Weitzman recalled in his memoirs, “A notable feature of the vote was that among those who spoke out against Uganda, the decisive majority were the delegates from Russia.” The representatives of Kishinev unanimously rejected the Uganda plan. The Western Zionists were shocked.
I remember how after the vote, Herzl said about the Russian Jews, “If these people had a noose around their neck, they still would be stubborn!” Next to him was a young woman who tore the map of Uganda off the wall. She angrily exclaimed, “Mr. President, you are a traitor!” Herzl sharply turned away. (From the book by Felix Kandel, The Land Under our Feet, Book 1, Part 3, Chapter 11).
An uncompromising spirit always characterized the Jews of Russia. They were people forged by suffering. When they lived in difficult conditions of limited space, they understood that Uganda wouldn’t be much better for them and that it was necessary to return to the true values.
In addition, in those times, the Jews of Russia were more religious than now, and even if the Zionists at the Basel Congress were no longer great supporters of religion, still there existed a spiritual foundation in them that they received from their family home. They all completed one religious school or another, and so they couldn’t imagine how one could break from a religious and ideological basis.
Therefore, as a reason for rejecting the establishment of the nation in Uganda, they used, first, the spirit of Russian Jewry, and, second, an order from above. Still we have to understand that our world evolves according to a particular program by particular forces, and it was understood that life in Uganda or any other place would cost us a few hundred years of intense suffering. Without a doubt, a hand from above brought us to the land of Israel to show how much this land matches the inner potential that exists in us.
From KabTV’s “About Our Life” 5/7/15