Page 124 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 18

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e w i s h
o o k
n n u a l
Men of this millionaire class had to be handled differently
than the typical figures of the rich parvenu class. In his article
“Mauschel” Herzl characterized the latter with a typical epigram:
“Honor! What need is there for honor? If business and health
are good, all else becomes bearable.”37 He was eager to enlist
the Hirsch’s and the Rothschild’s in the cause of Zionism, to
guide them in the use of their money for Jewish matters and
“to give direction to their will.”38 But he disdained the other
rich Jews and set out to fight them tooth and nail. Since he
understood the problems of the Jewish middle-class, Herzl was
not unaware of the decadance of these other rich Jews. In 1894
he told Speidel, “The ruling powers force us into money busi-
ness. We Jews cling to money because we were catapulted on
to money. Moreover, we always had to be prepared to flee or
to conceal our possessions against plunderers. Thus stemmed
our relationship to money. As the king’s vassals we also served as
a kind of indirect taxation. We extracted money from the
people, and later either we were robbed of it or it was con-
fiscated. Through all these sufferings we became odious and our
character, which formerly had been proud and noble, under-
went a change.”39
But these people, in surrendering slavishly to the majesty of
money, were not only stubbornly without honor, but stupid as
well. It was they who always maintained that Zionism could not
succeed because its appeal was for the poor only; what could
one do without money in this world? “They do not deserve my
good advice,” Herzl told a London meeting; “yet I would
strongly urge them to drop such language in their own interest.
With such talk they only confirm the worst anti-Semitic accusa-
tion that money is everything to Jews; that the Jews respect
nothing but money, by whatever means it may have been ac-
quired. Beware of such an opinion, because it is vulgar and not
even clever. If one is so unmannerly as to think like this, one
should at least be clever enough to keep it to oneself.”40 But they
did not keep these thoughts to themselves, because of another
underlying reason. Money is
Seine Hoheit,
and majesty means
power, power rules the poor, and here was a movement which
would elevate the poor Jew and even bring an end to the auto-
cratic rule of money in the Ghetto. But Herzl knew these people
thoroughly. Weren’t these the same Knoepkes, Rheinbergs, Ahl-
bachs and Schwalbachs, whom he had depicted on the stage in
his plays? For us Zionists, he proclaimed, money is not the magic
formula to solve everything as these small Ghetto-people believe,
because “many a man remains small even when standing on a
Ib id. ,
p. 175.
I, p. 31.
Ibid. ,
pp. 10-11.
40 “Speech in London,” in
Zionistische Schr iften,
op. cit., p. 242.