The Jew is being legislated out of Russia,” Mark Twain wrote in Harper’s Magazine in 1898.2 “Spain [decided] to banish him four hundred years ago, and Austria about a couple of centuries later. In all the ages Christian Europe has . . . curtail[ed] his activities. Trade after trade was taken away from the Jew by statute till practically none was left. He was forbidden to engage in agriculture; he was forbidden to practice law; he was forbidden to practice medicine, except among Jews; he was forbidden the handicrafts. Even the seats of learning and the schools of science had to be closed against this tremendous antagonist.” Yet one Jewish man, Twain noted, had a strategy for ensuring that the Jews would have a future better than that past. “Have you heard of [Theodor Herzl’s] plan? He wishes to gather the Jews of the world together in Palestine, with a government of their own—under the suzerainty of the Sultan, I suppose. At the [First Zionist Congress] last year . . . there were delegates from everywhere, and the proposal was received with decided favor.”
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