|Part Three||Franz Kobler
"The Vision Was There"
and the Creation
of the State of Israel
|Contents by Subject||
Contents in Alphabetical Order
"The plan I would propose is, first, the establishment of the Jewish nation in Palestine, as a protected state, under the guardianship of Great Britain, secondly their final establishment, as an independent state, whensoever the parent institutions shall have acquired, sufficient force and vigour to allow of this tutelage being withdrawn..."
Mitford was also the first Restoration writer to raise the problem of the indigenous population and of their attitude towards Jewish immigrants; his solution strikes one as amazingly topical:
"The country, compared with its extent, is at present thinly populated, yet the pressure caused by the introduction of so large a body of strangers upon the actual inhabitants might be attended with injurious results. Before, however, attempting to make a settlement it would be desirable that the country should be prepared for their reception. This might be done by inducing the Turkish Government to make the Mohammedan inhabitants fall back upon the extensive and partially cultivated countries of Asia Minor, where they might be put in possession of tracts and allocations, equally advantageous, and far superior in value to those they abandoned."
George Gawler, in Tranquillisation of Syria and the East: Observations and Practical Suggestions, in furtherance of the Establishment of Jewish Colonies in Palestine, the most sober and sensible remedy for the Miseries of Asiatic, Turkey, proposed the establishment not of a State but "of a colony or colonies, large enough to be respectable and influential; but not so large as to be unmanageable". Colonisation was to be gradual, in agreement with the Turkish Government, yet under British protection. Funds for the purpose were to be raised from the Christian nations as compensation for the grievous wrong done to the Jews in the past and in gratitude for the spiritual values received from them. The compromise embodied in Gawler's plan, quite unlike Mitford's radicalism, ensured its favourable reception by Jews and Gentiles alike.
In 1853, Gawler published his Syria and its near prospects,in which the religious motives emerged far more strongly than in his first book. Gawler asserted that Great Britain is "manifestly destined to perform in these modern times a work similar to that, which her maritime mother Tyre accomplished in the days of David and Solomon". These hopes and the expectations of a progressive colonisation within the framework of the Ottoman Empire were shared by another contemporary non-Jewish Restorationist, the Italian philosopher and politician, Benito Musolino, whose Le Gerusalemme e it Popolo Ebreo was published in 1851. Musolino, who had visited Palestine several times, regarded a Jewish settlement in the Holy Land as a means of transplanting European culture to the Near East and of strengthening Turkey militarily and politically. Musolino appealed to Lord Palmerston by that time again Foreign Secretary to speed the Restoration of the Jews.
A new accession of strength came to the traditional ideas from the land of Calvin whose teachings had so strongly contributed to the birth of the Restoration doctrine. In 1844, Geneva and Jerusalem by the Swiss theologian Samuel Louis Gaussen was published in English. Gaussen attached to the Restoration of the Jews the utmost importance for the whole civilised world.
In 1849 two memorable publications, by A. G. H. Hollingworth and John Thomas, were added to the Restoration literature. Hollingworth's book, dedicated to the Duke of Manchester "as a Friend of the Restoration of Israel", was entitled The Holy Land Restored: or an Examination of the Prophetic Evidence for the Restitution of Palestine to the Jews. The name in itself is a sufficient indication of a reorientation. Hollingworth divested the term "restoration" of its usual meaning. It now signified simply the regaining and restoration of the land by the Jewish people. Convinced that Restoration was drawing near, Hollingworth set himself the task of rousing Jews and English Christians, demanding at the same time that emissaries of the Restoration Movement, not missionaries, should be sent among the Jews. Unlike Churchill, Hollingworth declared that the initiative for the movement should not come from the Jews themselves, but that "such a movement could be communicated by the Gentile Christian to his Hebrew brother". Hollingworth opposed conversionist activities as useless, and asked instead for "fraternal affection", for a desire to see [the Jew] in Equality", to "raise him to the level of other nations"...and to give him "the Liberty of reclaiming his own ancestral ruins, cities and mountains". Earnestly hoping that it might be vouchsafed to England to fulfil this mission, he emphasised that a new Ezra was as essential as a new Cyrus.
Three years after The Holy Land Restored, Hollingworth published a second book on the same subject, Remarks upon the Present Condition and Future Prospects of the Jews in Palestine, and the duty of England to that Nation, in which he proposed that the Sultan be induced to declare Jerusalem "a free city for the Jews" and "to create a Jewish government, under treaty, with our protection of Palestine".
Hollingworth's attempt to call to life a world-wide movement for the renaissance of the Jewish people in which Jews and Gentile would work hand in hand was no more successful than that of Colonel Churchill. But the prediction in his first book proved to be true: "What is done in our time is a beginning of a progressive development."
John Thomas's book, Elpis Israel (Hope of Israel): An Exposition of the Scriptures in general, with special reference to the hope of Israel as the Divine basis of the hope of mankind in the age to come, published at the same time as Hollingworth's first book, became one of the most widely read works of Restoration literature and incidentally also marked the inception of the religious community known as the Christadelphians. According to Thomas, the "preadventual" colonisation of Palestine would be on purely political principles, with the Jews emigrating thither as agriculturists and traders. Events during the world crisis which he foresaw as the outcome of the 1848 revolution would force the British Empire to collaborate in the Restoration.
The year 1849 saw also the publication of A Letter to the Right Honourable Lord Ashley on the Necessity of Immediate Measures for the Jewish Colonisation of Palestine. Its author was W. Cunningham, who produced a number of works on the interpretation of prophecy about Restoration, identifying himself with Hollingworth's ideas. He urged "the immediate formation of a Society to aid and promote the agricultural settlement of believing Israelites in Palestine" and invited Lord Shaftesbury to be its president.
It is not known what reply Shaftesbury returned to Cunningham's invitation. His name, at any rate, does not appear in the list of the "Association for promoting Jewish Settlements in Palestine " which was in fact founded at the end of 1852, as a result of the tenacious efforts of Abraham Benisch, the youthful Prague pioneer of the Jewish national movement (see p. 145). The Association had a mixed Christian-Jewish Committee. Benisch himself, Solomon Sequerra (Hon. Secretary) and Monta Leverson (Treasurer) were the first members. The Christian representatives were Sir Hugh William Black, founder of the Palestine Archaeological Association, and John Mills, a Methodist minister. In an Address to the Public of December 20, 1852, the Committee appealed for the establishment of a large settlement in the area between Safed and Tiberias.
Thus, the two Restoration movements, the British and the Jewish, had joined up on British soil thanks, to a great extent, to the gradual abandonment of conversionist designs which had impeded contact before. But the outbreak of the Crimean War two years after the Association's establishment forced it to suspend its activities, which were never to be resumed.
Nevertheless, Jewish colonisation of Palestine had actually started at the halfway mark of the century. A fusion of the two movements marked this memorable beginning. The link between them was most appropriately and almost symbolically a proselyte, Warder Cresson, American Consul in Jerusalem, who embraced Judaism in 1849 and from then on called himself Michael Boaz Israel. In 1852 he founded an agricultural Jewish colony in the valley of Raphaim as the beginning of "a new Palestine, where the Jewish nation may live by industry, congregate and prosper". In 1854 Cresson addressed a circular letter to the Jews of Germany, England and America, advocating the establishment of a society for the encouragement of agriculture in Palestine. His beliefs are set out in a series of writing of Messianic character.
