Skip to content

Theodore Hertzl and the Tall Poppy Syndrome (Dreyfus Affair - Part 4).

Doug Garland
Doug Garland
5 min read
Theodore Hertzl and the Tall Poppy Syndrome (Dreyfus Affair - Part 4).
Composition by Brian Schwartz (AI Generated).

Table of Contents

Have you ever made a wish and got what you wanted, only for the reality to fall way short of the expectation? Aesop's Fables
AI Narration

Jews believe there is a divine covenant between Jews and the Land of Israel and it is a cornerstone of Jewish identity. The Jews were expelled from Israel by the Romans over 2,000 years ago. Before the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, many Jews considered themselves diasporic people and anticipated the Messiah's return leading them back to the Holy Land.

After the French Revolution, the National Assembly proclaimed the emancipation of France’s Jewish minority in 1791. Once and for all, French Jews gained equality before the law. Jews were able to leave their ghettos in France and later, other parts of Europe. Some Jews assimilated believing that a liberal Europe would accept them. Their identity was lessened while discrimination persisted.

In the second half of the 19th century, the Russian Jewish writer Moshe Leib Lilienblum believed that enlightenment would allow Jews and Christians to discard their religious prejudices and coexist. A pogrom in 1881 against Jews caused his change of heart and he became a nationalist. Zionism was first used by Austrian journalist Nathan Birnbaum regarding Jewish nationalism in 1890.

The Butterfly Effect is a concept in chaos theory that describes how small changes can lead to significant and far-reaching consequences in complex systems. The idea is often associated with Edward Lorenz, a mathematician and meteorologist who is credited with popularizing the concept.

Edward Lorenz introduced the butterfly effect in the context of weather prediction. In a 1972 presentation titled "Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly's Wings in Brazil set off a Tornado in Texas?", Lorenz suggested that the flap of a butterfly's wings in one part of the world could potentially set off a chain reaction of events that leads to a tornado forming in another part of the world.

The butterfly effect highlights the sensitivity and interconnectedness of complex systems, where small variations in initial conditions can lead to vastly different outcomes over time. It has since become a popular metaphor used to illustrate the concept that seemingly insignificant actions or events can have profound and unpredictable consequences.

The butterfly effect has been widely referenced in various fields, including mathematics, physics, biology, economics, and popular culture. It underscores the importance of understanding and accounting for complexity, uncertainty, and non-linear relationships in systems and processes.

Theodor Herzl was born on May 2, 1860, in Budapest, Hungary, which was then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He grew up in a secular, German-speaking Jewish family (assimilated Jews). The Herzl family moved to Vienna, Austria-Hungary, a progressive cultural hot spot. He attended the University of Vienna where he studied law. Herzl believed Jews such as himself could rise above impoverishment and oppression, and become civilized Central Europeans.

Herzl initially pursued a brief legal career in law at Vienna and Salzburg but eventually turned to journalism and literature. He worked as a journalist for a Viennese newspaper and a correspondent for Neue Freie Press, in Paris.

During the 1890s, Herzl observed that emancipation had failed due to a new economic competition between Jews and Gentiles. This reignited a new anti-Jewish prejudice. Although liberated from the physical ghetto, he concluded racism now restricted them to a new ghetto with invisible but real walls.

In 1896, Herzl published the pamphlet Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State) which described his visions of a Jewish homeland. The pamphlet attracted international attention and rapidly recognized Herzl as a major figure in the Jewish world.

As the Paris correspondent for Neue Freie Presse, Herzl followed the Dreyfus affair a political scandal from 1894 until its resolution in 1906. Herzl witnessed mass rallies in Paris following the Dreyfus trial. This confirmed and cemented his belief that the Jewish people could never achieve true equality and security in Europe and that they needed their homeland where they could live freely and independently. The events of the Dreyfus Affair reinforced Herzl's conviction that Zionism was not just a cultural or religious movement but a necessary political solution to the Jewish question.

Influenced by the Dreyfus Affair and motivated by his vision for a Jewish homeland, Theodor Herzl became a leading figure in the Zionist movement. In 1897, he convened the First Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland, where he articulated his vision for a Jewish state and laid the groundwork for the Zionist Organization. Herzl's advocacy for Zionism and his efforts to gain international support for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine became his life's mission. His advocacy and leadership laid the foundation for the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.

As Herzl became more prominent and vocal in his advocacy for Zionism, he received threats to his safety from individuals and groups opposed to his beliefs. These threats highlighted the intensity of the opposition and hostility he faced due to his Zionist activities.

Herzl was often subjected to false accusations, slander, and criticism by his opponents, both within the Jewish community and outside it. His vision for a Jewish homeland was controversial and divisive, leading to heated debates, mistrust, and misinformation about his intentions and motives.

In his diplomatic efforts to gain international support for Zionism, Herzl encountered skepticism, indifference, and resistance from world leaders and governments. Some critics and opponents of Zionism portrayed Herzl's advocacy as a political scheme or conspiracy, leading to further challenges and obstacles in his diplomatic endeavors.

The reverberations of the Dreyfus Affair are an iron butterfly effect - ongoing for almost 130 years after the court-martial with no end in sight. The repercussions are still being realized. The affair affirmed beliefs that a Jewish state was a solution for Western anti-semitism. The opposing side also has a belief - namely the elimination of the Jewish state. Even a two-state solution is no solution - too much hate and fear and no trust. Benign envy as a cutter never seemed so simple.

Presentism is a concept or approach that involves interpreting and evaluating historical events, figures, and cultures based on contemporary values, beliefs, and perspectives. In other words, presentism judges the past through the lens of current norms and standards, often leading to anachronistic interpretations and judgments. This approach can result in a distorted or oversimplified understanding of historical contexts, as it fails to consider the unique circumstances, beliefs, and societal norms of the periods being studied.

Presentism can be problematic in historical analysis and scholarship because it risks imposing modern sensibilities and biases onto the past, undermining historical narratives' complexity and richness. Historians and scholars often caution against the pitfalls of presentism and advocate for a more nuanced and contextual approach to studying and interpreting history, which takes into account the diverse and evolving nature of human societies and cultures over time.

Herzl was a Matilija TP - tall and refractory to being cut down. He was wise, courageous, selfless, strong, just, and never gave up (fortitude) - all characteristics of TPs.

Doug Garland Twitter

Douglas Garland, M.D. practiced orthopedic surgery for 37 years in Southern California. Doug was also a Clinical Professor of Orthopedics at the University of Southern California.