Uri Avnery – Patagonian Dreams

Exquisite Places

Exquisite places

Patagonian Dreams

…  by  Uri Avnery,  Gush Shalom


– First published May 31, 2014

Pope Francis lays wreath at Theodor Herzl grave, May 2014

Pope Francis lays wreath at Theodor Herzl grave, May 2014

During his short visit to Israel, Pope Francis laid a wreath on the grave of Theodor Herzl. That was not a usual gesture.

Foreign heads of state are obliged to visit Yad Vashem, as did the pope, but not the grave of Herzl. It is not like the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Paris.

So why Herzl’s grave? Obviously, this gesture was intended to emphasize the Zionist character of the state. Herzl was the founder of modern political Zionism. He is officially called “the Visionary of the State”. His is the only picture decorating the Knesset plenum hall. If we had saints, he would be St. Theodor.

Probably, Francis did not give another thought to this gesture. If so, it’s a pity. The Argentine Pope could have found a lot of interest in this colorful Viennese journalist and playwright. Because if Herzl had had his way, Francis would have been greeted by President Peres and Prime Minister Netanyahu in Spanish. He would have honored Herzl’s grave in the Jewish State somewhere south of Buenos Aires.

If Francis had never heard of this episode, he is not the only one. The vast mass of Israelis has not either. It is not taught in Israeli schools. It is hidden rather shamefully.

Theodor Herzl

Theodor Herzl

Israelis know about “Uganda”. Shortly before his early death, Herzl was invited by the British government to implement his ideas in part of British East Africa (actually, it was the Kenyan highlands, a plateau with a mild climate, which later became a part of Kenya.)

By that time, Herzl had despaired of getting Palestine from the Turkish Sultan. The Kenyan project, which could be implemented at once, attracted him and his main supporter, Max Nordau, who advised him to take it at least temporarily, as a “night asylum”.

But the Russian Zionists, the bulwark of the movement, rebelled. Palestine or nothing. Herzl was overruled by his admirers and died soon after of a broken heart, it was said.

This episode is well known. Much has been written about it. Some would say that if during the 1930s a Jewish Commonwealth had existed in Africa, many European Jews could have been saved from the Nazis.

But the Argentine chapter has been erased. It did not fit the image of the Visionary of the State on the walls.

Herzl’s long trek to Zionism started when, as a Hungarian-born Jewish student in Vienna, he encountered anti-Semitism. His logical mind found the answer. Being a playwright, he described the scene: all Austrian Jews, except himself, would march in an orderly fashion to the Cathedral and convert en masse to Catholicism. The pope would have been enthusiastic.

However, Herzl soon learned that neither would the Jews accept baptism (“the Jews are afraid of water,” Heinrich Heine once joked), but the nationalist Goyim did not dream of accepting them into their ranks. How could they? Jews were everywhere, in many different countries, so how could they sincerely join any national movement?

That’s when Herzl had his historic insight: if the Jews could not join any of the national movements that were mushrooming in Europe, why shouldn’t they constitute themselves as a separate, new-old nation?

For Herzl, that was a sober, rational idea. No God involved, no Holy Scriptures, no romantic nonsense. Palestine did not enter his mind. Nor had he any interest in the religious fantasies of Christian Zionists in Britain and the US, like Alfred Balfour.

Herzl’s project was fully completed, up to the smallest detail, and written down in the brochure that became the Zionist Bible “Der Judenstaat”,  before he even started to think seriously about the place where it should be realized.

The pamphlet started as a speech he made to the “family council” of the Rothschilds, the richest Jews on earth. He expected them to finance the project.


Blue Lake, Patagonia, Argentina

Blue Lake, Patagonia, Argentina

The text is immortalized in his Diaries, a very well-written document covering several books. On page 149 of the first book of the original German print, after explaining his plans, he remarks that “I can tell you everything about the ‘promised Land’ except its location.”

This will be left to a conference of outstanding Jewish geographers, who will decide where to set up the Jewish state, after examining all the geological, climatic, “in short, the natural circumstances, taking into account the most modern investigations”. It is a “purely scientific” decision to make.

In the end, when the pamphlet came out under the title “Der Judenstaat”, the location was almost ignored. Less than a page was devoted to it, under the expressive title: “Palestine or Argentina?” Herzl clearly preferred Argentina. The reason for this has also been forgotten.

A generation before Herzl, Argentina consisted mainly of the north of the country, around Buenos Aires. The vast south, called Patagonia, was almost empty.