At about the same time as Warder Cresson settled in Palestine, James Finn, son-in-law of Alexander McCaul, came to Jerusalem to succeed W. T. Young as British Consul. The seventeen years that he remained in office form an outstanding chapter in the history of renascent Palestine. Finn and his wife Eliza were model Evangelicals and warm friends of the Jewish people. They leased a piece of land and engaged Jews to build cisterns, clear the ground, and lay out plantations. The colonists who, under Finn's aegis, began to cultivate the neglected soil, included -a strange counterpart to Warder Cresson- the Hebrew Christian, John Meshullam, former servant and travelling companion of Byron, and the Rev. A. A. Isaacs.
James Finn's work forged a link between the English Restoration Movement and Palestine. To further it, a "Society for the Promotion of Jewish Agricultural Labour in the Holy Land", consisting almost exclusively of Christians, was established. Among its founders was Alexander McCaul. In this manner the friends of Restoration added practical colonisation work to their literary and political activities.
II. THE MOVEMENT DURING THE CRIMEAN WAR
Interest in the fate of Palestine and the Restoration of the Jews was again stimulated by the Crimean War (1854-1856), the third armed conflict of modern times to affect the Holy Land directly. After war was declared by Britain on March 28, 1854, Lord Shaftesbury recorded in his diary (May 17):
Wrote this day to Sir Moses Montefiore to learn, if I could, the sentiments of his nation respecting a plan I have already opened to Clarendon [the Foreign Secretary] and Clarendon to Lord Stratford [British Ambassador in Constantinople], that the Sultan should be moved to issue a firman granting to the Jewish people power to hold land in Syria, or any part of the Turkish dominions. . . .
At that historic moment, Shaftesbury, in fact, was acting as the self-appointed representative and champion of the Jewish people. The firman which the Sultan issued shortly afterwards, implicitly sanctioning the immigration of Jews, may well have been, at least partly, the fruit of Shaftesbury's intercession.
The outbreak of the war gave a strong impetus to a discussion of the Restoration question. Israel in the World, or the Mission of the Hebrew to the great military Monarchies, published in 1854 by William Henry Johnstone, Chaplain of Addiscombe, presented the Russian Empire as pretender to the role of the "Fourth Monarchy". Basing himself upon this interpretation, Johnstone foresaw "that the rise of this Power should be accompanied by some foreboding what it would inflict upon Israel, when once it would rule the land which used formerly to confer arbitration of human destinies.... The Hebrew nation, recognising their mission and vocation, should resist and check this military monarchy and thus advance towards the completion of their own destiny -the establishment of the righteous kingdom. . ." If the Hebrew people, Johnstone went on to argue, were to utilise their financial power for good, namely for the downfall of despotism, they would make a definite contribution to permanent peace and earn the gratitude of the Western world. This would also bring about a solution of the Eastern Question. "It is not an extravagant supposition," he concluded, "that Palestine may be [then] placed within the grasp of its ancient owners".
The most extravagant hopes cherished by the Restorationists reappeared in the anonymous pamphlet The Final Exodus; or the Restoration to Palestine of the lost Tribes, the result of the present crisis; with a description of the battle of Armageddon, and the downfall of Russia, as deduced wholly from prophecy (1854). The author predicted, not a temporary but a definitive migration of Israel after victory over Russia and called England to implement this return.
In yet another anonymous appeal, The Crisis, and Way of Escape, An Appeal for the Oldest of the Oppressed (1856), the idea of justice, ever immanent in the Restoration Movement, found powerful expression:
To do justice at once to a people approved of God as His inheritance . . . a simple course is open to us -to the nations. Let us prevail upon the Porte to allow the Jews facilities to return to their own land; to appoint Palestine as a place of refuge for them, from the anarchy and confusion from which they suffer but in which they have no share...
If Christians really believe in a Just and Holy God, and that the Bible is His Word; if Mohammedans feel that God is great, who hath appointed them the keepers of His holy place again this time, while their elder brother has been in exile ...if, we say, integrity in belief or duty has any place at all with the parties concerned, this matter of a refuge for the Jews has only to be mentioned to be accomplished…
Britons, let us at least be true to the position which the integrity and foresight of our fathers have, in the providence of God earned for us and do an act of tardy justice to a people to whom mankind owe all their higher justice privileges and better civilisation.
In this truly human document, the last trace of conversionism has been removed from the Restoration doctrine. In fact, the very opposite view is here propounded, the nations being urged to live up to the ideals of Justice and Righteousness which they had received from the Hebrew Bible.
Conduct and outcome of the war both deceived the exalted hopes of the Restorationists. The fall of Sebastopol was followed by peace talks. Palmerston, now Prime Minister, with Lord Russell as his Foreign Secretary, took no advantage of the opportunity to change the existing order in Palestine. Only Article 9 of the Paris Treaty of March 30, 1858, indirectly affected Palestine's future when the Crimean War ended. The enjoyment by Jews of equal rights with the Christian population of the Ottoman Empire was solemnly granted and their right to settlement tacitly guaranteed in principle.
This clause fell very short of being a replica of the Decree of Cyrus, with which Abraham Benisch, writing in the Jewish Chronicle on March 21, 1856, had compared the Firman of Sultan Abdul Medziz. On the other hand the Crimean War may be said to have given birth to the philanthropic colonisation of Palestine. Even the intercession for which Sir Moses Montefiore appealed to Clarendon was concerned mainly with aid to the suffering population of Palestine. By such well-meaning acts Jewish philanthropists alleviated the lot of Palestine Jewry. But they let go by default the chances offered by the political situation. One more great opportunity had been wasted.
The Crimean War was followed by a sudden revival of the Restoration Movement in France, where it had virtually disappeared since Bonaparte's Oriental expedition some sixty years earlier. Napoleon III may well have thought of following the example of his great predecessor and it was certainly more than a coincidence that his private secretary, Ernest Laharanne, in his La Nouvelle Question d'Orient, Empire d'Egypte et d'Arabie. Reconstruction de la Nationalite Juive (1860) should have mooted ideas which were strongly reminiscent of the Letter to the Brethren of 1798 and of Bonaparte's Proclamation to the Jewish Nation. At the same time, the theologian Abram Francois Petavel, of Neufchatel, advocated the Restoration of the Jews in his Israel, Peuple d'Avenir (Paris, 1861). The Jewish exponent of this French Restorationist trend was the eminent Franco-Jewish scholar Joseph Salvador who in his Paris, Rome, Jerusalem pleaded for the resuscitation of Palestine as the spiritual centre of a regenerated civilisation. Prompted by humanitarian motives, Henri Dunant, founder of the Red Cross, established a "Societe Nationale Universelle pour le Renouvellement de l'Orient" which in 1866 issued an appeal containing also the suggestion that the rising Jewish colonies in Palestine might, like Switzerland, be diplomatically neutralised.
The new wave of French Restorationism did not, however, long survive the Second Empire.
In the meantime, the restorationists in England displayed considerable activity. In 1860, a pamphlet by Rosa Rame, The Restoration of the Jews, was dedicated to Lord Shaftesbury. A letter from the Rev. Jacob H. Brooke Mountain, reprinted in the pamphlet, expressed regret that England had missed the opportunity of restoring the Jews to their country. "If it is ever vouchsafed to us again", the writer added, "I fervently pray that we may embrace it with zeal and alacrity".
