My review of Shlomo Avineri’s Herzl’s Zionism: Theodor Herzl and the Foundation of the Jewish State is now posted at History News Network. Avineri is a world-renowned academic, who has authored works on Marxism, socialism and Zionism, and served as director-general of the Foreign Ministry during the Rabin government in the 1990s. He is also the editor of three volumes of Theodor Herzl’s diaries.
In reading and reviewing Avineri’s book, I was struck by the caldron of European antisemitism in which Herzl lived — both culturally and in actual violence (I regret that I did not mention the Kishinev pogrom) — which influenced a very cosmopolitan, non-religious liberal like Herzl to realize that European Jewry was in dire danger and needed to find refuge elsewhere. I also indicate the liberal, pluralistic vision for the Jewish state that Herzl emphasized in his fanciful novel, Altneueland (“Old-New-land”).