December 19, 1903
From the Center for Israel Education
While attending a Hanukkah Ball arranged by Mevasseret Zion, a Paris Zionist Society, Max Nordau is the victim of an assassination attempt. Nordau, who together with Theodor Herzl had co-founded the World Zionist Organization, escaped unharmed when two shots were fired at him from close range.
The attempted assassin was Chaim Zelig Luban, a twenty-seven year old Russian student. Approaching Nordau, he cried out, “Death to Nordau, the East African.” A bystander was wounded in the leg as a result of the shooting. The reference to East Africa emerged because of Nordau’s support for the Uganda Plan which had been introduced at the Sixth Zionist Congress in August of 1903.
Luban was found to be mentally ill and was never brought to trial for the assassination attempt. Following the attack, Nordau wrote Herzl, “Yesterday evening, I got an instalment on the debt of gratitude which the Jewish people owes me for my selfless labors on its behalf. I say this without bitterness, only in sorrow. How unhappy is our people, to be able to produce such deeds.”
The Uganda Plan would ultimately be abandoned in 1905 at the Seventh Zionist Congress.
Photo Credit: Max Nordau