Similar views were expressed by Dr. Thomas Clarke in his India and Palestine: or, the Restoration of the Jews, viewed in relation to the Nearest Route to India (1861). "Syria would be safe", he declared, "only in the hands of a brave, independent and spirited people, deeply imbued with the sentiment of nationality. . . . Such people we have in the Jews. . . . Restore them their nationality and their country once more, and there is no power on earth that could ever take it from them".
New religious trends, too, bore witness to the unbroken vitality of the traditional Restoration idea. The Society of Christadelphians, founded by John Thomas (see p. 79), had in the early sixties grown into a considerable community with its headquarters in Birmingham and represented a new fighting fellowship of Restorationists.
A simultaneous phenomenon was the rise of British-Israelism. Its origins go back to the beginnings of Puritanism and, at a later stage, to Richard Brothers (see p. 43), but as a sect British-Israel did not come into being until the middle of the nineteenth century. The year 1845 saw the publication of the first systematic work of this eccentric school, John Wilson's Our Israelitish Origin. The followers of the new creed claimed that the ancestors of the Saxon races appeared in the seventh, or eighth century B.C.E.: at the very place in Asia to which the inhabitants of the Israelitish Kingdom had been removed early in the eighth century. For Israel thus rediscovered in the English people the originators of the theory laid claim to the blessings of Abraham and asserted that it would also perform the Restoration of the descendants of Judah and Levi. "The Jews most assuredly will return to Judaea, but not until we ourselves restore them", said Edward Hine, one of the exponents of British-Israelism.
On this evidence, British-Israelism may be regarded as a branch of the Restoration Movement, though apart from its eccentricity it held an inherent contradiction to the fundamental Messianic principle of the Restoration idea and this provoked violent opposition especially from Restorationists themselves.
But the main event of that period, as far as the traditional doctrine of Restoration was concerned, was the appearance in 1861 of a remarkable book which was the first and still remains the only systematic theological exposition of the Restoration Doctrine. The Restoration of the Jews, The History, Principles and Bearings of the Question, by David Brown, Professor and Principal of the Free Church College, Aberdeen, opened with a survey of the doctrine's development down to the author's own day. Much of the theological section proper expounded arguments against the allegorical interpretation of the Scriptures and sought to prove that a correct reading of the Bible justifies the expectation of a terrestrial Restoration. Drawing a sharp line between the theological Restoration doctrine and colonizing tendencies Brown argued that "the mere bodily repossession of Palestine by the Jewish nation" would not be identical with the Restoration predicted in the Scriptures, which could be, he maintained, only "the Divine sequel and public seal of Reconciliation to the new contrite and converted nation".
In spite of his outspoken conversionist views, David Brown's book helped to strengthen the belief in the Restoration of the Jews, and to override the doubts of rationalist interpreters. This happened, strangely enough, at a time when a danger far more serious than any represented by rationalist interpretation of prophecy loomed up before opponents and defenders of the traditional Restoration doctrine alike. For almost simultaneously with Brown's work, there appeared in 1859 Charles Darwin's epoch-making work The Origin of Species which, followed by Thomas Huxley's Man's Place in Nature(1863) and Darwin's The Descent of Man (1871), dealt a more grievous blow to unquestioning acceptance of the Bible than eighteenth century rationalism or Bible criticism. Under the pressure of the idea of Evolution the structure on which the millennial hope was erected threatened to crumble. A controversy between Faith and Science broke out and raged from the 'sixties to the 'eighties on a scale and intensity equalled only by the religious struggle during the Reformation. But the Bible withstood the tremendous onslaught upon it and remained the most widely read book in England. There arose a new organisation which used modern means to defend the threatened principles of revealed religion. The "Palestine Exploration Fund", founded in 1865, gathered round it students inspired by the desire to search the soil of the Holy Land for irrefutable evidence of the truth of the Word. It was also from their midst that there came new fighters for the idea of the Restoration. Foremost among them was Charles Warren, director of excavations in Jerusalem, who published in 1875 The Land of Promise; or Turkish Guarantee. Warren described the rich potentialities of Palestine and predicted that "its productiveness will increase in proportion to the labour bestowed on the soil, until a population of fifteen millions might be accommodated there". He clearly foresaw the magic transformation which intensive afforestation could effect upon the desolate slopes and valleys of Palestine. Yet what Warren had in mind was no mere colony: "Let this be done", he declared, "with the avowed intention of gradually introducing the Jew, pure and simple, who is eventually to occupy and govern this country".
Another member of the first expedition sent to Palestine by the "Palestine Exploration Fund" in 1865 was Claude Reignier Conder, then a lieutenant, aged 25, who published Tent Work in Palestine in 1872-6. Like Warren, he preached the gospel of the Holy Land's future fertility. In 1878 the Jewish Chronicle printed an article from his pen on the nature of Palestine, which aroused much comment. "The energy, industry and tact", he wrote, "which are so remarkable in the Jewish character, are qualities invaluable in a country whose inhabitants have sunk into fatalistic indolence".
While the scientific search for the confirmation of the Bible led to a reassurance of the hopes for the resurrection of the Land of Israel, the sublimated approach of modern critics to the Scriptures, though it conflicted with the literal interpretation dear to Evangelists, gave additional support to the validity of the "lofty Messianic idea", as Matthew Arnold, "the prophet and poet of the age", described Jewish Messianism. Arnold thought that historic Israel had a claim to eternity no less than the values it had created. Thus the changed attitude to the Bible came to broaden rather than to diminish the idea of Restoration. This explains why prominent figures of the mid-Victorian era advocated the Restoration of the Jews with a zeal equalling that displayed by its earlier champions.
Ch. H. Churchill and E. L. Mitford may well be considered the forerunners of a Restorationist trend which advocated the renascence of the Jewish nation in the Land of Israel on grounds very similar to the principles of Judaism itself. This new doctrine, which since the mid-Victorian era strongly influenced the old religious tradition, was closely interwoven with the political interests of the growing empire. Yet passionate desire to do justice to Jewish values no less than to the needs of the "martyr people" filled many minds in an epoch in which, in the words of G. M. Trevelyan, "even the Agnostics were Puritan in feeling and outlook". The transformed restorationist attitude was an offshoot of this religious and humanitarian trend.
IV. THE VISIONS OF ROBERT BROWNING AND GEORGE ELIOT
The new understanding of the Jewish character and destiny found the most fascinating expression in works of two of the greatest creative spirits of the Victorian era: Robert Browning and George Eliot.
In the work of Robert Browning, Jewish themes occur more often than in any earlier English poetry. The people which had defied all sufferings and which was the symbol of continuity and closeness to eternity, had, both in fact and imagination, led the kind of existence which Browning thought ideal While others saw in Judaism merely a forerunner of Christianity, Browning recognised it as the giver of an absolute scale of values by which Christian civilisation must be measured.
Browning's poem The Holy Cross Day, written in 1855 during his stay in Italy, is the most perfect reflection of this attitude. We see a crowd of Jews, driven into a church and packed tight into the seats, to attend the service and to hear a special sermon on Holy Cross Day. A mystic song -Ben Ezra's song- vibrates through the church, uplifting the hearts of the Jews:
The Lord will have mercy on Jacob yet,
And again in His border see Israel yet,
When Judah beholds Jerusalem.
