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NEWS from all parts of the civilized world interested in Zionism have come face to face with the Kingdom question. The reform government of Turkey has treated the Jews very favorably and proffered them full privileges in Palestine, reminding them that Turkey is one of the few nations that have not persecuted the Jews. This liberal offer would have been seized with avidity a short time ago, but, with the improvement of prospect, some of the leading Zionists are insisting that Palestine shall be made a Jewish State with a government of its own, but subject to Turkey, after the manner of the Balkan States. Scripturally we have reason to believe that such a concession will not be granted nor attained before 1915—following the close of "the times of the Gentiles."—Luke 21:24.
The Zionist Congress, which closed its session in Hamburg, Germany, on the last day of 1909, had this Kingdom question as its principal issue. Its President, Dr. Max Nordau, threw all the weight of his great influence against undertaking any special work in Palestine, until Turkey should grant the Jews an autonomous government. We quote a portion of his address. He said:—
"What we desire is to form a nationality within the Ottoman State like all the other nationalities in the empire. True, we demand the recognition of our nationality; there must be no doubt about that. It will be our ambition to earn the reputation of being the most loyal, the most reliable, and the most useful of the Turkish nationalities, to contribute the most zealously to the weal, the progress and the power of the empire.
"But let it be understood that we will do all this solely as a nationality, as a Jewish nationality. That is our frank reply to certain Turkish utterances. We have been told: 'Come to Turkey as much as you like. You shall be welcome. You will find everything you desire, fertile, cheap, possibly free land, security against persecution, all the liberties accorded to every citizen of the Ottoman Empire. But you must become Turkish subjects, adopt the Turkish language, merge with the Turkish people so that you cannot be distinguished from other Turks.'
"In the face of such views we are impelled by pride and self-respect to refer to our original programme. On this point concessions are impossible. If the Jews want to assimilate they can do it nearer home and more cheaply; they can do it where they are and save the fare. You are Zionists, however, just because you do not wish to disappear as Jews. You wish to go to Palestine, the land of your fathers, to live and develop there as national Jews.
"Our ideal is to see a Jewish people in the land of its fathers, ennobled by a 2,000-year-old firmness of character, respected on account of its honest, cultural work, an instrument of wise progress, a champion of justice, an apostle and personifier of brotherly love. Of this ideal I will not surrender an iota. On this point there can be no concession.
"This ideal I would not exchange for all the treasure in the world, let alone for a dividend. If Turkey today opposes the realization of my ideal, I must wait. To wait long is a misfortune, but no disgrace. Vacillation is a disgrace. My ideal is eternal. It embraces every hope. To abandon hope is to commit suicide. Therefore, I exclaim as loudly as I can: Back to the Basle programme! Let us never forget that we aspire to the creation of a publicly recognized, legally assured home for our people. Let us never forget that we have to cleanse the shield of the Jewish people from all the mire with which a hatred that has lasted for 2,000 years has begrimed it."
Notwithstanding their great respect for their President, the Zionist delegates took an opposite view, claiming that further delay in the realization of their hopes must not be considered—that they must go up at once to possess the promised land, availing themselves of the "door" which Providence had opened before them. A correspondent pictures the sentiment of the Congress as a whole in the following graphic language:
"Long before the Zionist Congress convened there seemed to be a feeling pervading every activity connected with the Congress that the Zionist movement had reached a decided turning point in its progress. Every delegate, no matter where he hailed from, appeared to carry with him the sub-conscious conviction that unless all the stored-up energy and accumulated substance of Zionism is at once turned to practical uses in Palestine something might be missed.
"If any single word could aptly characterize the mental attitude of the majority of the delegates in that respect that word would have been 'impatience.' An irresistible desire was noticeable to do things, and to do them at once. There seemed to exist the apprehension that with the signs of Palestine's awakening before the eyes of the world the Zionist movement was not quick enough to take advantage of the situation."
The test of the question—whether the Zionists would accept the dictum of their leader and President and abstain from further efforts to reoccupy the land of Canaan, perhaps for years, perhaps forever—was decided against him by a majority vote. At the close of an all-night session [R4572 : page 84] it was resolved that all Zionist capital should be gradually transferred to Palestine, making it the only center of its financial and industrial operations. In a word, the rank and file of the Zionists have outrun their leader. Otherwise stated, God's time having come for the rehabilitation of Palestine, even the most influential man amongst the Jews today was unable to hinder it. Within another year great things may be expected in Palestine. When six months ago the Turkish reformation threw open the door of Palestine, we wondered that there was no apparent haste made to enter. Now we see that Dr. Nordau for a time was the influential hindrance. We shall expect that so broad-minded a man, so able a leader, will join heartily with his co-religionists in a movement which is fulfilling prophecy and which will proceed and prosper with or without his assistance.
