Theodor Herzl

Benjamin Ze'ev (Theodor) Herzl, a Hungarian Jew was born on May 2, 1860 and died on July 3, 1904 at the age of 44 of a heart failure. He is known as the father of Zionism, whose movement eventually ended up in displacing 750,000 Palestinians off their home of thousands of years to make room for Europe's Ashkenazi Jews. Both Theodor's father and his grandfather were ardent Zionists. In the movement of Zionism, the aim was to steal land belonging to people of color and to make it a save heaven for European Ashkenazi Jews by shoving the indigenous people off the land. Countries considered for colonization by Jews were: Argentina, Palestine, Uganda, Cyprus. But first, the Zionists had to win not only the approval but also the guarantee of the major powers of the day and the right man for the job to lead the movement was Theodor Herzl. He was tenacious, relentless, and determined!



Theodore Herzl and the Pope

January 20, 1904: Florence, Italy:

Herzl travels to Italy in a desperate hope to meet with the Pope with the intention of convincing him that the occupation of the Holy Land by Europe's Jews would be a win-win situation for both the Catholic Church and the Jews.

Herzl meets Lippay, the Artist and Papal Count by happenstance:

As Theodor Herzl was entering a restaurant, in Florence, Italy, he noticed right away that someone was leaning forward and staring at him intently from a group of people sitting in a corner. Then a waiter approached Herzl and asked him if he were the Herzl of Vienna. He answered yes. At the confirmation of the identity of Herzl, Lippay the artist and Papal Count came over to Herzl and introduced himself. Herzl could not have had better luck of accidentally meeting someone who had connections to the Pope. Within a few minutes, Lippay would inform Herzl that if he came to Rome that he would introduce him to the Pope. But that introduction would not come without a price tag, actually a large price tag. But Herzl was prepared to pay what it took to be introduced to the Pope, he desperately needed the Pope's endorsement to colonize Palestine for the European Ashkenazi Jews. 'Lippay remained at my table an hour and a half babbling more and more about his high connections … I was such a listener that he lost the reign to his tongue', Herzl later noted in his diary. Lippay agreed to introduce Herzl to the Pope and to be his interpreter. Lippay told Herzl he must first send a telegraph to Lippay officially requesting a meeting with the pope, Herzl complies and sends:

Count Lippay

Painter to his Holiness

Vatican Antechamers

Earnestly beg you obtain for me audience with Holy Father.

Awaiting his response, Grand Hotel, Florence.

January 22, 1904: Rome. Lippay informs Herzl that the meeting with the Pope was arranged.

Lippay informs Herzl that in his favor he had informed the Pope that Herzl had spoken very favorably of Jesus Christ which pleased the Pope. Lippay suggested to Herzl to ask the Pope to be the protectorate of Palestine. Herzl refused. Herzl told Lippay that the only thing that he would ask of the Pope would be for the Pope to state that he had no objection to Zionism as long as the Holy Places remained 'exterritorialized'.

Lippay then informed Herzl that he also had connections in Constantinople, the head of the Turkish Empire, but asked Herzl how much would he be willing to pay for that favor. Herzl told Lippay to name his price. "As much as you like, name your reward." A meeting with the Sultan was Herzl's highest priority.

Herzl meets the Secretary of State Cardinal Merry del Val before meeting the Pope.

