Monday, March 2, 2015

THE RAPE OF PALESTINE `William 13. Ziff - part 1

`William 13. Ziff


First edition November 1938
Second edition November 1938

" . I hope the Hon . Members will believe me when I say that
I am not pro-Jew ; I am pro-English . I set a higher value on the
reputation of England all over the world for justice than I do on
anything else . . . but when I see this sort of thing going on,
with the Government unable to put any argument an the other side,
it makes me perhaps bitterer than even a Jew can be against the
Government of Palestine today."-Address by Colonel Josiah C.
Wedgwood, M.P., to his peers in Commons, May 29, 1934.

The parlous condition of the Jewish people over a large part
of the known world, and particularly in such countries as Germany,
Poland and Rumania, has called increasing attention to the
workings of the Mandate for Palestine now administered by
Great Britain under the authority of the League of Nations . The
Mandate, when it was written, as well as the antecedent Balfour
Declaration, clearly contemplated that the "home" to be established
in Palestine was intended for the whole Jewish people who
were to be established there by international sanction in the
future. The intention was to provide a sane and reasonable solution
to the age-old Jewish problem, and it anticipated those
circumstances which have rendered so large a portion of the Jewish
race homeless.
If this was indeed the purpose of the Mandate it has proved a
miserable failure, since it has solved nothing and has only succeeded
in adding a new and formidable problem to a world already
sinking under the weight of problems . Many reasons are
adduced for this failure . Much is made of the irreconcilable
differences between Arabs and Jews, which the mandatory now
claims render the Mandate unworkable.
The claim that an opposing promise was made to the Arabs will
be examined in these pages, as will be the circumstances under
which the Balfour Declaration and Mandate were issued . The
assertion that the Declaration was extorted from an unwilling
Britain by Jewish financiers during the War, can be obviously
disposed of as a pure invention of the anti-Semitic mind . Another
and more reasonable claim made to justify Britain's position
in this matter is that she was totally ignorant of the real conditions
in Palestine and the actual problems she was letting herself
in for when she made her bargain with the Jews. Under ex-
amination this contention loses much of its plausibility. For a
hundred years Zionism, as we shall see, had been almost as much
an English movement as it was a purely Jewish one . As for local
conditions in Palestine, it is undoubted that British officialdom
knew more about Arab social and economic problems than the
Jews aspiring to settle there . From the time the American
scholar Robinson attempted to explore archaeological remains in
the Holy Land in 1837, London has, through the Palestine Exploration
Fund, concentrated on the study of every minute detail
that related to Palestine . "Theirs," state De Haas and Wise,
"were the surveys, the compilation of flora and fauna, theirs too
the enumeration and localization of the Bedouin tribes ; theirs the
studies in local conditions, the compilation of customs and excise,
estimates of population, speculation as to the origins of peoples,
observations on everything that relates to the area between
the River of Egypt and the cedars of Lebanon ." 1 Reaching far
back into the i 1840's, Lord Palmerston had compiled for his Government
thorough material on Palestine, considering the possibility
of exercising a British protectorate over that region in the
Jewish interests. Since that time the accumulation has been so
vast that it is only fair to say that the British archives contain a
better survey of Arab social, economic, agricultural and other
problems than the Arabs have of themselves .
As for the Declaration itself, it may be assumed that Lord Balfour,
its author, is an infallible witness to its intended purpose .
He wrote : "The national and international status of the Jews to
that of other races . . . would be promoted by giving them that
which all other nations possess : a local habitation and a national
home . . . [where] they would bear corporate responsibilities
and enjoy corporate duties of a kind which, from the nature of
the case, they can never possess as citizens of any non-Jewish
state ." 2 It will be evident from the records that neither the
Declaration nor the Mandate confers upon non-Jews any rights
which would allow them to interfere with the growth and operation
of the National Home. It is obvious that if these documents
were to be interpreted so as to include National Home rights to
non-Jews, both the National Home grant to the Jews and the
rights of non-Jews would be repealed by implication . The document
would then repeal itself, which on the face of it would be
a reduction ad absurdum .
As will also be seen from these pages, British trusteeship of the
Holy Land was the result of Jewish demand itself, Wedgwood
admitting rather shamefacedly in this respect that the Jews were
"almost the only non-Anglo-Saxon people who seem to believe
that on the whole England does try to behave decently towards
other people." 3
If the records are to be believed, the Mandatory for Palestine
has followed a deliberate defaulting policy in respect to its obligations
there, and has itself largely created the conditions which
it now so thoroughly decries . A large share of its policies have
been motivated entirely by British power politics in the Mediterranean,
in which the Mandate was used for the purpose of
surrounding British Imperial strategy in the Middle East with the
aura of sanctity. A factor of even greater importance, however,
is the gross anti-Semitism of a handful of civil servants in the
bureaus of Whitehall and Westminster. It is to the phobia of
these men against Jews that most of the troubles agitating the
Holy Land can be traced . Its wantonness is not flaunted, it is
true, like the excesses of the German Nazis or the Polish Endeks.
It lies icily beneath the shining hardness of bureaucratic logic.
It is overlaid with the softness of English colonial skill - but, as
we shall discover, it is in no sense less intense, and fully as implacable,
as the open anti-Semitism of the Nazis on the Continent.
This, briefly, will be found to be the underlying condition
which hides beneath the maze of pretension by which London
has consistently justified its bad faith to the Jews and to the
world. It is this factor which has caused the declared policy of
the Mandate to fail so ignominiously and which has allowed the
Holy Land in these past years to be given over to hooligans and
desperadoes who have murdered its citizens, burned its crops and
houses and demoralized its commerce .
The records are voluminous . This book attempts only the
barest factual description, as free as such an account may reason-
ably be from evaluations or interpretations which the facts do
not bespeak in themselves.
For those who desire fuller information on the various aspects
of this subject, a selected list of reference works will be found in
the notes and bibliography. The attention of the reader should
also be brought to the fact that except where otherwise indicated,
italics are in every case my own .

The Ancient Land of Israel -Character of the
Hebrew - Struggles for Independence - Final
Rebellions - The Dispersion
The Jew Never Gave Up His Claim to Palestine -
The First Essential to Jewish Title
Fifteen Hundred Years of Tragedy - "Liberty !
Fraternity ! Equality !" - `The Lost Ten Tribes'
- Reawakening Hebrew Consciousness - Herz1
Topography - Jewish Pre-War Settlements
5 2
Palestine and the War - Events Leading to Lord
Balfour's Commitment - Struggle with the Non-
Zionists - What Did the Declaration Mean ?
Marching Jews - Revolting Tribesmen - The Arab
View of Zionism - The Military Junta - Hand rubbing
Statesmen - Pogrom and World Horror
Weitzman Obliges - The First Partition
Under the Colonial Office - A Jewish Ruler After
Two Thousand Years - The Pogrom of 1921 -
The Grand Mufti - The Churchill White Paper
- Severance of Transjordan - Samuel is Replaced
- Field Marshal Lord Plumer
The Third High Commissioner -The Pogrom of
1929-Who Was Responsible? -Commissions
and White Papers - The Report of Hope-Simpson
- The Passfield White Paper - The MacDonald
Letter - The Kid Glove High Commissioner -
The Report of Mr. . French
The Zionist Organization - The Palestine Dreyfus
Case - Labor Dictatorship - Reigning Zionist
`Unprecedented Prosperity' -Population and Cities
- Character of the People
The Holy Land and Whitehall - The Jewish
Nuisance - `Rule Britannia !' - The Arab
Empire Project- Interpreting the Mandate
The Jew Tries to Enter Palestine - Tourists -
Hunting down Illegal's - The Arab Comes in Like
a Gentleman - Britain Puts on the Heat
Soil Hunger - A Famine in Land - Double Standard
of Taxation
2 54
Sabotaging Industry -Banking and Currency -
Citrus - Economic Insanity -'Heads, I Win
Tails, You Lose' - On Air and Sea - Roads and
The Tax Moneys - Public Expenditures - Cheating
Children with Cockles - Health and Sanitation -
Laws, Benefits and Public Services -'No Jews
Need Apply' - An Anglo-Saxon System of
Jurisprudence -The Wolf Named Sheriff to
Does an Arab Race Exist? -Arab Types and
Traits - Levantine Worship of God - The Son of
the Desert Suffers from Jewish Competition -
Nashishibis and Husseinis - Claims, Objectives
and Methods -'Semitic Brothers'
`Let Not Thy Right Hand Know What Thy Left
Hand Doeth' -Revolt by Permission - Blaming
Italians and Communists - Another Royal Commission
Downing Street Runs the Gauntlet -
Mr. Weitzman Obliges Again - Saint George
Spits in the Dragon's Eye
the Lambs - Numerous Clauses and Censorship
Legalities : `Made in England' - Abdullah Puts His
Hand Out
I .
The Legislative Council - "By Their Acts You Shall
Know Them!" - Some Odious Comparisons

Spits in the Dragon's Eye
the Lambs - Numerous Clauses and Censorship
Legalities : `Made in England' - Abdullah Puts His
Hand Out
I .
The Legislative Council - "By Their Acts You Shall
Know Them!" - Some Odious Comparisons
`Enemies of All Mankind'- The Refugees
Absorptive Capacity - Landless Arabs and Agricultural
Possibilities -'No Water' - A Prospect of
Agricultural Competence - Mineral Resources -
Other Possibilities - An Overcrowded Country
Maps appear on end pages,
inside front and back covers.
5 1 4
57 1
5 84


The Zionist fabric is not new. It is of a piece with the whole
history and tradition of the Hebrew people . It is inextricably a
part of that dynamic stream of consciousness which has swept the
Hebrew past a long succession of centuries which, by all logic,
should have suffocated him . Unconsciously, even the apostate
Disraeli acknowledged the great compulsion of the Hebrew past
in the life of the living Jew . Cut to the quick by fellow-members
in Parliament who taunted him with being a Jew as he made his
maiden speech, he cried in reply : "That is all very well -but
when your ancestors were chasing each other around trees with
stone axes, mine were writing the Talmud."
A short glimpse into the history of this remarkable people will
shed a clear light on much of the present Jewish situation which
must otherwise remain confused and inexplicable.
For countless generations the world has been content with the
paradox which allowed it to affirm with Sir William Jones, that
the Hebrew Scriptures "contained more sublimity, more exquisite
beauty, and finer strains of poetry and eloquence than could be
collected from all other books that were ever composed in any
age or any idiom" ; and in the same breath to believe that the Hebrews
who wrote them were a tribe of wild, illiterate shepherds
on a scale of development comparable to that of the modem
Recent archaeological research brings us to the more reasonable
conclusion that the people who wrote the Bible were a race who
lived in a high state of civilization, not inferior in many of its
aspects to that of the present day .
