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Nordau stresses Zionism as a cure for the rootless, Western Jew – where Palestine would anchor the nation and provide security.The failure of assimilation and growth of anti-Semitism highlighted Jewish physical insecurity, Zionism provided a simple solution for this with Palestine.
It is important to note that Jews felt marginalised and betrayed, especially the Germany Jewry who had endeavoured to assimilate. Who created the German national movement in Austria? Furthermore, Zionism was a response to anti-Semitism in the sense that it sought to put the Jews on good terms with their Gentile neighbours, Herzl articulates that the Jews shall depart as honoured friends, if some returned they would be greeted as favourable and civilised. Thus Zionism was a solution for the failure of assimilation and a way to abate the aggressive growth of anti-Semitism that threatened the existence of the Jewish nation, by uniting the nation Herzl believed not only could anti-Semitism be allayed but, the Jewish spirit would be revived.
The impact of anti-Semitism is evident through Jewish literature, such as Schnitzler’s Weg in Feie, where Ehrenberg states, “Who created the liberal movement in Austria? The crux of Zionism is a movement as an effect of the precarious situation in Europe, thus a response to the need of security and national dignity, through unity.
Palestine would revive the spirit, the land would rebuild the person, “If I wish to substitute a new building for an old one, I must first demolish before I construct”.
This construction would be the remedy for centuries of oppression.
Russia was riveted by 215 pogroms that destroyed $80million worth of Jewish property, especially that of Kishiner and Besserarabia, that consolidated the anti-Semitic character, inducing great migration to Central and Western Europe.
Newspapers and literature cultivated the stereotype of the sly Jew and Herzl highlights the quotidian encounters of anti-Semitism, such as abusive language, that were more dangerous than political anti-Semitism. Zionism can be seen as a direct effect of the need to save and redeem the Jews from the bewildering intensity of anti-Semitism and rumours of blood libel.
Zionism was a self-conscious psycho-political effect of the failure of assimilation, which looked to the Jewish state to provide a remedy for “poverty, complete tranquillity and national glory.” The genesis of Zionism was in large part caused by the rise of anti-Semitism, especially the events of 1881-84 in Russia, following the death of Tsar Alexander II.
This composed and fuelled the movement in its formative years.
The Germany Jewry for example, had been freed and underwent a process of massive economic, social and cultural transformation, allowing for bildung (a German process of self-cultivation).
This was a great step forward, noting that Jews had been physically and psychologically persecuted for centuries.