the head of the family, Raphael, the Nasi of the Damascus Jews, an old man who was at that time seriously indisposed, but received him and his friend with great kindness, and took them to his library, which was very large.

In 1840, during the riots following the accusation against the Jews, Raphael and his sons suffered very severely. Raphael died very soon after Wilson’s visit. This was the end of this Jewish family, whose history is bound up with the history of Palestine and Bonaparte’s expedition. They have a twofold claim upon our attention, first as eminent Jewish statesmen, and secondly as Palestinian martyrs.


Rabbi Moses Mordecai Joseph Meyuchas—The Spanish Jewish traditions—Rabbi Israel Jacob Algazi—The importance of the Jewish settlement in Palestine—Zionist aspirations.

To obtain an idea of the views and aspirations of the Jews of Palestine in that period we may glance at two Hahamim of Jerusalem—Moses Mordecai Joseph Meyuchas and Israel Jacob Algazi.

Haham Samuel Moses Mordecai Joseph de Raphael de Meyuchas was born in 1738 and died in Jerusalem in 1806. He was the descendant of a family of Rabbis and Talmudic scholars of great fame in Palestine and elsewhere. His most valuable contributions to Talmudic literature are his three works: Mayim Shaal (Salonica, 5559), Shaar Ha’mayim (Salonica, 5528) and B’rehot Ha’mayim (Salonica, 5549), which show profound scholarship and wide learning. He was on terms of intimacy with the great Talmudic scholars of his time, who addressed to him questions on various religious and communal matters. In the Preface to his B’rehot Ha’mayim he speaks in exalted terms of his love “of the dear land, the Golden Jerusalem,” and of “the changeable events of his time.” He says that he has had much to suffer, and that, poverty-stricken as he is, he enjoys his miserable existence and keeps in good spirits; he expresses his humble gratitude to God for having allowed him to earn “a piece of dry bread,” and to bear his share in building up the city; and adds that his only hope and aspiration is to be able to spend his life there to a very advanced age. His use of the verse:—

“For He hath made strong the bars of thy gates;...”  (Psalm cxlvii. 13).

in connection with what he describes as the “good idea,” which he “carried out,” might be taken as an allusion to his remarkable action in 5559 (1799), when this old Rabbi “stood with spade in hand labouring on the fortification of Jerusalem, digging and working with the greatest industry to make a new bastion and rampart around the fort, the Kallai,”¹ were it not for the chronological fact that his book was published in 5549 (1789). He is said to have practised medicine, and though this was not uncommon among the Sephardi Hahamim of the old generation, it probably indicates that he was a man of wider outlook than that of the usual Rabbi type. It is a mistake to suppose that all Palestinian Rabbis of the older generation were superstitious and hostile to science. The Sephardi Hahamim of that time in particular had preserved something of the scientific and rationalistic tradition of the Judæo-Spanish school. Some of them were men of great ability, well versed not only in the Talmud, but also in Oriental languages. They cherished an intense and sincere love for the Holy Land, and, if the position of the Jewish people in the country was maintained, through all the horrors and dangers of war and plague, stress and danger, it was due to the self-denial and the wonderful moral strength of those noble martyrs who guided and inspired the down-trodden people. Mostly descendants of the Spanish-Jewish fugitives who found refuge and shelter in the dominions of the Sultan, their loyalty and gratitude to their rulers were sincere and deep-rooted. The Jerusalem Rabbis were attached to their masters and friends in Constantinople, Salonica, Smyrna, Damascus and Aleppo. The Jewish communities, particularly those in distant parts of the Ottoman Empire, suffered severe afflictions from time to time, but they bore their heavy burdens with fortitude and resignation in order to maintain and to strengthen their foothold in the country. They trusted in the justice of the Central Government, and did not expect anything of Bonaparte’s invasion, or of any other invasion of the kind.

Haham Meyuchas was at that time Dayan.¹ Another scholar of great authority was the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, H.H.R. Israel Jacob Algazi, a great-grandson of Haham Solomon Algazi the Elder (who was Rabbi in Smyrna and in Jerusalem in the seventeenth century, wrote on all subjects of Rabbinic literature, and contributed much to the science of Talmudic methodology). Haham I. J. Algazi wrote some valuable books on homiletics and Halachah, which testify to his exceptional genius and astonishing industry. He was an excellent Rabbi, possessed of a keen intellect and a high sense of duty. His books She’erith Jacob (Constantinople, 5511) and Neoth Jacob (Smyrna, 5527) contain many chapters that bear testimony to his ardent desire for the development of the Jewish community in the Holy Land.

We read with special interest the books written by these two rabbis during that troublous period. These books are distinguished by the highest intellectual ability. There is nowhere a trace of weariness, languor or even indifference to be found; on the contrary, freshness, strength and unsatisfied intellectual impulse are throughout discernible. Living ideas pervade them all. It is impossible for any reader who is a Talmudic student not to be touched by their depth and force of sentiment, and their exceptional vigour and eloquence, in spite of the usual clumsiness and complexity due to the old Rabbinic language. It is indeed a relief to turn from the intrigues of the Pashas and the bloodshed of the expeditions to Haham Jacob Israel Algazi, who writes in a reply to the Leghorn Jews: “We are here insignificant in numbers, modest in our requirements, and we pray God that we may become self-supporting. We have to be here for the sake of our ancestors and our children’s children. This question is not of appearances, but of realities; not of delights, but of duties; not of private option, but of divine authority.” Both these Rabbis deal with Palestinian affairs in an elevating spirit and from an idealistic point of view. Whatsoever is in Palestine is holy and sublime, and all Jews are bound to support the Yishub.¹ This is the keynote of all their ideas. Haham M. M. J. Meyuchas writes to Salonica: “We have in our community some artisans, too few for our nation—because they should be more numerous here—and too many for the charities to support them when they are workless; more wealthy people should come here.” And Haham Algazi discusses the question of the special Rabbinical rules concerning the right of the community to inherit the property of rich Jews who die in Palestine leaving relatives in other countries. “It is not the community,” says the learned Rabbi, “it is the whole of Israel which is the inheritor in this way.... Our people, so long scattered, oppressed, and trodden down, and wonderful from the beginning till now, should never despair. Israel is not deserted,” he says in another passage. The aspirations of an ancient people, as he knew, do not depend on the intrigues and adventures of Pashas, and will outlive all these passing incidents.


The “Sanhedrin”—R. David Sintzheim—M. S. Asser—Moses Leman—Juda Litvak—Michael Berr—Lipman Cerf-Berr—The Decisions and Declarations—Napoleon I. and the Jews.

Meanwhile circumstances had undergone a material change, and eight years after the failure of the Syrian Campaign and the Appeal to the Jews of Asia and Africa, Bonaparte, now Napoleon I., issued an order to convene a Jewish “Sanhedrin” in Paris (1807).

This came as a joyous surprise to the Jewish nation. The “Great Sanhedrin,” a feature of the ancient Jewish Government which had perished together with the Second Temple, and which alone had been endowed with unlimited religious authority in Israel, was to be revived in modern times, in the centre of civilized Europe, for the purpose of making decisions which would command indisputable recognition on the part of Jews in all countries and throughout all centuries. “A great event,” wrote one of the leading Jews of that time, “is about to take place, one which through a long series of centuries our fathers, and even we in our own times, never expected to see, and which has now appeared before the eyes of the astonished world. The 20th of October (1807) has been fixed as the date of the Great Sanhedrin in the capital of one of the most powerful Christian nations, and under the protection of the great Prince who rules over it. Paris will thus show to the world a remarkable scene, and this memorable event will open to the dispersed remnants of the descendants of Abraham a period of deliverance and prosperity.”

Grand Sanhédrin
Convoqué à Paris par ordre de Napoléon-le-Grand, 1807

Damame de Martrait, del. et Sculpt.
From an aquatint printed in colours lent by Israel Solomons

On the 9th February, 1807, the Grand Sanhedrin assembled at the Grand Synagogue in Paris under the Presidency of Rabbi David Sintzheim (17451812) of Strasburg. Service was read in Hebrew, French and Italian; an excellent discourse was delivered by the President in the first-named language. After his discourse he took a scroll of the Law from the Ark and blessed the Assembly, and then recited a prayer for the Emperor, the glory of his arms, and the return of peace. From the Synagogue the Assembly adjourned to the Hôtel de Ville, where, after appropriate speeches from the most distinguished members, the Committee appointed by the late First Consul laid before the Sanhedrin a general plan of organization for Mosaic worship, consisting of twenty-seven articles. According to this plan a Consistory and Synagogue were to be established in each Department containing 2000 Jews; those of the persuasion who intended to reside in France were to announce their intention to the Consistory within three months of their arrival on French territory; there was to be a Central Consistory in Paris, consisting of five persons, of whom three were to be Rabbis; and none were to be appointed Rabbis who were not naturalized in France or in the Kingdom of Italy. The functions of the Rabbis were to be:—

1. To give instruction in religious matters.

2. To inculcate the precepts contained in the decisions of the Grand Sanhedrin.

3. To preach complete obedience to the laws, and particularly to those enjoining the defence of the country, and above all, to exert themselves every year during the time of conscription, from the first summons to the complete carrying out of the law, in exhorting their followers to conform to that measure.

4. To impress the need for military service upon the Jews as a sacred duty, and to explain to them that so long as they devoted themselves to that service, their religion would give them a dispensation from such laws and customs as were incompatible with it.

5. To preach in the Synagogues, and to recite the prayers which were offered up for the Emperor and the Imperial Family.

6. To solemnize marriages and give divorces.

On the 12th February the Sanhedrin met again formally and commenced its deliberations as to the plan of organization. During the ensuing March the Deputies from Holland, Moses Solomon Asser (17541826),¹ Moses Leman (17851832), the learned Polish Jew, Juda Litvak (17601836), and the delegates of Frankfort-on-the-Main were admitted into the Sanhedrin, and declared, in the name of their constituents, that they would adhere to the doctrinal decisions of the great Sanhedrin of France and Italy.² The President answered both delegations in Hebrew, congratulating them upon their resolutions, and also the Assembly on having them in its midst, and himself on having to answer coreligionists from a community so highly distinguished for its piety, and now governed by a just and liberal Prince, from whom the friends of humanity had everything to hope and expect. In brief, he considered himself fortunate in having to congratulate the Deputies of a country in which equal participation in the common rights of men had long since been granted to all the inhabitants, including the Israelites, who were quite as industrious as the best of the citizens. The President afterwards gave a discourse in French, which made a most favourable impression on the Assembly, and offered them the opportunity of expressing their gratitude to the great man whom Providence had chosen to be the instrument of its blessings and its miracles. He expressed the most sanguine hopes as to the salutary influence which that august Assembly and its labours would have upon the future destiny of the Jews. Having expressed sentiments of lasting devotion to all his colleagues, who had been convoked by the voice of this great man, from the Pyrenees to the borders of the Maine, and from the shores of the Adriatic to the Zuyder Zee, to form a religious Assembly unparalleled in modern history, and having done justice to the talents of the two Assessors, he paid, in the name of the Sanhedrin, a tribute of homage to the Commissaries of the Emperor, MM. le Comte Louis Matthieu Molé (17811855), Etienne Denis, Baron et Duc de Pasquier (17671862), le Comte Joseph Marie Portalis (17781858), and others, whose assiduity, zeal and indulgence had so powerfully contributed to the success of the common cause. M. Abraham Furtado (17561816) afterwards proposed a vote of thanks to the Chief of the Grand Sanhedrin, which was adopted with acclamation. M. Michael Berr (17801847) then read the Procès Verbal, and the President concluded by announcing that the sittings of the Sanhedrin were closed.³

Some historians have been inclined to regard the Paris Sanhedrin as a denial of Jewish nationality. This view is wrong, and no conception of history could be more contrary to the facts. A careful study of the literature of that time will show that the Sanhedrin was inspired by traditional Jewish ideas. One of the most prominent French Jews, who was the first Jew to practise in France as a barrister, M. Michael Berr, had sent a request to all princes and nations “to release the Jews from bondage.” Another member of the Sanhedrin, M. Lipman Cerf-Berr (17601831), said in his public speech: “Let us forget our origin! Let us no longer speak of Jews of Alsace, of Portugal, or of Germany! Though scattered over the face of the earth, we are still one people, worshipping the same God, and as our law commands, we are to obey the laws of the country in which we live.”¹ This is not the language of men who aim at assimilation and the disintegration of their nationality. The ideas of these men are not to be confused with what modern Jewish assimilation preaches. Modern Jewish assimilation denies and rejects all Jewish “separatism” except on the religious side. Consequently, it would not allow the Jew the right to forget that he was in Alsace, in Portugal, and so on. According to the assimilation doctrine, a Jew must be merely an Alsatian, or a Portuguese, “of the Jewish persuasion.” The purpose of the Sanhedrin was evidently quite different. The Sanhedrin intended to reconstruct European Jewry on French imperial lines, with a religious centre in Paris. It therefore examined, with great care and minuteness, those passages in the Bible and the Talmud which showed that the general laws of the Empire were binding on the Jews. On these premises was based a declaration of loyalty given by united Jewry, and sanctioned by the revival of the Sanhedrin, an ancient national institution.

For Napoleon, however, the Sanhedrin had another purpose, connected with his imperial ambitions. He hoped that the Jews, living scattered all over the world, would contribute to the strengthening of his world-empire. Two years prior to the edict of 18067 he had conceived the idea of utilizing the special talents of his Hebrew subjects to that end. He had probably discovered that their financial skill was unrivalled, that their commercial correspondence and intercourse throughout Europe was more speedy and reliable than any other, and that the ramifications of their business in various countries gave them a great advantage over all their rivals. He intended to make them his devoted co-workers in carrying out his universal political plans, and with that end in view he contemplated granting them many concessions. As, however, the political and legal position of the Jews in France, as well as in other countries, was still insufficiently defined, and numberless accusations were directed against their religious principles and Talmudic laws, he deemed it necessary to lay the foundations of a more definite status. As a preliminary step in this direction he summoned this meeting of the great Sanhedrin, which was to consist of the most eminent and learned Rabbis from every part of France, as well as from adjacent countries over which his influence extended. The purpose for which this convention was avowedly called was to “convert into religious doctrines the answers given by the assembly, and likewise those which may result from a continuance of these sittings.” But these statements admit of various interpretations: they may mean a confirmation as well as a reformation of the old traditional laws. And while confirmation by a Sanhedrin is unnecessary, reformation would appear impossible. The Sanhedrin had no authority whatever to reform Judaism, and no intention of doing so. No conservative Jew would accept the Sanhedrin’s opinion in a matter of religious tradition, and, on the other hand, “reformed” Jews would not be satisfied with its decisions, or, not being bound by any tradition, would not require Rabbinical decisions at all.

In reality the patriotic Declaration of the Sanhedrin was intended to discredit and demolish the dangerous accusations against the Jewish people and against the teachings of Judaism. It is a mistake to regard it, as some writers have done, as an indication of a desire for the reform of Judaism or for assimilation. The statements of the Sanhedrin were in accordance with the traditional Jewish Law. Its solemn declaration of loyalty and patriotism was not an innovation. The fathers and grandfathers of the Rabbis who made this declaration were not less faithful and loyal to their Governments and to the countries in which they lived than the Rabbis of the Sanhedrin. The Declaration was practically a new edition of the Modaa Rabba printed as a preface to every treatise of the Talmud. This Modaa declares for human solidarity, community of interests with other nations and loyalty to the Government in the old traditional way; the Sanhedrin expresses identical views in modern language, in accordance with the spirit of the new age and environment. The purport of both is undoubtedly the same.


Abraham Furtado  Rabbi Abraham de Cologna

Rabbi Baruch Gouguenheim   Rabbi Emmanuel Deutz

Rabbi J. David Sinzheim   Rabbi Jacob Meyer

From rare engravings lent by Israel Solomons

Far from being a natural product of internal Jewish development, the Sanhedrin was a governmental affair intended to organize Jewry in the new world-empire. But it remained an episode, because Napoleon’s attitude towards the Jews was, generally speaking, far from consistent. At one time he offered them Jerusalem; at another he was inclined to transport Jerusalem to Paris. Some time before the Sanhedrin assembled, he seemed to be vexed with the Jews—a feeling of a temporary character, which was probably the reflex of disappointment in his far-reaching plans. On other occasions he showed exceptional kindness to Jewish soldiers and other Jews.¹

All these facts combined lead to the inference that the Jewish problem had often engaged his attention. He seems, like his adherents, to have wavered as to the acceptance of the idea of the Restoration of Israel or of that of Assimilation, but finally embraced the doctrines of the Sanhedrin, which could be applied easily to the small Jewish population in France. The elimination not only of the Jews of Asia and Africa, but also of the Jews in other European countries, from the Jewish problem in France, caused by the failure of great schemes of conquest, necessarily narrowed the scope of the Jewish problem and deprived it of its former grandeur.


English opinion on the Sanhedrin—F. D. Kirwan—Abraham Furtado—Rev. James Bicheno—The Declaration of the Sanhedrin and English comment—M. Diogène Tama—The Prince de Ligne.

Coming back to English history, we now propose to trace the impression produced in this country by Bonaparte’s Palestine Appeal of 1798 and the Proclamation of a Sanhedrin in 1807.

English opinion on this point was quite clear. No objections were ever raised to the restoration of the Jewish nation to Palestine: this idea had been cherished in England for centuries. But English opinion was opposed to its becoming a strategic or political instrument in the hands of an ambitious conqueror. Moreover, that opinion was not inclined to separate the idea of the Restoration of Israel from that of the emancipation of the Jews. Thus the Sanhedrin was considered merely a tentative preliminary step towards Restoration, and the Declaration made by that body against Jewish national aspirations produced an impression of surprise and bewilderment. This Declaration was not, in fact, intended to be a denial of Jewish nationality in its ethical, historical, cultural or religious aspect: it was rather an avowal of political loyalty. Yet such a Declaration, expressed as it was in exaggerated terms, was calculated to surprise and puzzle the genuine friends of the Jews in England, and give rise to misunderstanding.

F. D. Kirwan, the English translator of the Parisian Sanhedrim, published in French by the French-Jewish editor, M. Diogène Tama (Appendix xlii), says, in his preface: “... The ultimate views which Bonaparte may have on the Jewish nation are, to this day, involved in obscurity; while the supposed advantages he so pompously conferred on them may reasonably be called in question. When we consider that the Jewish population of France and Italy is not calculated, by the deputies themselves, at more than one hundred thousand souls (a small number indeed when compared with the population of those countries), we are at a loss to see what great advantages could immediately result to Bonaparte from the Jews embracing zealously the profession of arms. We well know that his gigantic plans of ambition rest on the laws of conscription; but the Jews are already liable to them; they can hardly escape their excessive rigour; and even the whole of the Jewish youth, of the requisite age, would, in point of number, make but a contemptible reinforcement to the immense armies of France.

“These exhortations to embrace the profession of arms, so zealously repeated by the leading members of the French-Jews, are besides, always coupled with strong recommendations to follow mechanical trades and husbandry; in short, those professions without which a nation cannot exist by itself, but which are not more particularly useful than any others to a small given number of people, who consider as their country an Empire in which these professions abound.

“We find these same recommendations strongly inforced in the answer of M. Furtado to the commercial Jews of Frankfort, who hardly can have a choice of employment. ‘We have,’ says he, ‘too many merchants and bankers among us, and too few artificers and husbandmen,—and, above all, too few soldiers’: but if their countrymen thoroughly fill these branches of employment, what necessity is there for having husbandmen, artificers, and soldiers of their own?

“The Jewish deputies say that Bonaparte conceived the idea of their regeneration, or their political redemption, in the land of Egypt and on the banks of the Jordan. This we doubt not; and though we are almost ashamed to hazard the extravagant supposition, we feel a conviction that his gigantic mind entertains the idea of re-establishing them in Palestine, and that this forms a part of his plan respecting Egypt, which he is well known never to have abandoned.

“No one will contend that this idea is too wild for his conception; it is, on the contrary, perfectly consonant with his love for extraordinary, dazzling enterprises; he acts in this even with more than his usual foresight, by attempting to prepare the Jews for the new situation he intends for them. It is with this view that he encourages them to follow those professions which are necessary for men forming a distinct nation in a land of their own; for certainly, a body wholly composed of merchants and traders could never exist as such....

“The answer to the sixth question, by which the French Jews acknowledge France as their country, without any restriction whatever, is a still more heinous dereliction of the tenets of the Mosaic law; for they give up, by it, the hope of the expected Messiah, and of the everlasting possession of the promised land of Canaan, which they deem a part of the sacred covenant between God and His chosen people.

“While we thus inculpate the Jewish deputies, it cannot be expected that we shall lay too great a stress on the fulsome and frequently impious flattery which characterizes all their productions....

“But flattery is the opiate of the guilty conscience; it sooths the pangs of remorse;...”¹

A similar view was expressed with considerable eloquence by the Rev. James Bicheno (17511831), of Newbury, an Anabaptist minister who attained some distinction in his day through his works on the Prophecies, and of others on various subjects (Appendix xliii). He was the author of The Restoration Of The Jews: The Crisis Of All Nations;... 1800¹ (Appendix xliv).

This book is a valuable contribution to Christian pro-Zionist literature. The author is a great believer in the future of Israel and of Palestine, but he looks upon the problem mainly from a religious point of view, though he does not demand any conversion of Jews prior to their Restoration. Many of his conclusions are unacceptable, and others are incapable of proof, but even these are useful in so far as they may “stimulate the minds of rulers to meditation, and thus suggest to them new aspects¹ and new ways of inquiry”; and although there is little thought in his book, and some of its main themes are not developed with completeness or accuracy, the ingenuity which leads to so many suggestions, and the elegance which groups them so artistically, give the book vivacity and diversity. The author refers to the Parisian Sanhedrim, and accepts the view of the English translator, F. D. Kirwan.


rétablit le culte des Israélites, le 30 Mai 1806.

From a stipple engraving lent by Israel Solomons
(‡ text shown below)

Une antique nation, autrefois l’unique dépositaire des volontés du Très haut, et gouvernée par la divine législation de Moïse, est dispersée depuis plus de dix-sept Siécles sur la surface du globe. En rapport avec tous les Peuples, elle ne se mêle avec aucun, et elle semble exister pour voir passer devant elle le torrent des siécles qui les entraîne. Un tel phénomene serait inexplicable, s’il ne tenait qu’à l’ordre politique, car il était moralement impossible que les Juifs pûssent longtems exister, malgré toutes les vicissitudes et les persecutions dont ils furent les victimes chez les différentes nations de la terre. Dans combien de proscriptions ne furent-ils pas envelloppés! Pour ne parler que de la France, qui ne sait les haines, les mépris, les outrages, les confiscations, les bannissemens, les supplices même qu’ils y ont endurés? rien de cruel, rien de deshonorant ne leur a été épargné; de sorte que l’on serait tenté de croire que nos aïeux ne les comptaient point au nombre des humains. En vain quelques orateurs éloquens s’élevèrent contre une si criante injustice, leur voix ne fut point entendue, et les infortunés Israelites paraissaient à jamais condamnés à l’avilissement et à l’opprobre. Un nouveau Cyrus a paru, mais il a fait pour eux plus que l’ancien. S’il n’a pas reconstruit leur temple, il leur a donné une patrie et des loix protectrices de leur culte et de leurs droits civils; en les rendant citoyens et membres de la grande nation, il leur a rendu l’honneur; en leur donnant des mœurs, il les a garantis pour jamais du mépris des ses peuples. Pénétrés de reconnaissance pour de si précieux bienfaits, les enfans d’Israel se sont prosternés au pied du trône du Grand Napoléon, et les filles de Sion ont fait retentir les voûtes des temples de ces cantiques célébres que répétaient les échos du Jourdain, lors qu’au retour de sa captivité le peuple Hébreu célébrait les miséricordes du Seigneur. La gratitude des Israëlites français ne s’est pas bornée à de simples démonstrations, ils prouvent chaque jour qu’ils sont dignes des faveurs du Souverain par leur attachement à son auguste personne et par leur soumission à ses loix.

A Paris, au Bureau de l’Auteur des Fastes de la Nation Française, M. Ternisien d’Haudricourt, Rue de Seine N.º 27 F. Sᵗ. Germain.

“... If the Sanhedrim were to consult only on what was domestic, why invite the co-operation of all the Jews in Europe? The time was not come for the design to be exposed at full length. What grand scheme is developing, and whether Napoleon is devising the commercial aggrandizement of France, and the ruin of the English interest in the East, by the re-settlement of the Jews in their own land, time will discover. But it needs but little discernment, when, besides all this, the state of things both in Europe and in the East, and the character of the extraordinary man who has taken this people under his protection, are taken into consideration, to perceive, that something is intended more characteristic of the vast grasp of Napoleon’s ambition than that of squeezing out of the Jews a few millions of livres....”

Bicheno concludes thus: “... it must be allowed by all serious minds, ... that the great question relative to the future fortunes of the Jews, who, for so many ages, have been preserved as by a continued miracle, possesses considerable interest: ... that the Jews, after their present long captivity, will be gathered from all nations, and be again restored to their own country, and be made a holy and happy people. That their restoration will be effected at a time of great and general calamities.... That it is most likely they will be first put in motion by some foreign power, and that this power is some maritime one in these western parts of the world.... How long it is to the time when ‘the dry bones of the House of Israel’ will begin to move, it is impossible to say;... But although no one can say how near, or how distant, the time may be, when God will fulfil his promises to the Jewish nation; yet it is certain there never were so many reasons for concluding it not to be very far off, as at present. We live in awful times. We and our fathers have seen wars, but, since man learnt to shed blood, there never was one similar to the present, in which the nations are dashing each other to pieces.... Events the most alarming follow each other in quick succession.... Palestine itself is becoming the scene of contest; and that ferment, which has been productive of such unexpected and awful catastrophes in Europe, has reached the shores of Egypt and Syria.”¹

In conclusion, it may be pointed out that Bonaparte’s idea of the restoration of the Jews was not quite new in France. Some suggestions of the kind had been made in French literature before. Thus the Prince de Ligne¹ wrote, in his Memoirs upon the Jews, in 1797:

“After having traced to the Christian states their duties and their interests in regard to the amelioration of the condition of the Jews of Europe, we may prophesy what will happen in case they ignore this counsel.... If the Turks have a little common sense they will try and attract the Jews to them in order to make them their political, military and financial advisers, their police agents, their merchants, in short to become initiated by their advisers into all wherein lies the strength and weakness of the Christian states. Finally, the Sultan will sell to them the Kingdom of Judah, where they would act better than aforetimes.... The Jews who would have found again their country would be compelled to make therein flourish the arts, industry, agriculture and the commerce of Europe. Jerusalem, a horrible nest at present (this was written in 1797), giving a heartache to the pilgrims who come there now, would become a splendid capital. They would rebuild the Temple of Solomon upon its ruins. They would fix the waters of the torrents of Kidron, which would supply canals for circulation and exportation.”


The spirit of the time—Different currents—Thomas Witherby—Dr. Joseph Priestley—Anti-Socinus, alias Anselm Bayly—John Hadley Swain—William Whiston—Bishop Robert Lowth—Dr. Philip Doddridge—David Levi.

In the early years of the nineteenth century religious ideas exercised considerable influence on the English mind, and penetrated deeply into the soul of the nation. Public opinion was, therefore, favourably disposed towards Zionism, and prepared to accept it from the religious point of view. But that was not the only point of view from which Zionism was advocated and accepted. Zionism had two aspects, corresponding to the two meanings expressed by the words “Restoration of Israel.” Those words sometimes denoted simply the tendency towards a Jewish national revival, an aspiration as elementary and natural as any other of the kind; at other times the idea of the “Restoration of Israel” was connected with the realization of religious prophecies, and it was held that Judaism or Christianity (according to the point of view) was to be glorified by the resettlement of Jews in Palestine. As religion, and especially the Bible, was one of the most potent agencies in the formation of political and moral theories in England, it came about that the history of the Zionist idea was interwoven with that of religious opinions. But, on the other hand, it is impossible to overlook the influence of nationalist ideas which supported the Zionist cause from another point of view, and were expressed in a different tone and spirit. While on the one hand religious imagination gave to the conception the richness and warmth that belong to sentiment, statesmanship contributed the clearness and firmness that reason alone can give.

Every keen student of the literature of that epoch concerning Zionism will readily notice that there were two different currents of thought. We will refer only to one writer who was altogether averse to conversionism, yet adopted the Zionist view—Thomas Witherby (17601820). He was a London solicitor of repute, who after his retirement lived at Enfield and took up the study of political and social problems. He wrote An Attempt to Remove Prejudices Concerning the Jewish Nation (Appendix xlv), and was opposed on some important points to Mr. Bicheno’s prophecies (Appendix xlvi), but, essentially, shared the latter’s opinions concerning the rights of the Jewish nation. He was the first English author who dealt with the imaginary incompatibility of Jewish citizenship with Jewish national claims to Palestine. He confessed that prejudices against the Jews, though not as vigorous then as they had been in times gone by, were still very strong. He admitted “the sad conduct of Christians against Jews”; he praised “the Jewish sincerity and their attachment to their nationality and religion,” and on those grounds he defended the claim of the Jews’ citizenship. “Bad Jews would be bad citizens; good Jews would be good citizens.” According to his view, the just demand for equality of rights for the Jews does not conflict with the claim of the Jewish nation to a land of its own, in which he decidedly believed. We may let him speak for himself:

“Previous to the great and most conspicuous return of the Jews to their own land there will be a partial restoration of many of them to their land, which will probably be effected by the Protestant powers who may renounce their prejudices against them, and see that the non-acceptance of the Christian doctrines is not the bar to their restoration to the favour of God.”

He recognized both the right of the Jews to decide for themselves in matters affecting the preservation of the race, and the independent validity of the considerations which lead to the recognition of Jewish rights in all countries. It was his opinion that while humanity and justice must refuse to recognize anything in the laws of any country which was at variance with the principle of equality, they should be the more ready to admit the higher claim of the Jewish nation to a home of its own.

Witherby stood, then, for the Restoration of Israel as well as for Jewish Emancipation. There can be no stronger and more convincing protest against the fallacious assumption of the irreconcilability of Zionism and Emancipation than Witherby’s interesting and instructive pamphlet. His ideal—a noble and statesmanlike ideal—was to do justice to those Jews who lived in the country, and accordingly formed an integral part of the organism of the State, working like others for the prosperity and safety of the realm. Equally he considered it a sacred duty of humanity to enable this ancient and disinherited nation to rebuild a central home for those of its members who saw the necessity of such a home, and had the inclination to go there. The policy of the State towards the Jews was to be based on these broad principles. Witherby was a man of practical sense and clear sight; he stated clearly and forcibly the anomalies of the Jewish position, and, unhampered by petty prejudices, sought earnestly for a solution of the Jewish problem in its entirety.

Rev. James Bicheno David Levi

Rev. William Whiston

Dr. Joseph Priestley   President John Adams

In concluding this part of the review of the Zionist idea in Christian England, we may mention the name of Dr. Joseph Priestley (17331804). Dr. Priestley was an eminent English philosopher, theologian, and chemist. Though not a conversionist in the true sense of the term, he was nevertheless somewhat influenced by that point of view. He was assisted by the Rev. Anselm Bayly (17191794), LL.D., Sub-Dean of His Majesty’s chapels, alias Anti-Socinus, and John Hadley Swain. In his Letters to the Jews (Appendix xlvii) and in A Comparison of the Institutions of Moses ... And An Address to the Jews on the present state of the World (Appendix xlviii) he threw his arguments into a series of hypothetical syllogisms, the only defect in which is that his premises could hardly be proved. Yet the stress which he laid on the acknowledgment of Israel’s dignity atones for the sophistry of the argument. Having cast a good idea in the stereotyped mould of conversionism, he seems to have expected that a great impression would be produced upon the Jews; but, naturally, his conversionist methods evoked a storm of protest.

He found a strong opponent in David Levi (17421808), a Hebraist and well-known author of books dealing with Jewish theology and ritual. In his controversies with believers and non-believers David Levi attempted to show that the divine mission of the prophets was fully established by the present dispersion of the Jews. He published a reply—Letters to Dr. Priestley, in answer to those he addressed to the Jews; London, 1787 (Appendix xlix)—in which the orthodox standpoint of passive, religious Zionism is defined in the following terms: “And, as all the calamities that were to befall our nation, in consequence of our transgressing the Law, as foretold by that great prophet, and divine legislator, Moses, have been fulfilled in all respects; consequently, those great and glorious promises, also foretold by the same prophet, must likewise have their full completion.

“But the exact time of this accomplishment is not known to any, save the eternal God Himself;... These prophecies, Sir, are our consolation in this long, and dreadful captivity, and have been our support, in enabling us to bear up against the many grievous and miserable persecutions, we have suffered....” (pp. 23). In this way Levi withdraws Messianism altogether from human experience and the operation of the ordinary laws of thought.

On the other hand, William Whiston (16671752),¹ Bishop Robert Lowth (17101787)² and Dr. Philip Doddridge (17021751),³ supported the idea of a speedy restoration of the Jews, and, with the exception of the liberal-minded Whiston, adopted the conversionist view. There was, unfortunately, too much hasty and captious objection on the one hand, and of settled and inveterate prejudice on the other; too strong a tendency to lose sight of the broader features of the main question in the eagerness to single out particularly salient points of attack. Nevertheless, the steady progress of the Zionist idea is unmistakable on both sides of the controversy. Regardless of all these polemical discussions, public opinion began to understand that Zionism was not opposed to and did not interfere with the Christian Millennium or the Jewish Messiah, but was simply a definite conception of the way in which humanity has to prepare for the realization of the great ideal.


The Biblical drama “Cain”—Byron and the Bible—The Hebrew Melodies—A poet and a hero—The Hon. Douglas Kinnaird—Isaac Nathan—John Braham—Lady Caroline Lamb—Sir Walter Scott—Dr. John Gill—Dr. Henry Hunter—The Rev. John Scott—Mr. Joseph Eyre.

At that time the ideal aspirations of the Jewish nation found their most forceful expression in English poetry. George Gordon Byron (17881824), the sixth Baron Byron, who was conversant with every phase of human life, and touched every string of the divine lyre from its faintest to its most powerful and heart-stirring tones, rivals Milton, in his own sphere, in his noble and powerful Biblical drama Cain. He was one of the greatest of English poets, and his genius, like that of Milton, was penetrated with the aspirations of the Bible.¹ Byron had seen much in his Eastern wanderings, and by his Hebrew Melodies had constituted himself in some sort the laureate of Disraeli’s own race.² There is in his work an intensity of grief and yearning, a vigour of thought combined with enchanting beauty of imagination, a tenderness which make him comparable only to the sweet Hebrew Muse of Jehudah Halevi. Zionist poetry owes more to Byron than to any other Gentile poet. His Hebrew Melodies, which are among the most beautiful of his productions, have been translated several times into Hebrew, and there are no lines more popular and more often quoted than:

The wild dove hath her nest, the fox his cave,

Mankind their country, Israel but the grave.

which might well have been a Zionist motto. Byron was a poet and a hero; the keynote of his character is to be found in the word “revolt.” Whenever the cause of liberty was in danger, his entire being was roused to indignation; this was the passion of his soul, and for this he gave his life. This “Pilgrim of Eternity,”³ who died a martyr to his zeal in the cause of the freedom of Greece, might perhaps have been equally able to sacrifice his life for the freedom of Judæa, had the deliverance of Judæa offered scope for a similar struggle in his time. As it was he expressed the Jewish tragedy, not only in its poetical but also in its political aspect.

The genius of pure imagination is usually apt to evade the actual facts of political and social life, and to wing its way into an ideal world of abstractions. But some there are who derive their material from the realities of social and national life, and transmute into poetry the prevailing ideas of the actual world. The Pilgrim Poet belonged to the latter category. He re-echoed the aspirations of his time. Thorough understanding of and sincere compassion for the sorrows of Israel found eloquent expression in the English writings of that epoch. At that time English writers were keen students of Jewish history, and since the time of Vespasian (979) Jewish history has recorded only sorrowful scenes: it tells mainly of fugitives banished to all quarters of the world, where they have sought asylum and have been compelled to realize the unanimity of the desire to annihilate them. “The Jews were a prey to innumerable calamities, and their existence was little else than a protracted agony.” “The numberless banishments, oppressions, exactions, persecutions, massacres and miseries of all kinds, which they have undergone in almost every age and nation from their first dispersion down to these latter times—the various causes which have concurred to wipe off the very name and memorial of them from the face of the earth ... are indescribable.” This was what Byron read in the English literature of his time, and what he realized in his wanderings. A homeless nation—that was the fact which impressed itself most forcibly upon his mind.

Byron’s Hebrew Melodies, which were written at the suggestion of the Honourable Douglas James William Kinnaird (17881830),¹ were published with music in January, 1815. Kinnaird was a man of considerable ability and great intellectual attainments. He introduced a Jewish composer, Isaac Nathan (17911864), to Lord Byron about 1812. This was the beginning of a friendship which ended only with the death of the poet. Byron wrote the Hebrew Melodies with the express purpose of their being set to music by Nathan, who subsequently bought the copyright of the work. Nathan decided to raise the means for the publication of the Melodies by subscription, and with that object associated himself with his co-religionist, the melodious tenor John Braham (1774?1856), who began his musical career as a chorister at the Synagogue in Duke’s Place. Braham composed several operas, one of them the Americans, containing that famous song, The Death of Nelson; and achieved a European reputation in his time. On signing the subscription list, Braham intimated his desire to assist in the publication of the Melodies and to sing them in public. Hence on the title-page of the first edition, which was published in 1815, it was recorded that the music was newly arranged, harmonized and revised by I. Nathan and I. Braham.

The Melodies consisted mainly of a selection of favourite airs sung in connection with the observance of Jewish religious ceremonies (Appendix l). It is interesting to observe that the music was reviewed first. Some of the remarks respecting Hebrew music are worthy of note. “In our very limited Review, it cannot be expected that we should attempt to throw any new light on the dark subject of Hebrew musick.... Whether the present Melodies were ever performed by King David’s 4000 Levites, ... we shall not venture to decide: their age and originality are left entirely to conjecture, having been ‘preserved by memory and tradition alone.’ Some of them possess an interesting wildness of character, which leaves no doubt as to their real antiquity; and the Editors assure us that they have preserved as much of this feature as the rhythm of written musick and the adaptation of the words, would permit.”¹ The Literary Review of the same Magazine devotes a very few lines to a criticism of the poems: “To say that these Melodies are Lord Byron’s, is to pronounce them elegant. We select the following Poem, in addition to that already given in Part I., p. 450” (i.e. “I saw thee weep”). There follows the poem “Saul.”²

More light is thrown on the subject of Byron’s attitude to the Jewish people and the Zionist idea in Nathan’s Fugitive Pieces and Reminiscences of Lord Byron (Appendix li). In a note (p. 24) to “Oh! Weep for those,” Nathan writes: “Throughout the composition of these melodies, it will be observed by the attentive reader that Lord Byron has exhibited a peculiar feeling of commiseration towards the Jews. He was entirely free from the prevalent prejudices against that unhappy and oppressed race of men. On this subject, he has frequently remarked, that he deemed the existence of the Jews, as a distinct race of men, the most wonderful instance of the ill-effects of persecution....” That a period of 1800 years should have elapsed, and that these people should still preserve their own religion, their laws, and their customs, in defiance of ecclesiastical and civil oppression, does indeed seem astonishing; but less so, when the effect of his Lordship’s observation is sufficiently understood. On one occasion he remarked, “unfortunate men, surrounded by enemies among whom they are compelled to live; oppressed, scorned, and outcast: condemned as criminal, because they cannot succumb to their oppressors,...” In another note (p. 61) contributed to the poem, “From the last hill that looks on thy once holy dome.” On the day of the Destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, Nathan says: “In the composition of the foregoing stanzas, he professed to me, that he had always considered the fall of Jerusalem, as the most remarkable event of all history; for (in his own words), ‘who can behold the entire destruction of that mighty pile; the desolate wanderings of its inhabitants, and compare these positive occurrences with the distant prophecies which foreran them, and be an infidel?’”

The authenticity of Nathan’s co-operation is beyond question. Nathan was a composer of acknowledged ability, and a writer on various subjects. He was born at Canterbury, Kent, and early in life was sent to Cambridge to study Hebrew and the classical languages. Lady Caroline Lamb (17851828) was among Nathan’s friends, and wrote poetry for him to set to music. Sir Walter Scott (17711832), was also an admirer of Nathan’s Jewish musical productions.

Enthusiasm for the revival of Hebrew music was characteristic of the time, and was partly due to the prevailing sympathy for the Jewish people, for their sufferings and their hopes (Appendix lii). If Hebrew Melodies were written at the suggestion of Kinnaird, this must not be taken to mean that poems like Hebrew Melodies can be written merely in response to the suggestion of a personal friend: they must be the product of a certain aspiration.

At the same time, the idea of the Restoration of Israel made considerable headway in other quarters. Rev. Dr. John Gill (16971771) remarks that “the Protestant Princes will be assisting the Jews in replacing them in their own land.”¹ Rev. Dr. Henry Hunter (17411802) says: “It is indeed now pretty generally agreed among the learned, that we are warranted by the Scriptures to expect ... their return to their own land;...”²

The Rev. John Scott (17771834), speaking of the preservation of the Jews, asks: “But wherefore are the Jews thus preserved? Is it only as monuments of divine vengeance, and to bear testimony to others of blessings which they shall never taste themselves? ‘Hath God’ for ever ‘cast off His people’? ‘Have they stumbled that they might fall,’ to rise no more? God forbid! All the facts before us, and particularly their preservation, might well raise hopes in our minds that mercy was still in reserve for Israel.”¹

The “Advertisement” to Extracts from a work on the Prophecies, by Mr. Joseph Eyre, informs us that “The design in re-publishing them is to call the attention of Christians to those Prophecies of the Scriptures, which have a primary reference to the Jewish people, and which predict events concerning them that have not yet been fulfilled, and promise blessings to them of which they have not yet been partakers.”¹

“Civis” writes: “With respect to the restoration ... permit me to refer your readers to Mr. (George Stanley) Faber’s (B.D.) (17731854) work on that subject, and also to The Sacred Calendar of Prophecy, 1828. The reasons ... are ... satisfactory and convincing. Even if there were no other passage to prove it, the one where God declares that it shall in future times be said ‘The Lord liveth, who brought up and who led the children of Israel out of the north country, and from all the countries whither I had driven them, and they shall dwell in their own land,’ would, I think, be sufficient to prove it; because it seems too minute and circumstantial to admit of a merely figurative interpretation; and, indeed, what can it be a figure of? What is the reality which the figure is supposed to represent? I would ask, if a prophecy were intended to declare a literal restoration, what more plain and forcible terms could have been made use of? We should never resort to figures except where the nature of the subject, or common sense, imperatively requires it.”¹

“Paulinus” taking the opposite view, says: “In some circles a writer is almost unchristianized if he does not follow the opinion therein current ... the literal restoration of the Jews to Palestine; in favour of which there is a much more general concurrence of opinion than in any other of the particulars.”¹


The Conflict between Turkey and Egypt—Mahmud II., Sultan of Turkey—Mehemet Ali, Pasha of Egypt—The victory of Nezib—The Turkish Fleet—Wellington’s policy—The Eastern Question—Wellington’s opinion—The London Conference, 1840—The Insurrection in Syria and the Lebanon—An Ultimatum—The Capture of Acre by the British Fleet, 1840—Schemes of annexation.

The Palmerston period, 183752, was a great time in England for the idea of the Restoration of Israel. It was a time of stirring events in the East, events which raised some of the most momentous problems that can engage the statesman’s mind. The English people watched from day to day with the deepest interest the progress of annexations, of conquest, of negotiations, which they believed would go far to decide the future development and destinies of the greatest nations of the world. The European horizon was so disturbed that a great political authority of the day is said to have declared that “if an angel from heaven were in the Foreign Office he would not preserve peace for three months.”

The facts are sufficiently familiar to most readers. But it will be necessary for our purpose to go over the oft-trodden ground, which must be done rapidly.

In 1839 a tremendous crisis broke out between Turkey and Egypt as the result of a series of conflicts and struggles. In the brief space of eight years (183139) Mehemet Ali (17691849) had contrived to overrun the whole of Syria, having organized a fleet and an army beyond the legitimate necessities of his government, by acts of tyranny and oppression against the very people for whose defence he pretended to have raised them; and he forced these wretched people, whom he was bound to protect, to join him in rebellion, thus fastening more firmly the chains with which he had shackled them. Having concentrated 100,000 men on the Turkish frontier, he at once threw off the mask and intimated to the European consuls his intention of declaring his independence unless his demand for the government of Syria for life and of Egypt en hérédité were conceded.

He struck the first blow, and was very successful during the first stage of the war. The victory of Nezib (24 June, 1839) was the last of his triumphs. The new army, which he had taken pains to organize, was only half trained. Still his power was unshaken, and his advantage was not confined to the land. The Turkish admiral, beaten by Mehemet Ali, and fearing for his life if he returned to Constantinople, determined on an act of treachery, which would ingratiate him with the victorious ruler of Egypt. He took the Turkish fleet, with some 20,000 men aboard, to Alexandria, and surrendered it to Mehemet Ali.

The surprise and astonishment which the suddenness of these occurrences caused did not allow English diplomacy much time to consider. It was necessary to intervene at once, unless the Ottoman Empire was to be broken up. Palmerston determined to carry out Wellington’s (17691852) policy, and to reduce the apparently invincible Pasha to “a state of obedience and subordination to the Sultan” (18081839), Mahmud II. (17851839). The difficulties seemed formidable, but Palmerston’s conception of the diplomatic situation was unerring. He scouted the idea of actual intervention on Egyptian soil. The lessons of the battle of the Nile and of the earlier siege of Acre had not been thrown away upon a survivor of the struggle with Napoleon Bonaparte. A different strategic plan was adopted: a British squadron was to compel the evacuation of Syria by Mehemet Ali.

The imminent perils and dangers which surrounded this undertaking from the political point of view were evident. A great international problem arose. The solution of those important and complex problems which include what is usually called the “Eastern Question” had long occupied a considerable place in the field of international politics, especially in England. There was scarcely one, perhaps, of the more eminent English diplomatists who had not distinguished himself in this department in a greater or a less degree; and there was scarcely an aspirant to foreign political activity and distinction who had not thought it one of the surest paths to his ambition to come forward as a champion in this arena. It must, however, be borne in mind that this question was continually taking on a new form, and accordingly opinions and interests were always changing. In 183940 controversy about this question attained its greatest intensity, and the interested powers were in a position of the darkest perplexity.¹

After the traitorous defection of the Turkish fleet to the side of Mehemet Ali, five great Powers of Europe officially intimated to the Porte that they had determined to discuss and settle together the embarrassing Eastern question, and ultimately a Conference was called together in London, at which the Ambassadors of these Powers were to meet with full authority from their Governments to bring the matter to a definite issue. It appeared throughout that France was favourable to Mehemet Ali’s ambitious projects, whilst England had decided to compel him to evacuate Syria forthwith and to restore the fleet before it would entertain any proposition of his to be allowed to retain Egypt in hereditary possession, or any part of Syria during his lifetime. The negotiations in London dragged on slowly; month after month passed by, and the high contracting parties came to no definite decision. Everybody in England was anxious that Great Britain should play an important rôle in the Eastern Question. The state of the East had become utterly corrupt and hopeless. Great Britain considered that it was in its interest to maintain the integrity of the Ottoman Empire. What was meant by this principle? Great Britain as an Asiatic not less than a European Power was interested to see that the Ottoman Empire was made thoroughly independent and enabled to progress by consolidating and developing its provinces. As to Syria, everybody in England was aware that its possession was essential for the security of the richest and most important provinces of Asiatic Turkey, to which it was the military key. This was sufficiently demonstrated by the events which actually took place.

On the 25th May, 1840, an insurrection of an alarming character broke out in Syria and The Lebanon among the Druses and Christians against the Emir and the Egyptian Government. On the 15th of July, 1840, an event occurred which brought the affairs of the Levant to a crisis. A convention was signed in London between England, Russia, Austria and Prussia, without the concurrence of France, whereby an ultimatum was delivered to Mehemet Ali, calling on him to evacuate Palestine. The four Powers demanded of him, first, a prompt submission to the Sultan (18391861) Abdul Medjid (18231861) as his Sovereign; secondly, the immediate restoration of the Turkish fleet; thirdly, a prompt evacuation of Syria, Adana, Candia, Arabia, and the Holy Cities. Moreover the four Powers declared the ports of Syria and Egypt to be in a state of blockade. Consequently Acre, the fortress which had been the great depot and arsenal of Mehemet Ali, and which in 1799 had withstood Bonaparte after the twelfth assault, when he had been defeated by Admiral Sir William Sidney Smith (17641840) with a few sailors and marines and a force of undisciplined Turks, was now successfully bombarded by the English Admiral, Sir Robert Stopford (17681847), and placed in possession of the Sultan’s troops. The fortress, which was considered invulnerable, surrendered on the 3rd of November, 1840. Jaffa surrendered to the new garrison of Acre, a few days after the fall of the fortress. On the 3rd of November the happy tidings of the fall of Acre were brought to Constantinople, and the Government issued orders for public rejoicings; on the 19th of that month the Turkish Governor was officially informed that the garrison and inhabitants of Jerusalem had given allegiance to the Porte.

