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The Development of the Jewish National Home, Important Points from Albright, et al, Palestine: A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, Vol. I, Yale University Press, 1947.

Returning and Redemption
• Although the difficulties of developing the country often times seemed overwhelming, by the end of the 1920s, the Jewish population in Palestine had grown to 160,000. Not only was the land being cultivated more effectively and efficiently, urban areas and industry was also growing. The city of Tel Aviv developed next to the port of Jaffa, and everyone was benefiting from the high-quality medical care available and the scientific control of malaria.

Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, Vol. I, 1947, Yale University Press, p. 329.

• The Zionist Labor movement can be credited with much of the positive growth for the Jewish community in Palestine, but they were by no means the only contributors. Ideas and hard work came from diverse groups, many with different approaches to the goal of Zionism. Many settlers immigrated for purposes of adventure, something new. Others came looking for freedom from oppression. Some were following the religious idea for Jews to live in the Holy Land. Others sought to take part in a Jewish renascence of culture and thought. And the Zionist Organization took on much of the administrative organizing, including immigration, colonization, and keeping interest in the country’s development and financial needs.

Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, Vol. I, 1947, Yale University Press, p. 330.

• There were two major camps of thought, or opinion, regarding “how” the Jewish homeland should be developed, headed by two leading Zionists, Weizmann and Brandeis.

  • Brandeis and his followers held a “western” conception of ideals, almost American in approach. They emphasized the need for well-conceived and well-funded development, having material goods on hand, being certain all operations were efficient. Brandeis felt it more important to develop newly purchased land before settling it; quashing malaria, etc., so as to ensure a good quality of living for the new inhabitants. Experts should be in charge of specific tasks, such as agriculture, industry, education and health, regardless of their Zionist affiliation. Brandeis did believe in social justice and supported the cooperative efforts of the more labor-affiliated groups in Palestine, but ultimately believed that self-reliance and individual responsibility were of the most importance.
  • Weizmann and his Zionist following, by contrast, saw the infusion of economic, cultural and political elements as crucial to the development of the Jewish home, seeing more of a Jewish national renascence at the core. The commitment to and belief in Zionist ideals far outweighed any expert experience when it came to heading departments or committees. Rather than taking measured and methodical steps like Brandeis, for example, when it came to land acquisition, Weizmann felt the importance was to obtain as much land as quickly as possible and to get people settled on it, developing and cultivating as they went along.

Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, Vol. I, 1947, Yale University Press, pp. 332-333.

• Although the differences between the two Zionist factions never stinted Jewish development in Palestine, the groups did have disagreements. As World War I ended, Zionists met in London to discuss the funding of Zionist endeavors. The General Zionist group, headed by Weizmann and Sokolow, proposed an all-purpose fund (Keren Hayesod), from which money could be used to support anything that was needed, from immigration facilitation to education or health services. They envisioned the means for such a fund coming from world Jewry, with families and individuals contributing one-tenth of their incomes, much like a tithing. Brandeis, on the other hand, wanted specific monies for specific purposes; some were non-returnable expenses that would be contributions towards efforts such as eliminating malaria, while others could be interest-earning investments. Local populations already in Palestine should be mostly responsible for education.

Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, Vol. I, 1947, Yale University Press, p. 333.

• After these differing opinions were offered in 1920, a Commission was sent to observe the workings of the Zionist Commission in Palestine (representing the Zionist Organization). Juilas Simon, Nehemiah de Lieme and Robert Szold headed this Commission, and were already in favor of the Brandeis thoughts. Their report included the recommendation that emphasis be placed on immigration and colonization, with a massive reduction in the education budget. The Zionist Executive rejected their proposal. Simon and Lieme soon resigned, and a year later the Brandeis group, as a whole, would leave the Zionist Organization of America. However, individuals continued to work with specific projects, and the Zionist Organization did adopt several of the principals put in place by Brandeis.

Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, Vol. I, 1947, Yale University Press, pp. 333-334.

• The British Mandate for Palestine allowed the recognition of a Jewish agency to work along side the (British) Administration, and thus the political and practical issues and advocacy were bestowed upon the Zionist Organization. As stated in the Mandate,

“… as public body for the purpose of advising and cooperating with the Administration of Palestine in such economic, social and other methods as may affect the establishment of the Jewish national home and the interests of the Jewish populations in Palestine, and subject always to the control of the Administration, to assist and take part in the development of the country.”

It did not allow for any governmental powers or decision-making.

Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, Vol. I, 1947, Yale University Press, p. 334.

• Holding the responsibilities of representation for Jews in the development of their national homeland, the Zionist Organization was democratic, international and composed of two memberships-

1.) Federations – organized by country, with core beliefs consistent with those of “General Zionists”.

2.) Unions – international groups organized around shared ideologies. There were two main unions, or parties.

a.) Mizrahi – A mix of orthodox religion and Zionist goals

b.) Labor – A synthesis of Zionism and socialism. There were several fractions within the Labor union, as well. Most noted were-

  • Poale Zion (Workers of Zion) – Marxist in ideology
  • Zeire Zion (Young Zionists) – General labor ideas, more socialist than communist

Strength within the party lay with the General Zionists, however, during the first decade (1920s).

Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, Vol. I, 1947, Yale University Press, p. 335.

• Prior to World War I, there was no formal fund for Zionist work and activities in Palestine. The two major organizations were the Jewish Colonial Trust and the Jewish National Fund (or Keren Kayemeth). The former facilitated credits for both commercial and industrial projects, while the latter concerned itself with improving the land. The financial resources of both were limited. But under the guidance and leadership of Weizmann and Sokolow, the Zionist Organization initiated the Palestine Restoration Fund and raised nearly £100,000 for settlement, education and rehabilitation.

Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, Vol. I, 1947, Yale University Press, p. 338.

• In London, the Zionist Conference developed Keren Hayesod (Palestine Foundation Fund) in 1920, to serve as a major financial institute for Zionist work and purposes in Palestine. Its purpose was to facilitate immigration and colonization, build roads, plant trees and develop the arts – “…to bring about the settlement of Palestine by Jews as a well ordered plan and in steadily increasing numbers.”

Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, Vol. I, 1947, Yale University Press, p. 339, citing Keren Hayesod Book, Leonard Parsons, London, 1921, pp. 5 ff.

• Once the Keren Hayesod was established in 1920, the Keren Kayemeth (Perpetual Fund) redefined its functions and purpose. Whereas it originally had provided monies for the improvement of the land, Keren Kayemeth now took on slightly more fundamental issues specific to Jewish development. They included (quoting from the Keren Hayesod Book, pp. 47 – 48)-

1.) The fundamental principle of Zionist land policy is that all land on which Jewish colonization takes place should eventually become the common property of the Jewish people.

2.) The organ for carrying out the Jewish land policy in town and country is the Jewish National Fund. The objects of this body are- To use the voluntary contributions received from the Jewish people in making the land of Palestine the common property of the Jewish people; to give out the land exclusively on hereditary leasehold and on hereditary building right; to assist the settlement on their own farms of Jewish agricultural workers; to see that he ground is worked, and to combat speculation; to safeguard Jewish labor.

3.) The credit resources of the Zionist Organization are to be placed, in the first instance, at the service of such settlers as undertake to comply with the principles of the Jewish National Fund.

Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, Vol. I, 1947, Yale University Press, pp. 340 – 341.

• There has been some discussion around the effects of the stipulations of the Keren Kayemeth. Providing that Jewish purchased/owned land should only be worked by Jewish hands seemed exclusionary to some, as it could prevent labor positions from being given to Arab workers. However, at the time of the Keren Hayesod, many Jewish settlers in Palestine were relying on the cheap Arab labor to cultivate their private properties – this, in turn, created plantation-like circumstances, with Jews as owners and Arabs as workers. The Keren Kayemeth would balance this inequality.

Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, Vol. I, 1947, Yale University Press, p. 341.

• The Palestine Land Development Company (Hachsharat Hayishuv) was organized in 1908, by Dr. Ruppin. It was the first “company of public utility” registered by the Palestine government. The Palestine Land Development Company bought land for individuals and groups as well as national Jewish bodies. Roughly 70% of all Jewish land was purchased through it.

Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, Vol. I, 1947, Yale University Press, pp. 342 – 343.

• There were several independent public bodies serving the Zionist goals that developed in the early 1900s. Some that stand out as the most important include-

Hadassah – Also known as the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, established in 1912 by Henrietta Szold. Ms. Szold’s goals were to engage Jewish American women in understanding Zionism and its goals, and to get them participating in the development of the Jewish homeland, through the fields of medicine and public health. By 1921, Hadassah had gone on to become a permanent medical organization in Palestine, assisting with school lunches, playgrounds and child welfare, as well as a social service program and a youth aliyah project.

