Esor Ben-Sorek

A Matter of Opinion

Every person has an opinion about something or someone. In a previous article I wrote about the tragedies in the life of Theodor Herzl, Father of Zionism. The few pages were met by an overflow of opinions. That pleased me immensely because it shows that people do actually read what I write.

Dictionaries and lexicons have similar definitions of an opinion. In one, it states that “an opinion may refer to unsubstantiated information in contrast to knowledge and fact. It is a view formed about something , not knowledge necessarily based on fact”.

In another comment about opinions entitled “Know the Difference Between Facts and Opinions”, the writer states that “a fact is a statement that can be proven true or false. An opinion is an expression of a person’s feelings that cannot be proven. Opinions can be based on facts or emotions and sometimes they are meant to deliberately mislead others. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the author’s purpose”.

Following the publication of the article, an irate individual accused me of besmirching the good name of Theodor Herzl.

A few days later, another person sent me a very polite e-mail asking for further information and clarification which I sent to him in detail. On the next day he replied and thanked me warmly for providing him with the sources of my comments.

Additionally, I contacted a former classmate from 1951 in Jerusalem. We had been students in a course given by Professor Alexander Dushkin on “The Early Beginnings of the Zionist Movement”. My classmate, now retired from the Ministry of Finance, replied the next day recalling the words which we heard from Professor Dushkin when he described the very unhappy marriage of Theodor and Julie Herzl and their separation of thirteen years, she in Vienna, Austria and he in Paris, France.

It was noted some years prior to his death that Herzl had confided in his closest friend, the Protestant chaplain of the British Embassy, that his doctor had diagnosed him with syphilis. Later, the chaplain noted it in his diary which “mysteriously” disappeared, with the help of the Zionist organization. I provided a copy of that letter from my former 1951 classmate to the gentleman who sought clarification to substantiate my remarks….. except for one.

I had written that Herzl’s death at age 44 was due to syphilis. That was an error on my part for which I apologize. The actual medical report of his death stated the cause as cardiac sclerosis. Syphilis may or may not have been a contributing factor of his heart problems, ultimately leading to an early death.

I am a historian of Jewish life, civilization and personna. A historian conveys backgrounds and results.

There is no doubt in my mind that future American history textbooks will not, in describing the life of President Bill Clinton, omit the facts….not opinions…. about his sexual misbehavior while in the White House. Nor will Israeli students be kept in the dark concerning our Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu.

A historian must search for truth. To tell history as it was and is, revisionism cannot be permitted. We are subject today to the vast amount of revisionist “history” when it comes to discussing the Israeli-Palestinian background leading up to the 1948 independence of Israel.

The numbers of Arab refugees have been grossly exaggerated and the history of pre-State and modern State acts of Arab terrorism have been minimized in Arab textbooks, declaring them patriotic acts against an occupying power which prevents the formation of a sovereign Palestinian State.

In conclusion it pleases me to note that while 5 e-mails objected to my comment on Herzl’s death, the number of positive comments exceeded 50.

Trying to print out the comments, my computer ran out of paper.

That is not an opinion.  It is a fact.

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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