The stranger shall be joined to them;
To Jacob's House shall the Gentiles cleave,
So the Prophet saith and the sons believe.
By the torture, prolonged from age to age,
By the infamy, Israel's heritage,
By the Ghetto's plague, by the garb's disgrace.
By the badge of shame, by the felon's place.
By the branding tool, the bloody whip,
And the summons to Christian fellowship
We boast our proof that at least the Jew
Would wrest Christ's name from the Devil's crew.
Rabbi Ben Ezra's song is a moving affirmation of the prophecy-inspired faith in the redeeming force of Judaism. After long wanderings the genius of the English people had returned to the very first origins of the Restoration tradition, Israel's prophets.
In the year in which The Holy Cross Day was written, a collection of Hebrew Melodies appeared. The unpretentious verse of Robert Young gave touching expression to the desire for the redemption of the Jews.
Restore the long-lost scattered band
And call them to their native land
are typical lines repeated, with slight variations, on almost every page.
Two decades later, the spirit that had caused Robert Browning to become the singer of Jewish Restoration was revived in George Eliot when she wrote the book which, as a work of literature, forms the pinnacle of the British Restoration Movement. Unlike The Holy Cross Day, the fruit of youthful inspiration, the book came at the end of a long creative literary career. Daniel Deronda (1876) was, in fact, George Eliot's last novel.
How one of the greatest English novelists of her time came towards the close of her life to write the epic of Jewish Renaissance makes a fascinating chapter in the history of the Restoration Movement.
As a girl, Mary Ann Evans, the future George Eliot, witnessed the rise of Evangelicalism at close quarters. Like her father and her sisters, she became an Evangelical. But while her religious emotions made her receptive to Evangelical teachings another side of her nature prompted her to absorb eagerly the critical, scientific and philosophical trends of the day. The Church Fathers and Pascal were presently replaced by Spinoza, Feuerbach and D. F. Strauss, author of The Life of Jesus. Her interest in these iconoclasts was so strong that she devoted a great deal of her time and energy to translating their works.
It was only at this stage of her development that she began to take an intense interest in the Jews of the Diaspora. A rich store of knowledge about Biblical and post-Biblical Judaism had been gathered by her early in life. From 1855 all her journeys included visits to synagogues. Book titles about Jews in the Middle Ages are noted in her diaries. A passage in Daniel Deronda hints at the deep impression which Spinoza's words on the Restoration of the Jews (see p. 34) had left on her mind. Alongside these spiritual influences, not the least part in George Eliot's awakening to a strong affection for Judaism and the Jewish people was played by her companion, George Henry Lewes, whose thorough knowledge of Germany also embraced the German-Jewish community. His acquaintance with Moses Hess, the author of Rome and Jerusalem justifies the assumption that George Eliot was not unaware of this precursor of modem Zionism. But her historic mission was to rediscover the Restoration idea and to reshape it in her own original manner.
Already in Romola (1863) and in The Spanish Gipsy (1868) she had pronounced the acceptance of the duties imposed by one's origin to be the most sacred obligation of man. In the following years she saw an entire people trying to escape from its inheritance and about to renounce its values and its own identity. Was this process inevitable? Must tragedy of physical and spiritual decline lead to the burying of a priceless civilisation? George Eliot felt impelled to answer this question.
In June 1874 she began to write her novel of the Jewish people's renaissance. Daniel Deronda is born a Jew but brought up as an English non-Jew in Sir Hugo Mallinger's home. Deronda's mother, a Sephardi Jewess, coerced into marriage by her father and widowed early, has decided to save her son from the Jewish fate which she abhors. The eventual failure of this plan is mainly due to the influence of the mystic Mordecai Ezra Cohen, the towering spiritual figure of the novel. It is in the chapters dealing with him and his sister Mirah that George Eliot makes her historic contribution to the movement for the revival of the Jewish people. The boldness and accuracy of vision conveyed in one of Mordecai's pronouncements heralds a new chapter in Jewish history:
There is a store of wisdom among us to found a new policy, grand, simple, just, like the old -a republic where there is equality of protection, an equality which shone like a star on the forehead of our ancient community and gave it more than the brightness of Western freedom amid the despotisms of the East. Then our race shall have an organic centre, a heart and brain to watch and guide and execute; the outraged Jew shall have a defence in the court of the nations, as the outraged Englishman or American. And the world will gain, as Israel gains. For there will be a community in the van of the East which carries the culture and the sympathies of every great nation in its bosom. Difficulties? I know there are difficulties. But let the spirit of sublime achievement move the great among our people, and the work will begin....
Mordecai gives resounding expression to his faith in redemption through free choice, the necessity for action by man and the creative significance of the Jews' return to the founts of their national existence.
The affinity of this philosophy with Deronda's own feelings explains the surprising readiness with which he confesses himself a Jew. He leaves the society in which he was brought up, marries Mirah, and goes with her to Palestine, there to realise Mordecai's dream of a reborn Jewish commonwealth. Mordecai cannot follow them -he dies in the midst of preparations for Deronda's departure, blessing Deronda with his last breath. With the death scene the novel ends. Nothing could have indicated more impressively that Mordecai is the real hero of the book.
As George Eliot saw it, the regeneration of the Jewish people was the great divine mystery of world history. But the miracle must be wrought in Israel's soul. She makes no appeal to England, nor does she expect the Government to follow the example of Cyrus. She addresses herself to the Jewish people. Without propounding any state project or settlement scheme, she recognises the historic necessity for a "new Jewish polity" and considers the "visible community" to be the centre whence a force would radiate in all directions. The Restoration of the Jews becomes identical with the rebirth of the Jewish people.
Daniel Deronda represents, as it were, the last map of a voyage round the world of the Restoration idea. The Movement began by demanding the conversion of the Jews as a first step to their Restoration. Later it admitted that Restoration should precede conversion. With Deronda it arrived at a point where Restoration became identified with a return to the Hebrew heritage and the rebirth of Israel. Secession from Judaism had become a great sin; acceptance of Jewish values the way of redemption.
The future exponent of Judaism and Jewish history, David Kaufman, saw that Daniel Deronda was a counterpart to Lessing's Nathan the Wise, which pleaded for human rights for the Jews, while Deronda claimed the right of the Jew to join the family of nations on equal terms. In America the Jewish poetess Emma Lazarus, accepting Mordecai Ezra's message of Jewish regeneration as a personal appeal to herself, became its enthusiastic protagonist. George Eliot's work had a most momentous and enduring practical effect on Lithuanian-born Yehuda Perlman known to Jewish history as Eliezer ben Yehuda. It was Mordecai's creed that was responsible for his decision to devote his life to the revival of the Hebrew language in the Land of Israel itself.
The criticism voiced against her excursion into the Jewish field, far from discouraging her, actually stimulated George Eliot to persist. Her last work, Impressions of Theophrastus Such (1879) contains- an essay The Modern Hep, Hep, Hep, in which the ideas expressed in Daniel Deronda are carried to their logical conclusion. Once again the theme "England and Israel" was discussed. George Eliot substituted critical self-examination for ecstatic identification and found a striking similarity between the English and the Hebrew characters which "is only the more apparent when the elements of their peculiarity are discerned."