Among the most interesting of these discoveries is the un-
doubted proof that Abraham actually lived . We have the word
of Sir Leonard Woolley and other scholars, that "the fact of
Abraham's existence was vouched for by written documents almost,
if not quite, contemporary with him ." 1 And Prof . J. Garrow
Duncan remarks that in Genesis i-xi are whole passages which
"describe actual history dating two thousand years before Abraham,
and other passages which are translated from ancient cuneiform
records as if the writer had the tablets before him ." He
describes at Ur, the Jewish patriarchs' birthplace, two-story
houses with plastered rooms, together with sewers, pillars and
courtyards . "Some of the cuneiform tablets were on the subject
of mathematics," from plain sums in addition to methods of
extracting cube roots, a knowledge, he avers, Abraham most certainly
possessed .2
It is now clear that the Jews originated in Mesopotamia, a
colonizing offshoot of that ancient Akkadian-Sumerian culture,
in which, according to the consensus of modern scholarly opinion,
civilization itself was cradled .
The Hebrews entered Palestine as an educated people. That
writing was in common use among them even as early as the time
of Moses, is shown by the findings at Lachish . Here Sir Charles
Marston came upon letters written in ink describing contemporary
history, the earliest known use of alphabetical writing .3
Recent excavations confirm completely descriptions in the texts
of the Old Testament. At Tell Sbustujeh in Samaria were found
exquisite decorations, delicately carved inlays, and various articles
of metal craftsmanship, obviously those referred to in Kings
22 :39, Amos 3 :15 and Psalms 45 :8. Here are the palaces of
Ahab, and houses built with hewn stone, often of two or three
stories, speaking evidence of the rich civilized life which produced
them. Excavations elsewhere in Palestine tell exactly the
same story. Apparently even the greatest attention was paid to
matters of sanitation, and "the great water tunnels at Gezer and
Jerusalem show that no amount of trouble was considered superfluous
in order to provide uninterrupted access to water ." 4
In the light of these findings, the great prosperity of the Hebrew
nation cannot be dismissed as so much oriental braggado
cio. It must be accepted as a faithful account of historical fact .
The soil had been the basic source of Palestine's wealth and had
been so during all the ages until the hand of a barbaric and improvident
race fell heavy upon it and robbed it of its fertility . The
Song of Solomon describes the luscious beauty of the well-kept
and thickly populated country in the springtime ; and we have today
for reference the remarkable notes of an Egyptian named
Sinuhe (about the twentieth century B .C.) who, compelled to
reside for a while in the highlands of Palestine, relates tersely
"There were figs and grapes and more wine than water . Its honey
was ample and its oil abundant, and all kinds of fruits hung from
its trees . There were wheat and barley and all kinds of flocks,
without number." 5 About 200 B.C. another articulate traveler,
one Aristeas, raptly describes the country as an agricultural paradise
." Josephus himself never grew tired of praising the fertility
of his native land . The Galilee uplands he describes as being so
closely cultivated as to resemble "a large garden ." Tacitus echoes
much of this unbounded adulation ; while Polybius declared that
the district between Beth Shan and the Lake of Galilee alone
could support an army .
Biblical testimony itself was unstinting in its lush description
of the region as being a land flowing with milk and honey . Deuteronomy
describes it as a beautiful country with "brooks of water
and fountains and lakes that spring out of valleys and hills, a land
of wheat, barley and vines, and fig trees and pomegranates, a land
of olive oil and honey, a land where one can eat without scarceness,
where there is no lack of anything . . ."
The Jew had been a skilled agriculturist . He knew how to
prepare the soil, manure it and clear it of stones and debris. He
was accustomed to terrace the hills and knew how to practice irrigation
by means of cisterns, wells and canals . The ploughshare
itself was made out of iron .? The ground had to be turned over
at least three times, and the plough followed by the harrow ., So
highly was agriculture esteemed that even Saul, although he was
already anointed king, is seen returning from his day at the
In the hands of this provident people who loved their soil, this
whole territory was an eden of rich meadows, numberless fruit
trees, vineyards, palms and closely cultivated farms and gardens.
Grain crops and vegetables of all kinds grew in profusion both in
the valleys and on the hills . The land was so rich in fruits of
every kind that they were exported to world markets, where they
were famous for their superior quality . All through ancient times
the Jordan Valley was noted for its corn, dates, balsam, flax and
other products . Here in the last century Tristram came upon
elaborate ruins of sugar mills still surviving . 10 Pliny called Judea
as famous for dates as Egypt for spices. Galilee was known
throughout the ancient world for its olive oil. Its importance
alone is shown by the amount supplied annually to the King of
Tyre by Solomon : 16o,ooo gallons of best quality ." Across
Jordan the sleek, fat kine of Bashan were proverbial . And Gilead
bore perfume and medicine for the whole Eastern world . Hence
the proverb, "Is there no balm in Gilead ?"
Up to the Fifth Century A.D . the bare hills of Moab were covered
with waving corn and closely settled vineyards . Some remnants
of the immense forests which once stretched from Kfar
Saba and east into Bethlehem still existed as late as 1840, when
they too capitulated to the general war of extermination waged
by the wandering native population against the woods and soil of
this favored country . Writers, even down to the Crusades, described
great woods like those of Sharon. As late as Nehemiah's
time there was a forester in the Royal Service to control the timber
supply around Jerusalem, 12 and from the hieroglyphic papyrus
Golenisheff (about 1150 B.C.) we learn that the Egyptians had
been importing timber from the Carmel region for generations ."
In this eden of prosperous husbandry it is no surprise to see industry
and manufacture keeping pace to create a well-rounded
base for the wealth of this fortunate nation . Allied with the
farmers were innumerable shepherds, cowherds and cattlemen .
Dairying was of sufficient importance to make a cheese market
necessary in Jerusalem. On the other side of Jordan the Jews
dealt in wool, and everywhere raised poultry from the earliest
They were equally alert and practiced in handicrafts which
were considered a family pride and tradition . At the time of
Jesus, Jewish literature mentions no less than forty kinds of craftsmen.
Hillel was a woodcutter ; R. Yeshoshua Ben Hananya a
smith ; Jesus of Nazareth a carpenter and maker of cattle yokes,
and Saul of Tarsus a weaver of tent cloths . An interesting picture
of various crafts is given in the Wisdom of Ben Sira (Ecclesiasticus),
a book belonging to about zoo B.C . Here the
ploughman, the grazier, the carpenter, the engraver, the smith, the
potter and the physician are all spoken of .
Excavations at Tell Beit Mirsim (the Biblical Debir) showed
that the industrial life of Israel onward to the end of the Exile was
well developed . "The evidence of weaving and dyeing, of the
pottery industry, and especially engineering, is now greatly
strengthened. The evidence of the weaving industry is overwhelming."
14 At Debir, Dr . Albright discovered six dye plants
and remnants "showing that there must have been a loom in nearly
every house." 15
At the south end of Lake Tiberias was one of the first purely
manufacturing towns in economic history . Beautiful dyed cloths
and dyes were exported as well as phosphorus, asphalt, tar, salt,
glass ornaments and perfumes. Pliny tells us that 'Judean pitch'
was world famous. Iron mines were found in the Lebanon and
near Jerash. Josephus mentions the `hill of iron' which "extended
as far as the land of Moab ." Dr. Glueck found in 1934
abandoned workings of rich copper fields in the region north of
the Gulf of Aqaba and remarks : "When the Biblical historian
asserts `there was no weighing of the bronze from which he
[Solomon] made all these vessels, because it was so much,' one
may believe that he was not exaggerating the facts ." 16
In those days the present industrial relations between East and
West were reversed . The Orient was then the great industrial
center and exchanged its manufactured products against the raw
materials of the less developed Western countries .
Solomon was canny enough to exploit the unique geographical
position of his country. He was the originator of the policy of
customs and levied on both imports and exports to keep his treasury
full.17 The commerce of the Hebrew State extended in all
directions, as far east as China, and as far west as Natal and Zululand
where coins dating from the time of the Macabees have
been recently discovered."'
On the sea, Rawlinson observes that while the friendly dealings
of Hiram with David and Solomon are well known, "the continued
alliance between the Phoenicians and the Israelites has attracted
less attention." 19 This continued composition of interests
between the two neighboring Semitic nations is mentioned
by Herodotus and other ancients and is confirmed by modern
authorities.20 Says Klausner : "Jewish sailors were just as numerous
as Jewish donkey-drivers ." 21
Fishermen too were numerous and the catch so plentiful that
much of it was salted and sold abroad . Trade both by sea and
over the camel routes thrived . Aristeas declares fulsomely that
"a great mass of spices, precious stones and gold is brought into
the district . . . For the country is well adapted for commerce
as well as for cultivation, and the city [Jerusalem] is rich in the
arts, and lacks none of the merchandise which is brought across
the sea."
This was the country which Jehovah had promised to his people
Israel "for an everlasting possession" ; a veritable beehive of
plenty and happiness, tribute to what will happen when a favored
land and a gifted people meet in conjunction . The Assyrian
Sennacherib leaves a record of its populous ness : "I took forty-six
of his strong walled cities as well as the small cities in their neighborhood,
which were without number." 22 Josephus remarks
that "the cities lie here very thick and the very many villages that
are here, are everywhere so full of people . . . that the very
least of them contained above fifteen thousand inhabitants ." 28
Population estimates vary, curtained by the dust of antiquity,
but in every case they were so considerable as to cause the modern
observer to gasp . In an age where opportunities for sustaining
concentrated industrial populations were largely non-existent,
the land certainly maintained a per capita density incomparably
larger than that which allegedly overcrowds it today.
Diodorus, Strabo, Tacitus, and Dio Cassius all agree that "the
population to the square mile was larger in Palestine than in any
other portion of the Roman dominion." 24
In Exodus. 12 :37 we are told that there were "about 6oo,ooo on
foot that were men, besides women and children" plus "a mixed
multitude" that went up from Egypt . Chron. 21 :5 asserts that
when David numbered the people, including the soldiery, or
those who were called into the actual service of the King in due
course, month by month throughout the year, "all they of Israel
were i,ioo,ooo that drew sword ; and of Judah, 475,000," exclusive
of Levi and Benjamin. Josephus estimates the number shut
up in Jerusalem during the siege by Titus at 2,700,000.25 From
the figures he gives, Galilee alone must have held fully 3,000,000
people, while the whole of Palestine could be conservatively estimated
at least 12,000,000.
Certainly if one may judge from Roman accounts of the wars
with Judea, where figures running into the millions were given
for the slain, and the numbers sold into captivity ran into legions,
these figures are not incredible .
If the Jews are to return to become a collective force in the
world of men, they will beyond doubt resuscitate their ancient
law. Prof. A. A. Berle points out that "that law, only vaguely
understood, and of only very limited application in world history,
will have then a full exposition and a thorough working out in
terms of modern life ." 26 An increasing army of educators, disgusted
with the tyrannical and unpleasant philosophies which are
blasting civilization to its foundations, see in the Hebrew laws the
elements for a social regeneration of this sick world . "Certainly,"
says Berle, "many of the laws relating to the ordinary life and
relations of mankind, as laid down in ancient Mosaic law, if applied
to a modern city block, would regenerate it root and
branch ."
