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The "Basel Program"


First Congress - Basle [Basel], 1897

The first Zionist Congress was to have taken place in Munich, Germany. However, due to considerable opposition by the local community leadership, both Orthodox and Reform, it was decided to transfer the proceedings to Basle, Switzerland.

Herzl acted as chairperson of the Congress which was attended by some 200 participants. The major achievements of the Congress were its formulation of the Zionist platform, known as the Basle program and the foundation of the World Zionist Organization. The program stated,

"Zionism seeks for the Jewish people a publicly recognized legally secured homeland in Palestine."

This gave clear expression to Herzl's political Zionism in contrast with the settlement orientated activities of the more loosely organized Hibbat Zion. Herzl was elected President of the Zionist organization and an Inner Actions Committee and a Greater Actions Committee were elected to run the affairs of the movement between Congresses.

In his diary Herzl wrote,

"Were I to sum up the Basle Congress in a word - which I shall guard against pronouncing publicly - it would be this: At Basle I founded the Jewish State."


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