The reception accorded to Daniel Derondaby the England of those days was a clear indication of the tendency to accept "amalgamation" soon to be known by its new name "assimilation ", as a worthy and desirable ideal. In her essay George Eliot attacked this trend and placed the dilemma before Christians and Jews alike:
If we are to consider the future of the Jews at all, it seems reasonable to take a preliminary question: are they destined to complete fusion with the peoples among whom they are dispersed, losing every remnant of a distinctive consciousness as Jews: or, are there, in the political relations of the world, the conditions, present or approaching, for the restoration of a Jewish state, planted on the old centre of national feeling, a source of dignifying protection, a special channel for special energies, which may contribute some added form of national genius and an added voice in the councils of the world?
Answering herself, she displays a remarkable blend of historical understanding and prophetic vision:
Some of us consider this question dismissed when they have said that the wealthiest Jews have no desire to forsake their European palaces and go to live in Jerusalem. But in return from exile, in the restoration of a people, the question is not whether there will be found worthy men who will choose to lead the return...The hinge of possibility is simply the existence of an adequate community of feeling as well as widespread need in the Jewish race, and hope that among its finest specimens there may arise some men of instruction and ardent public spirit, some new Ezras, some modem Maccabees, who will know how to use all favouring outward conditions, how to triumph by heroic example over the indifference of their fellows and foes, and will steadfastly set their faces toward making their people once more one among the nations.
By this transformation of Mordecai's ecstatic message into a logical theory, George Eliot gave to the Restoration Doctrine a new philosophical content. If Jewry was to redeem itself, the role of the other nations could only be that of helpers. The road to a synthesis between the Restoration Movement and the Jewish renascence movement lay open. In this sense George Eliot's testament (she died in the year following the publication of the essay, on May 6, 1880) was the last word of the Restoration Movement before the rise of modern Zionism.
V. THE EASTERN QUESTION, 1877-78,
AND DISRAELI'S RESTORATIONIST
In the eighteen-seventies the Eastern Question again became the focus of foreign affairs. In 1874 Disraeli succeeded Gladstone, and in the next year he acquired from Viceroy Ismail of Egypt 177,000 shares of the Suez Canal Company. The prodigious rise of British influence in the Near East resulting from the "greatest service that Disraeli rendered to his country" soon made itself felt in a series of events which, once again, were about to shake the foundations of the Ottoman Empire.
In the summer of 1875 the Balkan Slavs took up arms to overthrow the hated Turkish tyranny. In May 1876, Turkish irregulars massacred 12,000 Bulgarian Christians and in the following year, in April 1877, Russia declared war on Turkey. The peace of St. Stefano concluded between Russia and Turkey (March 3, 1878) failed to resolve the crisis. Britain and Austria demanded that the peace treaty be submitted to a European conference, and the way to the Berlin Congress was paved. Meanwhile, Disraeli concluded a defensive alliance with Turkey whereby Cyprus was ceded to Britain. With these guarantees he went to Berlin (in June 1878) and brought back "peace with honour".
The Russo-Turkish war and the defeat of Turkey in 1878 had raised in the minds of the English restorationists hopes similar to those of 1840. "The feeling everywhere seems abroad that the time has at last arrived to restore the desolations of Zion, and to rebuild the waste places of the Land of Israel", reads a passage in Rev. James Neil's Palestine Re-peopled; or, Scattered Israel's Gathering. A sign of the Times. From 1877 to 1883, this pamphlet saw not less than eight editions.
For the fourth time since Bonaparte's expedition, the friends of Jewish Restoration were to be disillusioned. One of the main results of the Berlin settlement of 1878 was that -in accordance with Britain's traditional policy -Turkey's Asian possessions remained untouched. The consternation caused by the seeming indifference of Lord Beaconsfield to Palestine's political fate can be gauged by a Note published in The Spectator on May 10, 1879. "If he" [Lord Beaconsfield], declared the writer, "had freed the Holy Land and restored the Jews, as he might have done, instead of pottering about Rumelia and Afghanistan, he would have died Dictator".
Yet an entry prior to the Berlin Congress found in the diary of Leon von Bilinski, later Austrian Minister of Finance, makes it appear that Disraeli had sent to the British Ambassador in Vienna, Sir Andrew Buchan, the English draft of his essay The Jewish Question in the Oriental Question for translation and anonymous publication. Translated by Baron Johann Chlumecky, a well-known Austrian political writer, the essay was published in Vienna in 1877 as a pamphlet under the title Die judische Frage in der orientalischen Frage, von... under the direction and participation of Perez Smolenskin, the famous Hebrew author and champion of Jewish renascence. Chlumecky presented Bilinski with a copy of the pamphlet and informed him that Disraeli originally intended to raise the question of Palestine on the agenda of the Berlin Congress but had abandoned these efforts due to the opposition of Bismarck and the Austrian Foreign Minister, Count Andrassy, and instructed the Embassy to stop the distribution of the pamphlet and to destroy all available copies.
Many questions, raised particularly by Dr. Cecil Roth in his biography, Benjamin Disraeli, have yet to be answered before the full story of what is believed to be the most dramatic chapter in the history of the Restoration Movement prior to Theodor Herzl's appearance will be known. It may well show the greatest statesman the Jewish people has produced in the Diaspora engaged in a struggle to bring about the Restoration of the Jews, but losing the battle against forces in the Gentile world and against the indifference of the Jews themselves. For there was certainly nobody among the official Jewish representatives willing to claim Palestine for the Jewish people and to fight for it as resolutely as the Alliance Israelite had done for the equal rights of the Jews in the Balkans. "It is a thousand pities Disraeli did not flourish later or Dr. Herzl not earlier. They should have met". Thus, Israel Zangwill to Lady Battersea on February 1, 1914.
The Restoration Movement had reached a political turning point at the moment when George Eliot sounded the call for a new Ezra and Benjamin Disraeli guided the British Empire. Through Disraeli's sixteen-page essay the British Restoration Movement proclaimed its ideal throughout the length and breadth of the Continent of Europe, the creation of a Jewish State under the protection of Great Britain. Anticipating events which the present generation has at last witnessed, the author of the pamphlet asked:
Is it not probable that within, say, half a Century, there would be developed in that land a compact Jewish people, one million strong, speaking one language (scil. that of protecting England), and animated by one spirit -the typical national spirit -the desire to achieve autonomy and independence?
Even Perez Smolenskin, the regenerator of Hebrew literature, would not have dared to correct the only major error in this admirable prediction, namely that English would become the language of a revived Israel.
Disraeli's lasting historic contribution to the rebuilding of Jewish Palestine was made, as it were, inadvertently. By strengthening Britain's power in the Near East he helped more than any of his predecessors to bring the Land of Israel within the orbit of her vital interests and thereby to tighten the bond between the ancient and modern history of Israel. The growth of British influence in the Orient partly compensated the advocates of Restoration for the disappointment caused by the outcome of the Berlin Congress. Soon two men of outstanding quality emerged as protagonists of the Restoration idea, Edward Cazalet and Laurence Oliphant.