The question of the future of Palestine now arose. Was Palestine simply to be left to Turkey or was Great Britain to secure some important places? The prevalent tendency in English opinion was in favour of the annexation of Acre and Cyprus. Acre, in the hands of England, or of any other nation commanding the sea, could be made really impregnable, and Cyprus seemed also to be of great strategic importance, especially to England. The reasons for such an annexation were palpable. England and her Allies had not merely rescued Syria, they had absolutely saved the whole Ottoman Empire. After the battle of Nezib had given the defiles of Mount Taurus to Mehemet Ali, nothing could have obstructed the rebels’ triumphant march to Constantinople. The Allies had thus rendered to the Ottoman Empire the greatest possible service that one State can receive from another. Gratitude alone might have suggested a more valuable acknowledgment of this service than Acre and Cyprus; but as the service had been rendered at some risk, and at enormous expense, justice demanded that it should be paid for; and nobody could suggest that it would be paid for too dearly by a strip of territory which was of little value to Turkey, though useful to England, and which in British hands would assuredly supply the Porte with a fortress that could never be established in its own territory. Acre and Cyprus garrisoned by British troops would give Turkey the surest protection. Attention was also called to the fact that no spot in the world was associated with so many proud recollections as Acre, the theatre of British gallantry from the days of Richard Cœur de Lion (11571199) to those of Admiral Sir W. Sidney Smith and Admiral Sir Robert Stopford. Another consideration had great weight with English opinion. The possession of Acre would open a road for the return of Biblical truth to the land from which that truth had spread to the human race; and Englishmen would feel guilty of sin if they failed to impress upon their Government the need of seizing this glorious and blessed opportunity. To take, however, the more utilitarian view of the matter, Great Britain, occupying the impregnable position of Acre, would not be under the necessity of seeking the freedom of the overland route to India from any other Power. She would command it at all times. Acre in the hands of Great Britain would be a perfect guarantee against revolts in Egypt or in Syria, and would in fact ensure the Turkish Empire against the only danger that could threaten it on the side of Asia.

The effects of an English settlement in Syria on the general interests of mankind presented a more serious question. Syria and the adjacent countries were in a worse state than they had been 2000 years ago. While the deserts of America and Australasia had been regained for the use of man, while India had been brought to peace and unity and its worst superstitions had been modified, if not altogether extirpated, by the influence of European civilization, man had given place to the savage creatures of the wilderness in those countries from which all that he knows of good, was originally derived. An English settlement in Syria would begin the work of regeneration in the most venerable and interesting country in the world. England would be to Syria and to the adjacent countries all that she had been to India—the protector of the weak, the common arbiter, the universal peacemaker. Her laws and her liberties enable her to fulfil that function, her commercial interests fit her to undertake it, while her wealth, her naval supremacy and her colonial power furnish her with the means required for the purpose. Why should any other power oppose her acquiring that region? That its acquisition would add to her commercial resources and to her defensive strength had to be conceded. But had no nation ever before sought to increase her commercial resources and add to her defensive strength by means in themselves legitimate, which would not in any way infringe upon the rights or interests of others? The advancement of the world in civilization and happiness must remain for ever at a standstill, if each nation is to be held in check by the jealousy of the others. This was the attitude of public opinion on this question from the point of view of human progress and of British interests.


The conflicting interests of the Powers—Was the conflict irreconcilable?—Public opinion—A new principle—The independence of Syria—A neutral position—The Zionist idea as the only solution—A practical proposition.

Public opinion had for a long time laboured under the impression that the intricacy of the Eastern question was due much more to the conflicting interests of the Powers engaged in its solution than to any insurmountable barrier between them and the Sultans Mahmud II., Abdul Medjid and Mehemet Ali. With France and Mehemet Ali on the one side and the four European Powers on the other, it was evident that war would have the most disastrous effect on the contending parties. The question arose whether the interests of the parties were irreconcilable, and whether it was not possible to devise an arrangement acceptable to both sides and thus to avert war. Some political leaders thought that they could settle the question, and that it would be possible to adopt a policy sufficiently far-reaching and just to satisfy the expectations of the five Powers.

It was common knowledge that the great dilemma in which Turkey and Egypt found themselves had throughout hinged on the question of Syria. Without the possession of Syria the power of Mehemet Ali became insecure; with it he would be in a very strong position, because Turkey could only exist by his sufferance. In fact, the possession of Syria would give a tremendous advantage to either side.

The problem was therefore to enable each of the Governments to prevent Syria from passing into the hands of the enemy. And there was only one possible solution—namely, the establishment of an independent state in Syria. The grounds for this conclusion may be stated in the following series of propositions:

(1) That the Sultan, unassisted, was powerless to retain Syria.

(2) That Egypt had no right to Syria, except in so far as lawlessness and violence might make its possession necessary.

(3) That Egypt had a right to independence, if she could achieve it.

(4) That if Syria remained part of Turkey, the independence of Egypt would be constantly menaced.

(5) That if Syria remained part of Egypt, the existence of Turkey would be rendered insecure.

(6) That the insecure position of Turkey would endanger the peace of Europe.

(7) That Syria, being a conquered kingdom, had the right to regain her independence if she could.

(8) That by the existence of Syria as an independent state both Turkey and Egypt would remain intact.

(9) That the neutral position of the new state would keep both Turkey and Egypt in check, and prevent either from becoming too powerful.

Mehemet Ali could not object to a solution on these lines. He would be protected by the Sultan, Abdul Medjid, and would be at liberty to extend his influence in other directions. But the Sultan, having been paramount lord of Syria, might reasonably claim some consideration for consenting to the independence of Syria. Who was to pay this consideration?

It is at this point that we have to turn to the old idea of Zionism to find the only just and natural solution. Bishop Newton’s commentaries, Witherby’s moralisings, Byron’s poetry—to these lines of approach to Zionism was now added the tendency of British politics. A hundred times the promoters of the Zionist idea had been disheartened, a hundred times they had taken it up again. Now political developments offered the background for a new propaganda for Zionism. The Restoration of Israel, an idea dear not only to the sentimentalist, the essayist and the littérateur, but also to every believer in the Bible and to every friend of liberty, had become an actual question of the day.

If only the five European Powers could agree to settle the Eastern question upon the basis of Syrian independence, the carrying out of the details would be an easy matter. France would no doubt agree to such an arrangement. The amount of the consideration required by Turkey would be raised from the resources of Syria, augmented by a sum to be contributed by the Jews. Their contribution might be looked upon as consideration for their admission into Syria.

An arrangement of this character would satisfy all the parties concerned. Mehemet Ali would become the hereditary Sovereign of Egypt. France would be contented. The Jews would be virtually restored to their land. The Syrians would gladly agree, as their country would in this way achieve independence, while the Jews would help them to gain this end.

From then onwards, the Jews would begin to immigrate into Syria from every part of the world; they would carry in their train the apparatus of civilization, and would form a nucleus for the creation of European institutions. They would acquire and exercise the rights and duties of citizenship in their own country, and would build up, under the protection and auspices of the five European Powers, the government and independence of the Turco-Syrian State. And from this change other advantages also would accrue. Turkey would be relieved of the pressure that had been destructive of her interests. The consideration that she would receive for her consent would be the means of resuscitating her energies and restoring her strength. It would enable her to push on her reforms and again take her position as a powerful nation.

It must at once be admitted that the condition of Syria presented a host of difficulties, on account of the division of the inhabitants into a number of separate tribes. But this fact only proved the necessity for the introduction of fresh material, with a view to welding together all classes into one harmonious community. The necessity of introducing fresh material into the social fabric of Syria once admitted, it followed as a matter of course that the immigration of the Jews into Syria would provide the most acceptable material. The establishment of European institutions in Asia (so far as they might be suitable) would follow, and in all probability England would in that way find a new ally, whose friendship might eventually prove of advantage to her in dealing with Eastern affairs.


Damascus and Rhodes, 1840—The anti-Jewish accusations—Jewish opinion in England and France—Two views—The persecutions and the Zionist idea—The difficulties of a Jewish initiative—Sir W. R. W. Wilde.

At that time an occurrence of a grave character troubled the Jews in the East. The Jews resident at Damascus and Rhodes were subjected in 1840 to cruel persecution on the false and atrocious charge that they used human blood in the celebration of the Passover. On the 7th February a Catholic Priest named Father Thomas suddenly disappeared from the quarter of Damascus where he resided. As he had last been seen near the shop of a Jewish barber, the latter was seized and examined, and finally subjected to torture. In his agony he accused several of the principal Jews of having put Father Thomas to death. Many of the Jews were immediately thrown into prison, and the most revolting barbarities were inflicted upon them to induce them to confess. An appeal was made to Mehemet Ali, the Pasha of Egypt, to put a stop to these horrors, and he issued peremptory instructions to that effect, ordering that the matter should be investigated before a tribunal composed of the European consuls specially delegated for that purpose. At a later period of the year, the Jews of Rhodes were accused of having abducted a Greek boy for the purpose of murdering him, and using his blood at the Passover, but after a trial and a long investigation the charge was pronounced to be false. In this case also great barbarities had been inflicted, and the Porte, in order to show its sense of the injustice done to the Jews, deposed the Pasha of Rhodes.

These events awakened Israel from a long stupor. They stirred up Jewish public opinion all over the world, and especially in England and France. Like all persecutions, they served to accentuate Jewish solidarity. The first thing to do was to save the innocent martyrs; next to this immediate necessity the question arose how to prevent similar attacks on Jewish life, and on the honour of Judaism. It was necessary to raise a powerful protest against these abominable accusations, to make representations to the Governments to protect and to assist the oppressed Jews.

Up to this point Jewish leaders of all shades of opinion travelled the same road. It was only at this stage that commonplace charity and political foresight had to part company. To the former it seemed easy to surmount all difficulties and all objections instantly by a few plausible generalities, which to such minds were invested with the force of axiomatic truth, and to question which they would regard as useless. Persecution, it was said, is a temporary phenomenon, and consequently the defence should be temporary. But is the persecution of the Jews really only temporary? Are not all these outrages and accusations links in one chain? Are they not, to a certain extent, the consequences of the precarious and untenable position of a people without a land? Short-sighted philanthropists, harassed by no doubts of this kind, asserted as facts what they knew in reality to be only probabilities. There is no doubt as to their perfect good faith, nor should any wilful misrepresentation be attributed to them. They had seized on one part of the truth, namely, that justice should be applied to the Jews. With regard to questions of nationality and territory they had no experience. They knew little of the conditions of the countries where the Jewish masses lived; the psychology of the non-Jewish masses in those countries was unknown to them.

But history was against their superficial optimism, and in the minds of really thinking people grave doubts arose whether the future of the Jewish people could be secured by haphazard defence and immediate relief. It would be idle for the optimists to treat anxieties of this kind as if they were heresies. They were not reactionary aspirations; nor were they the pretensions of ignorant spirits to be wise beyond the limits of man’s wisdom. They were in reality the logical consequences of experience and observation. They reveal a true conception of the Jewish problem, which is belittled and watered down by commonplace optimism.

The Damascus affair, like similar events before and after it, stimulated Zionist aspirations, not because Zionism is merely a reflex of persecution, but because persecution reveals to the Jew his real situation, which, during the short intervals of peace, he does not clearly understand or is inclined to overlook.

Though far from being the real cause—the real cause is the whole of Jewish history—the sufferings of the Jews have always been a stimulus to Jewish national feeling. The Mortara case in 1860 gave rise to the Alliance Israélite Universelle, the persecutions which began in 1882 to the movement of the “Lovers of Zion,” and the Dreyfus affair in 1894 to Herzl’s pamphlet The Jewish State, 1896, which heralded modern Zionism. In the same way the Damascus and Rhodes affairs were the immediate cause of Montefiore’s journeys, the representations to Mehemet Ali about both the innocent martyrs and the establishment of Jewish colonies in Palestine, and the societies in England for the support of Palestinian colonization. A number of Jews in several countries, and especially in England, began to ask themselves: What will be the end of all these sufferings? The reply was: Two things are necessary:—

(1) The protection of Great Britain for the Jews in the East.

(2) The colonization of Palestine.

Public opinion had now taken a different turn; and, what is more important, the character of the difficulties and objections generally raised had become wholly different. People began to inquire about the Jews themselves: would they or would they not be inclined to form a new society for the colonization of Palestine? A greater disposition to follow up this kind of discussion had developed. The political sense of the day required definition, argument, and proof, where religion had been content to appeal merely to the instinct of reverence, and to put the whole matter on the plane of devotional feeling or exalted imagination.

Would the Jews go to Palestine?

In the nature of things it could not often happen that a nation would undergo rapidly any great, although at the same time peaceful and salutary change. A nation may, indeed, develop almost in a day. Empires have evaporated in fury or exploded in passion. But then such violent changes have usually been vicious and destructive. An utterly demoralized people will abandon itself in a moment to a dream of ambition, turn its ploughshares into swords, and break from its borders to conquer the world. A new field for cupidity or pleasure, the discovery of a continent, the sudden acquisition of a fertile territory or a mine of wealth, has ere now turned an ancient and noble race into a rabble of adventurers. But it is very rare, almost unparalleled, for a peaceful people to find a new opening all at once. There was doubt, then, about the Jewish desire for redemption.

Side by side with their attachment to the land of their birth, the sense of a long-lost home lies deep in the hearts of the Jewish masses, and they are drawn towards it by a longing expressed in heartfelt songs and prayers, in wishes and in hopes, not in rebellious efforts. But could the Jews by themselves, as a whole nation, or as scattered and divided masses, as a defenceless and persecuted minority, take up the realization of their cherished hope? Although it was an international political scheme, leading Jews would have to raise their voices and start the work if they wished to see its accomplishment.

Sir William Robert Wills Wilde (18151876) wrote:—¹

“This extraordinary people, the favoured of the Lord, the descendants of the patriarchs and prophets, and the aristocracy of the earth, are to be seen in Jerusalem to greater advantage, and under an aspect and in a character totally different from that which they present in any other place on the face of the globe. In other countries the very name of Jew has associated with it cunning, deceit, usury, traffic and often wealth. But here, in addition to the usual degradation and purchased suffering of a despised, stricken, outcast race, they bend under extreme poverty, and wear the aspect of a weeping and a mourning people; lamenting over their fallen greatness as a nation, and over the prostrate grandeur of their once proud city. Here the usurer is turned into the pilgrim, the merchant into the priest, and the inexorable creditor into the weeping suppliant....” “It is curious, ... to read the indications of fond attachment of the Jew to the very air and soil, scattered about in Jewish writings; ... ‘The air of the land of Israel,’ says one, ‘makes a man wise’; another writes, ‘he who walks four cubits in the land of Israel is sure of being a son of the life to come.’ The great Wise Men are wont to kiss the borders of the Holy Land, to embrace its ruins, and roll themselves in its dust.”¹

The following extracts are taken from Der Orient, a German newspaper. They seem to betoken a movement among continental Jews in relation to the late crisis in Syria:—

“We have a country, the inheritance of our fathers, finer, more fruitful, better situated for commerce, than many of the most celebrated portions of the globe. Environed by the deep-delled Taurus, the lovely shores of the Euphrates, the lofty steppes of Arabia and of rocky Sinai, our country extends along the shores of the Mediterranean, crowned by the towering cedars of The Lebanon, the source of a hundred rivulets and brooks, which spread fruitfulness over shady dales.... A glorious land! situate at the farthest extremity of the sea which connects three-quarters of the globe, over which the Phœnicians ... sent their numerous fleets to the shores of Albion, near to both the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf; ... the central country of the commerce between the east and the west. Every country has its peculiarity; every people their own nature.... No people of the earth have lived so true to their calling from the first as we have done.

“The Arab has maintained his language and his original country; on the Nile, in the deserts, as far as Sinai, and beyond Jordan, he feeds his flocks. In the elevated plains of Asia Minor the Turkoman has conquered for himself a second country, the birthplace of the Osman; but Palestine and Syria are populated. For centuries the battlefield between the sons of Altai and of the Arabian wilderness, the inhabitants of the West and the half-nomadic Persians, none have been able to establish themselves and maintain their nationality: no nation can claim the name of Syrian. A chaotic mixture of all tribes and tongues, remnants of migrations from north and south, they disturb one another in the possession of the glorious land where our fathers for so many centuries emptied the cup of joy and woe, and where every clod is drenched with the blood of our heroes when their bodies were buried under the ruins of Jerusalem....”¹

Painted by G. Richmond. R.A.D.C.L.

Engraved by T. L. Atkinson

Sir Moses Montefiore, Bart., F.R.S.

From a mezzotint engraving (proof before all letters)
lent by Israel Solomons


The project “for Cultivation of the Land in Palestine”—Abraham Shoshana and Samuel Aboo—Sir Moses and Lord Palmerston—Great Britain’s protection of the Jews in the East—Lord Aberdeen—Sir Stratford Canning—Dr. Edward Robinson—Burghas Bey—A new journey to the East.

England and English Jews deserve indisputably to be placed in the forefront of Zionism. A great pioneer of Anglo-Jewish Zionism during the Palmerston period was Sir Moses Montefiore (17841885). He was a man of great stability and magnanimity of character, and was much admired by Jew and Gentile alike. There have been few Jews in history who have been able to look back on a life of useful and beneficial activity with so much gratification as he, or who were so entitled to feel proud of the fact that throughout their lives they had done their duty not only to the country in which they lived, but to the ancient land of their fathers, to the English people as English patriots and to the Jewish nation as faithful sons of their race.

Sir Moses was an enthusiastic supporter of “The Fund for the cultivation of the land in Palestine by the Jews.” This was the harmless name given to Zionism at the beginning of his activity. We read in the Diaries of Sir Moses and Lady Montefiore¹:—

“Friday, May 24th (1839, Safed)....

“The heads of the Portuguese and German congregations came to pay their respects to Sir Moses and Lady Montefiore (17841862). Two of these gentlemen, the Rev. Abraham Shoshana and Samuel Aboo, were landowners in a neighbouring village, and gave their opinion on the subject of agriculture. Sir Moses, referring in his diary to the conversation, says:—

‘From all information I have been able to gather, the land in this neighbourhood appears to be particularly favourable for agricultural speculation. There are groves of olive trees, I should think, more than five hundred years old, vineyards, much pasture, plenty of wells and abundance of excellent water; also fig-trees, walnuts, almonds, mulberries, etc., and rich fields of wheat, barley, and lentils; in fact it is a land that would produce almost everything in abundance, with very little skill and labour. I am sure if the plan I have in contemplation should succeed, it will be the means of introducing happiness and plenty into the Holy Land. In the first instance, I shall apply to Mohhammad (Mehemet) Ali for a grant of land for fifty years; some one or two hundred villages; giving him an increased rent of from ten to twenty per cent., and paying the whole in money annually in Alexandria, but the land and villages to be free, during the whole term, from every tax or rate either of Pasha or Governor of the several districts; and liberty being accorded to dispose of the produce in any quarter of the globe. The grant obtained, I shall, please Heaven, on my return to England, form a company for the cultivation of the land and the encouragement of our brethren in Europe to return to Palestine. Many Jews now emigrate to New South Wales, Canada, etc., but in the Holy Land they would find a greater certainty of success; here they will find wells already dug, olives and vines already planted, and a land so rich as to require little manure. By degrees I hope to induce the return of thousands of our brethren to the Land of Israel. I am sure they would be happy in the enjoyment of the observance of our holy religion, in a manner which is impossible in Europe.’”

Political steps were undertaken and representations made. Sir Moses spoke to Lord Palmerston about agriculture for the Jews in Palestine:—

“On April 30th (1840) the Committee proceeded to Downing Street, and were most kindly received by Lord Palmerston. He promised to use his influence with Mohhammad Ali and the Turkish Government to put a stop to such atrocities.¹ Sir Moses mentioned on this occasion, when Lord Palmerston was speaking of his visit to Palestine, Mr. Young’s humanity at Jerusalem, and also the fact that the Jews were desirous of being employed in agricultural pursuits.”²

Then arose the question of Great Britain’s protection of the Jews in the East:—

“His brethren in the East appealed to Sir Moses to intercede with the English Government to take them under their protection. They complained of being compelled by local governors to pay heavier taxes than any of the non-Israelite inhabitants. Both Lord Palmerston and his successor Lord Aberdeen listened with great kindness to the statements made to them on that subject by Sir Moses. Lord Palmerston, in reply to his representations, said the Christians had suffered more than the Jews from the Governor being a fanatic, and added that he (Sir Moses) had his authority to write to the Jews in the East that if they had any serious complaints to make, the English Consuls would attend to them, and forward them to the Ambassador at Constantinople, who would represent them to the Ministers of the Porte....

“Lord Aberdeen, with whom he subsequently had an interview on the same subject, said that he saw no objection to the British Consul receiving the statements of grievances made by the Jews, and transmitting such statements to the British Ambassador in Constantinople, who would be directed to confer thereon with the Ministers of the Porte, with a view to the redress of the grievances complained of.”

“On Sir Moses pressing the desire of the Jews in the East to be brought under British protection, his Lordship said that he did not see how it could be accomplished. All the European Powers were extremely jealous of any interference on the part of England. His Lordship added, however, that he would consider the best means to afford the Jews protection for the sake of humanity and justice.

“On the 7th November, Sir Stratford Canning (17861880),¹ previous to leaving for Constantinople, called on Sir Moses, and afterwards sent him a note, appointing to see him on the following day at twelve o’clock. Sir Moses accordingly went to him. The purpose of this interview was to solicit protection for the Israelites in the East. Sir Moses informed him of the directions given by Lord Palmerston, and Sir Stratford said he would be happy to do all that his duty permitted, and to hear from Sir Moses whenever he pleased. They had a long and interesting conversation respecting the Jews and the Holy Land, and Sir Moses was exceedingly satisfied by Sir Stratford’s kindness.”²

It may be pointed out here that the extension of Great Britain’s protection to the Jews in the East was at that time regarded in other countries as something to which the Jews were justly entitled, and the granting of this protection was supposed to be necessitated by English policy.

Dr. Edward Robinson (17971863), the eminent American scholar, wrote:—

“France has long been the acknowledged protector of the Roman Catholic religion, in the same Empire; and the followers of that faith find in her a watchful and efficient patron;... In the members of the Greek Church, still more numerous, ... the Russians have even warmer partisans.... But where are England’s partisans in any part of Turkey? That England, while she has so deep a political interest in all that concerns the Turkish Empire, should remain indifferent to this state of things in Syria, is a matter of surprise.”¹

Notwithstanding the formal difficulties indicated by Lord Aberdeen the scheme grew, and Sir Moses received very sincere promises, for despite the force of Lord Aberdeen’s reasoning, it was too subtle to commend itself to the common sense of Sir Moses, who was acting not as a diplomatist, but as an ardent protector of his oppressed people. The two points in Sir Moses’ programme were his scheme for the colonization of Palestine and his efforts to obtain British protection.

Sir Moses had started his second voyage to Palestine in 1838. He was then already a friend of Mehemet Ali. Reaching Alexandria on July 13th, he was cordially received by the Pasha, who listened attentively as he unfolded his scheme. Mehemet Ali promised every assistance. “You shall have any portion of land open for sale in Syria,” he said, “and any other land which by application to the Sultan may be procured for you. You may have anyone you would like to appoint as Governor in any of the rural districts of the Holy Land, and I will do everything that lies in my power to support your praiseworthy endeavours.” He further gave instructions to the Minister of Finance, Burghas Bey, to confirm these assurances in writing.

“A new era seemed dawning for the Jews of the Holy Land. Sir Moses returned to England with a light heart, and prepared to put his plans into execution.... He was still conning over the voluminous data he had collected, and was constructing in his mind the foundation of a new commonwealth for Palestine, when he was suddenly called upon to proceed again to the East,—this time, not as a peaceful reformer, but as the champion of his people, charged to vindicate their honour in the face of a foul conspiracy. He cheerfully laid aside his agricultural schemes, and girded up his loins for the new enterprise. When he returned home in the following spring, crowned with laurels, and hailed on all sides as the deliverer of Israel, his triumph was clouded by one sad thought—the projects to which he had devoted the whole of the previous year were no longer possible. Mehemet Ali had ceased to be lord of Syria, and his improving rule had been replaced by the asphyxiating authority of the Stamboul Effendis, under whom questions of social well-being could expect little furtherance.”¹

In these words Mr. Lucien Wolf, in his excellent Life, describes the change that took place in the plans of Sir Moses. The change was, however, quite superficial. If we consider all the facts and documents, we cannot doubt that Sir Moses was a great Zionist throughout his whole life. His type stands midway in the evolution of Zionism. He was not unconscious of the exaltedness, the pathos, the revulsion of feeling that the struggle for the revival of a nation awakens in the normal mind of a Jew. His rôle as a “champion of his people” in his Zionist efforts is of far greater importance than his defence of the unfortunate Jewish sufferers in Damascus. The latter was a necessity, and it was indeed a great honour for any man to be entrusted with the perilous mission of defending these innocent martyrs. But unquestionably noble and necessary as it was to struggle against those shamelessly fabricated charges which have unfortunately been brought against the Jews again and again, and to protest against that gross libel upon the honour and humanity of Judaism, a libel that accused the Jews of being murderers and cannibals, can such a struggle be compared for dignity and greatness with the stimulating effort for national regeneration? What was the result of all these pleas of defence? Some individuals were saved from martyrdom; but since then the same terrible accusation has been levelled against the Jews a hundred times over, and it is hurled at them in our own time with still greater malice and wickedness than in 1840. No one would underrate the great value and the imperative necessity of Jewish self-defence; but the efforts undertaken by Sir Moses in 1838 were more than merely defensive—they were an attempt to transform the whole situation.

Reviewing the results of the whole period here surveyed, we see that what Sir Moses attempted was in fact Zionism, political Zionism. It was, however, left to a later generation to take up the work afresh, on lines dictated by sound political reasoning. The new generation had already an organization behind it; Sir Moses acted as an individual. He could not have succeeded even if the political circumstances had been radically different. The first essential to colonization, though one which has been generally overlooked, is a national movement to support it. So many illusions are shattered by the cold touch of reality: the best that the regenerator can do is to close his eyes and to go boldly forward, supported by the strength and the enthusiasm of the masses, for in that way he can overcome the most formidable obstacles. But the practical side has also to be considered. Colonization can never be successfully established without large capital and carefully laid plans. All these conditions were lacking in Sir Moses’ day. It is, therefore, no matter for surprise that the plan on which Sir Moses had so confidently relied slipped out of his hands.

But Zionism was undoubtedly the greatest and noblest of Sir Moses’ aspirations. He made seven journeys to Palestine together with his wife, who shared his devotion and enthusiasm: and many of these journeys were very dangerous. Jerusalem was the watchword of his life. One of his last expressions, as quoted by a biographer, was: “I do not expect that all Israelites will quit their abodes in those territories in which they feel happy, even as there are Englishmen in Hungary, Germany, America and Japan: but Palestine must belong to the Jews, and Jerusalem is destined to become the seat of a Jewish Commonwealth.”


Diaries of 183040—The first English Vice-Consul for Jerusalem—Lord Lindsay’s travels in Egypt and the Holy Land—A guarantee of five Powers—Lord Shaftesbury’s conception of a spiritual centre for the Jewish nation.

The Zionist idea not only has a long and unbroken history in England; it links together periods and men of the most widely different convictions and emotions. This truth is illustrated by the fact that at the very time when Sir Moses was endeavouring to found a Jewish Commonwealth in Palestine, another famous man, one of the greatest Christians in this country, was working in his way and according to his lights, with similar enthusiasm and strength of conviction, for precisely the same cause. This was the seventh Earl of Shaftesbury (18011885), one of the most interesting personalities of the age, a man of the soundest intellect and the keenest perceptions, sagacious, far-seeing, of great honesty of purpose, modest and averse from notoriety, an ardent Christian and a broad-minded philanthropist.¹

Lord Shaftesbury writes in his Diaries¹ on September 29th, 1838:—

“Took leave this morning of Young, who has just been appointed Her Majesty’s Vice-Consul at Jerusalem! He will sail in a day or two to the Holy Land. If this is duly considered, what a wonderful event it is! The ancient city of the people of God is about to resume a place among the nations, and England is the first of the Gentile Kingdoms that ceases ‘to tread her down.’ If I had not an aversion to writing, almost insuperable, I would record here, for the benefit of my very weak and treacherous memory, all the steps whereby this good deed has been done, but the arrangement of the narrative, and the execution of it, would cost me too much penmanship; I shall always, at any rate, remember that God put it into my heart to conceive the plan for His honour, gave me influence to prevail with Palmerston, and provided a man for the situation, who ‘can remember Jerusalem in his mirth’” (vol. i., p. 233).

It was, as we see, a sublimely conceived notion of Lord Shaftesbury’s that Jerusalem was about to resume a place among the nations, and that England was destined to carry out God’s designs.

He continues on October 3rd, 1838:—

“Lord Lindsay’s¹ ‘Travels in Egypt and the Holy Land’ are very creditable to him, ... Egypt will yield largely in confirmation of the Jewish records; and Palestine, when dug and harrowed by enterprising travellers, must exhibit the past with all the vividness of the present. The very violences of Ibrahim Pasha² (17891848) (the Scourge of Syria) have opened the first sources of its political regeneration by offering free access to the stranger in the repression of native lawlessness; hundreds now go in a twelvemonth when one trod the way in a quarter of a century, and the Bible is becoming a common road-book” (Ibid.).

The last sentence proves the Biblical character of England’s devotion to Palestine. English thinkers and statesmen particularly appreciated the fact that no country has been the scene of the principal drama of human developments for so many centuries as Palestine, and no other bears upon its memory so many of the scars of those great convulsions that have shaped the main features of history.

He writes on July 24th, 1838:—

“It seems as though money were the only thing wanting to regenerate the world. Never was an age so fertile in good plans, or with apparently more and better men to execute them, but where are the means?... Why money would almost restore the Jews to the Holy Land. Certainly so far as Mehemet Ali is the arbiter of their destinies....

“Anxious about the hopes and destinies of the Jewish people. Everything seems ripe for their return to Palestine; ‘the way of the kings of the East is prepared.’ Could the five Powers of the West be induced to guarantee the security of life and possessions to the Hebrew race, they would now flow back in rapidly augmenting numbers. Then by the blessing of God I will prepare a document, fortify it by all the evidence I can accumulate, and, confiding to the wisdom and mercy of the Almighty, lay it before the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs” (Ibid., p. 310).

It may be observed that the Zionist formula of the Basle programme, demanding a home for the Jewish people secured by public law, is identical with the “guarantee of the Great Powers” suggested by Lord Shaftesbury.

Not only the questions of nationality involved in the realization of this important programme, but also the question of the creation of a spiritual nucleus for the Hebrew genius—one of the cherished aspirations of Zionists—occupied Lord Shaftesbury’s mind quite as much as the political proposition:—

The inherent vitality of the Hebrew race reasserts itself with amazing persistence; its genius, to tell the truth, adapts itself more or less to all currents of civilization all over the world, nevertheless always emerging with distinctive features and a gallant recovery of vigour. There is an unbroken identity of Jewish race and Jewish mind down to our times: but the great revival can take place only in the Holy Land.

He then proceeds to the practical steps.

“August 1st, 1838.—Dined with Palmerston. After dinner left alone with him. Propounded my scheme, which seemed to strike his fancy; he asked some questions, and readily promised to consider it. How singular is the order of Providence! Singular, that is if estimated by man’s ways! Palmerston had already been chosen by God to be an instrument of good to His ancient people, to do homage, as it were, to their inheritance, and to recognise their rights without believing their destiny. And it seems he will yet do more. But though the motive be kind, it is not sound. I am forced to argue politically, financially, commercially; these considerations strike him home; he weeps not like his Master over Jerusalem, nor prays that now, at last, she may put on her beautiful garments....” (Ibid., pp. 31011).

In these few lines we see the Zionist problem in its two aspects: Lord Shaftesbury dealing with it sub specie æternitatis, so thoroughly infused with the sense of its dignity that the reader’s imagination is constantly stirred to the same feeling, and Lord Palmerston, the diplomatist, though of opinion that the scheme, constructed in a mist of hazy ideas, aspirations and emotions, required more clearness, yet agreeing in the main and demanding more details regarding the economic and statistical side of the subject. The difference between the two men was this: Lord Palmerston was a great political leader, Lord Shaftesbury was a great Christian.

The Quarterly Review for January, 1839, published a masterly article by Lord Shaftesbury. It is a review and an appreciation of “Letters on Egypt, Edom, and the Holy Land, by Lord Lindsay, 1838.” He writes: “We have alluded, in the commencement of this article, to the growing interest manifested in behalf of the Holy Land. This interest is not confined to the Christians —it is shared and avowed by the whole body of Jews,... Doubtless, this is no new sentiment among the children of the dispersion. The novelty of the present day does not lie in the indulgence of such a hope ... but in their fearless confession of the hope; and in the approximation of spirit between Christians and Hebrews, to entertain the same belief of the future glories of Israel,... In most former periods a development of religious feeling has been followed by a persecution of the ancient people of God;... But a mighty change has come over the hearts of the Gentiles; they seek now the ... peace of the Hebrew people. One of them ... went a journey into Poland ... informs us that several thousand Jews in that country and of Russia have recently bound themselves by an oath, that, as soon as the way is open for them to go up to Jerusalem, they will immediately go thither,... Dr. [Joseph] Wolff (17951862) (Journal, 1833)¹ (sic) heard these sentiments from their lips in the remotest countries of Asia; and Buchanan asserts that wherever he went among the Jews of India, he found memorials of their expulsion from Judæa, and of their belief of a return thither.... In Poland, the great focus of the Hebrew people, the sentiment is most rife that the time is near at hand for the turning of their captivity:...” (pp. 1769).


The London Convention of 1840—The new Treaty of London for the pacification of the Levant—Viscount Ponsonby—Reshid Pasha—Lord Shaftesbury’s “Exposé” addressed to Lord Palmerston—The articles in The Times—A Memorandum to the European Monarchs—“Enquiries about the Jews”—The Allgemeine Zeitung des Judentums.

We have to go back to the political changes which we indicated in connection with Sir Moses’ activity.

After the Convention which was signed on the 15th July, 1840, in London for the pacification of the Levant, the terms were duly proposed to Mehemet Ali and were rejected on the 5th September. Then the war intervened, Mehemet Ali was obliged to come to terms, and on July 18th, 1841, the new “Treaty of London for the Pacification of the Levant” was signed. Mehemet Ali abandoned his claim to Syria on condition that the Khedivate of Egypt was made hereditary in his family. This was a turning-point of much significance in the history of Palestine. At that moment the Jews might have been able to regain their ancient land, if only they had had an organization for carrying out the plan.

The only country in the world where this idea found influential expression at the time was England. The events in the East were naturally of intense interest to Lord Shaftesbury, and stimulated him to greater activity.

He writes in his Diary, on August 24th, 1840: “The Times of 17th August filled me with astonishment. I wish I had put down at the moment what I felt at reading it; half satisfaction, half dismay; pleased to see my opinions and projects so far taken up and approved;—alarmed lest this premature disclosure of them should bring upon us all the charge of fanaticism. Now who could have believed, a few years ago, that this subject could have been treated in a newspaper of wide circulation, gravely, sincerely, and zealously, yet so it is; and who sees not the handwriting of God upon the wall? The very insults, misrepresentations, and persecutions of the Jews at Damascus bring forward the main question; and Mehemet Ali, ‘howbeit he thinketh not so,’ is a mighty instrument for the benefit of this people!

“Palmerston told me that he has already written to Lord Ponsonby¹ (1780?1855) to direct him to open an intercourse with Reschid Pasha (18021858) at Constantinople respecting protection and encouragement to the Jews. This is a prelude to the Antitype of the decree of Cyrus, but, humanly speaking, we must pray for more caution. Those gentlemen who have now got access to the columns of the Times will, by over-zeal, bring a charge of fanaticism on the whole question. O God, from whom alone cometh all counsel, wisdom, and understanding, be Thou our Guide, our Instructor, and our Friend” ( Ibid., p. 311).

On August 29th, 1840, he writes:—

“The newspapers teem with documents about the Jews. Many assail, and many defend them. I have as yet read nothing (except [the Rev. Alexander] M’Caul’s (17991863) treatise) which exhibits any statement either new or clever. The motion of the Times in this matter has stirred up an immense variety of projects and opinions; everyone has a thought, and everyone has an interpretation. What a chaos of schemes and disputes is on the horizon, for the time when the affairs of the Jews shall be really and fully before the world! What violence, what hatred, what combination, what discussion. What a stir of every passion, every feeling in men’s hearts!...” (Ibid., p. 311).

On September 25th, 1840, he writes:—

“Yesterday began my paper for Palmerston, containing in full the propositions for the recall of the Jews to their ancient land. ‘Recall’ is too strong; it is simply a ‘permission,’ should they think fit to avail themselves of it. I wish to prepare a short document, which may refresh his memory, and exist as a record both of the suggestion and the character of it” (Ibid., p. 312).

We may confess that at times we find Lord Shaftesbury’s ideas somewhat too largely influenced by his religious zeal; yet he did succeed in mastering his emotions and dealing with the problem in a sound and statesmanlike manner. In this document of his we find not only generous ideas but also excellent arguments, simply and convincingly stated (Appendix liii).

On November 4th, 1840, he writes:—

“I hope I have done right in this: I have suppressed all party considerations, and have used every effort to persuade the Times to take just views of the Syrian question. I have been successful. Lord Palmerston told me this evening that the concurrence of the Tory papers had smoothed ten thousand difficulties....” (Ibid., p. 315).

The articles in The Times, to which Lord Shaftesbury refers, appeared in that newspaper at various periods. On the 9th March, 1840 (p. 3), The Times published the following notice:—

Restoration of the Jews.—A memorandum has been addressed to the Protestant monarchs of Europe on the subject of the restoration of the Jewish people to the land of Palestine. The document in question, dictated by the peculiar conjuncture of affairs in the East, and the other striking ‘signs of the times,’ reverts to the original covenant which secures that land to the descendants of Abraham, and urges upon the consideration of the powers addressed what may be the probable line of Protestant Christendom to the Jewish people in the present controversy in the East. The memorandum and correspondence which has passed upon the subject have been published.”

This Memorandum (Appendix liv) is written entirely from a Christian point of view. Lord Shaftesbury, although himself a staunch believer in Christianity, was more inclined to give the project a practical character.

On the 17th August, 1840, The Times (p. 3) published the following article:—

Syria.—Restoration of the Jews.

“The proposition to plant the Jewish people in the land of their fathers, under the protection of the five Powers, is no longer a mere matter of speculation, but of serious political consideration. In a ministerial paper of the 31st of July an article appears bearing all the characteristics of a feeler on this deeply interesting subject. However, it has been reserved for a noble Lord opposed to Her Majesty’s Ministers to take up the subject in a practical and statesmanlike manner, and he is instituting inquiries, of which the following is a copy:—

“1. What are the feelings of the Jews you meet with respect to their return to the Holy Land?

“2. Would the Jews of station and property be inclined to return to Palestine, carry with them their capital, and invest it in the cultivation of the land, if by the operation of law and justice life and property were rendered secure?

“3. How soon would they be inclined and ready to go back?

“4. Would they go back entirely at their own expense, requiring nothing farther than the assurance of safety to person and estate?

“5. Would they be content to live under the Government of the country as they should find it, their rights and privileges being secured to them under the protection of the European Powers?

“Let the answers you procure be as distinct and decided and detailed as possible: in respect as to the inquiries as to property, it will of course be sufficient that you should obtain fair proof of the fact from general report.

“The noble Lord who is instituting these inquiries has given deep attention to the matter, and is well known as the writer of an able article in the Quarterly on the subject, in December, 1838.”

The adherents of the idea of Jewish assimilation in Germany started a kind of opposition.

The Allgemeine Zeitung des Judentums dealt with this matter on the 19th September, 1840, and admitted with regard to the articles in the Globe, which it described as “a London Ministerial newspaper,” that “the plans may all be classed among the things devoutly to be desired.” On the other hand, this paper quotes from the Courier Français of August 26th, 1840, a comparison between M. A. M. L. de P. de Lamartine (17901869) (the poet, and at that time Deputy) and Lord Palmerston in the following words:—

M. de Lamartine intends to form a Christian kingdom at the sources of the Jordan, and at the foot of Mount Lebanon; if only Jerusalem, the Holy City, came into the power of France, he would gladly leave the rest of the world to England and Russia. But what is odd in the whole affair is that Lord Palmerston has chosen the same spot. Where the celebrated Deputy dreams of a Christian state, Lord Palmerston projects a Jewish Republic.”

This jest caused the Allgemeine Zeitung des Judentums to “protest against the project in question,” and “to warn the young people.” All we learn from this pronouncement is that the Jewish youth was at the time inclined to listen to the Zionist idea.


A new Memorandum—The “Balance of Power”—Palestine and “Rights” in other countries—A “Memorial of the Church of Scotland”—Protection for the Jews in the East.

Some time afterwards a new Memorandum appeared in the press, which may be considered one of the highest eulogies of Zionism ever written (Appendix lv). It combines religious conviction with an appreciation of political realism. The writers—this article being the expression of the opinions of a group of statesmen—deal with political problems which were then of the highest interest and importance, and indicate with sufficient clearness a probable solution, emphasizing the view that “the cause of the Restoration of the Jews to Palestine is one essentially generous and noble.” They do not fail to realize the complexity of the problem and the many cross-currents and jealousies, but arrive at the conclusion that there is a remedy for all these conflicts in the colonization of Palestine by the Jews. They even go much further than this, for they point out that “it would be a crowning-point in the glory of England to bring about such an event.”

The writer of an article entitled “A Regard for the Jews,”¹ drew the following historical parallel:—

“To afford the Jew an opportunity of returning to Palestine, if he chooses, and of dwelling there in peace and security, will hereafter form one of the brightest gems in the crown of Britain. Cyrus, for permitting the captive Jews to go up to Jerusalem, was honoured with an everlasting memorial upon the pages of inspiration. Britain will not miss a recompense of equal worth and honour for an act of the same enlightened benevolence. For this the present time is most happy and opportune—for the stirring and philanthropic portion of the public are alive to the case of the Jews, and would hail with loudest applause that government which would thus lay the top-stone upon all the kind exertions hitherto made in favour of that people.”

It is a common notion, particularly among some Jewish opponents of Zionism, to suppose that some non-Jewish supporters of this idea may be jealous of Jewish equality in the countries where they live, and may hope to get rid of the Jews. As a matter of fact, however, the promoters of the idea of Restoration have always been opposed to any sort of persecution or degradation.

Here the writer touched upon one of the most important controversial points: the alleged incompatibility of the Restoration of the Jews to Palestine with their rights of citizenship in other countries. This contention has been made use of by some Jewish opponents of modern Zionism. We have dealt with the point in the Introduction, and shall have to return to it again. Here we only call attention to the broad-minded and lofty manner in which this English writer pointed out the fallacy of this supposed contradiction between Palestine and “rights,” which has arisen only through narrowness of judgment and want of logic. It is curious indeed to find that Jewish opponents were always wont to speak on this point in the name of Christians, but in a strain quite opposed to expressed ideas and the attitude of the Christians most competent to decide. The plain fact is, as the writer says, that “the promoters of the idea of Restoration have always been opposed to any sort of persecution and degradation.” This theory of a supposed irreconcilability of Palestine and “rights” is logically fallacious from another standpoint. The defenders of the theory refuse to consider sufficiently the question of the nature of rights and freedom. At times they seem to opine that Jews have to renounce their traditions in order to get “rights”; at other times they appear to emphasize that freedom which is obtainable by means of “rights.” But in reality rights are not necessarily freedom; a man who aspires to culture but is forced to renounce his aspirations is not free. On the other hand, for a group of persons to abandon their traditions is not freedom. Freedom in the positive sense, the only sense which gives it any value, is the privilege of a wide choice, because the privilege of choice is the primary condition of real development and productiveness. Hence the only logical and liberal formula is that indicated by the writer of the Memorandum; “to afford the Jew an opportunity of returning to Palestine if he chooses.” Modern Zionism has expressed the same idea in other words: Palestine should be for those Jews who cannot amalgamate with others or are not desirous of doing so.

In the meantime, the question of the protection to be granted to the Jews in the East continued to occupy English minds a great deal. The Times, December 3, 1840, p. 6, has an article on “The Jews” which reads:—

“The following Memorial has lately been presented by the Church of Scotland to the Secretary for Foreign Affairs:—

“‘To the Right Hon. Lord Viscount Palmerston, Her Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs....

“‘Your memorialists cannot help expressing the thankfulness which they, and all others interested in the welfare of the Jewish people, must feel to your Lordship, for the countenance which you have given to other societies having at heart the same objects with your memorialists at the Porte and with the Pasha of Egypt, and for recommending the Jews to the especial protection of the consul sent to Syria by Her Majesty’s Government.

“‘Your memorialists look with deep interest on the transactions now going on in Syria, which they trust will result in the more firm and more extensive establishment of British influence in that interesting land: and deeply impressed with the conviction that it is a revealed truth of the word of God, that the blessing of God is promised to those who succour His ancient but now afflicted people, whether nations or individuals, they are most anxious that, in any future settlement of that country, under the auspices of Britain, your Lordship and Her Majesty’s Government should take measures as far as possible for protecting the Jews against oppression and injustice....’”

With reference to this Memorial the Globe made the following remarks:—

“Great Britain has taught the nations a lesson of charity, as well as faith, by taking God’s ancient people under her special protection. Whilst some of the Powers of the earth have wavered, and continue to do homage to the spirit of unjust prejudice and the practice of persecution, to Great Britain belongs the just praise of asserting the claims of justice and mercy by interposing in several periods of her history on behalf of the unhappy victims of national and religious hatred. All that are interested in the cause of suffering humanity turn their eyes towards Great Britain.”

The writer continues:—

“Why has England been so watched over and so preserved? Has any other country such a history? The histories of many other countries are made up of wars and rumours of wars in defence of their homes from foreign invaders—England, save civil wars, chiefly in the struggle for civil and religious liberty. Why should so small a speck on the earth’s surface as England be able to control an enormous and populous-scattered Empire on which the sun never sets? Why should England be the terror of the oppressor and the asylum of the oppressed? It is by the spirit of God, by the great zeal and industry to be profitable and useful to the world, by readiness to take any pains, and give any assistance to the furthering of justice. Therefore England gave special protection to the Jews.”

From this we gather that public opinion regarded the protection of the Jews in the East by England as an accomplished fact, though not officially proclaimed.


The Don Pacifico case—Admiral Sir William Parker—Lord Stanley—Mr. J. A. Roebuck—Lord Palmerston’s policy attacked—Peel and the Opposition—Plans for colonization of Palestine—Mordecai Manuel Noah—Warder Cresson—Rev. A. G. H. Hollingsworth—Colonel George Gawler—“The Final Exodus”—Dr. Thomas Clarke.

A serious conflict broke out between England and Greece, and consequently in England itself, in 1850. The cause was Lord Palmerston’s quarrel with the Greek Government, which had failed to protect Don David Pacifico (17841854), a Gibraltar Jew and a British subject, from the violence of the Athenian mob. The British fleet, under Admiral Sir William Parker (18171866), was ordered to the Piræus and seized a number of Greek ships to enforce compensation. A vote of censure upon this high-handed proceeding was moved and carried by Lord Stanley¹ (17751851) in the House of Lords. The majority against the Government was thirty-seven. In the House of Commons Mr. J. A. Roebuck (18011879) moved a counter-resolution, expressing confidence in the Government, and Lord Palmerston defended himself in a speech five hours long. He uttered upon that occasion the celebrated phrase “Civis Romanus sum,” and declared that, wherever a British subject might be, the watching eye and the strong arm of England would protect him.

Gladstone, on the other side, pointed out the dangers of this policy. “What, sir,” he asked, “was a Roman citizen? He was the member of a privileged class; he belonged to a conquering race, to a nation that held all others bound down by the strong arm of power. For him there was to be an exceptional system of law, for him principles were to be asserted, and by him rights were to be enjoyed that were denied to the rest of the world. Is such the view of the noble lord as to the relation which is to subsist between England and other countries?”

Such, at all events, was the view of the House of Commons, for Mr. Roebuck’s motion was carried by a majority of forty-six. However, on both sides of the controversy, protection was considered as an obligation involving great and far-reaching responsibilities. This conflict gives us an idea of the difficulties with which the question of the protection of the Jews in the Ottoman Empire was beset.

At the conclusion of this memorable debate, which took place on June 24th, 1850, [Sir Robert] Peel [Bart.] (17881850), in a brief speech of singular eloquence and wisdom, expressed his “reluctant dissent” from the motion, and uttered his final caution against perverting diplomacy, “the great engine used by civilized society for the purpose of maintaining peace, into a cause of hostility and war.”

Needless to say, the Opposition had no intention whatever of blaming the Government for undertaking the protection of the Jews. There was only a difference of attitude, not one of principle, between the Palmerston Government and the Opposition. The Opposition became alarmed about the dangerous consequences which they thought likely to result from certain steps taken by the Government; the Government, on the other hand, had to consider carefully every new scheme of protection for the Jews, particularly after the conflict with Greece in the Don Pacifico case.

Reviewing the whole period and all the petitions, projects and experiments in connection with the colonization of Palestine by Jews, we see that Great Britain’s protection was considered a “conditio sine qua non” for their success—at least as far as English Jews were interested in the movement. It is the same idea which modern Zionism expressed half a century later in the Basle Programme (1897) by demanding the consent of the Powers in the form of a legal guarantee or public recognition. The formula was different; but the fundamental idea is the same. It means security. The “Civis Romanus” system of Palmerston, a Government which sends a fleet to demand satisfaction for one protected Jew, was justly considered a sufficiently reliable guarantee of security. It is therefore quite clear that when the opponents of modern Zionism half a century later endeavoured to draw a line between the old schemes and efforts on the one hand, and political Zionism on the other, apparently approving of the former and anathematizing the latter, they were merely playing with words, and had no notion of the real facts.

