Poale Zion

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.