Most of what passes for a history of the Hebrew people has
been filtered through hostile Greek and Roman sources and
through the hardly less hostile bias of medieval Christianity . The
significance of Hebrew genius in relation to its peculiar understanding
of cultural values is hence not generally understood .
Dr. Marion E . Cady says of this situation that "now it is being
fearlessly asserted that as in religion, so in education, the Jews
have made the greatest contribution of any nation, ancient, medieval
or modern." 27 Prof. E. C. Baldwin of Illinois University
concludes that "modern culture, both artistic and ethical, goes
back to Athens and to Jerusalem, but that English culture owes
far more to the Hebrew than to the Greeks ." 28 And Dr. F. T.
Lamb asserts that "if our boys and girls were trained as Jesus was
trained up to twelve years of age, they would be in every desirable
respect greatly the superior of the boys and girls trained under
the best methods of the present day." 29
The essential core of the Hebrew idea was the superiority of
reason. That system of life which is commonly called Judaism,
was in the most real sense no religion at all . It was never formal,
abstract and separated from life, but a throbbing and vital part of
it. It was completely unlike pure theological systems such as
that evolved by the Greeks - which, attempting to reconcile
themselves with the world in its broadest sense, found religious
inheritance irreconcilable with rational thinking . It is necessary
to understand Judaism in this sense, as a civilization rather than a
religion, in order to grasp adequately the dynamics and vitality
which have kept Zionism consciously alive over this great lapse
of years . Judaism was concerned deliberately with the quality
of living on this earth, with the bringing of every phase of existence
into relation with eternal truth. "It is worth remarking,"
comment Graham and May, "that no matter to what heights of social
vision and spiritual exaltation the Hebrew seer might climb, he
never lost that urge toward physical well-being which had impelled
his remote ancestors to venture into the Promised Land .
In the same breath in which he speaks of multitudes streaming to
Zion to commune with God, he mentions the vine and the fig tree
which every citizen may call his own ." 30
"The drift of all Hebrew thinking," says MacDonald, "as
thinking, was to link up morals and intelligence ." 31 Judaism
significantly regarded stupidity as the source of evil in individual
man. A sinner was a blunderer and not a rational person, and the
ultimate morality was not to be a fool. Worshiping Reason,
the Hebrew could not credit anything which was either irrational
or static. To his mind, nothing existed rigid and unalterable in a
state of `being,' but only of `becoming .'
The great Rabbi Hillel, who preceded Jesus by a generation,
typified this remarkable viewpoint . Asked by a heathen who
wished to make sport of him, to be taught the whole Torah 32
while standing on one foot, the gentle Hillel replied : "What is
hateful to thee do not to others . This is the whole Torah . The
rest is merely commentary."
While the Hebrew concept regarded all life forces as constituting
one unity not capable of being subdivided on varying moral
bases to suit varying emergencies and occasions, it was irrevocably
anchored in an implicit belief in the sacredness of the individual
personality. At a time when Romans compelled gladiators to
slaughter each other for sport in the arenas, when material appetites
and gross oppressions were the elements of universal law,
this free people was living in accordance with a code which for
sheer gallantry of expression has had no equal before - nor perhaps
since. A spirit of mercy and humanity pervaded the Hebrew
legal system . In Jewish law there was never such a thing
as legal justification for inequality . No man could vindicate an
act of injustice by an appeal to law . Complete equality before
the bar of justice was the right of all from humble herdsman to
king. The Deuteronomic Code declares no single witness sufficient
to convict a man of wrongdoing . Malicious witnesses
were severely dealt with . "A straying animal must be taken up
and returned to its owner, and if a beast has fallen under a burden
the passerby must aid the owner in raising it to its feet again ." 33
This applied also to lost articles and provided that if the owner
were unknown the finder must care for them until the owner
Israel had a real love for animals . The law required a man
to hasten to the aid of any beast, even if it belonged to an enemy,
that was sinking under its load ; 36 a sense of justice that
even extended to the threshing floor where the law provided that
"thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the grain ." 38
Love of the resident alien is explicitly demanded in Dent . 19 : 3 3 ;
Deut. i o:19 and Exodus . 2 2 : 21 ; 2 3 : 9. The duty of treating strangers,
together with orphans and widows, with justice, mercy and
generosity is emphasized, decreeing that the gleanings of grain
fields, orchards and vineyards must be left free for them to gather
and enjoy .37 The taking of interest on loans to the poor is forbidden.
38 Runaway slaves must be received and treated kindly
and are not to be surrendered to their owners or oppressed .39
More amazing still, in an ancient world of cruelty and ruthlessness,
are the injunctions of Dent . 24: i6, where the principle of
individual responsibility is laid down, so that a relative may not be
punished for the misdeeds of a son - in striking contrast with
practices in operation even today in such allegedly civilized states
as Russia and Germany . Reverence for the aged is strictly enjoined,
as is the use of just weights and measures . The animism
still practiced throughout Europe and in parts of America, is declared
strictly illegal . Prohibited also are practices of magic,
spiritism, and pagan rites of communion with departed spirits .40
Uncleanliness is completely discountenanced . In his splendid
book, Medicine in the Bible, Dr. Charles Brim details the amazing
medical knowledge and sanitary understanding of the ancient Israelites.
Says Dr. Victor Robinson in this regard : "There are
passages in the Pentateuch which deserve a place in the Corpus
Hippocraticum." 41 And Col. Edgar Erskine Hume avers that
every principle of modern military sanitation was known and
used by Moses.
Hebrew law also emphasized good breeding, as : "Let another
man praise thee and not thine own mouth," 42 or : "When thou
sittest among many, reach not thine hand out first of all ." 43
Education was widely diffused . The sons of rich families had
their tutors, while parents in more modest circumstances taught
their own children . Those who could afford it wore handsome
clothing of various colors and often the outer garment was embroidered
with gold . Everywhere and at all times song and music
were to be found . The harp or organ was one of the many
i z
instruments known . We hear of pipes, psalteries, cymbals and
trumpets, all of which required skill in playing and therefore implied
instruction ." Music seems to have been the joyous climax
of all occasions of public or private life . The international repute
which Jewish singers had achieved is indicated from the inscription
on an Assyrian monument where the chief item of tribute
laid on Hezekiah by an Assyrian ruler was the demand for a
company of men and women singers .
Labor was highly esteemed. The Talmud directed every father,
regardless of his social position, to teach his son some useful
trade.45 "The tradesman at his work," it declares, "is the equal
of the most learned doctor" ; and avers that "he who derives his
livelihood from the labor of his hands is as great as he who fears
God." The most prominent authors of the Talmud were in fact
simple workingmen, shoemakers, ironworkers, laborers ; proud
men who knew no masters and brooked no slaves .
We can also conclude that among the Jews, women enjoyed a
free and independent social position. Two of the twenty-four
books of the Bible received their titles from the names of women,
Ruth and Esther . There were seven prophetesses spoken of in
the Talmud . Among them Deborah judged the people and went
out with Barak to fight against Sisera . During the reign of Josiah,
Huldah was so highly thought of as to be consulted by the
chief officers of the kingdom. The king himself bowed down to
his mother, as Solomon did to Bathsheba . Wherever in Precepts,
Psalms or Proverbs filial devotion is mentioned, father and mother
are made equal, as is done in the Fifth Commandment .
Hebrews were never ruled like slaves of an Eastern despot .
They were called into council by their kings and contended
boldly for their rights. Decrees affecting the whole community
were ratified by the general voice of the people, freely assembled .
This free people, for all their gentle philosophy of life, were al=
ways animated by the spirit of liberty and inspired by the cry
`To your tents, 0 Israel !' They knew how to resist oppression .
They were not overawed by the cruelties of Antiochus or Herod ;
nor, alone among the peoples of the earth, cowed by the might
of Imperial Rome .
Specific legislation defined and restricted the powers of the
crown, in itself eloquent testimony to the democratic spirit prevailing
in Israel throughout the whole history of the monarchy .46
We search antiquity in vain for an example of free government
comparable to that provided by Israel . In all the other States
of the ancient world, the life, honor and property of the subject
were at the disposal of the sovereign ; but to the Jewish mind, absolute
power in a ruler was incomprehensible . The power and
authority of the king were directly circumscribed by law . The
highest executive, political and judicial powers of the State were
vested in a council of seventy Elders (Zekenim) and a smaller
chamber composed of twelve Princes (Nesiim), who together
constituted the Congregation or Parliament of the nation . As we
learn from Kings 21 :23-24 and 23 :30, it had the authority to
make and unmake kings and on occasion actually did so . Remarks
Sulzberger : "While the modern monotheistic conception
of the universe is largely the product of their [the Jewish] genius,
so the modern conception of the rational, democratic, representative
government owes its origin to the same ancestry ." And adds
the famed Master of Balliol, Edward Caird : "It is not without
significance that the great struggle for political freedom in this
country [England] was led by men who drew much of their inspiration
from the Old Testament . . ." 461,
The bulk and mainstay of the nation were middleclass farmers
and villagers, each one of whom felt himself equal to Caesar .
Tacitus remarks on their health and the fact that they are "capable
of enduring great fatigue ." Josephus describes them as a warlike
people, greatly desired as mercenary soldiers and disliked
for their arrogance and pride of race .
The idyll of Jewish speculation was no Valhalla, but a time
of grace when swords would be beaten into ploughshares and
spears into pruning hooks .47 They were the first people in history
who regarded their fate not from the standpoint of physical
supremacy but from that of moral harmony; yet there was no
people in history who possessed the haughty pride in race and
the passionate love of country which continually distinguished
1 3
them. This passion of the Jewish people for Palestine is coeval
with the Race and is disclosed in every turn in their history - a
sentiment as enduring as the Jew . "How shall we sing the Lord's
song in a strange land ?" begins the Psalms . The Hebrews, a
poetical people, addressed their country with all the ardor of one
referring to a loved one : "Land of beauty !" "The princess
among the nations!" "The joy of the whole earth !"
Coexistent with this infatuation for the country was an unbending
love of liberty, so reckless and intense as to amount almost to
an obsession . The Jewish greeting was Shalom (peace), but all
who encountered him were shortly to discover that it did not
mean peace at any price .
