Page 51 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 1

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ter of the gigantic conflict which was impending. These are
No rdau ’s words: “Distress and bloodshed, many crimes and deeds
of violence; peoples will rage against each other, and whole races
will be pitilessly crushed out of existence; tragedies of exalted
heroism will be played along with the tragedies of human base-
ness; cowardly multitudes will allow themselves to be emascu-
lated without resistance; armies of brave men will fall with glory
in the combat.”
These lines were penned while Nordau was still a Hungarian,
a German, or a European—at any rate, before he had come to
think of himself as a Jew. At that stage he did not perhaps relate
the Jewish crisis to the crisis of civilization; and when he
prophesied that “whole races will be pitilessly crushed out of
existence” he might not have had his own people in mind. I t was
only later when he emerged as a Jew and a leader of his people
that he related the Jewish problem to the tragedy of Europe and
viewed the Jewish position in the context of the great upheaval
which he foresaw. From that moment on, he not only espoused
the cause of Zion, but, entertaining such convictions regarding
the twentieth century, he necessarily became a radical, maximalist
Zionist. Wi th Herzl, he therefore thought in terms of a large-
scale transfer of Jewish masses from European lands and the
creation of a Jewish State. His was a revolutionary Zionism as
opposed to evolutionary policies, to slow infiltration into Pales-
tine. The Jews of Europe were living on a volcano which was
about to erupt; they must be removed, and swiftly, to a place of
safety. This explains his savage attack upon Ahad Ha-Am and
the ideal of a “cultural center.” If Ahad Ha-Am would save
Judaism, he, Nordau, would save the Jews; and the Jews could
be trusted to save their Judaism.
The sense of imminent disaster which had haunted Herzl and
continued to haun t Nordau after Herzl’s premature death, also
explains the violence of his attack upon official Zionist leader-
ship in the years
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. Nordau knew that there were
historic moments in the lives of nations—non-recurrent oppor-
tunities which had to be taken at the flood. Such a moment was
the conclusion of the World War when it was one of the declared
war-aims of the Allied powers to effect the national restoration
of the Jewish people in Palestine. It was a moment fraught with
immense and incalculable possibilities, and Nordau insisted
upon a correspondingly bold course of action. Keenly aware of
the disparity in numbers between Jews and Arabs in Palestine
and its bearing upon the political future of the country, he
urged the immediate creation of a Jewish majority by a heroic
and revolutionary act—the transfer of
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Jews to Palestine
under quasi-military conditions, to be followed at once by the
proclamation of a Jewish State which would place the control of
future immigration and the future destiny of the land in the
hands of the Jewish people itself.
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