The American Delegate(s)* Part V

Written by Avi Y. Decter. Originally published in Generations 2007-2008: Maryland and Israel

Sidebar II: The Other Americans: Davis Treitsch (1870 – 1935)

Missed the beginning? Start here.

Davis Trietsch, later in life.
Davis Trietsch, later in life.

Davis Treitsch was a prominent Zionist leader and author. Born in Dresden, Germany, he was educated in Berlin. From 1893 to 1899 Treitsch resided in New York, where he was studying immigration problems. It was during his period of residence in New York that Treitsch attended the first Zionist Congress and was listed as one of four participants from the United States (though it is not clear if he ahd ever entertained the idea of permanent settlement in the U.S.).

Treitsch was a proponent of “practical Zionism,” as distinct from Herzl’s “political Zionism,” and he advocated for immediate settlement of Jews in Cyprus, which he conceived as part of “Greater Palestine.” In 1899-1900 he attempted to settle a small group of Russian Jews in Cyprus, but this effort failed. Shortly after, when Herzl negotiated for Jewish settlement in El-Arish with the British authorities, Treitsch categorized this as “an acceptance by Herzl of his program without him.”

For a time, after the practical Zionists took control of the Zionist Congress in 1911, Treitsch was supportive. But he rejected “slow settlement methods” and purely agricultural colonization, agitating instead for “Zionist maximalism,” industrial development, and garden cities. He wrote several German-language books promoting his ideas, including Palestine Handbook (1907 with nine later editions) and Jewish Emigration and Colonization (1917), in addition to editing several journals.

During World War I Treitsch served in the statistics office of the German Army and published several pamphlets arguing for German-Zionist collaboration. Arnold Toynbee responded to Treitsch’s gambit, arguing that the Allies would be better partners with the Zionist project.[1]

Continue to Sidebar III: “The Time is Now!”


[1] Rabinowicz, “Treitsch, Davis,” 146; Rabinowicz, “Davis Treitsch’s Colonization Scheme,” 119-206.

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