In Paris he was astounded and was left speechless by the unjust trial of a French Jewish military officer, Captain Alfred Dreyfus, falsely accused of providing secret military information to the Germans. Stripped of his rank and humiliated by the entire French nation, he was sentenced to life imprisonment on the far away Devils Island.
Sent by his newspaper to cover the trial, young Theodor Herzl could not believe what he had both seen and heard in a France, Europe’s most cultured and democratic nation.
Several years later, Dreyfus was found innocent and released from prison and restored to his honors. The real criminal, Count Esterhazy was arrested and imprisoned for life.
It so deeply touched Herzl’s heart that it did, in fact, change the entire remaining course of his life. He dedicated his life to the ancient Jewish dream of a land of their own, of a return to Zion and Jerusalem as he put it.
In 1897 he assembled two hundred Jewish delegates from all lands where Jews lived to a gathering in the great casino of Basel in Switzerland. He called it “the first Zionist Congress.”
Herzl spoke only German and his closing words at the end of the first Congress were in pure German. From that moment on he was described as “our German-speaking Prophet”. Here is what he told all the delegates on 31 August 1897.
“In Basel habe ich heute der Judenstaat gegrundet”… Today I have founded the Jewish State.
And he went on in his prophetic manner” “Wenn ich das heute laute sagte, wurde mir ein universellen Gelachter antworten— in funfzig Jahren wirden es jeder einsehen.”
When I say these words aloud today I will receive universal laughter… but in fifty years my words will be seen.
And the words of our Prophet Theodor Herzl spoken in 1897 came true in our re-birth in 1948… 51 years to the date of his prophecy.
Herzl’s dream and vision were succeeded by hundreds of the delegates at the Zionist Congress in Basel. In our lifetime we can recall his fulfillment by Chaim Weizmann, David Ben-Gurion, Vladimir Jabotinsky, and Menachem Begin, all of Herzl’s disciples..
Today,we can heckle the misguided words of Smotrich, Ben Gvir and Netanyahu… names which may never go down in the annals of modern Israeli history for their lack of heroism and purity of truth.
Their bitter and hateful and oppressive words will lead them permanently astray from the words of our German-speaking prophet. In modern Hebrew they will be heard saying “B’Yerushalayim v’Tziyon horasnu et chalomo shel aviv shel Tziyon, Theodor Herzl” … In Jerusalem and Zion we have destroyed the dream of Theodor Herzl, father of Zion.
And there is none among us to say “Amen.”
At least, not until the first of November. And who know? One day it may be a Tibi against a Bibi. History has fooled us before.
But in one major fact it will never fool us. There may be Palestinians who will continue to live near us but one thing for sure… There will Never be a Palestinian sovereign state.
And that, my dear readers, is prophecy!!!
Heute habe ich Herzl gehort. (Herzl told me so).
And it was written by me in the Children’s Register of the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael for my winning of Second Prize in an essay contest on Palestine on May 21, 1947. The prize hangs proudly on my wall today seventy-five years after it was first received from Jerusalem.
What I wrote for the essay contest when I was 14 years old remains the truth at 90. A Jewish State— YES. A Palestinian State–NO. Israeli Jewish prophecy !