How much has been left unexplained, how many defects, how many harmful superficialities, and how many useless repetitions there are in this pamphlet, which I have thought over so long and so often revised!
But a fair-minded reader, who has sufficient understanding to grasp the spirit of my words, will not be repelled by these defects. He will rather be inspired by them to cooperate with his intelligence and energy in a work which is not one man's task alone, and to improve it.
Haven't I explained obvious things and overlooked important objections?
I have tried to meet certain objections; but I know that many more will be made, based on high grounds and low.
To the first class of objections belongs the remark that the Jews are not the only people in the world who are in a condition of distress. Here I would reply that we may as well begin by removing a little of this misery, even if it should at first be no more than our own.
It might further be said that we ought not to create new distinctions between people; we ought not to raise fresh barriers, we should rather make the old disappear. But men who think in this way are amiable visionaries; and the idea of a native land will still flourish when the dust of their bones will have vanished tracelessly in the winds. Universal brotherhood is not even a beautiful dream. Antagonism is essential to man's greatest efforts. But the Jews, once settled in their own state, would probably have no more enemies. As for those who remain behind, since prosperity enfeebles and causes them to diminish, they would soon disappear altogether. I think the Jews will always have sufficient enemies, such as every nation has. But once fixed in their own land, it will no longer be possible for them to scatter all over the world. The Diaspora cannot be reborn, unless the civilization of the whole earth should collapse; and such a consummation could be feared by none but foolish men. Our present civilization possesses weapons powerful enough for its self-defense.
Innumerable objections will be based on low grounds, for there are more low men than noble in this world. I have tried to remove some of these narrow-minded notions; and whoever is willing to fall in behind our white flag with its seven stars, must assist in this campaign of enlightenment. Perhaps we shall have to fight first of all against many an evil-disposed, narrow-hearted, short-sighted member of our own race.
Again, people will say that I am furnishing the anti-Semites with weapons. Why so? Because I admit the truth? Because I do not maintain that there are none but excellent men amongst us?
Won't people say that I am showing our enemies how to injure us? This I absolutely dispute. My proposal could only be carried out with the free consent of a majority of Jews. Action may be taken against individuals or even against groups of the most powerful Jews, but governments will never take action against all Jews. The equal rights of the Jew before the law cannot be withdrawn where they have once been conceded; for the first attempt at withdrawal would immediately drive all Jews, rich and poor alike, into the ranks of revolutionary parties. The beginning of any official acts of injustice against the Jews invariably brings about economic crises. Therefore, no weapons can be effectively used against us, because these injure the hands that wield them. Meantime hatred grows apace. The rich do not feel it much, but our poor do. Let us ask our poor, who have been more severely proletarized since the last removal of anti-Semitism than ever before.
Some of our prosperous men may say that the pressure is not yet severe enough to justify emigration, and that every forcible expulsion shows how unwilling our people are to depart. True, because they do not know where to go; because they only pass from one trouble into another. But we are showing them the way to the Promised Land; and the splendid force of enthusiasm must fight against the terrible force of habit.
Persecutions are no longer so malignant as they were in the Middle Ages? True, but our sensitivity has increased, so that we feel no diminution in our sufferings; prolonged persecution has over-sensitized our nerves.
Will people say, again, that our enterprise is hopeless, because even if we obtained the land with supremacy over it, the poor only would go with us? It is precisely the poorest whom we need at first. Only the desperate make good conquerors.
Will some one say: Were it feasible it would have been done long ago?
It has never yet been possible; now it is possible. A hundred or even fifty years ago it would have been nothing more than a dream. Today it may become a reality. Our rich, who have a pleasurable acquaintance with all our technical achievements, know full well how much money can do. And thus it will be: just the poor and simple, who do not know what power man already exercises over the forces of nature; just these will have the firmest faith in the new message. For these have never lost their hope of the Promised Land.
Here it is, fellow Jews! Neither fable nor deception! Every man may test its reality for himself, for every man will carry over with him a portion of the Promised Land -- one in his head, another in his arms, another in his acquired possessions.
Now, all this may appear to be an interminably long affair. Even in the most favorable circumstances, many years might elapse before the commencement of the foundation of the State. In the meantime, Jews in a thousand different places would suffer insults, mortifications, abuse, blows, depredation, and death. No; if we only begin to carry out the plans, anti-Semitism would stop at once and for ever. For it is the conclusion of peace.
The news of the formation of our Jewish Company will be carried in a single day to the remotest ends of the earth by the lightning speed of our telegraph wires.
And immediate relief will ensue. The intellects which we produce so superabundantly in our middle classes will find an outlet in our first organizations, as our first technicians, officers, professors, officials, lawyers, and doctors; and thus the movement will continue in swift but smooth progression.
Prayers will be offered up for the success of our work in synagogues and in churches also; for it will bring relief from an old burden, which all have suffered.
But we must first bring enlightenment to men's minds. The idea must make its way into the most distant, miserable holes where our people dwell. They will awaken from gloomy brooding, for into their lives will come a new significance. Every man need think only of himself, and the movement will assume vast proportions.
And what glory awaits those who fight unselfishly for the cause!
Therefore I believe that a wondrous generation of Jews will grow from the earth. The Maccabeans will rise again.
Let me repeat my opening words again: The Jews who wish, will have their state.
We shall live at last as free men on our own soil, and die peacefully in our own homeland.
The world will be freed by our liberty, enriched by our wealth, magnified by our greatness.
And whatever we attempt to accomplish there for our own welfare will have a powerful and beneficial effect for all people.
Back to - Jewish State Chapter 5
Updated translation copyright 2008. This updated and corrected translation has been prepared for MidEastWeb: Middle East and Zionism-Israel.com. It may not be copied on the Web without permission. It may be printed freely for non-profit use only. Other uses require permission.
Originally translated from the German by Sylvie D'Avigdor
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