In recent years, Sultan Abdul Hamid II (1876-1909) has enjoyed a revival in Islamic fundamentalist circles, particularly in Turkey, where revisionist propaganda portrays him as the valiant Sultan who resisted the chicanery of the Zionist leader, Theodore Herzl (1860-1904), and thwarted his attempts to establish Jewish sovereignty in Palestine.
On Youtube, there are video clips depicting what is described as rare footage of Herzl supposedly pleading with Sultan Abdul Hamid to buy land in Palestine to fulfil his dream of establishing a Jewish homeland in ancient Israel. By the late 1800s, Palestine was part of the Asiatic provinces of the Ottoman Empire and inhabited by the Arab subjects of Sultan Abdul Hamid. Shared social media hashtags even claim that the footage is from the Ottoman archives.
However, the clips are neither real nor from the Ottoman archives. The footage is from an Austrian made black and white film which dramatized the life of Theodore Herzl. It was released with English subtitles in 1921 and directed by Otto Kreisler. The film, almost an hour long is called ‘The Wandering Jew’ and is also known by the name ‘Theodor Herzl, der Bannerträger des jüdischen Volkes.’
This early film biography of the founder of modern Zionism depicts a young Herzl learning about Jewish persecution throughout the ages and developing his theory of political Zionism, which he saw as the only solution to anti-semitism.
According to the IMDB the actor Ernst Bath played the role of Theodore Herzl. The role of Sultan Abdul Hamid II was played by the actor James Battle.
The film ‘The Wandering Jew’ is also available to view on Youtube. The part of the film which is shared as the fake footage starts at approximately 43:45 minutes:
Ernst Bath, the actor who plays Herzl, can be seen in different scenes throughout the movie.
In his quest to establish a Jewish state, Herzl made five journeys to Constantinople between 1896 and 1902 and met with various dignitaries, including the Grand Vizir and he was granted an audience with Sultan Abdul Hamid in July 1902.