Benny Morris, professor of history at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University, states of Herzl’s attitude towards anti-Semitism:
Herzl regarded Zionism’s triumph as inevitable, not only because life in Europe was ever more untenable for Jews, but also because it was in Europe’s interests to rid the Jews and be relieved of anti-Semitism: The European political establishment would eventually be persuaded to promote Zionism. Herzl recognized that anti-Semitism would be HARNESSED to his own–Zionist-purposes.
Herzl’s most fervent supporters were anti-Semites. Both Zionists and anti-Semites concur that the Jews as an inassimilable minority which needs to be removed from Gentile society. Hence, Zionists have historically aligned themselves with anti-Semites ranging from those in Czarist Russia to those in Nazi Germany.
Where the supposed latent anti-Semitism of Gentiles fails to manifest dramatically, and at times when Jews are in the process of assimilating into Gentile society (as they were in pre-Hitler Germany), Zionists provoke, encourage, and even directly create anti-Semitic movements and incidents.
In the wake of the ‘Dreyfus Affair” Herzl used the opportunity as an opening for his separatism, writing his Zionist manifesto, Der Judenstaat, in 1895. Anti-Semites welcomed The Jewish State from the start. Of his publishers, Herzl noted in his Diary: “Was at the printing office and talked with the managers … both are presumably anti-Semites. They greeted me with genuine cordiality. They liked my pamphlet.”
Jacob Klatzkin, leading Zionist ideologue, editor of the official Zionist organ Die Welt, and co-editor of the Encyclopaedia Judaica, speaking of Russian anti-Semitism and the “Pale of Settlement,” stated:
The contribution of our enemies is in the continuance of Jewry in eastern Europe. One ought to appreciate the national service which the Pale of Settlement performed for us … we ought to be thankful to our oppressors that they closed the gates of assimilation to us and took care that our people were concentrated and not dispersed. Instead of establishing societies for defence against the anti-Semites who want to reduce our rights, we should establish societies for defence against our friends who desire to defend our rights.
The same attitude by Zionists carries through to the present-day, as demonstrated by Jay Lefkowitz, who became US Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy: “Deep down, I believe that a little anti-Semitism is a good thing for the Jews – reminds us who we are.”
Herzl & Drumont
Herzl formed an early alliance with France’s leading anti-Semite, Eduard Drumont, who had been the head of the anti-Dreyfus agitation. Drumont had written the influential anti-Semitic book La France Juive (1886) and was editor of La Libre Parole. Herzl wrote of Drumont: “But I owe to Drumont a great deal of the present freedom of my concepts, because he is an artist.” Herzl persuaded Drumont to review his manifesto in La Libre Parole, which he did favorably on January 15 1897, Herzl writing of this: [Drumont] “praises the Zionists of Herzl’s persuasion for not seeing in us fanatics … but citizens who exercise the right of self-defence.” Writing of his experiences in Paris, Herzl stated:
In Paris … I achieved a freer attitude towards anti-Semitism, which I now began to understand historically and to pardon. Above all I recognize the emptiness and futility of trying to “combat” anti-Semitism.
In his Austrian homeland it was among the anti-Semites that Herzl also found the most immediate support. Herzl’s biographer Desmond Stewart, writes: “… Already in 1896 Austrian anti-Semites were finding ammunition in Herzl’s arguments, as would the followers of Drumont …”
Max Nordau, Herzl’s deputy, expressed the affinity between the Zionists and Drumont in an interview with Raphael Marchant, correspondent for Drumon’ts La Libre Parole, stating that Zionism, “is not a question of religion, but exclusively of race, and there is no one with whom I am in greater agreement on this position than M Drumont.”
Herzl & Von Plehve
In Russia, also, support among anti-Semites was effusive. Herzl’s chief ally was the Russian Interior Minister Von Plehve, whom Herzl met in August 1903. Just four months previously Von Plehve had been organizing pogroms at Kishinev. As Herzl was explaining his Zionist project, Von Plehve interrupted, according to Herzl’s own account: “You don’t have to justify the movement to me. ‘Vous prêchez un converti’ (You are preaching to a convert).”
As in Nazi Germany from 1933, Zionism was given favorable governmental recognition in Czarist Russia. Von Plehve wrote a letter pledging “moral and material assistance”, which became “Herzl’s most cherished asset.”
Due to Herzl’s efforts in Russia, “there was no prohibition on Zionist activities and an official permit was even given for the holding of the second conference of Russian Zionists at Minsk (September 1902).”
Zionists & Nazi Germany
Without Hitlerism, Zionism might not have succeeded beyond being a fringe movement. Germany was the most unlikely source for Zionist support among German Jews. Such was the assimilation of German Jewry and its full identification with the German nation that Herzl’s original aim of having the First Zionist Congress held there had to be changed to Switzerland due to the opposition of German Jews.
Prior to Hitler, Zionism represented a minor faction within German Jewry. Whilst some Jews were conspicuous in their leadership of Marxism, communism and various anti-national movements, there was a more significant movement of German nationalism among Jews who regarded themselves as “Germans of Jewish descent.”
If some Jews had been involved in revolutionary movements designed to undermine the war effort, many more gave a disproportionate sacrifice fighting for Germany during World War I. 100,000 Jews had fought for the Kaiser, of whom 10,000 were volunteers. A massive 35,000 Jews were decorated. The prominent businessman and statesman Walther Rathenau, German Foreign Minister after World War I expressed the prevalent sentiment:
I am a German of Jewish stock. My nation is the German nation, my fatherland is the German fatherland, and my faith is the German faith, which transcends the various confessions.
After World War I, these German-Jewish veterans formed the nucleus of a nationalist movement that was not only anti-Communist but also anti-Zionist. The League of National German Jews, formed in 1921, declared:
Our way is not the way of the Zionists… of people who clearly hesitate between Germany and Jewry… of internationalist fanatics… We reject a Jewish united front, the only united front we care for is a German one…