Why did the plans for the Restoration of the Jews to Palestine remain unfulfilled? Was it through political changes, for want of preparation, or through the absence of adequate organization on the part of the Jewish people? It is not our business to criticize the past. Let us deal instead with the further development of the idea, which in fact was never dropped, but, on the contrary, continually gained ground.

In 1844 it was proposed to encourage the settlement of the Jews in Palestine by giving them employment on the land. Lady Montefiore writes in her journal:—

“General satisfaction was expressed at the suggestion of a plan which might enable them to obtain an honourable independence. Energy and talent, they said, existed. Nothing was needed but protection and encouragement.” In another letter, referring to the same subject, she writes:—“Our high-spirited nationality, under a judiciously exercised protectorate, might be assisted to work out, in due time, its own civilization, and to become a flourishing autonomous community with an extending commerce.”¹

From this it is evident that Sir Moses was continuing his efforts under the new circumstances. His correspondence with the Chief Rabbi, Dr. Nathan Marcus Adler (18031890) shows that this famous Ecclesiastic was also greatly in sympathy with the idea (Appendix lvi).

At the same time the notion of establishing a Jewish Commonwealth found ardent champions among another section of English-speaking Jews and among Christians of Puritan aspirations in America.

Major Mordecai Manuel Noah was one of the most prominent American Jews. He was Consul of the United States to Morocco from 1813 to 1816. On his return he established the National Advent and afterwards the New York Enquirer, subsequently also a weekly paper, The Times. He was Surveyor of the Port and Sheriff. In 1819 he published a book of his travels in England, France, Spain, and the Barbary States.

His attempt to establish a Jewish city of refuge on Grand Island, near Buffalo, is the one incident in his career that caused some sensation; but there was a great deal more of interest in the Major’s life than that famous episode. It would be a great pity indeed were the rest of his career allowed to pass into oblivion. Major Noah would have deserved to be remembered had he never gone to Buffalo, and there dedicated the City of Ararat in the Episcopal Church. It was on the dedication of the Shearith Israel Synagogue in New York City in 1818, seven years before the Ararat episode, that Noah said: “The Jews will possess themselves once more of Syria, and take their rank among the governments of the earth.” Again, in 1844, nineteen years after Ararat, he delivered a public discourse in New York, in which he expressed to an audience of Christians his firm belief in the Restoration of Israel to the Promised Land. The tenacity with which Noah held to his Jewish nationalistic ideas is all the more remarkable in view of the fact that he was so thoroughly American. His great-great-grandfather, he said in one of the addresses referred to, was buried in the Cemetery at Chatham Square. He himself was a great literary and political personality in New York. It was said that he told the best story, rounded the best sentence and wrote the best play of all his contemporaries. He was one of the most prominent editors of the City. He held, at different times, the offices of Consul-General at Tunis, Sheriff of New York County, Surveyor of the Port, and Judge of the Court of Sessions. “No man of his day had a better claim to the title of ‘American,’ yet all his life he cherished the idea of a Restoration of the Jews to Palestine.”¹

In 1845 he published a Discourse on the Restoration of the Jews, delivered at the Tabernacle on October 28th and December 2nd, 1844. In the Preface to his book he refers to some Christian supporters of the idea, and says:—

“True, the efforts to evangelize them (the Jews) contrary, as I think, to the manifest predictions of the prophets, continue to be unceasing, yet even in this there is charity and good feeling, which cannot fail to be reciprocally beneficial.” He then quotes the letter of the late President of the United States, Mr. Adams, to which we referred above (see Chapter IX.), and draws the attention of the Americans to the idea of Restoration in most forcible and often eloquent language.

Another American, Warder Cresson (17981860), United States Consul in Jerusalem, was a great Zionist in his time. He wrote a book¹ on the subject, in which he says:—

“All the different nations have appointed consuls in Jerusalem, as in anticipation of some very important and general movement; which is regarded with a jealous eye by the Turks, as well as the other European Powers. ‘Britain has had a consul in Jerusalem three years before any other nation, except Prussia; but no sooner did she send a bishop, than France, Russia and Austria sent consuls forthwith; and thus in Jerusalem—which is, in a commercial point of view, but a paltry inland Eastern town, without trade or importance of any kind—sit the five consuls of the Great European powers (as well as one appointed by the United States of America), looking at one another, and it is difficult to say why and wherefore.’ To use the words of Dr. Alexander Keith (17911880): ‘A country which for previous centuries, no man inquired after, excites anew the liveliest interest among the greatest of earthly potentates.’”¹

Having devoted some considerable time to Biblical study, Cresson embraced the Jewish faith, and after his conversion was named Michael Boaz Israel. He founded a colony in Palestine which was one of the pioneer enterprises of its kind.

Meanwhile, the propaganda in England made considerable progress. The Rev. A. G. H. Hollingsworth aroused public opinion and appealed to the British Government for help for the Jews to regain the land of their fathers. He says:—

“Such objects are worthy of the efforts of a great people. These designs are to be brought into maturity by the settlement and the protection of the Jew in Palestine. It is his native climate and home. There he can feel the deathless energies of his race, and the high destinies of his future. He is poor, he is powerless, he is alone; scattered like iron amid the clay of surrounding nations. But let him ask in peace for the common rights of a subject of Turkey, in a country where the very hills have voices to remind him of what he has been and may be; and under the protecting flag of Victoria, he will be able, divinely permitted, to prove himself possessed of heroic virtues in all that makes man great, noble, religious and free.”¹

Another famous Englishman, Colonel George Gawler (17961869), Governor of South Australia (18381841), who devoted his whole life to religious and philanthropic pursuits, was more of a political Zionist, and dealt with the question from the standpoint of British politics. He declared:—

“Divine Providence has placed Syria and Egypt in the very gap between England and the most important regions of her colonial and foreign trade, India, China, the Indian Archipelago and Australia. She does not require or wish for increase of territory—already has she (that dangerous boon) more direct dominion than she can easily maintain; but she does most urgently need the shortest and the safest lines of communication to the territories already possessed.... Egypt and Syria stand in intimate connection. A foreign hostile power mighty in either, would soon endanger British trade and communications through the other. Hence the providential call upon her, to exert herself energetically for the amelioration of the condition of both of these Provinces. Egypt has improved greatly by British influence, and it is now for England to set her hand to the renovation of Syria, through the only people whose energies will be extensively and permanently in the work,—the real children of the soil, the sons of Israel.”¹

An anonymous author considers it a sign of the times that extraordinary events are announced to take place in regard to Jews. He is the writer of some of the most beautiful passages in Zionist literature by a Christian Englishman¹ (Appendix lvii).

Dr. Thomas Clarke, author of Palestine for the Jews, wrote: “Any one who has studied the features of the past, and watched intently the signs of the present, can see that a terrible convulsion is coming; and if, out of the chaos, Poles, Huns, Magyars, Sclaves and Italians— ... are to be resuscitated, is not also that nation through whom we as Gentiles derive a title to our blessings, and whose ancestor, above four thousand years ago, was the friend of God? And I, as an Englishman, cannot blind myself to the fact that, while it would be an inestimable boon to the house of Israel, it would be also of the greatest possible advantage to us; for if it has been a necessity in times past that the kingdom of Turkey shall exist as a neutral power, and that its boundaries should remain intact as a defence and barrier ... surely, ... the occupation of Palestine by ... the Jews, under the protection of England, must be a greater necessity than ever.... If England, again, is ... relying upon its commerce as the corner-stone of its greatness; if one of the nearest and best channels of that commerce is across the axis of the three great continents; and if the Jews are essentially a trading ... people, what so natural as that they should be planted along that great highway of ancient traffic? Is not the mind struck with astonishment at the contemplation of such a possibility? How the cycles of ages seem to be but the revolutions of the giant wheel of time, and how the past is but the seed ... of the future,... For, in the realisation of what is certainly more than a probability, the now almost forgotten and long buried cities of Palmyra, Babylon, Bagdad and especially of ancient Balsorah (sic), at the junction of the two great Eastern rivers—a position scarcely second to Constantinople itself,—must again become emporiums (sic) of wealth, and rise to a splendour and importance equal, or superior, to what they were in the acme of their glory.— ... Syria must be occupied by a trading ... people—it lies in the great route of ancient commerce; and were the Ottoman Power to be displaced, that old commercial route would immediately re-open. Trade would flow once more in its old channel across Syria and along the valley of the Euphrates ... and in what more skilful hands could the exchanges betwixt the East and the West be placed? In his harbours would the ships of Europe discharge the fabrics and manufactures of the industrious West, and return laden with the wine and oil, and silks and gems of the East. In fine, Syria would be safe only in the hands of a brave, independent, and spirited people, deeply imbued with the sentiment of nationality,... Such people we have in the Jews.... Restore them their nationality and their country once more, and there is no power on earth that could ever take it from them.”¹


Christianity and Judaism—Disraeli’s character—Jewish features—AlroyTancred—The defence of Jewish rights—Oriental policy.

The most original combination of an Englishman and a Jew was Benjamin Disraeli (18041887), Earl of Beaconsfield (1876), whom Zionists may claim as one of the greatest representatives of their movement. Was Lord Beaconsfield a Christian or a Jew? For Jews the question is satisfactorily answered by their instinct of sympathy. Lord Beaconsfield felt towards the members of his race as a Jew feels for his fellow-Jews. That being the test, Lord Beaconsfield proved himself a good Jew in that respect. In religious matters, however, Lord Beaconsfield was a Christian—and a Zionist.

He was purely Jewish by descent, and was the eldest son of Isaac D’Israeli (17661848), the author of The Curiosities of Literature (1791), The Genius of Judaism (1833), etc., by his wife Miriam (Maria), a daughter of Naphtali (d. 1808) de Solomon Basevi of Verona, Italy. He was born in London on Friday, 21 December, 1804, and was initiated into the Abrahamic covenant on the following Friday, 26 Tebet, 5565, by David Abarbanel Lindo (17721852). Isaac D’Israeli severed his connection finally with the Bevis Marks synagogue in March, 1817, and on the 31 July following, at the instigation it is said of Samuel Rogers (17631855), the banker poet, the future Premier was baptised at the parish church of St. Andrew, Holborn. In his public conduct and pronouncements he proved undeniably that an Englishman, by birth a Jew, can be as much an Englishman as any descendant of Saxon, Norman, or Dane living in these islands, and can share with as warm a glow the common sentiment of patriotism that unites Englishmen round their ancient throne and institutions.

Disraeli was a living monument of the greatness of the Jewish race, of its capacity to produce individuals equal in mental stature to the loftiest among mankind. What he thought of his ancestral and of his adopted faith respectively may be gathered from the well-known words in one of his earlier writings: “Christianity is Judaism for the multitude,” a sentence which to his brethren in race is equivalent to saying: “Ye are the salt of the earth.” The perseverance and zeal which acknowledged no defeat and produced such extraordinary successes were essentially Jewish. The most superficial acquaintance with Jews is sufficient to reveal the fact that there is no Jewish trait more distinctive than this unconquerable determination. It is a heritage bequeathed to them by their ancestors. With the many different experiences of a race dispersed in every corner of the globe, without a home for nearly twenty centuries, hunted from country to country, carrying their lives in their hands, and bound to be on the alert for every emergency, it is not strange that the Jews display great resourcefulness.

The Disraeli family had been expelled by the persecutions of the Spanish Inquisition, in the fifteenth century, and found an asylum in Italy. Two centuries and a half later, Benjamin (17301816) [de Isaac] Israeli of Cento, in Ferrara, Italy, grandfather of the Earl of Beaconsfield, settled in England. Thus the experience stored in the mind of a typical Jew like Beaconsfield represents more than a single trait of heredity; it is a combination of such traits. But what was most Jewish in him was his affection for the Holy Land. This pious feeling, which he shared with his race, became with him a tremendous power; it influenced his policy and caused him to consolidate England’s power in the East. He also constantly supported every movement towards Jewish emancipation.

As a historic figure he possesses a charm of his own, and romanticism pervades his whole career. Neither his birth nor the religion of his ancestors nor his own antecedents prevented him from conquering the prejudices which the aristocracy is wont to show towards a self-made man; for the English aristocracy possesses the wonderful quality that ensures the preservation of its strength—that if once it recognizes genius, far from opposing or avoiding it, it defends it, attracts it, and completely absorbs it. And so Disraeli, instead of becoming a fiery tribune of the masses, developed into an able and successful leader of the aristocracy. This man, whom his opponents had abused as a foreigner, so conducted himself as finally to become one of England’s most famous champions.

It was no common energy and perseverance that Benjamin Disraeli needed to climb to fame as he did. It was a continuous struggle for him, from the time when, hooted by the Whig majority in Parliament, he retorted that the day would come when they would hear him, to the time when the great Conservative Party chose him as its leader and he was acclaimed by all his countrymen. Without inheriting a fortune in this country—where wealth and birth had always been, if not altogether indispensable, at least a most important qualification for admission to public life—he was yet able to overcome obstacles that were then deemed insurmountable and to attain by sheer force of his own unconquerable will to a position that powers unfathomable seemed joined to prevent him from gaining. By race a Jew, he was at bottom a clear-sighted sceptic. With remarkable foresight he had been able to weigh the advantage which, from the point of view of a Cabinet Minister, he could gain from the position offered him by the Conservative party. No one foresaw more clearly than he the future in store for it. As a Jew he also knew well that it was impossible to prevent the Liberal evolution from being slowly accomplished in England. Instead of declaring war upon Liberalism he compromised with it, and, by means of concessions cleverly granted at the right moment, he contrived to concede only a portion of what public opinion demanded. His tendencies, however, were democratic, and in an age in which greed for material advancement was levelling all things to the lowest plane, he was able to rescue England from a grovelling servility to blatant commercialism, uplift her soul and rouse her to a recognition of the fact that ephemeral interests are not everything to a great people.

As Premier he showed Europe that “England was something more than a counting-house.” He obtained possession of the Suez Canal by the purchase of shares—a transaction in which he was assisted by the late Lord Rothschild (Appendix lviii).

He placed the Imperial Crown of India on his Sovereign’s head. Without firing a shot, he took possession of Cyprus (Appendix lix), and caused the might of British arms to be felt in every continent.

His genius, with its many interesting characteristics, was perceived long before his abilities in international statesmanship and diplomacy became known. But as a man of letters, no less than as a statesman, he was first of all a son of his race (Appendix lx) and a Zionist. His speeches and writings were never those of a renegade anxious to vilify the faith he had forsaken, or to condemn the ancestry from which he had sprung. There never was a Jew who wrote in more glowing terms of the greatness of the Jewish race. No Jew has borne more fervid testimony to the sublimity of the religion by which the Jewish people has been sustained through all persecutions. No one could have used more persuasive arguments, or adopted wiser measures to remove restrictions from which the Jews were suffering. He had a deeply-rooted respect and love for his ancient people and for its ancient land.

To restore the Jews to their rightful place in the esteem of the world, he wrote and spoke and toiled (Appendix lxi). For this he imperilled the prospects of his own career. For this he was content to expose himself to the scoffs and gibes of opponents who almost to his last hour never forgave him the “crime” of being a Jew. He held the firm belief that “the Lord still fights for Israel.” Unlike those degenerate sons of Israel, who are ever eager to conceal what should be a source of honour to them, he was never ashamed of his origin: and when taunted with being of common extraction he would maintain that his ancestors were already noble when those of the proudest aristocracy in the world were still barbarians, roaming helplessly about the woods.

Although he was educated in the bosom of the Christian Church, his heart never ceased to beat for the greatness and to feel for the sufferings of the Jewish nation, to which he belonged by the blood in his veins and the honoured name he bore. Wherever there was a struggle for the rights of Jews in matters that concerned their honour and well-being, wherever there was a fight for truth and uprightness, there we see him stand—a conqueror. While so many authors made it their business to depict the dark side of the Jewish character or history, he used his gifted pen to show the worthier traits of the Jewish character and the influence of the Jews in the world.

As a writer Lord Beaconsfield was essentially an Oriental. Even the tales in which he describes the clubs and drawing-rooms of London are like an Arabian Nights’ entertainment transplanted to St. James’. Over persons and scenes he casts an Oriental magnificence. His Oriental tales are, to our mind, the most natural that he wrote.

The wonderful tale of Alroy (1833)¹ is an Oriental romance founded on a Hebrew tradition concerning the Princes of the Captivity—rulers whom the Jews continued to elect from among the descendants of the House of David (28542924 a.m.) even after their dispersion. Alroy is one of them,² who after a long interregnum possesses himself, by supernatural assistance, of a part of the sceptre of Solomon (ob. 2964), and establishes the Hebrew monarchy on the ruins of the new Caliphate of Bagdad. His life is short, and his reign much shorter. The tale is full of enthusiasm for the hopes of Israel. One little passage may be cited: “All was silent: alone the Hebrew prince stood, amid the regal creation of the Macedonian captains. Empires and dynasties flourish and pass away; the proud metropolis becomes a solitude, the conquering kingdom even a desert: but Israel still remains, still a descendant of the most ancient kings.”

A biographer of Disraeli remarks on this passage: “This (with its after-irony of ‘Alroy’s seizure by the Kourdish bandits’) may be compared with the satire in which Disraeli encountered Mr. [Charles Newdigate] Newdegate’s [M.P.] (18161887) appeals to ‘prophecy’:... They have survived the Pharaohs, they have survived the Cæsars, they have survived the Antonines and Seleucidæ, and I think they will survive the arguments of the right honourable member....” Mr. Morley tells that (18381918)¹ Mr. Gladstone said that Disraeli asserted that only those nations that behaved well to the Jews prospered....²

Disraeli loved the East, and particularly Palestine. Its picturesqueness, both in scenery and in history, fascinated him.

“Say what they like,” says Herbert in Venetia, “there is a spell in the shores of the Mediterranean Sea which no others can rival. Never was such a union of natural loveliness and magical associations! On these shores have risen all that interests us in the past—Egypt and Palestine, Greece, Rome and Carthage, Moorish Spain and feudal Italy. These shores have yielded us our religion, our arts, our literature and our laws. If all that we have gained from the shores of the Mediterranean was erased from the memory of man, we should be savages.”¹

The great merit of Tancred (1847)¹ lies in the description of Syria, and of life in the mountain and desert, in which it abounds. Tancred is a high-born youth dissatisfied with modern society, yearning for the restoration of true faith, and resolving to visit the land in which the Creator had conversed with man, as the only spot in which it is at all likely that enlightenment or inspiration will be vouchsafed to him. The story of his adventures is told with wonderful spiritual beauty. The author leads his reader to the desert, the cradle of the Arabs, from which they spread East and West, and come to be known as Moors in Spain, as Jews in Palestine. Nothing can be more interesting than his account of the manners and the men, neither of which are much changed since the days of the Patriarchs; nothing finer than the pictures of the rocks and towers of Jerusalem, or the grey forests of The Lebanon.

It was quite natural that the East should engage his attention. He believed in the glory of Great Britain’s imperial mission, and was interested to the bottom of his heart in the past history and future welfare of her venerable and still vigorous institutions. He was anxious to see the influence of Great Britain strong and decisive in the East. His policy on the Eastern question was constantly ascribed by his enemies to his “Semitic instincts,” which were supposed to taint his views of the relations between Turkey and all her Christian subjects. But they could know little of Beaconsfield who supposed that his Semitic instincts led him to any partiality. What guided him was his deep conception of Great Britain’s policy and highest interests, working in conjunction and in harmony with his feeling for the real East, for the Jews, the Semites, for Judaism in its idealism and Oriental beauty. The conditions were not yet ripe for practical progress in Zionism, but he was throughout an enthusiastic supporter of the Zionist idea, and he worked for the future.


Russia and Turkey—A protectorate over the Greek Christians—The question of the “Holy Places”—The Greek Church—Sultan Mahmud II. and the Tsar Nicholas I.—Jurisdiction in Turkey—Prince Menschikoff—The Alliance between France, Great Britain and Turkey—Sardinia—Alexander II.—The fall of Sebastopol—The conclusion of peace in Paris—The question of reforms—The Jewish point of view—The Crimean War and Palestine—Dr. Benisch in the Jewish Chronicle—The Christian Zionist propaganda—Rev. W. H. Johnstone—Mr. Robert Young.

In 1853 a great struggle broke out between Russia and Turkey, the immediate cause of which was the desire of Russia to force a protectorate upon the Greek Christians in the Turkish dominions. This was accompanied by a dispute between Russia and other European powers, especially France, which had arisen over the guardianship of the “Holy Places.” The fate of Palestine was involved in the issue of this struggle.

The pretension of the Greek Church to exercise the right of possession of the “Holy Places” dates back to the early days of Christianity. The Greek Church has always posed as the genuine representative of the Eastern Church, professing to have inherited its claim to the allegiance of the orthodox when the cleavage came, in the second century, concerning the proper season for the celebration of Easter, and divided its community into two distinct sections.

The alleged and proved purpose of the Church was to obtain complete and undisturbed possession of the “Holy Places,” where the Greek Church deems it of vital importance that certain religious ceremonies shall be observed, to which pilgrimages are to be made by its devout members. Some of these members furnished the Russian Government with reasons for its claims, presumably based on facts. At that period the greater part of the Christian Communities in the whole of Syria and Palestine adhered to the Greek Orthodox faith. In the whole Ottoman Empire their number was very considerable; the estimate in 185253 reached as high a total as 11,000,000 members of the Greek Church. In Greece it was the established religion, while throughout the Greek islands its members outnumbered those of any other Christian denomination. North of the Danube, Wallachia and Moldavia were under its sway and were considered to be under the protection of Russia.

The Greek monasteries of the Holy Land were not only under the protection and control of Russia, but were chiefly supported by loans from that country. Under this influence these communities continued to make the greatest progress possible, and put forth every effort to advance themselves step by step, leaving no stone unturned in their endeavour to raise themselves above the other Churches.

Rumours gained currency that a strong Russian propaganda was on foot. It was even said that the late Sultan Mahmud II. gave an assurance to the effect, that at the death of Mehemet Ali, the Holy Land should be given up to Russian dominion on certain stipulated conditions. Imagination had, of course, free scope in inventing myths of this kind. But at any rate there was a general impression abroad that Russia was anxious to conquer and annex the Holy Land.

The unhappy empire for which England and France had shed so much blood and made so many sacrifices continued to give anxiety and trouble to Europe. Turkey had gained much by the war in the way of security from invasion and extension of the central authority to provinces which previously had been partly independent. The Western Powers, and particularly England, waited anxiously for the reforms and progress which were promised by the sanguine friends of the Turkish cause. But Turkey did nothing. Her finances were in confusion. The schemes which English enterprise had kept going were delayed. While the Porte was borrowing at enormous interest the money required for current expenditure, it could hardly be expected to guarantee dividends on many millions sterling, and it would have inspired little confidence if it had done so. This, then, was the time for statesmen to study the question and to elaborate their plans.

Of all the evils with which the Turkish State was afflicted, corruption—in the sense of the denial of justice—seems to have been the worst. Each of the non-Mohammedan nations was permitted to appear before tribunals of its own bishops in matters of litigation in which only its members were concerned. The civil law was administered in the Greek courts; the Armenians were subject to many regulations brought from the interior of Asia. The Turkish courts were presided over by functionaries who had much of the character of priests, and the law founded on the Koran was what might have been expected from a text-book interpreted by such commentators. The literal sense meant one thing, the metaphorical sense another, and the best chance of getting justice was when the judge could find nothing to fit the case and decided according to his own common sense. Both his Scriptural authorities and his private opinions were, however, continually influenced by arguments more persuasive than any pleadings. The corruption of this sort of court was notorious, and the Christian bishops were not considered much better than the believers. As for the Frank¹ jurisdiction, it was chaos, being void of all system. Each man came under the representative of his own nation; through this official or his deputy he had to be sued, and by him he had to be tried for any offence. If a French officer and a German shoemaker had differences concerning a pair of boots, one had to make his application through the Austrian Internunciate, the other had to respond through the French Embassy. The matter was in the first instance referred to the Consuls, who knew little of law, and the appeal came before the Ambassadors, who knew less. Commercial courts existed in some of the chief cities, and exercised a good influence; but as the country was opened more and more to commercial enterprise, and this increased with the progress of the non-Mohammedan populations, these courts became inadequate.

The country was, no doubt, very badly in need of material improvements: roads and canals are generally the initial work of a renewed civilization. But the real basis of improvement is confidence in the Government, and the guarantee of undisturbed ownership of property. Such confidence cannot exist without impartial courts and sensible laws. The most capable judge could not do justice according to the Koran, while the codes of Justinian and Napoleon were unavailing so long as the longest purse was the best argument.

It was therefore the duty of the Western Powers to consider how justice might be administered so as to encourage both the native and the settler to join in the work of amelioration. Few thinking men had visited the East without formulating some plan for supplying this first and greatest want. The general conclusion was based on the supposition of the necessity for continuing the “Capitulations.” It was supposed to be impossible for strangers to submit themselves to the authority of the monarch who ruled the land; and indeed the experience of the native courts, and the fact that no man ventured to undertake any commercial business without security, naturally suggested foreign protection. More than one traveller, therefore, recommended that a code of laws should be agreed to by the Great Powers, and that in every seaport French, English, etc., judges should decide such cases as involved the liberty or property of Europeans. Such a system was regarded as being superior to the earlier ineffective regulations. But, on the other hand, it was held that such an expedient should only be resorted to temporarily.

Turkey had already suffered greatly through the power of European Embassies and their enmity towards one another. The Western Powers did not forget that they had gone to war for the independence and integrity of the Ottoman Empire. They knew that a mixed court sitting in its capital to try foreigners was a thing that no high-spirited nation would permit, and that, if circumstances made it necessary to demand jurisdiction for foreigners in the capital of the Sultan, that could only be until the elements of a better state of things came into being. The Powers had, therefore, to look forward to a time when Turkey would stand alone, and all protection and jurisdiction in the way of Capitulations would cease to exist. A well-framed code of laws suited to all races and religions, administered by well-educated men, and obeyed by native and foreigner alike, was the ideal object for which the supporters of Turkey had to work. The sovereign of the country must be at the head of this system and supreme in his own dominions. Although such a scheme was deemed visionary at that time, and the gap had to be filled by “mixed” courts, yet public opinion in England thought that nothing should be done that could prevent the subsequent establishment of the better system. It was also believed that if a suitable legal system were set up, men might be found in England, France and other countries to administer it successfully. But it was admitted on all hands that the judicial system of Turkey deserved the immediate attention of thinking politicians; that questions of taxation and the tenure of land were especially interesting in view of the increasing commerce with the East and of possible developments in the matter of immigration; that nothing that could throw light on the causes of Turkish decay should be neglected; and that the absence of good laws and security was the first obstacle to improvement, and should therefore be the first thought of the statesman and philanthropist.

Here we see all the elements of the political Zionist problem. All this development prepared the way for the idea of the protection of the Jews in the East, and gave a powerful stimulus to projects for the colonization of Palestine by the Jews.

In the spring of 1853 the Russian Government submitted to the Porte, through Prince A. S. Menschikoff (17871869), an ultimatum in regard to the Greek Christians and other matters. England and France prepared to support Sultan Abdul Medjid against Russia, and stationed their fleets in Bezika Bay. In July the Russian forces advanced into the Danubian principalities. On October 4th, 1853, Turkey declared war. The English and French fleets thereupon passed through the Dardanelles. On March 12th, 1854, France and Great Britain concluded an alliance with Turkey, and two weeks later they declared war against Russia. At the beginning of October the Allies began the regular siege of Sebastopol. Sardinia joined the Allies in January, 1855. Meanwhile the Emperor Nicholas I. died,¹ and Alexander II. acceded to the throne. On November 8th Sebastopol fell into the hands of the Allies.

The Western Powers completed the occupation of Turkey within two years; but the reforms, of which they spoke so much, were still to come. Turkey remained what it was in internal rule and mismanagement. Fear may have controlled the abuses of fanaticism, despair may have destroyed whatever remained of national pride; but the abuses which ages had fostered still prevailed. Now the social regeneration of the Ottoman State was part of the legitimate policy of the Western Powers. The presence of large foreign armies had broken down the pride of the Mussulmans, or enforced its concealment; the Sultan, though less exposed to the vagaries of diplomatists, had become more responsible to the European States and the brotherhood of sovereigns among whom he now held a place; the Turk himself, in spite of courage and a certain amount of dignity, was degenerating day by day, through want of modern culture; the Christian tribes were increasing in numbers and power; the merchants of Constantinople, Smyrna, and Alexandria were growing rich with British gold, while British enterprise seemed to be surely, though gradually, adding the Sultan’s empire to the area of its wide activities.

Justice, humanity, England’s promises, the arguments with which she had opposed her enemies, demanded that her tutelage should not suddenly cease. She and France were now the protectors of the Ottoman territory and its outlying provinces; they were the masters of every military position; every sea was traversed by their fleets; every port was full of the merchandize required for their vast armies. Nor was their supremacy one of force alone. Whatever may have been the feelings aroused by their policy, each class and creed had learned to respect their motives and to acquiesce in their presence. Whatever may have been thought on racial and religious grounds, certainly material interests in the end prevailed over every other. Every business man saw clearly that his own prosperity was enhanced by the presence of two wealthy nations, in need of large and constant supplies, and willing to pay liberally and at once. In their hearts they had no wish to be again reduced to a miserable traffic with their own bankrupt Government, or with the poverty-stricken towns of the Turkish and Persian interior. The peasants who tilled the ground had gained wherever local tyranny did not rob them of the just rewards of their labour. The landed proprietor had also become wealthy, and had no reason to regret the Western crusade, which gave his possessions a fourfold value. So tangible was the advantage, and so soon did the Turks acquiesce in what affected only their patriotism and self-esteem, that it was doubtful whether even the most bigoted Mussulman wanted the evacuation of the country by the Allied armies. Englishmen, of course, looked upon the advancement of Turkey in a different light from that in which it was seen by its own people. Still, even Englishmen could not fail to realize that if they withdrew there was no doubt that the old stagnation would immediately return, and that it would even become worse than before, for old fame and the habit of command kept the Mussulman in his pre-eminence, while the “Rajah” was accustomed to obey, and the foreigner was a mere sojourner, who cared for nothing but his own peace and prosperity. Now all was changed: the Turk was still master, without the authority to rule; the Christian was without rights, but had felt his power; while every country had its adventurers or capitalists in the land, each with his own scheme launched or prospective, and all agreeing in the demand that this rich land should no longer be the heritage of sloth and fatuity.

Peace was signed at Paris—where a Congress of the Powers had been in session—on March 30th, 1856. The integrity of the Ottoman Empire was guaranteed by the Powers; reforms were promised by the Sultan; Russia renounced her protectorate over the Danubian principalities, and ceded a strip of Bessarabia to Moldavia; the Black Sea was neutralized. The Congress united in the “Declaration of Paris,” which laid down some principles of international law.

The question in which the Jews were interested was first of all that of their position in Palestine, as well as in the whole of the Turkish Empire. According to the wording of the treaty the Jews were excluded from the general guarantee and the immunities of the “Rajahs” under the protection of the contracting powers. But, on the other hand, all the rights hitherto granted by the Sultan to his Christian subjects had been extended to the Jews as well; and it was clear that, if Turkey understood her position rightly, this would also be her future policy, seeing that it was in her interest not to create dissatisfaction among a large and loyal body by refusing to one section of non-Mohammedans what had been conceded to another, and thus alienating the only non-Mohammedan section of the population which did not entertain sentiments of revenge, and the only section which was capable of neutralizing any possible machinations on the part of other sections.

The war having on the one hand raised very considerably the prices of provisions, and on the other hand cut off the supplies obtained by the Palestinian Jews in times of peace from those countries in which the masses of Jews reside, an awful famine broke out in the Holy Land, and affected most severely all those who had hitherto depended for their livelihood upon the small pittances doled out to them by the Jews in foreign countries. A pitiable cry of distress was raised in the East and resounded throughout the Western world. Now the right time had arrived. “We find”, wrote Dr. Abraham Benisch¹ (18111878), “no other parallel in Jewish history to it save that offered by some of the events narrated in the books of Ezra (fl. 3413 a.m.) and Nehemiah (fl. 3426 a.m.). The generous Abdul-Medjed has his prototype in the God-fearing Cyrus (ob. 529 b.c.e.); and the pious affection for brethren and country, the devotion and patriotism then kindling in the bosoms of patriots on the shores of the Euphrates have transferred their seat to the banks of the Thames. So far God’s blessing had rested upon the work. But Rome was not built in a day, nor is a nation regenerated within a few years.”

Needless to say, the reference here was to the regeneration of the Jewish nation in Palestine. But for this purpose safety and full security were wanted—the very problem with which modern Zionism was confronted, and which was answered by the Basle programme of 1897. “The Jew, it is true, may now sow and plant. But will he also be permitted to reap? Will not the wild son of the desert trample down and carry off the crop even before it is ripe for the sickle? The Sultan may emancipate his Jewish subjects in the Holy Land, but, in order to be enabled to reap any benefit from the boon conceded, he must give them a government strong enough to protect life and property. The mighty arm of justice must repress lawlessness and strike down the wrong-doer.... Will the Porte as easily be able to establish in Palestine a strong government as it was to bless her with liberal institutions? This is another question which time, and time alone, can answer, and yet upon the reply thereto the success of the agricultural scheme for the Palestinian Jews must depend entirely.”

No doubt 1856 offered a great opportunity, had the legal guarantees been available and the Jews prepared. Unfortunately these essential conditions did not yet obtain at that time, and no practical result was achieved.

The Rev. William Henry Johnstone, Chaplain of Addiscombe, and an author of several theological works, preached the Restoration of Israel to the Holy Land:—

“If political events are hastening a crisis, when it may be desirable to consider what is to be done with Palestine, it behoves the Jews to take earnest heed to their duty.... It is not an extravagant supposition that Palestine may be placed within the grasp of its ancient owners....” “In one matter I feel that the Jews have just reason to complain of many Christians. The Divine Law, of which they have been the guardians, has never been repealed. Jehovah gave it, and Jehovah has never taken it away.” “For the present I waive all consideration of Scriptural predictions. But, without any reference to the Bible, it must be clear to all that the residence of Israel in the Holy Land would be fraught with the greatest blessings to mankind. The Jews, though now scattered over the entire habitable globe, are united by every national tie,... They have connections with all large towns; they possess the moving spring of modern industry and enterprise; and they are renowned for vigour and intelligence. They have that gift, also, which no other nation had since the dispersion of Babel,—they can converse with all people in their own languages. They have naturally, what the apostolic Christians received by miraculous interposition, the gift of tongues. They may, therefore, not only undo the work of Babel, but may carry on the work of the apostles.”¹

Another religious writer gave poetical expression to this idea.

Arise, great God! and let thy grace

Shed its glad beams on Jacob’s race;

Restore the long-lost scatter’d band,

And call them to their native land.

Their mis’ry let thy mercy heal,

Their trespass hide, their pardon seal:

O God of Israel! hear our prayer,

And grant them still thy love to share.¹


Colonel Charles Henry Churchill—Sir Austen Henry Layard—“The Key to the East”—European Consuls in Palestine—The Hatti Sheerif of Gulharch—Lord Palmerston’s Circular of April, 1841—Mr. James Finn.

The theory of Great Britain’s mission in the East has been put forward by representatives of different classes of English people in different epochs and from various points of view. The idea existed in greater or less degree wherever Englishmen thought seriously about the Eastern problem; it was a flame which was never extinguished.

Colonel Charles Henry Churchill (18141877), a grandson of the fifth Duke of Marlborough (17661840), was a staff officer in the British Expedition to Syria, and wrote one of the best works in English about The Lebanon and its inhabitants. In the “Preface” to which he writes:—

“The genius of England, which seems so peculiarly fitted to lead and govern the populations of the East, has, by the happily-combined influence of arms, commerce, and legislation, established in that quarter of the globe, a dominion which no purely military conqueror could ever have consolidated, much less upheld and sustained.”

“The development of the capabilities and resources of that unparalleled empire in the East, over which England presides—and that without a rival or compeer—has thus become essentially necessary to her national prosperity, it may be to her national existence, and must ever possess imperative, though not exclusive claims upon her national feelings and sympathies.”

“I say not exclusive and advisedly; for the East, to an important portion of which I now invite public attention,—the East, whose shores are washed by the Mediterranean Sea,—the East of rock-hewn cities and colossal tombs, of heavenly poesy and gigantic art, of Jacob’s (21082255 a.m.) might and Ishmael’s (b. 2034 a.m.) wandering power, of David’s lyre and of Isaiah’s (fl. 3140 a.m.) strain, of Abraham’s faith and Immanuel’s love,—where God’s mysterious ways with man begun, and where in the fulness of time they are to be accomplished,—this East, which may yet become the seat and centre of the Universal Reign!—it also has claims on England’s watchful vigilance and sympathizing care....”

After having so forcibly expounded the sentimental side, the author strikes another note, in addition to that so eloquently struck by Disraeli and others:—

“Whatever part England may take in the temporary complication of affairs which will probably ensue on that mighty consummation, which the timid dictates of diplomacy would defer, but which the urgent demands of humanity and civilization would fain accelerate, it must, for obvious reasons, be clear to every English mind, that if England’s Oriental supremacy is to be upheld, Syria and Egypt must be made to fall more or less under her sway or influence.”

He argues then as a military expert:—

“Napoleon declared Acre to be the key to the East, and most correctly did his military genius appreciate the importance of that land into which he vainly sought to enter, as a basis of operations against our Indian Empire.... I call upon my countrymen, therefore, to adopt this political doctrine, and nail it to the National Colours:—That when Palestine ceases to be Turkish, it must either become English, or else form part of a new independent State, which without the incentives to territorial aggrandizement, or the means of military aggression, shall yet be able to maintain its own honour and dignity, and more especially to promote the great object for which it will be called into existence, for which indeed, by its geographical position it will be so eminently qualified; that of creating, developing and upholding a commercial intercourse in the East, which shall draw together and unite the hitherto divergent races of mankind in the humanizing relations of fraternity and peace....”

“... the time is probably fast approaching when Syria, instead of being merely the land of dreamy and luxurious travel,—of exhilarating emotions, and fascinating though transient delights, will have to become one of sound practical legislation, of resuscitating institutions, of vigorous and comprehensive government;...”¹

At the back of an analysis of the historical and geographical conditions of the country offered by the author is his conviction that Palestine must become and will become the seat of a great, peaceful and prosperous settlement, which must be ruled by England or under English influence, or must have its independence and normal development secured by England. He holds that this position will strengthen England’s power; and he feels subconsciously that England ought to be wherever the greatest interests of humanity are at stake. Similarly he contends that with this object in view England must adopt a very active policy in the East.

Another authority on Oriental politics, Sir Austen Henry Layard (18171894), whose discoveries and investigations in the East are the pride of English Oriental science, expressed his opinion, in a speech delivered in the House of Commons, in very similar words:—

“We should not forget that, although Egypt is a high road to India, Syria and the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates form the high road, and any power holding those countries would command India.”¹

British diplomacy seems to have been influenced by all these considerations.

Mr. W. Young was the first British Consul in Jerusalem, 1838. As we know from Lord Shaftesbury’s Diaries, this appointment had been made in consequence of his own representations and efforts. France and Prussia followed suit in 1843, and Austria in 1849. A Sardinian Consulate had been founded in 1843, but it was abolished in the year in which the Austrian was established. A Spanish Consulate was founded in 1854.

The two Protestant Consulates, those of England and Prussia, had no share in the altercation about the Holy Places. Their relations with the local government were restricted to protection of the property and persons of their nationals. The Prussian Consulate had at that time but few subjects and small affairs to look after; while the English had its own subjects, both residents and travellers, besides Maltese, Indians, Canadians and other British Colonists, with the Ionians as a protected people, and also a number of protected Jews, together with considerable property, including a church hospital, various schools, and a cemetery, to watch over.

It is interesting to note how British protection for Palestinian Jews, though not formally confirmed, was practically developing. This is the only case in history of Jews enjoying the protection of a great Power without being subjects of that Power. Let us see how this remarkable development took place. In 1838 Lord Palmerston’s directions to his first Consul in Jerusalem were to “afford protection to the Jews generally.”¹ The words were simply these, broad and liberal as under the circumstances they had to be, leaving after events to work out their own modification. The instruction, however, seemed to bear on its face a recognition that the Jews there are a nation by themselves, and that contingencies might possibly arise which might alter their relations with the Mohammedans, though it was impossible to foresee the shape that future negotiations would assume after the impending expulsion of the Egyptians from Syria.

Then came the atrocities of the Passover of 1840 in Damascus, inflicted on the Jews there during the Egyptian régime. A few months later the bombardment of Acre and the restoration of Syria to the Turks took place. The episode of the Egyptian hold upon Syria from 1832 to 1840 came to an end. The Turks were restored at the end of 1840, being then rather more liberal in disposition than they had been before leaving the country, and in the following year the Sultan promulgated the Hatti Sheerif of Gulharch, which conceded equality in theory (but by no means in practice) to all classes of subjects.

The British Government at once brought before the consideration of the Porte the condition of the Jews “already settled, or who might afterwards settle themselves in Palestine.” This was evidently a direct encouragement towards the colonization of Palestine by the Jews, made officially by the British Government. In April, 1841, Lord Palmerston forwarded a circular to his agents in the Levant and Syria, which began by stating that, as far as documents could avail, the law of Turkey had by that time become as favourable as might reasonably be expected to the Jews, but that there remained the difficulty of enforcing an honest administration of that law. The Porte, however, being at that time entirely under the beneficial influence of British diplomacy, had declared its determination that the law should be righteously administered, and had even promised Her Majesty’s Ambassador that “it will attend to any representations which may be made to it by the Embassy of any act of oppression practised against Jews.” The Consul was therefore to investigate diligently all cases of oppression of the Jews that might come to his knowledge, and report to the Embassy, and although he might only act officially on behalf of persons actually by right under British protection, he was on every suitable occasion to make it known to the local authorities that “the British Government felt an interest in the welfare of Jews in general, and was anxious that they should be protected from oppression.” He was also to make known the offer of the Porte to attend to cases of persecution that might be reported to the Embassy.

In 1842 a bad case was represented as occurring at Hebron through acts of violence on the part of Shaiki Baddo and others. In 1847 again it seemed probable that Christian fanatics were about to reproduce the horrors which occurred at Rhodes and Damascus in 1840. The British Consul, James Finn (18061872), then interfered and protected the Jews. In the same year he was again obliged to interfere on behalf of the Jews. In consequence of various occurrences of this kind in Jerusalem, another instruction was issued by the Foreign Office, to the effect that whenever any Austrian, French, or other European Jew was suffering from persecution or injustice, and was repudiated by his own Consul, the English Consul might take up the case, unless the repudiating Consul, when applied to, should assign some strong and sufficient reason for his objection. The spirit underlying this instruction, notwithstanding the establishment, since 1839, of other European Consulates, was in conformity with the rule laid down in that year, “to afford protection to Jews generally.”¹

One out of many tokens of gratitude from the people so benefited will be found in an address in Hebrew to Her Majesty Queen Victoria (18191901), received from Jerusalem in July, 1849 (Appendix lxii).

There were, as usual, many cases in which the Palestinian Jews needed the official aid of the British Consulate, and numerous documents refer to the instances in which active official intervention with the Turkish Government was exercised on their behalf. Notwithstanding the just jealousy of the Turkish Government, says Finn,¹ there were many individual ways of ameliorating the condition of Jewish Ottoman subjects, as well as of the Jews under British protection.

During the first case mentioned above no other Consul took part in the business, except that the Sardinian Consul assured Finn in private conversation that there could be no doubt about Jews using Christian blood in the Passover rites whenever they could get it, or, at any rate, they did in the Middle Ages.


Mr. Rogers—Mr. Finzi—Agricultural work in Palestine under the auspices of the British Consul—W. Holman Hunt—Thomas Seddon—A New Appeal—Prof. D. Brown—Rev. John Fry—Rev. Capel Molyneux—Prof. C. A. Auberlen—Dr. W. Urwick—Dr. E. Henderson—Prof. Joseph A. Alexander—Dr. Patrick Fairbairn—Dr. Thomas Arnold.

The greatest advantages had resulted to the Jews from this indirect protection, and as a natural consequence Jews of all kinds continually resorted to the British Consulate at all times for advice when in distress, and they received every kind of help which could be properly afforded them. They were no longer outwardly persecuted, being well known to be under British protection.... The Russian Jews, now since 1850 British protégés, enjoyed, especially in Safed and Tiberias, a tranquillity to which they had long been strangers, and the Consulate was well seconded in regard to them by Mr. [Edward Thomas] Rogers (1830(1)1884), the new Vice-Consul at Haifa, besides whom we had had from long previous years, as British Consular Agent, at Acre, Mr. Finzi, who was a Jew.”¹

The British Consul also started works of philanthropy which seemed to be the beginning of an experiment in Jewish agriculture.

“A plot of ground of about eight to twelve English acres had been purchased in 1852, on which as soon as money could be obtained for supplying wages some of the poor had been set to work. That land was set apart for ever under the name of ‘the Industrial Plantation for employment of Jews of Jerusalem,’ and it was in due time placed under the security of three trustees.

“The design was not so much to constitute a rural colony of farmers on this spot, as to afford daily employment to residents of the city, returning from work every evening to their families.

“It was always designed that other branches of Jewish agricultural employment, that might be carried on in other places in the vicinity, should be associated with this institution under the general name of ‘Industrial Plantation.’

“We were not so sanguine as to expect pallid creatures, weakened by hunger and disease, to perform the labours of healthy robust peasants of the villages, but at least they could clear off the loose stones from the land in baskets, they could assist in building up dry walls of enclosure with the guidance of a few peasants; they could carry water from the cistern, and they could learn to do other things.

“These tasks would be profitable and preparatory. Upon such tasks we had already in 1850 to 1853 employed as many poor Jews as the small funds at our disposal had permitted. Now in 1854 we applied to friends in England, and elsewhere, to send us the means of relieving some of the vast amount of misery around us, by means of employment in the open air. The appeal was responded to and funds were sent from England, from India, and also one or two contributions from America. By the month of April money had arrived, and we were able to set the people to work.... Notice was given to the Jews that employment on the land might be obtained for wages on the ground above-mentioned; the Arabic name which it bore among the peasants, of its former owners, was Ker’m el Khaleel—the vineyard of the Friend—i.e. Abraham (19482123 a.m.), by which epithet Abraham is always known. The very name of the ground was attractive, and the effect of the announcement fulfilled our best expectations.”

“The foreman in charge of the work was a Polish Jew who had been in the Russian Army.”¹ “The idea of labouring in the open air for daily bread had taken root among the Jews in Jerusalem—the hope of cultivating the desolate soil of their own Promised Land was kindled. These objects were never again lost sight of. The Jews themselves took them up.”²

Sir Moses Montefiore was one of the first Jews who took up these objects. On his second visit to Jerusalem he was received by Colonel Gawler, the ardent Christian Zionist. After this visit the impression was left upon the public mind that the Jews, hitherto so despised, had, in England at least, powerful representatives, through whom their grievances might make themselves heard in Europe.

At the same time England’s interest in Palestine was growing in all directions. In 1849 an English Literary Society was founded by the Consul, for the investigation of all subjects of literary and scientific interest in the Holy Land. English artists were also the first European artists who started serious work in Palestine. Two English artists of note, William Holman Hunt, O.M. (18271910) and Thomas Seddon (18211856), came to reside in the Holy City in 1852, in order to study Bible scenes and Eastern customs. Hunt was the first painter who attempted to depict the true colours of the mountains of Moab. He began in Jerusalem his great picture of “The Scapegoat in the Wilderness.” Seddon pitched a tent among the pomegranate trees in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem, and his picture of “Olivet and Siloam,” now in the South Kensington Museum Gallery, was taken from that spot.

In English literature we find another appeal made by an anonymous political writer in 1856 in a lofty moral tone, which is at the same time a high appreciation of Judaism.

“To do justice at once to a people approved of God as ‘His Inheritance,’ ... a simple course is open to us—to the nations. Let us prevail upon the Porte to allow the Jews facilities to return to their own land; to appoint Palestine as a place of refuge for them, from the anarchy and confusion from which they suffer, but in which they have no share....

“If the allies are sincere in their professions towards the Porte, and its eyes are open to its own interests and safety; if Christians really believe in a Just and Holy God, and that the Bible is His Word; if Mohammedans feel that God is great, who hath appointed them the keepers of his holy place against this time, while their elder brother has been in exile;... If then, we say, integrity in belief or duty has any place at all with the parties concerned; this matter of a refuge for the Jews—has only to be mentioned to be accomplished....