Edward Cazalet was a practical economist and far-sighted industrialist with great political ability and a thorough knowledge of the Near East. In an address on the Eastern Question, delivered in 1878 at the Club for Working Men in London, he advocated a British Protectorate over Syria which would provide a much more efficient protection of the Suez Canal than the questionable annexation of Egypt and which would offer to the Jewish nation the opportunity of a safe return to their country after eighteen hundred years of exile. During the General Election Campaign of 1879, Cazalet stipulated the Restoration of the Jews as one of Britain's great historic tasks. Cazalet contended that Britain bore serious guilt for the checking of the regeneration of Syria and Palestine begun by Mehemet All by delivering these countries back to the mercies of the Turk. The Restoration seemed to him the only practicable means by which the generation of Syria could be effected. He advocated the establishment of a college in the Holy Land which would serve as a centre of Jewish philosophy and science. With equal clarity Cazalet foresaw that the pressure upon Russian Jewry would precipitate the greatest exodus in Jewish story.
Cazalet's election address constitutes a landmark of the Restoration Movement because it practically carried the problem of Restoration to the gates of the British Parliament. Laurence Oliphant went even a step further. Not satisfied with a mere presentation of ideas, he used his mighty energies to achieve an immediate realisation of his plans. The epic story of Laurence Oliphant's efforts deserves a special chapter -one of the most splendid in the history the Movement.
VI. LAURENCE OLIPHANT MEETS THE LOVERS OF ZION
In the long line of unusual personalities associated with the history of the Restoration Movement, Laurence Oliphant is certainly one of the most original and colourful. Born in 1829 in Cape Town as the only son of Sir Anthony Oliphant, Laurence at the age of thirteen left school in England and travelled unaccompanied all the way to Ceylon, to rejoin his father, then Chief Justice at Colombo. His youth was spent in alternating study and travel throw Ceylon and India, varied by elephant hunts. In 1852 he wrote his first book, a description of travel in India, and then left for Edinburgh to read for the Bar but found himself in Russia instead. Oliphant was 25 at the time of his first visit to the New World. But the Crimean War called him and he took part in it both as fighting man and as diplomat. Lord Elgin took him on a two-year mission to China. In 1862, aged 32, he was appointed British Charge d'Affaires to Jedo (Japan). Seriously injured in an attempt made on his life, he started out for home a few months later. In 1863, the outbreak of the Polish revolt irresistibly drew him again to Russia. Fifteen years more went by before he reached out to the Jewish people, during which he became a Member of Parliament, worked as The Times correspondent in the Franco-Prussian War, and wrote fiction.
Under the influence of his mother, Oliphant learned early in life to examine his own relation to religion. Though he lost his unquestioning belief in dogma and in the literal interpretation of the Bible, his personal religion grew in intensity.
The first reference to his Eastern Project was made in a letter he wrote on December 10, 1878. The passage has much that is puzzling:
My Eastern Project is as follows: To obtain a concession from the Turkish Government in the northern and more fertile half of Palestine, which the recent survey of the Palestine Exploration Fund proves to be capable of immense development. Any amount of money can be raised upon it, owing to the belief which people have that they would be fulfilling prophecy and bringing on the end of the world. I don't know why they are so anxious for this latter event, but it makes the commercial speculation easy, as it is a combination of the financial and sentimental elements which will, I think, ensure success. And it will be a good political move for the Government, as it will enable them to carry out reforms in Asiatic Turkey...
It is obvious that intensive study and preparation must have gone before this letter was written. The soldier, the student of Russia, the diplomat, the man of action -all these facets of Oliphant's personality made him extremely susceptible to the stir that went through the political and particularly the Restorationist camp at the revival of the Eastern Question following the Russo-Turkish War and the Berlin Congress. At this time millenarian hopes found expression in public demonstration and the framing of programmes subsequently published as manifestoes also in America. It is true that Oliphant's own religious faith took a line very different from the millenarian teachings. He objected to "popular theology", to the belief in a redemption of the world through external miracles. But he did regard the millenarian creed as one of the historical forces hastening the process of the Restoration, the consummation of which he felt was near at hand.
Laurence Oliphant lost no time in approaching religious leaders and, above all, responsible statesmen. The atmosphere appeared to have been never more favourable in the history of the Restoration Movement. Oliphant was even allowed to explain his scheme to the Prince of Wales -the future Edward VII -and received much encouragement from him. There is no doubt that his object was practically identical with that pursued by Lord Beaconsfield at that time. Having secured the latter's and Lord Salisbury's assurance of support, he hurried on their advice to Paris to enlist the sympathy of William Henry Waddington, France's English-born Foreign Minister and representative at the Berlin Congress. Thus Oliphant obtained from the two Western Great Powers a semi-official mandate to negotiate with Turkey. With high hopes he started out in the spring of 1879 for Beirut. From that point of vantage, with a single companion and a few attendants he set out on his adventurous reconnaissance of Palestine. He chose Gilead in what is now Jordan, "the most fertile part of Palestine", and felt that he had found the future Land of Promise. His book, The Land of Gilead, published in 1880, contains a detailed description of the country and the people. His project envisaged the foundation of an Ottoman Chartered Company with the object of colonising a million and a half acres. The future settlers who were to be granted Turkish citizenship were to be drawn from the Russian Pale of Settlement, from Rumania, and from the Turkish Empire. The settlement was to enjoy autonomy within the framework of the Ottoman Empire.
Prompted by faith in his cause, Oliphant carried out his plans with admirable energy and foresight. Until then he had rarely come into personal contact with Jews. Now, contact was established at once. The first groups of "Hovevei Zion" (Lovers of Zion) came into being in Eastern Europe. Very soon his name was known in all countries where persecuted Jews were hoping for the redemption of their people.
Oliphant's reception in Constantinople seemed to justify the most optimistic hopes. The British and French Ambassadors were most helpful and everywhere Oliphant felt that his scheme was viewed with favour. But a turn of the political wheel in England dealt a death blow to his scheme. At the General Election of 1880 the Liberal Party came into power and Beaconsfield was displaced by Gladstone. A Gladstone government in office necessarily meant a change in England's attitude towards Turkey. Overnight England ceased to be Turkey's friend and protector.
It did not take Oliphant long to realise the ominous meaning of these events for him, for his plans and The Land of Gilead. The book which he had planned as a potent weapon of propaganda, became an epilogue to a failure at the moment of its publication. Even so, it was a landmark in the history of Restorationist literature. Here was not only the first on-the-spot report by a practical Restorationist but also an inspiring manifesto and a courageous declaration of faith in a cause apparently lost. In his Introduction, Oliphant made the following realistic comment on the situation of the Movement:
The accident of a measure involving most important international consequences, having been advocated by a large section of the Christian community from a purely Biblical point of view, does not necessarily impair its political Value. On the contrary, its political value on estimated on its own merits and admitted, the fact that it will carry with it the sympathy and support of those who are not usually particularly well versed in foreign politics is decidedly in its favour.
An article in the Jewish Chronicle called Oliphant's plan "the most feasible that has yet been put before the world". Also letters to the Jewish Chronicle from the Jewish "Committee of the Society for the Colonisation of Palestine" in Bucharest and from Oliphant himself set the seal on the contact established between the English Restoration Movement and the Jewish masses of Eastern Europe.
