Altneuland- Theodor Herzl's Zionist Utopia
Dr. Walter assumed an air of importance, and launched on a description of the effects of the Jewish mass migration upon the Jews who had remained in Europe. He was bound to say for himself, it had always been clear to him that Zionism was bound to be as salutary for the Jews who remained in Europe as for those who emigrated. He had been among the first to recognize the significance of the movement. Though he had not then been able to give free rein to his ideas and impulses, he had done his modest bit for the national idea. As proof of this statement, he mentioned the fact that he had not dismissed a poor student then working in his law office, even though he knew the young man attended Zionist meetings. He had given his mite, also, to the National Fund, when it amounted t6 several million pounds sterling (that is to say, when its large capital was security for its success).
Blau sought a flippant revenge for his humiliation. "Mite? Pardon me, sir, if I ask, is that a new coin? Mite...mite...."
Dr. Walter refused to be upset by this fling. He merely shrugged contemptuously, looked past his interlocutor, and went on. Everyone today knows that Palestine is a happy domicile for all who have come here. And the condition of those who remained behind was improved. Ever since Jewish competition had either decreased or disappeared altogether, they were safe from attack. In the countries with too large a number of Jews-the Judaized countries, as the phrase went on those days-there was a remarkable amelioration socially.
The laboring classes and the poor had indeed been the first to migrate, but the effects of their going were soon felt by the middle and upper classes of Jews. The first to leave for the Old-New-Land were those who had nothing to lose and everything to gain. Since emigration was entirely voluntary, only those went who were certain of improving their condition. The unemployed and the despairing rushed to a land which opened up such broad vistas of work and of hope. That was a natural phenomenon. All the world knew that numerous successful enterprises in Palestine provided immigrants with the opportunity to earn their bread from the first, and later to achieve a certain degree of prosperity.
To all this, continued Dr. Walter, add the lure of freedom. No discrimination because of race or creed. That in itself was alluring enough.
Then, all the great Jewish philanthropic associations pooled their resources. They had been burdened with the co-religionists forced to wander from one country to another under the pressure of persecution and poverty. When the destitute Jews of some East European Country could endure their lot no longer and set out on their pathetic journeys, their brethren in the remoter communities had to extend a helping hand. They gave and gave to the wandering beggars, but it was never enough. Vast sums were spent without opportunity to investigate the merits of individual cases. There was, therefore, no way to make certain that only the deserving would receive aid. The result was that misery was not alleviated even temporarily, while pauperism was fostered.
The Zionist idea provided a base on which all humanitarian Jewish effort could unite. Jewish communities everywhere colonized their own poor in Palestine, and thus relieved themselves of these dependents. This method was cheaper than the former planless sending of wanderers to some foreign land or other; and there was the certainty that only willing workers and the deserving poor were receiving assistance. Anyone who wished to do honest work was certain of an opportunity in Palestine. If a man declared that he could not find work even there, he thereby stamped himself as a ne'er-do-well deserving of no sympathy.
In the early days there had been people who could not believe 'that colonization by the proletariat could be successful. But he, Dr. Walter, and others who, like himself, took a broad view of things, had always realized that this was an ignorant, stupid attitude. Had not new settlements always been founded by hungry people? The well-fed had no incentive to leave the confines of civilization.. They remained at home. The world therefore belonged to the hungry. The Puritans, persecuted for their religious beliefs, had colonized North America. South Africa and India had been settled by fortune-hunters. And where could a colony be found that had been established by worse elements than Australia, that great, proud, prosperous land? At the beginning of the nineteenth century, it was a despised penal colony. Yet only a few decades later, it had grown into a great, sound commonwealth; and, before the century was out, it was a jewel in the British crown.
As he had said, he and other educated men had ridiculed the objection that proletarians could not found a colony. Surely, if convicts had been able to do so much in Australia, how much more could be achieved by Jewish pioneers, whose labors for the freedom and honor of the nation would be upheld by the whole House of Israel? In all modesty, Dr. Walter wished to point out that the event had justified his prevision.
The vast works of colonization had required a large staff of trained engineers, jurists and administrators. Large opportunities were suddenly opened to educated young men who in the anti-Semitic times had had no sphere for the exercise of their skill. Jewish university graduates, men trained in the technological institutes and commercial. colleges, used to flounder helplessly; but now there was ample room for them in the public and private undertakings so numerous in Palestine. The result was that Christian professional men no longer looked askance at their Jewish colleagues, for they were no longer annoying competitors. In such circumstances, commercial envy and hatred had gradually disappeared. Furthermore, the less Jewish abilities were offered in the marketplace, the more their value was appreciated. The value of services always increased with their scarcity. Everyone knew that. Why should not this rule have applied to Jews in commercial life?
And so the effects of the improved situation had made themselves felt on all sides. In countries where there was a tendency to restrict Jewish immigration, public opinion took a turn for the better. Jews were granted full citizenship rights not only on paper, but in everyday life. Compulsory measures could never have moved Jews to .Joyful participation in art, science, trade, commerce and every other sphere. But they had been won with kindness. Only after those Jews who were forced out of Europe had been settled in their own land, the well-meant measures of emancipation became effective everywhere.
Jews who wished to assimilate with other peoples now felt free to do so openly, without cowardice or deception. There were also some who wished to adopt the majority religion, and these could now do so without being suspected of snobbery or careerism, for it was no longer to one's advantage to abandon Judaism. Those Jews who felt akin to their fellow-citizens in everything but religion enjoyed undiminished esteem as adherents of a minority faith. Toleration can and must always rest on reciprocity. Only when the Jews, forming the majority in Palestine, showed themselves tolerant, were they shown more toleration in all other countries.
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