Volume 45 2013

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By way of introduction to Volume 45 of Jewish Historical Studies: Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England, I wish to recall the history of the early Zionist movement in the late nineteenth century. It is widely known that the Zionist Congress, held in Basle in the summer of 1897, was monumental. The event effectively launched Theodor Herzl's fledgling movement on the world political stage. It was the first effort, in modern times, to mobilize all of world-Jewry with the intention of ameliorating the condition of Jews overall. What is much less known, however, is that the second Zionist Congress, of 1898, also held in Basle, was perhaps an even more astounding achievement. Why? Because Herzl and his followers demonstrated that the meeting of the previous year was not a fluke. The movement had been and could be sustained, which was not a foregone conclusion in 1897.

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