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Review of "The Jewish State" by

Review originally written 27 August 2007 and posted here 23 August 2010 slightly expanded

First published in 1896, this book gave rise to modern Zionism. Given the impact of the Middle East situation on the planet, this book should be read by everyone to better understand the world we live in today.

For me, two things stand out from the book.

Firstly, the "internalisation" of antisemitism (see "Causes of Anti-Semitism" on page 23) whereby Herzl himself accepts (in my view quite wrongly) that European antisemitism is inevitable due to certain characteristics of the Jews.

Secondly, although leaving the question open of whether to emigrate to Argentina or Palestine to create the Jewish state, in either case Herzl just ignores the fact that both countries were inhabited, with people who might not want incomers creating a new state for themselves in their midst.

The issue was not the freedom of Jews to move to Palestine and live there. Jews had lived there for centuries since the early Muslims conquered Jerusalem and allowed Jews to return after they had been expelled a few centuries earlier by the Romans. By the mid-nineteenth century Jews were the largest religious group in Jerusalem. The issue was the reaction of the inhabitants to incomers setting out to create a state for themselves whose ideology excluded the native inhabitants of Palestine.

If the Jewish state had been sought to be established in Argentina, similar issues would have arisen unless one found a piece of Argentina that was completely uninhabited.


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