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NORDAU, MAX (1849-1923).

Writer, physician, Zionist leader, and social philosopher. Born in Budapest, Hungary, the son of a rabbi, Nordau studied medicine, traveled, then came to Paris and set up practice as a neurologist in 1880. At the same time, he wrote a whole series of books of social criticism. Of these, his Conventional Lies of our Civilization and Paradoxes were the most famous and controversial.

When Theodor Herzl came to him with the manuscript of Judenstaat (The Jewish State), Nordau accepted the idea immediately and became Herzl’s first and most loyal colleague and closest advisor. His brilliant oratory and sharp pen were of enormous help to the young Zionist movement. Yet he steadily refused to hold any Zionist office, including that of president, offered to him after Herzl’s death. The last years of his life were saddened by differences of opinion with the Zionist leadership. At the Zionist Conference in London in 1920, he pleaded for immediate mass immigration of half a million Jews to Palestine. He died in Paris in January 1923. Five years later, his body was brought to Palestine and buried in Tel Aviv.

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