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Theodor Herzl 1896 (Zionist Flags, Israel)

Last modified: 2015-01-03 by andrew weeks
Keywords: zionism | stars: 7 (yellow) |
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extract from Herz'l diary
image contributed by Dr. Haim Grossman

See also:


image by Kazutaka Nishiura, 22 December 2009

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 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

Dr. Grossman sent me scan from Herz'l diary in which one can see that the stars were arranged as such: 6 stars will make a virtual Magen David and the seventh star will be above them. Putting gold stars on white flag is not a good idea as in quite a short distance this flag will be seen as white-only flag, and therefore, it is not surprising that it was not adopted. However, Herz'l design one thing more. He also design an emblem for the first Zionist Congress which was used on its flag.
Dov Gutterman
, 7 June 2007

There is an interesting flag at 7th Congress postcard at <> showing Hertzl's 7 stars (although the exact design of the flag field is hard to guess, if it includes the stripes or not...).
Željko Heimer, 28 May 2009