At the time, Argentina started a campaign of conquest, that many today consider genocidal. The indigenous pre-Columbian population, including a tribe of “giants” (two meters tall) was annihilated or pushed out. That was called, almost in Zionist fashion, “the desert campaign”.

Such genocidal campaigns were at the time quite usual. The US ran one against the “red Indians”. The Germans committed genocide in today’s Namibia, and the mass-murderer was feted in the Kaiser’s Germany as a national hero. The King of the Belgians did something similar in the Congo.

Lambs on grasslands of Patagonia

Lambs on grasslands of Patagonia

What Herzl saw with his mind’s eye was a huge new country more or less empty, just waiting to be turned into a Jewish state. He thought that the Argentine government would give it up for money. The remaining local population could be pushed out or enticed to move somewhere else, but “only after they had exterminated all wild animals.”

(Anti-Israeli propagandists use this sentence as if it were aimed at the Palestinians. That is quite untrue. Herzl could not possibly have written such a thing about Palestine as long as the Muslim Caliph was the sovereign of the country.)

Patagonia is a very picturesque country, with many different landscapes, from the seashores of both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, to the incredibly beautiful ice-covered mountains of the Andes. The climate is generally cool, even cold. The most southerly town in the world is located on its southern tip.


Pope Francis prays at the Palestinian Occupation Wall, May 2014

Pope Francis prays at the Palestinian Occupation Wall, May 2014

The rational approach of Herzl was soon swamped by the irrational character of his movement – a mixture of religious fantasies and East European romanticism. The plan to resettle the Jews in a safe environment turned into a Messianic movement. This has happened to the Jews before, and always ended in disaster.

Herzl detested Palestine.

Most of all he detested Jerusalem. Curiously enough for the prophet of Zionism, he long refused to visit Palestine. He crisscrossed Europe from London to St Petersburg, from Istanbul to Rome, in order to meet the Great of the World, but did not set foot in Jaffa until he was practically compelled by the German Kaiser. Wilhelm II, a romantic and rather unstable type, insisted on meeting the Leader of the Jews in a tent near the gates of Jerusalem.

“Rachael” by Sarah Novenson, Santa Fe

It was in November, the mildest month in this country, but Herzl suffered terribly from the heat, especially as he would not take off his heavy European suit. The Kaiser, a born anti-Semite, listened politely, and later remarked: “A good idea, but impossible to do with Jews.”

Herzl fled the town and the country as quickly as he could. The Holy City, for which his successors are today ready to shed much blood, looked to him ugly and dirty. He escaped to Jaffa, and there climbed in the middle of the night onto the first available ship going to Alexandria.  He claimed to have heard rumors about a plot to kill him.

All this could have been food for the pope’s reflections, if he had been focused on the past. But Francis lives in the present and held out his arms to the living, especially the Palestinians.

Instead of entering the land through Israel, like everybody else, he loaned a helicopter from King Abdallah II and flew directly from Amman to Bethlehem. This was a kind of recognition of Palestinian statehood.

On his way back from Bethlehem to the helicopter, he suddenly asked to stop, went up to the occupation Wall and laid his hands on its ugly concrete, as his predecessors had done at the Western Wall. His prayer there could only be heard by God.

From there the pope flew to Ben-Gurion airport, as if he had just arrived from Rome. He marched on the red carpet between Peres and Netanyahu (since neither of the two would cede the honor to the other). I don’t know what the pope found to talk about with this shallow duo, but I would surely have enjoyed listening in to a conversation between the two intelligent Argentinians, Francis and Herzl.

Editing: Erica P. Wissinger


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13 Responses to "Uri Avnery – Patagonian Dreams"

  1. Tiu  June 1, 2014 at 3:25 am

    Wilhelm number 1 worked on a project with Queen Victoria in the mid-later half of the 19th C where they built a church on the Temple Mount with the idea that the Jews of Europe would flock to Palestine, convert to Christianity and thereby bring about the second coming of the Messiah. Which to me sounds very odd, but it’s described in greater detail in Barbara Tuchman’s “The Bible and the Sword”. Vicky and Willy were under the influence of a wealthy individual called Moses Montefiore who is probably the prototype for Hershel/Wiseman etc.

  2. ani  May 31, 2014 at 10:31 pm

    “Herzl detested Palestine.
    Most of all he detested Jerusalem”

    These days it is relatively well-known that we Become what we hate.

    Actually, we Become our Choices.
    Best Become Love.

  3. ani  May 31, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    a lot of what is described here is these days well-known ‘delusions of grandeur’
    well documented in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manuals aka the handbooks for psychiatrists.

