Article - Wingate, Pinsker
LEON PINSKER; CHARLES ORDE WINGATE
Leon Pinsker, one of the original members of the Hovevei Zion movement and one of the fathers of Zionism, was born in Poland in 1821. While a young boy he moved with his parents to Odessa where he attended a Jewish school. He was an outstanding pupil and went on to study law at the University of Odessa and later medicine at the University of Moscow. Pinsker was among the first Jewish students to be admitted to Russian universities. He qualified as a doctor in 1848 and built up a very successful practice.
In the 1860s he took up public affairs and turned to journalism and literature. He wrote in Russian, mainly for the Jewish press, on the subject of the plight of the Jews and of the plans of the Czarist regime to encourage anti-semitism and make the Jews the scapegoat for all the regime's oppressive measures.
In April 1881, a month and a half after the assassination of Czar Alexander II, the first of a long series of pogroms broke out. In the course of these pogroms which lasted until 1883, Jewish property was confiscated and robbery and violence became the Jews' daily lot.
Pinsker was deeply affected by the pogroms and at the age of 60 became a changed man. He developed the thesis that the source of the Jewish people's troubles lay in their being strangers in a strange land, and that their only hope for the future lay in their finding themselves a country of their own (at a later stage, under the influence of the Hovevei Zion, he advocated Eretz Israel as the Jewish homeland). It was for these ideas that Pinsker was to become famous. The pogroms encouraged nationalistic sentiment among Russian Jewry and led to the creation of the Hovevei Zion movement.
Pinsker did not, however, pin all his hopes on the oppressed Jews of Russia, but like Theodor Herzl, traveled to Vienna, Paris, and London, knocking on the doors of leading Jews and explaining to them his plans for a Jewish homeland. But his words fell on deaf ears. He then sat down and wrote his famous essay "Autoemancipation", in which he called on the Jewish nation to aid itself and return to national consciousness and a life of territorial independence. The essay, which was published anonymously in Germany, is regarded as heralding a new era in Jewish history and made a great impression among Jews all over the world.
But Western Jewry proved a disappointment - they read the pamphlet but ignored its message. In 1884, Mendele Mocher Sepharim translated the essay into Yiddish and the Russian Jewish press was full of articles in support of Pinsker's ideas. He began to feel that salvation would come from Russian Jewry and he then became a member of the Hovevei Zion.
In the year 1884 the Hovevei Zion held their famous conference at Kattowitz, at which Pinsker was elected president of the movement's presidium. In his opening address he emphasized the importance of Jews working the land. The conference elected him head of the temporary central committee of the movement whose headquarters were in Odessa.
It should be noted that Pinsker gave priority to Jewish settlement anywhere in the world including Baron de Hirsch's projects in Argentina, believing that Eretz Israel would serve primarily as the Jews' spiritual center. In his "Autoemancipation" Pinsker laid the foundation of Herzl's political Zionism; at Kattowitz he set the basis of economic Zionism and settlement policy; and at the end of his days he prompted the spiritual Zionism of Ahad ha-Am.
Leon Pinsker died at the age of 70 in 1891 and was buried in Odessa where he was laid to rest alongside his father, in the presence of a large and distinguished crowd of mourners. The greatest tribute of all was paid him by Herzl himself who remarked to David Wolffsohn, his devoted assistant, "Had I not read Pinsker's 'Autoemancipation' I would never have come to write 'Der Judenstaat' ('The Jewish State')".
CHARLES ORDE WINGATE
Charles Orde Wingate, the founder of the Special Night Squads, was born in India on February 26, 1903. His father was a member of a religious group who believed neither in the ceremonial of the Church nor in the status of its priests. Their faith and form of worship was based on study of the Bible from which Charles Orde Wingate derived his deep religious feelings combined with a love for the Land of Israel and the Jewish people. Orde attended school in England and at the age of 20 was commissioned into the Royal Artillery. From 1928 to 1933 he was attached to the Sudan Defense Forces, in which he gained valuable military experience.
In 1936, when bloody rioting broke out in Palestine, he was posted there as an intelligence officer. He developed a deep friendship with the Jewish settlers, learnt Hebrew, became a believer in Zionism and a confidant of the Haganah High Command. He drew up a plan for direct attacks on the Arab gangs and helped the Jewish Agency organize and train Special Night Squads which were based in En-Harod and carried out successful operations all over the country. In recognition of his achievements he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal and became acquainted with the British General commanding the troops in Palestine, General Wavell.
Wingate supported the idea of a Jewish State, believing as he did that the Jewish people had a destiny to fulfill in Eretz Israel.
During the disturbances of 1937-1939 the Haganah turned to Wingate as its military advisor. But Wingate's support for the Jewish cause earned him the strong disapproval of both the civilian and military authorities in Palestine and in 1939 he was sent back to England to rejoin the artillery.
Following the outbreak of World War II he saw service in an anti-aircraft unit but in 1940 General Wavell sent him to Ethiopia where he successfully carried out irregular military operations against the Italians. In 1942 he was appointed to Wavell's staff in India and in 1943 accompanied Churchill to Quebec for the talks with Roosevelt on the Japanese war. On his return to India Wingate was promoted to the rank of major-general and formed the special units which operated behind the Japanese lines in Burma.
However, even in those difficult years the Land of Israel was ever in his thoughts. In a letter to one of his former assistants he wrote, "I always think of you and your problems", and added in Hebrew, "If I forget thee, 0 Jerusalem, may my right hand lose its cunning". Charles Orde Wingate was killed in a plane crash on March 24, 1944. When the news reached Eretz Israel, the Jewish National Committee decided to call the planned National Physical Training and Sports Institute after this friend of the Jewish people, and the Wingate Institute, south of Netanyah, was dedicated on April 7, 1957. A children's village on Mount Carmel - Yemin Orde - also bears his name.