Theodor Herzl Dreamed Not Just of Jewish Safety, but of Jewish Flourishing

Aug. 25 2022

Having recently edited a three-volume English-language edition of Theodor Herzl’s writings, Gil Troy considers the common myths about the founder of the modern Zionist movement. The most misleading of these is that Herzl was motivated solely by his reaction to European anti-Semitism, which suggests that he saw the Jewish state as nothing more than a refuge for a persecuted people, and possessed no positive vision. But this is not so:

Herzl himself rocked the Jewish world in February 1896, with his Zionist manifesto—Der Judenstaat, “The Jewish State.” And, perhaps most important, we see that Herzl’s Zionism entailed more than anti-anti-Semitism. This romantic liberal nationalist ends his pamphlet with a sweeping, idealistic, constructive vision that not only proves he was not the Zionist most people believe him to have been, [who saw the Jewish state as merely a protective fortress against Gentile hostility], but demonstrates the power of liberal nationalism to redeem a people and the world. “The Jews who want a state of their own will have one,” Herzl writes, democratically acknowledging those who wish to stay in the Diaspora. “We are to live at last as free men on our own soil and die peacefully in our own homeland.”

Then he soars, as every liberal nationalist should, building up universal hopes and values, not putting up walls and barriers to idealism: “The world will be freed by our freedom, enriched by our riches, and made greater by our greatness.”

How lucky we are—to be his heirs, to inherit a state that he helped create, rather than being born into the much harsher, more insecure world he inherited from his ancestors.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at Jewish Journal

More about: History of Zionism, Theodor Herzl

Terror Returns to Israel

Nov. 28 2022

On Wednesday, a double bombing in Jerusalem left two dead, and many others injured—an attack the likes of which has not been seen since 2016. In a Jenin hospital, meanwhile, armed Palestinians removed an Israeli who had been injured in a car accident, reportedly murdering him in the process, and held his body hostage for two days. All this comes as a year that has seen numerous stabbings, shootings, and other terrorist attacks is drawing to a close. Yaakov Lappin comments:

Unlike the individual or small groups of terrorists who, acting on radical ideology and incitement to violence, picked up a gun, a knife, or embarked on a car-ramming attack, this time a better organized terrorist cell detonated two bombs—apparently by remote control—at bus stops in the capital. Police and the Shin Bet have exhausted their immediate physical searches, and the hunt for the perpetrators will now move to the intelligence front.

It is too soon to know who, or which organization, conducted the attack, but it is possible to note that in recent years, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) has taken a lead in remote-control-bombing terrorism. Last week, a car bomb that likely contained explosives detonated by remote control was discovered by the Israel Defense Forces in Samaria, after it caught fire prematurely. In August 2019, a PFLP cell detonated a remote-control bomb in Dolev, seventeen miles northwest of Jerusalem, killing a seventeen-year-old Israeli girl and seriously wounding her father and brother. Members of that terror cell were later arrested.

With the Palestinian Authority (PA) losing its grip in parts of Samaria to armed terror gangs, and the image of the PA at an all-time low among Palestinians, in no small part due to corruption, nepotism, and its violation of human rights . . . the current situation does not look promising.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at JNS

More about: Israeli Security, Jerusalem, Palestinian terror