Theodor Herzl (Hebrew: תאודור הֶרְצֵל Te'odor Hertsel, Hungarian: Herzl Tivadar; May 2, 1860 – July 3, 1904), born Benjamin Ze'ev Herzl(Hebrew: בִּנְיָמִין זְאֵב הֶרְצֵל Binyamin Ze'ev Hertsel), also known in Hebrew as חוֹזֵה הַמְדִינָה, Chozeh HaMedinah (lit. "Visionary of the State") was an Austro-Hungarian journalist, playwright, political activist, and writer who was one of the fathers of modern political Zionism. Herzl formed the World Zionist Organization and promoted Jewish migration to Palestine in an effort to form a Jewish state. Though he died long before its establishment, he is generally considered a father of the State of Israel, formed in 1948. While Herzl is often referred to as the first major Zionist activist, scholars such as Yehuda Bibas, Zvi Hirsch Kalischer and Judah Alkalai were promoting Zionist ideas before him. Herzl is specifically mentioned in the Israeli Declaration of Independence.
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- "Since Spinoza Jewry had no bigger thinker than this forgotten Moses Hess. I would not have written Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State) had I known Rome and Jerusalem beforehand."
Der Judenstaat [The Jewish State] (1896)
- When we sink, we become a revolutionary proletariat, the subordinate officers of all revolutionary parties; and at the same time, when we rise, there rises also our terrible power of the purse.
- Realists are, as a rule, only men in the rut of routine who are incapable of transcending a narrow circle of antiquated notions.
- Some may say we ought not to bring up new differences between people; we ought not to raise new borders, we should rather make the old ones disappear. But men who think in this way are endearing dreamers; and the idea of a native land will still flourish when the dust of their bones will have vanished tracelessly in the winds. Universal brotherhood is not even a beautiful dream. Antagonism is essential to man's greatest efforts.
- Every point which arises in the relations between nations is a question of might. I do not here surrender any portion of our prescriptive right when I make this statement. In the world as it now is and will probably remain, might precedes right. For us to be loyal patriots as were the Huguenots who were forced to emigrate is therefore useless. … The Jews must acquire economic power sufficiently great to overcome prejudice against them. When we sink, we become a revolutionary proletariat, but when we rise, there rises also our terrible power of the purse
The Diaries of Theodor Herzl (1956)
- The Diaries of Theodor Herzl (1956) as edited and translated by Marvin Lowenthal
- Were I to sum up the Basel Congress in a word — which I shall guard against pronouncing publicly — it would be this: At Basel, I founded the Jewish State. If I said this out loud today, I would be answered by universal laughter. Perhaps in five years, certainly in fifty, everyone will know it.
- Diary entry (3 September 1897), a few days after the First Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland, as quoted in'Nonstate Nations in International Politics: Comparative System Analyses (1977) by Judy S. Bertelsen, p. 37
- Variant translation: Were I to sum up the Basel Congress in a few words — which I shall guard against pronouncing publicly — it would be this: At Basel, I founded the Jewish State. If I said this out loud today, I would be answered by universal laughter. Perhaps in five years, and certainly in fifty, everyone will realize it.
- As quoted in The Jewish Question: Biography of a World Problem (1990) by Alex Bein
- It would be an excellent idea to call in respectable, accredited anti-Semites as liquidators of property. To the people they would vouch for the fact that we do not wish to bring about the impoverishment of the countries that we leave. At first they must not be given large fees for this; otherwise we shall spoil our instruments and make them despicable as 'stooges of the Jews.' Later their fees will increase, and in the end we shall have only Gentile officials in the countries from which we have emigrated. The anti-Semites will become our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies.
- From the Brook of Egypt to the Euphrates.
- In reference to the area of the Jewish state, as quoted in Complete Diaries by Theodor Herzl, Volume II, p. 711
- In Paris... I achieved a freer attitude toward anti-Semitism, which I now began to understand historically and to pardon. Above all, I recognized the emptiness and futility of trying to "combat" anti-Semitism.
- In reaction to the Dreyfus affair.
Zionism - An ideal that never ends (1899)
- Speech (26 June 1899)
- Some people do not understand us correctly and believe that the goal of our effort is to return to our land. Our ideal is going forwards then that - our ideal is the vision of the Great eternal truth; it is an ideal that always goes forward; it is an ideal that never ends, it is always growing, so that every step forward that we take, our horizon keep going ahead of us, and in perspective we see before us the purpose that is greater and more noble, which we’ll try to put our selves towards.
- The wealthy Jews rule the world; the fate of the governments lies in their hands. They start wars between countries, and when they wish, the governments make peace. When the wealthy Jews sing, the nations and their leaders dance along, and meanwhile the Jews get richer!
Quotes about Herzl
- Sorted alphabetically by author or source
- Herzl regarded Zionism's triumph as inevitable, not only because life in Europe was ever more untenable for Jews, but also because it was in Europe's interests to rid the Jews and relieved of anti-Semitism: The European political establishment would eventually be persuaded to promote Zionism. Herzl recognized that anti-Semitism would be harnessed to his own Zionist purposes.
- Benny Morris, in Righteous Victims : A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881–1999 (1999), p. 21, as cited in Zionism, Islam and the West (2015) by Kerry Bolton
- Herzl had failed to have his son circumcised, and the Zionist leadership, following Herzl’s death, saw to it that the oversight be remedied when the boy was 15 years old.