Friday, May 22, 2009

Herzl On The Temple Mount

Well, not physically on, but writing on the subject:

"If I remember you in the future, Jerusalem, it will not be with pleasure." These are the words Theodor Herzl wrote in his diary in October 1898, reflecting on his visit to Jerusalem as the head of a Zionist delegation that met with the German emperor, Wilhelm II...

The few days Herzl spent in Jerusalem were a deeply moving time for him, filled with historic associations and plans for the future. True, many things were not to his liking...But despite feeling bad on the day of his arrival in Jerusalem, Herzl was immediately captivated by the city's appearance.

...While touring, Herzl marveled at the view of the Temple Mount seen from the roof of a synagogue in the Old City, and when the delegation went up to the Mount of Olives, he was thrilled by the scenery - "a sight that has no equal of the Jordan Valley, the Mountains of Moab, and the eternal city of Jerusalem." He added: "What could be done with this scenery! A city like Rome, and from the Mount of Olives there would be a view like from Gianicolo [Hill]."

Indeed, Herzl had as many ideas as there are seeds in a pomegranate. "If one day we receive Jerusalem," he wrote, the Old City would be cleared of its bazaars and all that would remain there would be the places holy to all the religions.

...In his novel "Altneuland" (1902)...Haifa for him was the center of commerce and economics, but Jerusalem was the capital: "a vibrant city, full of splendor, an international metropolis in the 20th century sense."

...It is somewhat surprising that the secular Herzl foresaw the reestablishment of the Temple ("because the time has come"). To prevent any misunderstanding - in Herzl's vision the Temple would not be set up in place of the mosques nor would there be any sacrificial rites there.

Even though the Jerusalem that had been neglected by the Ottoman rulers, as well as the Jews of the city at that time, repelled Herzl, the city with its historic heritage and its potential for the future captured his imagination. For him it was clear that there was no Zionism without Zion.


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