They believe that Theodor Herzl’s Zionist dream is still valid today.
By Annabel Foery, Special to ASSIST News Service
BASEL, SWITZERLAND (ANS — September 3, 2017) — Despite cancelled plans of the State of Israel to commemorate the 120th anniversary of the First Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland, a celebratory dinner was hosted a few days ago by the European Coalition for Israel (ECI) and the Forum for Cultural Diplomacy.
The event took place in Basel’s historic Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois, where Theodor Herzl stayed during the congress in 1897.
This was revealed by my friend, Tomas Sandell, Founder of the European Commission for Israel (ECI), in a news release about the event.
Sandell went onto say, “The Israeli ambassador to Switzerland, Jacob Keidar, thanked the Christian group for making sure that this momentous event in Jewish history was properly celebrated in Basel on the very day of the anniversary. The official national event to mark the anniversary was held two weeks earlier at the same location. The head of the Jewish community in Basel, Guy Rueff explained why Basel was chosen in 1897 as the host city of this historical congress. ‘While the Zionist vision was rejected in Munich and Zurich seemed too risky for the organizers, the general population in Basel seemed favorable to the Jewish cause.’
“In his keynote address Dr. Gregory Lafitte pointed out that the vision of Theodor Herzl may have come to pass with the founding of the State of Israel in 1948 but believed the fulfilment of his dream is not yet over, not yet complete. He went on to quote Theodor Herzl who once called Zionism ‘an infinite ideal.’ Herzl was of the opinion that Zionism will not cease to be an ideal even after the Jewish people attain their land, the land of Israel.
“He went on to describe Jerusalem and Athens as the two major foundations of the Western world. The West needs to recognize them. Its Greek source has already been duly recognized. The West now needs to recognize also its Jewish roots, he said.”
Tomas Sandell also stated that Prince Philip Kiril von Preussen spoke about the failure of his great-great grandfather, the last emperor of Germany, Wilhelm II, to help the Jewish cause.
“History could have taken another turn if Kaiser Wilhelm would have agreed to become the protector of the Jewish state in Israel as requested by Theodor Herzl,” said the Prince.
Sandell also said that sadly, also for Germany, the Kaiser refused. “Shortly after Germany lost the First World War and the Emperor lost his crown. It would not take long before Hitler came to power and the rest is history,” said Sandell, who was also the host of the evening and pointed out to those in attendance the importance of remembering the important dates in Jewish history which have paved the way for the creation of the Jewish state.
“August 31st, 1897, the closing date of the First Zionist Congress is one such date,” he stated. “In a day and age when Jewish history in the land of Israel is being denied by UNESCO resolutions and many Jews have to hide their identity in Europe, it is important that we learn to properly recognize and celebrate these milestones also in Europe.”
In its story about the First Zionist Congress, The Jerusalem Post (http://www.jpost.com/), said that the Hebrew prophet Isaiah wrote, “Thus said the Lord, I will raise My hand to nations and lift up My banner to the peoples; and they shall bring your sons in their bosoms, and carry your daughters on their back” (49:22). The Torah has many such examples of the gentile nations assisting the return of Jews to Israel and Christian Zionists have long pointed to passages such as this for their inspiration.
“Were I to sum up the Basel Congress in a word — which I shall guard against pronouncing publicly — it would be this,” wrote Herzl in his diary on September 3, 1897. “At Basel, I founded the Jewish state. If I said this out loud today I would be greeted by universal laughter. In five years perhaps, and certainly in 50 years, everyone will perceive it.”
The Jerusalem Post then added, “Indeed, in just over 50 years from the First Zionist Congress, the Jewish state was established as Theodore Herzl predicted with the accuracy of a biblical prophet. By inviting 10 non-Jews to the Basel Congress, Herzl demonstrated his belief that Christian Zionists could provide invaluable assistance in the historic return of the People of Israel to the Land of Israel.”
Photo captions: 1) Theodore Herzl looking out on the city of Basel from his balcony during the First Zionist Congress. 2) Herzl addresses the historic congress. (3) A poster of Theodore Herzl by Zeev Raban (1890-1970). 4) In this April 18, 2010, photo, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks at posters of stamps carrying the portrait of Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism, in Jerusalem. 5) Tomas Sandell, Founder of the European Commission for Israel. 6) Annabel Foery.
About the writer: Annabel Foery, an English transplant to the USA, has been a follower and disciple of Jesus Christ, (Yeshua Ha-Mashiach) learning to know the heart of God and encouraging others to do likewise. She lives in Alexandria Virginia and helps volunteer with hosting overseas guests at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC.
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