Prophecies thousands of years old are fulfilling before our eyes. The wilderness is being made to blossom as the rose, not only in the arid regions of our far Western States, but in the supposed cradle of the human family in the land of Mesopotamia, where Abraham lived. The power which is accomplishing these things, in fulfillment of God's Word, is human. The force behind the energy is not spiritual, but financial. The motive is not the fulfillment of the Scriptures, but selfishness—the desire for wealth. The project of the Turkish Government to revive Mesopotamia has already been referred to; nevertheless the following account, which is going the rounds of the newspapers, will be read with interest:
"To restore the Garden of Eden sounds like a bold enterprise, yet a plan suggested by Sir William Wilcox, the English engineer, who built the Assouan dam, makes the project sound entirely feasible. It is Mesopotamia, 'the land between the rivers' Tigris and Euphrates, with which he is dealing, and he purposes to turn the surplus waters of the Euphrates into the River Pishon, and to carry down the delta a great canal which would not only bring back the productiveness of several million acres of land, but would guard the region from the overflows of the Tigris. It marks a definite step in the world's progress that the work of reconstruction should now be taken up by the Turkish government, which thereby demonstrates its real reform to broader views and more intelligent ambitions.
"To build this canal, which will double the cultivable area along the Euphrates, will take three years and cost $2,000,000 or less. Supplementing it, Sir William proposes a railroad from Bagdad to Damascus, costing $11,000,000, which would open the way to the Mediterranean, the natural commercial outlet of Mesopotamia. Such a road seems to be demanded because the irrigation scheme will impair the navigability of the river. And even before the increased wheat harvests are ready for transport there will be freight to carry and passengers to convey—Mohammedan pilgrims visiting holy places and tourists who will feel, probably, more interest in 'Arabian Nights country' than in the 'cradle of the race.'
"There may be some question that the railroad is indispensable, though Asiatic enterprises of this kind have generally met with astonishing success, and have been profitable to the projectors as well as valuable to the [R4573 : page 84] territory through which they pass. Of the economic importance of the canal there can scarcely be a doubt. The transformation wrought in the valley of the Nile can probably be duplicated along the Euphrates. Great cities may never again arise in that region where the archaeologists have long been busy among the ruins of historic capitals, but the land may once more become a 'garden'—not an Eden perhaps, but far removed from the desert that later generations have known as the shame of its rulers."
An Englishman, Sir William Wilcox, an engineer of the Turkish Board of Public Works, is to have the management of this improvement. He suggests that an oasis called Harlah, northwest of Bagdad, marks the site of the once flourishing Garden of Eden. The Euphrates river runs through it, dividing into four arms, corresponding to the four rivers of Eden.
The British House of Lords has very much charged up against it—probably more than is strictly true. Doubtless amongst the Peers of the Realm are to be found noble characters, as well as some debased by wealth and idleness. Doubtless as a whole the lords have been slandered to a considerable extent. The result has been the turning of many of the common people who once reverenced them into enemies who now hate them. During the recent election time members of Parliament considered it unsafe to be out after dark unaccompanied by a bodyguard.
The cry is that the House of Lords should be abolished, but it is very doubtful if this can be accomplished legally. The next step is an appeal to the King to appoint a large number of prominent Britains to the Peerage. The thought is that thus the present lords would be outweighed in influence, and a vote of the House of Lords would more nearly represent the public sentiment in all matters of legislation. Should the King do this he would, of course, incur to some extent the enmity of the lords. Should he decline to do it, he would be considered a sympathizer with them and be correspondingly unpopular with those who take the more democratic stand. Doubtless an evil time for kings and potentates is near at hand. Thank God for the glorious prospect that just beyond the time of trouble the world will experience the dawn of the Millennium!
All classes of people seem to be amazed at the increasing preparations for war, and these, notwithstanding the cry of "Peace! peace!" and the realization on the part of all that warfare has become more terrible than ever before, by reason of the advancement made in the production of destructive explosives and every conceivable device for hurling them at opponents. Statesmen seem to be impelled by an unseen but dreadful power to almost bankrupt their governments in adding battleship to battleship, device to device, for the destruction of those whom they profess to recognize as fellow-Christians. We quote the words of two of Great Britain's most prominent men, as follows:
(1) "It is the deepest reproach upon the present-day civilization that preparation for war should be the dominant concern of the two most powerful nations of the Old World at the close of the first decade of the new century. England and Germany are not alone in pouring treasure into the construction of armaments at a rate never before contemplated. Every great power is compelled by their example—all in the interests of peace, forsooth—to do likewise. The legislatures of three countries, Great Britain, Germany and the United States, have been engaged during the past summer in imposing great burdens of taxation upon their constituents, amounting roughly to $125,000,000 per year in each case. National defence has been the impelling cause in every instance. There is no sign that the end has been reached.
