Theodor Binyamin Ze'ev Herzl, son of Jeanette and Jacob Herzl, was born on 2 May 1860, in Budapest. The family moved to Vienna in 1878, where Herzl studied law at the university. He worked as a journalist for the Neue Freie Presse newspaper and wrote a number of plays. On 14 February 1896 a small unbound book with a yellow wrapper called "Der Judenstaat" ("The State of the Jews") was displayed in the window of a publisher's shop in central Vienna. The book examined a proposed modern solution to the Jewish question. In the first, general section, Herzl discussed the essence of the question of the Jews from an economic, social and national-political viewpoint, analyzed various proposed solutions and offered a basic broad description of his plan. In the second, practical section, Herzl described detailed ways to implement his plan. Herzl assembled the First Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland in 1897. The idea of the return to Zion stemmed from the narrow ghetto and became a global movement – a national-political movement that became linked to political entities of that time. The movement began organizing the people and created tools with which to achieve its objective. During his years of activity, Herzl assembled the Zionist Congresses, founded the World Zionist Organization and its institutions and organizations, and began establishing the Jewish settlement in Eretz Israel.
In 1898 Herzl visited Eretz Israel. Subsequent to that visit, he formulated his political, social and cultural plan and incorporated his ideas into his novel "Altneuland" (The Old New Land), published in 1902. The book opened with the sentence, "If you will it, it is no dream" and concluded with the sentence, "Dream is no different than action, as many think. All men's actions were once dreams; all their actions will one day be a dream."
"We have no flag. We need a flag... I imagine a white flag with seven gold stars. The white cloth represents a new, pure life; the stars are the seven golden hours of our work day, as the Jews' move to the new land is marked by work". ("The State of the Jews")
Realizing the Vision
"Large ships docked in the bay between Acre and the slopes of the Carmel Mountains... thousands of bright white villas peeking out of green flourishing gardens. The sprawling area between Acre and the Carmel looks like a colorful garden and the mountain itself is adorned with buildings that glitter in the sunlight". ("The Old New Land")
The Zionist movement and the State of Israel worked for years to realize the Zionist vision of establishing a Jewish state that absorbs immigrants, is technologically progressive in many realms of life and is integrated into the family of nations.
Prof. Ariel Feldstein
Chairman, Public Council for the
Commemoration of Binyamin Ze'ev Herzl