Poale Zion

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Poale Zion

 

(PZ; Workers of Zion), a coalition of petit bourgeois Jewish nationalist organizations that attempted to combine the ideas of socialism with Zionism. PZ groups arose in the early 20th century in a number of countries. In Russia one of the first PZ groups was formed in 1901 in Ekaterinoslav; most groups operated in the Ukraine. Stressing the nonindustrial, artisan character of the Jewish proletariat under tsarism, the PZ rejected the possibility that the masses of Jewish working people would be drawn into large-scale industry. From this the PZ concluded that the emigration of the Jewish people to Palestine was a necessity. The PZ position would have diverted the Jewish masses from the tasks of revolutionary struggle.

Between 1904 and 1906 the PZ groups gave rise to the Zionist Socialist Labor Party, the Socialist Jewish Labor Party, and the Jewish Social Democratic Labor Party, which retained the name of the PZ (JSDLP-PZ). During the period of reaction from 1908 to 1910, the PZ in effect turned into agents of Zionism among the Jewish working people and, masking their actions under a pseudo-Marxist phraseology, actively advocated the isolation of Jewish workers from the general Russian proletarian movement. Representatives of the PZ also participated in international Zionist congresses.

The PZ movement did not have a significant influence on the masses of Jewish workers. In 1917 the JSDLP-PZ numbered about 15,000 members. It met the October Revolution of 1917 with hostility, and in 1918 it supported the counterrevolutionary Central Rada and Ukrainian Directory. In August 1919, PZ groups organized the Jewish Communist Party-PZ. Some of the latter’s members, mostly workers, were admitted to the RCP(B) in December 1922. The party’s right wing continued to disseminate nationalist propaganda. The PZ degenerated into an anti-Soviet organization and was banned in 1928.

References in periodicals archive ?
Poalei Zion stated that, "history of all hitherto existing societyis the history of class and nations struggles.
In a series of published letters and essays that appeared in Der forverts and the Poalei Zion newspaper Die zeit (The Times), Shohat, Medem, and other veterans of the Zionist-socialist skirmishes that colored Jewish life in revolutionary Russia debated anew questions of nationalism vs.
Shohat also devoted her considerable energies to cultivating the active support of American Poalei Zion.
20] The women's committee elicited the interest of a cadre of female Poalei Zion members who worked hard to achieve their goal.
The Poalei Zion and Zeirei Zion parties benefited considerably from his presence.
By the time of the 1932 Poalei Zion convention, "any indication of the party's militant Russian socialist inheritance" was "conspicuously absent" from the party's literature.
Seeking to establish for Poalei Zion a measure of popularity that the statistical evidence does not seem to bear out, Raider maintains that "Labor Zionism's growing influence on the popular level can be discerned" from the history of the American regiments of the Jewish Legion, the Jewish military force that helped England capture Palestine from the Turks in World War I.
Raider estimates that in the early 1930s, Poalei Zion and its women's division, Pioneer Women, had a combined membership of only about 8,000, and the circulation of the Labor Zionist newspaper, Der Yiddisher Kemfer, was "never more than 6,000 before World War II.
Poalei Zion considered a tailor who supported their party and attended the Nizhnii-Riabatskaia Street synagogue a worker, but treated the non-socialist Zionist leatherworker praying beside him as a petty-bourgeois.
In Palestine itself, the Zionist left and right battled over the future makeup of the state-to-be, but, as Aryeh Goren noted in a recent essay, such debates were "beyond the ken or care of most American Zionists, except for some intellectuals and the socialist Poalei Zion [Labor Zionists], who were more European than American.
They "devoted too little effort and only limited resources" to the League for Labor Palestine, which Poalei Zion had established in 1932 for the ostensible purpose of reaching the second-generation, English-speaking American Jewish public.
545, 547), but that hardly makes the Congress a "political coup for Poalei Zion," as Raider puts it, nor does it demonstrate any significant level of American Jewish support for socialist Zionism per se.