Altneuland- Theodor Herzl's Zionist Utopia
"Be silent, Mendel! At once!" thundered Friedman from the platform. "Mr. Steineck, please continue."
"Hm, yes. I continue. The leaders, says Mendel. I believe, hm-he means to be sarcastic. But it is true. Hm! Where was your Geyer, who now incites you, in those days? I shall tell you! He was an anti-Zionist rabbi! I knew him myself. He opposed us violently then also. But he gave other reasons. Oh, quite other reasons. But in one way he has remained the same. Hm. I shall tell you what he was, what he is, what he will remain. He is a rabbi of the immediate advantage. When we early Zionists began to seek out our land and our people, this Dr. Geyer abused us. Yes, he called us fools and swindlers."
A young farmer of about twenty-five came forward and spoke up respectfully. "Pardon me, Mr. Steineck. That is not possible. It was always known that we Jews are a people, and that Palestine is the land of our ancestors. Dr. Geyer could hardly have asserted the exact contrary in those days."
"But that is just what he did do," frothed Steineck. "He denied our people and our land. He read Zion out of the prayer book, and dared to tell the sheep who listened to him that it meant something else. Zion was everywhere but in Zion!"
"No, no!" cried several in the audience. "Geyer did not say that! Impossible!"
Rabbi Shmuel had arisen, supporting himself on his cane. He raised a hand for silence.
"It is true," said he. "There were such rabbis. Geyer may have been one of them. That I do not know. I have to take Steineck's word for it. But indeed there were such rabbis, there were such...." He sat down trembling.
Steineck, whose words had begun to overflow once he had got under steam, proceeded. "These rabbis who sought the immediate advantage made our lives a burden to us. Geyer is doing the same thing now. In those early, difficult days, he did not so much as want to hear the name of Palestine mentioned. Now he is more Palestinian than any of us. Now he is the patriot, the nationalist Jew. And we-we are the friends of the alien. If we listened to him, he would make us out to be bad Jews or even strangers in his Palestine. Yes, that's it. He wants to turn the public against us, to sow suspicion between you and I. This pious man rolls his eyes to heaven and all the time seeks his immediate advantage." In the old Ghetto days, when the rich men had all the influence, he talked to suit their notions. The nationalist-Palestinian idea made the rich men uncomfortable, and so he interpreted Judaism to suit them. He used to say then that the Jews ought not to return to their homeland, because it would upset the captains of industry and the great bankers. He and his ilk invented the myth of the Jewish mission. The function of the Jewish people was asserted to be to instruct the other peoples. Therefore, they alleged, we must live in the dispersion. Had not the other nations already hated and despised us, they would have ridiculed us for such arrogance. And Zion was not Zion! The fact was, of course, that we not only did not teach the other nations, but that they taught us-day by day and year by year-bloody, painful lessons. Finally, we roused ourselves and sought we way out of Egypt. And we found it. Then, to be sure, Dr. Geyer also came here, and brought with him all his old arrogance and hypocrisy.
"Nowadays, thank God, the Jews conduct their public affairs differently. It is not the rich alone who make the decisions, but the whole community. Communal leadership is no longer a reward for success in business. Leaders are chosen not for their wealth, but for their talent and their ability to command respect in the eyes of the public. Therefore, the instincts of the masses must be flattered. A theory for the immediate advantage of the masses must be found, or at least for what the masses imagine to be to their immediate advantage. Therefore, an anti-alien slogan is proclaimed. A non-Jew must not be accepted by the New Society. The fewer get a place near the platter, the larger the portion of each. Perhaps you believe that that is to your immediate advantage. But it is not. If you adopt that stupid, narrow-minded policy, the land will go to wrack and ruin. We stand and fall by the principle that whoever has given two years' service to the New Society as prescribed by our rules, and has conducted himself properly, are eligible to membership no matter what his race or creed.
"I say to you, therefore, that you must hold fast to the things that have made us great: to liberality, tolerance, love of mankind. Only then is Zion truly Zion! You will elect your delegate to the Congress. Choose one who thinks not of the immediate advantage, but of the lasting good. But if you choose a Geyer man, you will not deserve to have the sun of our Holy Land shine upon you. So! I have spoken."
The applause was slight. The speaker had scored several times with his audience, but his conclusion was obviously unfortunate. Only one person present was particularly pleased with the last words, and he said as much to the architect when the latter sat down beside him in a bath of perspiration. The pleased individual was Mr. Kingscourt, but he had no vote in Neudorf.
Altneuland - Book Three Part Two- The Prosperous Land
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