File:The Jewish State.pdf

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The Jewish State

by Theodore Herzl - 1896

Translated from the German by Sylvie D'Avigdor
Adapted from the edition published in 1946 by the American Zionist Emergency Council
Proofread and corrected by MidEastWeb, with a preface by Ami Isseroff.
PDF e-book compiled by MidEastWeb for distribution free of charge.


  • The Jewish State: MidEastWeb Preface - 1
  • Introduction - 4
  • The Jewish Question - 9
  • The Jewish Company - 15
  • Local Groups - 27
  • Society of Jews and Jewish State - 33
  • Conclusion - 41

From the MidEastWeb Preface

Theodore Herzl's pamphlet Der Judenstaat, The Jewish State, was published in 1896. It heralded the coming of age of Zionism. Several articles and books advocating the Zionist idea had appeared beginning in the 1840s, and small Zionist groups such as Hovevei Tsion (Lovers of Zion) had begun recruiting immigrants to Palestine, but no group had a coherent plan or modern ideology. Herzl's plan for creating a Jewish State, arrived at after contemplating other solutions as well, provided the practical program of Zionism, and led to the first Zionist congress in Basle, Switzerland, in August, 1897.

Born in Budapest, Hungary, on May 2, 1860, Herzl was educated in the spirit of the German-Jewish "Enlightenment." His family moved to Vienna in 1878 after the death of his sister. He became a doctor of law in 1884 and worked for a short while in courts in Vienna and Salzburg. However, he soon left law and devoted himself to writing.

In 1891 Herzl became Paris correspondent for the liberal Vienna newspaper New Free Press. Herzl was in Paris when a wave of anti-Semitism broke out over the court martial of Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish army officer. Dreyfus, falsely accused of espionage and banished to an island prison, was divested of his rank in a humiliating public ceremony in January 1895, as a mob shouted "Death to the Jews.

The Dreyfus case motivated Herzl to devote thought and effort to the Jewish problem. He formalized the concept of emergence from the Diaspora (the dispersion of the Jews) and return to Zion in The Jewish State. In The Jewish State, he proposed, for the first time, a program for immediate political action.

Herzl appealed in vain to wealthy Jews such as Baron Hirsch and Baron Rothschild, to join the national Zionist movement. He found allies however, in impoverished Eastern European socialists and Zionists who had already formed Zionist groups. The result was the First Zionist Congress in Basle, which established the World Zionist Organization and adopted the program of attaining a Jewish State to be provided by "public law." Herzl convened six Zionist Congresses between 1897 and 1902. The Congresses created the instruments of Zionist action for implementing the settlement plan, including The Jewish Colonial Trust, the Jewish National Fund and the movement's newspaper Die Welt.

After the first Basle Congress, Herzl wrote in his diary, “Were I to sum up the Basle Congress in a word- which I shall guard against pronouncing publicly- it would be this: ‘At Basle, I founded the Jewish State. If I said this out loud today, I would be answered by universal laughter. If not in 5 years, certainly in 50, everyone will know it.’”

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