R2290-115 Views From The Watch Tower

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THE following, from the pen of the Editor of the Jewish World, may be regarded as a better than average review of the subject discussed, both as regards knowledge and candor. Very evidently “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7-9) is not yet ended. Probably still greater persecutions will shortly overtake them;—to drive them to Palestine and thus to fulfil the Lord’s predictions through the prophets. The spiritual Israelite must always feel a deep interest in the natural Israelite—whose favor ceased when ours began, and whose favor is to return when ours has accomplished its purpose in finding and developing the Bride, the Lamb’s wife.



“Few movements with deep political and social significance have come to the front with such well-ordered rapidity as has marked the progress of Zionism. The return to Palestine, and a Jewish State for Jewish people, have been the dream of the ‘People of the Book’ for hundreds of years; in fact, the vision was forever the patrimony of the Diaspora, and has haunted the house of Israel through the long intervening centuries. Isolated instances are scattered through the records of history, showing how small bodies of devoted men have from time to time gone to end their days in the Holy Land, and for some this is still the highest aim. Very early in the sixteenth century the Turkish Sultan, Mehmet, gave a huge tract of territory in Central Palestine to Don Joseph of Naxon for the purpose of establishing a Jewish Colony. But the time was not then ripe for a general exodus.

“The present movement has been working slowly and silently for a long time, and is directly an outcome of the changed political condition of things on the Continent. Liberalism came into Europe with the peace that followed the disastrous wars of the beginning of the present century; it was hailed everywhere as the death blow to an already obsolete Feudalism; it produced later on a race of youthful martyrs whose blood stained the barricades in most of the capitals of Europe nearly half a century ago. Then, slowly but surely, the masses found that Liberalism had brought no millennium in its train, that the pressure of economic evils was as great as heretofore, that they had changed the nature rather than the weight of their burdens. As the years passed, and men’s minds were filled with self-satisfaction, while they regarded scientific progress and the modern rush of events and life as an indication of prosperity; while the idea, that the nineteenth century knew everything, and that our forefathers lacked our gifts, gained in strength; it became necessary to provide a scapegoat upon whom a half-trained, uneducated populace might lay the burden of its own faults, and the blame for the difficulty of the struggle for life. Who so fit to be a scapegoat as the Jew—the survivor of a mighty past, the man who held aloof from the people among whom he lived, who worshipped his God in his own way, who did not intermarry, whose virtues were essentially domestic, and whose vices were, tho few, decidedly Eastern and remarkable? …

“To-day the state of affairs on the Continent is a disgrace to the vaunted civilization of the century. Law and order are suspended whenever the Jew comes into question. These are no random statements. In Paris, the Dreyfus case and the pages of La Libre Parole prove the case; in Germany, the almost military discipline of the populace alone keeps the Judenhetze subdued: in Austria, men of infamous character openly lead the mob against the Jews; in Roumania, riots are planned in high quarters; while in Russia and Poland there exists such a condition of affairs as may fairly be termed indescribably revolting. So far as Eastern Europe is concerned, only in Turkey, the country of Abdul Hamid, for whom the worst phrase of the dictionary has been deemed too good, is the Jew permitted to live in peace. …

“Dangerous diseases proverbially require desperate remedies, and only the present condition of the Jews can adequately explain the far-reaching step that is being advocated throughout Europe, and is filling

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the hearts of an outraged people with a joy they never knew before. Dr. Herzl, of Vienna, a man of extraordinary attainments, who has given very great study and care to the case, published a remarkable pamphlet a few years ago, advocating the establishment of a Jewish State, and pointing out the complete possibilities of the plan. Soon after the publication, Dr. Herzl came to England and unfolded his scheme to the Maccabaean Society, whose members listened to it with an interest in which enthusiasm had no part. English Jews are not inclined to go to Zion under any aegis other than that of Thomas Cook and Son.

“They have no personal need, and only a scant knowledge of the need of their brethren. It was not until Dr. Herzl convened the Basel Congress in August of last year that the enthusiasm and needs of Continental Jews became apparent. Two hundred delegates from all parts of the world were present, and the plans were most carefully discussed. The idea of the present movement is to secure Palestine from Turkey just as England secured Cyprus from the same Power, and also to obtain the sanction of the European Powers; then to draft, as rapidly as may be, sections from the districts where most congestion is, and the struggle for life is made almost hopeless by the repressive economic laws that grind the Jews to poverty. Petitions, signed and presented, show that more than three million of Jews are prepared to go to the State when established, and that the vast majority of these are not destitute aliens, but able to hold out for awhile pending preparations for existence under new conditions. This would lead to an immediate relief in congested districts, and so soon as a Jewish State developed, diplomatic relations could be established all over the world that would afford adequate protection from mob violence and premeditated moral oppression to those left behind. Limits of space forbid any amplification of the outline of the plan laid down by Dr. Herzl. …

“Societies are springing up in the laboring districts, and, significantly enough, all the good work down to now is by the poor, to whom the idea of a State more specially appeals.

“Now comes a vital question: Is Palestine fit and able to accommodate the many hundreds of thousands who desire to return? Granting that the people go without undue haste, that the land is free for their work, and that the management is vigorous and single-minded, I answer, with modesty but with assurance, in the affirmative. The soil in Palestine is of more than common fertility, and we have the testimony of the Bible that it covers considerable mineral wealth; the climate is healthful and would probably be improved by occupation and cultivation of the land.

“Colonies in Palestine have long been an accomplished fact. I have visited several, some in or by the plains of Sharon near Jaffa, others in Central Palestine by the Sea of Galilee, or more to the north, near the sources of the Jordan. Everywhere the same phenomena are to be observed. The land, long lain derelict, has smiled again at the first return of labor; the orange and the vine have come rapidly to perfection; fields of waving corn, lighted with vivid splashes of poppies, recall old England. As is the land, so are the people. A single generation has in many cases sufficed to change the stunted sons and daughters of the Ghetto into stalwart men and women: they are themselves as flowers removed from poisonous soil and stifling atmosphere to healthy land and pure fresh air. The change of physique has been accompanied by an equally welcome change of temperament. In place of the men and women whose condition called for a pity in which contempt often succeeded in finding a place, we find a race springing up in which something of the old national spirit has come to sudden rebirth—people who look out upon existence with a knowledge that they, too, have a natural right to share Nature’s heritage without reproach. Seeing that this change has come to the few, why should it not come to the many? And if it come to the many, can a Jewish State be so very far away?”



On the last of March, too late for notice in our last issue, our dear Brother S. S. Cone, well known to many of our readers as one of the “Pilgrims,” died at Augusta, Ga., after a brief illness. He was about seventy-eight years old, and for the past two years had been giving all of his time to the service of the truth, under the auspices of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, as a traveling minister or “Pilgrim.” His last tour was through the Southern States. He was a very effective speaker, very zealous for the Lord and the Harvest truth, and will be greatly missed by us all. Our hope for him is that he was faithful until death, and that he is now among those of whom it is written, “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them”—beyond the vail.—Rev. 14:13.


— April 15, 1898 —