• Issue: July 2004
  • Designer: Ad Vanoojen
  • Stamp Size: 30.8 mm x 30.8 mm
  • Plate no.: 562 (2 phosphor bars)
  • Sheet of 9 stamps Tabs: 3
  • Printers: E. Lewin-Epstein Ltd.
  • Method of printing: offset

Herzl was one of the greatest leaders of the Jewish People: the one leader who knew how to initiate and energize a sense of Jewish-political-sovereignty; the leader who succeeded in transforming Zionism into a substantial political factor, and thus marched the Jewish People forward - towards the obtaining of its State.

Herzl was born on May 2nd 1860 in Pest (Budapest -Hungary), on Dohany street, nearby the great liberal synagogue. He attended the local Jewish elementary school, and was drawn from early boyhood to writing stories and poems. At school he even formed and led a literary association called "Wir"(We). In 1878, following the death of his only sister, his family moved to Vienna, the Capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

In 1884, after he finished his law doctorate, he decided to dedicate his time to literary, dramaturgic and journalistic writing. In 1889 he married Julie Naschauer, and the couple bore three children: Pauline, Hans and Trude.
During the years 1891-1895, he served in Paris as the foreign correspondent of the prestigious Viennese newspaper - Neue Freie Presse (New Free Press - NFP).

There, after a prolonged process of pondering at the Jewish-Question, his Zionist-political concept gradually consolidated, and reached its climax in the wake of the Dreyfus Affaire as well as the expansion of anti-Semitism in Vienna. The Jewish-Question, which until then he considered as a religious or social question, became now, in his eyes, a pressing national problem.

In July 1895, Herzl returned to Vienna and took the important position of literary-editor at the NFP, which he held up to his death.

In February 1896, he published his pamphlet - The Jewish State. In it he outlined his Zionist-political program, according to which the solution to the Jewish People's distress throughout the world was - the establishment of The Jewish State, anchored in international pacts.

On 29th of August 1897 he assembled in Basel the first World Zionist Congress - the National Assembly of the Jewish People. At the Congress, the governing bodies of the Zionist Movement were founded in a pattern resembling the structure of a democratic state. Also, the Movement's official platform - The Basel Program - was formulated and adopted. It stated: "Zionism seeks to establish a home for the Jewish People in Palestine [Eretz-Israel], secured under public law."Herzl, the now clected leader of the Zionist Movement, invested endless efforts to implement his plan. He set-up the World Zionist Organization, with all its functional and financial institutions: The Bank - Jewish Colonial Trust and its subsidiary - Anglo Palestine Company (APC), in Jaffa; The Keren Kayemeth Leisrael (KKL or JNF - Jewish National Fund) and the Movement's organ - "Die Welt" (The World).

Herzl negotiated with various rulers, governments and ministers, attempting to obtain consent of the Great Powers to the creation of a Jewish-political entity in Eretz-Israel. This initially was the cause of his arrival in Eretz-Israel, in October 1898, his one and only visit to the Land, where he met with the German Kaiser. Although this meeting turned into a failure, the actual encounter with the land and its inhabitants left a profound impression on him, which he fully expressed afterwards in his novel Altneuland (Old-New-Land, 1902). In this book he portrayed the democratic and pluralistic features of the Future-Society in Eretz-Israel, when the Zionist enterprise is fully realized. As a motto for the book he inscribed: "If you will, it is no fairy tale."

His diplomatic activity also included an appointment with the Turkish Sultan (1901), in the hope that the Ottoman Empire, than the ruler of Eretz-Israel, would grant him a Jewish autonomy there, against full reimbursement of its enormous foreign debt. Likewise he negotiated with the heads of Great Britain and Russia, as well as with the King of Italy and with the Pope. He also considered various interim plans, such as the El-Arish (1902) and the Uganda (1903) Projects.

Herzl died in Edlach, Austria, on July 3rd 1904, at the age of 44. After his death, the Zionist Movement continued to grow and develop on the solid foundations that his leadership provided as long as he lived.

Fifty years after the First Zionist Congress - about which Herzl wrote in his diary: "In Basel I founded the Jewish State! If I were to say this out loud today, everybody would laugh at me. In 5 years, but certainly in 50, everybody will agree!" - The Jewish State was realized in the State of Israel.

In August 1949, Herzl's remains were brought from Vienna to Israel, in accordance with his will, and reburied in Jerusalem, at the top of Mount Herzl.

Zionism, for Herzl, was a network of challenges above and beyond the initial goal of obtaining a State for the Jews. He aspired to create through it - a model-society, which would develop a new and supreme moral and spiritual ethos as a constant and "endless ideal".

Haya Harel

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100 Years Since the Death of Theodor (Benyamin Ze'ev) Herzl