Herzl's "Aquisition" of Mass Murderer in Support of Zionism 1903

You recall that in March 2013 during President Obama's trip to Israel he went to Mt. Herzl and visited Zionist founder Theodore Herzl's grave. Coincidentally Herzl made news exactly 110 years earlier, by meeting and recuriting for Zionism a mass killer of Jews.

In April 1903 there was a pogrom in the Russian Empire in the city of Kishinev. It is generally believed that Wenzel von Plehve, Russian Minister of Interior, was most responsible.

According to Wikipedia the New York Times in 1903 printed this account: "The anti-Jewish riots in Kishinev, Bessarabia, are worse than the censor will permit to publish. There was a well laid-out plan for the general massacre of Jews on the day following the Russian Easter. The mob was led by priests, and the general cry, "Kill the Jews," was taken- up all over the city. The Jews were taken wholly unaware and were slaughtered like sheep. The dead number 120 and the injured about 500. The scenes of horror attending this massacre are beyond description. Babes were literally torn to pieces by the frenzied and bloodthirsty mob. The local police made no attempt to check the reign of terror. At sunset the streets were piled with corpses and wounded. Those who could make their escape fled in terror, and the city is now practically deserted of Jews."

Nowadays it's believed that the actual number of dead was somewhat less, 45 to 50 with around 600 wounded. Nevertheless it was a huge shock and received a lot of attention. One of the people disturbed by the barbarity was Theodore Herzl. So what does he do? He writes to von Plehve and asks to meet with him. He goes to visit a man he thinks was responsible for mass murder in order to convince him that Zionists and the Russian Empire really both had the same interests, the departure of Jews from the Russian Empire. He succeeds. Von Plehve is won over and becomes a supporter of Zionism and lets them operate more freely in the empire (at least until Von Plevhe was blown up by anarchists the next year).

Hard to believe? Here's how the meeting is described on the website of the Herzl Museum which is located on Mt. Herzl. (screenshot here)

"August 7: Herzl arrives in St. Petersburg, where he seeks Russian intervention with Turkey on behalf of his Zionist proposals to secure Jewish settlement in Palestine, and to permit open Zionist activity in Russia. He is received twice by Count Wenzel von Plehve, Russian minister of the interior, who is believed to be responsible for the Kishinev pogrom. Herzl's most important achievement is Wenzel von Plehve's acquisition as a supporter of Zionism."

The Herzl Museum is proud of it! (though it even outraged Russian Zionists at the time).

This complete surrender to a vicious anti-Semite in hopes of getting gain for the Zionist project was the model for what later Zionists did with Nazi Germany in the '30's.

Historian Lenni Brenner pointed out to me an irony in Obama's visit to Herzl's grave. When Obama redecorated the Oval Office he removed a bust of Winston Chruchill that had been lent to George W. Bush. It was alleged in the British Telegraph that this was done because Churchill supervised the unbelievably brutal suppression of the anti-colonial revolt of the Kenyans in the early '50's. One of the people tortured then was Obama's grandfather Hussein Onyango Obama.

What does Herzl have to do with this? In the last few years of his life Herzl was pursuing a plan for a temporary refuge for Jews in east Africa until a Jewish State could be created in Palestine. He wrote to the British and in August 1903 he got a favorable response. There was a revolt at the Zionist Congress that year against the plan and the British themselves later withdrew it. Imagine though if the plan had gone through and hundreds of thousands of Jews had settled in east Africa. They would have been a loyal "Ulster" defending the British crown against natives like Obama's grandfather. Yet while Obama could remove the bust of Churchill, the son of a Kenyan found it necessary to pay tribute at the gravestone of Herzl.

- Stanley Heller, June 10, 2013