A Land for a People, not a People for a Land / Gur Alroey

The Jewish Territorialist Organization (ITO), 1905–1925

In its simplest form, the Territorialist idea is the establishment of an autonomous entity or, alternatively, a state for the Jews in some territory other than the Land of Israel. This idea was born together with Zionist ideology. Ever since Pinsker, in his Auto-Emancipation, stated that “the goal of our present endeavors must be not the ‘Holy Land,’ but a land of our own,” there were those Jews who clung to the idea of “a land of our own,” aiming to establish either a state or some other kind of autonomous collective somewhere other than the Land of Israel.

Such settlement enterprises regularly came up in the history of the Jewish people. These were usually local, individual initiatives that disappeared as soon as they sprung up, without being followed by genuine activity. Starting with the second half of the seventeenth century up until the 1880s, various suggestions for Jewish settlement were constantly put on the table, including the Caribbean island of Curaçao; Suriname; Cayenne, French Guiana; Novorossiya; Crimea; Buffalo, New York; Texas; areas around the Tennessee, Mississippi, and Missouri rivers; Illinois, Ohio, Nebraska, Kansas, and Cypress. Not a single one of these initiatives had to do with the Territorialist ideology, which sprung out of the Zionist movement in the early twentieth century.

The Uganda Proposal, which Herzl brought before the Sixth Zionist Congress in August 1903, was the main reason for the establishment of The Jewish Territorialist Organization (ITO) in the summer of 1905, and for the transformation of Territorialism into a central ideological branch of Jewish nationalism. The Proposal constituted a watershed in the history of the Zionist movement and the Jewish people, sharpening the differences within the Zionist Organization between political Zionists, who supported Herzl, and Palestine-“loyalists”: between those who sought to establish a Jewish state in any territory that would be granted to the Jewish people, and those who insisted that the Land of Israel is the only natural place for such a state.

The choice of Eretz Israel as a home of the Jewish people was not an obvious matter in the Zionist Organization up until the Uganda Proposal, and many Zionists deliberated between “the Holy Land” and “a land of our own.” Some considered joining the Am Olam movement, and to take part in establishing agrarian colonies in the US; and a decade later there were those who saw no contradiction between agrarian settlement in Argentina and in Israel. The book The Jewish State by Theodor Herzl that was published four years after Pinsker’s death was another central link that led to the consolidation of territorialist ideology and the strengthening of the conceptual trend within the Zionist movement that the Land of Israel was a possible but not necessary territory for it. Like Auto-Emancipation, The Jewish State also did not decide the territorial issue, and instead of “our land” and “our Holy Land,” Herzl wavered between the Land of Israel and Argentina.  His dilemma is especially interesting because, unlike Pinsker’s work, The Jewish State was written after 14years of the Zionist endeavor when there were already 20settlements in the Land of Israel. Yet, despite the achievements of the settlers and the changes that occurred in the Hibbat Zion movement, the Land of Israel was not perceived as the sole solution for the Jewish people. Herzl sharpened the issue even more when he tried to make diplomacy precede settlement, and precluded any possibility of pre-emptive and unplanned settlement in the Land of Israel.

Even the Basel Program of the First Zionist Congress, which stated that “Zionism aims at establishing for the Jewish people a publicly and legally assured home in Palestine,” did not put an end to searches for a chance territory for the Jewish people. In 1902, a Zionist expedition set out to El Arish, Egypt, in order to explore whether the area was fit for Jewish settlement. The idea was ruled out, as the place was found to be too barren. In late 1905, Otto Warburg, a leading German Zionist figure, member of the executive committee and later president of the Zionist Organization, promoted Jewish settlement in Mesopotamia—another failed attempt that did not bear political results.

Territorialist ideology was fed by two social phenomena that were an inseparable part of the life of Eastern European Jewish society of the early twentieth century: pogroms and emigration. The pogroms served the Territorialists as proof that Jews have no future in Eastern Europe, and that if no territory would soon be found, whether in Israel or elsewhere, the results would be catastrophic. The emigration of some 1.5 million Jews during the first decade of the twentieth century was an expression of the physical existential distress they faced. The Territorialists expressed concern that this ongoing stream of emigrants would cause host countries to close their gates, with hundreds of thousands of Jews finding themselves trapped in their countries of residence. They hoped that once the appropriate territory would be found on which a Jewish state could be established, a great number of Jews would emigrate to it. While some would do so out of choice, for the vast majority of them this would be the only option, since no other state but the future Jewish one would be willing to accept any more of them.

