The Official Postcards of the Early Zionist Congresses

June 22 2022

In 1897, Theodor Herzl convened the First Zionist Congress, a parliamentary gathering for Jews dedicated to the Zionist project. The Zionist Congress went on to meet every year or every other year prior to the creation of the state of Israel; specially produced, official postcards were issued to mark each of these gatherings. Alongside images of the first seven such postcards, Saul Jay Singer offers important historical context regarding the Zionist Congresses they represented.

The official card of the Fourth Congress illustrates “wandering Jews,” Diaspora Jews in exile carrying their meager possessions while the “Angel of Zion” framed by a Magen David extends its wings and points them toward Eretz Yisrael, where Jews are at work on their land.

Herzl realized that support from Britain, then the world’s greatest power, was a necessary prerequisite to the establishment of a Jewish homeland. Indeed, this was why the Jewish National Fund was incorporated as a British company; why the Fourth Congress was convened in London, marking the first time it was held outside Switzerland; and why the first part of Herzl’s opening address was delivered in English: to affect public opinion in England in sympathy with the Zionist idea.

The Congress met in an atmosphere of growing concern over the situation facing Romanian Jewry, where many thousands had been forcibly expelled, and the remainder subject to extreme persecution. The Jewish situation in much of Eastern Europe was dire, and many of the addresses at the Congress contained seeds of prophecy regarding the European Holocaust to come.

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More about: History of Zionism, Jewish art, Theodor Herzl

The End of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, and the Rise of the Arab-Israeli Coalition

Nov. 30 2022

After analyzing the struggle between the Jewish state and its Arab neighbors since 1949, Dan Schueftan explains the current geopolitical alignment and what it means for Jerusalem:

Using an outdated vocabulary of Middle Eastern affairs, recent relations between Israel and most Arab states are often discussed in terms of peace and normalization. What is happening recently is far more significant than the willingness to live together and overshadow old grievances and animosities. It is about strategic interdependence with a senior Israeli partner. The historic all-Arab coalition against Israel has been replaced by a de-facto Arab-Israeli coalition against the radical forces that threaten them both. Iran is the immediate and outstanding among those radicals, but Erdogan’s Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean, Syria—and, in a different way, its allies in the Muslim Brotherhood—are not very far behind.

For Israel, the result of these new alignments is a transformational change in its regional standing, as well as a major upgrade of its position on the global stage. In the Middle East, Israel can, for the first time, act as a full-fledged regional power. . . . On the international scene, global powers and other states no longer have to weigh the advantages of cooperation with Israel against its prohibitive costs in “the Arab World. . . . By far the most significant effect of this transformation is on the American strategic calculus of its relations with Israel.

In some important ways, then, the “New Middle East” has arrived. Not, of course, in the surreal Shimon Peres vision of regional democracy, peace, and prosperity, but in terms of a balance of power and hard strategic realities that can guardrail a somewhat less unstable and dangerous region, where the radicals are isolated and the others cooperate to keep them at bay.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Abraham Accords, Israel-Arab relations, Middle East, Shimon Peres, U.S.-Israel relationship