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The Jewish State
Theodor Herzl's Program for Zionism

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The action of the gestor . of the State is sufficiently warranted if the common cause is in danger, and the dominus . is prevented, either by want of will or by some other reason, from helping itself.

But the gestor becomes similar to the dominus by his intervention, and is bound by the agreement quasi ex contractu. This is the legal relationship existing before, or, more correctly, created simultaneously with the State.

The gestor .. thus becomes answerable far every form of negligence, even for the failure of business undertakings, and the neglect of such affairs as are intimately connected with them, etc. I shall not further enlarge on the negotiorum gestio, but rather leave it to the State, else it would take us too far from the main subject. One remark only: "Business management, if it is approved by the owner, is just as effectual as if it had originally been carried on by his authority."

And how does all this affect our case?

The Jewish people are at present prevented by the Diaspora from conducting their political affairs themselves. Besides, they are in a condition of more or less severe dis- tress in many parts of the world. They need, above all things a gestor . This gestor . cannot, of course, be a single individual. Such a one would either make himself ridiculous, or -- seeing that he would appear to be working for his own interests -- contemptible.

The gestor . of the Jews must therefore be a body corporate.

And that is the Society of Jews.


This organ of the national movement, the nature and functions of which we are at last dealing with, will, in fact, be created before everything else. Its formation is perfectly simple. It will take shape among those energetic Jews to whom I imparted my scheme in London [Dr. Herzl addressed a meeting of the Maccabean Club, at which Israel Zangwill presided, on November 24th, 1895].

The Society will have scientific and political tasks, for the founding of a Jewish State, as I conceive it, presupposes the application of scientific methods. We cannot journey out of Egypt today in the primitive fashion of ancient times. We shall previously obtain an accurate account of our number and strength. The undertaking of that great and ancient gestar of the Jews in primitive days bears much the same relation to ours that some wonderful melody bears to a modern opera. We are playing the same melody with many more violins, flutes, harps, violoncellos, and bass viols; with electric light, decorations, choirs, beautiful costumes, and with the first singers of their day.

This pamphlet is intended to open a general discussion on the Jewish Question. Friends and foes will take part in it; but it will no longer, I hope, take the form of violent abuse or of sentimental vindication, but of a debate, practical, large, earnest, and political.

The Society of Jews will gather all available declarations of statesmen, parliaments, Jewish communities, societies, whether expressed in speeches or writings, in meetings, newspapers or books.

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Translated from the German by Sylvie D'Avigdor
This edition published in 1946 by the American Zionist Emergency Council

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