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Encyclopaedia Judaica

Theodor Herzl 02: Negotiations

Negotiations with Constantinople, the German kaiser, and the British - Uganda plan - Russian Jews only want Palestine

from: Herzl, Theodor; In: Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971, vol. 8

presented by Michael Palomino (2008)

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<Political Activities.

[Constantinople: negotiations with the grand vizier - plan of financial help and an independent Jewish state]

Herzl lost no time in entering upon his political activities. On April 23, 1896 - upon the intervention of the Rev. W. *Hechler - he was received by *Frederick, the grand duke of Baden and uncle of the German kaiser, William II. The grand duke became a supporter of the Zionist cause, and through his good offices Herzl established contact with the kaiser in 1898. In June 1896 Herzl made his first trip to Constantinople and, with the help of Michael Nevlinski, a Polish diplomatic agent, met with the grand vizier. He submitted a proposal according to which the Jews would undertake to correct the Ottoman Empire's grave financial situation in return for which the sultan would relinquish his rule over Erez Israel and agree to the country's becoming an independent Jewish state.

[Question for a Jewish vassal state - question of a Jewish autonomy]

When this proposal was rejected, Herzl asked for permission to create a Jewish state under the suzerainty of the sultan (i.e., a vassal state); at a later date (from the end of 1898) this request developed into a demand for a charter for dense and concentrated Jewish settlement in Erez Israel that would enjoy autonomy and the right of self-defense - a demand which Herzl was to pursue steadfastly for the rest of his life. On his way to Constantinople, Herzl was given a warm reception by the Jewish communities of Serbia and Bulgaria.

[No support for the Zionist Herzl plan by London Jewry - the organization of the Jewish mass migration to Palestine - Zionist congresses - Herzl Zionist newspaper "The World"]

On a trip to London, he was acclaimed by the East End Jews, but failed in his attempts to gain the support of the leaders of British Jewry, the Hovevei Zion there, and the *Jewish Colonization Association (ICA). Baron Edmond de *Rothschild, whose support would have been the key to the Jewish leadership and the Hovevei Zion in Western Europe, also rejected Herzl's appeal for support. In the crucial interview between Herzl and de Rothschild on July 18, 1896, the latter rejected Herzl's ideas on the grounds that it would be impossible to organize the Jewish masses.

This rejections and the reason given for it, more than any other single factor, prompted Herzl to embark upon the organization of the Jewish people in order to create a Jewish state in Erez Israel. He promoted this idea with great vigor, and on March 6, 1897, in a preliminary conference attended by representatives of Hovevei Zion societies in Germany, Austria, and Galicia, Herzl's proposal to convene a general Zionist congress was accepted. In spite of the widespread resistance to the idea of holding a congress, found even among members of Hovevei Zion, Herzl succeeded in calling the congress as the first national assembly of Jews striving for the renaissance of their people. For dissemination of the Zionist idea Herzl founded a weekly, Die *Welt [["The World"]] the first issue of which appeared on June 4, 1897, with Herzl as its editor in chief. Herzl also provided the required finances for the paper.

[[The Arabs are not mentioned, not asked, and Arab anti-Semitism and eternal war are not taken into consideration]].

The Zionist Organization.

The First *Zionist Congress, held in Basle [[Basel]] on Aug. 29-31, 1897, was the first interterritorial gathering of Jews on a national and secular basis. The congress adopted the program of the Zionist movement, which came to be known as the *Basle Program, and established the World Zionist Organization as the political organization of the "Jewish people en route" [["Jewish people under way"]].

Herzl chaired the First Congress (as he did the five subsequent congresses held in his lifetime) and was elected (col. 412)

president of the World Zionist Organization, retaining that office until his death. In spite of a heart disease, which grew worse as a result of overwork and strain, and notwithstanding the attacks upon him by opponents within the Zionist Organization and outside of it, Herzl persevered in his dedication to two principal aims:

"The establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Erez Israel", as formulated in the Basle Program, with the agreement of the Powers and of Turkey to be achieved by diplomatic negotiations;

and building and strengthening the World Zionist Organization in order to create an instrument that would carry weight in the political and financial negotiations with external factors and would be capable of carrying out the settlement of Erez Israel.

Shortly after the Congress, Herzl made preparations to establish the Zionist bank (the *Jewish Colonial Trust) which was to have a share capital of £ 2 million and would provide the financial basis for his negotiations with the Turkish government. He assumed that upon the successful conclusion of these negotiations, subsidiaries to the bank would be established and would serve as the economic instruments required to develop the country and organize migration and settlement.

[[The Arabs gave their reaction to this Herzl Zionist movement: They founded newspapers and big parts did not at all agree with the Jewish invasion plans which was the first step of an Arab anti-Semitism. The non-Zionists did not take earnest the Zionists because the big part of the "Holy Land" was desert or swamp and the newcomers were given desert land so there were irrigation systems required. But the Zionist fantasy did not give up]].

