The Official Postcards of the Early Zionist Congresses

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.

Read more at Jewish Press

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

Why Arab Jerusalem Has Stayed Quiet

One of Hamas’s most notable failures since October 7 is that it has not succeeded in inspiring a violent uprising either among the Palestinians of the West Bank or the Arab citizens of Israel. The latter seem horrified by Hamas’s actions and tend to sympathize with their own country. In the former case, quiet has been maintained by the IDF and Shin Bet, which have carried out a steady stream of arrests, raids, and even airstrikes.

But there is a third category of Arab living in Israel, namely the Arabs of Jerusalem, whose intermediate legal status gives them access to Israeli social services and the right to vote in municipal elections. They may also apply for Israeli citizenship if they so desire, although most do not.

On Wednesday, off-duty Israeli soldiers in the Old City of Jerusalem shot at a Palestinian who, it seems, was attempting to attack them. But this incident is a rare exception to the quiet that has prevailed in Arab Jerusalem since the war began. Eytan Laub asked a friend in an Arab neighborhood why:

Listen, he said, we . . . have much to lose. We already fear that any confrontation would have consequences. Making trouble may put our residence rights at risk. Furthermore, he added, not a few in the neighborhood, including his own family, have applied for Israeli citizenship and participating in disturbances would hardly help with that.

Such an attitude reflects a general trend since the end of the second intifada:

In recent years, the numbers of [Arab] Jerusalemites applying for Israeli citizenship has risen, as the social stigma of becoming Israeli has begun to erode and despite an Israeli naturalization process that can take years and result in denial (because of the requirement to show Jerusalem residence or the need to pass a Hebrew language test). The number of east Jerusalemites granted citizenship has also risen, from 827 in 2009 to over 1,600 in 2020.

Oddly enough, Laub goes on to argue, the construction of the West Bank separation fence in the early 2000s, which cuts through the Arab-majority parts of Jerusalem, has helped to encouraged better relations.

Read more at Jerusalem Strategic Tribune

More about: East Jerusalem, Israeli Arabs, Jerusalem