You are now entering the Jewish Currents archive.

December 18: Jewish Anti-Zionism, 1902

December 18, 2014

MNY117442In a speech on this date in 1902, in Temple Emanu-El, New York’s showcase Reform synagogue on Fifth Avenue, Jacob de Haas of the Federation of American Zionists declared there to be 10,500,000 Jews in the world, of whom only 4,184,930 could be counted as “politically emancipated, leaving 7,057,725 enthralled,” according to the New York Times article, headlined “Lively Zionist Meeting.” “ ‘Anti-Zionism is as old as Abraham,’ de Haas continued, ‘but it has developed a new phase... there is no river to cross westwards.’ ” De Haas met with angry opposition within an overflow crowd that included many “prominent Jews of the city,” said the Times. “The first man who rose from his seat was dressed like a laborer, with a blue flannel shirt and unbrushed hair. ‘I would like to ask Mr. de Haas if he is convinced that there is not a Dead Sea in California and that Moses was not an Indian! That’s all!’ ” Next came “a tall foreigner with a red beard” who accused Zionism of “injur[ing] the Jews everywhere.” He was hissed down. But how, said a third questioner, “can we buy Palestine when Palestine is Turkey and Turkey is owned by the whole world because she owes money to every nation? ... I’d like to know how Zionism can amount to anything.” For the complete New York Times account of the event, click here.

“We have no idea of trying to send to Palestine those who do not want to go there, but only those who desire to go from the bottom of their hearts.” —Dr. Gustav Gottheil (rabbi emeritus of Emanu-El)