[Banks and fund-raising]

The Second Congress (Aug. 28-30, 1898) passed an official resolution on the founding of the bank, which took place in March 1899. The bank's seat was London. In 1903 a subsidiary of the bank was established in Jaffa under the name Anglo-Palestine Co. (which eventually became the Bank Leumi Le-Israel).

The great Jewish banks, however, whose owners opposed political Zionism, did not take part in the financial effort, and as a result the Zionist Organization was able to raise only £ 250,000 of share capital. Compared to any sum previously raised by Zionist societies, this was a considerable amount; but its significance paled beside the tremendous tasks allotted to the bank in Herzl's program. His failure to gain the sympathy and active support of the Jewish capitalists became the greatest obstacle to Herzl's (col. 413)

political work and was perhaps the main reason for his lack of success in achieving his major aims, although he did score some partial successes.

[Herzl's talks with kaiser William II - foreign minister Bernard von Buelow and the kaiser object to Zionism - heavy resistance of Jewish bankers, liberal Jews, and Jewish newspapermen to Herzl's Zionism]

Shortly after the Second Zionist Congress, Herzl, with the help of the grand duke of Baden, succeeded in gaining the sympathy of Kaiser William II for the Zionist idea. At the end of September 1898 the kaiser informed Herzl through Philip Eulenburg, the German ambassador in Vienna, that on the occasion of his forthcoming visit to the Holy Land, he was prepared to grant Herzl an audience in Jerusalem. This was preceded by an earlier meeting with the kaiser in Constantinople on Oct. 18, 1898 (when Herzl was on his way to Erez Israel), at which the kaiser promised to recommend the Zionist Organization to the sultan and to accept the sponsorship of the Jewish Land Company for Syria and Palestine which Herzl was about to found.

After the interview, Herzl proceeded to Erez Israel, where he was enthusiastically received by the settlers of the Jewish colonies (*Mikveh Israel, *Rishon le-Zion, *Nes Ziyyonah, and *Rehovot). At Mikveh Israel the kaiser and his entourage made a special stop in order to greet Herzl, who was waiting for them at the school entrance.

The official meeting of the kaiser with Herzl and his associates took place on Nov. 2, 1898, in the kaiser's tent camp on the outskirts of Jerusalem. The meeting was a disappointment to Herzl. His lack of success was due mainly to the influence of the foreign minister, Bernard von Buelow, who in turn had been impressed by the opposition of the Jewish bankers, the liberal Jews, and the Jewish newspapermen to the Zionist movement. In his reply to Herzl's address, the kaiser did say that he welcomed the efforts of the Zionist movement to restore Erez Israel and that he would give the matter further thought; in fact, the kaiser no longer evinced any serious interest in the Zionist movement, nor did his government pay any attention to it.

[[The motives of the objection to Herzl's Zionism like Arab anti-Semitism and the Church as the main reason of anti-Semitism are never mentioned]].

[Herzl's talks with the sultan: Herzl has not enough money to help the Turkish financial situation - Turkish proposal for Jewish settlement in Mesopotamia - no success of negotiations]

Herzl's direct political efforts in Constantinople were also fruitless. With the help of A. *Vambery, who had close links with the sultan's court, Herzl was received by the sultan on May 17, 1901. He made a strong impression on the sultan, and the latter suggested that he submit concrete proposals for the improvement of Turkey's financial situation. As before, Herzl was unable to obtain the required capital from the wealthy Jews, and no progress could be made in the negotiations with the Turkish government.

In February 1902 Herzl was again invited to Constantinople, this time as the sultan's guest, although he did not meet with the sultan himself. He was offered a permit for Jewish settlement in various parts of the Ottoman Empire, especially in Mesopotamia (now Iraq), in return for ameliorating the Empire's financial plight; Erez Israel, however, was specifically excluded from the proposal, and Herzl rejected it.

Another invitation from the Ottoman government came in July 1902; again, as on previous occasions, no progress was made. Finally Herzl decided to branch off in a new direction and embarked upon his political contacts with Great Britain.

[[As it seems the Turkish government wanted to settle the Jews in less dangerous regions and did not want to see the traffic lines broken between the Middle East and Africa along the Mediterranean coast line. But Herzl Zionism did not bother the danger that a new Israel should be installed right at a place where all big invasions went through from the Middle East and from the African side...]].

Negotiations with Great Britain.

[Fourth Zionist congress in London - Lord Rothschild for Jewish settlement in the Empire: Cyprus or Sinai Peninsula]

From the very beginning of his political activities, Herzl had been aware of Great Britain's importance in the realization of Zionist aims. This was one of the reasons for his plan to establish the Society of Jews in Britain and for the incorporation of the Jewish Colonial Trust and the Anglo-Palestine Company, as well as the *Jewish National Fund (founded by the Fifth Congress in 1901), as British companies.