Situated in the very pathway of invading world conquerors we
find this brave people again and again refusing to pay tribute or
accept oppression . Typical in sheer pathos is the bitter rebellion
of the little country, under King Jehoiachim, against the
world power of Babylon during the reign of the omnipotent
Nebuchadnezzar ; and nine years later, under King Zedekiah, the
doughty refusal to pay tribute . Enraged at the unaccountable
nature of this long and obstinate defense against his advancing
hordes, the lordly Chaldean determined that the city of Jerusalem
should be no more inhabited . He ordered it leveled to the
ground. An indiscriminate massacre took place and those who
survived were carried off into captivity . The entire country
laid in ruins and all that would burn was put to the torch . The
prophet Jeremiah, witness to the destruction, wept : "How doth
the city sit solitary that was full of people ; . . . What thing shall
I liken to thee, 0 daughter of Jerusalem ? . . . Our inheritance
is turned to strangers, our houses to aliens ." 48
Nebuchadnezzar thought he had put a final end to this rebellious
and irreconcilable people ; but not more than fifty years
later he who by his own claim sat at the right hand of God, became
with all his works only a memory and the Jews returned
to Palestine. The mighty one had fallen in 539 B.C. to the Persian
Cyrus, who was happy to have a nation settled in this seaboard
province bound to him by the thongs of gratitude .
Typical again of the magnificent character of this race were
their later wars under Judas, son of Mattathias, who was surnamed
Maccabeus. A new conqueror had risen in the shape of
Antiochus, the Syrian Greek. Now was to begin the first of
those world struggles in which the force of idea was advanced as
taking precedence over that of inherent personality . This war
was fought to stem the sweeping onrush of Hellenism by which
the known world seemed about to be engulfed .
With a small group of his determined followers Judas refused
to yield. Attacking giant armies again and again with his little
band of guerrilla fighters, he won a succession of victories . The
Syrian in a towering rage at this lilliputian effrontery, declared
his intention of utterly exterminating every individual of the
Jewish people . He invaded with the enormous armies so characteristic
of despots of the period .
Able to muster but a handful of ill-equipped men, Judas was
counseled to retreat. He replied with characteristic recklessness
: "If our time has come to die, let us die ; but let it never be
said of us that we turned our back on an enemy ." With only
eight hundred men he attacked the invading legions near Adorsa .
Here, fighting grimly to the last, the stern company gave up their
lives . But the miracle had happened : the invader, nonplussed
by the unexpected nature of this furious resistance, was stopped
dead in his tracks. Jonathan, brother of Judas, took up the struggle.
The Syrian levies, dismayed and beginning to believe they
were fighting devils instead of men, gave the matter over as a bad
business and went into retreat .49 Once more Jews saluted each
other with the old greeting of Shalom and began to build where
they had left off.
It was inevitable that the lengthening shadow of Rome should
fall on this little land which, for all its smallness, was yet the
crossroads of the world and necessary for anyone who would hold
a firm grip on the rich hinterland of Asia and Africa . The times
were turbulent . The Maccabean princes themselves were in civil
war, Hyrcanus warring against his brother, Aristobulus II . Finally
the two brothers entreated the assistance of Pompey, then
commander-in-chief of the Roman troops in the East, and elected
him arbiter of their mutual differences . The consequences of
this step were fatal to the Jews . Pompey with true Roman forthrightness,
finding the place pleasant, decided to remain . He
therefore invested Jerusalem on his own account . The Jews,
trapped by their own folly, put up their usual stiff resistance and
the usual slaughter ensued. "The constancy and unshaken firmness"
of the defenders, says an account of the siege, "excited the
astonishment and admiration of the conquerors" who, however,
with fine circumspection, were not so abashed as to omit reducing
the country to the status of a Roman province and exacting
a crushing tribute . This was about 63 B.C., after the Jews had
enjoyed scarcely a hundred years of freedom .
Under Herod, who was soon to sit on the Jewish throne as a
Roman puppet, a conscious policy was adopted aimed at denationalizing
this dynamic people. In despair the frantic nation
writhed and spat in every direction like a caught wildcat . Continuous
sullen insurrection made the air electric . A large number
of Jews turned in sheer weariness from what was evidently a
hopeless struggle, to a desire for a world religion where peace
and justice would reign once more. The new prophet, Joshua
of Nazareth whom the Greeks called Jesus, arose to interpret
this new direction of Jewish hope . He preached to a rebellious,
crushed and unhappy people, his own nation, a class whose stake
in the world had been gradually destroyed . Reason had spoken
against the futility of attempting to maintain a Culture and State
independent of the redemption of unhappy mankind the world
over. They turned to this great new prophet, confidently considering
the national devotion of the rest of Jewry as so much
outworn, reactionary adherence to a social order clearly failing
and soon to be outmoded in the coming brotherhood of man .
The Jews of the Dispersion carried the new faith with them and
"formed the bridge across which Christianity entered the Roman
world." 50 It was from the synagogues of the far shores of the
Mediterranean that its gospel of world brotherhood was fervently
proclaimed, so that for generations there was so little difference
between Jew and Christian that both factions attended the same
synagogues together. Had anyone told the followers of this new
idyllic creed that in its name their brother Jews would one day
be flayed alive and boiled in oil, he would have been considered
a lunatic .
In Judea itself things went from bad to worse . One Roman
governor outdid the other in cruelty and rapacity . The whole
Hebraic conception of life crumbled under an onslaught of graft,
lust, sabotage and provocation . The old courtly idea of Jewish
ethics became a liability ; dishonesty and venality were soon recognizable
as the only guides to a comfortable existence, and began
to corrupt the character of the people themselves . The
country was overrun with robbers, and justice was sold to the
highest bidder . Great numbers of the wretched Jews, unable
to stand this intolerable situation any longer, emigrated .
These were the conditions that preceded the disastrous war
which desolated Jewry and dispersed the Jews. Goaded to wild
desperation they rose once more in insurrection, a rebellion the
most desperate of any recorded in history .
Ironically enough, Agrippa II, descendant of the Maccabean
kings, thoroughly Latinized, joined with the Romans . Attempting
to show the rebels the folly of opposing the conquerors of the
world, he urged them to lay down their arms and submit. The
reply was open defiance .
Retaliating, the Romans massacred almost a hundred thousand
Jews. The hills around Jerusalem were turned into a forest of
crosses on which despairing patriots paid in last full agony for
their devotion .
The rebels however were made of stuff that was not to be
cowed by these punitive measures . They attacked with such indomitable
fury that they soon held a large section of the country .
Enraged by this unheard-of insolence, Cestius Gallus invaded
from Syria with an immense army, burning all the towns and vil-
1 7
lages on his way and slaughtering the inhabitants . Investing
Jerusalem, he was to his own astonishment defeated and put to
The Emperor Nero, puzzled by this extraordinary occurrence,
wisely decided to take no chances . He appointed the great General
Vespasian to prosecute the war, who again laid siege to the
Meanwhile the Jews were wasting their strength and resources
in internal quarrels. Within the city sanguinary civil wars
and sub-civil wars rent to shreds the defenders, who displayed
a common front only when the invaders were visible beneath the
walls. When the Romans had been driven back, these fraticidal
contests were at once resumed .
The attack was now in the hands of Titus, Vespasian's son .
Grown weary of this interminable investure, he attempted to
parley with the insurgents, who contemptuously refused any
terms whatsoever save unconditional freedom . Finally, as a result
of the continuing internal struggles of the defenders themselves,
the city fell. Josephus graphically pictures the indescribable
events that followed : "One would have thought that the hill
itself on which the Temple stood was seething hot, full of fire
in every part, yet there was more blood than fire, and those that
were slain were more in number than those who slew them . Nowhere
was the ground visible, so covered was it with the dead
. . . but Simon and John were still living, and a few brave men
were with them, who took up a position in the Upper City, on
the Hill of Zion, and still held out. For the last time Titus . . .
again offered terms to the insurgents ." They declined them, and
eighteen days later the Holy City of the Jews was at last subdued .
Refusing all mercy, the defenders had fought for every house
on every street . It is said that 1,ioo,ooo Jews were slaughtered .
And Josephus assures us that there was no place in the land which
did not suffer the same calamities as the Capital . "The Romans
pursued, took, and slew them everywhere ." 52 They were without
question the most formidable opponents that Rome had ever
encountered, and Roman hatred for these bitter rebels extended
even to foreign parts . Great massacres took place in Egypt and
Cyrene. Tremendous numbers were taken away as captives, to
fight as gladiators in the public theater or to be devoured by wild
beasts .
Living symbol of the indomitable Semitic spirit, three fortresses
still held out to the end. The last to be taken, Masada, under
the command of the lion-hearted Eleazor, maintained itself for
long months as an island of resistance after the sea around it had
been beaten into submission. Rather than surrender, the defenders
slew each other, the last survivor defiantly setting fire to the
castle before executing himself . So they fell, writes Tacitus,
"with swords in their hands, contending for liberty, and, in the
act, preserving it. . ." 63
It had taken Titus more than seven years to subdue a tiny
corner of the earth whose inhabitants had not much more to offer
in arms and battlements than their simple valor . Returning to
Rome, the weary conqueror caused an arch to be erected to commemorate
the event, a recognition only given to honor a victory
over great and formidable enemies .
Large numbers of Jews who had escaped the destruction sought
asylum in various parts of the world . The dispersion had begun
in earnest.
Even these catastrophic losses did not serve to break the Jewish
spirit. Scarcely a generation had passed when the same old revolt
broke out again, more tempestuous than ever (A.D. II6) .
This time the dispersed Jews suddenly rose in blazing fury to
aid their brothers who had been struggling in Judea . "Myriads,"
says Eusebius, "had already been killed in the past seventeen
years." There is plenty of evidence that the Jews did equal damage
to their enemies .
Simultaneously the scattered men of Israel rose in mad rebellion
in the provinces of Egypt, Lybia, and Cyprus, determined
to recover their patrimony . They were led by one of the most
stirring figures in all the records of man, a new Hannibal come to
plague the Roman, named Bar Kochba. Eusebius declares in
righteous indignation that entire districts were terrorized by
their armies ; they "laid waste the land ." Whole provinces were
devastated in this amazing struggle of one small gallant nation
against the mightiest empire of the world . Bar Kochba had succeeded
in accomplishing the impossible : he drove out the Roman,
holding the entire Empire at bay, and set up a Jewish State . The
quality of the man may be judged from the prayer he is said to
have addressed to the Lord Jehovah asking that no assistance be
given to the enemy . "As for ourselves," he finished piously, "we
ask no help - we will take care of ourselves ."
The Emperor Hadrian was appalled . In desperation he set
aside all other tasks of state, concentrating his energies on the
business of wiping out Judea, which had now become a menace
to the very life of the Empire .54
For almost four years the contest continued . When finally
resistance ceased, Judea resembled a wilderness . All men capable
of bearing arms had fallen, together with their auxiliaries from
the Diaspora ; and "the unburied bodies of the hundreds of thousands
of the dead poisoned the air ." At the fall of Bether alone
half a million Jews are said to have lost their lives.
Such vast numbers were sold into slavery that in Rome a Jewish
slave was cheaper than a horse . Determined to put an end to this
refractory race, Hadrian devastated Judea and swept it clear of
Jews. He rebuilt Jerusalem under the name of Aeolia Capitolina
and issued an edict forbidding any Jew .to set foot in it on pain
of death . Such Jews as survived withdrew into Galilee .
