A Jewish Homeland:
The Zionist Movement as a Factor in the War

By Dr. Stephen S. Wise

[The Independent; 1918]

The statement issued by the British Government on November 3, declaring its approval of the Zionist Movement and favoring the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine, toward which end "His Majesty's Government...will use its best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object" changes the status of the Jewish people, which for the past nineteen hundred years has been the "tribe of the wandering foot"—without a center, without a home, without a welcome.

The Jewish people has now risen in a twinkling to a national status, and the Zionist ambition, which is to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine, recognized by law, is brought within the domain of practical politics. The Zionist Movement is twenty years old, and it has already entered the realm of practical politics. Its formula has been adopted 'by the British Government, which, employs almost the identical language of the Basle program, in making its declaration.

I regard this as a great day in the history of the world, the significance of which cannot, of course, break thru the clouds of war, but the importance of which will become clear ten years hence or even less when the stream of Jewish migration will be tending toward Palestine and the two thousand year dream of the Jewish people will be completely realized.

The immediate effect of the declaration, which has the sympathy of our own Government, will be to shake the Jewish world to its center and there will come about a reunification of Jewish forces thruout the world such as has never been seen before.

At the same time it puts a new face upon some phases of the war which makes clear that the Allied declarations and those of President Wilson that we are fighting for the smaller nationalities is no war slogan, but a very decisive and impartial purpose. It not only gratifies the Jews, but it implies that the victory of the Allies will bring healing and comfort to all the small nationalities, while at the same time it makes clear that there are no imperialistic ambitions afoot.

We Zionists anticipated this and our organization is prepared to deal with it. But our plans can be held back in the same cool manner as we have carried on our work thruout these last three trying years. We can simply say at this moment that the suspense involved in the negotiations is at an end and that our organization has accomplished its first duty.

The second actual achievement of Zionism awaits us. It is practically the greatest task put upon a group of human beings to reorganize itself and to resettle upon its own national soil. But we will accomplish this so that the millions of our brethren in Poland and in Russia buffeted by every condition that existed prior to the war and harassed by every condition that has been part of the war, will see in the announcement of the British Government the first real ray of hope, not only for themselves, hut the first light, that has come into the dark prisons which thruput the centuries the Jewish people have inhabited.

© J. Fred MacDonald, 2013



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