Saturday, March 1, 2008

Zion and Its Elders

Zion and Its Elders: Pictured above is Theodor Herzl, the man who is often considered the primary founder of modern Political Zionism. He was a Austro-Hungarian Jewish journalist living in the latter half of the nineteenth century. At the time, Europe saw the rapid growth of anti-Semitism in numerous countries like Germany, Austro-Hungary, and Russia. Even France could not eradicate its virulent anti-Semitic forces, as it plunged into a decade-long dilemma known as the Dreyfus Affair. It was this incident in France that caught the attention of Herzl. As a result, he decided to dedicate his time and effort to the creation and promotion of a back to Palestine movement (Zionism) for the Jewish peoples around the world. Such a concept was not new, it had existed ever since the days of the Jewish diaspora. However, the most novel feature of this movement was the fact that it contained vast socio-political implications for the European Jewry. As the rise of nationalism swept over Europe throughout the nineteenth century, the Jews were consistently set apart from any sort of grandiose nationalistic vision, which tended to be vaguely "Christian" in nature. And since they were frequently seen as a nation within a nation, European Jews needed a refuge where they could be free from the persistent persecution that they faced in the form of pogroms. Unfortunately for Herzl and other Zionist leaders, securing a place for the Jewish people in an area that was dominated by Muslims of the Ottoman Empire would prove quite difficult.

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