Authors & Artists


Master tab

Poster Commentary
"If you will it, it is no dream."Theodor Herzl
Poster design:Seymour Chwast
Theodor Herzl poster


Commentary by Gil Troy

Theodor Herzl was a modern Moses, pointing Jews toward Israel without making it there himself. He was a modern Maccabee, bringing pride back to the word “Jew.” And he was the Jewish Thomas Jefferson, articulating his state’s defining idea: the Jews are a people and have the right, like other nations, to establish a democratic Jewish state on their homeland.

Many underestimate Herzl. He didn’t invent the Zionist idea: the Bible defines the Jews as the people of Israel and not just as a religion. He held no political office, won no battles, and died 44 years before Israel’s creation.

But beyond being the Jewish dream-catcher, describing Jews’ 1800-year-old longing to return home, Theodor Herzl was the great Zionist dream-fulfiller. Starting in 1897, he mobilized the Jews, leading to a transformation of Zionism from hopes to blueprints to villages, kibbutzim, corporations, a flag, a government, and by 1948, a democratic Jewish State. 

Born in Hungary in 1860, educated in Austria, radicalized in France, this lawyer, playwright, and journalist craved acceptance as a European while suffering anti-Semitism as a Jew. He realized that “whoever wishes to change people must change the conditions under which they live.” 

In catapulting the Jews toward statehood, Theodor Herzl proved: “If you will it, it is no dream.” He showed that Jewish liberal nationalism – Zionism – saved Jewish lives, revived Judaism, and inspired humanity.

Prof. Gil Troy is a professor of American history at McGill University and an award-winning author of 11 books. He has written regular essays and columns for the New York Times, the Daily Beast. and the Jerusalem Post and appeared as a featured commentator on CNN. He is a Zionist activist, and his latest book is The Zionist Ideas: Visions for the Jewish Homeland -- Then, Now, Tomorrow.