WIZO – The Women’s International Zionist Organization, developed out of London in 1920, by Mrs. Edith Eder, Mrs. Rebecca Sieff and Dr. Vera Weizmann. This women’s group focused on “…vocational and agricultural training for pioneer women in Palestine,” as well as child welfare and getting women involved in the many projects and funding of the Keren Hayesod and Keren Kayemeth. They also worked with the young girls/women of the Youth Aliyah. They worked along side Hadassah, and although WIZO had organized in forty-five countries by 1941, they did not assemble in the United States.

Palestine Economic Corporation – Although the Mack-Brandies group had not found majority favor with the larger decision-making groups in Palestine (seeking to develop Palestine economically first, with a more capitalist, or American view), the Palestine Economic Corporation saw many of the financial needs for the Jewish homeland met via such ideology. The Palestine Mortgage and Credit Bank and the Central Bank of Cooperative Industries in Palestine were formulated and succeeded in collecting and distributing funds from world Jewry, for the purposes of Jewish development in Palestine. Loans for cooperative groups in both agriculture and industry, construction of houses for teachers and urban workers, and educational programs were all supported by the PEC.

Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, Vol. I, 1947, Yale University Press, pp. 343-346.

• The 1920s saw the development of the very powerful Jewish Labor movement in Palestine. More than just a political ideology, state Albright, et al, “It became the characteristic expression of the Zionist aspiration and achieved a position of moral leadership in the Yishuv.” Merging idealistic notions with economic needs, the Jewish Labor movement was at once inspired by historical, Biblical thought, the dream for a Hebrew renascence and the direct influence of Russian and Eastern European immigrants. Formally known as the Histadrut (General Federation of Jewish Labor in Palestine), their vision included halutziut (pioneering), kibbush avodah (conquest of labor), moshav ovdim (a worker’s settlement) and kvutzah (a collective).

Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, Vol. I, 1947, Yale University Press, p. 349.

• Ideology behind the Jewish Labor movement was at once looking towards the future, with a vision for the way the Jewish homeland could be, and also an answer to the past prejudices that labeled Jews as “economic parasites”, as they generally held positions around commerce and trade (as opposed to agricultural or manual labor). Wanting to “normalize” Jewish life in Palestine, seeing Jews work in all aspects and vocations of society became a cornerstone for the Zionist ideal. “Redemption through engaging in manual work became one of the main concepts in the Zionist movement towards the end of the nineteenth century.”

Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, Vol. I, 1947, Yale University Press, p. 350.

• As waves of Russian immigrants entered Palestine following the Russian Revolution in 1905 and the Bolshevik Revolution in the 1920s, the idealism behind the socialist, or labor movements was strengthened. Many young people immigrating from other countries, as well, often with middle-class backgrounds, chose to align themselves with the working classes of the world, and thus socialism in Palestine, believing that such affiliations could bring peace and justice.

Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, Vol. I, 1947, Yale University Press, p. 351.

• Aaron David Gordon was a leader in the ideology of “self-labor as a means of personal and national redemption” for Jews in Palestine. Crossing his philosophic beliefs with traditional, biblical/religious thought, Gordon wrote doctrine blending Hebrew words with religious meaning and giving them work and labor meaning, as well. The word avodah for example, means work and service but was generally used to refer to work and service to God, or Temple worship. Gordon fused this notion with concepts of work and creative development, as a form of religious service. In fact, his perception was such that should a Jew allow others to do more difficult tasks on his/her behalf, saving the less intensive jobs for themselves, it would be not unlike committing idolatry, or worshiping strange gods (avodah zarah).

Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, Vol. I, 1947, Yale University Press, p. 351.

• Aaron David Gordon also held the view that Jews would only truly earn the land rights to Palestine through their own labor. To quote Albright, et al-

“…military force gave no claim, the contribution of money was not enough, and the historic right of the Jews to Palestine had to be renewed by a creative union of the people with the land which could come only though manual labor.”

Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, Vol. I, 1947, Yale University Press, p. 352.

• Aaron David Gordon refuted the notion of class division, believing it did not mesh with the character of the Jewish people, and felt that the separation from working the land and developing native crafts for so long (throughout the Diaspora) was the reason Jewish cultural progress had been stinted. In his own words,

“We have no ground under our feet. And we are parasites, not merely in the economic sense, but also in spirit, in thought, in song, in literature, in the finer traits of character, in idealism, in high human strivings.”

Albright, et al, Palestine- A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, Vol. I, 1947, Yale University Press, p. 352.

Summary by Rina Abrams.

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