Herzl and the Non-Promised Land

After over 70 years of existence, It’s impossible to imagine the Jewish State being located anywhere other than Israel. But in the early days of Zionism, there was a push to establish a homeland in a non-Promised Land in East Africa. This week, Noam Weissman gets to the heart of the Uganda Plan and discusses why the movement’s leaders felt they needed to come up with a solution — any solution — to combat the rampant antisemitism of the day.

  • Review
  • Discussion
  • Activities
  • Reflection
  • Further Learning
  1. What was Herzl’s first idea of how to solve the problem of antisemitism?
    • To establish a Jewish state in Argentina
    • To convert all Jews to Christianity 
    • To tell all Jews to stop being religious
    • To establish a Jewish state in Uganda
  2. Which of the following facts about the Uganda plan are true?
    • Herzl initially supported it
    • Herzl moved to Uganda and encouraged others to join him
    • Herzl never regretted supporting the Uganda plan
    • Herzl wasn’t moved by the Kishinev Pogrom of 1903
  3. The Uganda Plan was first presented to the ZIonist Congress by:
    • Ahad Ha’am
    • Leon Pinsker
    • Max Nordau
    • Herzl
  4. How old was Herzl when he passed away in 1904?
    • 75
    • 44
    • 120
    • 85
  5. What did Herzl correctly predict?
    • The rebuilding of the Third Temple
    • The establishment of a Jewish state within 50 years
    • That all Jews would embrace Zionism
    • The end of antisemitism
  1. What do you think was the primary driver for the push toward Zionism and the establishment of the State of Israel: an internal belief in nationalism and self-determination, or the external oppression of antisemitism?
  2. In a eulogy for Herzl, orthodox Rabbi Eliyahu Kaplan said that even though Herzl was secular and in many ways opposed to the religious Jewish life, he taught all Jews to have pride and the willingness to say, “I am a Jew.” What about Zionism allowed Jews to feel proud about their heritage?
  3. Herzl famously said, “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.” Evaluate whether you think Herzl’s prediction was folly and fantasy, or grounded and possible.
  4. In thinking about the world today, do you think Herzl’s approach to Zionism is correct, in that with a Jewish state, antisemitism would be cured and disappear, or do you align more with Jabotinsky, who believed that even with a Jewish state, antisemitism would never disappear, but the Jewish people would be protected from it?
  5. When processing the impact Herzl had on the world and the challenges he went through, which quality of Herzl do you want to incorporate into your own life?
  1. Play our Herzl Kahoot!
  2. Lead a podcast listening party. Download our PDF Guide.
  1. Unpacked for Educators, Herzl: The Zionist Dream of a Jewish State
  2. Jewish Virtual Library, “The Jewish State by Theodor Herzl”
  3. Gil Troy, The Zionist Ideas, Part One: Pioneers, Founding the State
  4. Daniel Gordis, Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn, Chapters 3 and 4

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