Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Beginning of Zionism

The following paragraph is from Dr. Asher Eder’s book The Star of David, which was published in 1987 in English in Jerusalem by Rubin Mass Ltd. The publication here is courtesy of Oren Mass
This version includes corrections and new materials that do not appear on the printed version.
Perhaps Jews began to use it as part of this trend. Baron Shlomo Meir Rothschild incorporated it into his emblem when he was knighted in Vienna in 1822; and Heinrich Heine, in spite of his conversion to Christianity, signed his newspaper articles with a six-pointed star instead of his name.
In the 1880's the Hovevei Zion movement, a rather loose organization of Jews hoping to return to the ancient Land of Israel used the star, sometimes with the word "Zion" inscribed in the middle field. Next, it was shown in a flag hoisted in 1884 in Rishon-le-Zion, a newly established Jewish settlement in the ancient land of Israel.
Also in Rishon-le-Zion, the Palestine Wine and Trading Company used it as its trademark, encasing the company name in its field, as can be seen in an advertisement which appeared in The Jewish World, London, on October 5, 1900, page 28.
Altogether, the Magen David was apparently quite in vogue in Palestine during the last century. For instance, the teacher's organization , חברת החינוך העברי , which tried to inculcate Hebrew, showed it in its letterhead, and it was also on school buildings in Rehovot and Jaffo (there, it was on the בית ספר תלמוד תורה , the Talmud Torah School).
In the Jewish communities of the Diaspora, it served as a sign of hope for a brighter future, a hope which traces back to King David.
However, the way from basic design to the present flag was marked by several attempts to give it its shape. Dr. Theodore Herzl, preparing for the First Zionist Congress, in a letter to his right-hand man de Haas (dated July 27, 1896) proposed the following design as "our flag":
On another occasion, he explained that the seven (or 6+1) small stars should symbolize the laborer's right to one day of rest after six days of work.
The weekly Die Welt (which he started in July 1897) showed in its imprint the basic hexagram, with a stylized map of the eastern Mediterranean in its middle field.
The same design, now with a lion in its middle field, appears on the imprint of a Hebrew paper called בו ביום , which was issued on August 29, 1897, the day of the opening of the First Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland.
The Correspondenz-Karte issued by the organizers of the Congress featured the hexagram in its basic design, flanked by a quotation from Ps. 14:7 ("Oh that someone
might bring salvation to Israel from Zion"):
However, the membership card (Mitglieds-Karte, dated August 29-31, 1897) showed the hexagram without the above quote from Ps. 14:7.