Kharkov Conference - A protest conference of
held in Kharkov in November of 1903, following the Sixth Zionist Congress, at
which Theodor Herzl
had proposed Uganda as a "night asylum" for the Jews, based on an offer by
British officials. The congress had authorized sending a delegation to Uganda
(actually Kenya) to investigate the British offer.
The Kharkov conference was organized by
Ussishkin. Ussishkin had been in Palestine during the Zionist Congress, buying
land and helping to organize the Palestine Zionist federation. That group held
its first meeting in Zichron Yaakov on August 23, 1903 and passed a resolution
condemning the Uganda plan. Russian Zionists understood that only return to
"Eretz Yisrael" - the land of Israel - could unite the Jewish people and form
the basis of a Zionist movement.
When he returned to Russia, Ussishkin organized the
Kharkov conference. Ussishkin published a sharp open letter in the Zionist press
against the Congress' decision and the "diplomacy and exaggerated
politicization" of the Zionist Movement, stressing that the Congress had no
right to adopt a resolution that constituted the abandonment of Zion.
Herzl published Ussishkin's letter in his official Zionist publication, Die Welt, of
October 30, 1903, of a breach of discipline and severely criticized his
activities in Palestine/Israel. He asked rhetorically, if Ussishkin knew of a
better and shorter way to bring about the open public settlement of Palestine by
the Jewish people. If he knows such a way, then it is wrong for a such a good
Zionist not to reveal it, Herzl noted sarcastically. But if he knows no such
way, then it is better that he should keep silent and not destroy with empty
rhetoric the unity of the Zionist movement, which is worth more than a couple of
bits of land in Palestine.
Ussishkin then convened a meeting in Kharkov of the 15
Russian members of the Zionist General Council and their deputies. The
conference decided to oppose the Uganda scheme as a contradiction of the Basle
Program of the first Zionist congress, which was to obtain Palestine as a Jewish
national home recognized in international law. They presented Herzl with
Not to propose in the future any territorial
programs other than the settlement of Syria and Palestine/ Eretz Israel; to
withdraw and abrogate the Uganda plan entirely by no later than the Seventh
Congress, and to convene a special session of the General Council to discuss
the matter prior to the dispatch of the commission to Uganda; and to embark
immediately on practical settlement work in Eretz Israel.
If Herzl rejected the ultimatum, another consultation would be convened to
devise measures of opposition to the Zionist leadership, including withholding
contributions to the Zionist Executive in Vienna, a publicity campaign, the
dispatch of opposition propagandists to all Zionist centers in Europe and
America, a convention of the opposition prior to the Seventh Zionist Congress,
establishing an independent Zionist organization, appealing to world public
opinion and before a British court against the rights of the "East African
majority" (supporters of the Uganda Scheme) to the finances of the Zionist
Organization - theJewish
(ICA) and the Jewish National Fund .
Z. Belkowsky, V. Tiomkin, and S. Rosenbaum were chosen as a delegation to
present the ultimatum to Herzl. It was also decided that the transfer of funds to the Zionist
treasury in Vienna should be suspended until the conclusion of negotiations with
Herzl and that the money should be kept temporarily in Russia.
The delegation arrived in Vienna on Dec. 31, 1903. Herzl was gravely
offended by the aggressive tone of the Kharkov resolutions. He refused to receive
the delegation officially. He agreed, however, to meet with each of its members privately
and invited them to attend the meeting of the Executive as guests after they had
declared for the record that they did not come as emissaries and that they did
not intend to deliver any ultimatum. The Uganda program collapsed when the offer
was withdrawn by the British, and Herzl and the Russian Zionists were reconciled
on April 11, 1904. On that date, in a meeting of the "Greater Action Committee"
of the Zionist organization, Herzl essentially redeclared his support for
Palestine as the Jewish national home, but not with very good grace and invoked
the justification of democratic unity:
undertaken to bring you a word of peace. I know what distress and anxiety
reigns among the masses of our fine, good, faithful Zionists throughout the
whole world, and particularly in Russia; I know with what concern they
follow these negotiations, how profoundly they fear that these beginnings of
a national organization, brought about with so much labor for the benefit of
the national cause, may suffer injury. As far I am concerned, I am without
obstinacy; I pass the sponge across whatever has been said against me
personally, and will say not another word about it. But I am aroused when it
is a question of safeguarding our organization, completing our work,
guarding our unity and fulfilling the obligations to which we pledged
ourselves in accepting our mandates to the Congress.