Herzl gets right to the point and tells the cardinal his wish would be the Good will of the Holy See for the Zionist cause. The Cardinal replied by saying that so long as the Jews denied the divinity of Christ that he could not see how he could side with them, how could the Catholic church allow the possession of the Holy Land by the Jews. To this, Herzl replied that he was asking only for the portion of Palestine excluding the Holy Places, Herzl referred to the non-Holy portion of Palestine as 'the profane earth'. Herzl assured the Cordial that the Holy Places would be 'exterritorialized'. But the Cardinal stated that the land could not be set apart as Herzl suggested, 'impossible to think of them as set apart, one from the other'. Herzl resorted to pleading and flattery and he told the Cardinal how much he had always admired the Catholic Church for 'its large perspectives and strength of endurance'. He relentlessly pleaded with the Cardinal and asked that the Catholic Church not to be against Zionism even if it did not come forth in favor of Zionism, that such a gesture would be a 'great moral conquest for the Catholic Church'. The Cardinal responded by telling Herzl that the only way they would come in favor of Jews to take hold of Palestine would be for the Jews to agree to accept conversion, otherwise no possibility for the Catholic church to take the initiative. Herzl replied that the initiative would be undertaken by the Great Powers, what he was asking of the Church was only their endorsement. Herzl assured the Cardinal that he had already gone from one great power to another and secured their approval. He provided as evidence of the support of the major powers in favor of Zionism, Herzl showed Plehve's last letter to Herzl, the greatest possession that he had to advance his Zionist cause. [See footnote 1]. Herzl wrote in his diary: "he read through Plehve's letter thoroughly - the first page twice, as if he were trying to memorize it'

January 23, 1904: Rome - Herzl meets with the King of Italy:

Herzl meets the King of Italy and the conversation immediately drifts towards the conquest of Palestine. The King assured Herzl that Palestine was his, that it was only a matter of time, as long as they could get half a million Jews in there. Herzl replied that the Jews were not allowed to enter. The King said, 'nonsense'! He told Herzl that he knew the land of Palestine, he had been there, and everything could be attained by 'baksheesh', which means bribe. Herzl replied that his project involved lots of improvement projects and investments which they would not be willing to risk unless the country was assured to be theirs. Herzl noted in his diary how the King laughed and told Herzl in Italian - 'casa di altri'- it would be like fixing up someone else's house. Herzl told the King that his utmost desire was to win over the Sultan. The King then told Herzl that the only thing that would have any sway on the Sultan was money, he advised Herzl to promise the Sultan, in return for the Jordan valley that he would receive half of the profit it brings and the Sultan would let the Jews have it. But Herzl protested, that he required autonomy and nothing less. The King then told him the bad news that the Sultan would not go for autonomy, that he detested the word. Undeterred, Herzl proceeded to show two letters to the King: the letter from Plehve and the second one from The Duke, to let the King know how much the progress for the seizure of Palestine had already been advanced. The King - like everyone else who had the privilege to read Plevhe's letter - seemed in awe and assured Herzl that he would not mention a word of the strictly confidential letter that he had just read - which dealt with the support of the major powers for the colonization of Palestine by European Jews. The King told Herzl that he was so astonished that he was granted such a document from Plehve and he assured Herzl that the letter itself should advance the cause of Zionism. Finally after showing proof that other great powers were willing to intervene on behalf of Europe's Jewry to steal Palestine, Herzl asked the King to write a letter to the Sultan in favor of Zionism. The King told Herzl that he would not be able to promise something which he may not fulfill but assured Herzl and promised him that he had the King's goodwill. When Herzl was about to leave the meeting, the king asked Herzl if the Jews were still expecting the Messiah. Herzl replied that only the religious Jews do. But the university-trained and enlightened Jews did not entertain such a belief. The King then asked Herzl if he were a Rabbi. Herzl replied that he was not and that his movement was strictly a national movement. When the time came for Herzl to leave, he mentioned that Italy could do a great deal for the Jews, for, he explained that the Sultan was afraid of Italy.

January 25, 1904: Herzl Finally Meets the Pope, but the meeting did not go well for him!

Herzl wrote in his diary that the Pope received him standing, and held out his hand, but Herzl refused to kiss it. Herzl also wrote in his diary that the go-between Lippay had told him in advance that he must kiss the Pope's hand, but Herzl said he wouldn't do it. "I believe that this spoiled my chances with him, for everyone who visits him kneels and at least kisses his hand. This hand kiss had worried me a great deal and I was glad when it was out of the way". Herzl begun the meeting with the Pope by thanking him for the opportunity. Herzl put forth the request that brought him to seek audience with the Pope. But the Pope replied by saying:

"We are unable to favor this movement. We cannot prevent the Jews from going to Jerusalem - but we could never sanction it. The ground of Jerusalem, if it were not always sacred, has been sanctified by the life of Jesus Christ. As the head of the Church, I cannot answer you otherwise. The Jews have not recognized our Lord, therefore we cannot recognize the Jewish people. Jerusalem cannot be placed in Jewish hands."