(2) "That is a sign which I confess I regard as most ominous. For forty years it has been a platitude to say [R4573 : page 85] that 'Europe is an armed camp,' and for forty years it has been true that all the nations have been facing each other armed to the teeth, and that has been in some respects a guarantee of peace. Now, what do we see? Without any tangible reason we see the nations preparing new armaments. They cannot arm any more men on land, so they have to seek new armaments upon the sea, piling up these enormous preparations as if for some great Armageddon—and that in a time of profoundest peace."
Many of us are watching with keen interest the political struggle in progress in Great Britain. An Oxford College Professor, travelling in America, declared recently that Great Britain is facing a more serious crisis than at any time since the civil wars of Cromwell—along political lines. He summarizes the situation briefly as follows:
"The great English crisis is the French revolution done over in the English way. Here is the real issue: The Conservative party stands for a strong, parental, imperial and patriotic government, such as exists in Germany; the Liberals stand for social reform at home. They want to give the poor, down-trodden people a chance. They want justice to be given, in a socialistic sense, to the lower classes, who have for years been oppressed by landlords and capitalists. The question is, which policy is to be adopted?"
The Scriptures, referring to our time, symbolically picture the Kingdoms of earth as mountains, and, describing our day, tell that some of these mountains will melt like wax and flow down to the level of the people, and others, retaining their rigidity, will be overwhelmed with the tidal wave of social strife and be cast into the midst of the sea—into anarchy. (Psa. 46:2.) Russia recently melted a little and yielded the Douma to the demands of the people. Great Britain and France are now melting—yielding to popular demands and, in so doing, preserving law and order the longer.
The melting process will evidently go hard with the German Emperor. His conception of the Divine right of kings to rule and the Divine mandate to the people to obey them will make him slow to yield, even for the preservation of his Empire. He desires to rule actually and not as a mere figurehead. He has said as much. The floods of Socialism are rising about him gradually day by day, year by year. Before very long a crisis of some kind must be faced in Germany—and in every land, because the masses are gradually learning to appreciate their power; because superstition respecting the authority of kings and priests is waning; because the same selfishness which has made the rich keen to watch their interests is making the poor keen to turn every precedent, theory and law to their own advantage.
Below we print a clipping from an unknown paper, which gathers its facts from the London Spectator. It confirms what we have more than once called attention to in these columns, namely, that the spread of education and increase of wealth are not tending to make humanity happier, holier or more content, but rather the reverse. It says:
"From an article in the Spectator, it is evident that suicides are increasing at an alarming rate, especially in the larger cities. In fact, the rate has increased within the past ten years from fifteen to twenty-one per one hundred thousand of population. That is to say, ten years ago there were fifteen suicides to every hundred thousand of population of the cities, while last year there were twenty-one.
"But there are other features of the suicide statistics that are even more interesting than the per cent. of people who take their own lives. For instance, according to the Spectator article, we find that the average rate for ten years was 15.9 per 100,000 for the North Atlantic States; 23.3 for the North Central States; 14.5 for the Southern States; 27.7 for the Western States.
"An analysis of the statistics also shows that the increase is most noticeable with the well-to-do, prosperous and better educated classes. There has been no increase among the poor, unfortunate and illiterate classes. There is also seen to be, frequently, a connection between suicide and crime, many of the cases being those of prominent people who held responsible positions and who had 'gone wrong' in one way or another.
"The greatest number of suicides took place in the cities among people who were country bred, showing, to some extent, that the excitement or strenuosity of the cities was too much for many of those who were attracted by the glare."
"'A study of any considerable number of individual cases of suicide does not confirm the view that real progress is being made as the result of modern educational methods and the vast increase in material prosperity, well-being and comfort, but it leads rather to adverse conclusions and the conviction that there is a positive increase in the so-called diseases of the will.'
"Can it be possible that all of our educational efforts, and our great accretions of wealth—our better understanding and our greater comforts—have not tended to prevent self-destruction? Or does the increase in the number of persons who commit suicide tend to show that we have acquired our knowledge and our wealth at a cost greater than human life itself? There are a good many questions that one might ask in face of the figures, and until a more thorough study is made of the question of suicidal mania, and until the human mind is better understood, we shall probably have to take it out in asking questions."