||Only edition of this rare early Zionist literature dealing with the failed proposal to create a Jewish homeland in Uganda in East Africa by David Solomon ben Isaac Sloutsch. The title page says that it is a few words to our dear wandering brothers concerning the proposal of R. Mattathias Herzl, who, in the name of the English, proposed to give our brothers a state in Uganda. Herzl, whose Hebrew name was Benjamin Ze’ev not Mattathias, had originally rejected this proposal but after events in Russia changed his mind. This pamphlet addresses the unusual proposal, rejected by most Jews throughout the world. It is bound in its original green wrappers. The Bet Eked Sepharim lists the place of printing as Zhitomir with a date of 1900, as the only edition.
Concerning the proposal to resettle Jews in Uganda, Hersl had proposed settling Jews in Cyprus. The British, represented by Chamberlain, did not think that Cyprus was suitable for autonomous Jewish settlement and proposed instead an area in East Africa (Uganda, now part of Kenya). Chamberlain had already hinted at this plan in his conversation with Herzl on April 23, 1903, and Herzl had rejected it. In the meantime, however, the horrifying reports of the Kishinev pogrom (1903) had highlighted the sorry state of East European Jewry and the urgent need to provide relief. Herzl now felt justified in continuing his negotiations with the British government, even on the basis of Chamberlain's East Africa proposal, for political, tactical, and practical reasons. He believed that the establishment of close ties between the Zionist Organization and the British government would result in the political recognition of the Jewish people by the British and would thus facilitate the full realization of Zionist aims. Furthermore, the publication of the Uganda Scheme might induce Turkey to make far-reaching concessions with regard to Erez Israel, in order not to forego the support of the Jewish capital, which would presumably be at its disposal if Turkey were to agree to autonomous Jewish settlement in Erez Israel. Finally, from a practical point of view, Herzl regarded the Uganda Scheme as a means of converting the hasty flight of the Jews from Russia into an organized migration to a country that would eventually serve as an auxiliary project to the main center in Erez Israel.
His decision about Uganda did not prevent Herzl from continuing efforts aimed directly at securing Erez Israel for Jewish settlement. On Aug. 5, 1903 Herzl left for Russia to attempt to alleviate the situation of the Jews in the Czarist Empire and to gain Russian support in Constantinople for the Zionist proposals over Erez Israel. He had two meetings with the Russian minister of the interior, V. Plehve, in the course of which he was promised that the Russian government would intervene with the sultan on behalf of the Zionist program. On this trip Herzl was accorded a tumultuous welcome by Russian Jews, especially in Vilna. While Herzl was still in Russia, on Aug. 14, 1903, Greenberg was handed a statement by the British government to the effect that if the Zionist Organization were to send a commission to East Africa, and if that commission were to locate an area suitable for Jewish settlement there, the British government would be prepared to permit the establishment of an autonomous Jewish colony in the area headed by a Jewish governor under British suzerainty.
With the approval of the Zionist Executive (the "Actions Committee"), Herzl submitted the Uganda Scheme to the Sixth Zionist Congress, held in Basle on Aug. 22–28, 1903. In his opening address Herzl made it quite clear that the Scheme would not affect the ultimate aim of Zionism, and that for the time being all that was required was a decision to investigate the proposal. Nevertheless, the proposal roused vehement opposition and caused great excitement at the congress, especially among the Russian delegates, who regarded it as a betrayal of Erez Israel. When, in spite of their opposition, the congress approved the creation of a committee to advise the Zionist Executive on the dispatch of a survey commission to East Africa, the "nay-sayers" staged a walkout. In a frank talk with the dissidents, Herzl proved to them that he had at no time relented his efforts in behalf of Erez Israel, which was and would forever remain the goal of Zionism, and thus succeeded in preventing a split in the movement. At the final session of the congress, in which all the delegates took part, Herzl solemnly declared "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning."
When the congress was over, Herzl lost no time in resuming his political efforts in behalf of Erez Israel. He exchanged letters with Plehve and the latter sent appropriate instructions to the Russian ambassador in Constantinople. Herzl also made new proposals to the Turkish government and in January 1904 met with the pope, the king of Italy, and members of the Italian government. All these activities, however, brought no concrete results. He also persisted in the negotiations with the British government, making an unsuccessful attempt to revive discussion of the El-Arish plans. The unrelenting struggle waged against him by the opposition in the Zionist movement (led by M. Ussishkin and Y. Tschlenow) made it difficult for him, for tactical reasons, to renounce the Uganda Scheme officially, despite his personal desire to do so. The reconciliation that had been achieved at the congress was of short duration. Ussishkin, who had been in Erez Israel at the time of the congress, called for a meeting of the Russian members of the Executive. The conference took place at Kharkov in November 1903 and decided to send a delegation to Herzl to demand a written commitment that he was abandoning the Uganda Scheme completely and would not entertain any proposal for settlement outside of Erez Israel. Herzl refused to receive officially the delegation that was to serve him the ultimatum. After several months of fierce struggle in the Zionist press and in mass meetings, Herzl convened the Zionist General Council (the "Greater Actions Committee") in order to settle the controversy. The meeting took place in Vienna on April 11–12, 1904, and in the course of its stormy proceedings Herzl was able to convince the council that he had remained faithful to Erez Israel and managed to appease the opposition. Thus he succeeded in safeguarding the unity of the Zionist Movement, and this was to be his final great contribution to the movement.
These fierce struggles, added to his incessant efforts in behalf of the Zionist cause, aggravated Herzl's heart condition, and as soon as the meeting was over he left for Franzensbad (now Frantiskovy Lazne), the Bohemian spa, for treatment. He did not recover and returned to Vienna. Shortly afterward, he left for another spa, Edlach near Semmering, where he was afflicted by pneumonia and died on July 3, 1904.