irishmoses – three thoughts
(1) the difference between economic migrants and those fleeing violence, persecution and discrimination isn’t always so clear, and people motives are not mutually exclusive. Suffice it to say that the waves of millions of Jews who emigrated from Eastern Europe started in 1881 – the year of major anti-Jewish pogroms. And the percentage of Jews who migrated from these lands in those years was MUCH higher than Russians, Ukrainians, Poles or Romanians.
(2) it is true that most Jews who emigrated chose to go elsewhere than Palestine – at least until 1924 when America severely restricted immigration. That does not speak one way or the other as to how much antisemitism was the motivator. There can be no doubt that “the west” in general and America in particular were much much less antisemitic than Eastern Europe.
(3) I think a Jewish State in Uganada would have been a TERRIBLE idea. The Jews would have be fighting the Mau Mau instead of the PLO. But the fact that the Zionist movement rejected the Uganda plan speaks to the conflicted nature of Zionism. It wanted to “save Jews” but also be a romantic pseudo-messianic revival of Jewish culture in its biblical homeland. Interestingly, the first religious Zionists under Reines (most Jewish religious leaders still opposed Zionism in 1904) agreed to the Uganda plan. They saw statist Zionism’s ONLY justification as saving Jews. They viewed the secular pseudo-messianic romanticism of Ahad Haam and others as sacrilege. Only later did the messianic land based tendency of Rav Kook take over religious Zionism.