    The Tragedy being that so-called psychiatrists frequently have little or no insight to their own problems while determining the lives of others.

    With all due respect to the many good and true psychiatrists and therapists who DO help/nurture the spirits of those of their clients who ‘Dare to Dream’.
    This, before anything, made America GREAT!

  4. ani  May 31, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    “Such genocidal campaigns were at the time quite usual. The US ran one against the “red Indians”. The Germans committed genocide in today’s Namibia, and the mass-murderer was feted in the Kaiser’s Germany as a national hero. The King of the Belgians did something similar in the Congo.”

    Erica what would you call the British acts against the Australian Aboriginal Peoples, who today remain outside our Constitution?

    Shame! Shame! Shame!

    • ani  June 1, 2014 at 8:44 pm

      Erica I am so sorry that you took personally my words ‘shame! shame!’ above.
      It was certainly not my intention to burden you in this way.

      Shame is on the shoulders of Australians, and my words echo one of our ‘delinquent’ broadcasters who is frequently thrown in jail for his politically incorrect diatribes.

      I just wanted the decimation of Aboriginals at the hands of the first white settlers to be included in your list.
      Once again, my apologies.

  5. Tiu  May 31, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    But I don’t want to be at the mercy or merciless sociopaths!

  6. Bartered  May 31, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    “Being a playwright, he described the scene all Austrian Jews, except himself, would march in an orderly fashion to the Cathedral and convert en masse to Catholicism. The pope would have been enthusiastic.”

    Actually it was a brilliant idea in the scope that so many converts with the same mentality could easily rewrite all of the rules and make the Catholic Church theirs. Sound crazy? It was done much later with Vatican II. Mission accomplished.

  7. Tiu  May 31, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    Before Blair foisted Ashton on Europe as their Foreign Rep, she was a council member and also an advocate for Stone Wall, a gay-rights activist group. I always wondered how her credentials qualified her for her current role.

  8. joe chuy-medina  May 31, 2014 at 9:21 am

    the following is partially from the latest article by Cara St. Louis on this website.

    “Jesuit Superior General Adolfo Nicolas Pachon announced suddenly this week that he will resign from his office at the next General Congress of the Jesuits.

    Along with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, Bergoglio and Pachon are primary defendants in an historic criminal lawsuit being conducted by the International Common Law Court of Justice in Brussels that commenced on April 7, 2014. Several eyewitnesses who have given their deposition to the Court claim they witnessed Welby, Bergoglio and Pachon participate in child rape and sacrifice rituals connected to the notorious Jesuit-run Ninth Circle cult, during 2009 and 2010.

    Pachon is the third top Vatican official to resign while in office after being prosecuted by the ICLCJ for crimes against humanity. Former Pope Benedict, Joseph Ratzinger, abdicated on February 11, 2013, barely two weeks before the ICLCJ jury found him guilty of complicity in child trafficking and murder. Another primary defendant in the same case, Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, also resigned after the verdict.”

    Perhaps there is more to this pope than the main stream media have discussed. Witnesses from Rome have said that Francis is living in a convent, and that Ratzinger is still in the Vatican running the show.

  9. Malik  May 31, 2014 at 9:06 am

    the old Canard saying, “a born anti-Semite” there is no such definition when talking about ashkenazi khasars,there not Semites. More properly it should say anti yiddish mafia, that would be more accurate.

  10. Tiu  May 31, 2014 at 6:40 am

    I think you mean Arthur Balfour of “Bob’s your uncle” fame. Bob was Robert Cecil, AKA Lord Salisbury, the leader of the Cecil Group, who were succeeded by the Milner Group in the quest for federating all English speaking nations. I’d highly recommend reading about it in…
    Not only did they want to federalize the world, they also wanted to create “The City of God”, and most of the members were members of the forerunner of the Church of Scientology and the Royal Institute of International Affairs, which appeared in America as The Council for Foreign Relations, and The Round Table organization.
    Barbara Tuchman’s “The Bible and The Sword” is another good book which illuminates the historical links between Britain and modern Israel from the time of the Romans and is very readable, as is her “Proud Tower” which describes the Zionist International Conferences which were held in parallel with the Russian Czars Peace Conferences, mostly around the Hague area prior to WW1, although the Zionist International Conferences continued after WW1 the Czar wasn’t around to hold any more Peace Conferences.
    Dear old Arthur possibly didn’t write his own declaration either, it was probably beyond his capabilities.

    • Bartered  May 31, 2014 at 4:25 pm


    • ani  May 31, 2014 at 10:10 pm

      Very impressive. Thank You Tiu.

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