An anti-Jewish campaign had been launched in Rumania at the beginning of the 'seventies. When on March 1, 1881, Czar Alexander II was assassinated, a wave of pogroms followed throughout Russia. The violence, extent and persistence of these attacks, and the Government's encouragement of the perpetrators, filled the Jews with panic. Emigration seemed the only possible escape. While hundreds of thousands of Jews poured into America, those left behind underwent a process of spiritual transformation. Inspired by the writings of the pioneers of Jewish renascence, such as Hirsch Kalischer's Drishath Zion (Longing for Zion), the stirring Rome and Jerusalem by Moses Hess, and above all, Leo Pinsker's brilliant political pamphlet Auto-Emancipation--Call to his Fellow Jews by a Russian Jew, large sections of the Jewish masses tightened their hold on Judaism and its Messianic hopes. The first Aliyah (ascent to the land of Israel) was beginning to take shape, its heroes being the Bilu, young people passionately devoted to the revival of Israel. (Their name was formed from the initials of the verse Is. ii, 5.)
It was these new pioneering Jews whom Laurence Oliphant met after the failure of his restorationist scheme. The persecutions of the Jews were also instrumental to his appearance in their midst. On February 1, 1882, a public meeting had been held at the Mansion House in London "to give expression to public opinion on the persecution to which the Jews of Russia have recently been subjected". The most famous men of the nation, among them Charles Darwin and Lord Shaftesbury, had taken the initiative. Shaftesbury, then in his eighty-first year, was the first speaker. With the authority derived from a long life of selfless service, he raised his voice to rouse humanity's conscience on behalf of "God's ancient people". The practical result of the meeting was the opening of a relief fund for the persecuted Jews, which Laurence Oliphant was chosen to administer.
Accompanied only by his wife, he started out on his mission of mercy in March 1882. Oliphant himself recorded the remarkable scenes that took place during this journey in his autobiography:
"At every station they (the Jews) were assembled in crowds with petitions to be transported to Palestine, the conviction apparently having taken possession of their minds that the time appointed for their return to the land of their ancestors had arrived, and that I was to be their Moses on the occasion".
Before the middle of 1882, driven by the desire to make a new attempt to see his old plan realised, he set out for Constantinople, only to find there a situation no less difficult than it had been two years earlier. Turkey's growing distrust of England had the effect of practically blocking Palestine to Jewish immigration. This prevented the establishment of large settlements in Palestine of the type envisaged by Oliphant. He was now faced with the thankless task of disclosing the true state of affairs to the leaders of the Hovevei Zion and the Bilu. In a circular letter dated June 15, 1882, the Bilu delegates tell in plain and moving words how "Sir Oliphant" had first raised their hopes, but had, on June 14, advised them to extend their stay by a few months until the settlement of the Egyptian crisis, or else to petition the Pasha of Mesopotamia for permission to settle in his territory on the same terms as non-Jews. The letter goes on, "We . . . believe that, even if the masses migrate to Syria, it is nevertheless our duty to make Eretz Israel into a centre for our people. We therefore resolve to fight with all our strength to remove the obstacles in our path and to migrate nowhere but to Eretz Israel".
Oliphant remained loyal to the cause of Restoration. In an open letter to the Jewish leaders in Russia, he informed them that he was obliged to leave Constantinople but had no intention of giving up his plans and felt bound to the Jewish cause. "I believe that a more favourable juncture of circumstances will ere long arise", he wrote. "In the meantime, I trust that your co-religionists will not allow themselves to be discouraged by this check, and they may rest assured that I shall continue to feel a warm sympathy in their sufferings and their future welfare".
The sincerity of these words was proved by deeds. The third and longest phase of Oliphant's work for the Restoration lasted throughout the last six years of his life. The dream of Jewish regeneration, so often entertained by English men and women, never had a truer embodiment than in the person of this world traveller who came to live with his wife among the Jewish settlers in Palestine, who corresponded intimately with Perez Smolenskin, and who employed as his secretary and interpreter Naphtali Herz Imber, author of the Jewish national anthem Hatikvah.
Oliphant's unshaken belief in the forthcoming rebuilding of Palestine was expressed in an essay which appeared in The Nineteenth Century in September 1883 under the title The Jews and the Eastern Question. Disregarding the idea of conversion altogether, Oliphant replaced it by the ideal of a Jewish renaissance such as George Eliot had envisaged, and indeed of a religious regeneration of Jewry:
". . . It would surely be a noble ambition for the orthodox Jews to aspire to develop a religion which should commend itself to the unsatisfied cravings of Christendom, as for the orthodox Christian to hope, as he now does, that the restoration of the race to Palestine, should lead to their conversion to his form of theological belief. . . ."
He laid even greater stress than in The Land of Gilead on the necessity for co-operation between Jewish and Christian restorationists:
"There can be no doubt that . . . unless the Jews of the West are prepared to co-operate with the movement more cordially than they have done hitherto, they will find that it will slip from their control altogether".
His most remarkable prediction was, however, that of the grim fate awaiting Jewry. He knew that the assimilated Jews who felt so secure would one day be faced with a grave crisis, and realised that the colonisation of Palestine, which he originally conceived as a means to help Turkey, would save the Jewish people.
When writing The Jew and the Eastern Question, Oliphant had already made up his mind to continue working on his own to advance the cause of Jewish settlement in Palestine. He made his home in Haifa in order to help the vanguard of the Jewish settlers who came to prepare the soil of the country for the Jewish people. Thus he became a source of strength and encouragement for the Hovevei Zion in Palestine itself. Fashioning a mutual-aid community out of the first Jewish settlers and friendly Germans from a nearby colony, he must have felt that he was helping to usher in a new era both for the Jewish people and for mankind at large.
A great sorrow for Oliphant was the death of his wife in Haifa in 1886. In the history of the Restoration Movement, Alice Oliphant's name is gratefully recorded. Never discouraged, full of hope to the end, she had written a few days before her death: "Never mind about what looks like the failure of the Palestine scheme, it is in reality making sure progress".
She was laid to rest on Mount Cannel, and shortly afterwards Oliphant left the Holy Land. Visiting New, York in 1886, he was met by a deputation consisting of the poet-composer Abraham Goldfaden and local leader of the Hovevei Zion. He spoke to them of his work for the Jews and emphasised that he entertained no conversionist intentions. By the end of 1887 be was back in Palestine and spent most of his time in assisting the Jewish settlers. In 1888 he left for England. Death came to him on December 23, 1888.
VII. THE MOVEMENT BEFORE THE ADVENT OF ZIONISM
Dominated though it was by the figure of Laurence Oliphant, the Restoration Movement after the Berlin Congress was carried on by a number of other, remarkable personalities. New schemes and literary productions appeared. Persecution in Russia and anti-Jewish legislation in Rumania gave a sense of urgency to the idea of Restoration.
English Restorationists in this period received much encouragement from the Hovevei Zion movement in England. The Hovevei Zion societies provided the platforin for the first public discussions between Jewish and Christian Restorationists. Also the Egyptian question proved a new powerful incentive after the occupation of Egypt in 1882. It was thought that the time when Palestine would be drawn into the British zone of influence in the Near East could not be far off.
These political developments spurred some restorationist authors to reformulate the old teachings. An original attempt to reconcile the religious character of the Restoration with contemporary historical reality was made by H. Walker in The Future of Palestine as a Problem of International Politics and in connection with the requirements of Christianity and the aspirations of the Jews, in which he recommended the settlement of Jews in Palestine under an international protectorate.
Two other Restorationists, Henry Wentworth Monk and George Nugee, also published timely and politically well-considered projects. Monk had already advocated the Restoration before the Crimean War. Later on, this devout Christian assisted, together with Rabbi Sneersohn of Jerusalem, in the establishment of the first Jewish colonies. To the British Ambassador at Constantinople, G. J. Goschen, he submitted a proposal that Turkey be compensated in cash for giving up Palestine and that the rebuilding of the country be initiated by an "Anglo-Jewish West Asian Company" co-operating with Jewish settlers, until such time as the Jewish people itself could complete the work and take over the administration.
