The lecture was given is a different POV from the usual historical presentation: the lector was interested in what had motivated an ordinary person, not very much connected to his Jewish roots, a man with a job and a family, to suddenly stand up and initiate a great movement. And not just initiate it in spirit, but also in action. So he tried to focus on "the power of an individual to change", which was very interesting.
Now, the main motivation for Hertzl to propose that the Jews would have their own state was not in order to resurrect some old belief system. It was in order to find a solution to the problem of antisemitism which grew to national proportions. And btw, according to the lector, one of the first solutions that Hertzl thought of was a mass conversion of Jews to Christianity. However: he understood that it won't work. Not only because the Jews won't do it.
One of the major events that contributed to Hertzl's life path was the trial of Dreifus, which he was sent to cover (Herzl was a journalist). It struck him, that as Dreifus was going through the humiliating ceremony of expel from the army (or however it is called in English :D ), he was shouting "Vive la France", when the gathered mob was shouting "kill the Jews". Hertzl was amazed both at how one strongly and naively believed in the state that betrayed him only because of his race and at the magnitude of the people's hate, who were ready to kill someone based on his race only.
Now, that brings me to the issue that stirred inside of me (and no, it wasn't the dinner :D ): the issue of one's pride of themselves. Not necessarily of being proud because we are better than others, but a healthy sense of pride. The sense of pride - and the basic primal "right" to be who you are.
I have a problem with how the concept of "politically correct" is sometimes used. When it is used to imply that people who are different from some "standard" have to give up their individual attributes. Especially, when the motivation is "the greatest good".
Or many times we are ready to give up the dark parts of us.
At that lecture, and couple of days later, I realized that my experience in Israel (the one that I'm aware of) is exactly about that: accepting one's individuality and one's basic, primal, rights.
To be continued.