Herzl then asked the Pope if he had any problem with the Holy land being under the control of the Muslims? The Pope relied:

"I know it is disagreeable to see the Turks in possession of our Holy Places. But we simply have to put up with it. But to sanction the Jewish wish to occupy these sites, that we cannot do."

However, Herzl attributed the Pope's answer due to Herzl's refusal to kiss the Pope's hand.

Herzl continued to plead with the Pope and told him that the Zionist movement was solely based on the suffering of the Jews, that that they were to push aside all religious issues.

The Pope replied that as the Head of the Church he could not allow it. He said if he did, one of two things would happen.

'Either the Jews would retain their ancient faith and continue to await the Messiah whom we believe has already appeared - in which case they are denying the divinity of Jesus and we cannot assist them or else they would get there with no religion whatever, and then we can have nothing to do with them at all.'

The Pope also told Herzl that the Jewish faith had been superceded by the teachings of Christ and that 'we cannot admit that it enjoys any validity. The Jews who should have been the first to acknowledge Jesus Christ have not done so to date.' Herzl replied that terror and persecution were not the best methods to convert the Jews.

Herzl stressed that his Jewish people were under duress in Europe and that they desperately needed to acquire land out of Europe urgently. The Pope then asked Hertz why must it be Jerusalem? Herzl replied that he was not asking for Jerusalem but for the 'secular land' of Palestine. The Pope said he would not allow it. Herzl kept asking the Pope if he were aware of the condition of Europe's Jews and the Pope told Herzl that if the Jews came to Palestine that the churches and the priests would be ready and waiting for them to baptize them all.

We learn from Herzl's diary that his audience with the Pope lasted 25 minutes.

Herzl Meets with an Italian Senator Malvano, a Jew.

Malvano had sent advance notice to Herzl that he would be wiling to discuss anything else but Zionism with him. Perhaps offended by his lack of cooperation with Zionist Jews, Herzl described the Jew Senator as: 'who virtually runs the foreign office although he is not the Minister ... an unkempt dusty little with a foul breath he is a clerk in the wholesale firm of Italy Inc.' Herzl indicated he left the Jew Senator's office without ever mentioning Zionism.

Herzl meets with Foreign Minister Tittoni.

Herzl learned from Tittoni that the King intended to write to the Italian Ambassador in Constantinople telling him 'to proceed in concert with the Russian'. (In reference to Plehve's letter in the hands of Herzl.)

What did it cost Herzl for the favor to meet with the Pope? Herzl wrote: "on the afternoon of my meeting with the Pope, our Conte Lippay presented me with a bill." Herzl indicated that Lippay informed him that he needed money from Herzl - lots of it. Herzl resorted to raising the large amount of money asked by Lippay without mentioning Lippay, Herzl told his people that the money was the price of establishing connections with the Vatican.


Note1: Theodor Herzl died six months after the meeting with the Pope. He began his diary as soon as he was about to embark on the mission of acquiring Palestine for European Jews around mid 1895. He met with the Pope on January 25, 1904. During the interval, Herzl worked tirelessly to bring about his dream of Zionism for his people. I will be going back to the beginning of the diary and introduce much of what he had to say - except that he said little to nothing as to what was to happen to the indigenous people of Palestine.

Note2: A good book that I read about the Catholic Church and how it fought to stem the advance of Zionism is by Livia Rokach: "The Catholic Church and the Question of Palestine. See [Footnote 2].


Footnote 1: In regards to Plehve's most highly cherished letter to Herzl, click here to read The New York Times of Aug 26, 1903.

Footnote 2: The Catholic Church and the Question of Palestine, by Livia Rokach. A great book, a rare book. Very Informative.

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