Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Theodor Herzl, born Benjamin Ze’ev Herzl

Austrian-Hungarian Journalist, Founder of Zionist Movement and in effect the State of Israel

"If we will it, it is no dream."

"The greatest happiness is to be that which one is."

"The wealth of a country is its working people."

"There was nothing original in the conception that the world was round; it was held by all educated astronomers of the time. The greatness of Columbus was rather in the courage that he displayed in venturing into the unknown sea to prove the validity of his thesis and his pertinacity in the pursuit of his project."

"It is for his virtues, not his vices, that the Jew is hated."

"If the romance does not become a fact, at least the fact can become a romance."

"The greatest honor I can give my children is love for our people, loyalty to self."

"Whoever would change men must change the conditions of their lives."

"If you will it, it is no legend. But if you do not will it, then it remains a legend which I have recited. Dreams and action are not as widely separated as many believe. All acts of men were dreams at first and become dreams again."

"Dream and deed are not as different as many think. All the deeds of men are dreams at first, and become dreams in the end."

"But I am convinced that those Jews who stand aside today with a malicious smile and with their hands in their trousers' pockets will also want to dwell in our beautiful home."

"But we wish to give the Jews a Homeland. Not by dragging them ruthlessly out of their sustaining soil, but rather by removing them carefully, roots and all, to a better terrain."

"Such resettlement would fail because when you want a great settlement, you must have a flag and an idea. You cannot make those things only with money. . . With money you cannot make a general movement of a great mass of people. You must give them an ideal. You must put into them the belief in their future, and then you will be able to take out the devotion of the hardest labor imaginable. [For example,] Argentina has a very good soil and the conditions for agricultural labor are much better than in Palestine, but in Palestine they work with enthusiasm and they succeed. I am not speaking of artificially made colonies, but self-helping colonies, which have that great national idea."

"Economic distress, political pressure, and social obloquy already drive us from our homes and from our graves. The Jews are already constantly shifting from place to place."

"If anyone thinks that Jews can steal into the land of their fathers, he is deceiving either himself or others. Nowhere is the coming of Jews so promptly noted as in the historic home of the Jews, for the very reason that it is the historic home."

"Four years ago in speaking of a Jewish nation one ran the risk of being regarded ridiculous. Today he makes himself ridiculous who denies the existence of a Jewish nation."

"I wrote walking, standing, lying down, on the street, at the table, at night when it roused me out of sleep... I know now, and was even aware of it throughout this entire period of turbulent productivity, that much of what I wrote was wild and fantastic."

"I incline to an aristocratic republic. This would satisfy the ambitious spirit among our people. We shall learn from the historic mistakes of others in the same way as we learn from our own; for we are a modern nation and wish to be the most modern in the world."

"I prefer being penetrated by iron to seeing Palestine is loose."

"Nothing prevents us from being and remaining the exponents of a united humanity, when we have a country of our own. To fulfill this mission we do not have to remain literally planted among the nations who hate and despise us."

"Our first object is... the obtaining of sovereignty, assured by international law, over a portion of the globe sufficiently large to satisfy our just requirements."

"Palestine is our unforgettable historic home. The very name would be a force of marvelous potency for summoning our people together."

"Realists are, as a rule, only men in the rut of routine who are incapable of transcending a narrow circle of antiquated notions."

"It goes without saying that the Jewish people can have no other goal than Palestine and that, whatever the fate of the proposition may be, our attitude toward the land of our fathers is and shall remain unchangeable."

"Let sovereignty be granted us over a portion of the earth's surface large enough to satisfy our rightful requirements as a nation. The rest we shall manage for ourselves."

"It is true that we aspire to our ancient land. But what we want in that ancient land is a new blossoming of the Jewish spirit."

"In Paris... I achieved a freer attitude toward anti-Semitism, which I now began to understand historically and to pardon. Above all, I recognized the emptiness and futility of trying to "combat" anti-Semitism."

"The anti-Semites will become our most loyal friends, the anti-Semites’ nations will become our allies."

"The body is a marvelous machine...a chemical laboratory, a power-house. Every movement, voluntary or involuntary, full of secrets and marvels!"

"The Jewish people asked nothing of its sons except not to be denied. The world is grateful to every great man when he brings it something; only the paternal home thanks the son who brings nothing but himself."

"The character of a people may be ruined by charity."

"The Jews had, as a matter of fact, long been all along the most ingenious entrepreneurs. It was only our own future that we had never built upon a business basis."

"The land which the Society of Jews will have secured by international law must naturally be privately owned."

"The spirit in which the offer was made must of necessity contribute to improving and alleviating the situation of the Jewish people without our renouncing one iota of the great principles upon which our movement is based."

"Those of us who are today prepared to hazard our lives for the cause would regret having raised a finger, if we were able to organize only a new social system and not a more righteous one."

"Our opponents maintain that we are confronted with insurmountable political obstacles, but that may be said of the smallest obstacle if one has no desire to surmount it."

"Philanthropic colonization is a failure. National colonization will succeed."

"We have an important task before us. We have met here to lay the foundation-stone of the house that will someday shelter the Jewish people. . . We have to aim at securing legal, international guarantees for our work."

"Truly we have had enough experience with sufferance and protection which could be revoked at will. Consequently, the only reasonable Course of action is to work for publicly legalized guarantees."

"We must expropriate gently the private property on the state assigned to us. We shall try to spirit the penniless population across the border by procuring employment for it in the transit countries, while denying it employment in our country. The property owners will come over to our side. Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discretely and circumspectly. Let the owners of the immoveable property believe that they are cheating us, selling us things for more than they are worth. But we are not going to sell them anything back."

"We can be the vanguard of culture against barbarianism."

"We believe that salvation is to be found in wholesome work in a beloved land. Work will provide our people with the bread of tomorrow, and moreover, with the honor of the tomorrow, the freedom of the tomorrow."

"We are organizing Jewry for its coming destiny."

"Were I to sum up the Basel Congress in a word — which I shall guard against pronouncing publicly — it would be this: At Basel, I founded the Jewish State. If I said this out loud today, I would be answered by universal laughter. Perhaps in five years, certainly in fifty, everyone will know it."

"Zionism demands a publicly recognized and legally secured homeland in Palestine for the Jewish people. This platform is unchangeable."

"What We want is to make it possible for our unfortunate people to live a life of industry for it is by steady work alone that we hope for our physical and moral rehabilitation. For this reason above all we have undertaken to rally our people around our ideal."

"When we sink, we become a revolutionary proletariat, the subordinate officers of all revolutionary parties; and at the same time, when we rise, there rises also our terrible power of the purse."