The removal of the Uganda Proposal from the agenda of the Zionist Organization, and its ban on new settlement proposals outside the Land of Israel, shut the door for Herzl-following political Zionists, which led to a rift in the Zionist movement. The Jewish Territorialist Organization (ITO) was founded in August 1905, on the last day of the Seventh Zionist Congress, by a group led by Israel Zangwill , who sought to establish an alternative body to the Zionist Organization. The ITO platform defined its goal in a plain and simple manner: “to obtain territory on an autonomous basis for those among the Jews who could not or would not remain in the countries in which they were living.”[1] The platform also stated that in order to achieve its aims, the ITO would strive to unite all Jews who support this cause, to negotiate with governments and with private and public bodies, and finally, to found financial and other necessary institutions.

“An autonomous territory,” as stated by the ITO, was one of the basic, most important principles of the Territorialist approach. It sought to follow Herzl’s version of Zionism by forming an autonomous Jewish government under the custody of one of the world’s superpowers. This is why they kept on warning against settlement in densely populated areas, where Jews would continue to be a persecuted minority within the social majority. It would be ridiculous, they argued, to reproduce in the country of destination the same problems Jews experienced in their countries of residence. This, for them, was a necessary condition for realizing their idea, and a goal to be strived for. They sought to base the territory in question on the immediate interests of one of the European states, and their reliance on the colonialism of these imperial powers was their main source of hope for attaining such a land.

Yet another element of Territorialist ideology was the time factor, which was regarded as crucial for the choice of territory. The claim was that the rise of Jewish distress is exponential whereas that of Zionist activity is linear: hence Zionism does not have sufficient time in order to establish a Jewish state in Israel. From the Territorialists’ perspective, this race against time was absolutely crucial for the Jewish people: The Zionist enterprise was slow-moving, 3,000 Jews were murdered between 1904–1906, and emigration reached levels never before seen. These were the reasons Herzl turned his gaze to East Africa, and his Territorialist followers—to the rest of the world.

The Territorialists’ basic position argued that Jewish distress can stand no delays: persecuted and bleeding Eastern European Jewry can no longer wait until Zionists would lay the foundations for a Jewish state in the Land of Israel. Theirs was a view that rejected Eastern European Jewish existence, and sought to rescue it even at the cost of giving up on the dream of settling the Promised Land. Their sensitivity to the suffering and distress of Jews shaped their opsimism . On the one hand, they foresaw a grim future for the Jews of Eastern Europe, ruling out any possibility of them integrating into their surrounding societies. On the other hand, the Territorialists exhibited a great deal of optimism and faith that a suitable territory would soon be found in which a Jewish state could be established.

The novelist Yosef (Joseph) Haim Brenner who, for a brief period, held territorialist views, strongly expressed territorialist pessimism and the importance of finding a strip of land for the Jews. In “Letter to Russia,” which was written after he had lost his close friend HayaWolfson in the Bialystok pogrom, Brenner gave voice to the territorialist worldview: Land! Any land that can be obtained, any land that one can begin to build our home within it; a land not for today which has already been lost to us, but a land for tomorrow, for the generations to come, for the Nemirov orphans in twenty years’ time, in fifty years, in a hundred years. As a kind of apocalyptic vision that was realized 40 years after writing the article, when six million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, Brenner formulated the fear of the Territorialists and explained clearly what caused them to forgo the Land of Israel.