The Rev. George Nugee also advocated the resettlement of Palestine under British protection. In a pamphlet, England and the Jews: their destiny and her duty (1881), he affirmed that the Jews' destiny imposed upon the British people the duty of bringing about the Restoration. At every stage of the Eastern Question, ignoring all political setbacks, Alexander Bradshaw had for some forty years bombarded the British public with religious arguments in support of Restoration and with practical proposals. The Egyptian Crisis and the pogrom wave in Eastern Europe prompted him, despite his advanced age, to attempt a last effort to help the Jews. In his The Trumpet Voice: Modus Operandi in Political, Social, and Moral Forecast concerning the East (1884) he combined apocalyptic vision with realistic suggestions. Advocating the annexation of Palestine to Egypt, -which had meantime been occupied by Britain -he looked to the great financiers to furnish the funds for reconstruction "in order to discharge their responsibilities on earth."
A modest handbill was distributed in the streets of London in the same year. Its author was the Rev. William H. Hechler, born (1845) in South Africa of German Parents, Rector of the Holy Trinity Church in Kilburn (London). Calling himself "Lover of God's ancient people" he engaged, like Oliphant, in an intensive activity to help the victims of the Russian pogroms by collecting money for their settlement in Palestine. He went to Russia and the Holy Land and, in 1882, carried a personal letter from Queen Victoria to the Sultan Abdul Hamid.
Hechler's Restorationist ideas, reflected in his first pamphlet The Jerusalem Bishopric (1883), are developed in The Restoration of the Jews to Palestine. In the succinct form of Some points remembered in connection with the most important question, Hechler presents the quintessence of the Restoration Doctrine in an original and systematic form. Hechler calls for spiritual preparation for the Restoration on the part of Christians to include love of the Jews and careful study of the "momentous question". In 1885 Hechler was appointed chaplain of the British Embassy in Vienna. The assignment was to prove a portentous event in the history of the Restoration Movement. For in Vienna, eleven years later, Hechler met Theodor Herzl and became one of his earliest and most eager followers.
When the last decade of the nineteenth century opened, Palestine's resurrection was no longer an open question for British Restorationists. It had become an imminent certainty. "That the future of these old lands may be more important than the present, it requires little penetration to see", wrote the great Canadian-born naturalist John William Dawson in his Modern Science in Bible Lands, published in 1888. Among the many Palestine travellers from England, the famous geologist was one of the best qualified to judge the country and its future. His verdict on the dire neglect of the once flourishing land was devastating:
.. No nation has been able to establish itself, as a nation in Palestine up to this day, no national union and no national spirit have prevailed there. The motley, impoverished tribes ... have held it as mere tenants at will, temporary landowners, evidently waiting for those entitled to the permanent possession of the soil.
Dawson left no doubt as to the identity of those whom he considered the rightful owners.
Colonel Conder, formerly Oliphant's collaborator, was as anxious as ever to further the revival of Jewish Palestine. In an article in Blackwood's Magazine (1891) he declared that experience had already demonstrated the Jews aptitude for agricultural colonisation. In 1892 he addressed the Western Tent of the Hovevei Zion Association in London. The lecture was published in the same year under the title Eastern Palestine."It has always seemed to me", Conder said, "that the future element of prosperous colonisation is to be found among the Jews of Eastern Europe". He invited the English Hovevei Zion to acquire for these settlers the largest available quantity of land east of the Jordan, which he, like Oliphant, considered ideal for settlement. Two years later, when the English Hovevei Zion tried to implement Conder's advice concerning settlement in Eastern Palestine, they were supported by Lord Rosebery, Salisbury's successor at the Foreign Office.
One of the main features of the Restoration Movement towards the end of the century was the shifting of its centre of gravity to the United States of America. There, the millenarian circles from whom Laurence Oliphant had expected so much were the foremost supporters of the Restoration idea. Drafted by William E. Blackstone, a minister of the Methodist, Episcopal Church, and dated March 5, 1891, a petition to President Harrison, signed by the Speaker and the Clerk of the House of Representatives, the Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, members of Congress, judges, mayors, newspaper editors, members of professions and business, three archbishops, six bishops, ninety-nine other Christian clergymen and fourteen rabbis, argued that "all the great European Powers are jealous of each other's influence in, or possible occupation of, Palestine, and this favours the giving of it to such an energetic small nation as the Jews under international guarantees and protection". Blackstone emphasised "that he has special reasons for believing such sentiment already prevails to a large extent in Great Britain, and it seems to appeal to all classes of Christians as a magnificent humanitarian movement".
This American petition shows striking similarity with the English plea addressed fifty years earlier by the people of Carlow to Lord Palmerston. Three months after the petition was submitted, Our Day printed an article from Blackstone's pen, May the United States Intervene for the Jews? Blackstone described the desperate position of the Jews driven from Russia to whom "the civilised world says, 'We do not want them'," and who "are turned back to go -where?" He could scarcely have foreseen, how terribly his words would come true half a century later when he exclaimed in 1891:
One stands appalled before the prospect. It seems as if the agony and horror of 1492 were to be quadrupled in 1892. Will the Christian nations of the nineteenth century stand by the wreck and launch no lifeboat?
The main object of the article was to refute objections to Government action in favour of the Jews. It was true, he argued, that the number of Jews actually resident in Palestine was small, but the country could absorb two or three millions of newcomers without displacing the present population. In support of his assertion that the Jews' claim to Palestine had not lapsed, Blackstone quoted eminent legal authorities. He concluded that an international order had become inevitable - "a universal court or congress, in which all national disputes and questions shall be peacefully considered and settled" -and within this new order the Jewish people must have its nationhood recognised.
Thus, at the end of the nineteenth century, on the threshold of the rise of political Zionism, the Restoration Movement, in the writings of George Eliot, Laurence Oliphant and William E. Blackstone, reached the peak of its maturity. No longer solely a religious tenet the idea of Restoration had acquired political, humanitarian and juridical aspects. Conversion of the Jews was no longer thought to be a prerequisite of the Restoration. Oliphant had sought the co-operation of popular theology, while the theologian Blackstone marshalled arguments which might have been borrowed from George Eliot's Mordecai. The Jewish point of view was at last understood. Contact with the Jewish world was established. In fact, later development inside and outside the Jewish world had been anticipated. Six years before the First Zionist Congress, thirty years' before San Remo, people belonging to all classes demanded a settlement of the Restoration question by an international conference. But what Palmerston and Disraeli in most, auspicious moments had left undone could not be expected of accomplishment by Harrison. Charles Henry Churchill, Hollingworth and George Eliot had proved correct in their foresights: only an effort by the Jewish people itself could effectively set the forces poised in action towards realisation. Just before the turn of the century the great moment of fulfilment had come. It is everlastingly linked with the name of Theodor Herzl. When in 1896 the Restorationist William H. Hechler stood in Vienna face to face with Theodor Herzl their encounter signified that the British Movement for the Restoration of the Jews and Jewish Zionism had reached their predestined crossroads.
|Part Three||Franz Kobler
"The Vision Was There"