“Britons, let us at least be true to the position which the integrity and foresight of our fathers have, in the providence of God, earned for us; true to the mission of our faith, ... seek at once to wash our hands of this monstrous rebellion against Judgment and Righteousness—the peace of the world and the progress of the human race—and do an act of tardy justice to a people to whom mankind owe all their higher privileges and better civilization.”¹

The Christian propaganda for the Restoration of Israel made further progress. Even those who felt disinclined to connect the events of the time with any particular prediction were ready to admit that these events were coming as something more decisive in history than anything that had happened since the Reformation. “With such impressions abroad, the multitude of treatises on prophetic subjects soon exceeded all precedent;...”¹

“What most surprises us is, that a ritual of worship, so like the Mosaic ceremonial, should again be restored by divine appointment,... For we read of all the various offerings of the Levitical economy;... We can only reply:—Such is the divine pleasure.”¹ But this one Divine is not the only precursor of Rabbi Hirsch Kalischer in this idea; there were others who believed in it. The Rev. Capel Molyneux (18041877) announced the restoration of the Mosaic sacrifices, and explained its necessity from a Christian point of view.² The most curious and interesting opinion is that of a Swiss Protestant divine, Carl August Auberlen (18241864) of Basle:—“Israel is again to be at the head of all humanity.... In the Old Testament the whole Jewish national life was religious; but only in an external legal manner ... in the millennial kingdom, all spheres of life will be truly Christianized outwardly from within. From this point of view it will not be offensive to say that the Mosaic ceremonial law corresponds to the priestly office of Israel—the civil law to its kingly office. The Gentile Church could only adopt the moral law; in like manner her sole influence is by the word working inwardly, by exercising the prophetic office. But when the royal and priestly office shall be revived, then ... the ceremonial and civil law of Moses also will develop its spiritual depths in the Divine worship and in the constitution of the millennial kingdom,” etc.³ In a word, the Jews have to be restored, and to live according to their Law, which, as the learned professor believes, will “develop spiritual depths,” an idea which the most orthodox Jew would accept, and which is even more conservative than that of some of the Talmudists, who maintain that the ritual prescriptions Mizvoth will be abolished in the Messianic age.

Exaggerations of this kind may have stimulated the opposition which was represented by the Rev. Dr. William Urwick (17911868) (the elder),¹ the Rev. Dr. Ebenezer Henderson² (17841858), Professor Joseph Addison Alexander³ (18091860), the Rev. Patrick Fairbairn (18051874), Dr. Thomas Arnold (17951842), Head Master of Rugby, and many representatives of the so-called Spiritual school, who were strongly opposed to these Judaizing tendencies. They endeavoured to transform the plain statements of the Bible into airy visions, and explained all the names (Israel, Jerusalem, etc.) in a peculiar way. Thus it is to the “spiritual” Christian and not to the natural Jew that the name of Israel belongs, as it is the Roman and the Greek to whom alone the promises of Restoration to the Holy Land were made, and not the “seed of Abraham.” In fact, the Spiritualists are far from being consistent. They would, for instance, spiritualize the Israel which is blessed, and accept in a literal sense the Israel that is cursed. A departure from the literal meaning of words has always proved a source of error and confusion, as words are often taken literally when they agree with certain theories, allegorically when they do not—a process by which the Bible may be made to say something to please everybody. Spiritualistic interpreters, as a rule, go to the Bible to find support for their own views, rather than to be guided by the standard of the Word as to whether they be correct or not. Where they find what they want, the Bible is plain, where they do not, it is difficult; and they have to have recourse to the expedient of what is called “spiritualizing” the Word, a term imposing enough, but most inapplicable—carnalizing would be a far more suitable designation of the process.

In Jewish exegetical literature there is an excellent rule: no Biblical verse should be explained differently from its literal meaning. To this may be added what the learned Joseph Mede (15861638) said on the same subject from the Christian point of view: “I cannot be persuaded to forsake the proper and usual import of Scripture language, where neither the instruction of the text itself, nor manifest tokens of allegory, nor the necessity and the nature of the things spoken of do warrant it. For to do so were to lose all footing of Divine testimony, and instead of Scripture to believe mine own imaginations.”


Selim I.—The Emir Beshir of The Lebanon—A Conference of five Powers—Druses and Maronites—Massacres in Damascus—A Military Expedition—The Protocol of August 3rd, 1860—General Beaufort d’Hautpoul—Achmet Pasha—David Pasha—Joseph Karan—The Constitution of The Lebanon—The boundaries—The alterations from 1861 to 1902—The Earl of Carnarvon’s views—Jewish charity—Anti-Jewish accusations and riots—M. E. A. Thouvenal—Lord John Russell—George Gawler’s letter.

After the conquest of Syria in 1516 by Sultan Selim I. (14671520), The Lebanon was ruled by a succession of Mussulman Emirs, the most famous of whom, Beshir Shehaab,¹ governed benevolently from 1789 to 1840, in the later years of his reign by the help of Mehemet Ali. The withdrawal of the Egyptian troops from Syria in 1841 was followed by anarchy in the mountains. Lord Palmerston accordingly wrote, on 15th June of that year: “Her Majesty’s Government feel especially called upon to address the Turkish Government on this matter on the account of the oppression which Haji Nejib is said to practise upon the Christians. For England having, in conjunction with other Christian Powers, succeeded in restoring Syria to the Sultan, she is entitled to expect that the Sultan, in return for such assistance, should secure his Christian subjects from oppression.” A conference of representatives of Austria, France, Great Britain, Prussia and Russia met at Constantinople on 27th May, 1842, with the ultimate result that the Turkish Minister for Foreign Affairs announced on 7th December that the Porte would act upon the advice of the five Powers, and appoint separate Kaimakams for the Druses and Maronites respectively. This arrangement was in vogue with but slight success for nearly twenty years.

In 1860 the lasting feuds of the tribes in The Lebanon suddenly burst into a furious attack, on the part of the Druses, on their Maronite neighbours. The Turkish authorities connived at the massacres which were committed. On the 9th of July, 1860, riots broke out in Damascus in consequence of the punishment inflicted upon a few Mussulmans who had insulted the Christians. These Mussulmans rushed, armed to the teeth, to the Christian quarter, and began slaying, burning and pillaging. The Turkish soldiers came to their assistance on the pretence of quelling the disturbance, made common cause with the rioters, and joined in the killing, robbing and plundering. A few old Mussulmans attempted to stop the massacres, but the Turkish officers had no desire for peace; on the contrary, they spurred on their soldiers to further aggression against the unfortunate Christians, and the soldiers were assisted by hordes of looters of every sect. This state of things lasted two days, during which the rioters did not cease to massacre the Christians, to whom the Governor did not afford any help. The number of the victims was estimated at 3300. The places where their houses had stood were not recognizable, all their dwellings having been reduced to ashes.

The Sultan sent Faud Pasha (18151869) as an Extraordinary Commissioner with a military force. Faud Pasha issued a Proclamation to the inhabitants of Syria, in which, after alluding to the grief felt by the Sultan on hearing of the outrages, he said:—

“According to the Imperial commands, invested with a special and extraordinary mission, and possessing full powers, I have arrived, accompanied by a military force, to punish the guilty authors of so many crimes.

“The Imperial firman will inform you what is my mission, and enable everyone to judge of the extent of the Imperial justice, which accords refuge to the oppressed and punishes the oppressor.

“All may remain here in safety; the condition of the families driven from their homes will be taken into consideration, and I undertake to reassure them, and to extend to them the protection of the Imperial justice.

“I command, above all, that from this day forth dissensions cease; whichever nation dares to use violence against the other shall be attacked by the military force which accompanies me, and every person who forgets his duty will undergo immediate punishment.”

But Faud did not succeed in removing the difficulties, and each new account added to the horrors of the massacre. It appeared that the country had almost been swept clean of its Christian inhabitants. In The Lebanon not a Christian village had been spared; all the commerce of the region was interrupted; a journey from one village to another was no longer safe.

To put an end to these excesses and to restore peace and safety to the province, the “Protocol of the 3rd of August” was signed. In August the first French troops were landed on the Syrian Coast. It was a gratifying sign of the unanimity prevailing among all civilized Powers that although the state of Europe was at that time far from tranquil, the European nations were yet capable of unison in the cause of justice. It was certainly in the cause of justice that the forces of the Western world were brought to the Syrian coast, though political intrigue was busy circulating rumours such as are bound to be spread abroad when an expedition of this kind is undertaken by European Powers. That France should send troops to a country which, according to popular belief, she had coveted for years was, indeed, enough to excite world-wide attention. But opinion that mattered was inclined to assert that France had acted generously and loyally. It was, indeed, too absurd to profess the belief that intrigues in the East had given rise to these disturbances, and that the Christians themselves had caused the massacre so that France should achieve glory and influence. Undoubtedly there was in every Levantine town a host of Catholic emissaries, Jesuits, Lazarists, and the like, and it was only natural for Roman Catholics to use the name and invoke the protection of the Power which had once been the only Catholic Power known in the East.

The expedition of 1860 was made at the instance of France, but according to an international convention all the Powers had to participate in it. A contingent of European troops, which was to be increased to 12,000 men, was to be despatched for the purpose of restoring peace. France engaged to furnish half of these troops at once. If it became necessary to increase the force beyond the stipulated number, a further understanding was to be arrived at among the contracting Powers. The Commander-in-Chief of the expedition was to enter into communication with the special Commissions of the Porte. All the Powers were to keep sufficient naval forces on the Syrian coast to assist in the maintenance or re-establishment of tranquillity there. The contracting parties fixed the term of the occupation at six months, being convinced that this period would be sufficient to ensure the pacification of the populace. These were the principal terms of this important Convention, as laid down in the Protocol by the representatives of Great Britain, Austria, France, Prussia, Russia and Turkey at Paris on the 3rd August.

“The Plenipotentiaries of, etc., desirous of establishing, in conformity with the intention of their respective Courts, the true character of the assistance afforded to the Sublime Porte, by the provisions of the Protocol signed this day, the feelings which have dictated the clauses of this act, and their perfect disinterestedness, declare in the most formal manner that the contracting Powers do not intend to seek for, and will not seek for, in the execution of their engagements, any territorial advantage, and exclusive influence, or any concession with regard to the commerce of their subjects, such as could not be granted to the subjects of other nations.”

Troops were landed on the 16th of August under General C. M. N. Beaufort d’Hautpoul (b. 1804). Subsequently a Commission representative of the Powers was appointed to investigate the facts. The Druses escaped into the Hauran Desert, and it was found that Turks and Damascene fanatics were really responsible for stirring up the strife, in which the Maronites had acted with a vindictiveness equal to that of the Druses. Punishment was meted out to the Mohammedans who were principally responsible, and among others Achmet Pasha, the Governor of Damascus, was shot. The French occupation continued till the 5th June, 1861, and the French and English squadron patrolled the coast for several months after. In June, 1861, the troops returned to France, and the Commissions drew up a scheme of government for The Lebanon. It provided for the appointment of a Christian Governor, to be chosen by the Porte, and for dividing the region into seven districts, each of which was to be controlled by a chief professing the religion held by its inhabitants. David Pasha, an Armenian Christian, was the first Governor. He was installed on the 4th of July, 1861. In spite of many difficulties, he succeeded in restoring order; and by raising a military force from the inhabitants of The Lebanon he made the presence of the Turkish soldiery unnecessary. The district Council included four Maronites, one Druse, one Orthodox Greek, and one Separatist Greek. The constitution did not satisfy the Maronites, whose revolt, under Joseph Karan, kept The Lebanon in a very unsettled state for several years. The privileged province of The Lebanon was finally constituted by the Organic Statute of the 6th of September, 1864.

The Lebanon was constituted a sanjak or mutessariflik, dependent directly on the Porte, which was to act in this case in consultation with the six great Powers. The province extended about 93 miles from north to south (from the boundary of the sanjak of Tripoli to that of the caza of Sidon), and had a mean breadth of about 28 miles from one fort of the chain to the other, beginning at the edge of the littoral plain behind Beyrout and ending at the western edge of the Beka’a: but the boundaries were ill-defined, especially on the east, where the original line drawn along the crest of the ridge had not been adhered to, and the mountains had encroached on the Beka’a. The Lebanon was under a military Governor (mashir), who had been a Christian in the service of the Sultan (18611876), Abdul Aziz (18301876), approved by the Powers, and who had, so far, been chosen from the Roman Catholics, owing to the great preponderance of Latin Christians in the province. He resided at Deir-al-Kamar, an old seat of the Druse Emirs. At first appointed for three years, then for ten, his term has been fixed since 1892 at five years, the Porte fearing that the longer term might lead to a personal domination. Under the Governor were seven Kaimakams, all Christians except a Druse in Shuf, and forty-seven mudirs, who all depended on the Kaimakams, except one, in the home district of Deir-al-Kamar. A central mejliss or Council of twelve members was composed of four Maronites, three Druses, one Turk, two Greeks (orthodox), one Greek Uniate and one Metawel. This was the original proportion, and it has not been altered, in spite of the decline of the Druses and the increase of the Maronites. The members are elected by the seven cazas. In each mudirich there is also a local mejliss. Judges are appointed by the Governor, but Sheikhs by the villagers. Commercial cases, and law-suits in which strangers are concerned, are carried to Beyrout. The police is recruited locally, and no regular troops appear in the province except on special requisition. The taxes are collected directly, and must meet the needs of the province before any sum is remitted to the Imperial treasury. The latter has to make deficits good.

This constitution has worked well on the whole. The only serious hitch that occurred was caused by the attempts of the Governor-General and the Kaimakam to supersede the mejliss by autocratic action, and to impair the freedom of the elections. The attention of the Porte was called to these tendencies in 1892, and again in 1902, on the appointment of new Governors. The railway is French, and a precedence in ecclesiastical functions is accorded by the Maronites to the official representatives of France.

Henry Howard Molyneux Herbert (18311890), the fourth Earl of Carnarvon, wrote: “In estimating the past, and in taking security for the future, it must never be forgotten that for generations the policy of the Turkish Government has been eminently hostile to the maintenance of Druse nationality. As charity obliges us to believe that no state in Christendom would deliberately instigate the massacre of several thousand Christians, so the common instincts of humanity, and even self-interest, oblige us to acquit the Imperial Government of Constantinople from planning, or recommending to the execution of others, a policy of such detestable iniquity towards the subjects for whose protection they are responsible. Both suppositions are too monstrous to be entertained. But as it would not be the first time that Christian rulers have fostered the disputes or exasperated the irritation of other nations, and have set the rock in motion, unforeseeing and to a great extent reckless of the course which it will take, or the misery which it will inflict; so the local authorities in Syria might not unreasonably count upon a favourable interpretation in Constantinople of conduct, which might result either in some moderate spoliation of the Christian population, or in a humiliation of the Druse mountaineers, or in a convenient opportunity for intervening in the affairs of The Lebanon. It is a natural expedient, it is doubtless the wish of the Turkish Government, to divide and rule the tribes of The Lebanon;... The desire to break down Druse independence enters at least equally into these schemes.... It is equally clear that it is not for the advantage of England, as far as she has an interest in these questions, to consent to the annihilation of Druse nationality.... Again whilst convents and schools, ... have long laboured to create a French party among the Maronites, and to establish a French influence in The Lebanon, a strong connection of gratitude on the one hand, and of good offices on the other, has existed between the Druses and England; at all events, The Lebanon has to be relieved of Turkish administration, because it would be indifferent statesmanship to stimulate still further the centralizing policy that threatens Turkey equally with every other nation in Europe, and to allow the independent strength of local institutions and a peculiar race to be confounded in the ruin of an empire now tottering to its fall.”

This was a sound political opinion, clear, logical, based upon justice. It is to be regretted that the same policy was not applied to other provinces and other distinct races. As regards British interests, we find again the old and indisputable truth expressed as follows:—

“Territorial extension, indeed, need never enter into the dreams of English statesmanship; but it would be an act of infatuation to overlook the vast importance of Syria in any present or future distribution of European Power, which either the weakness or the crimes of other nations may necessitate. The country which now, not less than in the reigns of the Ptolemies and the Mamelukes, guards and therefore governs the northern frontier of Egypt—which now, as in the days of Alexander [(III.) the Great] (356323 b.c.e.), commands one at least of the great approaches to India—is no petty principality, to be surrendered to the love of ease or the importunities of allies.”¹

The calamity that had befallen the Christians of Syria had aroused the deepest commiseration among the Jews all over the world. Sir Moses Montefiore led the way with a letter in the Times, July 12, 1860 (p. 9), and M. Crémieux in France followed his lead. Several Rabbis and Presidents of Jewish communities addressed appeals to the Jewish population, and handsome contributions were collected.

But unfortunately false accusations were again brought against the Jews in Damascus. Some of the fanatics were envious of the Jews, especially because they had escaped the slaughter. The accusations commenced whilst Faud Pasha was still there and was conducting the inquiries in person. The Maronites accused the Jews of being in league with the Druses, the orthodox Greeks charged them with being on terms of reciprocity with the Maronites, and after all these slanders the blood accusation was circulated. Faud, who knew perfectly well that the Jews had nothing in common with the Druses or the Maronites, and that they were a peaceful and law-abiding people, would not listen to these calumnies. But after the Pasha had left, Christian and Mohammedan fanatics, by means of bribery, conspired against the unfortunate Jews, and had some prominent members of their community arrested, bringing forward false witnesses to testify that they saw such and such a Jew committing murder. Happily, most of them were at once released by Faud Pasha on his return to the city. This act of justice was performed by the Turkish functionary spontaneously, before any remonstrance from Europe could have reached him. Nevertheless, the two European Powers acted with promptness and used their influence in the matter.

M. E. A. Thouvenal (18181866), Minister for Foreign Affairs of France, had on September 23rd, 1860, given the most stringent orders to his agents in Syria to protect the Jews, and to prevent any injury being done to them; and so had Lord John Russell (17921878), who had also generously joined the defenders of the Jewish population in the East. This united action on the part of the two Governments prevented misfortunes and the perpetration of crimes against the Jews, and as a consequence 1860 bore no analogy to 1840.

But if the Jews were saved from massacre and riot, this did not solve their problem. Dr. Abraham Benisch, in an editorial,¹ pointed out that “In permitting this terrible outbreak of fanaticism in Syria, Providence has once more prominently directed the attention of the world to the country forming the inalienable inheritance of the descendants of the patriarchs, and the cradle of the institutions that have regenerated and reinvigorated a decrepit and decaying civilisation, and has once more forcibly reminded the world that ever since the ruthless Romans exterminated the Jew from the land of his ancestors, no race has found there rest for the sole of its feet, and no population has been permitted to enjoy in peace, for any length of time, the blessings of a ground due to the wandering tribe of the sore foot.”

With reference to these remarks, the following letter was received from the Christian Zionist, Colonel Gawler:—

Dear Sir,

“I cannot refrain from giving expression to my sincere gratification at your valuable leading article of the 27th inst. I need scarcely mention that your views are met by my very warmest reciprocity on the point that, ‘in permitting this terrible outbreak of fanaticism in Syria, Providence has once more prominently directed the attention of the world to the country forming the inalienable inheritance of the descendants of the Patriarchs.’

“You may remember a plan to which I gave publication on the occasion of the war between the Druses and Maronites in 1845, upon the ‘tranquillisation of the East by planting Jewish (agricultural) settlements in Palestine.’ I entertain strongly the anticipation that something of this kind may arise from the present disturbances.

“To give Jews in Palestine the means of maintaining themselves and their families by honest and healthy industry would be the best preparation of the way for better things, to the Jewish nation and to the whole human race, that could be desired.

“In maintaining such projects I am not at all proposing faithlessness to ‘our allies’ the Turks. So long as the empire stands, Jewish civilised settlement in Syria would be a strength and a blessing to it. It is only in the event of its ever falling that I should be glad to see the claim boldly enforced in reference to Palestine, ‘This portion belongs to the God of Israel, and to his national people.’

“I should be truly rejoiced to see in Palestine a strong guard of Jews established in flourishing agricultural settlements, and ready to hold their own upon the mountains of Israel against all aggressors. I can wish for nothing more glorious in this life than to have my share in helping them to do so.

“May your anticipation be richly realised, that great good will come out of the existing Syrian evils.

George Gawler.¹

“... July 30, 1860.”

All these developments stirred up Jewish public opinion in England and in France. Great possibilities threw their light into the future like a beacon of hope. The new Lebanon Constitution was, indeed, an indication of the future of Palestine: but the time was not yet ripe for the realization of these hopes.


Joseph Salvador—Lazar Lévy-Bing—Maurice [Moses] Hess—D. Nathan—Benoît Levy—Dr. A.-F. Pétavel—Ernest Laharanne—Crémieux—The “Alliance Israélite Universelle”—Albert Cohn—Charles Netter.

In France the Zionist idea found a supporter in one of the most prominent French Jews of the last century, Joseph Salvador (17961873). He was the first French Jew after the emancipation of the Jews in France to express the great ideas of ancient Judaism. From 1789 to 1822, when the first edition of his Essay on Mosaism made its appearance, a period of thirty-three years had elapsed—approximately the span of a generation, and generally the time it takes for a new epoch to develop. Salvador, as the intellectual leader of his epoch, was inspired by those fine moral instincts and that devotion to humanity which are fostered by the influence of the Bible.

When in 1840 the Eastern question presented itself in all its disquieting developments, Salvador seemed already to anticipate the stress and strife that were destined to break forth in those regions where the cradle of the Jewish nation had stood; and these anticipations were strengthened when fifteen years later the Christian nations of the Western world came to wage a sanguinary war for the Holy Places. According to Salvador, Palestine was destined to become the economic centre of Jewry, just as much as it was the centre of Jewish national aspirations. “A new life will be infused into the mountains of Judah, into that platform of the Moriah which to-day is in the hands of the Turks, and of which it was figuratively said of old that, sooner or later, it would rise above all hills, all mountains. The Oriental question, for a while put off or veiled by other public affairs, will exhaust all the present generation. It will extend into the next century. To-day, in 1853, its character is above all a political one: it is a question of Constantinople and the Dardanelles. To-morrow, perhaps, the discussion will be a commercial one in regard to Egypt, the Red Sea, Suez. The unity of Europe, so much desired, so much praised, and never obtained, is already a question of secondary importance. The centre of the affairs of the world is changed. The Jew of the new era must rise upon the very soil where the Jew of the old era was built.”

Joseph Salvador   Benjamin Disraeli, M.P.

Samuel David Luzzatto   Bernard Lazare

“Asia Minor has but two elements of life, two races capable of civilization and progress, the Greeks and the Jews. Notwithstanding the deep degradation of the Jews of the East, on the day when new life (which, by the way, is drawn from the Occident) shall have reanimated this population, the Jew, by the force of his name, by the promises of his future, will again become a centre of irresistible attraction to all the Jewish forces of the Orient, and even of a part of Europe. A new State will be formed upon the coasts of Galilee and in old Canaan, where the Jewish claim will dominate under the combined pressure of historic remembrances, of persecution in some countries, and of the Puritan sympathy of Biblical England.” These words of Salvador sounded like the cry of a forgotten generation. It must be borne in mind that they were written at a time when French Jews cherished only one hope and one ideal: absorption and assimilation by their surroundings. It is indeed remarkable that this venerable man, who was a staunch Jew as well as a French patriot, and is one of the most eminent figures in Franco-Jewish literature, defended the Jewish national idea and the restoration of the Jews to Palestine with such clearness and force.¹

To state that he wrote this passage just before the outbreak of the Crimean War, which seemed a suitable moment for considering the possibilities in the East more thoroughly than had previously been done, suffices to indicate the immediate cause. But the mere opportunity could not by itself awaken such thoughts without the strong foundation and support of deeper convictions. As he justly says, “the Jew of the new era must rise upon the very soil where the Jew of the old era was established.” It is clear that he did not think of the half-united Jews who do not feel the existence of their spiritual nationality, and wish to eradicate every trace of it. He was eager to insist that “the Jewish forces of the Orient and even of a part of Europe” should create this new Jew.

Joseph Salvador was, like all progressive thinkers of his age, inspired by the great Revolution, the emancipation of the Jews, and the brotherhood of all nations. The main thesis of his books about the Laws of Moses was the “universal mission of Judaism.” No Jewish thinker of the Assimilation school has defended this theory more consistently and more powerfully, in language more eloquent and magnificent. He was therefore generally regarded as the father of modern progressive Judaism in France. But he did not see any contradiction between his idea of a spiritual achievement and the idea of a terrestrial centre, which was suggested by the political thinking of his day. This fact, in our judgment, proves that the first idea of a Jewish mission, as conceived by the great Jews of the last century, was far from negating the desirability of a Jewish national future.

We find a reference to this subject in a long controversy which was published in the Franco-Jewish fortnightly Archives Israélites in 1864. One of the contributors to this magazine, M. Lazar Lévy-Bing, in a letter entitled “Rétablissement de la Nationalité Juive,” dated from Nancy, 21 Mars,¹ and in another, “Suite d’une polémique,” Nancy, 2 Mai,² tells us in clear, straightforward terms, that he firmly believes in a Jewish national future, and considers it the only solution of the Jewish problem. He had strong religious convictions, and his most earnest hope was to reconcile the spirit of the age with the eternal truths of Judaism; for he held that a nation which repudiated its faith in God would abandon the very foundation of morality. He regarded union between Jews and the friends of liberty as an indispensable condition of human progress. He maintained that the Jews would best serve the universal cause of civilization by working mainly for their own commonwealth, by preparing for their own future. Obviously, he says, the minority of Jews in free countries will be chiefly concerned about the present, and their energies will be consumed in their own environments, but the majority of Jews will work in a Jewish direction. There is no incompatibility between the Restoration of Palestine promised by the prophets, and Jewish patriotism which strives for the welfare of different states.

He was strongly supported by a series of articles entitled: Lettres sur la mission d’Israël dans l’histoire de l’humanité, signed “Maurice Hess”¹ (18121875), a well-known author and distinguished Jewish nationalist. On the other hand, M. D. Nathan, Chef d’escadron d’artillerie, in a letter, “Une Question Soulevée,” dated from Toulon 21 Avril,² and M. Benoît Levy, in “Tentative de Conciliation,” 15 Juin,³ denounced the idea of the restoration as a sublime and unrealizable dream. The heated controversy arose through the intervention of a Christian theologian, Dr. Abram-François Pétavel of Neuchatel, who appealed to Jews in favour of their restoration to Palestine. He published two books, in which he dealt with the question from a theological point of view. His letters to the Jews, however, lacked clearness. He attempted to bring about a sort of compromise, but created a bad impression. His action spurred the opposition afresh, with the result that instead of arguing ad rem it took to arguing ad hominem.

At the same time another French writer, Ernest Laharanne, private secretary to Napoleon III., although a Roman Catholic, wrote a pamphlet in favour of the reconstitution of the Jews as a nation.¹ He was inspired with the idea of “progress in human civilization and the rights of nations.” There is a certain amount of sentimentality in his pamphlet; but his enthusiasm, although too emotional and rhetorical, is very dignified. It remains to be said that all the French writers of that epoch dealt with the question in the abstract. Instead of giving definite indications of what was to be done, they were content to express empty hopes and formulate vague suggestions and appeals (Appendix lxiii).

One of the greatest French Jews, Crémieux, deserves special mention here. Isaac Moses Adolphe Crémieux was born at Nîmes in 1796. Having studied law for some time, he was called to the Bar of his native town in 1817, and immediately began to practise. He gained a reputation for eloquence and moral courage. In 1827 he removed to Paris, where his name was well known. His splendid oratory soon gained him high esteem in the Law Courts. He gradually rose to fame on account of his political sagacity and integrity of purpose. In 1840 he came over to England as the accredited representative of the French Jews to take part in the deliberations held on the initiative of Sir Moses Montefiore concerning the Damascus massacres. He was at that time Vice-President of the “Consistoire Central” of the French Jews. Soon after his arrival in England he became, with the exception of Sir Moses Montefiore, the most prominent figure in the agitation which was inaugurated in this country to obtain reparation from Mehemet Ali for the anti-Jewish outrages which had been perpetrated within his jurisdiction. Crémieux then accompanied Sir Moses on his mission to the East, and by his sound advice and diplomacy helped to surmount many difficulties. When the success of the mission had been ensured he proceeded with Sir Moses to Constantinople, where he assisted him in obtaining from Abdul Medjid the Firman of the 12th Ramadan in favour of the Jews. Two years after this brilliant achievement he made his début in the political arena. He took his seat in the Chamber of Deputies, and rose to a position of considerable influence. He identified himself prominently with the extreme left, and not only exercised great influence among the members of his own party, but associated himself more actively than anyone else with the efforts that paved the way for the Revolution of 1848. From that time he became one of the political leaders of his country, being always in power though not always in office. He was several times member of the French Cabinet, and in 1870 he was one of the members of the Government of National Defence.

The emancipation of the Jews in Algeria was due to his initiative and exertions. In 1860 he co-operated with Sir Moses Montefiore in raising a fund for the Christians in Syria. During the same year he assisted in founding the “Alliance Israélite Universelle.” He was its first President, and remained at its helm till his death (1880), taking a prominent part in all its affairs. He was the central figure of a great and glorious struggle not only for “Jewish rights,” but also for the honour, the greatness and the real significance of Jewish brotherhood and of the ideas of Judaism. From the defence of the Jewish martyrs of Damascus down to the Berlin Congress (1878) his career was one long record of strenuous and enthusiastic effort on behalf of the Jewish people all over the world. He typified and personified all that is sublime in the Jewish cause. His whole life proved the consistency of his Jewish convictions. His attitude and tone were those of a Jewish Victor Hugo. There was no more inspiring orator and no greater intellect. He was the creator of the “Alliance Israélite Universelle” in the highest sense. He raised it from insignificance to the importance it had achieved before he died. His last official act as the President of the “Alliance” was to sign an appeal on behalf of Jewish schools in Jerusalem.

Albert Cohn   Charles Netter

Isaac M. A. Crémieux

Rabbi Zadok Kahn   Salomon Munk

A ruthless agitation was raised against the “Alliance,” and Crémieux was personally attacked owing to his advocacy of the emancipation of the Jews in Algeria, and the international character of the “Alliance.” The wildest rumours were circulated with regard to the intentions and activities of the “Alliance,” which were condemned as anti-patriotic, anti-Christian, and even anti-humanitarian. The greatest absurdities found their way into the sensational anti-Jewish Press of several countries, attributing to this humanitarian and charitable institution innumerable crimes and wickednesses. Had Crémieux been one of those weak-minded Jewish assimilants who are so easily frightened by accusations and perturbed by anti-Jewish prejudice, he would have made concessions or have entirely abandoned this sphere of activity. But he had sufficient moral strength to disregard senseless accusations.

Crémieux was not a Zionist in the modern sense of the term. But one may say, without exaggeration, that his Jewish enthusiasm, his conception of the greatness of Israel, and his love for Palestine were Zionistic. He was a happy combination of a great Jew and a great French patriot. Visions of the future of Israel elevated his intellectual outlook. The resurrection of the Holy Land was for him a question of first-rate importance. “This is,” he said, “the comfort, the sunshine of our life.” On another occasion he said: “It must be admitted that heretofore insufficient attention has been paid to the Eastern aspect.” Speaking of the agricultural school “Mikveh Israel,” near Jaffa, he said: “This will become the very bulwark of the future. When once the Jews set foot on their own native soil they will never leave it again.” In all his speeches he laid emphasis upon the need for knowledge of the Hebrew Bible. The Jewish ideal, to use his own term, “is quite distinct,” and those who trample upon justice will have to come back to us, the progeny and successors of those who first received “the Divine Word.” This is the spirit which animated the “Alliance Israélite Universelle,” particularly during the earlier stages of its existence.

One of the most active members of the “Alliance,” and a devoted friend, pupil and admirer of Crémieux, was Albert Cohn (18141877). He filled numerous communal and other offices with distinction. He was a member of the Central Consistory of France, President of the Paris Benevolent Society, a prominent member of the “Alliance,” and President of the Society of the Promised Land. He sympathized with all who were in distress, and participated in their grief; he expended a great part of his wealth in mitigating their sufferings; his time was always at the command of the poor. He combined the characteristics of an idealistic and a practical Jew. He was an ardent communal worker in the Jewish community in Paris, but at the same time was engaged throughout his life in Palestinian work. He had a remarkable gift of intuition, and foretold great future developments in Palestine.¹

Another French Jew of special note, as one of the first pioneers of the colonization of Palestine, was Charles Netter (18261882). As early as 1858 he was the chief promoter of the “Société de Patronage des Ouvriers Juifs de Paris.” In 1859 (after the Mortara case) he conceived, together with Crémieux and others, the idea of a “Universal Jewish Alliance.” The “Alliance” was definitely formed in 1861. Netter was a member of a Committee of six charged with drawing up the rules and the general work of organization. A few schools having been established by the “Alliance” in Turkey and Morocco, Netter began to direct his attention to the condition of the Jews in Palestine. He undertook a journey to Jerusalem and made very exhaustive inquiries. On his return he laid before his colleagues a plan for the establishment of an agricultural school in the Holy Land, which was immediately adopted. Returning to Palestine, he selected a large and convenient site in the vicinity of Jaffa, and personally superintended the erection of the school Mikveh Israel, the construction of the various buildings, the boring of the wells and the laying out of the grounds and gardens. That Crémieux could not be silent or idle while the work for Mikveh Israel proceeded, goes without saying. The school became the favourite institution of all the original leaders of the “Alliance.” It is a curious coincidence that the title of Manasseh Ben-Israel’s most famous book, Mikveh Israel (1650),¹ became, two hundred and twenty years after its appearance, the name of the first Jewish agricultural school in Palestine. Netter visited Palestine very often in subsequent years. In 1882 he left Paris for his last visit to Jaffa, paying a visit to London on his way in order to consult the Jewish organizations of England on some pressing questions connected with the Jews in Palestine. He died at Jaffa whilst on a visit to Mikveh Israel.


New developments—Two tendencies—Societies in London for supporting Jewish colonization of Palestine—Rabbi Chayyim Zebi Sneersohn—Sir Moses Montefiore’s further journey to Palestine.

The various projects and suggestions discussed above fell far short of real Zionism, although some of them were permeated with Zionist ideals. Between the Restoration of Israel preached by Christians and that advocated by national Jews, between theological combinations and rational organized work, lie innumerable intermediate phases. And each phase may be said to furnish a certain kind of evidence of the changes undergone by public opinion towards the Zionist idea. Often enough, indeed, the attitude of the public mind is one that eludes rigid classification. Yet, while the currents of ideas and imaginations crossed and recrossed, joined and interlinked one with another, two alternating tendencies were plainly apparent even to the least practical observer: the philanthropic and the national.

The philanthropic tendency had undoubtedly as its raison d’être the plan of settling small groups of Jewish agriculturists in Palestine. A succession of experiments in this kind of work was necessary. Just as, for instance, vegetable products have been introduced into a country by a single individual, the recognition of their utility being sufficient to induce the inhabitants to take advantage of the novelty, so the establishment of small settlements in Palestine might be expected to lead to imitation and consequent further development. But at the same time, even if the results of these experiments remained for years much less extensive than might be desired, and instead of thousands of Jews only hundreds settled on the land, it would still be too much to assert that the first societies had failed to fulfil their legitimate purpose. It was not unimportant to have made a beginning, and to have sown even a few scattered seeds, which during a fruitful season, aided by the dew of God’s blessing, might yield an abundant harvest. If public activity to promote such plans had been as energetic as the intrinsic merits of the cause deserved, an objection on account of the insignificance of the work would have mattered but little, because a comparatively small measure of success would have been deemed of sufficient importance to counterbalance many cases of failure. It was not surprising, however, that where scepticism prevailed the results of Palestinian colonisation were not such as to silence the objections of practical people who were insufficiently inspired by the Zionist idea. The breadth of Zionist premises seemed to them out of proportion to the results which Zionists succeeded in obtaining. They ridiculed the apparent poverty of the achievement as compared with the powerful machinery which had been set in operation, the strewing of abundant seeds for the sake of reaping a few mature plants. But to the sincere supporter even a comparatively small measure of success appeared highly important, for he measured the value of that success by his eager desire for the boon of a new future.

Three Societies for the support of Jewish Colonization in Palestine were founded in London at the beginning of the sixties of the last century. One, managed by Jews and Christians together, was mainly “for promoting Jewish settlements in Palestine” through the encouragement of agricultural pursuits.¹ Another, also under the management of Christians and Jews, comprised several separate undertakings in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem. A third was founded by the American Consul in Jerusalem, with the idea that the direction should be placed in the hands of the Jews only. Its first efforts were to be centred on Jerusalem and its neighbourhood.

Whether it was possible to frame a workable scheme of colonization on an extensive scale, and whether any such scheme could be carried into practice with any chance of success, were questions difficult to answer. It was a fact that beyond the walls of the old (Jewish) Jerusalem there was no safety for life or limb, and still less for property. But, on the other hand, it was known that this evil was not ineradicable, for during the few years when Syria was under the control of Mehemet Ali the energetic government of that Prince effectually curbed the lawlessness of the wandering tribes, and so thoroughly established security that a person might have travelled from one frontier town of Syria to the other with a bag of money in his hands, without fearing any attempt at robbery. Moreover, before the evacuation of Syria by the Egyptian troops, Sir Moses Montefiore had been seriously engaged in the plan of establishing a Jewish centre of settlement in the Holy Land, and had entered into negotiations with Mehemet Ali, the Viceroy of Egypt, when the surrender of Syria to the Porte frustrated his great design. Those who have had the opportunity of referring to the second private journal of Lady Montefiore will find in the Addenda (Appendix lxiv) full particulars of this project. This experienced philanthropist had not therefore considered such a scheme impracticable twenty-three years earlier. The question was: Had circumstances so altered since the accession of the Sultan Abdul Aziz to the throne that any plan of this kind would have as good a chance of success as it had offered under Mehemet Ali? “Difficulties,” said a great statesman, “are made to be overcome”: and after all, why should those presented by such a scheme prove insuperable? The proposition of itself was, unquestionably, worthy of the attention of a generation so enterprising and so eminently practical in its philanthropic exertions as that of the sixties of the last century.

It was at this time that Rabbi Chayyim Zebi Sneersohn, of Jerusalem, addressed to the Jews of England an open letter (Appendix lxv) advocating the promotion of Jewish colonization. One of the replies was the announcement of Sir Moses Montefiore’s new journey to Palestine. Possibly this visit had no further object than the gratification of a natural desire to see again the places so holy and so closely connected with Israel’s most sacred associations, which had been especially endeared to him as the centre of his repeated pilgrimages in past years.

Nevertheless, public opinion inclined to the view that there was a connection between this journey and the Jewish Commonwealth projected many years before, which would indeed have been established had not Syria unfortunately passed from the power of Mehemet Ali, under whom life and property were well protected, into the weak hands of the Sultan, under whom the land had soon relapsed into its former state of lawlessness. A whole generation had passed away since then, and during this interval much had changed for the better in Syria.

Foreigners were now enabled to hold landed property in the dominions of the Porte. The Government of the country had become much more settled. Roads had been made: the fierce Bedouins were held in check. Travelling in the country was much safer than in former years. An incessant stream of pilgrims from all directions had begun to pour into the land. The bounds of Jerusalem had been considerably extended, and the approaching completion of the Suez Canal had given a new impetus to the cultivation of the soil and trade in general.

Was it not now possible to take up the project contemplated in 1839, but abandoned after a time, under more favourable auspices? Such an undertaking was not to be carried out by one section of the Jewish people: it required the united forces of the Jews of the civilized world. And the magic spell which should weld all these scattered forces into one united whole had not yet been spoken. A publicist wrote at that time in the Jewish Chronicle:—

“Can it be doubted that the name of Montefiore would prove the magic spell, were only authority given to utter it? It is likely that in the first instance not all standard-bearers of Jerusalem would join the movement. The Continent might for a time hang back. It might at first be found impracticable to enlist for such a project the phlegmatic Germans. But practical England and her dependencies, as well as the acute Americans, would hail such a project: and after a while all other sections of Israel would join.”

We may appropriately pause at this point to consider the attitude of English Jews to the conflicting ideas of Zionism and assimilation.


The first difficulties—The traditions of Anglo-Jewry—The influence of the English people on the Jews—Assimilation and the Jewish National idea—The Zionist conception of the Jewish problem—The tragedy of a minority.

In order that Zionism might be prevented from becoming a metaphysical theory instead of a practical principle, and might achieve concreteness and real life, it was most advisable that its development should proceed by steady and slow degrees, that it should meet with opposition at every step and be challenged to produce logical proof of its soundness. For it is only after antagonism has been overcome that truth reigns triumphant in the human mind. There is consequently no cause to regret that Zionism met with opposition among the Jews themselves.

At the time with which we are dealing—the sixties of last century—a number of Jews in some countries of Western Europe already showed a desire to assimilate with their fellow-countrymen in every possible way. This desire arises merely from a confusion of aspirations and ideas. It is of course natural for a Jew born in England to be proud of being an English citizen, for a Jew born in France, Italy or elsewhere to be proud of the greatness and progress of his native land. Everybody thoroughly understands and appreciates this sentiment. There are few feelings more noble than patriotism, and few have been responsible for greater deeds and more heroic achievements. It is a good thing when the “amour sacre de la patrie” fills one’s breast. But a Jew may be a good and loyal citizen and yet a thoroughly national Jew. The two things are in no way incompatible, and have been made to appear so only by inaccuracy in definition, and failure to understand the difference between ethnological and religious nationality on the one hand, and political nationality on the other.

The Jews are a nation, although they have not retained their full national status. Most non-Jews, whether they are anti- or pro-Jews, regard Judaism as a national tie, and if well-wishers hesitate to express this opinion it is only for fear of hurting the feelings of those Jews who wish to be thought merely a religious community. Delicate natures shrink from incurring the suspicion of anti-Semitism, and comply from conscious or unconscious kindliness with this singular wish of a few Jews. So this minority has contrived to suggest to many Christians a view which, in reality, they do not share at all, and which will not stand careful scrutiny. The best proof of the national quality of a given community is the conviction of the outside world that it is a nation. Whether the Jews are an absolutely pure race or not (absolute purity does not exist, but relatively the Jews are doubtless the purest race among civilized nations), they have a specific past, a peculiar temperament, a special mentality, which persist even when the Jewish religion has long ceased to be a living force, and make the most assimilated Jews a nation. And so it will remain, for, on the whole, the Jews are a tenacious people, and withstand extreme tendencies to assimilation. When some assimilated Jews, who really believe in nothing, call themselves genuine Teutons, Latins, etc., of the Jewish faith, it may be psychologically interesting to close observers, but it is in reality only an unconscious impulse on the part of self-despairing Judaism to survive in any shape whatsoever. And these assimilationists have never been—though the Jews have gone through greater and more extensive periods of assimilation than the present—more than a handful.

Of course the national force of present-day Judaism is in a latent state, and it can only become manifest when Judaism resumes its history. The Jewish nation has the cultural power to attain that goal, to form a national community, to maintain it and to make it prosper. Its intellectual and ethical aptitudes are denied by none but the malevolent and the envious. One cannot glance into the history of civilized nations, and of civilization itself, without meeting at every point with men of Jewish race who have achieved great things in poetry and science, in economics and politics.

“Yours is a mighty genius,” the French statesman Ernest Laharanne wrote in 1860, “and we bow before you. You were strong in the days of antiquity, and strong in the Middle Ages. You have preserved your existence throughout the dispersion, of course not without paying the heavy tax of eighteen centuries of persecution. But the remainder is still strong enough to erect anew the gates of Jerusalem. This is your task.”¹

Orientals through their inherited aptitudes of intellect and mind, Occidentals through eighteen centuries of education, the Jews are the only qualified intermediaries for the great work which is to begin with the civilizing of the peoples of Asia and to end with the conciliation of the races.

What is nationally Jewish? The word national implies racial unity not merely in the sense of a common origin, but as a present fact and an abiding influence, with a particular fervour and strength of its own. This racial unity has its psychological counterpart in a certain intense racial spirit, by virtue of which the whole nation is animated by a definite aspiration towards a common ideal, and becomes merged with it into a living unit. This characteristic spirit permeates the whole people “like a salve, and causes it to glow as with one flame.” Or in the words of the Zohar:—

Israel and its Torah are one.”¹ This Torah is precisely the ethos of the fundamental racial unity of the Jews.

To the singular and exceptional nature of the Jewish nationality is due the fact that it is frequently difficult to determine with any degree of exactitude in how far certain terms and assertions which are applied to other nations may properly be applied to the Jews. Hence, while it is a matter of the greatest importance for the preservation of the full and precise significance of Judaism to use the most definite and unequivocal expressions in speaking of Jewish nationality, it inevitably happens that certain terms as used by the upholders of assimilation have to be characterized as inaccurate because their ordinary connotation is misleading, though they may in themselves be legitimate. An examination of the whole series of phrases which occur in the polemics of nationalism and assimilation would take us too far; but it will be worth while to draw attention to certain fundamental principles in the discussion of which misunderstandings frequently arise.

In any attempt to define Jewish nationality, it is necessary first of all to bear in mind that the only elements of nationality that enter into consideration are the historical and the ethnographical. The predicates of the conception of nationality as applied to all other nations fall under the headings:

(1) Origin, historical solidarity, racial characteristics.

(2) State organization, political functions and civic interests.

The predicates of the first category alone are germane to our subject. Those of the second category are partly inapplicable (political union, political functions), and partly limited in their application, for example, to the sphere of local interests. In this connection attention may be drawn to the fact that the local organization of the Jews is strong and well-marked wherever the state or society drives the Jews, by means of exceptional laws, ostracism or prejudice, to an instinctive or organized self-defence, and is absent only where the Jews enjoy complete emancipation not only in the eyes of the law, but also in the view of public opinion as a whole, and not merely in that of certain of the upper classes which are everywhere more or less privileged.¹

Exceptional laws tend to isolate the Jews; the attacks and accusations directed against them collectively, the differential treatment meted out to them, the anti-Semitic policy, all necessarily contribute to strengthen the walls of the Ghetto. Every discrimination made against the Jews, be it only the merest chicane, is a stone added to the walls of the Ghetto. It is not to the Jews that the erection of a “State within a State” is to be credited; it is the anti-Semitic movement which is responsible for this anomaly. As soon as the Jews are subjected to differential treatment, they must likewise alter their attitude. Whether they will or no, there arises out of these conditions a complex of problems in consequence of the instinct for self-preservation, which acts with the force of an iron law. These problems, which in their origin have nothing to do with the national life and character of the Jews, invest them with the character of a politico-economic nationality, artificially isolated within the State. That is a kind of nationality to which the Jews do not aspire; it is forced on them from without. And it is in such conditions that the majority of the Jews live. It is a superficial method of computation which estimates the condition of the Jews according to the majority of the countries in which they live; the right method is to consider the condition of the majority of the people. That is the decisive factor. A well-known Jewish author has taken the trouble to collect in a book all the laws promulgated against the Jews in Russia under the old régime. These laws numbered more than a thousand, and subsequently they were increased by many hundreds. This code of laws—a kind of anti-Bible—affects half of the Jewish race. The originators of these special laws have consciously or unconsciously bestowed upon the Jews the predicates of a nationality within the domain of the State, but in a negative sense and with (as it were) inverted political rights. A group of men may thus be converted into a nation isolated within the State, not only by granting them special privileges, but also, and perhaps more thoroughly, by subjecting them to special restrictions.

As an inevitable result of this treatment, the thoughts, feelings and aspirations, the daily interests, the public opinion, the collective will of the Jewish masses have been driven to assume a tendency necessarily peculiar to themselves even in economic and general questions, in which they would otherwise have no special concern as Jews. In spite of the exceptional conditions artificially created for them they yet contrive on the whole to maintain their loyalty to the State, and make supreme sacrifices for it.

It stands to reason that when, in the course of one generation, a certain class of men has been called upon to suffer the martyrdom of violent persecutions and is constantly threatened by this gruesome spectre, the consequence is that whether they will or no, the members of the group become welded and cemented together into one body. It is also self-evident that given a certain class of men confined within a Ghetto or debarred from many professions—only a few in fact remaining open to them—the members of the community are bound to become a people of entirely exceptional character, with cares and problems of their own. In our day, as on innumerable previous occasions in Jewish history, malice makes use of this fact to bring forward fresh accusations against the Jew. The Jews are driven into certain positions, and are then held responsible for them. It is of no avail to give serious consideration to these charges. They are so numerous and so obstinate that it would be impossible to dispose of them all in an apology. Impartial observers will understand that the exceptional status of the Jews within the States, and the separate interests resulting therefrom, were not a consummation desired by the Jews, but a necessity imposed upon them against their will and of which they are compelled to bear the consequences. They are obliged to combine in many countries, just as any people taken collectively usually combine, when their interests as a collective body are at stake. This is a necessity even in the most ordinary matters of daily life, and it results in a national combination for economic interests, as, for instance, in the case of boycott or of social ostracism. But for these aggravations, it would not occur to the most zealous of Jewish nationalists to make attempts at organization in this direction. The distinctive Jewish national concept is not embodied in these organizations, nor dependent upon them. But the demand that these special organizations shall cease, is first of all a chimera: and secondly an injustice: a chimera because it transgresses the law of the instinct of self-preservation, and an injustice because one must not forbid a man who has been attacked to defend himself. One can only demand that the grievances shall be removed. Whether they will ever vanish, and when, is another question. The Russian revolution, with its boon of freedom to oppressed nationalities, will mark, we hope, an epoch in the struggle of the Jewish masses for the right to live freely in the political and economic sense. But history and experience warn us against believing too readily that salvation has come.

However that may be, Jewish nationality, as we said above, in no way depends on the political status and the position of the Jews in various countries. This question may be left entirely out of consideration. In dealing with Jewish nationality, we are concerned only with those predicates which are based upon the natio, that is the origin and the spirit or type of the race in question.

The Jewish national idea is not merely an historical tradition, it is a programme for outward as well as inward use. Outwardly it manifests itself in an energetic struggle for its own existence, in the development of its self-consciousness, in an active regard for its own interests; inwardly as a union of the Jews of all countries, rites, grades of culture and political parties on all questions which affect Jews and Judaism (though it is and must be set on one side in all non-Jewish questions relating to the State). As in the natio the fact of being at one with the race is the really characteristic feature, it is necessary to regard all Jews as members of the Jewish nationality without reference to their religious opinions or points of view. This is the meaning of the Talmudic dictum:—

אף על פי שחטא ישראל הוא

סנהדרין דף מד ע'א:¹

Nationality has nothing to do with the differences of theological opinion between the various sections of Jewry; it is based simply upon oneness with the race. The endeavour to form this union is the foundation of the national idea.

