Why Isn’t Israel in Madagascar?


The location of the modern State of Israel–that is, in the same region that the biblical Israelites called home–seems sensible enough. But in fact even Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism, was open to setting up the Jewish state elsewhere. At one point, he proposed that Jews settle a remote and unpopulated region of Uganda.

Hitler’s motivations were very different from Herzl’s. Yet , while still working out the mechanics of the Final Solution, he recommended to his advisors “to transport the entire Jewish clan from the German Reich…to an African or American colony.” Later in the memo, he recommended Madagascar. Author Michael Chabon imagined a different geographical reality in his novel The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, in which post-Holocaust Jews settle in Alaska.

Instead the Jewish homeland continues to be where it always was. And the what-ifs are relegated to the realm of history and science fiction.

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