Sunday, March 8, 2009

Theodor (Binyamin Ze’ev) Herzl, founder of political Zionism

Theodor (Binyamin Ze’ev) Herzl (1860-1904), founded the Zionist political movement. He was born in Budapest in 1860, and educated in the spirit of the German ¬ Jewish Enlightenment, as a secular Jew, though his grandfather had been a friend of Rabbi Yehudah Alkalai, a proto-Zionist of an earlier era. In 1878 the Herzls moved to Vienna, where Theodor Herzl studied law in the university of Vienna, graduating in 1884. However, rather than studying law, Herzl became a writer, a playwright and a journalist, acting as Paris correspondent for influential liberal Vienna newspaper Neue Freie Presse.
Herzl probably first experienced anti-Semitism while studying at the University of Vienna (1882). He thought of the Jewish problem as a social issue and wrote a play, The Ghetto (1894), in which assimilation and conversion are rejected as solutions. He hoped that The Ghetto would lead to debate and ultimately to a solution, based on mutual tolerance and respect between Christians and Jews. (By (Picture www,

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