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Altneuland- Theodor Herzl's Zionist Utopia

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"Esteemed audience! I am to submit to you a report on the new Jewish migration. It was all very simple. Too much fuss has been made about it. I had nothing to do with the political preliminaries. Fortunately. I am not a politician. Never was one. Never shall be. I had my job, and did it.

"Our association was organized under the name of 'The New Society for the Colonization of Palestine.' It entered into a colonization treaty with the Turkish Government, the terms of which are known to all the world. When the charter 2 was about to be signed, I was asked whether we should be able to meet the large annual payments to the Turkish treasury which it called for. I replied with a decided affirmative. We had to pay the Turkish Government two million pounds sterling S in cash when the charter was signed. In addition, we were to make payments of fifty thousand pounds a year for thirty years, plus one fourth of the net annual profits of the New Society for the Colonization of Palestine, to the Turkish Treasury. And, as you know, we shall divide the net profits of the New Society with the Turkish Government at the expiration of the thirty-year period, unless they prefer a permanent annual tribute based on the average of our last ten annual payments. They are obligated to indicate their choice during the twenty-seventh year of the agreement. We may assume that they will prefer to take one-half of the net annual profits of the New Society, since this will bring them a much larger sum. In return for these payments, we received autonomous rights to the regions which we were to colonize, with the ultimate sovereignty reserved to the Sultan.

"Very large sums were, of course, required. It seemed doubtful at first whether the New Society could prosper to such an extent that it would be able to meet these commitments. The land was beggarly, our settlers were drawn from the proletariat of every country. There were, however, at that time several large foundations devoted to national Jewish purposes. In 1900 their combined assets amounted to twelve millions sterling. But, in addition to the money we were to pay to the Turkish Government, we had to find large sums for the purchase of land, for colonizing destitute people, for reclaiming and improving the neglected soil.

"How were all these needs to be met? In our small inner committee there were timid souls who foretold the collapse of the whole undertaking. My friends and I overcame their objections. We proved to them that we could reckon not only with existing values, but with those which-judging by all historic experience-must be created as a result of our work. The enterprise we were building up for the future would be strengthened by the future itself. In ten years the boys we brought here would have become men. And, having men, we should have everything. We would bring men, and train them as needed for their own good and for the good of the community. The logic was the simplest in the world. It was being done in the smallest countries, by the most insignificant peoples. The Jews alone had unlearned the ABC of nationhood.

"There was still another and more important factor which, strangely enough, the Jews did not reckon with, though they utilized it every day in other connections. I refer to their love of enterprise. I shall simply cite the example of the gold rush to the inhospitable Klondike at the end of the nineteenth century. Hordes of fortune hunters stampeded to Alaska. I am speaking now not of the gold-seekers, but of their camp followers. All sorts of things suddenly appeared in the Klondike-beds, tables, chairs, shirts, shoes, coats, tinned foods, wines; all sorts of people-doctors, teachers, singers. In a word, all sorts of things, necessary and unnecessary-found their way to the Klondike because a few people had found money there in its most concentrated form. Only some of those who followed them were gold-diggers. They did not go after the wealth hidden in the ground, but after that already in circulation in the form of money."

The Professor broke into the story with an irrepressible "Understand?" But his brother hissed at him so violently that he relapsed into a shamed silence.

Joe Levy continued. "I quote you this glaring example to prove that every undertaking conceived in a spirit of enterprise soon gives rise to other productive undertakings. Every practical person knows that almost instinctively. He does hot have to be told it by professors of political economy in obscure phrases. The Jews had, as a matter of fact, long been among the most ingenious entrepreneurs. It was only our own future that we had never built upon a business basis. Why? Because guarantees had been lacking. But once those guarantees were created, we could be no less enterprising in Palestine than elsewhere.

"I did not, therefore, worry about the required capital. If the land were prepared and the migration set going, we could get any reasonable amount of money. That is why I replied in the affirmative when I was asked whether we should be able to meet very large obligations to the Turkish Government without fear of running short of capital for investment. I did not feel that we were undertaking an experiment. We were merely utilizing world-old facts and experiences.

"The charter was signed. We made our first payment. Since the direction of the work was entrusted to me from then on, I asked that the signing of the charter be not made public for the moment. I wanted no rush of immigrants, since that would have led to serious disorders. The poorest and the greediest elements would have streamed in. The aged and the sick would have dragged themselves hither, and we should at once have been in the thrall of famine and epidemics. There is an old French play entitled 'The Fear of Joy.' I too feared the effects of joy upon our unfortunate Jews. I had to prepare them carefully. And I had to prepare my working group as well.

"When our New Society was founded, I was named general manager for five years, and allowed a preliminary credit of one million pounds by the board of directors. One of my engineers thought it too little. ..."

"Damned little!" shouted Kingscourt, with a violent gesture. "Stop the rattle trap, please!" David obediently halted the phonograph. "If you really want to explain all this to me, there's just one thing you'll tell an old sea dog. Otherwise, I'll never be able to understand what your Joe and his telephonograph are driving at....What's this New Society? Is it the one they talked about so much in Neudorf? And what sort of a board of directors was it? And where did they get the money, though it wasn't much?"

"I can see why you ask all these questions," nodded David. "Joe Levy did not think of telling about things that every child here understands. The former New Society and the present one are the same organization, and yet different. Originally, it was a stock corporation, and now it is a co-operative. The co-operative is the legal heir of the stock corporation."

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