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Theodor Herzl 1896 (Zionist Flags, Israel)

Last modified: 2005-01-22 by santiago dotor
Keywords: zionism | stars: 7 (yellow) |
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The process of adopting an Israeli national emblem is discussed in detail in Handelman and Shamgar-Handelman 1990 [an article by Don Handelman and Lea Shamgar-Handelman: Shaping Time: The Choice of the National Emblem of Israel, in Emiko Ohnuki-Tierny (ed): Culture Through Time: Anthropological Approaches, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1990, pp. 193-226]. The main attention in this article is on the emblem of Israel, but there is some information on the adoption of the flag as well:

In 1896 Theodor Herzl published a book called Der Judenstaat (in English: The Jewish State). He proposed a flag for the state. This was to be seven golden stars on a white field. Handelman and Lea Shamgar-Handelman quoted this explanation from a 1970 edition of Herzl's book (p. 101): "The white field signifies our new, pure life; the stars are the seven golden hours of our working day."

Jan Oskar Engene, 24 June 1996

In the Jewish Encyclopaedia under the word "Flag" is the second design from Herzl for a Jewish flag. The first proposal was white with seven golden sixpointed stars. In the second Herzl proposal the David star is in the center and the stars (golden? blue?) are in the six angles of the star and above is the seventh. The blue and white colors were quoted first time by the poet L.A. Frankl in his poem Zivei Erez Yehuda. (...) Perhaps the flag of 1885 was with golden star and the one of 1897 was with blue star. Blue and white colors were adopted 1933 in the zionist congress.

Jaume Ollé, 31 May 1998

The seven stars in Herzl's first proposal should be in two rows, 4 and 3. This is the arrangement in two emblems that derives from this flag: Zim Israel Navigation Company and the City of Herzliya. Herzl further suggested to add a lion in the Magen David and this was accepted as the emblem of the Zionist Congress. Ha-Degel (The Flag) book from 1948 mentions that in special occassons, like the sixth and seventh Zionist Congress (the one following Herzl's death) they used a flag with this emblem between blue stripes. There is a photo of such an occassion in the book but there is no information at which congress it was taken.

The 18th Zionist Congress, 1933, resolved that "according to a tradition of many years the azure-white is the flag of the Zionist Federation and the Hebrew People". But except for that, no authorized Zionist insitution resolved the shape of the flag. But the the present form of a Magen David between two stripes became the accepted form and the only one I saw in photographs since the 1930's. This was the flag used by Israeli soldiers in the War of Independence even before the Declaration of Independence on 14 May 1948 and that was the flag present at the Declaration.

Nahum Shereshevsky, 2 June 1998

The first mention of this flag was in Benyamin Ze'ev (aka Theodore) Herzl's private diary on June 14, 1895 when he wrote, "the flag that was raised in my thoughts, maybe a white flag with seven gold stars. And the white field mean our new, pure lives. The stars are the working hours (...)".

Dov Gutterman, 25 February 1999

With all the respect to Herzl, he had no clue about good vexillography, using yellow on white. On the other hand, he could find a precedent, the medieval coat-of-arms of Jerusalem kingdom. As a matter of curiosity, Herzl is familiarly called Toša (read Tosha) in Zagreb among the members of his family that remained here.

Željko Heimer, 27 February 1999

His idea is the base for many proposals that uses the 7 gold stars combination sometimes with the MD. Herzl talked about stripes and stars but didn't give the exact look of the flag so there are many interpretations of his idea. In my humble opinion, Zim's flag is one of the best of them.

Dov Gutterman, 15 February 1999