It is interesting to note that to the Roman, Christianity was still
merely a schismatic Jewish sect . Even at that late date he regarded
Mount Calvary and the Holy Sepulchre as spots especially
venerated by the Jews . And in his anxiety to stamp out what
he considered to be Jewish rites, Hadrian built a Temple to Venus
on Golgotha or Calvary ; and in the Grotto at Bethlehem where
Jesus was born, the worship of Adonis was established .
Even after the ferocious revenge taken by Rome for their last
uprising, the will of the Jews for a free Zion remained unbroken .
Utterly ruined and bitterly oppressed, they still had strength
enough under the reign of Constantine to erupt again in open
rebellion in the Fourth Century A.D. The Roman Emperor sent
a powerful army against them, which stamped out the uprising
with indiscriminate slaughter . The survivors taken captive were
sold as slaves. But if the Imperial Government thought it was
through with this obstinate race whose will to national existence
continued without a State, without territory and almost without
human rights anywhere, it soon realized its miscalculation . The
fierce determination of the Hebrew to recover what was his by
main force, remained fiery and undeterred as before . When King
Chosroes of Persia proclaimed war against the Western conquerors,
the Jew, Benjamin of Egypt, created a Hebrew army of
thirty thousand desperate men . Together with the Persians they
conquered the larger part of Palestine and held it under Jewish administration
for fourteen years .
This was the last straw. Along with the barbarians it had absorbed,
Christianity had taken on much of the pagan hatred for
Jews. The monks had long been urging the Emperor Heraclius
to exterminate this obstinate people . This was their opportunity
to drive their argument home . When the country reverted to
Byzantium, the contentions of these men who alleged to speak in
the name of a Jewish Prophet, bore fruit. In one fell swoop
every right the Jews had to human existence were taken from
them and they were hunted down like animals . Those who
escaped fled to the arms of their brethren in Egypt and the Mediterranean
world to hope. anew. Palestine itself was now peopled
almost exclusively by Roman soldiers, Greeks and the inmates
of Christian monasteries . Thus the Jews defended to the last
their right to the land whose every stone they adored, and entered
the long trek of homelessness which was to be their destiny
through the ages. If ever sheer love, devotion, courage and sacrifice
spoke for a human right, it speaks in the wars of the Jews for
the heritage given them by their Father Abraham . In all the
world of fact or fiction there is no record like this . A man must
indeed be pulse less who can survey it without admiration and
The whole history of the Jew, if it has any meaning at all, lies
in a demand f or political restoration . Despite the spirit in which
Jewish history later began to be falsified, one may understand
that what these unhappy exiles concentrated all their hopes and
yearnings on was the dream of a reborn Jewish State . It dominated
the writings of the rabbis ; it permeated prayer and poetry ;
it was part and parcel of every expression of existence . "We cannot,"
they complained in prayer, "serve Thee according to Thy
commandment." And mournfully the Talmud proclaims : "He
who has not tasted the bread of Palestine does not know how
bread tastes ."
Their oath of fealty is famous wherever men gather who love
character and devotion : "May my right arm wither ere I forget
thee, 0 Jerusalem !" For a thousand years their toast and blessing
rang in challenge : "Next year in Jerusalem!"
Jews were buried with a bag of Palestine soil under their pillows,
that they might poetically have in death what had been so
cruelly driven from them in life . In Jerusalem where some few
stones of Solomon's Temple still survived the ravages of the
vandal, the Jew poured out his sad, passionate heart .'
No matter where the Jews lived, culturally and spiritually they
moved in a Palestinian milieu . "It did not matter to them that
Palestine was in the possession of Bedouin or Turk" - three times
daily the petition went up that her crops might prosper - exactly
as though the Jews still lived there in undisturbed possession .
"After each meal the Jew gave thanks for the Land as though he
were still living in it and enjoying its produce ." 2 He was certain
of again occupying it, and always remembered that he was in
exile .
The scattered communities of the Jews, until modern enlightenment
shattered them beyond recognition, were far more than
mere retreats of religious zealotry . They were rather an organized
attempt to continue their national existence in every possible
sphere and to remain as an individual force in history . All
through the Dispersion, from the captivity in Babylon, wherever
Jews migrated they sought each other out and formed themselves
into self-governing communities as a matter of collective self-determination
. Thus until the Emancipation the Jews were to
all intents a territorial group. The fact that they were distributed
in a number of pales or ghettos did not render a common territory
less of a factor in their lives.
The entire structure of Jewish existence stemmed from the
faith that the Temple would soon be rebuilt and the Jewish State
restored. And they wished to be ready when this happy time arrived
. Thus these pathetic exiles lived, like creatures stepped
from drama, and forgot the dreary present in dreaming of an
idyllic future which they believed near at hand .
One can readily understand the sweet Hebrew poet Halevy,
singing a thousand years after the Exodus in identical strain with
the troubadors who composed the psalms . All chivalrous hearts
must weep for the constancy and the beauty with which he lifts
his lyrical voice and cries : "To weep upon thy misery I am like
a howling jackal ; but when I dream thy return and restoration
I am the harp for thy joyous songs ."
So also, in this unbroken continuity of belief and longing, the
modern Hebrew poet Bialik, eye-witness to the pogroms of South
Russia, was to pledge his faith in the destiny of his people ; singing
in deathless words that unending claim which to the Jew is
his title in this world
"Thou wilt not totter, tent of Shem -
I shall rebuild thee .
Thou wilt yet outlive the palaces
As thou didst the days of the destruction
When the towers crumbled."
It is on this tenacious, unwavering concentration of hope, sacrifice
and prayer that the first part of the Jewish claim to Palestine
is based and not alone, as Judeophobes would attempt to make
out, on the mere existence of a Jewish State in remote antiquity .
Dr. Wm. E. Blackstone, quoting the foremost authorities on
international law, pointed out in 189 i that since the Jews never
gave up their title to Palestine, the general `law of dereliction'
could not hold in their case : "for they never abandoned the land .
They made no treaty, they did not even surrender . They simply
succumbed, after the most desperate conflict, to the overwhelming
power of the Romans . . . and were captured or enslaved . . .
Since then, having no sovereign nor political head through whom
they could speak, they have disputed the possession of the land,
by continued protest through their literature and their public and
private worship ." He showed that the Jews throughout the ages
have continually stated in the Passover service : "Next year we
hope to celebrate it in the land of Israel," and that other feasts
and prayers recount the same unbending sentiment, as, "Next
year children of freedom in Jerusalem! " 3
Blackstone quotes the outstanding legal luminaries of his day,
who agree that the Jewish claim was legally, at least, sound . He
points out that according to the logical precedents established by
such authorities as Buswell, Wheaton, Clifford, Phillimore and
others, "the forcible manner by which Israel has been kept out of
the land, with no means of redress, is equivalent in principle to a
continued state of war," and that therefore "limitations should
in no event run against them until they have had the opportunity
to present their claim at the bar of the only possible earthly court,
an International Conference ."
The greatest legal authorities have agreed that according to the
foundation principles of international law there is no basis for
prescription against Israel, either on the ground of dereliction or
of undisputed possession - that therefore the Jews have a valid
claim on Palestine as long as there is a single Zionist alive . Certainly
no more desperate opposition to despoliation has ever existed
in history, nor a sterner demand for restitution .
The British Government in 1920 recognized without reservation
the validity of this claim .4 It points out in clear, ringing
words that Jewish nationalism has been continuous, and refers to
the fact that it is "the oldest nationalist movement in history ."
No more thorough, comprehensive or understanding statement
of Jewish aims has ever been penned than this official English
publication which is now buried somewhere in the dusty files of
Despite the frightful suffering to which their position in medieval
life daily exposed them, the Jews maintained a vigorous,
colorful, picturesque existence in which their communal and personal
life blossomed out in rich and luxuriant beauty. Scattered
from the Persian Gulf to the Irish Sea, the Jewish communities
acknowledged equally a system of law that bears comparison
with the great systems of the world . With dynamic resilience
Jewish life readjusted itself to the new conditions, but carried over
with it the old Eastern civilization intact. In the midst of the
intellectual decay which overtook mankind during the Dark
Ages, it is astonishing to see Levi Ben Gershon calmly asserting
the existence of primary matter, Hasdai Crescas refuting the narrow
concepts of Aristotle, and Rambam dipping his majestic mind
into the realms of psychiatry . Academic research and such modern
subjects as sex hygiene were part of the regular curriculum
of Jewish schooling . Every child was taught the Law ; and the
sages even implied that the study of the Torah and the observance
of its laws were more important than the ceremonies of Worship .
"All the mitzvoth [religious injunctions] are not equal to one
word of the Torah," says an authority of the Third Century with
sweeping bluntness .
It was in this vibrant atmosphere that Judaism thrived and held
staunchly to its belief in the recon quest of the Promised Land,
and not in the pallid air of religious zealotry which was later to
settle on its spirit like a sickness .
Behind the shroud of silence to which anti-Jewish bias has
consigned it, the organized civilization of the Jews during the
Dispersion glistens like a diamond . While all else was in the most
impenetrable darkness and ignorance, Hebrew writers and scholars
not only constructed original works, but studied and elabo-
rated the writings of classical antiquity and rendered them accessible
to the Christian countries of the Occident . The Arab
invasion which followed the rise of Islam was instructed from the
same source . Jews wrote the first works on fevers and material
medical and translated them into other languages . They founded
and supported the famous schools of Salerno and Montpellier .
Until the end of the Sixteenth Century medicine was almost a
Jewish monopoly. In all of the other arts and sciences, mathematics,
astronomy, physics, alchemy, history and geography, Jewish
minds excelled. Typical of the stature and enterprise of these
lordly exiles was the expedition of Columbus . The great navigator
himself is said to have been a secret Jew or Morrano . More
to the point, every officer on board the three ships was a Morrano ;
the nautical instruments, charts and tables without which the
voyage would have been impossible, were all invented by Jews .
According to the historian Francis Trevelyan Miller, Columbus'
ships were owned by the Jewish Pinta Brothers, and as for the
myth of Isabella's jewels, Herbert Adams observes that "not
jewels, but Jews were the real financial basis for the first expedition
of Columbus." 1 It is also interesting to note that the first
European to set foot in the New World was the Jewish interpreter
Luis de Torres, closely followed by the Jewish surgeon Marco
and the Jewish physician Bernal .2
The Jews left no branch of learning or science untouched .
Said Sombart : "Israel passes over Europe like the sun ; whenever
it appears new life shoots up, but when it is withdrawn all that
once flourished withers away ." 3 The German scholar, Dr. M. I.
