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The Uganda Scheme

The Uganda Scheme was a proposition formulated by Theodor Herzl, the founder of the modern Zionist movement, at the Sixth World Zionist Congress in Basel in 1903.

The Uganda Scheme
Uasin Gishu in today's Kenya

The proposal aimed to establish a Jewish homeland in a section of British East Africa. This would serve as a short-term safe haven for Jews fleeing increasing antisemitism in Europe and Russia.

In 1903, British Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain offered Theodor Herzl 13,000 square kilometers of land in Uasin Gishu, modern-day Kenya, as a temporary refuge for Jews escaping persecution in Russia. The land was chosen due to its isolation and favorable climate.

Herzl presented the proposal, known as the Uganda Scheme, at the Sixth Zionist Congress.

The proposal caused controversy during the Congress and almost caused a division in the Zionist movement, even though he emphasized that it would not undermine the ultimate goal of establishing a Jewish presence in the Land of Israel.

A proposal to form an exploratory committee to consider the offer won support from Congress but caused a rift. The British later withdrew their offer of land.

Herzl managed to prevent a split in the movement, and at the closing sitting of the Congress declared in Hebrew: "Im eshkachech, Yerushalayim, tishkach yemini."- 'If I forget you, Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill' (Psalms 137:5-6).

Theodor Herzl died in 1904 from a heart attack and did not live to see the rejection of the Uganda Scheme during the Seventh Zionist Congress in 1905.



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