Herzl, Theodore

   A journalist and one of the major ideologues of modern Zionism, Herzl was born in Budapest. He drifted to Vienna, where he became the literary editor of the Neue Freie Presse. His early views on Jewish–Gentile relations were wholeheartedly assimilationist—he once suggested that Viennese Jews set an example for their coreligionists and receive baptism en masse.
   Increasing experience with anti-Semitism, both within the Habsburg Empire and in Paris, where he was a correspondent during the Dreyfus Affair, led Herzl to the idea of establishing a Jewish homeland. Although the notion was not original with him, Herzl was probably its most effective European publicist. Influenced by a Zionist society in Russia and friends at home, he brought out a book, Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State), in 1896, which proposed carving out such a polity of Palestine, then under the control of the Ottoman Empire. Rebuffed by the sultan in Constantinople, Herzl then asked the British government to turn over land in what is today Uganda for the scheme.
   The more religiously orthodox Zionists rejected this idea. Though Herzl fell short of his objective, he did lay the groundwork for continued Zionist activism.

Historical dictionary of Austria. . 2014.

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