June, 1895, Theodor Herzl wrote in his diary: “In Paris, as I have said, I achieved a freer attitude toward anti-Semitism… Above all, I recognized the emptiness and futility of trying to combat anti-Semitism.”
By Dr. Ashraf Ezzat / Staff Writer
How do we explain Hitler’s hatred towards the Jews? One reason why that was so, is the important but seldom stressed fact that there was nothing at all odd or unusual about a dislike of Jews almost anywhere in the world of the 1930s or even of long centuries before that time.
Throughout the history of Europe, there has always been a deeply rooted dislike and intolerance toward Jews.
Antipathy toward Jews and Judaism during ancient times go back to the Roman period. The intolerance escalated during the middle Ages with blood libels, expulsions, forced conversions and various pogroms.
History of anti-Semitism
Jews intolerance reached its peak with the eleventh century crusades which witnessed horrible massacres of the Jews only to be followed by expulsions waves including, in 1290, the banishing of all English Jews; in 1396, the expulsion of 100,000 Jews in France; and in 1421, the expulsion of thousands from Austria where Many of the expelled Jews fled to Poland. In 1478 the Spanish Inquisition took place, the expulsion from Spain in 1492 and the expulsion from Portugal in 1497…it seems like medieval Europe was throwing the Jews out of the continent.
The Black Death epidemic which swept throughout Europe in the 17th century and annihilated almost half of its population was blamed on the Jews.
The 19th century saturated with anti-Jewish sentiments culminated in the famous Dreyfus Affair, an event of the late 19th century and early 20th century which in a way foreshadowed the then impending atrocious Holocaust.
… Hitler was to a considerable degree simply voicing the conventional wisdom of his times and he was far from alone in doing so. The plain fact is that it was not just the Nazis who brought about the Holocaust. To its shame, the whole of the western world did.
We only began to hear of anti-Semitism in modern times but the hatred and contempt for the Jews goes back in time to the Crucifixion of Jesus .
Herzl and anti- Semitism
… The word “Anti-Semitism” – though historically and etymologically inaccurate terminology – still, it undoubtedly managed to describe how most of the peoples – especially in the Christian Europe – felt towards Jews throughout history.
You can call it anti- Semitism, intolerance of Jews or the longest hatred ever in history but we have to admit that there is something inherently irreconcilable- to the gentile way of life- in the genuine attributes of the Jews and their culture that peoples throughout different places and times disliked.
Even Theodor Herzl – the creator of political Zionism and the author of the book Der Judenstaat (the Jewish state ) felt the same way toward Jews and Judaism. He often –according to his diary- showed contempt and dislike of his fellow Jews who abided by the Torah and Jewish traditions.
… Yes, Herzl was an anti-Semite in disguise.
He tried his best, not to oppose and fight anti-Semitism- which he finally came to the conclusion that it was inescapable, but to break loose of his Jewishness.
A recent and compelling – must watch– Israeli documentary released by the Israeli television “ Zionism and Herzl: The Anti-Semitic Side of Zionism” showed that, at first, Herzl thought that assimilation into the enlightened European society and culture would make an equal German citizen-despite his Jewish ethnicity- out of him but that failed to work as expected.
Later on he tried to get rid of his Jewishness by inviting the Jews living in Vienna to convert en masse to Christianity which he considered a more purified religion and far superior to Judaism.
Herzl’s anti-Semitic ideas were well articulated in an article he wrote in the “deutsche Zeitung”… in which he depicted Jews as villains and was quoted saying;
“The wealthy Jews control the world, in their hands lies the fate of governments and nations. They set governments one against the other. When the wealthy jews play, the nations and the rulers dance. One way or the other, they get rich”
..That article showed that Herzl – who couldn’t get rid of his stigmatic jewishness- was profoundly aware of the negative attributes of the Jewish character that could very well be the reason behind the enduring anti-Semitism.
Herzl was indeed a visionary, not for advocating the establishment of a Jewish state but for he seemed one of the few who thought that if Anti-Semitism proved so hard to overcome or abolish, one might as well make use of it.
Herzl,s ingenious idea was so simple and yet so dangerous. He came up with an idea that would Utilize anti-Semitism as a tool capable of changing the future of the Jews in Europe and which could alter the conspicuous and resistant anti-Semitism.
Herzl wrote in his diary;” an excellent idea enters my mind. To attract outright anti- Semites and to make them the destroyers of Jewish wealth”
Herzl believed that if a great power in Europe could be provoked against the Jews to a level that would critically jeopardize and even destroy a majority of Jews and their properties, then the tables could be turned, only then anti- Semitism would turn into a hideous crime the world has to pay for and repent, for the rest of time, an idea that later came to be realized by Hitler and the Nazis.
Herzl was never appalled by the hardships and persecutions of Jews – pogroms and massacres- for he believed it was a way of building the Jewish character through the suffering and degradation of the masses and he was certain the Jews would adapt.
Herzl proved to be a genius and a visionary when it came to how to deal with the European anti –Semitism. Herzl was always surrounded by anti-Semitism and by his fellow common Jews who wouldn’t assimilate into the enlightenment of modern Europe. He extremely disliked both. He finally concluded that he cannot get rid of one and keep the other as is. …Herzl was about to commit the original sin of defying the God of the Jews and leading the contemporary exodus from Europe.
The new Jewish state
Even in his prophecy and argument for establishing a state for the Jews- in Der Judenstaat (1896)- Herzl was not trying to return to the promised land of the Jews, rather he was merely dreaming of a new land, any land- not necessarily Palestine, he would have settled for a place in Uganda or Russia for that matter – that could well be the home for a new society of emancipated seculars like himself.
Herzl was not calling for the return to the historical land of the Jews because history didn’t mean that much to him, only the future of people like him seeking to live enlightened life as the one he experienced in Europe interested him. He was trying to create a new land out of an ancient one, a new Jewish state out of an older Arabic one, a modern and secular state out of a land filled with dead legends and false promises.
But little did Herzl know when he called it the Jewish state that there was no way to keep religion out of it, no way to keep extremism out of it and no way to keep worn- out dogma and outdated traditions out of the new land.
The Zionists made Herzl’s dream come true. A new Jewish state has been found but it was not the utopia Herzl dreamed of. The Zionists left Europe with its long and painful history of persecution and massacres of the Jews only to start an era of their own massacres and persecution of the Arabs.
Herzl thought he had almost everything figured out regarding his idea of a new Jewish state, but he missed one essential point- which he never questioned- that the Arabs would never welcome the Jews- as new settlers- amongst them.
With Herzl’s new Jewish state as Israel, the Jews thought they had said good bye to anti-Semitism but that proved to be another Jewish myth.
Anti-Semitism follows Jews wherever they go, it may be almost over in Europe but it is starting anew in the Middle East.
For more articles by Dr. Ashraf Ezzat visit his website at: http://ashraf62.wordpress.com/
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Zionism and Herzl: The Anti-Semitic Side of Zionism video