By those who do not understand it the Jewish national idea is reproached with constituting an antithesis to the idea of the State and of citizenship on the one hand, and to the spiritual and the Torah on the other. This reproach has no foundation: Jewish nationality cannot find expression in political citizenship in the Diaspora, simply because it lies outside that sphere. On the other hand, from the point of view of the inner, spiritual strength of Jewry, the sense of nationality is a source of vitality, and produces a fusion which transcends all parties. It is folly to regard it as a degradation of the spiritual character of Judaism.

Those who were unable to comprehend this distinction, and could not or would not recognize the true nobility of their Jewish nationality, were impelled by a desire to destroy the distinctive characteristics which recalled their origin. They wished to submerge their nationality, glorious in tradition and history, illustrious in its record of heroism, venerable in its antiquity, holy by the inspiration of religion. They failed to see that their people’s history abounded in events and incidents sufficient not only to stamp a nation as glorious, but to confer upon themselves, as men and as citizens in the countries of their birth, greater dignity, more native worth and integrity of purpose. They forgot that assimilation involved the sacrifice of a glorious historical tradition, of a living national sentiment, and, worst of all, of their national genius. However, the pursuit of assimilation did not always extend to a desire for total absorption; its effect was to weaken rather than to destroy.

The attitude of assimilation was not adopted in its fulness by the Jews in England. This was due to the influence of the English nation. Jews in England could not fail to see the attachment of Englishmen to time-honoured political observances, sometimes meaningless in themselves, yet full of significance through their symbolism or associations; that strong under-current of traditional feeling which, though held in check by the swifter stream of progress, manifests its presence and power in a dignified reverence for the past. With such fellow-countrymen as the British people, in a land whose greatness is built on the past, on tradition, on the Bible, the Jews had no need to be ashamed of pointing to their own traditions, of dwelling upon their own history and the glory of their own past. The Jews, whose history is an epic, had no need to slur over that chapter of the poem whose scenes are laid in the Holy Land. They knew that the ancient glory of their annals shone brightly on those sacred shores. They knew that that holy soil had been trodden by the prophets, the poets, and the warriors of their race, and that there they had first impressed themselves on their age and on the ages which were to follow. They knew that amid the most splendid states of antiquity or of the modern world no land had produced such brilliant examples of valour, wisdom and virtue; that no land had ever rendered more wonderful services to the world than this Holy Land of theirs; that no land had ever had so great a past. And though the future is wrapped in darkness, national hope sees a glimmer of promise even through the veil of mist.

English Jews understood, then, that the relationship of the Jewish people to the Holy Land was a tie of a peculiar character. They understood that in ordinary circumstances the connection between an exiled people and its land would probably have been severed long ago. It could hardly have resisted the influences that had been at work to bring about its dissolution. Everybody knows of numerous instances of such dissolution recorded in history. When a people, or a section of a people, leaves the country which was the cradle of its nationality to live in a distant clime, under the ægis of new institutions, the link that bound it to the ancient soil loosens and gives way in course of time and by force of events. At first old associations assert themselves. Familiar names are resumed on the unfamiliar shore. The followers of Cadmus (fl. 1493 b.c.e.) planted a new Thebes in the land to which they migrated. The Pilgrim Fathers raised a new Plymouth on the shore which the Mayflower touched at the end of its outward voyage from the Plymouth of the motherland. For long years the American exile called the old country his home. But even this feeling scarcely survives the changes of which we are witnesses. Generations pass by. New institutions take root: new feelings prevail, they ripen and burst into fruit. There is no revolution more complete and more enduring than that caused by the transplanting of a nation. But with the Jews and the land of their lost glory the case is wholly different. Elements of a higher character than those of an ordinary historical nature enter into consideration. The Holy Land is the country of their past greatness, present longings and future hopes. It is a bridge which links the past with the future through the span of the present. It is still a land of dreams, but it is to become a land of wakeful activity, it is to be stirred to new life and progress. To carry out such objects combined, sustained and intelligent action is required. How could English Jews, living amongst the greatest colonizing nation in the world, overlook this great necessity?

No other country under the sun can unite all the advantages which the restored home of the Hebrews will present, can attract the Jewish people, with the knowledge which it has gained of the ways of the world and its pre-eminence in commerce, can become the home of a Commonwealth which will restore its national greatness.

From a purely practical point of view, again, there is no reason why property in the land of Israel should not offer as safe an investment as any other. Surely it is within the realm of probability that those who regard the idea as the ridiculous notion of a mad enthusiast, or at least their children after them, may find it to their interest to labour for the restoration of Palestine as the surest method of placing their worldly possessions in safety, even without taking into consideration the benefits which would accrue to the Jews as a religious community, through their obtaining once more a home for the practice of their laws, a spot where the ark of the covenant may rest without being exposed to malevolence and prejudice.

These ideas, in fact, were prevalent among English Jews. There were some adherents of Assimilation, but they were insignificant both in numbers and in influence. It is note-worthy that the idea preached by modern Zionism in the first years of the movement, namely, that the Jewish tragedy is due to the fact that the Jews are everywhere in a minority, and that therefore the only solution of the problem is to make them a majority in their own country, was expressed in England by a Jewish publicist in 1863 (Appendix lxvi).


Henry Wentworth Monk—Zionism in France—Jean Henri Dunant’s “Le Renouvellement de l’Orient”—Napoleon III.—Bishop Stephen Watson—“L’Orient” in Brussels.

Philanthropy, not nationalism, was the basis of the “London Hebrew Society for the Colonization of the Holy Land” (Appendix lxvii), founded by Jews in 1861. This experiment, generous as it was, could not succeed, even as a philanthropic scheme, because it lacked the great national idea, which is the soul and essence of Zionism, and without which no revival can possibly succeed. It is worthy of note that an English Christian who was one of the promoters of Palestine colonization grasped this truth; and addressed the following letter from Jerusalem to the Jewish press in England:—

November 6, 1863. The Jewish Chronicle and Hebrew Observer (p. 3).

“Projected Agricultural Colonies in the Holy Land.”
“To the Editor of the Jewish Chronicle.


“Yesterday my attention was called to your editorial of the 4th ult. by Rabbi Sneersohn, who at the same time requested me to try and explain why the poor Jews in this country have not yet succeeded in earning an independence by the cultivation of the soil, as poor people in other countries generally do to some extent. He supposes that I ought to know something about it, as I have been brought up to farming in Canada, where poor people generally do succeed in earning a good living by agriculture; and for about two years (in 1854 and 1855) I also had some experience in reference to agriculture in this country, where it must be admitted that lately it has been far otherwise.... The cause of the great want of success hitherto, it appears to me, is, because people have not fairly considered the great magnitude and importance of the object to be accomplished, and seriously gone to work to accomplish that object with that kind of earnestness with which men go to work to build a railroad, or engage in any other great undertaking, which they have decided would conduce greatly to the advantage of the public, and for their own profit also.... When the Greeks are making efforts to become a people again, and the Italians or Romans trying to restore something of their former greatness, shall Israel alone be totally indifferent as to whether they are a nation or not? The poor of Israel have done their part—they have come here in thousands to live or die, as God or man shall permit. Let the rich and enterprising do their part, and then let us see whether we shall eventually succeed even better than did the remnants of the Greeks or Romans.

“Very truly yours,

“Henry Wentworth Monk.

Jerusalem, Palestine, Oct. 1, 1863.”

At the same time the political idea was taken up in France by Jean Henri Dunant (18281910), the author of Un Souvenir de Solferino. Technically a Swiss citizen, having been born in Geneva, nevertheless in all his ideas he was French. In 1859 he launched the idea of a permanent organization of voluntary groups of humanitarian workers, and also of an international treaty agreement concerning the wounded in war. He then presented himself to Napoleon III., who became interested in his project and immediately gave orders to his army to cease making prisoners of the physicians and nurses of the enemy. Soon Dunant organized an “Aid Committee” in Geneva, and shortly afterwards published his Souvenir de Solferino (1859), which was enthusiastically received and greatly applauded. The philanthropic ideas of his book were received with interest by many European sovereigns, with whom he was on friendly terms, through correspondence or conversation. He interested the Governments so much in his project that various nations sent delegates to the International Conference, which was held in Geneva in 1863, when it was decided to establish a National Committee. A diplomatic International Congress on the subject was held in 1869 at Geneva, by invitation of the Swiss Government. The treaty there drafted accepted Dunant’s project, and the formation of the Red Cross Societies was decided upon. Thus a single individual, inspired by the sentiment of kindness and compassion for his fellow-creatures, had by his own untiring efforts achieved the realization of his ideas, and thus aided the progress of mankind. Dunant was a statesman, and might have been a saint. His most earnest desire was to carry the message of sympathy, faith and knowledge to the hearts of poor men and oppressed nations. During his zealous propaganda, in the course of which he edited pamphlets and articles in many languages, and travelled continually through the whole of Europe, he spent all he possessed, and for many years nothing more was heard of this modest and good man. In 1897 he was discovered in the Swiss village of Heiden,¹ where he was living in poverty in a “Home of Rest” for old men. In 1901, when the A. B. Nobel (18331896) Peace Prize was awarded for the first time, it was granted to the founder of the Red Cross Society.

These biographical details are interesting in so far as they enhance our appreciation of the activity of this great man, who advocated also the idea of the regeneration of the East, and the resurrection of Palestine by the Jewish people. Dunant was inspired more by political convictions than by religious emotion. He was a champion of humanitarian ideas in the political life of Europe, and he dealt with the problem of the East and the Jews from this point of view. He addressed to the public an “Open Letter,” which, far from repeating the older ideas and suggestions which had been put forth on several occasions in England and France, gave the impression of a fascinating spontaneity and originality (Appendix lxviii).

A peculiar feature of so many Zionist writings is the writer’s unfamiliarity with what has been written repeatedly before. There is no reference to earlier suggestions and attempts, no allusion or reminiscence whatever. Every writer begins ab ovo; everyone makes new discoveries. Is this due to the fact that there was no literary concentration, no history of Zionist literature, no bibliography? Partly so: but the true reason was, in our opinion, the independence of the idea in all these writings. Every writer was impressed not by what he had read—most of them had not read anything about Zionism—but by the appearance of the problem as it presented itself to him. Everybody discovered the truth in his own way, and all came to the same conclusion quite independently. Henri Dunant planned out and calculated for himself all the details of his great scheme. He had, as we see, a clear political conception of Zionism; his style, too, was lucid and pleasant. He had a wonderful faculty for disposing of difficulties. Moreover, he started political activity, and was in this respect a forerunner of Herzl.

He started his work in France. Different rumours were current at that time (1866) in England about a great Zionist propaganda in France. “A curious and interesting movement has been in progress for a considerable time affecting the state and prospects of the Jewish race in all quarters of the world,” we read in an editorial in The Morning Herald, London (6th Feb., 1866). “It is of national rather than of a religious character. As is well known, the generous exertions of Sir Moses Montefiore in Morocco, Persia and elsewhere have greatly tended to ameliorate the conditions of the Jews locally, although they are still in many regions persecuted and oppressed: but the most remarkable fact of all, has been the interview between the French Emperor and the leading members of the community in Paris. The object of this informal proceeding was, on the part of Napoleon III., to ascertain how far there yet lingered in the Jewish mind a belief and desire, that they might become repossessed of their native country; and certainly no idea, since that of the Crusaders, could be more romantic or bold, than one which should promise them through any means the fulfilment of this ancient wish....” The author of this article concludes: “Whatever our creeds, we cannot forget the good words of Bishop Weston¹ when he said that, upon seeing a Jew, his best thoughts were always carried back to the beginning and earliest blessing of the world. Therefore it is with more than a mere antiquarian spirit that we observe with sympathy the refusal of this race to raise, whenever challenged to resume their lost position in the world, the cry Hierosolyma est perdita....” This rumour concerning an interview which the French Emperor had granted to the leading members of the community in Paris was undoubtedly due to the propaganda of Henri Dunant, who was a persona gratissima at the French Court.

The appeal was afterwards re-echoed in a political paper started in Brussels under the title of L’Orient, which devoted much attention to Eastern affairs.

“Palestine,” we read in one of the articles, “situated at the point of junction of the three continents, is the key of Asia: it occupies a central position in reference to the East as well as the West: its situation is the same between the countries of the North and South: no other on earth can in this respect be compared with it. What European power could take possession of it without bringing upon itself, on the part of the others, the most protracted and sanguinary wars? However, one solution would still be possible for which, despite the rivalries and revolutions which keep the people of Europe on the alert, the way might be paved. The final solution of the Eastern question might be accomplished if Palestine were reopened to the Israelitish people. We have, further, to take into consideration the principles of nationality which in our days play such a prominent part: to bear in mind the isolated position of the Jewish people in the world, which has been dispersed among the nations of the earth for thousands of years without being absorbed by them; and to study the condition of the Israelites within the last seventy years, their wealth, the influence acquired by them in the commercial world, in industrial pursuits and on Governments. The inference from all this will be that something grand is in store for the Jewish people. The return of the Jewish people to the Holy Land may be considered from two different points of view: the religious and the political. There exist several Scriptural passages which predict the return of the Jews.... The Israelitish people and the Arabic or Ishmaelitic tribes, which with justice may be called the oldest nations on the earth, have been preserved by Providence, while the others among which they lived in captivity have disappeared from the stage of the world. We may depend upon it, the destinies of the Israelites, so unique and mysterious in their kind, will in the future be still grander than they were in the past: and they must be counted upon if we wish eventually to arrive at the solution of the Eastern question, which appears so complicated.”


A Rabbinical appeal—Rabbi Elias Gutmacher—Rabbi Hirsch Kalischer—Correspondence with Sir Moses Montefiore—Servian Jews ready for Palestine—Rabbi Sneersohn—Another appeal of Henri Dunant—A committee in Paris under the patronage of the Empress of the French—Zionism in French fiction.

In 1867 an appeal in favour of the colonization of Palestine was addressed to English Jews by two well-known Rabbis, Elias Gutmacher (17961874) of Grätz, and Zebi Hirsch Kalischer (17951874) of Thorn. This appeal contains interesting references to a letter of Sir Moses Montefiore dealing with the same subject, to Servian Jews who were ready to go to Palestine, and to the activity of the “Alliance Israélite Universelle” in Paris in the same direction (Appendix lxix). Conceived in an orthodox Jewish spirit, it seems to have produced a favourable impression on some portions of the Jewish population in England; but it elicited few contributions. This is evidenced in another letter addressed to England by Rabbi Sneersohn of Jerusalem in 1866 (Ab. 8, 5626). “And now, my brethren in England, it is for you to be among the foremost in accomplishing the divine will. Hasten to buy fields and vineyards on the Holy Ground without looking for any immediate advantage. Do you not see that all nations around lay out large sums in buying up land here? Why should we not follow this good example, when thereby great benefits would be conferred on our brethren here: for they would till the ground and thereby maintain themselves, and no longer depend upon charity from abroad? By this means also would hatred and sorrow be removed from their midst, for being engaged in their work they would have no time for prying into the affairs of others. The time is most favourable for such an undertaking. About eighty heads of families, both Sephardim and Ashkenazim, lately bought fields along the road to Jaffa, and some of them have commenced to till the ground. Who knows how soon the ground will be worth double the price for which it can now be had? There is now a large and most eligible piece of ground at a very reasonable price to be had, etc....”

Rabbi Zebi Hirsch Kalischer

Rabbi Isaac Jacob Reines

Rabbi Mordecai Eliasberg

Rabbi Samuel Mohilewer

Rabbi Dr. Israel Hildesheimer

Rabbi Isaac J. Rülf

At the same time Dunant continued his propaganda, and addressed the following letter from Paris to the Jewish press in England:—

Jewish Chronicle, Dec. 13, 1867 (p. 6).

“Palestine Colonisation”
“To the Editor of the Jewish Chronicle.


“Permit me to recall to your mind the remembrance of me. At that time you were pleased to take a truly humane interest in the work in favour of wounded soldiers, of which I am the founder, for which I then laboured, and which still occupies my attention. You are no doubt aware that this work has been as successful as such a work of philanthropy can be. It has obtained the adhesion not only of all the Sovereigns of Europe, and even those of the Sultan of Turkey and Emperor of Brazil (18311891),¹ but also the unanimous suffrage of all benevolent persons in all civilized countries.

“In the whole European and American Continents—both of them liable to the chances of war—committees and societies for the relief of wounded soldiers have been formed, and are in activity, and it may be said, without exaggeration, that the service rendered by this institution during the late war surpassed all expectation. Official reports from this society, as well as from military authorities published more than once, have sufficiently shown it. At present, sir, I am engaged in another work, for which I hope you will not feel less interest than for that to which I have just referred, the more so as it concerns Palestine, the country made over by God to the glorious people of which you have the honour of being a member.

“You will find enclosed two copies of a notice which a committee formed in Paris for the Colonisation of Palestine—a committee of which I am a member, and which Her Majesty the Empress of the French² has deigned to honour with her patronage—have just published. The notice will explain to you the object and tendency of our foundation. The labours of your whole life, and the great merits acquired by you in serving the cause, rights, and interests of your co-religionists, inspire me with the lively desire to obtain your valuable advice on the work on which we are engaged. I hope that if you find our publication conformable to your ideas, you will have the goodness to cause a translation thereof inserted in the estimable journal which you edit, the Jewish Chronicle.

“I also hope that you will likewise acquaint me with the names and addresses of persons in England, whom you may believe inclined to sympathise with the moral and economical re-constitution of the ancient patrimony of the Hebrews; for our work, supported by the greatest and most aristocratic names among Christians, sympathises not the less, nay, before all, with the Israelites, whose rights to Palestine are superior to all others.

“I do not doubt but that the international sentiments which animate you will call forth in old England, and among the readers of the Jewish Chronicle, a sympathetic echo.

“Receive the assurance of my high consideration.

“(Signed) Henri Dunant,

“Founder and promoter of the international undertaking in behalf of the wounded soldier, on land and at sea.

“Paris, 24, Rue de la Paix, Dec. 3, 1867.”

Evidently Dunant expected more from England and English Jews than from any other country in the world. The liberties and rights of citizenship of the Jews have been more respected, and their social and political standing made more secure in this country than in any other. Here, at all events, the days of Jewish persecution have long since passed away.

In France, where a favourable atmosphere for Jewish national aspirations had scarcely been created, M. Dunant’s scheme does not appear to have made much headway in a practical direction; but there is no doubt that his efforts were watched with sympathetic interest. We quote again M. L. Lévy-Bing, who advocated the Zionist idea in several articles from 1864 onwards.¹ In French fiction M. Alexandre Dumas (fils) (18241895) had made one of the heroes of his play La Femme de Claude a Zionist character (Appendix lxx). Many more such quotations could be traced, but we mention this only as an example. Further, there was, at all events, the idea of Jewish brotherhood in the creation of the “Alliance Israélite Universelle”: as we pointed out above, the activities of the “Alliance” were directed chiefly to the East, where it found a vast sphere of labour. All this was consciously or unconsciously Zionist work.


A new appeal—Earl of Shaftesbury in 1876—Edward Cazalet—Laurence Oliphant—Zionism in English fiction—George Eliot—“Daniel Deronda”—The Jewish nationalism of Mordecai Cohen—A quotation from Dr. Joseph Jacobs.

In Palestine the Jews continued to cherish the hope of colonization, though they had a hard struggle for existence. In a new appeal addressed to the Jews in England, Rabbi Sneersohn describes the situation in Palestine, and gives a clear idea of the efforts previously made in the direction of colonization. This appeal is very instructive as to the history of the colonization efforts in the earlier stages (Appendix lxxi).

At the same time, while the Jewish organizations grappled with the problem from the standpoint of charity, the great Zionist idea was again put forth by English Christians. In the first place, Lord Shaftesbury wrote in 1876 a most remarkable Zionist article, from which we quote a few sentences:—

“Is there no other destiny for Palestine but to remain desolate or to become the appendage of an ambitious foreign power? Syria and Palestine will ere long become most important. On the Euphrates and along the coast old cities will revive and new ones will be built: the old time will come back on a scale of greater vastness and grandeur: and bridging the districts the stream will run in the track of the caravans. Syria then will be a place of trade pre-eminence. And who are pre-eminently the traders of the world? Will there, when the coming change has taken place, be any more congenial field for the energies of the Jew? The country wants capital and population. The Jews can give it both. And has not England a special interest in promoting such a restoration? It would be a blow to England if either of her rivals should get hold of Syria. Her Empire reaching from Canada in the West to Calcutta and Australia in the South-East would be cut in two. England does not covet any such territories, but she must see that they do not get in the hands of rival Powers. She must preserve Syria to herself. Does not policy then—if that were all—exhort England to foster the nationality of the Jews and aid them, as opportunity may offer, to return as a leavening power to their old country? England is the great trading and maritime power of the world. To England, then, naturally belongs the rôle of favouring the settlement of the Jews in Palestine. The nationality of the Jews exists: the spirit is there and has been there for 3000 years, but the external form, the crowning bond of union is still wanting. A nation must have a country. The old land, the old people. This is not an artificial experiment: it is nature, it is history.” Needless to say, the political idea, as expounded in these sentences, could not have been put more convincingly by the staunchest Jewish political Zionist.

A few years later, two distinguished Englishmen started propaganda work on the same lines as Lord Shaftesbury: Edward Cazalet and Laurence Oliphant.

Edward Cazalet (18271883) was a man of great political ability. He was a staunch friend of the Jews, and he knew the East. His idea was that “wrong should be righted and freedom allowed a place in the world.” He had a very high conception of Great Britain’s duty in the East. His appreciation of a centre for “Jewish culture” is especially remarkable. Hardly a single point seems to have escaped him; he covers the ground thoroughly, from criticism of the old English policy to discussion of the new Eastern problem, taking the question of the Palestinian population, the jealousies of the sects, and a hundred other things by the way. There are naturally a few debatable points in this comprehensive treatise (Appendix lxxii). But as a whole it shows remarkable insight.

A place of honour in the realm of England’s Zionism belongs to another remarkable personality: Laurence Oliphant (18291888). He was a friend of Lord Shaftesbury, and had been a high official in connection with Indian affairs, secretary to the Earl of Elgin and Kincardine (18111863), traveller, journalist, diplomatist and member of Parliament. He took up a scheme for colonizing Palestine with Jews, and early in 1879 went to the East to examine the country and endeavour to obtain a concession from the Turkish Government. In consequence of jealousies this attempt to influence the Turkish Government failed, and the scheme broke down, as did many others that were launched about this time. He again took up the Palestine colonization scheme in 1882. He travelled to Constantinople in the summer of that year, and settled for a time in Therapia. At the end of the year he moved with his wife to Haifa.

He reports thus on his efforts in his book¹:—

“... Prior to starting, however, it seemed to be my first duty to lay the matter before the Government, with the view of obtaining their support and approval, and I therefore communicated to the then Prime Minister and Lord Salisbury the outline of the project. From both Ministers I received the kindest encouragements and assurances of support, as far as it was possible to afford it without officially committing the Government. And I was instructed to obtain, if possible, the unofficial approval of the French Minister of Foreign Affairs of the scheme. I therefore proceeded to Paris, and submitted it to M. W. H. Waddington (18261894), who was sufficiently favourably impressed with the idea to give me a circular letter to the French Ambassador at Constantinople and other diplomatic and consular representatives in Turkey. I was also similarly provided with letters of recommendation from our own Foreign Office.

“I would venture to express most respectfully my gratitude and thanks to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales¹ and to their Royal Highnesses the Prince (18311917) and Princess Christian of Schleswig-Holstein for the warm interest and cordial sympathy with which they regarded the project and which encouraged me to prosecute it.”

“It appeared to me that this object might be attained by means of a Colonisation Company, and that one of those rich and unoccupied districts which abound in Turkey might be obtained and developed through the agency of a commercial enterprise which should be formed under the auspices of His Majesty, and have its seat at Constantinople, though, as in the case of the Ottoman Bank and other Turkish companies, the capital would be found abroad, provided the charter contained guarantees adequate for the protection of the interests of the shareholders.”¹ “It is somewhat unfortunate that so important a political and strategical question as the future of Palestine should be inseparably connected in the public mind with a favourite religious theory. The restoration of the Jews to Palestine has been so often urged upon sentimental or Scriptural grounds, that now, when it may possibly become the practical and common-sense solution of a great future difficulty, a prejudice against it exists in the minds of those who have always regarded it as a theological chimera, which it is not easy to remove. The mere accident of a measure involving most important international consequences, having been advocated by a large section of the Christian community, from a purely Biblical point of view, does not necessarily impair its political value. On the contrary, its political value once estimated on its own merits and admitted, the fact that it will carry with it the sympathy and support of those who are not usually particularly well versed in foreign politics is decidedly in its favour. I would avail myself of this opportunity of observing that, so far as my own efforts are concerned, they are based upon considerations which have no connection whatever with any popular religious theory upon the subject.”²

These last remarks are particularly worthy of the attention of those who, ignorant of the actual facts, are inclined to represent Zionism merely as a theological or sectarian idea. There is undoubtedly a strong religious feeling underlying it, but the idea has been dealt with, defended and propagated in England from all points of view.

Rt. Hon. Joseph Chamberlain
London Stereoscopic Co.
  Earl of

George Eliot
London Stereoscopic Co.

James Finn   Laurence Oliphant

Laurence Oliphant continued to take an interest in the question until his death on December 23rd, 1888.

Among English writers who have understood the idea in all its depth and breadth, the place of honour belongs unquestionably to George Eliot (18191880).¹ She chose the Zionist idea for the theme of an imaginative creation, wherein she displayed unequalled depth of comprehension and breadth of conception. In “Daniel Deronda”² (18741876) the Jew demands the rights pertaining to his race, and claims admittance into the community of nations as one of its legitimate members. He demands real emancipation, real equality. The blood of the prophets surges in his veins, the voice of God calls to him, and he becomes conscious, and emphatically declares that he has a distinct nationality; the days of levelling are over. Where calumny and obtuseness see nothing but disjecta membra, the eye of the English poetess perceives a complete national entity destined to begin life afresh, full of strength and vigour.

It is a memorable book, written by an author devoted to humanity and to the deeper realities of English national life. Its atmosphere is far removed from the conception of a materialistic world. Yet it is practical in a higher sense. It preaches a great idea. The Jewish nationality is represented as it actually is: not as an artificial combination, but as an ethnological group which possessed the glory of independence in the happier past and has been kept alive to hope for the future by a deep historical consciousness and a lofty devotion to humanity. This is a Zionist message indeed.

The wonderful completeness and accuracy with which George Eliot represented the Jewish character is particularly remarkable. The sketches of Klesmer and Alcharisi are triumphs of artistic skill. Ezra Cohen is the embodiment of the successful commercial faculty. The influence of the mother and the home on the inner life of the Jew, as described in the novel, must impress every reader. Pusti, the “Jew who is no Jew,” typifies excellently the despised class of which he is a specimen. The more temperate Gideon represents a large section of the Jews who are neither ashamed of their race nor proud of it, but are prepared to let the racial and religious distinctions for which the Jewish nation has fought so valiantly perish unexpressed. But the great character of the book is Mordecai Cohen.

Mordecai Cohen is a lineal descendant of three great spiritual houses which, in past ages, have waged a moral warfare in defiance of the whole world against terrible odds; and the fact that those noble souls are descendants of the Jewish race affords ample proof of the physical, intellectual, and moral stamina which Judaism has always preserved. Mordecai is the leader of a party which refuses to believe that Israel’s part in history is accomplished, and maintains that Israel’s future policy should be to join the nations as soon as possible.

George Eliot explains the traditions, habits and characteristics of the Jews with the affectionate accuracy of a delighted scientific observer and with the fine enthusiasm of a humanitarian spirit. The abundance of detail and the sensitiveness of the fine shades are marvellous. With subtlety, restraint and delicacy, without the excitements of sensationalism, she succeeds in throwing into relief the real Jewish problem. Something is passing away that once possessed a life and value of its own. The labour of thousands of years is lost; a flame has burnt in vain, a fire is extinguished without having fostered life. There is a terrible sadness in it. The human soul turns to what has been the highest aspiration of its life. Mordecai has a profound contempt for the arts of emulation; he wants creative originality. His idea is to be wholly what he is partly, his own self, his own self restored. He wants to live entirety at home, to live by the work of his hands, to bring to maturity the ideas which he feels developing in his mind. Where would this be possible? Only within an organization of his own people in their ancient home, in the mother-country of his own kin and ancestry, in a commonwealth which should focus and embody the whole of Jewish life as it should be, not ossified, dried, cut up, preserved in the form of saintly relics and adapted by interpretations and compromises to different zones, cultures and customs. He has, it is true, a great reverence for these saintly relics, and—faute de mieux—in the Diaspora he feels it a sacred duty to preserve them. But he feels that this is not the ideal, he sees that it is going to vanish, and therefore he longs for his home, for a cultural entity working independently in harmony with similar entities. This and only this would bring the Jews nearer to the world, nearer to humanity. Is this “nationalism”? In the absence of a happier name, let us accept this term. “What’s in a name?” In reality, it is human liberty; it involves no secession from the stream of common humanity. There is no aspiration more in harmony with the spirit and deeper tendencies of our age, more in accordance with liberty and justice, for nations as well as for individuals. This is Zionist “nationalism.” No writer defends it more enthusiastically than George Eliot.¹

In the Valhalla of the Jewish people, among the tokens of homage offered by the genius of centuries, “Daniel Deronda” will take its place as the proudest testimony to English recognition of the Zionist idea.


The new period of Jewish martyrdom—Public opinion in England—Mass meetings, questions in Parliament and collections—Protests from France, Holland, America and other countries—An instructive lesson—Emigration of Jewish masses—The problem—The “Lovers of Zion.”

The year 1882 was a turning-point in the history of the colonization of Palestine by the Jews.

The anti-Jewish riots and massacres which broke out in Russia in the spring of 1881 had attracted attention to the position of the Jewish people, but not to a degree commensurate with the importance of the subject. Just when it seemed probable that the martyrs of 1881 would leave no record behind them, new massacres occurred in 1882 and again drew attention to the subject. All the English newspapers dealt sympathetically with the position of the persecuted Jews, and gave full accounts of the atrocities. These articles caused an outburst of pity and sympathy throughout England. Several mass meetings were held and funds were started. Questions were addressed in both Houses to the Secretary and Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs. This spontaneous outcry in England soon spread to all the countries of Europe. In Paris the veteran poet novelist Victor Hugo (18021885) headed the appeal for justice and pity. In Holland the University of Utrecht rivalled that of Oxford in its protests. Across the Atlantic the Government of the United States went further than any other Government, and entered a powerful protest in the President’s Message to Congress. All these movements took their origin from the first emphatic outburst of pity in England.

The racial and national instincts which in times of prosperity often lie dormant in the hearts of the Jews were thoroughly aroused and stimulated by the cruel persecutions to which their brethren were subjected. It was a terribly instructive lesson for those Jews who believed in the progress of humanity as a solution of the problem of the Jewish tragedy. They had a sudden and rude awakening. More and more the conviction gained ground among the people that the helplessness of the Jew in his trials, his utter inability to stem the tide of abuse and oppression, was chiefly due to the fact that he had no land which he could call a Jewish land par excellence. The best treatment that he received in free countries was only toleration. He was always supposed to have the right of existence and of equality with those among whom he lived, but in no case could he enforce it by stronger measures than an appeal to the goodwill and kindness of those who could either give or withhold it. Appeals to the sacred principles of humanity and justice, beautiful and inspiring as they were, were practically futile. Renewed persecution brought these facts once again to the cognizance of the Jews.

Besides, there was the visible fact of an enormous number of homeless Jews who had no place of refuge anywhere in the wide world. For the great exodus had begun. The necessity of providing the homeless wanderers with shelter was most pressing, the more so as it had to be done without much delay. The persecutions grew in intensity, and emigration increased by leaps and bounds. The sufferers attempted to settle in almost every part of the world. Every country objected to the influx of so many immigrants, and more than one country prohibited their entry altogether.

While most of the poor wanderers themselves struggled manfully to brave the tide of poverty and of exile, the bulk of their brethren who dwelt under more favourable conditions in other countries made it their business to devise plans for the succour of the exiled. Fortunately for the immigrants, and to the credit of human nature, there were noble-minded men in America who saw that there was work to be done, and undertook it without hesitation, sparing neither expense nor trouble in devising measures for the alleviation of the misery of the immigrants and for safeguarding them against the temptations and evils of a new country.

The immediate help which America gave was very important, but the question of the future still remained unsolved. The problem created by Jewish emigration presents many difficulties. The tie that binds the heart of the emigrant to the soil of his birth is gradually weakened. The attachment of the parents to the traditions of their native land slowly weakens. The children find new ties. The new surroundings claim their attention. The distant land of their infancy appears to them only dimly on the horizon. A few years pass, and the old Ghetto has become to them a mythical vision. Nothing, indeed, is so remarkable as the rapid absorption of English, Irish, Scotch, German, and even French immigrants, not to speak of some half a dozen smaller nationalities, by the ordinary American type. One would have expected to see citizens of the States learning to regard this continual fusion as a natural political condition, to reckon with it, to encourage it, to remove all difficulties out of the way of those who devoted themselves to the task of bringing new immigrants into the “land of unlimited possibilities,” and of reconciling and harmonizing the numerous heterogeneous elements. But there are men who do their best to hinder this great work, and thanks to their efforts, legislation is engaged in placing various restrictions upon free immigration. Jewish immigrants in particular are still looked upon in some quarters as intruders. They are received with frigid looks not only by non-Jews, but also by some of their own brethren, who have had the good fortune to settle in the country earlier, and have learnt to feel quite at home. And it is not only the economic question which makes Jewish immigration en masse difficult: it is still more the question of the national culture, religion and traditions of the Jews, which are endangered by assimilation. The question of bread, important as it is, is not the whole of the Jewish problem. The old Roman “panem et circenses” could never become a Jewish principle. The Jewish principle is expressed in the words:—

“... man doth not live by bread only, but by everything that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live” (Deuteronomy viii. 3).

Now members of other nations can find a home in America while their nation remains and develops its own life in the mother-country. But where is the mother-country of the Jews, of Judaism?

Various schemes of Jewish colonisation were planned and partly carried out in America at the time of which we speak. Some of them met with some success, others proved utter failures. On the other hand, great masses of Jews were inspired by the conviction that good results could be expected only in Palestine from an effort to turn the exiled Jews into agriculturists. That view was strongly opposed by others who, living themselves in affluence, thought that they would always be secure against persecution in the countries in which they dwelt. They consequently thought that the Jewish problem could be solved only by a real union between the Jews and their non-Jewish neighbours, by a process in which the Jews would cast off all that separated them from non-Jews. They were blind to the fact, established by the whole of Jewish history, that the more the Jew denies his distinctiveness the more he is attacked and accused of it; and that whilst small groups of Jews may sometimes succeed in getting rid of their dissimilarity, the Jewish masses neither can nor will. They thought that Palestine should be the last place for the Jew of to-day to think of, being under the mistaken impression that the Holy Land was unsuitable for colonisation and agriculture on a large scale. They argued from a technical standpoint which had a bad foundation. They had no knowledge of the facts, and Palestine was for them really a terra incognita. But the masses turned with a unanimous impulse to Palestine. Everywhere societies of “Lovers of Zion” were founded for the realization of the cherished hope of making Jews once more owners of land in Palestine. Sometimes the idea was taken up with more enthusiasm than practical sense, and many hurried to Palestine in the belief that, once in the country, they would find it easy to make a living. Not unnaturally there was much disillusionment, and many a bitter lesson was learnt by sad experience. So it became incumbent upon the existing societies to keep the enthusiasm of their adherents within the bounds of sanity and practicability. The societies had to grope their way carefully. They had to find out suitable localities for establishing colonies, to direct the energies of those most fit to undertake colonising work into the proper channels, and to check the efforts of those who did not show the capacity for success and would only have proved a hindrance to the capable and the efficient.

David Gordon   Samuel J. Fuenn

Dr. Leon Pinsker

Moses L. Lilienblum   Perez Smolenskin


His life and experiences—His Auto-emancipation—The old idea of self-help in Jewish teaching—Individual and national self-help—The revival of an old doctrine—An analysis of Auto-emancipation—The results of Pinsker’s idea.

Leo Pinsker (18211891) was the son of the well-known Jewish scholar Simchah Pinsker (18011864), the celebrated author of Lekute Kadmonioth (Wien, 1860), an important work on the history of the Karaites, and of other valuable Hebrew works. Pinsker was educated at Odessa, where he studied law at the local Richelieu Lyceum. Law, however, was not to his liking, and he went to Moscow, where he studied medicine and took the degree of M.D. He returned to Odessa and took up practice as a medical man. Shortly afterwards the Crimean War came to an end, and Odessa was full of soldiers suffering from typhoid fever. There was danger of an epidemic. Pinsker gave up his practice and devoted himself entirely to the stricken soldiers. This self-sacrifice was not overlooked by the higher officials, who brought it to the notice of the Czar Alexander II. (18181881), and Pinsker received a generous reward. Pinsker, besides being an authority on medical matters, was one of the editors of the Russian-Jewish paper Zion. Educated as he had been in the dark days of the reign of Nicholas I. (17961855), and witnessing the somewhat improved conditions brought about for the Jews by the accession of Alexander II., Pinsker believed for a time in emancipation and amalgamation; but after long years of observation and experience he came to take a different view. He was an eye-witness of the anti-Jewish riots in 1859, 1871, and 1881; and in the latter year, he issued a pamphlet in German, under the nom de plume “Ein Russischer Jude,” in which he most forcibly expresses the conclusions he had arrived at. It was entitled “Auto-emancipation,” of which an English version appeared in London some ten years later.¹ Self-emancipation was Pinsker’s great idea. Not that the idea did not exist before he preached it: as a matter of fact it is as old as Judaism. But Pinsker started his career as a Jewish nationalist by giving renewed expression to this idea of self-help, and from that moment he kept it in the very forefront of his aspirations and activities. Electricity is a comparatively recent discovery; it is only within the last half-century that it has come to be fully understood and harnessed for man’s purposes. But this mysterious power is not of recent birth; although unknown to man it was latent in the universe from the beginning. In the fullness of time inquiring minds discovered it and gave us our modern triumphs of power, of lighting and of communication. The analogy, though weak, may convey to us in a certain degree what happened in the case of the idea of self-help. It had permeated the Jewish nation from the beginning of the ages. The importance of free will and independent action had been a leading Jewish principle from time immemorial. But it needed the “Lovers of Zion” and the advent of a great interpreter to bring home the lesson to the Jewish people.

Self-help implies the duty of the nation to be on its guard and to use its own endeavours to secure its position. It implies the moral obligation of self-defence and of self-salvation by one’s own efforts and sacrifices, without the assistance and protection of others. The principle comes to the surface over and over again in the Bible, where we catch glimpses of a doctrine that is to be fully worked out only in the development of a national movement. The author of the Book of Joshua strikes the keynote of Israel’s duties when he says:—

“Be strong and of good courage;...” (Joshua i. 6).

“Only be strong and very courageous, ...” (Ibid. 7).

Phrases similar to those in Deuteronomy xxxi. 6, 7, 23. Joshua obeyed the precept, and abundantly realized the promise with which it was accompanied. The historical sections of the Bible are filled with this idea—every deliverance is attributed directly to the moral integrity of the Jew and to the help of his God. It is remarkable how large a place exhortations to courage hold in the Bible; we cannot easily count the “fear nots” of the Scriptures. And these are not merely soothing words to calm, they are quickening words, calling to conflict and to victory. This is the lesson which the individual as well as the nation had to learn. In the light of it may be read the whole history of Israel. The course of ages reveals a thousand ways in which Israel vainly tries to remedy the disaster into which it has brought itself by relying on the aid of others. Now it was Egypt (Isaiah xxx. 2, xxxvi. 6), now Assyria (2 Kings xvi. 7), now their own kings and nobles. When threatened by the Syrians, they made treaties with the Assyrians; when threatened by the Assyrians, they tried to strengthen themselves by the support of Egypt. The proved uselessness of reliance on others brought the nation at last to recognize the virtue of entire and obedient trust in God.

“Trust in the Lord with all thy heart,...” (Prov. iii. 5),

was a protest against self-sufficiency, self-conceit and vanity, and also against relying on others. Entire reliance upon God, implied in the words “with all thy heart,” is here appropriately placed at the head of a series of admonitions relating especially to God and man’s relations with him, inasmuch as such confidence or trust is a fundamental principle of all religion. The admonition does not mean that men are not to use their own understanding, i.e. to make plans and to employ legitimate means in the pursuit of their ends; but that, when they use it, they are to depend upon God and his directing and overruling providence. For there is a true and a false self-reliance: that which forgets God is ignorant and impious; that which recognizes Him as the source of all true intelligence is genuine and blessed.

“If thou art wise, thou art wise for thyself;

And if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it” (Ibid. ix. 12).

This was a proclamation of the principle of personality, the great truth that each individual, in his single personality, has been endowed with full and equal rights of self-determination and self-control. The old civilizations annihilated the rights of the many in the privileges of the few, and put the manhood of the masses under the heel of power. The very idea of common rights had scarcely dawned upon the minds of men. The grandeur of human personality, as complete and inviolably sacred in every individual, was not discerned. The idea, now so familiar to every civilized human being, that every man is entitled to all the rights of manhood on his own responsibility was originally Jewish. The meaning of the verse quoted above is clear: our wisdom or folly is our own affair, both in origin and consequences. We must reap as we sow, must bear the brunt of the conflict we have provoked.

This principle concerns nations as well as individuals. The book of Proverbs contains many maxims with regard to nations:—

“Righteousness exalteth a nation;...” (Ibid. xiv. 34).

National righteousness consists in the possession of a reverent spirit and the practice of justice, purity, and mercy. In this is a nation’s strength and superiority, for it will surely lead to physical well-being, to material prosperity, to moral and spiritual advancement, and to estimation and influence among surrounding nations. The Pagan view of an eternal, inevitable force coercing and controlling all human action was in conflict with the Jewish conception of a free human and national will: man is not a helpless creature, borne along by destiny. Man’s moral freedom and responsibility is at the very root of all Jewish teaching, and is most strongly emphasized with regard to the nation:—

“Is Israel a servant?

Is he a home-born slave?...” (Jeremiah, chap. ii. v. 14.)

A slave can be emancipated only by others, a free man emancipates himself. Hope comes to those who rouse themselves from dejection, and “power to him that power exerts.” History proves the practical folly, as well as the ingratitude and rebelliousness, of “Israel forsaking God.” When trust is placed in other powers they prove like Egypt—inactive, do-nothing (Isaiah xxxi. 7). The “captive daughter of Zion,” which is a poetical image for the Jewish nation, brought down to the dust by suffering and oppression, is commanded to rise and shake herself from the dust.

“Awake, awake,

Put on thy strength, O Zion;...” (Isaiah lii. 1).

“Shake thyself from the dust;

Arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem;

Loose thyself from the bands of thy neck,

O captive daughter of Zion” (Ibid. 2).

In these words Zion was exhorted to do her part, to put on her own strength. What we term in modern language “self-emancipation,” the Prophet, in his simpler phraseology, calls “Loose thyself.” When the bonds can be broken, break them; when the door can be opened, unbar it; when the way is clear, take it without hesitation and delay; and if this seems to be impossible, try and try again. God’s providence requires of men, as a condition of his assisting them, their own efforts. When the Jews were delivered from Babylon, those only were delivered who braced themselves for a great effort, left all that they had, confronted peril (Ezra viii. 31), undertook the difficult and wearisome journey (Ibid. xliii.) from Chaldea to Palestine, and made all sorts of sacrifices. They saved the nation. A small beginning was facilitated to some extent by the favourable decree of Cyrus, but the most important and essential part was left for the people to do itself.

“Put not your trust in princes,

Nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.” (Psalm cxlvi. 3.)

This psalm was evidently composed at a time of great national depression, when the community, sick of dependence on the favour of foreign princes, turned more and more to the thought of self-help coupled with a strong belief in the eternal righteousness and faithfulness of the “God of Jacob.” It bears evident traces of belonging to the post-exilic period, and the subsequent verses:—

“... The Lord looseth the prisoners;” (Ibid. 7)

“... The Lord raiseth up them that are bowed down;...” (Ibid. 8)

are an appropriate expression of the feelings which would naturally be called forth at a time immediately subsequent to the return from Captivity.

This idea was handed on as a legacy from the prophets and psalmists to the men of the Great Synod, and from the latter to the Jewish philosophers and teachers of the Middle Ages. No doubt it had vastly changed in form and in content; but in essence it was the same. Political independence was lost in course of time; and the place of the political state was taken by national unity and an unshaken belief in the Restoration of the people to its old land. In substance it was a combination of consciousness of the past and hope for the future that made Jewish life in the present worth living. The sluggard was still inert, the credulous man still trusted “in man in whom there is no help,” and had need of a live coal from the altar. But now it was not an angel that brought to man the purifying agency. The sufferings of the nation had been exalted far above the coal of the altar. National martyrdom had assumed a more intense and vivid meaning. It was more insistently set over against the thoughtlessness of a materialistic life.

When we read the maxim of Hillel the elder (112 ? b.c.e.8 ? c.e.) which Pinsker used as the motto of his pamphlet:

¹הוא היה אומר אם אין אני לי מי לי וכשאני לעצמי מה אני ואם לא עכשו אימתי׃ פרקי אבות א׳ יד׳

We cannot help thinking that this aphorism, as well as the rule:—

¹”... ובמקום שאין אנשים השתדל להיות איש׃“ ב׳ו׳

refers not only to individual matters, but also to national duties. Several centuries later, Bahia ben Joseph Ibn Pakuda (fl. 10001050), who devoted a whole chapter of his Duties of the Heart to the exaltation of trust in God, wrote:—

“Trust in God should not prevent man from doing his utmost in the way of human effort and enterprise. Likewise it is folly to put too much trust in benefactors, however powerful.”

The self-emancipation of the Jewish people is, accordingly, not simply a Jewish idea, it is the Jewish idea. This idea is not of the Ghetto, it is truly Hebraic; it may be opposed to some superstitious notions, but it is religious in the highest sense. Belief in predestination tended to make many Asiatic nations lethargic and indolent. Fatalism killed their energy and stopped all their progress. Relying on others was essentially fatalism. This doctrine was Babylonian; it was never Jewish.

“Ethiopia and Egypt were thy strength, and it was infinite;

Put and Lubim were thy helpers” (Nahum iii. 9).

This was the burden concerning Nineveh, but Israel trusted in God, i.e. in its Genius, in its own moral power, in its self-sacrifice and faithfulness to its ideals.

“That walk to go down into Egypt,

And have not asked at My mouth;

To take refuge in the stronghold of Pharaoh,

And to take shelter in the shadow of Egypt!” (Isaiah xxx. 2).

“Therefore shall the stronghold of Pharaoh turn to your shame,

And the shelter in the shadow of Egypt to your confusion” (Ibid. 3).

“Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help,...”  (Ibid. xxxi. 1).

“... Both he that helpeth shall stumble, and he that is helped shall fall,

And they all shall perish together” (Ibid. 3).

In the period of the Second Temple, the Hellenists again made frantic efforts to be emancipated by the Greeks. The Jewish Law, which was the life and progress of the nation, was for them the stronghold of Jewish unity and the obstacle in their path. But the more they strove after equality with the Greeks, the more futile seemed their strivings. It was the loss of their faith in God and their nation that made them cast about for another power to deliver them. They preferred the attractions of Hellenic culture to Hebrew morality; Syrian power to the Divine Spirit; the material army of the Seleucides, whose forces they could count and whose weapons they could handle, to the unseen moral power of their nation. This was the sin of the Hellenists. When their success was at its height, they gave themselves with savage energy to the persecution of those of their brethren who remained faithful to their own nationality. With a zeal that far excelled that of the enemy, they hunted to death the innocent followers of the old prophets. But just when this persecuting fury was burning at its hottest, the Maccabeans came forward and exhorted the “captive daughter of Zion” to shake herself from the dust. Henceforth they became the blessed messengers of national self-help, and it was their chief joy to sing the glories of the Divine grace which enabled them to be more abundant in works than all others.

Was not Rabbi Akiba (50?132?) ben Joseph the spiritual hero and martyr, a preacher of self-emancipation? Did not the same idea inspire Judah Halevi [Abu al-Hassan al-Lawi] (1085(6)post 1140), Moses ben Nachman Gerondi [RaM-BaN]: Nachmanides: [Bonastruc da Porta] (11941270?), Obadiah (Yareh) (circa 14751500?) ben Abraham Bertenoro, and that splendid host of scholars who endeavoured to re-establish the ordination in Palestine, and to encourage the Jewish settlement, in that country, amidst terrific troubles and dangers, as well as Don Joseph Nasi [João Miguez]—(circa 15101579), Duke of Naxos, who spared no effort to help his brethren to settle in the promised Land?

