Zionism and the 'Married to Another Man' Story

In the introduction to his popular and influential history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World (2000), Oxford University Professor Avi Shlaim tells the following story: "The publication of [Theodore Herzl's] The Jewish State evoked various reactions in the Jewish com­munity, some strongly favorable, some hostile, and some skeptical. After the Ba­sel Congress [i.e., the First Zionist Congress in 1897,] the rabbis of Vienna sent two representatives to Palestine. This fact finding mission resulted in a cable from Palestine in which the two rabbis wrote, 'The bride is beautiful, but she is married to another man.'" While the story lacks a primary source and there has been no basis for recounting it as a historical event that occurred during the early years of the Zionist movement, versions of it continue to appear in a host of books and articles.  University of Exeter Professor Ghada Karmi, for instance, based the title of her 2007 Married to...(Read Full Article)