Monday, September 17, 2012

Herzl and the Holocaust

Elise Cooper

I viewed the new movie It is No Dream: The Life of Theodor Herzl, on the eve of the Jewish New Year and Yom Kippur, among the holiest days for the Jews. It is written by Richard Trank and Marvin Hier, narrated by Ben Kingsley, and stars Christoph Waltz as Herzl's voice.  Viewers will learn about one of the most prominent figures in modern Jewish history and the similarities of his life with today's issues.

The film examines how Herzl, an assimilated secular Jew, a well-known journalist and playwright, took upon himself the task of attempting to create a Jewish homeland.  The film is very interesting since it includes rare photographs, film footage of the period, and shots of the places Herzl lived and visited. It takes the audience on a journey as Herzl met with Kings, Prime Ministers, Ambassadors, a Sultan, a Pope, and government ministers in places such as Constantinople, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, and ultimately Palestine. 
Unfortunately, Herzl died at the young age of 44, on July 3rd, 1904.  He never saw his dream come true, but his remains were flown to Israel in 1949, after the Jewish State became a reality.
Rabbi Marvin Hier told American Thinker that he wrote it because "Herzl is an unknown figure, even in the Jewish World.  He had to struggle against everybody:  the reform Jews were against him because they thought he would compromise Jewish allegiance to the countries where Jews were living; the Orthodox Jews disliked him because he was a secular Jew and felt that the gathering of the exiles should be left to the Messiah, not a secular Jew. However, all Jews owe this man a debt of gratitude because without him there would never have been an Israel."         
The movie discusses Herzl's bewilderment about how a supposed enlightened state, France, could have such hatred and anti-Semitism, culminating in Alfred Dreyfus' conviction of spying, solely because he was Jewish. In the spring of 1895 Herzl decided to come up with a solution for the Jewish problem; thus, creating a political movement that led to the founding of the Jewish State, Israel, in 1948.  He became obsessed in wanting the Jews to have a "safe haven" from the anti-Semitic incidents that were occurring throughout Europe.  He feared that if Jews remained in Europe a disastrous apocalypse would follow. 
The film begins with footage of Nazi Germany and then quickly moves to the present, showing synagogues vandalized and Neo-Nazi marches, as well as figures such as the Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  Rabbi Hier told American Thinker he made the movie now "to wake people up. Since we now have a State we have to make sure to keep it."
This film parallels what is happening today, the dangers the Jewish State has to face with the possibility of a nuclear Iran.  It is of no surprise that Iran's President is shown in it.  It appears that just as Herzl's warnings fell on deaf ears so is the warning of Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  Herzl predicted a Holocaust decades before it happened in Europe.  Currently, Netanyahu argues that America must help its staunchest ally in the Middle East, Israel, by setting a clear boundary for Iran's uranium enrichment activities through stronger economic sanctions and by drawing a red line so there will not be a Holocaust in the twenty-first century.  His words could be the words out of Herzl's mouth, when he stated, "The world tells Israel, 'Wait, there's still time.' And I say, 'Wait for what? Wait until when.'"  Yet, America's President refuses to meet with him but is willing and ready to meet with the Egyptian President.  The reason given for not meeting, his busy schedule, which is in reality his campaign rallies.  This should come of no surprise since President Obama is first and foremost a campaigner and not a leader.  
It is No Dream: The Life of Theodor Herzl is a compelling insightful movie, documenting the birth of Zionism under Herzl's auspices. People should see it or watch it when it comes out on DVD to be reminded why Herzl felt the need to want a Jewish state. With the "Ten Days of Awe" approaching, beginning with the Jewish New Year and ending with Yom Kippur, the world, especially President Obama, should take note that this is a time of introspection. Since the desire to annihilate the Jews has not changed over the years, including now where Israel could be annihilated with a nuclear weapon, the words of Herzl are as important as ever, "Oppression and persecution cannot exterminate us. No nation on earth has endured such struggles and sufferings as we have."

Page Printed from: at September 16, 2012 - 11:00:05 PM CDT

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