This same idea lies at the root of Pinsker’s conception. A clear-minded and quiet thinker, he was deeply impressed by the events of 18801881. The grave anxieties through which the Russian Jews passed, and the awakening of anti-Jewish feeling in Western Europe, particularly in Germany, led him to reconsider the conventional Emancipation doctrine, in which he, like all highly educated Russian and Polish Jews, had formerly believed. Being a medical man, he may have seen the tortures of the victims; as an old inhabitant of Odessa, he no doubt remembered the anti-Jewish riots of 1859 and 1871; and now the eighties, with all their horrors, began. He then enunciated “the message of political Zionism.”¹ “Pinsker, like all subsequent political Zionists, arrived at the idea of Zionism not through the problem of Judaism—through the necessity of seeking for a new foundation for our national existence and unity, in place of the old foundation, which is crumbling away—but through the problem of Jewry—through a definite conviction that even emancipation and general progress will not improve the degraded and insecure position of the Jews among the nations, and that anti-Semitism will never cease so long as we have not a national home of our own.” Pinsker discovered that the root causes of “our being hated and despised more than any other human beings ... lie deep in human psychology.”²

“We cannot know whether that great day will ever arrive when all mankind will live in brotherhood and concord, and national barriers will no longer exist; but even at the best, thousands of years must elapse before that Messianic age. Meanwhile nations live side by side in a state of relative peace, which is based chiefly on the fundamental equality between them.... But it is different with the people of Israel. This people is not counted among the nations, because since it was exiled from its land it has lacked the essential attributes of nationality, by which one nation is distinguished from another.... True, we have not ceased even in the lands of our exile to be spiritually a distinct nation; but this spiritual nationality, so far from giving us the status of a nation in the eyes of the other nations, is the very cause of their hatred for us as a people. Men are always terrified by a disembodied spirit, a soul wandering about with no physical covering; and terror breeds hatred. This is a form of psychic disease which we are powerless to cure. In all ages men have feared all kinds of ghosts which their imaginations have seen; and Israel appears to them as a ghost—but a ghost which they see with their very eyes, not merely in fancy. Thus the hatred of the nations for Jewish nationality is a psychic disease of the kind known as ‘demonopathy’; and having been transmitted from generation to generation for some two thousand years, it has by now become so deep-rooted that it can no longer be eradicated.”¹

The great value of Pinsker’s doctrine does not lie in the fact of its originality in literature. Original to him—he undoubtedly came to his conclusion by his own reflection—it was not a discovery in the usual sense of this word: views of this kind had been expressed before him. Neither does its great value lie in its possessing the indisputable character of a scientific axiom. It may be said that although the Jews are perhaps the most perfect example of a spiritual existence in dispersion, still they are not quite unique in that respect. Other disinherited nations have existed more or less spiritually for many centuries in a degraded state of national homelessness, “lacking the essential attributes of nationality,” dispersed or dependent on other nations, and yet have not produced, even in a smaller degree, that fear which is evoked by a “disembodied spirit.” It may also be urged that the Jews were hated and branded by all sorts of calumnies and malicious accusations [Apion (fl. 1554 c.e.), Tacitus (55?post 117 c.e.)], mainly on account of their distinctiveness, their isolation, their different views and customs, and the inveterate prejudices of others—even when they had a land of their own. And although they may, and probably will, meet with the sympathy of some nations, which are not entirely blinded by prejudice, and whose interests may not clash with theirs, if they succeed in establishing their own home, still the supposition that they will no longer be hated by others, plausible though it may be, cannot claim any scientific certainty. It must be remembered that, apart from “demonophobia,” which is undoubtedly an important motive, hatred of the Jews is continually stimulated by a deep-rooted religious fanaticism, by economic competition and jealousy, by racial prejudice, and that it is rather a mixtum compositum of causes, conditions, passions, and interests too numerous to be destroyed by the removal of a few of them, and perhaps too various to be focussed in any single formula.

But that is not the main point. The psychology of anti-Semitism, as Pinsker formulated it, may be from a scientific point of view absolutely true, or it may be open to some criticism: the finest and most original achievement of Pinsker is rather that he was one of the first Russian Jews to treat the Jewish problem as a whole, and to treat it scientifically, while others deal only with fragments of it, and always in an apologetic spirit. The new synthesis, the new line of thought, foreshadowed by great minds in the past, but now fully disengaged and standing clearly revealed as the beacon-light of the future, was, to our mind, not his formulation of the causes of the problem, but his formulation of the programme—self-emancipation. Perez Smolenskin had voiced the demand of the Jewish conscience to maintain its historic tradition, and its condemnation of all that spirit of assimilation that betrays it with new formulas or deliberately denies it. Superior to Pinsker’s in being independent of the way in which the Jewish people is treated by others—to Smolenskin the fact of anti-Semitism was not one of fundamental importance—his message, eloquent as it was, suffered from being expressed in many different books, mixed up with other subjects, and confined to Hebrew readers, and thus cannot be compared with Pinsker’s concise and definite teaching. There were, however, many imperfections in that teaching. “Our great misfortune is that we do not form a nation—we are merely Jews.... And where shall we find this national consciousness?”¹ How different Smolenskin and others, who spoke from a secure tower of faith! “When he wrote his pamphlet Pinsker did not yet regard our historic land as the only possible home of refuge; on the contrary, he feared that our ingrained love for Palestine might give us a bias and induce us to choose that country without paying regard to its political, economic and other conditions, which perhaps might be unfavourable. For this reason he warns us emphatically not to be guided by sentiment in this matter, but to leave the question of territory to a commission of experts.”² He evidently saw in Palestine no more than a fraction of Asiatic earth, peopled by a certain number of inhabitants, while Smolenskin, David Gordon, and many others looked on it as the sanctuary of the nation, the historic centre, whence came the Jewish message to men, and the Jewish initiative in the world. Pinsker, like many others after him, had not yet realized at that time that one’s country is not merely a territory. Territory is only its basis; country is the idea that rises on that basis, the thought of a common history that draws together all the sons of that territory. But in spite of all these imperfections, Pinsker’s pamphlet necessarily led to faith in a national revival and to Palestine—not because of its arguments, but because it was a wonderful human document. Earnest, true, without a trace of affectation, Pinsker’s appeal bore the stamp of great sincerity, and if there was in his pamphlet some of the spirit of the prophets,³ this was essentially in his cry for self-help, in his warnings not to trust in others, in his appeal to national dignity and energy. To superficial minds, the idea of this modern scientist unconsciously re-echoing the warnings of the prophets not to trust in Egypt or in Assyria may seem exaggerated, but the apparently far-fetched comparison is absolutely sane, for it is based on the sanest of all conceptions—the unity of the Jewish national idea throughout hundreds of generations.

“He came to take part in the work of the Chovevé Zion.... He understood perfectly well that their work was very far removed from the great project of which he dreamt ... but when he saw a small group of men, with insignificant means, putting forth every possible effort to carry out a national project, small and poor though it was in comparison with his own ideal, Pinsker could not help lending a hand to those who were engaged in this work, seeing in them the nucleus of an organization, and the small beginning of the national resolution.”¹ He encouraged and supported the work of the Chovevé Zion (Lovers of Zion) as the first President of the Odessa Committee, and paved the way for modern Zionism. He died at Odessa, his native town, at the age of sixty-nine, on the 21st of December, 1891.


Jewish immigration into England—A meeting for the establishment of Jewish colonies in Palestine—The foundation of the Society “Kadima”—The Opposition—The opinions of English authorities on Palestine—Col. Conder—General Sir Charles Warren—Lord Swaythling—Earl of Rosebery—A petition to Abdul Hamid, Sultan of Turkey.

Through the persecutions of the Jews in different countries large numbers of fugitives had found their way to England. Many of these, ignorant of the language and customs of this country, had to endure great hardships. Although some of them succeeded in the struggle for existence under such unfavourable conditions, there were many others to whom England could not afford the prospect of gaining a livelihood.

Their difficulties were forcibly brought home to the Jews who lived in the East of London. They had been eye-witnesses themselves, if not of the persecutions, at least of some of their worst consequences. The first movement to remedy this unfortunate state of affairs began in 1885, when a meeting was held for the purpose of founding a society for the promotion of the Jewish National Idea, and the establishment of Jewish Colonies in Palestine. This meeting achieved no practical results at the time; but it gave expression to feelings which were bound ultimately to lead to practical and useful action. Two years later a society was formed in East London under the name of “Kadima.” Meetings were held at which papers were regularly read on some Jewish national subject. But the members were much divided as to the best method of realizing their aims. While some wanted the society to be nothing but an educational institution for the refugees who had taken up their abode in England, others desired to extend the sphere of its activity, and to make colonization one of its main objects. The newly awakened national consciousness had not yet gained mastery over the inveterate national apathy, and was still groping in the dark to find a basis for practical operations.

The enthusiasm manifested among the Jewish masses, important as it was, could not raise sufficient means, and was unable to influence the upper classes. The old questions arose again: Is Palestine suitable for colonization? What are the conditions of the soil and the climate? How many people could be accommodated there? By what means could a change in the conditions of Palestine be brought about?

It is strange how obstinately some Jewish opponents of the colonization of Palestine strained against believing in the future of Palestine. To the past they paid in icy discomfort the tribute of their remembrance, for this past imposes no duties upon those who are already quite detached from it in spirit. But the future! By denying the possibility of a future one beguiles an elastic conscience, which longs to evade the apparent conflict between duty to humanity and national instinct. But it avails little to pay no heed to truth because it is inconvenient, for where historical facts and direct experience point the same way, to deny them is but empty sophistry.

The opponents of Palestinian colonization could not deny that Palestine was once the “land of milk and honey,” but to justify themselves they tried to make out that two thousand years of desolation and neglect had laid the Holy Land waste and transformed it for all time into an unproductive desert. No more fallacious idea ever obtained currency. True, Palestine is no longer the luxuriant garden it once was, for history has crushed it under an iron heel, and what traces were left of its former richness lacked care and protection, so that disintegration and sterility took possession of the Holy Land as though it were a land accursed. Nevertheless, there is not the slightest reason to despair of a new development of the country, if only the task of carrying out this new development be entrusted to those who are willing to devote themselves to it, head, heart and hand, with the passion of patriotism and the zeal that springs from the consciousness of a historic responsibility.

The appendices to this book contain many excerpts from the works of competent authorities, which afford reliable information as to what may be achieved by a systematic and devoted cultivation. One may infer from these quotations, which are not in any way coloured by a facile optimism, what indestructible germs of future prosperity remain, in spite of all “injuriæ temporum.” If only an indolent administration and a lazy and retrograde population are replaced by capable national elements, the promise will be turned into a rich fulfilment. Figures and facts show too that notwithstanding all the unkindness of history, not only has the soil of Palestine retained its capacity for development, but trade has maintained itself, all things considered, at a high level. The ports of Jaffa and Haifa teem with traffic, although little enough is being done in harbour construction; and exports considerably exceed imports, which shows that, despite the neglect of centuries, the natural productiveness of the soil is still capable of adjustment to present-day conditions. No factory chimneys bear witness to active industry, no convenient means of communication favour trade; a phlegmatic, sparse population, entirely untouched by modern civilization, takes indolently what nature proffers, without any thought of supplementing it by its own endeavours. But given capable agriculturists, engineers and technicians, trained and enterprising merchants, and ample capital, how quickly could stagnation be turned into living and creative vigorous prosperity. The idea of the colonization of Palestine is, moreover, connected with the remarkable colonizing impetus which has taken hold of the entire modern world. And, judged by outward characteristics, are the European migrations to foreign lands, their colonization and development, so very different from this feature of Jewish aspirations? Exuberant energy finds no appropriate outlet in Europe, and seeks it far away, where it may be usefully employed for the furthering of civilization in the midst of backward countries and nations. Fruitful Jewish energy, which is being kept under in the Diaspora, will be gathered and transplanted to Palestine, that it may prove true to itself and to the whole of civilization, like Antæus brought back to contact with the earth.

Still, questions were naturally asked as to the condition of the soil of Palestine and the possibilities of expansion. It was also repeatedly asked, whether the Jews would be capable of hard pioneer work in the sphere of agriculture. These questions have been answered in a series of pamphlets and articles by such authorities as Colonel Claude Reignier Conder, General Sir Charles Warren, and others. They have shown that Palestine is capable of supporting a nation such as the Jews. Men who for many years had made the scientific exploration of Palestine their sole aim, whose judgment in the matter must be universally admitted to be decisive, have given testimony to the fact that the land “may be made one vast garden, not merely by rebuilding the great aqueducts, remains of which still exist, and by means of which the great cities were watered, but by means of the Jordan river itself.” They also affirmed that “the time has at last arrived to restore the desolations of Zion, and to rebuild the wasted places of the land of Israel.” Some of them referred to the Scriptures, but others dealt with the matter from a purely scientific point of view. They suggested the formation of a company similar to the old East India Company to administer Palestine (Appendix lxxiii).

In brief, all these English Christian authorities put forward in the most definite and clearest terms what we know as political Zionism.

These testimonies of English authorities concerning Palestine encouraged the “Lovers of Zion” in England to carry on their philanthropic work, and also to take certain political steps. A great and far-reaching step was taken by them in 1893, when a petition to Abdul Hamid, Sultan of Turkey (18761909), was presented by Mr. Samuel Montagu, M.P. (afterwards Lord Swaythling) (18321911), to the Earl of Rosebery, with a request to transmit it to Constantinople (Appendix lxxiv). The petition was signed by the officers of the Executive Committee and the secretaries of each Tent of the “Lovers of Zion.” It had no effect, because negotiations with the Turkish Government are generally very tardy, and the circumstances of the time were not favourable. There were obstacles, difficulties, uncertain political influences, currents and counter-currents which could not be got rid of immediately. But at any rate the English “Lovers of Zion” endeavoured to do precisely what the Zionists did at a later period.


The work in France—Baron Edmond de Rothschild and his activity in the colonization of Palestine—The effects in England—Colonel A. E. W. Goldsmid—Elim d’Avigdor.

To come back to France, it is significant that whilst England took the first place in the propaganda of the idea, its practical progress was due to French Jewry, or, to be more precise, to an individual French Jew. The work of the “Lovers of Zion” entered upon a new period when Baron Edmond de Rothschild of Paris started his great activity in the colonization of Palestine in 18951896.

Baron Edmond de Rothschild is one of the most honoured figures of Jewish contemporary history. Born to an exalted station in life and to a large fortune, he has devoted the best of his life and of his thought neither to pleasure nor to personal advancement, but to the furtherance of the material and moral well-being of the oppressed Jewish people. It is not too much to say that he has acquired a world-wide fame as a philanthropist, and that his name is indissolubly connected with all the greatest achievements of the Jews in Palestine. He is pre-eminently the friend of the persecuted and the outcast, without distinction of nationality or creed, and his generous sympathies and ceaseless efforts on behalf of his brethren entitle him to the foremost rank in the illustrious roll of Jewish leaders. His philanthropic enthusiasm can be traced to his profound Jewish national feeling.

Recent improvement in the condition of Jewish life in Palestine is due to many causes and to the efforts of many men, but to none more than to the noble work of Baron Edmond. He was not the originator of the idea of colonizing Palestine, but he carried it further than any of his predecessors or contemporaries, and he is responsible for developments beyond any that they conceived. His activity should serve as the grandest example of what can be accomplished when work is undertaken for the sake of a great ideal and carried out with staunch conviction. The creation of a sound Jewish settlement in Palestine is his vocation and his life-work. Nor is it the least interesting feature in his character, or the least honourable incident of his career, that the idea took hold of him at a time when there was every reason for even a generous man to dissociate himself from such thankless work.

Baron Edmond began to take an interest in Palestine at a time when the doctrine of assimilation was still triumphantly making headway throughout the whole of West-European Jewry. Under the guidance of the preachers of disintegration, Judaism was supposed to emancipate itself from the antiquated traditions of Palestine and from a belief in its future renascence. All this was to be altered. Neither the past nor the future was to interfere with the present. All that Jewish leaders could do to mitigate the lot of their unfortunate co-religionists was—charity. It was in such a world as this that Baron Edmond found himself when he first became a public character and a public force. Breaking away from the assimilation doctrine, he co-operated most cordially with the “Lovers of Zion.”

His activity found appreciation and emulation in England. Representatives of English Jewry, who were at the same time English patriots, supported the colonization of Palestine movement. One of the most prominent “Lovers of Zion” and an ardent supporter of the Jewish national idea, was Colonel Albert Edward Williamson Goldsmid, M.V.O. (18461904),¹ a scion of an old and distinguished Anglo-Jewish family. He made the Army his career, and in January, 1869, after serving two and a half years with the Fusiliers at Walmer, proceeded to India with his regiment. He was appointed Deputy Assistant Adjutant-General at headquarters in 1889, and held this position till 1892. In 1892 he accepted the responsible task of organizing the Jewish agricultural colonies in the Argentine, and, having obtained a year’s leave of absence, he proceeded to South America as Director-General. During his administration there enormous tracts of land were surveyed and parcelled out. About seven hundred families were settled in four great colonies, the majority of whom, being quite ignorant of agriculture, had to be instructed in its first principles. The Colonies were organized on a system whereby, as the colonists gained sufficient experience, the administration could be so materially reduced as to render the Colonies virtually self-governing. On returning from the Argentine, Colonel Goldsmid was unanimously elected chief of the “Lovers of Zion” Association of Great Britain and Ireland.

Another active leader was Elim Henry d’Avigdor (18411895).¹ By profession a civil engineer, he supervised the construction of railways in Syria and Transylvania, and of waterworks at Vienna. He was the author of several works in connection with his profession, and had literary leanings in other directions. Under the pseudonym “Wanderer,” he published many hunting stories of merit, for which he was well qualified, being himself an intrepid rider to hounds. At one time he was associated with Vanity Fair; and afterwards owned the Examiner, and subsequently brought out the Yachting Gazette.

He was like Colonel Goldsmid, one of the first English Jews to join the new movement for establishing agricultural colonies of Jews in the Holy Land. Such an idea was unwelcome to the prosperous and assimilated Jews, for the idea of assimilation had by now made some progress even in English Jewry. The impression left on the minds of many who heard of the idea was that there was a large number of Jews desirous of forestalling the promised advent of the Messiah. They had grown accustomed to the notion that Palestine was a thorny desert, infested by hordes of marauding Bedouins, and only fit for beggars and pious pilgrims. They were ignorant of all that had been written to the contrary by a number of authors, particularly by the indefatigable workers of the Palestine Exploration Fund. They had learned to discredit the sacred promises as to the future of the country. They felt themselves secure in the positions they had gained for themselves, and ridiculed the thought of renouncing them at the bidding of a few enthusiasts and dreamers, as if anyone had ever thought of placing such an alternative before them. They considered this idea mauvais ton, and thought that it might endanger their newly acquired social position, such as it was. These motives, and others like them, induced most of the prominent Jews to turn away from a movement with which they could have no sympathy.

Elim H. d’Avigdor   Col. Albert E. W. Goldsmid

Jean Henri Dunant   Father Ignatius

Dr. E. W. Tschlenow   Dr. Max Mandelstamm

Not so d’Avigdor. His intuitive mind showed him the futility of such fears and the possibility of attaining the grand results hoped for and partly achieved already by kindred societies, if only the efforts made were kept within the bounds of prudence. He took up the cause of the Jewish colonization of Palestine with ardour and energy. When he began work the “Lovers of Zion” Association did not yet exist, but numerous meetings had already been held in support of the movement for colonizing Palestine by Jews, though no steps had until then been taken to give the agitation a practical turn. It was necessary first of all that a proper organization should be established, not only for the purpose of utilizing the energies of the more practical promoters of the scheme, but also to prevent rash measures, which would have had the effect of destroying the undertaking at its very birth.

With both these objects clearly in view, d’Avigdor urged the speedy completion of a constitution calculated to give the movement shape and substance, and to establish a system of work on defined and methodical lines. To this end he brought his organizing abilities into full play, and together with Colonel Goldsmid drafted a set of rules, which was made the basis of future procedure. The services rendered by him to the society were innumerable. He addressed public meetings in various parts of London, and travelled to the provinces for the purpose of rousing general interest in the work. He went to Paris and carried on important negotiations for the acquisition of land in Palestine, a task for which he was eminently fitted by reason of his wide experience and great business ability. He secured 10,000 dunams of land in the Hauran on favourable terms. The departure of Colonel Goldsmid for the Argentine made his work more arduous. d’Avigdor was then elected chief of the Association, while at the same time, as Commander of the Western Tent, he attended to the working of that particular branch.

A prominent feature in his activity was his chairmanship of the Central Committee of the “Lovers of Zion” in Paris. The idea had seized hold of some branches of the Association on the Continent and in America, that valuable results might be achieved by united efforts in various countries. A meeting to consider proposals for the realization of this idea was held in Paris, and some progress was made in the direction of co-ordination (Appendix lxxv).


William Ewart Gladstone—Father Ignatius—Gladstone’s ideas on Judaism—Concessions of the Jewish opposition—Goldsmid’s and d’Avigdor’s nationalistic replies.

William Ewart Gladstone (18091898), the “Grand Old Man,” statesman, orator, and scholar, gained the undying gratitude of humanity for his championship of right against might in countries which were striving for freedom from the iron grip of tyrannical government. He stood for liberty, liberty of race and creed. Wherever liberty had to be championed he was always to the fore as one of its most valiant defenders. It fell to him to help the cause of the English Jews rather than that of the Jews of the world. Powerful as were his efforts in the cause of national righteousness, he did nothing on behalf of the Jews as a people. But we have it on the authority of Father Ignatius (18371908) that he was “a friend of the Zionist movement.”

Father Ignatius himself was for many years an enthusiastic supporter of the movement from the religious standpoint, but without any conversionist tendency. He defended the national idea of Israel for many years in numerous addresses, speeches and pamphlets. In one of his lectures¹ he said:—

“... he was sorry to say that the magnificent truth respecting the Chosen People has been set aside by certain Jews themselves. There were some who were unconscious of the miracle of the preservation of the Jewish race, in spite of the efforts of the whole world to assimilate them—of the miracle of their distinct existence unassimilated with the other nations of the earth. Where was there a literature produced by any nation that had had that moral civilising and enfranchising power over the hearts and minds and lives of men that the literature of Israel had exercised?...”

“... It was necessary to incite the national idea and national ambition in the heart of Israel throughout the world. Why should an intelligent and powerful race be content to be vagrants on the face of the earth? Why should they be content to be a homeless race now that circumstances were pointing to facilities for giving them a home?...”

“... The national movement was a reality and a fact. It is not a spasmodic movement, but one that was being carried on with great practical business-like skill and determination....”

“... Let the world give the Jews their home. Palestine was the cradle of their race, its ancient and proper home, the centre of its great and glorious history, and it was the outpourings of sorrow for it that has rendered the literature of the Jews the most precious and beautiful one extant. The Jews had a right to Palestine, it was God’s gift to them, and that was a greater right than an Englishman’s right to England....”

“Stir yourselves up, agitate, work, labour for your cause. I know such a man as Mr. Gladstone is a friend of this movement....”¹

In confirmation of this evidence as to Gladstone’s attitude towards Jewish national distinctiveness, we find in his writings an eloquent recognition of the “Hebrew genius.”

81. “But indeed there is no need, in order to a due appreciation of our debt to the ancient Greeks, that we should either forget or disparage the function, which was assigned by the Almighty Father to this most favoured people. Much profit, says St. Paul, had the Jew in every way. He had the oracles of God: he had the custody of the promises: he was the steward of the great and fundamental conception of the unity of God, the sole and absolute condition under which the Divine idea could be upheld among men at its just elevation. No poetry, no philosophy, no art of Greece ever embraced, in its most soaring and widest conceptions, that simple law of love towards God and towards our neighbour, on which ‘two commandments hang all the law and the prophets,’ and which supplied the moral basis of the new dispensation.”

82. “There is one history, and that the most touching and most profound of all, for which we should search in vain through all the pages of the classics,—I mean the history of the human soul in its relations with its Maker; the history of its sin, and grief, and death, and of the way of its recovery to hope and life and to enduring joy. For the exercises of strength and skill, for the achievements and for the enchantments of wit, of eloquence, of art, of genius, for the imperial games of politics and of war let us seek them on the shores of Greece.... All the wonders of the Greek civilisation heaped together are less wonderful, than the single Book of Psalms.”

83. “Palestine was weak and despised, always obscure, oftentimes and long trodden down beneath the feet of imperious masters. On the other hand, Greece, for a thousand years, ... repelled every invader from her shores. Fostering her strength in the keen air of freedom, she defied, and at length overthrew, the mightiest of empires; and when finally she felt the resistless grasp of the masters of all the world, then too, at the very moment of her subjugation, she herself subdued them to her literature, language, arts, and manners. Palestine, in a word, had no share in the glories of our race; while they blaze on every page of the history of Greece with an overpowering splendour. Greece had valour, policy, renown, genius, wisdom, wit; she had all, in a word, that this world could give her; but the flowers of Paradise, which blossom at the best but thinly, blossomed in Palestine alone.”¹

Here we have again the closest connection between Zionism and Biblical ideas.

At the Great Assembly Hall, Mile End, on the 29th May, 1891, on the occasion when the petition to be presented to the Sultan of Turkey, composed in Hebrew and English, was communicated to the public by Mr. S. Montagu, M.P. (afterwards Lord Swaythling), Mr. Elim H. d’Avigdor declared:—

“... His objection to colonising America was that the farther west they went, the greater the distance they placed between them and Zion. He wished rather that they should go to a country that was once Israel’s homestead, where brother might work with brother, where the Sabbath would be the Sabbath of all, and where Yom Kippur would be the day of abstention from food throughout the country. He was convinced that many wealthy co-religionists were willing to surrender cheerfully all their worldly possessions, and resign all their hopes of worldly aggrandisement, in order to return with their brethren to the land of their fathers. They express the hope every Passover, ‘Next year in Jerusalem.’ Was this utterance merely a lip service, or did it spring from their hearts?...”

Lieut.-Col. Goldsmid followed, and said:—

“... The seed of Israel was meant for something more than a commercial people. Let them not only strive to find a home for their outcast brethren, but let it be their aim and object to resuscitate the national idea in Israel.”¹

In an address delivered in Edinburgh he struck the same note:—

“... there was no nation on the earth nearer akin to the Jewish nation than the Scottish, both in their love of the Bible and in their sympathy with all that is best in Judaism. The Chovevi Zion, he said, was not a charitable institution, the main object was to foster the national idea in Israel. Had it not been for the national idea we would have been wiped off the face of the earth long before now.¹ Colonel Goldsmid went on to show how we Jews, who are the descendants of the faithful minority in Babylon, continue to exist as heirs to the promises through all ages, while the descendants of the majority, who turned away from the national idea, no longer exist. Some people said that members of the Chovevi Zion could not be good citizens, but he maintained that the true lover of Zion, who could be faithful after two thousand years, would die in defence of the country he lived in.... When I visited Palestine in 1883, colonies were just beginning to be formed. People laughed at the idea of Jewish agriculturists. There were three small colonies, but for want of implements to work, things were at a standstill, some were actually tearing up the ground with their fingers. Through the kindness of Baron Edmond de Rothschild, matters are now very different. In future, colonisation, from the experience which has been gained, would start with enormous advantages....”²

Judah Touro   Emma Lazarus

Mordecai Manuel Noah   Rabbi Dr. Morris Jacob Raphall


Zionism echoed in America—Emma Lazarus—A call—Emma Lazarus and George Eliot—Mrs. Rose Sonnenshein—The Opposition—A Tour to Palestine—The Colonies.

These ideas were echoed in a sublime form in English-speaking American Jewry by the poetess Emma Lazarus (18491887), one of the most eloquent champions of the Jewish national idea in the English language.

The story of Emma Lazarus’ life is the story of a soul ever striving and pressing ahead towards truth and the light. Her works clearly reflect the progress of her ideas. She was a born songstress, yet she did not sing like the nightingale for the joy of being alive. There was a shadow of sadness resting on her entire being, something born with her as part of her disposition and temperament, the stamp and heritage of a suffering race. Hebraism lay dormant in this Jewish poetess. She was much influenced by Heinrich Heine (17971856). Charmed by the beauty of his poetry, the whimsical play of his imagination and the heart’s muffled outburst audible through it all, she was nevertheless unaware of the actual bond that united them: the relationship in the blood, the unquenchable flame of the tragic Jewish passion of eighteen hundred years, which was smouldering in her own heart, and was soon to break forth and change the entire tendency of her thoughts and feelings.

The persecutions of the Jews in 18801884 were for Emma Lazarus a clarion call that awoke slumbering and unrealised feelings and aspirations. She was an assimilated Jewess herself at the beginning of her literary career. She had been in search of heroic ideals in alien fields, in Pagan mythology and in mystic, mediæval Christianity, ignoring all the time her birthright—the glorious vista of a great past and of a still greater future for the Jewish nation. Judaism had been a dead letter to her. But with the outbreak of the persecutions she found herself again. From this time dated the mission which she undertook on behalf of her race, and the expansion of all her faculties, that growth of spiritual power which is always stimulated when a great cause is championed and strong convictions awaken the soul. Emma Lazarus became an inspired poetess of the Jewish national idea. Her whole being had reshaped itself and found nourishment at an inexhaustible source. She threw herself into the study of her race, its language, its literature and history. Breaking the outward shell, she soon reached the kernel of the faith and the “miracle” of its survival. What was it other than the ever-present, ever life-inspiring spirit itself, which cannot die—the religious and ethical zeal which fills the whole history of the Jewish people, and of which she herself felt the living glow within her own soul? She had discovered the secret and the genius of Judaism—that complete transfusion of spirit with body and substance which, taken literally, often reduces itself to rites and ceremonies, but viewed in a proper light takes a nobler shape and form, and spreads its light over humanity in the prophets, teachers and saviours of mankind.

The idea that aroused the imagination of Emma Lazarus was a restored and independent nationality and the repatriation of the Jews in Palestine. In an article on the “Jewish Problem,” she wrote:—

“I am fully persuaded that all suggested solutions other than this of the Jewish problem are but temporary palliatives.¹

“The idea formulated by George Eliot has already sunk into the minds of many Jewish enthusiasts, and it germinates with miraculous rapidity. ‘The idea that I am possessed with,’ says Mordecai, ‘is that of restoring a political existence to my people, making them a nation again, giving them a national centre, such as the English have, though they, too, are scattered over the face of the globe. That is a task which presents itself to me as a duty.... I am resolved to devote my life to it. At the least, I may awaken a movement in other minds such as has been awakened in my own.’” Could the noble poetess who wrote these words have lived until to-day, she would have been astonished at the flame which her torch has kindled and the practical shape which the movement brought to public notice by her has begun to assume.

In November, 1882, her first Epistle to the Hebrews appeared as one of a series of articles written for the American Hebrew. Addressing herself to a Jewish audience, she unfolded her views and hopes for Judaism without reserve, on the one hand passionately urging its claims and its high ideals, and on the other dispassionately describing the shortcomings and peculiarities of her race. She says: “Every student of the Hebrew language is aware that we have in conjugation of our verbs a mode known as the intensive voice, which, by means of an almost imperceptible modification of vowel-points, intensifies the meaning of the primitive root. A similar significance seems to attach to the Jews themselves in connection with the people among whom they dwell. They are the intensive form of any nationality whose language and customs they adopt.... Influenced by the same causes, they represent the same results: but the deeper lights and shadows of the Oriental temperament throw their failings, as well as their virtues, into more prominent relief.”

In drawing the Epistles to a close,¹ she summarized the special objects she had in view: “My chief aim has been to contribute my mite towards arousing that spirit of Jewish enthusiasm which might manifest itself:—

First. In a return to the world pursuits and broad asylum of physical and intellectual education adopted by our ancestors:

Second. In a more fraternal and practical movement towards alleviating the sufferings of oppressed Jews in countries less favoured than our own:

Third. In a closer and wider study of Hebrew literature and history: and, finally, in a truer recognition of the large principles of religion, liberty and law upon which Judaism is founded, and which should draw into harmonious unity Jews of every shade of opinion.”

Her verses rang out as they had never sounded before, like clarion notes, calling a people to heroic action and unity, to the consciousness and realization of a great destiny.

What the annals of the “Lovers of Zion” in America tell us concerning the rise and progress of the Zionist idea shows that the seed sown by Emma Lazarus took deep root in the hearts of the Jews, and brought forth abundant fruit. She created a high sense of Jewish self-consciousness, and spread a holy love and devotion to a great ideal in the hearts of those who had not hitherto reflected on their national duty and its importance.

In the American Jewess¹ an article appeared on the “Dream of Nationality,” by Mrs. Rose Sonnenshein, the editress, one of the few Jewesses who had as yet written a word on this question. She wrote: “To our mind there is no loftier ideal worth realization than Israel’s dream of Nationality.... What Jew has not dreamed of Israel again as a nation? It can be confidently asserted that among the sons and daughters of the Covenant it is an exceptional one who has not at some time dwelt upon such a possibility. Who has not given the loose rein to fancy and indulged in visions of Judah re-born, free, great and glorious, one of the Sister States in a modern federation of nations? ... has not had visions of ourselves as patriotic Jews, proudly pointing to the Eagle of Judah, the emblem of a free and happy people? To the wandering son of Israel the knowledge that a recognized government stood behind him to protect him in his rights when he demands reparations of insult or injury and sustain him as the equal of citizens of other nations would endow him with a dignity of which centuries of oppression have robbed him, and which not even the widest modern freedom has fully restored.”

The question of the attitude of the Jews, particularly of “the leading and wealthy Jews,” towards Zionism arose at different times in the English Press. Amid much friendly criticism called forth by the publication of Emma Lazarus’ writings, two plausible objections were raised. The first was that before an appeal to the world, an appeal should be made to the Jews themselves, in order to elicit some evidence as to their feelings on the question. The second was that, even were the Jews to be restored, a difficulty would immediately arise as to the means of subsistence or the kind of employment to be found for them.

It was not an easy task to gain the sympathy and the support of many “leading and wealthy Jews” for the national idea in Western Europe and America. Many who were ready to admit the truth of the Zionist conclusion were troubled by their ideas about humanity. It must be borne in mind that only in the nineteenth century did the idea of nationality reappear in its ancient form, and that as late as the end of the eighteenth century it was considered a sign of advanced culture to have triumphed over national narrow-mindedness and to desire emancipation for the whole of humanity. The Middle Ages knew nothing of nationality in our sense, and therefore a sense of nationality could not be expected of the Jews. But in the nineteenth century first hatred and then science began to recognize the nationality of the Jews. On the one hand antagonists zealously put forth new arguments to prove that the Jews were a distinct people, who had never yet been absorbed by their environment; on the other hand scientific research brought forward undeniable proofs of the physical, intellectual and moral peculiarities of the Jewish race. And just because separatism was emphasized and made use of by their enemies, some Jews considered that for the purpose of self-defence it was best to deny it: or at any rate their unjustifiable timidity and unreasonable sensitiveness prevented them from admitting it. They forgot that for centuries the furious storms of invective and calumny had been raging around their people, and that there were no malignant suspicions, no treacherous insinuations, no absurd accusations, that had not been levelled at them, whether they admitted the fact of their distinctiveness or not. Anti-Semitism raged most against those Jews who showed particularly assimilative tendencies, and aroused against them every kind of hatred and rancour, regardless of the question whether they were faithful to their past and to their ideals, or otherwise.

Some Jews imagined erroneously that the question at issue was one of their rights in different countries. They forgot that they must demand equality of rights as Jews, and not as a prize for giving up what they could not give up—their history, their distinctiveness. Others, again, confounded Jewish national self-consciousness with what the gentiles regard as nationalism—aspirations generally of an aggressive and reactionary character. Some wealthy Jews were unfortunately lulled into a pernicious feeling of security or fatal indifference. What did they give to the masses? A cheque for charity, whenever it was wanted, of course; but that was all. Insurance money or conscience money, whichever it may be called, they gave; but of personal devotion, of serious anxiety or steady resolve to ameliorate the lot of Israel—nothing. They asked, how can a national ideal help poor people? They did not understand that it can help them more than money: that it eases their sufferings, renders their sorrows and disappointments less distressing, teaches them to search their own hearts, to consider their own ways.

It is clear that the “Lovers of Zion” in England and America had a hard fight. They knew that if they attempted to satisfy all sections of Jews they could not remain faithful to the nation, whose greatest interest and immediate concern it is to pave the way for a final solution of its problem. The truth had dawned upon them that for thousands of years there had always been a restless desire on the part of the Jews to get back to Palestine, and that this wish arose from deep religious, traditional and national principles and hopes. It is a feeling inherited by the Jew and fostered in him from the cradle. The ancient home of the ancient nation is Palestine: to that land their eyes, their hopes and their hearts are always turned. This attachment does not interfere with their sincere patriotism and loyalty to the countries wherein they live. Those who live in other countries, and are satisfied, may remain there. The Jewish masses will go to Palestine as soon as they have the possibility of doing so. Palestine must become the home of the nation, not merely of individuals. It did not matter to the “Lovers of Zion” that some wealthy Jews did not wish for the national re-birth; they simply emulated careful and prudent physicians, who, when they visit their patients, do not ask them what they like best, and then prescribe what is most pleasing to their palates, though perhaps most hurtful, but, having carefully studied the ailments of their patients, order them to take what they deem most necessary for them, even though it be not pleasing or acceptable.

In 1897 Mr. Herbert Bentwich, LL.B., organized in London the “Maccabean” tour to Palestine, in which twenty-one persons took part. Under his guidance this party of Jewish travellers proceeded to Palestine, and got into close touch with the Jewish population of the country, especially with the colonists. On Sabbath Hachodesh (3 April, 5657), the late Chief Rabbi, the Very Rev. Dr. Hermann Adler (18391911), delivered an eloquent sermon¹ at the Hampstead synagogue, in which he said:—

“... But one of the most attractive portions of your tour will, I think, be your visits to some of the colonies. And in this connection I may give an illustration of the vivid interest taken in your journey by the residents in the Holy Land. A well-informed correspondent writes to the Jüdische Presse expressing his regret that the only Jewish colony you contemplate inspecting is Rosh Pinah, certainly the most romantically situated, and that you will not see the prosperous settlement ‘Rishon-le-Zion,’ nor the agricultural school ‘Mikveh Israel,’ and he advises a route which would enable you to see a number of new settlements, and some thirteen Jewish villages that have sprung up within the last ten years. Now undoubtedly great things have already been accomplished in training the hapless immigrants from Russia and Roumania to become hardy tillers of the soil ... well-trained Jewish horticulturists are at the head of each settlement, that Jewish farmers, peasants and labourers toil with splendid diligence ... 50,000 eucalyptus trees planted in Gadra to counteract malarial influences; 2,000,000 of vines that have been grafted by Jews in Rishon-le-Zion, Petach Tikvah and Zichron Jacob, and of the excellent wine that is produced there. In Rishon-le-Zion there are numbers of smiths and coopers.... But yet I feel confident that this pilgrimage will exercise an abiding effect on your spiritual life. It is a well-authenticated fact that de Saulcy [L. F. J. Cagnart] (18071880), the great Oriental traveller, confessed that he went to Palestine as an unbeliever, and that he returned from there with a profound faith in the truth of the Bible. You, I hope, do not need to have your faith thus strengthened. But I ardently trust that by this pilgrimage there will be engendered in your hearts ... a stronger sentiment of brotherhood, ... a more enthusiastic devotion to ... Zion and Jerusalem,...”¹


Herbert Bentwich
Edmond de Menasce
Lewis Levy
Mrs. Rose Frank
Miss Marion Douglas
Dr. Louis Frankel
Samuel Finn
  Asher Feldman
David Wolffe
Samuel Levy Bensusan
Henry Davis
Miss Salvena Schloss
Mrs. Fannie Muhr
Rev. George Joseph Emanuel
  Isaac Snowman
A. L. Birnstingl
Mrs. Cordelia Birnstingl
Charles Davis
Israel Zangwill
Ernest D. Isaacs
Jussuf (Dragoman)

The visit of this party was a new feature in the Jewish history of Palestine. It was looked upon with satisfaction, as indicating the growing interest of English Jews in Palestine. It took place at the very moment when modern Zionism entered upon the scene, on the eve of the first Congress, and, so far as English Jews were concerned, it had a good moral influence.


His philanthropic activity—The Oriental Jews and the “Alliance”—Emanuel Felix Veneziani—Lord Swaythling—Dr. A. Asher—Laurence Oliphant.

Baron Maurice (Moritz) de Hirsch (Freiherr auf Gereuth) was born on December 9th, 1831, at Munich. His father, Baron Joseph de Hirsch (18051895), was a native of that city, and son of Baron Jacob de Hirsch (17641841), the founder of the family fortune. His mother (née Caroline Wertheimer of Frankfort) belonged to an old Jewish family which was universally known for its charitable work and sincere piety. Hirsch cherished very affectionate recollections of his parents, and particularly of his mother, who is said to have seen to it that he received good instruction in the Jewish religion.

The scope of his studies was somewhat narrow. He received his education in Munich and Brussels. Being of a practical turn of mind, he engaged early in life in several business ventures. In 1855 he married Clara (18331899), eldest daughter of Senator Raphael Jonathan Bischoffsheim (18081883), of the firm of Bischoffsheim and Goldschmidt, Brussels, which had branches in Paris and London. He did not, however, join this firm, as its business methods appeared to him too conservative to suit his enterprising temperament. Having inherited a considerable fortune from his parents, and received a handsome dowry with his wife, he embarked on railway enterprises in Austria, in Russia, and—with most success—in the Balkans. These enterprises, which consisted mainly in the construction of light railways, were only the beginning of his activities. A huge undertaking came in his way. A Brussels banking firm, which had received from the Ottoman Government a concession for building a railway through the Balkans to Constantinople, was unable to carry the project through. Hirsch acquired the concession, went to Constantinople, and succeeded in getting some of the conditions altered for the better. He then formed a company, and made all the necessary arrangements for the building of this great railway, which was, for the first time in history, to connect Europe with the Near East. In certain financial circles his optimism was ridiculed. But those who laugh last laugh loudest. It soon became apparent that he knew what he was about when he secured the concession. By a bold practical stroke he obtained the necessary funds, and his success was as immediate as it was complete. This was really the making of his career. The success of this transaction gained him recognition as one of the greatest financiers of Europe. He became not only a multi-millionaire, but also a recognized authority on large industrial undertakings.

His philanthropic activity, which began early in the seventies, was on a scale hitherto unequalled, and showed great originality of method. This activity may be divided into five branches:—

1. The East, in connection with the “Alliance Israélite Universelle” of Paris.

2. Relief for the Russian Jews.

3. Emigration from Russia.

4. Foundation of the Jewish Colonization Association, and

5. Various other philanthropic institutions.

While engaged in working out his plans for the construction of his railway in Turkey, Hirsch had become acquainted with the deplorable condition of the Jews in the Orient, and had come to the conclusion that their sufferings were mainly due to the lack of modern education and of opportunities to earn a livelihood. He considered European education a great necessity in the East, and therefore admired the educational work of the “Alliance Israélite.” It struck him that too little was done in this direction. He consequently placed large sums at the disposal of the “Alliance,” of which he became a powerful supporter. In 1873 he gave the “Alliance” 1,000,000 francs to form new schools, and from 1880 till his death he undertook to make good the deficit of the organisation, which amounted annually to several hundred thousand francs. Finding that the ordinary schools were not sufficient for the purpose in view, he encouraged the “Alliance” to establish trade schools, the entire expense of which he bore from 1878 until his death. In 1899, in place of his annual grant, he gave the “Alliance” a capital sum, which yielded a yearly income of 400,000 francs; but, none the less, he continued to meet the deficit year by year.

All this time, as indeed throughout his life, he was keenly interested in the Jews of the Orient. He procured in the seventies the services of an excellent Jew, M. Emanuel Felix Veneziani (18251889), who made investigations for him, and became his almoner in the East, and afterwards also in other parts of the world.

The year 1882, with its pogroms and the atrocious Jewish disabilities which it introduced, was a turning-point in Hirsch’s philanthropic activities as much as in the activities of all the Jewish organizations and of individual philanthropists. When 4050,000 pogrom refugees in a starving condition crowded into the already crowded Galician Ghettoes, adding their starvation and agonies to the misery already there, and the great Jewish organizations and communities sent their representatives to afford protection to the suffering (Mr. Samuel Montagu—afterwards Lord Swaythling—and Dr. Asher Asher (18371889) came from London, also Mr. Laurence Oliphant), M. Veneziani appeared as representative of Baron de Hirsch, and offered enormous sums—by which, however, only a small part of the appalling distress was met. Baron de Hirsch also sent money to Russia for years.

At that period Baron de Hirsch, like most other emancipated Jews in Western Europe, believed that a solution of the Jewish problem could be achieved by steps taken in Russia itself. Like the others, he knew very little of the great complexity and peculiar conditions of the problem. So with the assistance of a Commission he devoted much of his time to drawing up a scheme for the improvement of the condition of the Jews in Russia. Bearing in mind the activity of the “Alliance” in the East, he paid due regard to the need for providing Russian Jews with modern education, and his scheme contemplated a fund of 50,000,000 francs to be used for educational purposes—under his own control. But this was a Utopian idea. Anyone acquainted with the conditions could easily have shown him that this offer would be declined.

He was finally and unalterably convinced that the only hope lay in emigration. With the adoption of this view began the third period of his activity, in which he supported emigration in every shape and form. It is difficult to estimate how much he spent for this purpose; but by far the greatest part of the support given by the “Alliance” and other organizations to emigration came from him. Later, however, he realized that this support, useful as it was to individuals, was of no permanent value, and then, entering upon the fourth and most important period of his activity, he became the Baron de Hirsch who will for ever be remembered in Jewish history—the man who endeavoured to solve the Jewish problem not by charities, schools, contributions to the “Alliance” or schemes for the benefit of Russia, but by a single great effort for Jewish Emancipation.


The “Jewish Colonization Association” (1891)—Statutes and shareholders—Baron de Hirsch’s letter to the Russian Jews—His articles in the Forum and the North American Review—Baroness Clara de Hirsch.

Baron de Hirsch was not a Zionist, nor do we desire to claim him as a national Jew. Had he been asked whether he recognized the national idea, he would undoubtedly have replied that he was opposed to it. He was not much interested in abstract ideas, and it is questionable whether he could be made to fit in with any cut-and-dried theory at all. Nevertheless, his activities became those of a national Jew when once he was made fully conscious of the Jewish tragedy. Born in Munich, heir to an Austrian title, distinguished for his industrial undertakings in the East, resident in Paris, with powerful connections in England, he devoted himself at last almost entirely to his brethren in Russia. Was the impelling feeling a colourless cosmopolitan humanism? One might have called it so as long as he merely supported education and sent contributions to charities. But one cannot, without doing violence to facts, regard the work of what we have called his fourth period—which was the very climax of his activity—as the mere charitable routine which is characteristic of Jews whose purpose and hope is “assimilation.” Hirsch was more than a Jew of that type. The tendency towards assimilation destroys the Jew, discourages the man, kills his individuality, “and thus the native hue of resolution is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,” and the Jew becomes an emulator of what other people do, a slave of other people’s opinions. If a personality like that of Hirsch could develop in such an environment, it was because his inquiring mind, the experience gained in his travels and his absorption during youth of the old traditions of his people carried him far beyond his actual surroundings. It was due to his individual gifts that he took up the great idea of concentration of the persecuted Jewish people by means of colonization. He directed all his energies to the investigation of the best places for colonization, and the result was the formation of an international association, incorporated under English law, and known as the Jewish Colonization Association, whose Memorandum of Association includes the following clauses:—

“To assist and promote the emigration of Jews from any part of Europe or Asia—and principally from countries in which they may for the time being be subjected to any special taxes or political or other disabilities—to any parts of the world, and to form and establish colonies in various parts of North and South America and other countries for agricultural, commercial and other purposes.

“To purchase and acquire, by donation or otherwise, from any Governments, States, municipal or local authorities, corporations, firms, or persons any territories, lands, or other property, as concessions, powers and privileges, which may be necessary or convenient for developing the resources of the same and rendering the same available for colonization.

“To accept gifts, donations and bequests of money and other property, on the terms of the same being applied for all or some one or more of the purposes of the company, or such other terms as may be consistent with the objects of the company.”

The Articles of Association provide, among other things, that no more than half the capital is to be employed in the purchase of land, that the governing body shall consist of a Council of Administration, who in their turn shall elect Directors, and these shall be paid officials and carry out all the executive work. The machinery provided by the Articles enables representative Jewish institutions to become members of the Company, and thereby to have a certain voice in the management. The constitution further provides that under no circumstances shall any of the members derive any profit from the undertaking.

With regard to the objects of the Company, the last clause was amplified at an Extraordinary General Meeting of the Company by the addition before “or on such terms” of the following words: “or for any other philanthropical purposes specified by the donor or testator for the benefit of Jewish communities or individuals either in Europe or in America.”

The Jewish Colonization Association was founded with a capital of £2,000,000 divided into 20,000 non-dividend bearing shares of £100 each. Baron de Hirsch subscribed for 19,993 shares; and Lord Rothschild (18401915), Sir Julian Goldsmid (18381896), Ernest (afterwards Sir Ernest) Cassel, Frederic David Mocatta (18281905), and Benjamin Louis (afterwards Sir Benjamin Louis) Cohen (18441909) of London, and Salomon H. Goldschmidt (18141898) and Solomon Reinach of Paris for one share each.¹

About the time when the Jewish Colonization Association was formed, Baron de Hirsch addressed an appeal to the Jews in Russia concerning the emigration schemes which he intended to carry out under the auspices of the Company. The following is a translation of this appeal:—

“To my co-religionists in Russia: You know that I am endeavouring to better your lot. It is, therefore, my duty to speak plainly to you, and to tell you what it is necessary for you to know.

“I am acquainted with the reasons which oblige many of you to emigrate, and I will gladly do all in my power to assist you in your hour of distress. But you must make this possible for me. Your emigration must not resemble a rash and reckless flight by which the endeavour to escape danger ends in destruction. You know that properly organized committees are shortly to be established in Russia, with the consent and under the supervision of the Imperial Russian Government. The duty of these committees will be to organize the emigration in a business-like way. All persons desirous of emigrating will have to apply to the local committees, who alone will be authorized to give you the necessary facilities. Only those persons who have been elected by the committees can have the advantage of the assistance of myself and of those who are working with me. Any one who leaves the country without the concurrence of the committees will do so at his own risk, and must not count on any aid from me.