Schleiden, declares that during the Middle Ages "the Jews were
the preservers of agriculture, of all large industries ." 4 And
Valeriu Marcu assures us that "the most important monarchs seem
to have been unable to manage without Jewish educators, advisers
and ministers. . ." s
In commerce as in culture, the part played by this expatriate
people was tremendous . "At all points where the formation of
cities was going on, where an urban community was developing
out of the former castellum of the Romans, the Jews contributed
a decisive element by bringing trade within the walls ." 6 This is
expressed in a truly classic manner in the words with which Bishop
Rudiger of Speyer opens his charter to the Jews in the year Io84
"Desiring to make a city out of the village of Speyer, I have admitted
the Jews . . ." Summing up their collective relationship
to a single State, Abbott comments on the expulsion edicts of
1492, that "the life of Spain went out with the Jews."
The distinguished character of this Hebrew culture is traceable
everywhere, where it is not hidden by slander and omission .
The personal life of the Jew was no less well-ordered . Until
later edicts ousted them from that work, agriculture was the most
highly esteemed of occupations ; and they practically held a
monopoly on handicrafts where taste as well as manual skill was
required . As a speaking instance, when the edict of expulsion
reached Sicily in the Fifteenth Century, the State Counselors entreated
the King to delay the measure, for they said : "Nearly all
the artisans in the realm are Jews. In case all of them are expelled
at once we shall lack craftsmen capable of supplying mechanical
utensils, especially those made of iron, as agricultural
implements and equipment for ships, galleys . . ." 7
Labor itself remained dignified in Jewish life, as it was in the
old homeland . Bespeaking this attitude, Maimonides laid down
the axiom that "a single coin earned by one's manual labor is
worth more than the whole revenue of the Prince of the Captivity,
derived as it is from the gifts of others ." 8
The sanctity of the Jewish home continued in undiminished
tradition . Nothing in modern life can excel the courtly respect
and single-hearted devotion which the Talmudic husband displayed
towards his spouse. "He loves her as himself," declares
the Talmud, "but honors her more than himself ."
All through this period the Jews justly prided themselves on
their fastidious habits and regard for the amenities . Cleanly habits
were in fact codified, and Jewish medieval law contained a
systematized scheme of etiquette, of good custom and refined
taste . It was not until centuries of ghetto life and cruel degradation
had rendered the Jews indifferent to their surroundings that
this old characteristic ceased to distinguish them .
It was the Fourth Lateran Council under Innocent III which
in 1215 made the first serious encroachments on the freedom and
possessions of the Jews, forcing them by decree to wear a distinctive
mark on their clothes, the so-called `yellow badge.' The
decree of the Synod of Breslau in 1267, prohibiting Jews from living
together with Christians in the Eastern provinces where
"the church was still a tender shoot," finally led to the establishment
of the Ghetto in all countries . The Jewish quarter was
usually situated in a disreputable, crowded, unhealthful section
of the city. It was guarded by night so that no one could enter
or leave. Its area was to serve for all time ; it was not to be enlarged
. Its narrow, crooked streets were always dark . In this
foul area where sunlight could not enter, there was no room for
trees, grass or flowers . Infant mortality was staggering ; the
faces of young and old alike were habitually pallid .
Deprived of all legal position and branded as incorrigible Satanists,
isolated like lepers from the rest of mankind, these proud
Semites found themselves unwittingly the prey of all comers .
The attitude of the Church gave pitch to the orchestra of hate
and despoliation in which state, city and populace largely participated
. Not content with humiliating and caging them like
dangerous animals, accusation upon accusation was piled at their
door. It was claimed that they made a practice of stealing the
consecrated host wafers, mistreating the body of Christ in them
until blood flowed forth . At the time of the Black Death they
were accused of poisoning the wells ; and lending tone to these
charges, in many places confessions were extorted from them on
the rack.
Jews were compelled like cattle to pay a poll tax, a heavy admission
tax, and a whole list of other imposts partly ridiculous
and partly humiliating . When they could be mulcted of nothing
further, they were expelled over night and their meager possessions
Even the written records of Hebrew science, philosophy and
learning, so lovingly and painstakingly collected, were prohibited .
A typical example is the decree of destruction of the Talmud in
France, in 1242, followed by the public burning of twenty-four
wagonloads of Jewish books.
In Germany especially, the massacre of Jews took place before
the Plague gave an added impetus to the pogrom frenzy . Murderers
and incendiaries were allowed free rein and in more than
three hundred and fifty communities the Jews were murdered,
drowned, burned, broken on the wheel, hanged, strangled, buried
alive and tortured to death for the sanctification of the name of
The entire world had become a horrible dungeon in which
this proud and intellectual people suffered the tortures of the
damned. They were exterminated in York and London ; in
Spain at the instigation of St . Vincent Ferrer ; in Italy where
John of Capistrano preached ; in Poland, Bohemia, France,
Moravia and Austria . They were turned into human torches to
fiendish rites from one end of Europe to the other, ripped open
with pitchforks and scythes, or beaten to death like dogs . In
France alone, during the reign of Charles VI, over a hundred
thousand Jews, totally destitute, were forced to leave their homes
and seek refuge in Germany, Spain and Savoy . Typical of the
period were the actions of Philip the Fair, who in the Fourteenth
Century had the Jews unexpectedly driven out to obtain possession
of their goods ; and that of Charles VI, who in 1394 again
decreed banishment and conversion of their possessions to the
State Exchequer .
The onrush of the Crusaders exposed the Jews to a new series
of sadistic outrages. Whole communities were wiped out in
cold blood, sacked, and forcibly converted . In the Rhineland,
and in France at Anjou, Portou and Bordeaux, thousands were
burned en masse ; and when in 1105 Godfrey de Bouillon took
Jerusalem in the name of Christendom, his first act of piety was to
drive the Jews into the synagogue and burn them alive .
The list of tortures and outrages suffered by this unhappy people
is unending . In 1336 a mob of five thousand peasants led by
two nobles, the `Armleders,' armed with pitchforks and axes,
traversed Franconia, Alsace, the Rhineland, Bavaria and Austria,
and massacred all the Jews of one hundred and twenty communities
in their lust for spoil. In 1298 a nobleman from Roettingen
named Rindfleisch, declaring himself appointed by heaven to ex30
terminate the Jews, marched through the country and for six
months committed the most unheard of outrages against his hapless
victims . One hundred and forty-six communities were reduced
to bloody shambles .
In Spain and Portugal during the Fifteenth Century more than
a million and a half horrified beings slipped into the crazy whirlpool
of the Inquisition, the auto-da-fe, torture, violation, banishment,
and death . In faraway Ukraine in the decade following
1648, the entire Jewish community, almost eight hundred thousand
human creatures, was butchered with revolting tortures so
hideous as to defy description . All over Europe the dread "Hep !
Hep ! Hep !" of the hooligans echoed in the dark streets of the
ghettos. In all parts of the Western world Jewish blood flowed
down many widely separated rivulets into one mighty stream . In
North Africa and the Orient, like a sickening flood, the same indignities,
cruelties and disasters overtook their fleeing footsteps .
Each new depth to which this once sturdy people were pushed
only served to open up deeper and unsuspected abysses of horror.
Forbidden to own land, to engage in handicrafts, deprived of
membership in the all-powerful guilds so as to be virtually excluded
from trade, harried, slandered and ridiculed, the walls of
the Ghetto held them like a prison .
The effects of this system of branding a whole people as a
pariah class were as deplorable as they were inevitable . The Jew
became the mark for the meanest of insults . He was beaten,
reviled, scorned and abused by everyone . This constant humiliation
and degradation finally brought him so low that he became
the mockery of mankind . He lost the courtly bearing, the refinement
of speech and manner which had always distinguished the
Hebrew character . Suffering and debasement had also wrought
vast changes in the inner consciousness of the race . Where once
he had stood on his native Judean hills, the fiercest, most intractable
fighting man in all the ancient world, long centuries of persecution
had made him submissive like a whipped dog . Meekness
and non-resistance became rationalized into a veritable philosophic
code. The once lofty Jewish mind hardened and be
came grooved in a maze of ritual . Where once had stood the
proud gentility of Hillel, now huddled the wraith-like figure of
the pious Israel of Miedzyboz, who preached "humble submission"
and a dervish-like rapture of worship which could not but
have amazed the stiff-necked old Hebrews in whose name this
slave doctrine was enunciated .
The love of inquiry, the intellectual penetration traditional to
the Jew, was now transformed into an absurd concentration on
dialectical speculations. Deprived of normal outlets to his energies,
futile speculations and the splicings of fine theories became
his entertainment . The old great Jewish culture disappeared,
unnoticed, in a wilderness of stratified formalities, words and
ritual .
To complete this sorry picture of deterioration and collapse,
the strangled Jewish mind became obsessed by a peculiar indirectness
of approach to all problems . The most realistic of all peoples
became unreal, pedantic and mystical . All of these changed
factors of character and outlook are reflected in the development
of the Messianic doctrine .
It must be noted that the earlier seeking after a Messiah rested
on quite a different base . It spoke for the sturdy rebellious nature
of this people, that their thoughts were always on freedom .
It reflected a passionate desire for a leader who in strictly mortal
fashion would help them redeem what had been raped from them .
The remolded concept rested very subtly on a completely opposite
psychology, although the idea appeared to be the same .
The impatient rebelliousness, the stiff self-assurance, the commonness
of instinct, which had caused the widely separated Jews
to rise like one man under Bar Kochba, had vanished . In their
stead lived a new zealotry in which dogma and visionary metaphysic
vied for mastery . Like a dazzling light, blotting out the
sordidness of his surroundings, a deep sense of mission now enveloped
the befuddled Jew . With humble piety he conceived of
himself as the instrument whereby all the peoples of the earth, including
those who had abused and vilified him, would be led into
eternal gentleness and bliss. Thus tremulously awaiting the di32
vine deliverer lived the Jews, a great nation who had shriveled to
a caricature of themselves through the cruelest set of circumstances
ever to beset the path of man .
They had not long to wait . A whole host of Messiahs appeared
in response to this wishful expectation . From Abu Isa of
Ispahan in the Seventh Century, Zonarias of Syria in the Tenth, to
the shabby Zabettai Zevi, they periodically kept the Jewish world
in a fever.
Most notorious of all of these was perhaps Zevi, who announced
himself to be the Messiah in Smyrna in the year 1640 . Wild
frenzy possessed the Jewish communities . Shrewd business men
in Amsterdam, Hamburg and Venice disposed of their possessions
in order to be prepared for the hasty journey to the Holy Land .
Others subjected themselves to penance in order to be rendered
worthy of redemption . In the meanwhile the `Messiah' was
hamstrung by the Moslems, who gave him the usual choice, and
Zabettai, no martyr, became a Mohammedan .
The colossal collapse of Zevi sent a crushed chill through the
Jewries of Europe . They shrank like condemned men into their
hovels . Only an ironclad religious particularism could save the
Jew from the deep confusion and widening chaos which was engulfing
him everywhere . To this he retreated.
