Abstract

As honorary president and first speaker at the First Zionist Congress, Dr. Karpel Lippe of Romania embodied continuities in the history of the Jews and of Zionism, but his address also heralded transformations occurring in the movement as its delegates assembled in Basel, Switzerland, in 1897. The speech, given in German, is analyzed with respect to its multiplex audience and other aspects of the rhetorical situation. Lippe declares the Congress to be a gewaltiger Sprung (mighty leap): the “leap” refers to the reinvention of Zionism as a solidly modern, middle-class movement, as shown by its leadership, language, repertoires of action, and values. Those values—positivism with respect to social and historical knowledge; individual self-reliance, secular work, and “civilization”; deprecation of indolence and dependency; and a respectful but assertive engagement with the established political-economic order—are set over against the social and ideological equivocations, administrative paternalism, and political timidity that caused its predecessor, Hibbat Zion, to falter.

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