“It is obvious that in the beginning the number of emigrants cannot be large; for not only must places of refuge be found for those who first depart, but the necessary preparations must be made for those who follow. Later on the emigration will be able to assume larger proportions.

“Remember that I can do nothing for you without the benevolent and gracious support of the Imperial Russian Government.

“In conclusion, I appeal to you. You are the inheritors of your fathers, who for centuries have suffered so much. Bear this inheritance yet awhile with equal resignation. Have also further patience, and thus make it possible for those who are anxious to help you to do so effectively.

“I send you these words of warning and of encouragement in my own name and in the name of thousands of your co-religionists. Take them to heart and understand them.

“May the good God help you and me, and also the many who work with us for your benefit with so much devotion.”

This appeal, though it only urged the Jewish masses to assist the great work by obeying certain necessary prescribed regulations, had the effect of rousing the entire Jewish population to a new hopefulness and of stimulating communal workers, leaders and publicists to further activity. There was not a poor Jewish home in Russia where the name of Hirsch did not receive a daily blessing—not for what he had given or for what he was about to give, but because he had stretched out a hand to them in their misery, because they no longer felt themselves forsaken, and because a touch of kindness from an unseen hand gave them fresh courage, new resolution, and new hope.

As is usual in such cases, no warnings or denials could correct the estimate formed by the popular imagination of the possibilities of the undertaking. Baron de Hirsch himself was supposed to have said or written that he was going to transmigrate five million Jews from Russia in twenty years; and this statement, which was published in an official Russian paper, though in the unofficial part of it, gained currency at once, and remained in the minds of the people as a kind of programme. And, though the immediate excitement abated, and gave way to disappointment among those who had looked forward to a new gigantic exodus, it was evident that the chances of a partial solution of the Jewish problem were immensely greater than they had ever been before.

Baron de Hirsch caused careful inquiries and investigations to be made in countries which offered suitable land for agricultural development. It may be observed that, though the wording of the statutes contemplates commercial colonies and the encouragement of artisans, and speaks of “any parts of the world,” in reality Hirsch had never thought of commercial colonies nor of artisans nor of small groups scattered all over the world, since first he started dealing with the Jewish problem in Russia. Commercial colonies for Jews are as unnecessary as they are impossible, because Jews engaged in commerce need not and would not congregate in colonies; and as to the industrial education and encouragement of artisans, it is true that Hirsch was interested in useful work of this kind, but this was at an earlier period, and belongs to the kind of philanthropic activity which he carried on, particularly in the East, through the “Alliance,” etc. As to Russia, anybody who had any conversation with him, or read his articles¹ on the subject, or was in touch with his advisers at that period, will testify that what Hirsch had decided to initiate was a great undertaking for the persecuted Jewish people. Since he had received, much to his surprise, the reply that he would not be allowed to work in Russia, he had systematically declined to undertake anything there except the support of emigration. Petitions poured into his office at Paris, rue d’Elysée 2, from innumerable Jewish societies and communities in Russia, but he refused to pay any attention to all these schemes for the encouragement of artisans and industries. He was devoted to the idea of concentrating masses of Russian Jews elsewhere, and of making them agriculturists. Since 1887 he had practically decided to make the Jewish people the principal heirs of his fortune, in order to enable them radically to change their status.

Personal experiences of a sentimental nature had contributed to this decision. The terrible and unexpected blow, in losing his only son Lucien (18511887), a young man of exceptional gifts and promise, touched his most tender affections and gave a fresh impetus to his desire to succour human misery. It was feared for a moment that he would be overwhelmed by the weight of a catastrophe which had ruined so many hopes. But he possessed such energy, such powerful resources of character, that he soon recovered. His very natural grief found sanctification in the noble diversion of devoting himself more eagerly than before to his immense task. His wife, a keenly idealistic Jewess, exerted a strong Jewish influence upon him, encouraging to the utmost the great work which he started. The unfortunate mother, after having lost her only child, found comfort in the idea of “establishing a home for the oppressed Jewish people.”

Another personal experience which had some influence on Hirsch was the anti-Semitic attitude of the Jockey Club of Paris towards him, an attitude that made him realize the futility of dreams of unity. There is no need, however, to lay particular stress on these personal experiences. Apart from them, he could not fail to notice the workings of anti-Semitism, not only in its violent and brutal forms, but also in its subtler manifestations; and this brought home to his mind the necessity of a solution which should prove more practical than the old methods.

But the thing that did most to bring him nearer to Zionism than to assimilation, in spite of his dissent from Zionist views, was his belief in the Jewish people. He was a believer in the regeneration of the Russian Jews through agriculture, from which occupation they were barred in the country in which they lived. What, unfortunately, was lacking in him was the sense of historic tradition and the love of Palestine.


Expeditions and investigations in various countries—The decision in favour of The Argentine—Dr. G. Löwenthal—Col. A. E. W. Goldsmid—The “Lovers of Zion” and Baron de Hirsch in 1891—Baron and Baroness de Hirsch’s charitable works.

Baron de Hirsch sent agents to make investigations in various parts of America—in Brazil, Mexico, Canada and The Argentine. On the advice of Dr. Guillaume Löwenthal, who was mainly entrusted with these inquiries, he arrived at the conclusion that The Argentine presented conditions most favourable for a plan of colonization. Large tracts of land were consequently purchased in the districts of Buenos Ayres, Santa Fé and Entre Rios. The Russian Government, which had rejected his offer for the amelioration of the condition of the Jews in the Empire, co-operated with him in the organization of a system of emigration. A central committee, selected by the Baron, and various provincial committees were formed in St. Petersburg, Warsaw, Odessa, Kiew and other centres. He formed also a governing body in The Argentine; and—for a short time—the personal direction of the colonies was entrusted to Colonel A. E. W. Goldsmid, who obtained temporary leave of absence from the British War Office for this purpose. Baron de Hirsch, who did not always find the most prudent, devoted and trustworthy agents, had in Colonel Goldsmid, the ardent Zionist, an inspired and enthusiastic coadjutor; but Goldsmid remained there only a short time.

The gigantic plan of colonization met with the measure of failure and of success to be expected by such enterprises. The work was enormous, and, as far as finance and responsibility were concerned, it fell almost entirely upon Hirsch’s shoulders. Hirsch created all the necessary machinery, and sent out agent after agent to furnish him with a correct account of the facts. He sent Mr. Arnold White to Russia four times to negotiate with the Russian Government. A number of influential Russian Jews, including Baron Horace Günzburg (18331909), a well-known philanthropist and a recognized leader of Russian Jewry, as well as Poliakoff, Warschawsky, and others, devoted their energies to the organization in Russia. David Feinberg, a generous and devoted Russian Jew, who had considerable experience in Jewish communal affairs in the Russian capital, and had given many years’ service in connection with Baron Günzburg’s public activities, was appointed general secretary.

At first the conditions in The Argentine were somewhat chaotic; afterwards matters proceeded in an apparently satisfactory manner. Appearances, however, were deceptive. Not that success was wanting: far from it. Colonies were established; the Baron convinced himself that Russian Jews could really become successful agriculturists. But the task of transporting great masses there proved to be an impossibility. Undoubtedly a few thousand families were helped, and the colonies, some of which are in a flourishing condition, are a credit to Jewish agriculture. But this was not the original object. These colonies had really been intended to form the nucleus of one great home, if not for millions, at least for hundreds of thousands of Jews. This could not be achieved without popular enthusiasm. The Jew could not be expected to love the soil of “The Argentine” as he loves the soil of the Promised Land. He went there, as he would go to Brazil, or to Mexico, to improve his material condition, but the moment other possibilities were offered to him, he would give up his trying occupation and go elsewhere. From the national point of view, if he had to become an Argentinian Spaniard of the Jewish persuasion, he might as easily, and perhaps more easily, become an American. If he had to build up a centre for Judaism, he could not look forward to any success there, being so far removed from his traditional centres. Moreover, Zionism is an ideal which to a certain extent regenerates even the Jew of the Diaspora, who does not go to Palestine himself, because of its national aspect, its historic associations, its influence on education. All this was lacking in The Argentine undertaking. It was, therefore, bound to remain a matter of economic improvement, if not of ordinary charity.

In 1891 the “Lovers of Zion” tried to persuade Hirsch to turn his activities to Palestine. Herzl tried again in 1896, unfortunately without success. The fact that Hirsch had met with a repulse at the time of his earlier transactions with the Sultan, Abdul Hamid, may have made the difficulty of obtaining a charter from the Ottoman Government seem a greater obstacle to him than it would have seemed to others. In his negotiations with the “Lovers of Zion” in 1891 he was not altogether an opponent; he wavered for a while between different countries, considering exclusively the quality of the soil, the price, facilities and so on; but he overlooked the essential fact. The question for him was not one of history and national desire, but of the soil, the income, and, above all, the extension of his scheme. The able and ingenious business man wanted to be practical. The builder of a great railway wanted to establish a colony for millions, and he believed in the lustre of his gem. Had he known that in “The Argentine,” in spite of its apparently unlimited possibilities, only some ten thousand Jews would settle, he would undoubtedly have preferred Palestine, where even ten thousand, as true representatives of a nation in its old country, have a far greater value. But he felt himself called upon to accomplish great things in the economic sphere. It was the very instinct of the man, his nature, the bent of his genius. If we wish to understand him, we must make full allowance for his surroundings, his education and the times in which he lived. His idea was a long step towards Zionism, but some would not have it for that particular reason. It is significant that his enormous munificence remained quite isolated; he had no followers, though he was very anxious to find some. Could anybody imagine a National Fund for Jewish agriculture in “The Argentine”? The masses, it is true, were interested in his scheme, but their interest was one of curiosity, of the wish to be helped, not of self-help. And not only the masses, but the wealthy people too held aloof. A short time before he died, he received a few hundred pounds from two or three people for his undertaking, and he felt very happy!

During his negotiations with the “Lovers of Zion” he revealed his idea of creating a Jewish Commonwealth,¹ saying that he was endeavouring to prepare the conditions for such a scheme. On another occasion, discussing the difficulties of administration, etc., he exclaimed:—

Give me Jewish apostles, and I shall succeed!

It dawned upon him that something was missing.

The fifth period of his activity comprises various philanthropic works. The large number of Russian Jews who emigrated to the United States attracted his benevolent interest; and in 1891 he was instrumental in organizing under the laws of the state of New York the Baron de Hirsch Fund, with a capital of 2,500,000 dollars, which sum was afterwards increased. The national Jewish character of Hirsch’s activity lies here again in the fact that he identified himself with his suffering brethren all over the world.

Many men of his immense wealth and distinguished position would no doubt have used such advantages chiefly, if not exclusively, for the promotion of causes that fill a large place in the popular estimation. The cause of the Russian Jews would have been too remote, too intricate, or too small to engage all their sympathies and efforts. He made it his life-work to undertake something big on behalf of the Russian Jews. His benevolence was not that weak sentimentalism which too often obscures the plain behests of duty. He liked society, but he never stooped to win a cheap popularity by an unbecoming complaisance. There have been Jews enjoying the same high station, who have put it to quite a different use. But to him wealth and social power were simply one continuous challenge—a challenge to his nobler self, to his reverence for duty. And never could his higher self stand forth more conspicuously than when it impelled him to think and to work for his disinherited people. His leading idea was not to combat the persecutors of the Jews, but to emancipate the Jews themselves—to extricate them from their mediæval life, to revitalize them with the breath of “Western culture,” to give them a wider range of occupations, to transform the pedlar into an artisan and the shopkeeper into an agriculturist, in short, to render their political emancipation a necessity by convincing their oppressors of their sound economic worth. It was a repetition of the programme of the “Alliance Israélite Universelle” and the Anglo-Jewish Association (Appendix lxxvi), but it had the merit of being in the hands of a man who knew nothing of the difficulty of collecting resources from an inert public.

As he lived the greater part of his life in Austria, it is quite natural that the deplorable condition of the Jews in that empire appealed strongly to him. In 1889, after consultation with Dr. Adolf Jellinek (18211893) of Vienna, he formulated a plan to aid the Jews of Galicia by educational work, support for handicraftsmen and agriculturists, loans to artisans, etc. In 1891 the Austrian Government agreed to the plan, and Baron de Hirsch thereupon placed 12,000,000 francs at the disposal of the trustees.

The foregoing are only a few of the foundations established by Baron de Hirsch. In addition may be mentioned the Canadian Baron de Hirsch Fund, and the large sum given to the London hospitals, to which he also devoted the entire proceeds of his winnings on the turf. He always said that his horses ran for charity. It is impossible to form an accurate estimate of the amount of money that he devoted to benevolent purposes. Including the large legacy of about 250,000,000 francs left to the Jewish Colonization Association, it exceeded 800,000,000 francs, is an estimate justified by the amounts given by him from time to time to the foundations already referred to. He died in 1896, having built for himself a monument more lasting than one of brass or marble:—

The Jewish Colonization Association.

The Baroness died in 1899. The amount devoted by her to benevolent purposes exceeded fifteen million dollars,¹ and she further endowed her various foundations by leaving them ten million dollars in her will.

The present possessors of the shares of the Jewish Colonization Association are: The Alliance Israélite Universelle, the Anglo-Jewish Association, and the Jewish Communities of Brussels, Berlin and Frankfort-on-the-Main. The administrative council now numbers eleven members: five are appointed directly, one each by the five corporations, each of which holds approximately one-fifth of the capital; the other six are elected for a period of five years by a vote of the general assembly of the stockholders, convened once a year. Since 1900 the Association has been entrusted by Baron Edmond de Rothschild with the care of his Palestine colonization schemes, and it is to be hoped that this great Jewish institution will turn its attention more and more to work in Palestine.


Leopold Pilichowski

בנימן ואב בן יעקב


Theodor Herzl—The first conception and the acceptance of Palestine—Max Nordau—The ideas of Modern Zionism.

Zionism, an idea as old as the Jewish nation, preached by the representatives of Jewish thought, accepted and supported by prominent Christians in England and France and elsewhere, expressed and carried into effect in the colonization work in Palestine, was still in need of a great leader. There had been many eminent champions, thinkers and enthusiasts, but no great leader. Theodor Herzl (18601904) then came upon the scene—a born leader of men.

There had been no one before him with his indomitable energy, his magnificent determination and his inspired restlessness. He had at his command all the intellectual pleasures which the combination of Vienna and Paris could offer. He was welcome in society and in literary and artistic circles. His outlook on life before Zionism dawned upon him had been that of the usual type of the modern, denationalized, assimilated Jew. But the old spirit of the Jewish nation awoke in him and removed him from this world of illusions. At the height of his literary popularity in the gay Austrian capital, in the prime of youth and success, he put aside everything else to champion the cause of his people. He created the politics of a state unborn. He began his Jewish career with almost the whole of official Jewry in Western Europe opposed to him and intent on silencing him, until he succeeded in outshining his adversaries. Then the public conscience awakened, the force of truth prevailed, and he found adherents. He imparted to the Jews the greatest national impulse that they have had since the Galuth began.

He found the word which crystallized all the yearnings and hopes of centuries. He spoke the truth, although four hundred and fifty priests¹ of assimilation clamoured for falsehood. He brought freedom to the Jewish soul and kindled Jewish enthusiasm to a flame. He reminded the Jews that they were still unalterably attached to the old centre of Jewish national life, that Zionism remained the ultimate aim of their aspirations, and that the old prophecies were still a living force. He devoted all his determination and skill to his people, and his endurance and ability to the work of organizing the masses. It was the influence of his personality over men that made him a great leader. His nobility of character shone forth in his actions, found expression in his speech, and flashed in his eyes.

The simplicity and modesty of the truly great man showed themselves in all that Herzl conceived and achieved. He was a man of vast knowledge, of irresistible logic, a brilliant writer and a great artist; but in Jewish affairs he was a homo novus. He was almost ignorant of Jewish learning, of Jewish literature, even of Zionism before his time. During a discussion on Jewish culture at one of the Zionist Congresses, he frankly admitted that he did not know exactly what “Jewish culture” meant. But he was the embodiment of the old Jewish genius, a re-incarnation of those times when there were Jewish heroes, kings and statesmen. It was hardly necessary for him to plead for the ideal of “Jewish culture,” because his personality supplied the argument required. His high-minded disinterestedness, his unselfish devotion, his unceasing self-sacrifice, his magnificent energy, his wonderful gift of seizing opportunities for the furtherance of his great ideal, his high sense of duty, his sincere kindness and modesty of heart, marked him out to be the first Zionist leader in the Diaspora.

The depth, tenderness and sincerity of the love he bore his nation, his passionate yearning for the achievement of the great object before him—these found expression in every word he uttered and every action he undertook. These noble sentiments, together with the magnetism of his personality, accounted for his tremendous influence over so large a section of modern Jewry. He sacrificed his whole being and all his possessions in furtherance of the ideal which he faithfully upheld, satisfied with the prospect of bringing his people gradually nearer the sacred goal of their wanderings.

Elliott and Fry

Dr. Max Simon Nordau

Dr. Max Simon Nordau, a son of Rabbi Gabriel Südfeld of Krotoschin, already at that time a writer of international reputation, was one of the first to respond when Herzl started the Zionist movement; and he was practically second to Herzl in building up the organization. These two men came to be looked upon as the natural leaders and the foremost representatives of the new Zionism. Nordau was Herzl’s faithful friend and assistant from the commencement. He placed his genius, his enthusiasm and his powerful eloquence at the service of the Zionist idea and organization. His authority and influence in the propaganda of Zionism became the most powerful and influential force in the movement. Nothing could surpass the overwhelming logic and the admirable spirit of his speeches, pamphlets, essays and articles. From the very beginning he played the part of a great leader with splendid confidence, inspiration, and dignity. No Zionist has exercised a stronger or a loftier influence by sheer strength of character and sound judgment. No orator or writer in modern times has so forcibly portrayed the great tragedy of his people as he has done in his memorable speeches at the Zionist Congresses, and none has voiced so eloquently the claims and hopes of his nation. He had always a message to deliver, and delivered it always effectively. He helped to make Zionism a world-wide movement, with an appeal not only to the Jewish people but also to other nations. His forcible eloquence and untiring zeal in the service of Zionism are generally known. Nor does his public activity exhaust his services to the cause. He gave much useful advice to Herzl, who never undertook anything of importance in Zionist politics without consulting him. Nordau exercised enormous influence during the whole period of Herzl’s and Wolffsohn’s presidency, and is still doing so at the present moment. A man of great literary and journalistic achievement, with extensive associations and wide interests, a champion of all great causes of humanity and justice, zealously engaged in various domains of human thought, he has always placed his time, his pen, and his matchless eloquence at the service of Zionism.

Herzl fathomed the causes of the sufferings of his people, and saw a radical solution of the Jewish problem of two thousand years in the national regeneration of the Jew. Like his great predecessor Pinsker, he thought at first that it was immaterial where the proposed Jewish centre was situated. He had then no opportunity of knowing the real feeling of the Jewish people on this point. When he tested that feeling he quickly discovered that Palestine was the only possible country. Wishing to see a Jewish centre established, and knowing that elsewhere it was impossible, because contrary to history and tradition, he concentrated his efforts on Palestine, and although he realized the difficulties more than anyone else, he remained till the day of his death (notwithstanding the East African scheme, which he considered only from the point of view of preparation for Palestine) a convinced and ardent Palestinian.

To repopulate this ancient country, to make it a centre of human civilization, was his object. He did not think that the solution of the problem lay in emigration per se. He saw that, however carefully emigration was carried out, the result in the long run must be a mere shifting from place to place. Colonization on a large scale, in any territory that might be found for the purpose, taking no account of the historic national sentiment of the Jewish people, and lacking the attractiveness necessary to make it more than a philanthropic scheme, cannot solve the problem. And philanthropy will not solve the Jewish question. Zionism alone—the Jewish National Movement—seeks to grapple with the Jewish question effectually once and for all. It proposes to establish for the Jewish people a secure and recognized national home in Palestine—the land to which the Jew during two thousand years of exile has never relinquished his moral claim.

While providing a refuge for oppressed Jews from other lands, a home in Palestine would become a centre for the Jews throughout the world, thereby raising their status everywhere, and saving them from the degradation to which they are now constantly subjected, merely because they are Jews. Such a plan has a spiritual appeal, and rallies to its aid such energy, enthusiasm and driving power as no scheme of colonization in any other country would ever command. And in spite of the contention of the different philanthropic Jewish societies that the immediate needs of the Jewish masses are best satisfied by improving their condition in the countries in which they live and by offering them opportunities of emigrating to other countries, it was felt in all quarters where intense Jewish feeling was still alive that the new vision of Herzl must not be allowed to fade away.

This new Zionism differs widely from all Jewish philanthropic efforts. It was based not on charity, but on an appreciation of history—political, economic, social and ethical. It proposed the rebuilding of a nation and the repopulating of a country. It meant a logical and morally satisfactory solution of the general Jewish problem. It was not a measure for the moment, but an achievement for the benefit of untold generations. It did not profit merely the poverty-stricken or persecuted section of our people, but affected the whole of Jewry by a complete change in its position. It taught again the old lesson that no Jew, conscious of his duty towards the unborn generations of his people, should ever lose sight of the fact that Palestine, and Palestine alone, is the country to which he has a historic claim for all time, that in the old country of his ancestors, and there alone, it is possible to work out his people’s destiny, and that nothing short of this ideal can be accepted.


The general impression—The proclamation of the Jewish national idea—The Basle Programme—The first Executive Central Committee—Prof. Hermann Schapira—Christian visitors at the first Congress—Letters of the Grand Rabbin of France, M. Zadoc Kahn, and of the Haham of the Spanish and Portuguese Jewish community of London, Dr. Moses Gaster.

The first Zionist Congress met in Basle on August 29th, 1897.

This gathering will one day be surrounded by a halo of mythical significance and glory. There were about 200 delegates from almost every country in the world at this Jewish national assembly, the first convened since the Exile by the Jewish people themselves. The enthusiasm was beyond description. For the first time in the Diaspora the Jewish people felt strong and free. Divided by exile, it was again united by national ties as well as by those of a history of common suffering and common hopes. The convener of the Congress received endless ovations. All those present realized the historic event in which they were taking part. The Congress solemnly proclaimed to the listening world that the Jews are a nation. It pictured accurately the Jewish situation.

This picture was black. It was terrible, but it was true. Regarding it to-day, we must confess it to be prophetic. And it was not unfolded for the purpose of lamentation or protest, but with the object of impelling to strenuous action and self-help. The Congress formulated its intentions in the following programme, which was carried unanimously with the greatest enthusiasm:

The aim of Zionism is to create for the Jewish people a home in Palestine secured by public law. The Congress contemplates the following means to the attainment of this end:—

1. The promotion, on suitable lines, of the colonization of Palestine by Jewish agricultural and industrial workers.

2. The organization and binding together of the whole of Jewry by means of appropriate institutions, local and international, in accordance with the laws of each country.

3. The strengthening and fostering of Jewish national sentiment and consciousness.

4. Preparatory steps towards obtaining Government consent, where necessary, to the attainment of the aim of Zionism.

Dr. Louis Loewe   Rabbi Dr. N. M. Adler

Baron M. de Hirsch

Prof. Dr. Hermann Schapira   Moses Hess

Dr. Theodor Herzl was elected President of the Congress and Dr. Max Nordau, Dr. Salz and M. Samuel Pineles first, second and third Vice-Presidents respectively. The Executive Central Committee elected by the First Congress consisted of:—

Vienna: Dr. Theodor Herzl, Dr. Schnirer, Dr. Oser Kokesch, Dr. Müntz, Julius M. Kremenezky. Austria (other than Galicia): Dr. Sigmund Kornfield. Galicia: Dr. Salz, Dr. Korkis. Bukovina: Dr. Meyer Ebner. France: M. Bernard Lazare. Germany: Rabbi Dr. Isaac J. Rülf, Dr. Bodenheimer. Russia: Rabbi Samuel Mohilewer, Prof. Max Mandelstamm, Dr. Jacob Kohan-Bernstein, Isidor Jasinowski. Roumania: Dr. Karl Lippe, Samuel Pineles. Bulgaria and Servia: Prof. Gregor Belkovsky. Orient: Jacques Behar.

One of the most prominent members of the First Congress was Dr. Hermann Schapira (18401898), Professor of Mathematics at the University of Heidelberg. He was a native of Russia, and had a most remarkable career. Being too poor to study, he turned to trade, and when he had saved sufficient money became a student once more. He was then already forty years of age, but his keen intellect and industry soon brought him to the forefront in mathematics, which he had studied privately without the help of a school or a teacher. He first learned his science from old Hebrew books, and then from books written in other languages. So much was his pre-eminence recognized that, notwithstanding his being a Jew and a foreigner—a Russian subject—he was appointed to the Professorship of Mathematics at Heidelberg University. He remained in appearance, in manners and in mentality as typical and picturesque a member of his people as any old Rabbi. He was an excellent Hebrew scholar, and well versed not only in ancient Jewish history and literature, but also in modern Hebrew literature. Like the whole modern Hebraist school, he regarded Hebrew as a living tongue. His heart and soul were in the “Lovers of Zion” movement and in the Hebrew revival. At the first Zionist Congress he solemnly called upon the delegates to declare allegiance to the cause. When differences of opinion arose, the old Professor in impassioned language appealed to all to sink their differences and personal prejudices and to work unitedly with one heart and soul for the common cause. A dramatic scene followed. The Professor called upon every delegate present to raise his right hand, and they all did so and repeated after him:—

אם-אשכחך ירושלם תשכח ימיני׃¹

This was one of the most solemn moments of the Congress. On the other hand, when Professor Schapira first spoke about the necessity of a Jewish National Fund, an idea which he had advocated some time earlier in Hebrew articles, the proposal was regarded as a chimera rather than as a practical scheme. But he did not feel discouraged by the opposition of the “practical people.” During the first year of the Zionist organization, between the first and second Congresses, he devoted himself entirely to Zionist work. He died on a Zionist propaganda tour, during a stay at Cologne.

The first Christian clergyman to encourage Herzl was the Chaplain to the British Embassy in Vienna, the Rev. Dr. W. H. Hechler, who is an ardent student of the Bible and a Christian “Lover of Zion.” With the full knowledge of his chief, the British Ambassador, he supported the Zionist movement, and introduced Herzl to several of his Royal and Imperial pupils and friends. He was the first English clergyman to go to Russia and help the persecuted Jews on the spot: he visited at that time Odessa, Mohilew, Kishinew and Balta. He visited the Holy Land several times, and regularly attended the Zionist Congresses.

Among the most interesting visitors at the Congress were, the famous pioneer of Zionism, Henri Dunant; and the Protestant pastor Dr. Johannes Lepsius, son of Carl Richard Lepsius (18101884), the famous Egyptologist, who is thoroughly acquainted with the East, and had been pastor of a small community in the Harz Mountains. Dr. Lepsius warmly espoused the cause of the Armenians in 1895, and when, as the result of his agitation, the German Government sent him a warning, he resigned his post. He placed his views on the Zionist Congress before a meeting held on the 7th September, 1897, at Basle, in a paper entitled, “Armenians and Jews in Exile; or, the Future of the East with Reference to the Armenian Question and the Zionist Movement.” After referring to points of similarity between Jews and Armenians, both persecuted races, he said: “When the time comes ... will Jewry lay their hands on Palestine and say: this is our land? Will anyone be able to prevent them? Even if the Zionist movement has an exclusively national character, there is yet a strong religious undercurrent. We believe that the Jewish nation has a future before it, and that this future will be a glorious one.” The address was followed by an interesting discussion, in the course of which Professor Carl Friedrich Heman, the Orientalist, of Basle University, heartily endorsed Dr. Lepsius’ views.

The greatest achievement of the new Zionism was the Jewish Congress—the supreme authority in the movement based upon democratic principles—and the creation of a world-wide organization for the resuscitation of the Jewish nationality and for the regaining of Palestine, not by brute force or political adventure, and not by any act against the government or the population of the country or any other government or nation, but by force of conviction, enthusiasm, devotion and self-sacrifice.

M. Zadoc Kahn (18391905), Grand Rabbin of France, addressed a letter of congratulation to the first Zionist Congress. The Grand Rabbin wrote that he would not fail to follow with much interest the deliberations of the Congress. Whatever might be thought as to the utility and opportuneness of the Congress, it could not be denied that it merited every attention. Differences of opinion were inevitable, but he prayed with all his might that God might guide and inspire all the leaders of the movement, and that the debates and the resolutions which would be arrived at would be for the benefit of Judaism throughout the world.

In an interview on the subject of the Zionist movement, which took place immediately after the first Zionist Congress, M. Zadoc Kahn spoke in the highest terms of Dr. Herzl.

“This man of faith is also a man of action. He is an apostle, but an apostle who is doctor of political economy. I know he occupies a distinguished place in the Austrian Press, and that he has excellent relations in the highest political spheres. But he appears ready to sacrifice all for the triumph of his ideas.” M. Zadoc Kahn then criticized in very mild terms the exaggerated “pessimism” of Herzl’s pamphlet, “The Jewish State,” and after dwelling on the religious aspects of the question, he concluded:—

“The sympathy of the French Jews, now awakened, is assured to the Zionists. To ridicule or condemn a project when this project carries with it hope, and thus consolation, to thousands of co-religionists who are molested in their quality as Jews, this the French Jews have not the right to do.”

In opening the proceedings of the final day of the Congress, Herzl announced that several letters and telegrams had been received. The only one he would mention was that sent by the Rev. Dr. Moses Gaster, Haham of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews in England, who wrote to express his sympathy with the objects of the Congress.


Modern Hebrew literature—The Chovevé Zion—The pioneers in Palestine.

Thus the Zionist Movement was launched. Before we follow its progress during the intervening twenty years, it will be as well to give some account of the forces at work in Jewish life which made the movement and its success possible. For Zionism cannot be properly understood if it is regarded merely as a result of certain political combinations or as a reaction against anti-Semitism. It must be traced to its roots, which lie deep in the national consciousness of the Jewish people; and that national consciousness is not simply a vague sentiment, but has long had its concrete expressions in connection with the revival of Palestine and of the Hebrew language. The inner history of Zionism, then, is to be traced along the lines of Palestinian colonization and the Hebrew renascence. For convenience we may divide our brief survey into three main headings:

1. Modern Hebrew Literature.

2. The Chovevé Zion and University Zionist Groups in various countries.

3. The pioneers of the Hebrew Revival in Palestine.

It must be remembered, however, that these are not watertight divisions, and we naturally meet with the same men in different fields of work.

The aim of the present chapter is to trace the development of each of these three forces (so far as that has not been done in earlier chapters), giving some account of the outstanding figures in each department. There is in each field a host of less distinguished but not less devoted workers. Of some of these mention is made in Appendix lxxv.

1. Modern Hebrew Literature

From a linguistic and literary point of view, no less than from a moral and religious standpoint, the Bible is a great and wonderful book:

¹בן בג בג אומר הפך בה והפך בה דכלא בה
 פּרקי אבות. ה׳ כה.

Not that modern Hebrew writers use the Bible merely as a storehouse of words and phrases, depending on reminiscence for their effect. The practice of cramming Hebrew writings with scriptural quotations so as to give them an artificial brilliance and a second-hand wealth of idiom and grandeur of diction was characteristic of the so-called M’lizah.¹ In our time there is no more of this patchwork writing. The Hebrew language has become independent of quotations, but none the less the traditional spirit continues to live, and the Bible is the corner-stone of modern Hebrew literature. It could not be otherwise, for in the Jewish view the Bible must enter into every phase of man’s life, must exert an influence upon the words of his mouth, the thoughts of his mind, and the feelings of his heart. This is the result not of any dogma, but of the tradition of Jewish learning, which is a sort of intellectual devotion, a reverent feeling, a particular worship of the Torah as knowledge, teaching, thought.

The revival of the Hebrew language was thus able to become the foremost factor in the Jewish national revival. Yet little attention has been paid to this part of the history of Zionism. Perhaps the most important reason is the general ignorance of the Hebrew language or of its modern literature and Press. Some writers on Zionism are quite ignorant of the whole of this literature, others are misinformed as to its past, and often imperfectly and insufficiently conversant with its present, and are only capable of repeating mechanically a few names and titles which have gained currency. Few have an adequate conception of the real activity of hundreds of writers, of the amount of work which has been done, or of the succession of the different stages of development. This lack of knowledge is the main reason for the strange opinion so often expressed by anti-Zionists in Western Europe, particularly in England, that Zionism is a mere political or materialistic movement.

Our object here is not to write a history of Hebrew literature as such, but only to illustrate a part of Zionist history which has hitherto been very imperfectly surveyed, and a certain knowledge of which is necessary for a real and adequate conception of the inner intellectual forces which have made Zionism what it is. The fact of importance from our point of view is that the best, the noblest, and the soundest ideas were brought into Zionism from Hebrew literature, that certain Hebrew writers are prominent nationalists, that from them have gone forth “the thoughts that inspire” and “the words that ignite,” and that the wide dissemination of the Zionist idea among hundreds of thousands of Jews (Russian Jews or those who came from Russia) could not have been produced merely by organization and business institutions, had they not been prepared for it by the knowledge and every-day use of the Hebrew language with its innumerable national, historical and Palestinian reminiscences and associations. And not only that: in our view even the better elements of the Hebrew literature of the period which preceded the Zionist movement, and which is commonly known as the “Haskalah” (enlightenment) period, as well as the writings of those modern authors who do not support Zionism, have contributed to that great regeneration which has enabled the national language and literature to reach such an advanced stage of development.

For the beginnings of modern Hebrew literature we must go back at least as far as Abraham Dob Bär (17891878) ben Chayyim Lebensohn (surnamed Michailishker; pseudonym Adam), the Hebrew Klopstock—a serious and somewhat dry poet and his son Micah Joseph (18181852), a graceful singer cut off in his early bloom. Contemporary with them was F. Rothstein, an almost unknown Polish Chassid and Maskil,¹ who translated Hermann and Dorothea of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (17491832) in stanzas of laconic beauty which in precision of outline and completeness of impression are as sublime as the original. These men founded a school of poets, the tradition of which was carried on by men like Solomon ben Baruch Salkind (1805 ?1868); Bernhard Nathansohn (b. 1832); David Moses Mitzkun (18361887); and Isaachar Berush Hurwitz (b. 1835). Contemporaneously, the beginnings of a modern prose literature were being created. To Mordecai Aaron ben Judah Asher Günzburg (17951846) we owe a Hebrew style at once forceful and condensed, in great contrast to the limp and diffuse style prevalent before him. Abraham Mapu (18081867), master of a pure biblical style and a wonderful imaginative sympathy with the life of Bible times, created in his romantic novel The Love of Zion a gossamer web in evanescent hues of gold and silver. Kalman Schulman (18191899), a versatile translator and popularizer, did much to break ground for the ideas of the Haskalah. Isaac Erter (17921851), of Galicia, wrote satires which are masterpieces of art in their epigrammatic beauty. These and a host of lesser men laid the substantial foundations on which later a more specifically nationalist Hebrew literature could be built up. For themselves they were too busy with their task of acclimatizing European culture on Hebrew soil to trouble overmuch about nationalism. Their tendency was even towards assimilation, so strong was their reaction against the conservatism of their environment. This tendency is seen most strongly in the greatest of these Maskilim, Judah Löb (Leon) ben Asher Gordon (18311892), a poet, essayist and story-teller, who united lightness of touch, clearness and elegance of diction with a great gift of expression, and combined in one harmonious whole accurate reflection and vivid imagination—an exceedingly keen satirist, and the most profound among writers of the Haskalah in the knowledge and use as well of the biblical as of the post-biblical Hebrew idiom. The recently deceased veteran novelist Solomon (Shalom) Jacob Abramowitsch (18361918) “Mendele Mocher Sephorim² still continued to carry on the Haskalah tradition; and although dubbed “Grandfather of Yiddish,” he also produced Hebrew works of immortal value, the works of a giant artist in language and imagination. But broadly speaking the ideals of the Haskalah have given place since about 1880 to a more distinctly nationalist tendency.

The historical and philosophical bases of modern Jewish nationalism were laid in the earlier half of the nineteenth century by a number of Jewish scholars who wrote in Hebrew, and of whom the most noteworthy are Nachman Cohen Krochmal (17851840), Samuel David ben Hezekiah Luzzatto (18001865) and Solomon Judah Löb Rapaport (17901867). Krochmal in his Modern Guide for the Perplexed (a title which alludes, of course, to the great work of Maimonides), strove to effect a synthesis between traditional Judaism and Hegelianism. The national idea is a postulate of his method, and he presents it in a rational and constructive manner, entirely free from sentimentality. Luzzatto, who studied deeply and wrote much in the fields of history, religious ideas and exegesis, was more of a mystic in temperament, but not less fundamentally nationalist in outlook. Rapaport, an encyclopædic scholar and one of the pioneers of the so-called “Jewish Science” (scientific study of Judaism and Jewish history), was perhaps less directly and consciously concerned with the national idea, but his hostile attitude to the extravagances of the “Reform” movement sufficiently indicates his leaning. Another profound scholar who has received too scant attention is Jacob Reifmann (18181895), whose Hebrew pamphlet The Mission of Israel—one of a hundred treatises and articles—is an eloquent exposition of the national idea and a thoroughgoing condemnation of radical “Reform,” not from a theological, but from a purely nationalist and historical point of view. We may remark in passing that some of the later representatives of “Jewish Science,” though they wrote mostly in other languages than Hebrew (principally German), were essentially nationalist in feeling: especially Heinrich Hirsch Graetz (18171891), the historian, who was influenced by Moses (Moritz) Hess (18121875), and really—though perhaps unconsciously—laid the foundations of Jewish nationalism in Western Europe, and David Kaufmann (18521899), whose learning and instinct combined made him welcome Zionism and defend its leaders on occasion. Important, however, as was the work of these scholars in giving Jewish nationalism the necessary philosophical foundation, the spread of the national idea among the people is more directly due to the popular Hebrew writers of Russia, who, growing up during the Haskalah period, abandoned the vague, universalistic idea of “enlightenment” for the conception of a modernized and progressive Jewish people.

Of these David ben Dob Baer Gordon (18261886) was one of the earliest. In 1856 he became assistant editor of the first Hebrew weekly paper, Ha’magid. He also assisted in the formation and conduct of the Society Mekize Nirdamim (1864), established for the purpose of publishing old and valuable Hebrew works. In 1884 he went to London as the representative of the Chovevé Zion to congratulate Sir Moses Montefiore on the hundredth anniversary of his birth.

Peter (Perez) ben Moses Smolenskin (18421885), the most popular Hebrew writer of his time, was an ardent nationalist and Zionist during the second period of his literary activity. He rejected the theory associated with the name of Mendelssohn, which makes Judaism nothing more than a religious confession; and against this theory he wrote a series of articles and essays. About 1880 he began to be interested in the colonization of Palestine. He joined Laurence Oliphant, through whom he hoped to secure the intervention of European Powers in favour of the Jews. His realistic Hebrew novels, as well as his monthly Ha’shachar (The Dawn), exercised a wide influence.

Moses Löb Lilienblum (18431910) was a progressive “radical” during the first half of his literary career. But the anti-Jewish riots of 1880 and 1881 aroused him to a consciousness of the unsafe position of the Jews in exile, and he started writing articles in Hebrew and in Russian, in which he pointed to the re-establishment of the Jews in Palestine as the only solution of the Jewish question. He wrote several pamphlets, and as Secretary of the Chovevé Zion took a most earnest and energetic part in their activity.

Alexander Ossypovitch Zederbaum of St. Petersburg (18161892) indefatigably advocated the colonization of Palestine by Jews in his Hebrew paper Ha’melitz. He did not confine his labours in the cause of Jewish nationalism to such editorial efforts. He took an active part in obtaining the permission of the Russian Government for the formation of an Association of Chovevé Zion in Russia, with its centre in Odessa, and afterwards in organizing the Association.

Samuel Joseph Fuenn (18191891) of Wilna was an admirable scholar and a Hebrew writer of wide outlook. For many years he was editor of the Hebrew weekly Ha’carmel. His Kiria Neemana (the History of the Jews in Wilna) is a standard work. He was also author of Ha’otzar (Hebrew dictionary), of a biographical lexicon, and of many other books of reference. During the last years of his life he was engaged in the Chovevé Zion movement.

Jechiel Mendelssohn (18171892) of Lublin, was a distinguished Hebraist. The diversity as well as the extent of his reading was remarkable. He knew the whole of Hebrew literature as well as the classical writers of antiquity, and had a wide knowledge of Jewish history. His Hebrew style was of great exactitude and beauty. He contributed to Hàboker Or, Ha’melitz and Ha’assif, and preached with artistic skill and historical discrimination the national idea of the Chovevé Zion.

Asher Ginzberg—“Achad Ha’am”—deserves a special chapter in the history of Zionism. He was the most prominent literary figure in the Chovevé Zion movement, and he is the most respected and influential representative of modern Hebrew literature. Born in Russia, and educated in the traditional religious way, he went through a carefully arranged course of studies in “Jewish Science” and in philosophy and literature. He first attracted notice by his articles in Ha’melitz about the condition of the colonies in Palestine. He had the clearness of mind to see things as they were, and the courage to publish what he believed to be the truth. The absence of exaggeration, the earnestness, and the steadfast truth-seeking which are the characteristic features of all his writings, and give them peculiar weight, were already clearly developed and evident in his first essays. He founded the Hebrew monthly Ha’shiloach, which became a creative force in the modern Hebrew revival. He grouped around himself young men of talent, and discovered, stimulated and guided many young writers and students, who looked upon him as their spiritual father. Ha’shiloach soon became the leading literary Hebrew review, principally owing to his philosophical and publicistic articles. A deep and clear thinker, he expounded with convincing logic, and in calm, noble and dignified language the ideology of Jewish nationalism. His principal ideal is Jewish national distinctiveness in the Diaspora, based upon Hebrew culture, and making Palestine a spiritual centre or “nidus.” Some of his essays can be read in an English version by Leon Simon of London, published by the Jewish Publication Society of America. We should, however, form a very inadequate estimate of the services which this distinguished writer has rendered to Zionism, and of the influence which he has exerted on his readers, were we to confine our attention solely to his writings. It is the combination of a writer and a personality that gives him his unique position. He was successfully active in the Chovevé Zion movement, he has visited Palestine several times, and he founded in 1889 the Order “B’nai Moshé,” a group of intellectual Jewish Nationalists. This Order, which existed for eight years, gave rise to the foundation of the Hebrew Publication Society “Achiasaf” in Warsaw, of the first modern Hebrew school in Jaffa, and of the Palestinian colony Rechoboth. Out of these grew many other institutions for colonization, Hebrew literature and education.

Chaim Nachman Bialik is the greatest living Hebrew poet, and with his name the national revival is inseparably connected. Born in Volhynia, Russia, he had a Talmudical education. He started his literary career in the Ha’shiloach and other Hebrew reviews. He rose quickly to great fame, making a new era in Hebrew poetry. He has an epic as well as a lyric gift. His marvellous artistic instinct, his harmonious Hebrew, his liveliness of imagination, the melody of his verse place him in the highest rank. He is a national poet in the noblest sense of the term. He voices the feelings and traditions of generations. He has measured the groans of our people, has counted their sighs and tears, has gathered and sung them and played them upon the celestial harp of his Hebrew muse. Sometimes, like a rebel cherub, he sounds the trumpet of judgment against tyranny. He is familiar with every phase of Jewish thought and life, ancient as well as modern, in the Ghetto as well as in nature, but his heart is in Zion, and here the freshness and vividness of his colouring, the truth and life-like reality of his pictures, the enthusiasm of his hopes are unsurpassed. He is also distinguished as a writer of prose, and is active in the Hebrew Publication Society “Moriah,” at Odessa, which has enriched Hebrew literature by many valuable works.

Saul Tschernichowsky, born in Michailovka, Russia, by profession a physician, is, next to Bialik, the greatest living Hebrew poet. He is distinguished by depth and tenderness of feeling, fertile and ingenious fancy, profound knowledge of the classical world, the easy transition by which he passes from nature to man, exquisite sense of beauty and a highly developed taste for music, which makes his verse exceedingly melodious.

2. The Chovevé Zion and University Zionist Groups

We have more than once had occasion to mention the groups of Chovevé Zion (“Lovers of Zion”) which sprang up in Russia in the early eighties for the support of the pioneers of immigration into Palestine. Some account of the most important of these groups and of the outstanding personalities connected with them will indicate both the rapidity with which the movement spread, and the continuity of development between the Chovevé Zion and the new Zionist organization founded by Herzl. We shall find throughout that those who came into prominence in Herzl’s movement were almost without exception men who had been active for years before as “Lovers of Zion.” We shall find also that everywhere it was the Jewish University Student—and particularly the Russian Jewish Student, whether at a Russian or at a German or Swiss University—who, captured by the idea of the national revival, became the life and the driving force of the movement.

The first place among the Chovevé Zion groups belongs to that of Odessa, which became and has remained the headquarters of the whole organization. We have already mentioned three prominent members of this group—Pinsker, Achad Ha’am and Lilienblum (the last two in connection with their services to Hebrew literature). Among a host of other Odessa Zionists who have earned distinction, M. M. Ussishkin stands out most prominently because of the influence which his energy and determination have won for him. He graduated in engineering at Moscow, where he was instrumental in founding the B’nai Zion (“Sons of Zion”)—one of the earliest and strongest of the Chovevé Zion groups. Afterwards he went to Ekaterinoslaw, and only later to Odessa, where he has been the centre of Jewish national work in all its branches for some years. To him perhaps more than to any single man is due the return of Zionist effort to practical colonizing work in Palestine after the temporary concentration on political negotiation under Herzl. He has worked strenuously for the financial institutions of Zionism as well as for Palestinian colonization and the Hebrew revival.

Of the brilliant group of leaders which received its training in the B’nai Zion of Moscow we mention here the recently deceased Dr. Ephim Wladimirovitch [Jechiel] Tschlenow (18651918), Vice-President of the Inner Actions Committee of the Zionist Movement. After graduating in medicine at Moscow University, he settled in that city, and divided his life between the claims of his profession and those of Zionist work. He combined appreciation of the value of practical work in Palestine with a sound sense of political values. He had been twice to the Holy Land, and in a brochure, Five Years’ Work in Palestine (written in Russian and translated into German), produced an admirably clear and comprehensive record of recent Jewish achievements in the country.

Scarcely less important than the Odessa and the Moscow Societies were those of St. Petersburg, of Bialystok, of Pinsk, of Minsk and of Wilna, every one of which was a training-ground for men who afterwards became prominent in the Zionist movement. It was at Pinsk, his birthplace, that Dr. Chaim Weizmann, now President of the English Zionist Federation, began his Zionist activity, which was continued afterwards with such fruitful results at German and Swiss Universities and in this country. Wilna is the home of two Zionists, the brothers Isaac and Boris Goldberg, who hold a specially distinguished place both in Russian Zionism and in the movement at large. So in every Jewish centre in Russia the “Lovers of Zion” movement attracted the best of Jewish energy and idealism, especially among the youth, and the idea of the return to Zion took a firmer and firmer hold on the people and demanded more and more imperatively an outlet in practical work. In Poland and Galicia and Roumania, and to a lesser extent in Germany, the movement spread during the eighties and nineties of last century, so that when Herzl came on the scene the national consciousness to which he appealed was largely awakened (though not in those elements of Jewry to which he first addressed his call). In countries further west there was little progress until after the creation of Herzl’s organization. True there were Chovevé Zion groups in England and France, but the idea of the return had not really struck root in the Jewish communities of those countries. One of the great services rendered by Herzl’s organization to the cause of Jewish nationalism is that it has provided a bridge over which the Jewish spirit and the idealism of the reawakened Jewries of Eastern Europe could make their way into the Western communities and give them new life and a new sense of the realities of Judaism. Thus in Anglo-Jewry during the last decade or so there has been a marked tendency away from the polite conventions of assimilation towards a realization of the deeper and more serious implications of Jewishness; and only a remnant of the “old guard” still repeats the shibboleths of an earlier generation about Judaism as a “persuasion” and “emancipation” as a cure for all the ills of Jewry.

We have spoken of the part that the Jewish student has played in this evolution, and it is so important as to merit further examination.

The position of the Jewish students at the Universities of Western Europe at the beginning of the third quarter of the last century was a most deplorable one from a Jewish point of view. They had increased in numbers, belonging partly to the native Jewish populations and partly to Eastern Europe, nevertheless they were a negligible quantity. They were scattered all over Germany, Austria and Switzerland as units without cohesion or organization. Nationally they did not count: the chief principle of assimilation—which was at the time the general tendency of Western European Jewry—was to abandon Jewish national claims. Their attitude towards the religion of their fathers was one of indifference, want of faith, if not hostility. What marked them out as Jews was in fact only the treatment meted out to them by the anti-Semitic Students’ Societies, which hated and insulted them. And while the Jews born in the Western European countries were regarded as outcasts by the non-Jewish corporations and societies, the foreign Jewish students—mostly from Russia—were regarded as outcasts by the outcasts. The Western European and the Eastern European Jewish students were thus divided into two fractions.

Then the new spirit of Zionism made itself felt. A group of Jewish students at the Vienna University founded, in 1882, a National Jewish Students’ Association called “Kadima,”¹ which was later, as we have seen, the first organization to extend a welcome to Herzl. These Vienna students have a better claim than any other similar organization in Western Europe to be regarded as the pioneers of the Jewish national idea.

