Herzl_TheodorTheodor Herzl, the father of modern Zionism, was born in Budapest in 1860. Raised in the spirit of the “German Enlightenment”, his family moved to Vienna in 1878. After a short-lived career as an attorney, Herzl devoted himself entirely to literature and journalism, choosing to work in Paris and London primarily. As a correspondent for the Vienna newspaper Neue Freie, Herzl reported on the Dreyfus affair, (Prompt #140).  After witnessing anti-Semitic rallies in Paris during the wrongful imprisonment of Lt. Col. Alfred Dreyfus, Herzl concluded that fighting anti-Semitism was futile and a Jewish nation was necessary.

Judenstaat “Jewish State”, published in 1896, expressed Herzl’s Zionist views. The book described the practical functions of a secular, cosmopolitan state, where the best ideas and technology of the west could come together in an environment free from anti-Semitism. He stressed that a Jewish state could only be created in Palestine, the historic homeland of the Jewish people.  In 1897, Herzl was elected President of the first Zionist Congress. In 1902, he published Altneuland “Old New Land”, which further outlined his vision of the utopian Jewish State. From 1896-1904, Herzl worked doggedly to amass the political capital necessary for the realization of a Jewish state.

Herzl coined the phrase "If you will, it is no fairytale," which became the motto of the Zionist movement. He died in 1904 at the age of 44. His body was paraded through Vienna, draped with a Zionist flag. A processional of 10,000 Jews followed his funeral carriage to the graveside. His remains were taken to Jerusalem in 1949 and buried on a hill, now known as Mount Herzl.