In order to obtain the support of British statesmen and public opinion for Zionism, Herzl held the Fourth Congress in London. With the help of the journalist L.J. *Greenberg, Herzl established contacts with the British government. At the beginning of June 1902, he was invited to London to testify (col. 414)

before the Royal Commission for Alien Immigration (i.e., the immigration of Jews). On this occasion he met with Lord Rothschild, the head of the London branch of the family, who opposed the idea of Jewish settlement in Erez Israel but was interested in settling Jews in parts of the British Empire. In his testimony before the Royal Commission, Herzl stated that the problem of alien (Jewish) immigration into Britain would be solved if the British government were to offer a territory for the independent settlement of Jews.

Although the aim of the Zionist Movement, as defined in the Basle Program, was the establishment of a Naitonal Home in Erez Israel, under special circumstances, when the need arose to extend urgent help to the Jewish masses, the movement would consider itself obliged to try to alleviate the lot of persecuted Jews in some other manner - without abandoning its program and principles. On the day following his public testimony, in a talk with the chairman of the commission, Herzl revealed that in his reference to a territory for the settlement of Jews, he had in mind Cyprus and the Sinai Peninsula, which were areas under British protection and were close to Erez Israel.

Several years before Herzl's attention had been drawn to these areas by Davis *Trietsch. Now that his negotiations with the Turkish government had come to naught, Herzl considered it appropriate to approach to the British government with a proposal for a charter for Jewish settlement of these areas. He hoped it would thus be possible to make an early start on a settlement project - a demand that was being raised with growing urgency by various groups in the Zionist Organization in view of the lack of progress in the political sphere. He also hoped that the settlement of Jews in the vicinity of Erez Israel would bring about concessions on the part of the Ottoman government.

[The Sinai commission - negative negotiations with the British side]

On Oct. 22, 1902, Herzl met with Joseph Chamberlain, the British colonial secretary. The latter rejected the proposal for the settlement (col. 415)

of Cyprus, but expressed a favorable attitude toward the settlement in the Sinai Peninsula and recommended it to the foreign secretary, Lord Landsdowne. On Dec. 18, 1902, the British Foreign Office asked Herzl to send a commission to the Sinai Peninsula, adding a promise that if the commission were to submit a favorable report, the British government would support the proposal before the Egyptian government.

The commission was promptly dispatched, and in its report stated that settlement of Sinai and *El-Arish was feasible, provided the Egyptian government would agree to the diversion of substantial quantities of water from the Nile Valley to these areas. After protracted negotiations by Herzl, Greenberg, and A.E.W. *Goldsmid with the British high commissioner Lord Cromer, and the Egyptian government, the latter rejected the proposal; as a result, the British government also withdrew its support. (col. 416)

[[There is no indication of the reasons of the negative result]].

The Uganda Scheme.

[Uganda instead of Cyprus negotiations - Kishinev pogrom 1903 - speculations and tactics with Turkey]

In a talk between Greenberg and Chamberlain, on May 20, 1903, Greenberg, following Herzl's instructions, again raised the proposal of settlement in Cyprus. Chamberlain did not think that Cyprus was suitable for autonomous Jewish settlement and proposed instead an area in East Africa (Uganda, now part of Kenya). Chamberlain had already hinted at this plan in his conversation with Herzl on April 23, 1903, and Herzl had rejected it. In the meantime, however, the horrifying reports of the Kishinev pogrom (1903) had highlighted the sorry state of East European Jewry and the urgent need to provide relief.

Herzl now felt justified in continuing his negotiations with the British government, even on the basis of Chamberlain's East Africa proposal, for political, tactical, and practical reasons. He believed that the establishment of close ties between the Zionist Organization and the British government would result in the political recognition of the Jewish people by the British and would thus facilitate the full realization of Zionist aims.

Furthermore, the publication of the *Uganda Scheme might induce Turkey to make far-reaching concessions with regard to Erez Israel, in order not to forego the support of the Jewish capital, which would presumably be at its disposal if Turkey were to agree to autonomous Jewish settlement in Erez Israel.

Finally, from a practical point of view, Herzl (col. 417)

regarded the Uganda Scheme as a means of converting the hasty flight of the Jews from Russia into an organized migration to a country that would eventually serve as an auxiliary project to the main center in Erez Israel. His decision about Uganda did not prevent Herzl from continuing efforts aimed directly at securing Erez Israel for Jewish settlement.