Two events conspired to put an end to the Ghetto . One was
the discovery of America, releasing vast rich areas for settlement
and exploitation . The other was the gradual dry rot which
overtook the feudal era and its master, the totalitarian church .
Out of the ashes of this decaying order gradually developed a
new force, the power of industrial capital . This new force immediately
discovered itself in mortal opposition to the entire system
of life the Medieval Era had erected, since it could only maintain
itself by free competition and continuing consumer expansion,
which meant the opening of new markets . The greater the
competition among merchants and those who held the power to
grant credit, the better would industry flourish .
The Ghetto was one of the medieval corporations which had
to go in the interest of a speedy evolution of capitalism. Though
it continued in some cities into the modern era, its fate was sealed .
It was this young and growing industrial capitalism which was
the great lever creating the modem democracies, and with them
the emancipation of the Jews .
The new system soon developed a philosophy justifying itself,
and fiery expounders of its tenets. "Liberty ! Fraternity ! Equality!"
became the rallying cry of the day . Leading in the van of
this movement, the French revolted and solemnly declared the
principle of the inalienable Rights of Man .
The question arose as to whether this queer race of the Jews
whose glorious past history was long forgotten, sunk in the torpor
of religious formalism, was capable of supporting such enlightened
ideas. Learned debates took place as to whether, if they
were enfranchised, they could take their place in an organized
secular society ; whether they could become soldiers, manufacturers,
artisans, professional men - in short, whether they were
capable of competing in the civil society which was to be based
on the new order. The atheist and liberator Voltaire considered
them dangerous and incurable reactionaries, a source of religious
superstition. Others like Tallyrand, Montesquieu and Mirabeau
asserted that the Jew must be included in the new dispensation .
Almost coincident with these events the American Revolution
exploded in the face of an archaic world and based its fundamental
principles on the same Rights of Man . Soon thereafter
the victorious young Napoleon was carrying the doctrines of the
new belief along with his cannon and gun-powder and putting
them into operation by force.
In this onrush of the Liberal spirit the Western Jew miraculously
found the walls of the Judengasse 10 torn down. They
fell before his eyes like the walls of Jericho, and he stood blinded
and unaccustomed in the streaming sunlight . The inner glow
which had made his world a place of happiness despite its drab
cruelty, was dimmed by the new glare.
Enthusiastically the Jews put themselves in line with this
glorious theme of world brotherhood . For the first time the
vernacular took the place of Hebrew in their daily life . The
Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries were the age of Massentau
f en (mass baptism) . In Berlin alone it is said that over half the
Jewish community was converted in the course of one year .
Early an attempt was made to meet this wholesale desertion of
Judaism by creating a new and reformed liturgy and a new
attitude towards Jewish destiny . Inaugurated in Germany, `Reform
Judaism' quickly took shape as a creed . Jews who had
formerly considered themselves expatriate Palestinians who
would in the fullness of time be returned to their own country,
began to refer to themselves in Germany as `Germans of Mosaic
persuasion.' The question arose as in the emancipation in Holland,
whether Jews were a nation or a religious cult . This was
straddled at the Reform Conference at Brunswick in 1844 by
Ludwig Philippson who declared : "Every nation has its historical
mission, and the Jews have theirs . They are a nation
dedicated to religion ." This new attitude soon spread among
the Jews like a devouring flame . The fine old Jewish civilization
had finally become a religious cult, separate from secular
life, with an ordained pastorate and all the paraphernalia of that
office .
The last step in this denationalization process, in which the
Reform Rabbis led the procession, was the transformation into
metaphor of the doctrines of Jewish nationalism for which the
race had steadfastly held over so long a period . All that now
remained of laws meant to control the social and economic interests
of the Jews was dead ritual .
For a brief century the ideal of again making themselves an
individual force in history sank into comparative insignificance
and gave place to a desire to become adapted to environment .
Both the spirit and fact of Jewish history became falsified ; and
Jews endeavoring to win equal rights in every sphere of human
activity began to frame both their thought and action with an
eye to the opinion and point of view of others . As a living force
with legitimate, healthy rights of its own, Judaism was discountenanced
by Jews, who had transformed themselves into neo-gentiles
. It survived only as an innocuous shadow.
The inexorable forward movement of `toleration' hit its peak
immediately after the World War . Palestine was seemingly returned
to Jews who wished to go there . In the last strongholds
of anti-Jewish reaction, minority clauses guaranteed by the nations
of the world were put into operation . In Germany a Jew,
Dr. Hugo Preuss, framed the Constitution of the Weimar Republic,
hailed as the last word in justice and democracy .
Enthusiastically the Western Liberals and 'Assimilationists'
went to the very point of denying the existence of a Jewish nation
altogether . Learnedly they `proved' that a Jewish race
could no longer possibly be in existence .
Had anyone told these enraptured Jews that the last strongholds
of ignorance, meanness and tyranny would not yield but
would instead reacquire a vitality and strategy capable of once
more putting Liberalism desperately on the defensive, his only
reply would have been a smile of pity and commiseration . How
could they dream that the Germany of Mendelssohn and Lasker
would become the Germany of Hitler and Goering ; that
throughout the civilized world the old blood libel, the old mass
hysterias and slanders, the old in humaneness and cruelties, would
be revived with even increased force and viciousness. All of
this was contrary to the rationale of the new order ; hence it became
schematically impossible.
While all this was happening, the torch of Jewish nationalism
distorted and vitiated, but alive, spluttered among the masses still
going about their daily tasks in the ghettos of East Europe .
In the wake of the irresistible Liberal sweep which was de-
Judaizing the Jews, occurred a most remarkable phenomenon
the Anglo-Saxon people, rising rapidly to world power, literally
pitched themselves headlong at the same time into a Judaizing
Aroused by such magnetic personalities as Knox and Tyndale
the British peoples retreated to creative Prophecy, to the stern
and simple democracy of the Hebrew Bible . The Old Testa-
ment in particular was studied with impassioned thoroughness .
James Truslow Adams remarks that "Christ did indeed occupy a
place in their [the Puritan] theology, but in spirit they may be
considered Jews and not Christians. Their God was the God of
the Old Testament, their laws were the laws of the Old Testament,
their guides to conduct were the characters of the Old
Testament."" "They baptized their children," writes Lord
Macaulay, "by the names, not of Christian saints, but of Hebrew
patriarchs and warriors ." 12 Even the old Saxon names, once
household words, were condemned to oblivion .13 "Cromwell
hath beat up his drums clean through the Old Testament," comments
Cleveland. "You may know the genealogy of our Saviour
by the names of his regiment ."
Every attitude of the aggressive young imperialism which the
Anglo-Saxon was erecting became tinctured with Hebrew philosophy.
So completely was it absorbed that a large section of
the English people began to look upon themselves as being actually
descended from Israelites . A whole body of literature
sprang into being claiming that the word British was derived
from Brith and Ish of Hebrew, meaning `circumcised man,' and
that the English were descended from the Lost Ten Tribes of
Israel .14
This conviction on the part of a large part of the British
public became so great that it resulted in the forming of `The
British-Israel World Federation,' at one time claiming over five
million members, and including such eminent personages as
Queen Victoria and King Edward VII.
The Hebraizing spirit attended other considerable sections of
the Reformation though it was particularly at home with the
Anglo-Saxon peoples, whose identification with Hebrew history
and philosophy became so complete as to almost appropriate it
for themselves . Lecky expressed this debt in the famous remark
: "Hebraic mortar cemented the foundation of American
Democracy!" In the same vein Ulysses S . Grant advised his
countrymen to "hold fast to the Bible . It is the sheet-anchor of
your liberties. . ." And Jean Paul bespoke his times when he
declared that "the first leaf of the Mosaic record has more weight
than all the folios of men of science and philosophies."
Protestant theology in particular, rested on the belief that the
world of mankind was evolving towards a millennium in which
holiness was to be triumphant everywhere, and that a primary
prerequisite to this happy eventuality was the return of God's
Chosen People, the Jews, to the Holy Land .15 Supporting their
position with direct quotation from Biblical Prophecy, a large
group of earnest men, divines, statesmen and writers, set themselves
to be the instruments to speed this desired end . Specialized
histories of the Jews gained wide circulation, and it was not long
before the political emancipation of Zion became a lively topic
in English politics .
By 1839 popular interest had become so intense that the General
Assembly of the Church of Scotland, after sending a special
commission to the Holy Land to report on conditions there, addressed
"A Memorandum to the Protestant Monarchs of Europe
on the Subject of the Restoration of the Jewish People to the
Land of Palestine ." From this date onwards a pro-Jewish Palestinian
discussion ran parallel in the London Times with the agitation
over the Eastern question .
The Government, taking canny notice of this body of public
feeling and being interested in the Near East on its own account,
commenced to take a hand. With the entry of the murderous
anti-Christian Mehemet Ali into Syria, the advocacy of Zionism
became quietly identified with English foreign policy .
Interest mounted rapidly in all circles . The statesman Lord
Shaftsbury became so absorbed in the project that he learned
Hebrew. The colonization expert, Colonel George Gawler, devoted
virtually all his time to this cause, firmly convinced that
Jewish repatriation was a political desideratum for England, conveniently
sanctioned by Holy Writ . A whole succession of
English representatives in the Near East befriended the Jews
and took an active interest in their cause . It became a ruling
passion with such men as Laurence Oliphant and the archaeologist
Conger .
A mountain of literature and a whirlpool of activity had by
now been brought to bear on the matter . All these writers and
orators pointed out the desolate, empty, semi-savage condition of
the country . Various associations were formed to agitate the
cause, and monster mass-meetings were held. English statesmen
such as Sir Samuel Montague guaranteed publicly that "not only
will the Jews be assisted in colonizing Palestine, but practical
shape will be given to their aspiration for the restoration of the
Jewish Kingdom ."
While the interest in the fate of the Jews was most spectacular
and deep-seated in Britain, manifestations of it were evident
everywhere .
In France, Joseph Salvador called for the assembling of a European
Congress to restore the Holy Land . Here, too, Henri
Dunant, founder of the Red Cross and author of the Geneva Conventions,
was an ardent Zionist . Napoleon also is said to have
contemplated the restoration of Palestine to the Jews. This is
reported to have been one of the objects of his ill-fated adventure
in Egypt and the Near East.
In America the second president of the United States, John
Adams, announced himself an ardent Zionist who "really wished
the Jews again in Judea, an independent nation . . ." The lively
sympathy for Hebrew resettlement is shown also by the petition
to President Benjamin Harrison submitted by Dr. Wm. Blackstone,
Chairman of the Conference of Christians and Jews, in
1891 . Signed by an imposing list of the greatest names in America,
clergymen, corporation presidents and public officials, it offered
an elaborate plan for Jewish colonization, declaring that
"not for twenty-four centuries since the days of Cyrus, King of
Persia, has there been offered to any mortal such a privileged opportunity
to further the purposes of God concerning his ancient
By 1914 a powerful non-Jewish public opinion, favoring the
enterprise as a rational historical development, existed everywhere.
