While the pamphlet did not present any new ideas (Political Zionism has been around by then for a while), it did ignite the imagination of the Jewish masses in Eastern Europe and moved Zionism to the mainstream of Jewish political life. Fifteen years later Hertzl was to unite all the different Zionist factions into a Political Zionist Movement.
In 1938, in Nuremberg, the Nazi regime enacted a series of laws that for all intents and purposes made Jews second-class non-citizens in the Third Reich. The world simply ignore it and went on in its attempt to appease the Fuhrer. When the Hilerite mob began to put Jews into concentration camps and tried to force Jews to leave Germany, most Western countries (including the US) closed the doors to Jewish refugees condemning them to stay behind in a continent that would soon erupt in a frenzy of war and criminal racist violence.
Six million people and ten years later, in 1948, the Jewish people would reclaim its dignity and confront invading Arab armies to consolidate the newly independent Jewish State of Israel.
In 1967, the Arab armies of Israel's neighbors mobilized to its borders, blockaded the port of Eilat and called for Israel's destruction. The world called for Israel to stay calm...and international convoy, called "Operation Regatta" would force the Egyptians to open the straits...Operation Regatta existed only in paper. One country after another refused to be part of it. And Israel waited, and waited, and waited. A surprise reshuffle of the Israeli political landscape brought the Likkud Party into a broad based coalition, a Unity government. An everybody who's been around Jews long enough, knows how difficult it is to get Jews to agree on anything...
In six days, Israel defeated the combined armies of Egypt, Syria and Jordan, as well a contingent from Iraq, in a war that reshaped the political landscape of the Middle East. Because of its victory, Israel was seen by the western world in a new light. After being perceived since its independence as a potential liability, Israel was suddenly seen as an important asset for the West. An ally in a region largely dominted by the Soviet Union.
But History is unforgiving. Whatever a country did yesterday has no bearing in how it is considered today. In geopolitics, only today counts. And today, Europe is dealing with a growing and often hostile Muslim population within its own borders, as well as an economic crisis that is threatening to undo the European Union. the United States is faced with its own economic problems and a population growing dissapointed of the system, as well as growing opposition to American intervention in foreign countries. It is in this context that the Iranian leader is threatening Israel with nuclear obliteration.
And the world, again, is counseling patience and caution - as in 1871, as in 1938, as in 1967. As Ahmedinejad engage the West in talks, in what appears to be a delaying tactic, Israel closes ranks to present a united front. Not everybody in Israel is happy with the Likkud-Kadimah alliance, but the broad coalition now backing the government of Benjamin Netanyahu represents 78% of the Israeli electorate; 94 out of the 120 seats in the Knesset.
And while the move gives Netanyahu an unprecedented opportunity, it also limits his choices since he needs to keep the Kadimah Party on board, not only as a Unity gesture, but also as a way to keep in check other factions such as the religious parties and Avigdor Lieberman's Israel Beiteinu.
It seems that ironically it was Mao who best summarized this tactic. He claimed that in times of foreign aggression ideological differences needed to take a second row to the National interest. Israel confronts today yet another life-threatening situation and again the world advises caution. Should Netanyahu patiently listen and follow that advise? Or is the Unity government a preparation for something else?