My personal point of view was and is that we have not the right simply to
reject such a proposal, fling it back without even asking the people whether
they want it or not. I do not want to use the much debated word "Night
Refuge" in describing the English offer, but say rather: "Here is a piece of
bread." I, who perhaps have cake to eat, and in any case can always have a
piece of bread, have not the right to reject the piece of bread which is
being offered to the poor because I don't need or want it. Perhaps I
personally can be moved to great enthusiasm by the fact that there are some
people who, in the midst of their need and hunger, are strong enough in
their idealism to say: "No, we don't want the bread." But I am obligated at
least to transmit the offer to the people. That is my conviction.
For, gentlemen, here in Vienna I tore myself loose one day from that which
had been my life till then, from my friends and acquaintances, and devoted
myself to that which I considered right. I do not feel the need of a
majority. What I do need is that I shall be at one with my convictions. Then
I am content, though not even a dog will take a piece of bread from my hand.
We want the continuous growth of Zionism, we want Zionism as the
representative of the people. Why do we want this? Because we believe that
we cannot achieve our goal without great forces, and these great forces are
not to be found in a federation of little societies. Such a federation you
had twenty years ago, and you are always telling me that you were already
Zionists twenty and twenty-five years ago. You are always throwing that up
to me. But what do you prove thereby? What could you achieve as long as you
did not have political Zionism? You lived in little groups and collected
money. Undoubtedly your intentions were magnificent, your idealism
unchallengeable. Nevertheless you could not achieve anything because you did
not know the path to the objective. This path is the organization of the
people, and its organ is the Congress. That is why you must submit to the
Congress, even though you may be utterly dissatisfied with its decisions.
It was as a Jewish statesman that I presented myself to you. I gave you my
card, and there the words were printed: "Herzl, Jewish statesman". And in
the course of time I learned a great deal. First and foremost, I learned to
know Jews, and that was sometimes even a pleasure. But above all, I learned
to understand that we shall find the solution of our problem only in
Palestine. ... If today I say to you: "I became a Zionist and have remained
one, and all my efforts are directed toward Palestine", you have every
reason in the world to believe me.
Gentlemen, I have certain things to forgive you, for in certain matters
pertaining to me you are to blame. But let me pass over that. I ask nothing
more than that you do your duty as organized Zionists, without doing
violence to your convictions. Fight as much you like, think of every device
which may obtain for you a majority at the Congress, but do not do it with
the help of the instruments of the movement; do it in your personal
capacities. If you should create a majority of votes, a party, against me, I
would certainly be grateful, but only on condition that you really do get a
majority. I counsel you: submit to the Congress decisions, as the rest of us
have to do. Until now I have not conducted a fight against you. If you
should leave this session of the Actions Committee and agitate against the
Congress, than I shall carry out an agitation against you, and I promise you
that you will be defeated. Please believe me that this effort at
reconciliation, the trouble I have taken, the words I have uttered not
altogether consonant with my dignity, do not indicate that I am in any way
afraid of the struggle. We have a tremendous majority on our side. But what
I want is that you shall be able to come home and say to your people: We
have received reassuring declarations, we know that the Executive in Vienna
is working, and we know what the leader wants. Do not fix your eyes on an
uncompleted house, just begun; wait till it is ready, and put your
confidence in those men whom you have trusted till now and who have done
nothing to lose your confidence!
Sept 22, 2009
Synonyms and alternate spellings:
Hebrew/Arabic pronunciation and transliteration conventions:
'H - ('het) a guttural sound
made deep in the throat. To Western ears it may sound like the "ch" in loch. In Arabic there are several letters that
have similar sounds. Examples: 'hanukah, 'hamas, 'haredi. Formerly, this sound was often represented by ch,
especially in German transliterations of Hebrew. Thus, 'hanukah is often rendered as Chanuka for example.
ch - (chaf) a sound like "ch"
in loch or the Russian Kh as in Khruschev or German Ach, made by putting the tongue against
the roof of the mouth. In Hebrew, a chaf can never occur at the beginning of a word. At the beginning of a word, it has a dot in it and is pronounced "Kaf."
u - usually between oo as in spoon
and u as in put.
a- sounded like a in arm
ah- used to represent an a sound made by
the letter hey at the end of a word. It is the same sound as a. Haganah and Hagana are alternative
'a-notation used for Hebrew and Arabic
ayin, a guttural ah sound.
o - close to the French o as in homme.
th - (taf without a dot) - Th was
formerly used to transliterate the Hebrew taf sound for taf without a dot. However in modern Hebrew there
is no detectable difference in standard pronunciation of taf with or without a dot, and therefore Histadruth and
Histadrut, Rehovoth and Rehovot are all acceptable.
q- (quf) - In transliteration of
Hebrew and Arabic, it is best to consistently use the letter q for the quf, to avoid confusion with similar sounding
words that might be spelled with a kaf, which should be transliterated as K. Thus, Hatiqva is preferable to Hatikva for