[since 1903: negotiations with the Russians for influence on Constantinople]

On Aug. 5, 1903 Herzl left for Russia to attempt to alleviate the situation of the Jews in the Czarist Empire and to gain Russian support in Constantinople for the Zionist proposals over Erez Israel. He had two meetings with the Russian minister of the interior, V. Plehve, in the course of which he was promised that the Russian government would intervene with the sultan on behalf of the Zionist program. ON this trip Herzl was accorded a tumultuous welcome by Russian Jews, especially in Vilna.

While Herzl was still in Russia, on Aug. 14, 1903, Greenberg was handed a statement by the British government to the effect that if the Zionist Organization were to send a commission to East Africa, and if that commission were to locate an area suitable for Jewish settlement there, the British government would be prepared to permit the establishment of an autonomous Jewish colony in the area headed by a Jewish governor under British suzerainty.

[[The Blacks and native peoples of East Africa seem not to be asked]].

[1903: The Jewish delegates object to the Uganda plan and want Jerusalem]

With the approval of the Zionist Executive (the "Actions Committee"), Herzl submitted the Uganda Scheme to the Sixth Zionist Congress, held in Basle on Aug. 22-28, 1903. In his opening address Herzl made it quite clear that the Scheme would not affect the ultimate aim of Zionism, and that for the time being all that was required was a decision to investigate the proposal. Nevertheless, the proposal roused vehement opposition and caused great excitement at the congress, especially among the Russian delegates, who regarded it as a betrayal of Erez Israel.

When, in spite of their opposition, the congress approved the creation of a committee to advise the Zionist Executive on the dispatch of a survey commission to East Africa, the "nay-sayers" staged a walkout. In a frank talk with the dissidents, Herzl proved to them that he had at no time relented his efforts in behalf of Erez Israel, which was and would forever remain the goal of Zionism, and thus succeeded in preventing a split in the movement. At the final session of the congress, in which all the delegates took part, Herzl solemnly declared "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning."

[Talks about Palestine and Uganda at the same time - the Russian Jews persist on Palestine excluding the Uganda plan]

When the congress was over, Herzl lost no time in resuming his political efforts in behalf of Erez Israel. He exchanged letters with Plehve and the latter sent appropriate instructions to the Russian ambassador in Constantinople. Herzl also made new proposals to the Turkish (col. 418)

government and in January 1904 met with the pope, the king of Italy, and members of the Italian government. All these activities, however, brought no concrete results. He also persisted in the negotiations with the British government, making an unsuccessful attempt to revive discussion of the El-Arish plans. The unrelenting struggle waged against him by the opposition in the Zionist movement (led by M. *Ussishkin and Y. *Tschlenow) make it difficult for him, for tactical reasons, to renounce the Uganda Scheme officially, despite his personal desire to do so.

The reconciliation that had been achieved at the congress was of short duration. Ussishkin, who had been in Erez Israel at the time of the congress, called for a meeting of the Russian members of the Executive. The conference took place at *Kharkov in November 1903 and decided to send a delegation to Herzl to demand a written commitment that he was abandoning the Uganda Scheme completely and would not entertain any proposal for settlement outside of Erez Israel. Herzl refused to receive officially the delegation that was to serve him the ultimatum. After several months of fierce struggle in the Zionist press and in mass meetings, Herzl convened the Zionist General Council (the "Greater Actions Committee") in order to settle the controversy.

The meeting took place in Vienna on April 11-12, 1904, and in the course of its stormy proceedings Herzl was able to convince the council that he had remained faithful to Erez Israel and managed to appease the opposition. Thus he succeeded in safeguarding the unity of the Zionist Movement, and this was to be his final great contribution to the movement.

These fierce struggles, added to his incessant efforts in behalf of the Zionist cause, aggravated Herzl's heart condition, and as soon as the meeting was over he left for Franzensbad (now Frantiskovy Lazne), the Bohemian spa, for treatment. He did not recover  and returned to Vienna. Shortly afterward, he left for another spa, Edlach near Semmering, where he was afflicted by pneumonia and died on July 3, 1904.> (col. 419)

[[Also the Russian Jews seem to have neglected any Arab existence and Arab counter movement to a Jewish invasion in the Middle East. Enthusiasm made them blind, and the main cause for Russian anti-Semitism, the Russian orthodox Church, is not mentioned]].

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Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Theodor Herzl, vol.
                    8, col. 411-412
Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Theodor Herzl, vol. 8, col. 411-412
Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Theodor Herzl, vol.
                    8, col. 413-414
Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Theodor Herzl, vol. 8, col. 413-414
Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Theodor Herzl, vol.
                    8, col. 415-416
Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Theodor Herzl, vol. 8, col. 415-416
Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Theodor Herzl, vol.
                    8, col. 417-418
Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Theodor Herzl, vol. 8, col. 417-418
Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Theodor Herzl, vol.
                    8, col. 419-420
Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Theodor Herzl, vol. 8, col. 419-420

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