One of the leaders of the Kadima was Nathan Birnbaum, known also by his nom de plume of “Mathias Acher,” who was born in Galicia and graduated at Vienna University. A powerful writer and a keen thinker, he became, in course of time, a considerable figure in German-Jewish literature. In recent years he has become a Jewish democrat, championing the cause of Yiddish. But in the early days of the Kadima he was heart and soul devoted to this Association, of which he was the philosophical leader.

The members of the Kadima soon attracted attention owing to their courageous attitude, and steadily increased in number. They had become conscious Jews, and derived from this fact a great access of moral strength. They were no longer weak, downtrodden, degraded young men, feeling helpless and demoralized; they began to be men, jealous of their honour, demanding their rights as Jews among the nationalities. The Chovevé Zion movement appealed strongly to their emotions and energies. The idea, a mere spark at first, developed into a blazing fire that seized upon several Universities. Young Jews speaking different languages and of many different habits and customs became united by invisible ties all over the Continent of Europe. At the end of the eighties there existed an important Association in Berlin, which was at first somewhat theoretical in character, but very soon afterwards became a sister society of the Vienna Association, taking also the name of “Kadima” (Appendix lxxvii). The members of this group include a great number of workers whose names are inseparably bound up with the history of the Zionist Organization and with Jewish national literature. Most of them were of Russian birth, as might be expected; for it was the Russian Jewish student who, moving from one German University to another, carried with him the torch of the national revival. Besides Dr. Chaim Weizmann, already mentioned, we find in the Berlin Students’ group two of the present members of the Inner Actions Committee—Dr. Shemaryah Levin, a powerful speaker and one of the most energetic propagandists of the movement, and Victor Jacobsohn, who for some years represented Zionism at Constantinople. Martin Buber and Berthold Feiwel, two gifted littérateurs, were both members of the Vienna Kadima who worked later in Berlin. Davis Trietsch, not himself a University student, worked in close co-operation with the Berlin group. An indefatigable advocate of colonization schemes, he has given a great impetus to the study of Palestine and has originated many fruitful ideas. Associated with him on the staff of the Jüdischer Verlag, the Zionist publishing house, was the artist Ephraim Moses ben Jacob Hacohen Lilien, who together with Hermann Struck, an artist of a very different type, best represents Jewish national development on the æsthetic side. It remains to mention two Berlin Zionists who became members of the Inner Actions Committee in 1911—Arthur Hantke, distinguished for his services to the organization of the movement, and Professor Otto Warburg, a well-known botanist and founder of the Palestine Land Development Company.

Similar associations to the Kadima were founded at many German and Swiss Universities—Heidelberg, Munich, Leipzig, Königsberg, Breslau, Berne, Zürich, Geneva and Lausanne. To them is due the national awakening which has led to so great an improvement in the spiritual condition of Jewry in Western Europe. In Germany especially the progress of the national idea among the younger generation was phenomenal. The sons of the most assimilated and denationalized families became the most ardent champions of the new movement back to the Jewish land and Jewish ideals. But much the same thing has happened in all countries which have a considerable Jewish population. In Russia it goes without saying that Jewish Students’ groups were to the fore in the national work. Even in the Polish cities of Warsaw and Lodz, the homes of the most extreme and disintegrating assimilation, numbers of Jewish students at the Universities were kindled by the national idea and did it valuable service. In Anglo-Jewry, isolated by distance and by difference of language and environment from the main currents of Jewish life, the university Zionist movement developed later and has not gone so far. Its history belongs entirely to the last dozen years, and its adherents are still a small band. But it is one of the most remarkable and promising features of Zionist development in England in recent years. While the older generation of Zionists in this country worked mainly in the field of organization, a group of younger men, largely of University training, has paid more attention to the spread of the Zionist idea by means of literature and education. Most of these younger men have been influenced by the ideas of Achad Ha’am. They have produced monthly journals, pamphlets and books on Zionism and in the Zionist spirit, and have contributed in various ways to the spread of Jewish knowledge and the improvement of Hebrew education. They have also taken their share in the work of organization, and one of them, Mr. H. Sacher, has recently become Grand Commander of the Order of Ancient Maccabæans, a Zionist association organised on Friendly Society lines.

3. The Pioneers of the Hebrew Revival in Palestine

While modern Hebrew literature and the propaganda of the Return to Zion were quickening the Jews of the Diaspora to new life and new hope, there were not wanting men who were prepared to throw up their careers and prospects in Europe in order themselves to help in laying the foundations of the revival in Palestine. It is not our purpose here to tell the almost miraculous story of the foundation of the earliest Jewish settlements or “colonies” in the eighties, how by sheer endurance the pioneer settlers maintained their hold in the face of appalling difficulties, and how by the time when the great war broke out there had been created the nucleus of a thriving Hebrew nation, firmly attached once more to its ancestral soil, and repossessed of its ancestral tongue.¹ We have merely to glance at a few of the outstanding facts and personalities of this revival (Appendix lxxviii).

The revival is not wholly, though it is largely, a result of the terrible events which drove large masses of Jews to emigrate from Russia in 18801881. Even before that date there were a few Jews in Palestine who, if they were not strong enough of themselves to initiate a national revival, were able to help when new forces came from without. Of these were Jechiel Brill (18361886), who, born in Russia and educated in Constantinople and Jerusalem, established a Hebrew monthly, Ha’lebanon, in Palestine in 1863, and later was commissioned by Baron Edmond de Rothschild to conduct a group of experienced farmers from Russia through Palestine; Jechiel Michael ben Noah Pines (18421912), also of Russian birth, who in 1878 was sent to Jerusalem to establish charitable institutions associated with the name of Sir Moses Montefiore, and lived thenceforward in Palestine, interesting himself in the welfare of the Jewish community and the organization of the Jewish agricultural colonies; David Yellin, a native of Palestine and one of the most eminent of living Hebraists, who has devoted himself mainly to education, and has played a large part in the development of Hebrew as a living language through his contributions to the perfection of the “natural method” of teaching Hebrew; and the late Abraham Moses Luncz (18541918), who had lived in Palestine from early youth, and whose long-established Hebrew Palestine Annual has done much for the historical and geographical study of the country. But it was not till the immigration which followed on the Russian massacres of 18801881 that Jewish life in Palestine really began to take a new direction. Among the stalwarts of those early days a group of Russian students known as Bilu (Appendix lxxix) (from the initials of the four Hebrew words meaning “Come, let us go up to the house of Jacob,” which they chose as their motto) will always be held in affectionate remembrance. Their example of stubborn endurance and unfailing optimism did much to rescue the colonization movement from the ruin which threatened it in its early days, when the natural effects of insufficient knowledge and resources began to be felt. Most of the group died young, but a few still survive—among them Israel Belkind, who is still at work in Palestine as a teacher. Elieser Ben-Jehuda, who settled in Jerusalem in 1881, is associated principally with the revival of Hebrew. It is thanks largely to him that out of the welter of languages spoken by Jews in Palestine Hebrew has once and for all won its place as the national language. His monumental Hebrew dictionary, Thesaurus Totius Hebraitatis, in ten volumes, was in course of publication when the war broke out. Another side of the revival is represented by Boris Schatz, the founder and head of the Bezalel School of Arts and Crafts at Jerusalem, whose idea of creating a distinctively Jewish art has already borne good fruit (Appendix lxxx). And in yet other spheres the young Jewish settlement owes much to David Levontin, Manager of the Anglo-Palestine Company, the Jewish banking concern in Palestine; to Aaron Aaronsohn, head of the valuable Agricultural Experiment Station at Atlit, near Haifa; to Dr. Benzion Mossinsohn and his colleagues at the Jaffa Hebrew Secondary School, where an education similar to that of a Grammar School is given entirely in Hebrew. Each of these men has done pioneer work in one field or another. They have stood in the van of a movement which has transformed Jewish life in Palestine as Zionist propaganda has transformed Jewish life in the Diaspora, not only creating new types and values of its own, but surely if slowly breaking down the resistance of the anti-national Jewish agencies which were at work in Palestine before Zionism came on the scene. And if the propaganda and organization of Zionism have been essential to the existence and growth of the Palestinian settlement, it is no less true that if not for the work of those who built up the new Jewish life in Palestine, there would have been no inspiring force behind the propaganda of Zionism, and no solid basis for its organization.


David Wolffsohn—France—M. Léon Bourgeois—Michel Erlanger—Zadoc Kahn—Baron Edmond de Rothschild—Professor Joseph Halévy—Dr. Emil Meyersohn—Dr. Waldemar Haffkine—The brothers Marmorek—Bernard Lazare.

In its early years the new Zionist movement showed perhaps insufficient appreciation of the importance of Palestinian colonizing work. Its attention was turned mainly in another direction, that of paving the way for a great resettlement of the Jewish people by the creation of favourable political conditions; and the plodding and often blundering work of the Chovevé Zion seemed to some of its leaders and many of their followers to be poor, petty and uninspiring by comparison with the wide sweep and the brilliance of their own ideal. But as time went on, and it became obvious that in the main the new movement must look for support to those who had worked for the same end as “Lovers of Zion,” the necessary adjustment between the new and the older methods had to be made; and the internal history of Zionism since 1897 is one of the penetration of Chovevé Zion ideas into the large framework created by the master-mind of Herzl under the stress of ideas somewhat different. It is not our intention to trace this history here¹ (Appendix lxxxi): we are concerned less with the inner history of the movement than with its repercussions in the literature and the politics of England and France. It may suffice to say that the Congresses, held first annually and afterwards biennially, attracted an ever-growing number of delegates and an ever-increasing amount of attention; that in its early years the movement established a Jewish National Fund for the purpose of buying land in Palestine on a great scale, and a financial instrument, the Jewish Colonial Trust, which in turn founded the Anglo-Palestine Company for the conduct of actual banking business in Palestine (Appendix lxxxii); that after the death of Herzl in 1904, and the rejection of the offer by the British Government of a piece of territory in East Africa, there developed a somewhat serious fissure between the two tendencies in the movement, the one looking to political activity and the other to Palestinian colonization as the right line of progress; that Herzl’s friend and follower, David Wolffsohn (18561914) (Appendix lxxxiii), who succeeded him as President, was able by a rare combination of gifts to hold the movement together during the period of crisis; that after the Turkish Revolution in 1908, which seemed to make political activity impossible or useless, there was a marked concentration of effort on Palestinian development; that meanwhile the Zionist organization spread to the four corners of the globe, and societies and federations were formed not only in every country in Europe, but also in all parts of the British Dominions, and particularly in the United States of America; and that the outbreak of war found the movement in a position to point both to a large membership—about a quarter of a million—and to substantial achievements in Palestine in support of its claim for the definite reconstitution of the Jews as a nation in their ancient land.

David Wolffsohn

We turn from this brief summary to the impression made by the new movement in France and in England.

In France, where there had always been statesmen and writers who had a proper understanding of the Zionist idea, the most notable pronouncement from a non-Jewish source came from M. Léon Bourgeois, one of the greatest French statesmen of the present generation. His views, as imparted to Baroness Bertha von Suttner (18431914), were published by her in 1899:—¹

“Bourgeois held forth to me enthusiastically and explained the various reasons why according to his view the movement should be supported. Complete assimilation—not altogether impossible after a long time—looms still in the far distance; until then very many individuals—if they do not break away—must suffer. The individual is still everywhere the highest consideration, collectivism is only an abstract conception. Until now the Jews have been too strongly differentiated from their surroundings to assimilate without being noticed. They are recognizable for their shortcomings as well as for their most outstanding virtues. Difference does not mean inferiority; no one will allow himself to be insulted because he belongs to this or that ethnical group. To be a Zionist means to make a stand against anti-Semitism. The people among whom they live are even more injured by Jew-hatred than the Jews; it is opposed to culture, and prevents the realization of the ideal of peace. Culture happily unites all its objects more closely and aims at an unattainable ideal, but all good works are directed towards paving the way to future success. Therefore every fresh sign of energy is welcome. From a nation newly reconstituted, full of energy, and composed of such intelligent, capable and talented elements, an increase in the general work of culture may be expected. Therefore Zionism is to be encouraged. It is self-understood that the first necessity is to bring relief to a persecuted and unfortunate people. But I wish to clear up this side of the question, which belongs to the future; to bring forward such arguments as are debated. In our Chauvinistic circles, the following argument will be brought forward: Let us be glad that in the Jews we possess a cosmopolitan element; that the scholar, the artist and the thinker amongst them work and create without reference to national ideas. But that kind of argument is false, because to be cosmopolitan, to recognize that the interests of humanity outweigh those of one’s fatherland, or still more to understand this, one must, before all things, have a fatherland.”

What is remarkable about these views is their similarity in some respects to those expressed in 1866 by Moses Hess in his Rom und Jerusalem. Hess, though himself a German Jew writing in German, connected Zionism with the political rôle of France. He regarded the French Revolution as one of the great events that were to prepare the restoration of Israel, and therefore he looked to France for help. France had extended her protection to the Roman Catholics of Syria, and was the beau idéal and the avant courier of human progress. The renationalization of humanity was his aim. He realized the distinctiveness of the Jew. He said that Jews and Germans were as the poles asunder in thought and conceptions of life, and the logic of history and the necessities of humanity made him plead for Zion to be restored. Nature’s economy, he said, demands that the Jew should lead his own life, in his own fashion, and in his own country. He pleaded in the first place for a reaction against Hellenistic theories of life: to him family life was sacred; the mother’s love was the real sacred source of Jewish persistence, because it was spiritual yet not unreal. From the family to the nation was but a step; the family should possess in the individual what the nation should uphold in the mass. He attacked most scornfully the German-Jewish Reform movement, not because he was of the ultra-orthodox school, but because there had been no real Reformation in Judaism. He believed in the upholding of traditional observances not because of their religious utility, but because they were expressive of the Jewish nation, because many of them link us to the remote past. Seeing the gradual disappearance of the little groups of emancipated Jews, and the great misery of the bulk of the Jewish people, he watched most jealously and anxiously over their destiny, desiring to preserve their original purity and ancestral dignity. “The Jew should live his own life,” said Hess: “Welcome to all fresh and sound symptoms of energy,” said Bourgeois. It is the same idea, bespeaking the same sense of humanity and real equality.

As regards the Jews of France, we have already shown how real were the Zionist sympathies of the leaders of the “Alliance” in the sixties. Their successors did not fall below them in this respect. Thus Michel Erlanger (18281892), an active member of the Central Committee of the “Alliance” and Vice-President of the “Consistoirede Paris, promoted most energetically the colonization of Palestine. It was to a great extent through his invitation that Baron Edmond de Rothschild came to assist the colonies. The success of the Baron’s undertakings was largely due to Erlanger’s knowledge of the localities and their conditions, to his practical understanding and to the energy which he brought to bear upon the work, inspired by a love for the sacred cause which triumphed over difficulties. His practical mind saw that the Holy Land was far better suited than any other country to be a real home for the Jew. We have already mentioned the Grand Rabbin of France, M. Zadoc Kahn, in connection with the first Zionist Congress. No man played a more important part in the early colonization of Palestine than this admirable spiritual leader, with his great strength of character, personal influence and immense popularity. A man of great dignity and wisdom, a fine personality in the noblest sense of the term, he helped all undertakings in favour of Palestine. All the Palestinian deputations, and those from other countries with schemes for the benefit of Palestine, addressed themselves to him; all their cares and troubles fell upon his shoulders. He was engaged in this herculean task for some years, and rendered invaluable service to the work of colonization. And there was always at Paris a group of influential supporters of the Palestinian idea. Besides Baron Edmond de Rothschild, the great benefactor of Palestine, there were the famous scholar, Professor Joseph Halévy (18271918), who was already half a century ago one of the pioneers of a Hebrew Revival in the East; Dr. Waldemar Mordecai Wolff Haffkine, C.I.E., member of the Institut Pasteur, who afterwards made a great name for himself by his important medical work in India; and Dr. Emil Meyersohn (at present one of the directors of the Jewish Colonization Association), an eminent scholar who, thanks to his exceptional experience, was able to reorganize the old system of colonization in Palestine.

Thus French Jewry has never been the impregnable citadel of assimilation which it is sometimes represented as being. Herzl’s movement evoked a response in quarters which hitherto had been strangers to the Palestinian idea; and though a fusion between the old and the new Zionists was not effected for some time, yet essentially the two sections stood for one and the same thing. The new Zionist organization gained its footing in France through the formation, soon after the first Congress, of the “Fédération Sioniste,” the chief pillar of which was, of course, Max Nordau.

Dr. Alexander Marmorek, a well-known physician, and one of the most prominent Zionists since the very beginning of the movement, was for several years President of the Federation. Alexander and his two brothers Oscar and Isidore were the principal advocates of the national idea in academic circles. The youthful career of Isidore was unhappily cut short by death. Oscar (18631910) worked for a number of years with Herzl, but an untimely death robbed the movement of him also. The most gifted and most enthusiastic of the three brothers is still active in the movement. These leaders of French Zionism were assisted by the late M. Berr, Mdlle. Marie Schach, Dr. Jacobsohn, Dr. Nahum Slousch, and others.

Special notice is due to one of the first followers of Herzl—Bernard Lazare (18561904).¹

Born at Nîmes, Bernard Lazare left his native place at an early age and came to Paris. He studied paleography and history at the Sorbonne, and was engaged for a time on archæological work, but soon entered upon a literary and journalistic career. He contributed to the Figaro, the Echo de Paris and other dailies, founded L’Action Sociale, issued a pamphlet about the Panama affair and was the author of a few novels. The publication of his L’Antisémitisme, son histoire et ses causes led to a duel with Edouard Drumout.

Lazare was the pioneer of the agitation which led to the release of Captain Alfred Dreyfus; his pamphlets on the affaire were undoubtedly the primary causes of the revision. Another subject in which he was deeply interested was the condition of the Jews in Roumania. He repeatedly raised his voice on their behalf in the leading reviews, in that clear, incisive style which was his own. He was also an enthusiastic adherent of Herzl and an ardent Zionist. He came back to national Judaism after all his achievements for humanity in the Socialist movement and in the literature and politics of his great country, and became an eloquent champion of the new Jew. A clear thinker and a gifted writer, he contributed brilliant Zionist articles to the Flambeau and the Echo Sioniste. It was surprising how this real French patriot and intellectual came to lay bare his Jewish soul and Jewish individuality, and with what power of conviction he defended the immutable rights of this individuality.

Le Sionisme,” he wrote in 1900, “c’est l’affirmation de notre personalité. Nous avons confiance en nous mêmes, en notre génie, en notre destin pour être dignes de notre passé.... Nous ne serions pas dignes de notre passé, si notre histoire ne nous inspirait des pensées pour l’avenir et si nous ne comprendrions pas qu’il faut que nous ayons un foyer, un centre pour former notre univers, si grand ou petit qu’il soit, à l’image de notre idéal, de notre civilization, de notre pensée et de notre sensibilité. C’est la véritable solution du problème. Nous ne voulons pas l’absorption et l’anéantissement, la disparition, la paix du cimetière, la mort sans phrase. Pour hurter avec les loups—est-ce-que c’est notre mission? Non. Nous réclamons notre titre à nous d’être un ouvrier utile dans le grand atelier de l’humanité. Notre rôle déjà grand, grandira encore. Ce sera la triomphe du droit sur la force brutale, du droit de l’individuelle personne humaine et des collectives personnes qui sont les nations. On a beau dire que puisqu’il y a certaines groups des israélites denationalisés, la nation n’existe plus. Mais ces petits groupes ne comptent pour rien. Il y a un peuple juif qui compte, c’est la grande majorité, ceux qui ont un passé et des traditions dont ils sont fiers et dont ils ont la garde.¹

M. Lazare displayed a warm interest in the various questions of Zionism, and always took a national and democratic view. Though shortly before his death he retired from Zionist activity on account of a difference of opinion between himself and Herzl on a point of tactics with regard to Turkey (Lazare proposed an alliance with the Young Turks), he remained a convinced Zionist. He will live in Jewish memory much more as a Zionist than as a “Dreyfusard.” His death in 1904 was an irreparable loss to Zionism in France.


The first leaders—Herzl before the Royal Commission on Immigration—The East Africa offer—Death of Herzl—Holman Hunt—Report of United States Consul at Beirut on Zionism—Lord Robert Cecil—The Palestine Exploration Fund—Colonel Conder—Lord Gwydyr—Zionism and the Arab question.

We turn now to England, where the Zionist idea continued to find influential support after the foundation of the new movement.

Dr. Herzl’s appreciation of the importance of England for Zionism may be illustrated by quotations from two of his letters:—

Vienna, Feb. 28th.

Mr. Chairman,—My friends in England know how much I feel drawn towards them, and how much I expect from them for the work common and dear to all of us. From the first moment I entered the movement my eyes were directed towards England, because I saw that by reason of the general situation of things there, that it was the Archimedean point where the lever could be applied....

Theodor Herzl.

“To the Chairman of the English Zionist Conference.”¹

Again, in a letter to Viscount Milner, dated January 3, 1903, he wrote:—

“All the freedom and equality of rights of the British Jews, the happy situation even of foreign Jews in the British Colonies, and the humane protection which England’s Government grants, by their protests against the persecution of our brethren, all this is a bond which unites us all closely to your glorious nation.... Some day, we shall be able to prove our gratitude to Great and Greater Britain.”

England was made, almost as a matter of course, the home of the financial institutions of Zionism: the Jewish National Fund, the Jewish Colonial Trust and the Anglo-Palestine Company are registered as English Companies. Hence English Zionists have had a position and an influence in the movement which would hardly have been warranted on the ground of mere numbers. Conditions have, however, been unfavourable to any rapid growth of the organization in this country. The official Jewish community, with its rather parochial view, long looked askance at Zionism, and until quite recent years those who followed Herzl have been a minority struggling hard against a vast amount of prejudice and of indifference. None the less, such English Zionists as Dr. M. Gaster (Haham of the Spanish and Portuguese Congregations), Herbert Bentwich, Joseph Cowen, L. J. Greenberg and Israel Zangwill (who left the movement after some years to found the Jewish Territorial Organization) have played a prominent part in shaping Zionist policy; and more recently, as we have remarked above, a group of younger men has come forward.

If Herzl had the intuition as to the importance of England, it may fairly be said that England more rapidly than any other Power recognized the significance of Herzl’s movement. The holding of the fourth Congress in London in 1900 evoked a great deal of favourable comment in the English Press (Appendix lxxxiv). And more official recognition was not wanting. In 1902 Herzl was invited to give evidence before the Royal Commission on Immigration. That fact alone sufficiently indicates that the title of Zionism to a voice on a question affecting large masses of Jews was accepted in England, even in those early days of the movement, as a matter of course. But a still more striking recognition of Zionism on the part of the British Government was to follow before long.

In October, 1902, the Executive of the Zionist Organization entered into negotiations with the British Government for part of the Sinai Peninsula to be granted to the Jews with powers of self-government. These negotiations broke down owing to certain stipulations on the part of the Egyptian Government, and the Colonial Office then made the Zionists an offer of territory in British East Africa. The terms of this offer are contained in a letter of the 14th August, 1903, to Mr. L. J. Greenberg in regard “to the form of an agreement which Dr. Herzl proposes should be entered into between His Majesty’s Government and the Jewish Colonial Trust, Ltd., for the establishment of a Jewish settlement in East Africa.” The letter states that the Marquis of Lansdowne (then Foreign Minister) “has studied the question with the interest which His Majesty’s Government must always take in any well-considered scheme for the amelioration of the position of the Jewish race.... If a site can be found which the Trust and H.M. Commission find suitable, Lord Lansdowne will be prepared to entertain favourably proposals for the establishment of a Jewish colony or settlement on conditions which will enable the members to observe their national customs ... the scheme comprising as its main features the grant of a considerable area of land, the appointment of a Jewish Official as the chief of the local administration, and permission to the colony to have a free hand in regard to municipal legislation as to the management of religious and purely domestic matters, such local autonomy being conditional upon the right of H.M. Government to exercise general control.” This announcement gave rise to considerable excitement in the Zionist camp. The most ardent Zionists believed that it meant that Zionism was to give up its efforts for the acquisition of Palestine and to regard the settlement in East Africa as its goal, and they accordingly, and rightly, opposed this presumed alteration of the original programme. Others maintained that this alteration was never contemplated. British East Africa was not to take the place of Palestine, but only to serve as a place of temporary refuge for those unfortunate Jews who, under the horrible conditions imposed upon them, could not live in the unfriendly countries of their birth, and wait there until Palestine became a Jewish country. After most exciting debates, the Sixth Congress finally adopted a proposal to express the thanks of the Jewish people to the British Government for its magnanimous offer, which was unique in history, and to send a commission of experts to East Africa to investigate the territory. Even this tentative acceptance of the scheme in principle was bitterly opposed by a large section of delegates, especially those from Russia, who viewed with profound distrust any deviation from the pure Palestinian programme. The Commission of enquiry started on its journey towards the end of the year 1904, and in May, 1905, presented its report, which was not favourable enough to justify Zionist action for the purpose of establishing a Jewish colony. The death of Herzl had taken place in the meantime (3rd July, 1904).

The British East Africa offer not only precipitated a crisis within Zionism, but also—and herein lies its significance—raised Zionism to the rank of a political movement of international importance, and demonstrated the interest of the British Government in a solution of the Jewish problem. But after this brilliant success circumstances brought it about that the movement had virtually to leave for a time the political arena into which Herzl had taken it, and to concentrate on the strengthening of its organization and the development of the Jewish holding in Palestine. The results achieved in both fields have amply compensated Zionism for the comparative absence of réclame and of more sensational triumphs. It is, indeed, largely thanks to the quiet constructive work of the ten years preceding the outbreak of war, that the movement is to-day in a position to assert with confidence its claim to a hearing in the peace settlement.

Meanwhile, however, the opportunity was lacking for any further co-operation between the British Government and Zionism. This was partly due to the course taken by British policy in the Near East, with which we shall deal in the next chapter. But there was no diminution of the sympathy shown by English thinkers and writers for the Zionist idea. We quote here a few characteristic utterances of this later period, the period of Zionism in its modern form.

As early as 1896 Holman Hunt, the famous painter, advocated the Zionist idea in its most radical form, that of a Jewish state in Palestine. A contribution to the columns of the Jewish Chronicle, 21 February, 1896, p. 9, entitled “Mr. Holman Hunt on the Resettlement of the Jews in Palestine,” contains a letter addressed by him from Draycott Lodge, Fulham, Jan. 6th, 1896, to an eminent Jew, which expresses ideas similar in every way to those of Dr. Herzl. He saw looming in the distance an approaching war “which would entail the destruction and maiming of countless legions of the choicest men of the noble races of the civilised world, and with this would come the disappearance of wealth, and the ruin of the richest....” “He sought a remedy against the impending evil, and was led to suggest the restoration of Palestine to the Jews, both for the sake of the advantages which would accrue to the Jews themselves and in order to remove a bone of contention out of the way of the European Powers.” “Palestine will soon become a direful field of contention to the infernally armed forces of the European Powers, so that it is calculated to provoke a curse to the world of the most appalling character. Russia and Greece will contend for the interests of the Greek Church, France and Italy for the Latin, Prussia and Austria for the German political interests.... In addition to the above-named certain contenders for Palestine, there would be England....” Holman Hunt spoke like a prophet, though not in every detail.

Nor was the actual colonizing work in Palestine without recognition in the English Press:—¹

Jewish Colonies in Palestine

The United States Consul at Beirut, in a report which has lately been issued by the Department of State in Washington, (on) the condition of the numerous Jewish colonies in Palestine.... The Consul thinks that, whether the Zionist movement succeeds in its special aim or not, the agitation aids in the development of Palestine—a country “which will generously respond to modern influences....” The Zionist movement, also, is said to be bringing out new qualities in the Jews inhabiting the country; they are ... beginning to act on the principle that “to till the ground is to worship God.”... On the whole, the Consul thinks “the prospects are brighter than ever for the Jews in Palestine and for Palestine itself. European influence has obtained a foothold in the country, and the tide of modern ideas cannot be long debarred.”

It may be added that during the Parliamentary Elections of 1900 the English Zionist Federation addressed to all candidates a letter asking for an expression of sympathy with Zionism, and between ninety and a hundred replies were received, the great majority of an exceedingly favourable nature; and that in 1906 Lord Robert Cecil wrote: “The central idea underlying the Zionist movement seems to me worthy of all support. Apart from all other considerations, it appears to me that the restoration of the Jewish nation offers a satisfactory solution, if it can be accomplished, of those problems raised by Jewish emigration, which are otherwise very difficult of adjustment.”

Naturally, the Palestine Exploration Fund had done a great deal to keep alive interest in Palestine among Englishmen; and some at least of those who worked for it were outspoken supporters of the Jewish national idea. Prominent among these is Colonel C. R. Conder, who devoted practically the whole of his life to the exploration of the Holy Land, part of which he surveyed as far back as 1875. He not only wrote a series of valuable books on Palestine from the standpoint of the investigator; he did not fail when opportunity offered to identify himself with Zionist views as to the future of the land. He saw in the Zionists the natural leaders to whom the destitute and oppressed Jews turn for counsel and guidance, and recognized that “a nation without a country must be content with toleration as all that it can expect.” Englishmen, he said, should be “only too glad to see Palestine increasing in civilization and prosperity as an outpost in the neighbourhood of Egypt” (Appendix lxxxv).

Finally, something must be said as to the views put forward by Lord Gwydyr (18411915) with regard to the relations between Jews and Arabs (Appendix lxxxvi). In suggesting that Palestine can become Jewish without any disadvantage to the Arabs, and that in fact the Jews, being themselves a combination of East and West, are alone capable of helping the Arabs to take their old place in civilization, Lord Gwydyr is expressing precisely the sentiments of Zionists themselves. Zionism has never desired to use its influence to the disadvantage of non-Jews in Palestine. Its hope is that there will come a day when even the Chauvinists among the Arabs, whose number is, happily, quite insignificant compared with the noise that they sometimes cause, will change their unfriendly policy, and that Jews and Arabs will work together for the civilization of the East.

It is true that some English authorities are rather pessimistic as to the possibilities of an Arab administration. One of the best-qualified students of the Eastern question says:—

“Bad as Turkish government is according to our standards, native Arab government, when not in tutelage to Europeans, has generally proved itself worse, when tried in the Ottoman area in modern times. Where it is of a purely Bedouin barbaric type, as in the countries of Central Arabia, it does well enough; but if the population be contaminated ever so little with non-Arab elements, practices or ideas, Arab administration seems incapable of producing effective government. It has had trials in the Holy Cities at intervals, and for longer periods in the Yemen. But a European, long resident in the latter country, who has groaned under Turkish administration, where it has always been the most oppressive, bore witness that the rule of the native Imam only served to replace oppressive government by oppressive anarchy.”

The same author writes concerning the Arab movement:—

“The peoples of the Arab part of the Ottoman Empire are a congeries of differing races, creeds, sects and social systems, with no common bond except language. The physical character of their land compels a good third of them to be nomadic, predatory barbarians, feared by the other two-thirds. The settled folk are divided into Moslem and Christian, the cleavage being more abrupt than in Western Turkey, and the traditions and actual spirit of mutual enmity more separative. Further, each of these main divisions is subdivided. Even Islam in this region includes a number of incompatible sects, such as the Ansariyeh, the Matavcle and the Druses in the Syrian mountains; Shiite Arabs on the Gulf Coast and the Persian border.... The ‘Arab Movement’ up to the present has consisted of little more than talk and journalistic comment.”

But we do not take this pessimistic view. We are inclined to give much more credit to Arab capacity, and while we admit that the Arab problem is a serious one, we believe that it can and will be solved.

And as to the alleged rivalry between Jewish and Arab claims we may quote the opinion of an Arab authority, M. Farid Kassab, as to the Jewish colonization of Palestine:—

“Nous avons vu de très près les Juifs en Palestine, nous les avons observés et nous pouvons tranquilliser l’inquiet Azoury¹ et son Église. Ils ne songent pas à former un empire, à batailler contre les Arabes, à arracher aux chrétiens un caverne ou un tombeau, devenus pour quelques-uns l’unique objet du culte, pour d’autres, les fourbes, un moyen de vivre dans l’abondance et l’oisivité....

“Les Juifs en Orient sont chez eux; cette terre devient leur unique patrie; ils n’en connaissent pas d’autres.... Ils ne l’exploitent pas dans l’oisivité pour des intentions absurdes, comme les congrégations cléricales, ... Ceux-là sont de vrais brigands et de vrais accapareurs avec leurs couvents, leurs hôtelleries et leurs domaines....

“Si les juifs et les indigènes avec l’aide du gouvernement ottoman réussissent à rendre à la Palestine un peu de son ancienne splendeur, ... ils recevront néanmoins les remerciements de l’histoire et des génération futures.”¹


The Russo-Turkish War, 187778—The Turkish Revolution—Disappointed hopes—Jewish colonization and British commercial interests in Palestine.

In dealing with the political events of 183940, 185556 and 186061, we have attempted to show that Great Britain has always stood for the regeneration of the Near East—an idea of which political Zionism is an expression, inasmuch as it aims at introducing into the Near East a new civilizing and harmonizing force in the shape of a revived Hebrew nation. If we review the events in connection with the next Near Eastern crisis, that of 187778, we shall find that the guiding idea of British policy was the same.

On April 24th, 1877, Russia declared war against Turkey. After a war of eight to nine months, Russia had approached Constantinople. The treaty of San Stefano was signed on March 3rd, 1878, but it had to be submitted to the European Powers for revision, and to that end the European Powers met in Congress at Berlin on June 13th, 1878, where the whole San Stefano Treaty was to be discussed. Some days before the Congress met—on the 4th of June—a separate convention was concluded between Great Britain and Turkey, under which Great Britain agreed for all time to defend the Asiatic dominions of the Ottoman Empire “by force of arms,” and in return the Sultan, Abdul Hamid, promised to introduce all necessary reforms, as agreed upon with his ally, and to hand over the island of Cyprus for occupation and administration by England at an annual tribute. This convention with Turkey was one of the most important measures of foreign policy which have ever been resolved upon by a British Government. It was a victory, won without bloodshed by English policy, on the Eastern Question. Cyprus is the nearest island to the Suez Canal. At that time England had no position in Egypt close to the Canal itself, and for many reasons the taking of Egyptian territory was impracticable: hence the possession of Cyprus was attended with special advantages. But the possession of Cyprus could not be dissociated from the pledges given by Turkey and the responsibilities taken on by Great Britain with regard to the Asiatic provinces. It was clear that the Asiatic provinces could not be rescued from misrule except by Western agency, and that it was necessary for English authority to be on the spot. Cyprus was considered the best station that could be chosen for such a purpose. The Porte was expected to develop the vast natural resources of its Asiatic Empire, or, at least, to allow that task to be accomplished by others. The Marquess of Salisbury (18301903) made that clear in words of undiplomatic plainness when he stated that the protection of England must depend on the readiness of the Porte “to introduce the necessary reform into the government of the Christians and other subjects of the Porte.” The Jews no less than the Christians and the more enlightened and progressive Mohammedans of the East looked to England for a sort of political and economic renaissance. The occupation of Cyprus brought England into the neighbourhood of Palestine, and made England in the eyes of Zionists the most important Western European power in connection with Palestine.

The same idea guided British policy with regard to Egypt.

In 1882, an early year of Gladstone’s government, Egyptian affairs were growing rapidly worse. On June 11th armed revolt broke out in Alexandria. On July 30th the British Cabinet decided to take action. The Porte was informed by our Ambassador at Constantinople, the Marquess of Dufferin and Ava (18261902), that Great Britain considered that on her was laid the duty of restoring order in Egypt, and of safeguarding the Suez Canal. The services of a Turkish army corps were declined. On August 16th Sir Garnet (afterwards Viscount) Wolseley (18331913) landed at Alexandria, and in September the revolt ended. Major Baring (afterwards the Earl of Cromer) (18411917) was sent to Egypt as British Agent and Consul-General, in order to assume supreme control of Egyptian foreign and home affairs, by means of which peace and stability were eventually to be restored to Egypt, the country was to be freed from external oppression, and internal prosperity such as she had not known for many centuries was to be secured. The real mission of Great Britain was to restore to Egypt a stable Government, which, like that of India, would lead to a just and wise administration of the country. To pretend that such an administration could be developed out of the existing conditions, by giving Egypt a sound constitution by means of the ballot-box, was to ignore the plainest facts of politics. Egypt’s one chance was to procure a strong and permanent protectorate capable of shielding her from rapacious influences from without and from the effects of the political ignorance and weakness wrought within through centuries of abject servility.

Thus throughout the latter half of the nineteenth century British statesmen recognized that the only way to save the near East from decay was to bring a stronger and more healthy influence to bear upon the Turkish Government from without. The idea of a spontaneous regeneration from within was always held to be inadmissible.

But early in the twentieth century events took place which seemed to indicate that Turkey was going to solve her problems for herself. The Turkish Revolution, 1908, marked a new epoch.

The overthrow of the autocracy and the establishment of constitutional government in Turkey were greeted with enthusiasm in England, where even the most advanced Radicals, the most voluble preachers against “the unspeakable Turk,” had entirely stopped “their flow of depreciation.” And on the other side, nothing was so significant and gratifying during the rejoicings which followed the announcement of the Constitution in Turkey as the spontaneous demonstrations of national enthusiasm for Great Britain. Everybody had long been aware that all sections of the Levant populace were filled with friendly feelings towards England, and that different races of the Empire regarded her as their special champion. But in their most sanguine moments Englishmen could not have anticipated such impressive demonstrations as were witnessed in every quarter of the Turkish capital. This friendly feeling was important not only from the political but also from the commercial point of view. For many years past the extension of British commerce in Turkey had been slow; the openings for the development of trade had not been numerous. But under a progressive and friendly Government, bent on setting its house in order and raising Turkey to the rank of a great Power, such drawbacks must immediately disappear.

Unfortunately, the cordial relations at first established between Great Britain and the new Turkey did not endure. British policy took on a different orientation, and Turkey came under other influences. Of the more far-reaching effects of this development it is not within our province to speak. But from the Zionist point of view it was undoubtedly a great misfortune that Great Britain seemed to be abandoning her traditional policy of working for the regeneration of the Near East through the maintenance of friendly relations with Turkey. For the promise of spontaneous internal reform, which was held out for a time by the Turkish revolution, was not fulfilled, and Zionist effort in Palestine, which might have received an enormous impetus, was doomed to struggle on against the obstacles imposed by the inertia and corruptness of a Turkish Government scarcely differing from the old autocracy except in its greater chauvinism.

None the less, it is a fact that the great growth of Palestinian commerce which has accompanied the progress of the Jewish settlement is due mainly to increased trade with the United Kingdom and British possessions. The Consular Reports (Appendix lxxxvii) show that the exports from the Jaffa district amounted to £636,000; over £480,000 worth went to England or Egypt. Thus the Jewish colonization movement has helped in some degree to advance British commercial interests in the Near East.


Palestine as the Homeland—The rebirth of Jewish civilization—The security of public law—The aims of Political Zionism—A modern Commonwealth for the Jewish people.

We are afraid that some readers may feel a certain disappointment at the absence in this book of any formulation of what they would call “definite demands” in respect to Palestine. They may have expected a detailed scheme, showing what political conditions are proposed, whether “autonomy” is demanded or certain “privileges,” and so forth.

These details are of course very important, and will have to be considered in the near future. But we do not enter into them here for several reasons. In the first place, our aim has been mainly historical. We have been concerned with the past, and to some extent with the present, and any predictions with regard to the future would be out of place. Secondly, the precise nature of the measures that will be taken to realize Zionist aims must necessarily depend upon the future political position of Palestine. An arrangement that would suit one set of circumstances would be quite impossible in another. It is, therefore, useless to conjecture anything in advance. And, thirdly—and this is the most important consideration—the form of the scheme is, to our mind, a secondary matter. When once the principle of Zionism is accepted—the principle of a Homeland for the Jewish people—the adoption of the best means for carrying out its object will follow.

We do, however, derive from history and experience certain conclusions as to the way in which the aim of Zionism can be achieved. These conclusions may be summarized as follows:—

I. The Homeland of the Jewish people must be in Palestine.

II. Palestine can and must be made capable of fulfilling its function by the method of patient colonization.

III. The security of public law—that is, of the recognition of the rightful claim of the Jewish people to regenerate Palestine and itself through Palestine—is a necessary condition of success.

As to the first point, experience has sufficiently shown that the Jew as colonist and as pioneer is at home only in Palestine. More or less successful attempts at settling Jews on the land have been made in the Argentine and elsewhere; but none of these settlements has any vital significance for Jewry at large. Their value begins and ends with the individuals who take part in them. With the Palestinian settlement it is quite otherwise. The heart of the Jewish people responds to the efforts of the Palestinian settlers: it recognizes in them not merely a number of individuals, but its own representatives, the vanguard of its struggle towards a new life. That is a natural consequence of the place which Palestine has held for centuries in the Jewish scheme of things. Opponents of Zionism have sometimes tried to reconcile conflicting points of view by admitting that “Palestine is not worse than any other country,” and that, therefore, “Jews should not be oppressed there,” and that “if there is a chance for colonization it should be taken.” But this is like telling a man that his mother is no worse than any other woman, or that his language is no worse than any other language. Such compromises cannot be seriously discussed. If Palestine is anything to Jews, it is the Land of Israel. But is Palestine capable of being the Land of Israel in anything but an ideal sense? and if so, how is this to be brought about?

We have come to think of Palestine as a barren land; but its apparent barrenness is not to be attributed to defects of soil or climate, as its productivity is in no degree impaired. The causes are the scantiness of population, lack of industry, skill, initiative and intelligence, and the want of a local administrative system to encourage the labour of husbandmen to productive activity. If these obstacles were removed and a little exertion bestowed upon it the soil would soon yield abundant crops of the richest grain, and plantations of all kinds would flourish; the country still answers the description given of it in days of old. A stronger proof of its fertility cannot be adduced than the fact that the territory of Judæa alone, at one period, brought into the field more than three hundred thousand, and at another two hundred and four score thousand “mighty men of valour” (2 Chron. xiv. 7). According to Flavius Josephus¹ (3795 ?), Galilee alone had hundreds of towns and millions of inhabitants. Even if we do not accept these as exact figures, there is undoubtedly room for several millions of people in Palestine, particularly if the Trans-Jordanic regions are irrigated, the old roads repaired and the projected railway lines constructed. There may be room in the future even for several millions. The country only awaits repopulation and reconstruction.

This work of repopulation and reconstruction has already been begun by Jews, who have created the nucleus of a flourishing settlement in Palestine during the last thirty years. All this has to be expanded, increased, developed and protected; but the basis is there, and the lines of progress are sufficiently marked out. This is the way, and there is no other. The Zionist Organization, the Baron Edmond de Rothschild administration and the Chovevé Zion are competent, by virtue of their knowledge and their devotion to the work, to suggest the necessary improvements. They alone know how much they have had to suffer through all kinds of obstacles which impeded and delayed development, through the absence of security in consequence of disputed title deeds and inability to acquire landed property, through exorbitant taxes and many other hindrances. Whatever has been done, in spite of these hindrances, is nothing short of a miracle; and a hundred times more could be done, and certainly would have been done, had there been freedom and security. Given those necessary conditions, the Jewish people could find in Palestine a real Homeland, where it could live according to its own spirit and work out its own civilization.

Now, the fundamental notion of civilization is that of a progressive movement, of a gradual development from the less to the more perfect. It suggests to us immediately the greatest activity and the best possible organization of society, an organization calculated to produce a continual increase of wealth and power and their proper distribution among its members, so that their condition is kept in a state of constant improvement. But great as is the influence which a well-organized civil society must have upon the condition of its members, the term civilization conveys something still more comprehensive and more lofty than the mere perfection of social relations in the economic sphere. In this other aspect the word embraces the development of the intellectual and moral faculties of man, of his feelings, his propensities, his natural capacities and tastes. Civilization in both aspects has to be worked out by the Jews in their own way. The rebuilding of a Home in the economic sense is not the sole aim of Zionism. Living, national Judaism on historic lines, expressing and asserting itself throughout the whole range of human life, is the principal object of Zionist effort: to procure for Jewish individuality the possibility of regaining harmony with itself, and of reaching its highest possible perfection, like any other national individuality, is an essential part of the Zionist programme. In this sense Zionism means the rebirth of Jewish civilization (or, as it is frequently termed, “culture”—“Jewish culture”).

Jews are not anxious to acquire military power; they reject and condemn the idea of subjugating any other people. On the other hand, they have grown tired of their rôle of a homeless Chosen People, and would prefer to be a self-supporting “small nation,” with a quiet spot of earth for themselves. They want to be united in an organic community, to feel entirely at home, with their institutions, congregations, societies, settlements, schools and with their national language, literature and Press. That, neither more nor less, is what Zionists look to as the goal of their efforts.

The only serious opposition to a return of the Jews to the Holy Land—and here we come to our third point—is that which is based upon the insecurity of political and economic conditions in Palestine. Zionism, therefore, demands improvement in these respects.

But how is that improvement to be brought about? The answer is supplied by Political Zionism, with its insistence on the security of public law.

“Political” Zionism does not mean politics for politics’ sake, nor does it mean state building as an end in itself. “Political” Zionists know perfectly well that political recognition by itself is nothing; one has to be on the spot to toil and to labour, to work out one’s destiny, and without this systematic work all rights are futile, all political combinations useless. The Jewish agriculturists, working-men, artisans, teachers and artists who have gone to Palestine to settle there, and those who are still to go, know better than all the preachers of Jewish spirituality what the essence of the Jewish character and aspirations should be and is: they not only know it, they help to make it, in the highest sense of the word. They are Jews, idealists, the People of the Book; all they seek for is life in peace. Without practical work in Palestine Zionism would have been one of a thousand futile political schemes, whereas now it is a solid national movement, the colonies being its most powerful argument, even from the strictly political point of view. But none the less some guarantee of security is indispensable. It makes no difference whether we lay more stress on culture or agriculture (the various activities have to be judiciously combined and balanced); in practice the importance of political and legal securities is too obvious to need particular emphasis. The reader of this book will have realized that this idea is no new-fangled invention of Zionism: it has been at the root of the attitude of various Governments which for generations have been occupied with the Near Eastern question. The innumerable schemes of reform suggested by England, France and other Powers during last century; the English projects of 1840; Great Britain’s protection of the Jews in the East; Lord Shaftesbury’s proposals; Sir Moses Montefiore’s negotiations with Mehemet Ali; the “Memorandum of the European Monarchs” of 1840; the suggestions for reform after the Crimean War—all these schemes and efforts, suggestions and demands presupposed the point of view which is expressed in “political” Zionism. The autonomy granted in 1860 to the Christians of the Lebanon, owing to the efforts of England and France, was a scheme very similar to that which Zionism contemplates for the Jews in Palestine. The idea was much the same as that in the Basle Programme: security, guaranteed by the Government of the country and other powers, for a successful settlement and the free development of a particular section of the population.

The Jewish settlers in Palestine will have to attach themselves to the soil, and to build up the superstructure of a complete settlement upon the model of their own ideas and spirit. In place of the existing forty to fifty Jewish colonies, Zionism wants four hundred to five hundred colonies. In place of the model town Tel-Aviv Zionists want a hundred Tel-Avivs. They want as many schools and libraries, a University and factories and workshops. There is a clever saying:—

Narrative is linear, action is cubic.

Happily, the stage of action has been entered in Palestine; we need only action on a larger scale. And for this enlargement and extension of its activities, for this colonization work which means the reopening and regeneration of a neglected country, Zionism needs such special facilities and protective measures as the Basle Programme contemplates when it speaks of a home for the Jewish people secured by public law. The formula may be varied, but the sense is abundantly clear: it means such rights and assurances as will, in existing conditions, help to lay the foundations of a modern Commonwealth for the Jewish people.

It has been thought by many that a Chartered Company would be the appropriate instrument for achieving this object; others have thought of concessions to the Zionist Organization and its financial institutions. But these questions of detail matter little at present. The form will be decided by general conditions; the principle is a Home secured as far as possible, and behind this again there is the great and profound idea of the reunion of the Jewish Nation with its nobler self. This idea has obtained currency and spread continually: it has progressed outwardly and inwardly taken shape, and has done more than any other idea to awaken and rekindle the powers of the Jewish race. It is an impulse of the national soul towards self-discovery and self-expression, and history testifies to the fact that all genuine impulses of this kind have attained their object.

The quotations which we have brought together in this book show us an unbroken chain of opinion that extends over several generations in England and in France. Throughout we observe the same convergence of ideal, practical and political reasons in support of the Zionist idea. Zionism is, indeed, not less practical for being based on sentiment. Englishmen have always been practical enough to be idealists, and it is not surprising that Zionism has always met with the greatest sympathy in England. This was the case even in the earlier stages of the Zionist idea, when there was no clear programme and no real activity. Now, when Zionism has a clear programme and has years of activity behind it, English interest in Zionism naturally grows stronger and deeper.

Zionism has, then, every reason to hope for the sympathy and support of the most enlightened Powers in its effort to secure the conditions necessary for the prosecution of its work in Palestine. But the achievement of a political success with this or that Power must never be mistaken for the real aim of Zionism. Its real aim is the regeneration—physical, economic, moral—of the Jewish people. That is a constructive task of the highest value from the point of view of humanity, and those who set their hands to such a task need many high qualities—patience and tenacity of purpose, experience and foresight. Above all, they need the gifts of imagination and optimism, without which no great object has ever been achieved. So at last the great day will dawn, and the task of Zionism will be accomplished.


[The Volumes are indicated by I and II respectively.]