In England itself, long habituation to this program as
well as what appeared to be obvious self-interest had committed
British policy to it.
As unaware of all this as if it had taken place on Mars, a wholly
independent movement began stirring in the Hebrew ghettos .
As early as 1857 the Hungarian Rabbi Yehuda Alkalai suggested
the purchase of Palestine by a company to be formed for
that purpose, and in 1864 Professor Heinrich Graetz demanded a
Zionist solution for the problems confronting the Jewish race .
Others like the writers Hess, Kalisher and Smolenskin began to
voice articulate opinions .
In 1882 Leon Pinsker issued his volume Auto-Emancipation in
which he demanded that the Jews redeem themselves by their
own self-will . Like a lone tragic eagle, Pinsker gazed with tortured
sympathy at the misery of his people . Appalled at their
apathy and wretchedness he wrote : "Among the living nations
of the earth the Jews occupy the position of a nation long since
dead. With the loss of their fatherland, the Jewish people lost
their independence and fell into a decay which is not compatible
with existence as a whole vital organism . The State was crushed
before the eyes of the nations, but after the Jewish people had
yielded up their existence as an actual State, as a political entity,
they could not nevertheless submit to total destruction - they
did not cease to exist spiritually as a nation . The world saw in
this people the uncanny form of one of the dead walking among
the living. The ghostlike apparition of a people without unity
or organization, without land or other bond of union, no longer
alive, and yet moving about among the living, this eerie form
scarcely paralleled in history, unlike anything that preceded or
followed it, could not fail to make a strange, peculiar impression
upon the imagination of the nations."
Finally fired by the atrocious pogroms that were taking place
in South Russia a group of intellectuals formed the Chovevi Zion
Society 16 which soon attempted practical work in the direction
of a resettlement in the Old Land .
Jewry which had been gazing on all these vague gropings with
tolerant amusement, living like a drugged man on promises of a
new world order where men would live like gods, was jolted from
this fantasy by two startling events . The first of these had been
the arrest, torture and conviction of the leading Jewish notables
in the city of Damascus, Syria, on a charge of having murdered a
local friar for blood ritual purposes . The whole Jewish community
was terrorized, with the agreement and connivance of the
English and French consuls, who stated their belief that the ritual
murder charge was historically proven .
In France, the very center of enlightenment, after a long barrage
of anti-Semitic incitement, the Jewish officer Dreyfus was
railroaded by a secret military tribunal in 1894, degraded and
condemned to penal servitude for life for alleged treason . Everywhere
press and populace placed the stigma on the entire
Jewish community, with the weight of the Government thrown
behind a deliberate persecution of those attempting to prove the
unfortunate man's innocence . It soon became so apparent that
the whole case was a deliberate frame-up that the ensuing hubbub
forced the authorities to retry the Jewish officer some four years
later, when, under farcical circumstances, he was once more sentenced
to Devil's Island .
The doughty novelist, Zola, risked his career by issuing the
famous J'Accuse, exposing the outrageous nature of this affair .
Arrested, he fled to England where he went into hiding .
After an agitation which convulsed the entire civilized world,
Dreyfus, who had been kept in an iron cage on the Island, was
pardoned, still un-vindicated .
The anti-Semitic movement now grew with marvelous rapidity,
confounding every theory of the educators, who had held such
a result impossible. Jewry once more began to seek communion
with its own organic forces . The desire for a specifically Hebrew
cultural scheme in which they could live their lives out, began
to arise in the minds of the unhappy creatures groping their
way around tortured ghetto paths .
Sitting quietly in the press galleries during the second Dreyfus
trial was a young Viennese journalist named Theodore Herzl .17
A thoroughly Westernized Jew who accepted the Enlightenment
as a matter of course, he suddenly saw the Jewish problem
outlined stark naked. Returning to Vienna, his head full of the
question, all unaware that anyone had ever written on this subject
before, he penned his pamphlet The Jewish State."'
Friends, de-Judaized like himself, to whom he enunciated these
`revolutionary ideas,' counseled that he had been working too
hard and urged him to see the great brain specialist Max Nordau,
which nothing daunted, Herzl did.
One of the journalist's friends inquired anxiously of Nordau
after the visit : "What do you make of him?"
"Well," said Nordau thoughtfully, "it is of course quite possible
that he is crazy - but if he is, so am I, because I agree with
Tall, majestic, handsome, looking like an Assyrian god who
had stepped down from an old frieze, the magnetic personality
of this figure suddenly galvanized the incoherent movement into
action . Until then Zionism had been resting upon a vague
cultural-settlement base, with no definite scheme of control .
The great difference between Herzl's viewpoint and that of his
immediate predecessors was his pointblank insistence on political
guarantees before a single other step was taken . Claimed this
new master : ". . . the solution of the Jewish difficulty is the
recognition of the Jews as a People, and the finding by them of
a legally recognized home to which Jews in those parts of the
world in which they are oppressed would naturally migrate, for
they would arrive there as citizens just because they were Jews,
and not as aliens." With prophetic insight Herzl insisted on
complete political guarantees . He wrote : "An infiltration is
bound to end in disaster . It continues until the inevitable moment
when the native population feels itself crushed, and forces
the Government to stop the further influx of Jews . Immigration
is consequently futile unless based on an assured supremacy ."
His a priori demand was for "sovereignty over a tract of the
earth's surface that is adequate for our rightful needs as a nation ."
There was something almost omniscient in the man's ability to
peer into the curtained future . In a letter to the Rothschild's at
Vienna he pointed out that the Liberal governments of Europe,
apparently so firmly established in the prosperity of those days,
were not to last . They would fall and would be replaced by
tyrants, either royal or popular, who would be worse than
the aristocracies whom the parliamentary governments had displaced
.19 It took less than forty years for this prophecy to come
At the first Zionist Congress he predicted that the Jewish problem
would inevitably be turned into the problem of Zion. "We
are laying the cornerstone," he declared, "for an edifice that will
house the entire Jewish nation ."
On all sides the storm of opposition mounted like a rising hurricane.
Assimilationist rabbis thundered against him in their pulpits.
The Jews of Germany, where he proposed to hold his first
Congress, gazed on the man as a dangerous lunatic, so the historic
Congress was held in Basle instead . But he had gotten the
ear of the crushed Jewish masses and had touched their imaginations
as no figure had since the ill-fated messiah Zevi .
Abused and ridiculed as few men have been in history, Herzl
continued with his plan to attempt the purchase of Palestine, and
to form a chartered company which was to control and direct the
resettlement . He finally received an audience with the Sultan,
who placed an itching palm on the table . The Zionist leader
went out to find ways of covering it.
Jewish millionaires might have easily provided the 41 o,ooo,-
ooo demanded by Abdul Hamid for a concession in Palestine, but
they shied away from the idea . Herzl, hat in hand like a petitioner,
presented his plan to the philanthropist Baron de Hirsch .
The great man listened benevolently and finally said : "Herr
Herzl, I observe that you are an intelligent man - but you have
such fantastic ideas ."
In vain Herzl cajoled and pleaded : he could not raise the
money ; and in the meanwhile the `Young Turks' made an end
to Abdul Hamid and the Palestine negotiations together .
On the pulse of these events the British kept practiced and interested
fingers . When Herzl came to London he found to his
amazement that English public opinion, joined by a government
whose interests were coincidental to this scheme of development,
had created ready-made for him a galaxy of famous and influential
supporters . Powerful organs such as the Daily Chronicle
and Pall Mall Gazette were demanding the fulfillment of the
Zionist program and calling for a conference of the Powers to
consider it .
Herzl had already appeared at the sittings of the Royal Commission
on Alien Immigration . Given the honor of being the
first witness on the problem of Jewish homelessness and immigration,
he had been questioned closely by the Commission for an
exact definition of what was meant by Zionism . He replied
with his usual straightforwardness that it meant the establishment
of a Jewish State under absolute guarantees of political control,
and nothing else.
The British now took a direct hand and offered the territory
of Uganda in West Africa on a full autonomous basis under
chartered rights, "a recognition," states the official British Peace
Handbook No. 162, "that Herzl and his following were regarded
seriously in serious quarters ." Supporting the Government in
this well-intentioned offer was a young M .P. named Arthur
James Balfour.
But the Russian Zionists rebelled ; and at the next Congress the
whole Uganda scheme was thrown out. It was Palestine or
nothing . 20
Within the Zionist movement itself various schisms began to
develop . The widest of these, was that of the so-called Practical
Zionists who derived from the old Chovevi Zion Society . They
were bitterly opposed to Herzl's policy, were uninterested in
political guarantees, and stressed `cultural' and `practical' work .
One of their rising stars was the young chemist Chaim Weitzman.
Their leader was Achad Ha'am, a little pinch-faced man
with a goatee and the eye of an ascetic.
Achad Ha'am represented all that his arch-enemy Herzl would
never understand in his lifetime. He was born in a little village
in the Pale and was brought up in an ultra-orthodox home where
secular knowledge was tabu . He literally concentrated on the
Talmud, and his knowledge of that book became so great that
local rabbis would come to consult him when he was still in his
early teens . He was a typical hair-splitter in words, the personified
ideal of the spirit of philosophic dialecticism in the flesh .
He considered all `political' Zionists to be barbarians . "What
we lack," he wrote, "is a fixed spot to serve as a national spiritual
center, a safe retreat, not for Jews, but for Judaism . . . The
foundation of a single great school," he insisted, "of learning or
art in Palestine . . . would be, to my mind, a national work of
the highest import and would do more to bring us near to our
goal than a hundred agricultural colonies ."
Fanatically understood by the queer type of scholastic whose
soul he interpreted, Achad Ha'am, if influence counts, was the
most potent of all the modern Zionist forces . Belittling Herzl as
a wild dreamer, his influence began to be apparent after the Tatter's
death, and finally triumphed . He was an extremist who
could care much for idea and little for men, a product and consequence
of that tragic pariah world into which the gentiles had
sequestered Jehovah's people .
Herzl saw what Achad Ha'am did not - what, indeed, he was
incapable of seeing -that a free and living culture is not the
source but the outcome of an organized and stable life, and that
this contemptuous attitude towards political control could only
end in one more ghetto - this time in Palestine.
It is the Hebrew tragedy that the manly Herzl should have
died young and the visionary Ha'am should have lived to a ripe
old age. On July 3, 1904, harassed and worn, the incomparable
leader suddenly sickened and died. He was then only forty-four
years old .
The Zionist movement had already begun to be encumbered
with ideological contentions, and factions of various descriptions
. Its leadership fell in the hands of minor worthies, followers
for the most part of Achad Ha'am, who talked in learned
circumlocutory motions and all but smothered in the mantle
they had inherited . Even so, carried along by its own irresistible
momentum, Zionism continued to grow rapidly.

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