The Territorialists did not object to the Land of Israel out of principle, but rather doubted the success of its settlement enterprise. One of the major obstacles Zangwill foresaw was the Arab population. Territorialists were first among the Zionist movement who regarded the Arab population of Palestine as a factor that places a question mark over the success of the Zionist project. Although it was Ahad Ha’am in his 1891 essay “A Truth from Eretz Yisrael” who was first to address this issue, he did so in a sideway manner. His claim that Jewish farmers in Palestine treated their Arab workers in a manner typical of slaves turned masters was not pursued in his later writings. As Hebrew teacher Yitzhak Epstein put it, the Arab question was the missing question of Zionist thinking, prior to the Balfour Declaration. Zangwill and the other Territorialists, on the other hand, recognized this issue: they were aware of the danger involved in the friction between Jews and Arabs, which caused them to be pessimistic about the prospects of Zionism in the Land of Israel.

In 1905, shortly after the Territorialists’ splitting, Zangwill argued that the Land of Israel is populated with Arabs, and that Jews would find it hard to become a majority there: “There is, however, a difficulty from which a Zionist dares not avert his eyes, though he rarely likes to face it. Palestine proper has already its inhabitants, the pashalik of Jerusalem is already twice as thickly populated as the United States, having fifty-two souls to the square mile. And not 25 per cent of them Jews; so we must be prepared either to drive out the sword the tribes in possession as our forefathers did or to grapple with the problem of a large alien population, mostly Mohammedan and accustomed for centuries to despise us.”[2]

Zangwill regarded not only the numerical relation between Jews and Arabs as a problem that Zionism would find hard to deal with, but also the Arab ownership of a vast portion of the land. “At present we are only 12 per cent of the population, and hold only 2 per cent of the land. A good deal of the holy soil is in the hands of private proprietors, and would not be ours even if we got the Charter, while the Crown lands, which belong to the Sultan, and might, therefore, be negotiated for as a whole, are, unfortunately, low and swampy and fever-haunted”.[3]

Hillel Zeitlin (1871–1942) also addressed the question of the Arab population of Israel. Zeitlin, who grew up in a pious Hassidic family, was exposed at an early age to Haskalah (Jewish enlightenment) literature, which took over him. He renounced his faith, and began to teach Hebrew, publishing articles on various topics in Jewish newspapers in Hebrew and Yiddish during the late nineteenth century. He was one of the keen supporters of Herzl’s political Zionism, and even served as a Zionist representative for the Gomel area in the 1901 Fifth Zionist Congress. Disappointed from the Uganda affair, he quit the Zionist Organization and joined the ITO, and in 1905 was appointed editor of Hazman (The Time)—then the main medium for Territorialist views.

In his article “The Crisis: Territorial Notes,” Zeitlin expressed his anxiety about the Jewish people after the resolutions that passed at the Congress: “I am not concerned about the division, nor am I concerned about the split, nor am I concerned about the ban, but it is about the destruction of the people that I am concerned.”[4] The reason for his anxiety was the Zionist position that regarded the Land of Israel as the exclusive territorial solution for the Jewish problem. One of his main arguments that testified to the failure in Zionist ideological thought was the Arab question and the illegitimacy of Zionists to claim the land: And who has given you Palestine or will give it to you? Or perhaps you are able to take Palestine? … What all the Palestinians forget either by accident or intentionally, is that Palestine is in the hands of others and is completely inhabited. I have as much right to dream about Palestine as I would have to dream about Paris or London.[5]

With the founding of the ITO, the Territorialists began searching for a land that would be suitable for Jewish settlement, and with the right conditions for the absorption of the great number of Jews who would wish to move there. Zangwill dedicated nine years to searching for the right territory, and never found one. He crossed lands and seas: Africa, Australia, America, Asia, negotiating with governments who kindled his hope yet bitterly disappointed him. The Territorialist claim, that some superpower is likely to be willing to grant Jews a piece of land in one of its colonies, was aligned with the imperialist trends of the early twentieth century. Zangwill and his followers believed that, due to the density of Britain’s population and the scarce population in its colonies, the empire would allow Jews to start their own settlements in those areas. The Territorialists also believed it would be possible to reach an agreement with European states, and to convince them, partly on moral grounds, to grant the Jews a piece of land, since no country has a right to hold territories it cannot settle, while other people have no place under the sun.

It appears that there was no place on earth whose advantages, disadvantages, and prospects for Jewish settlement were not considered. Several alternatives in North and South America were examined, including Canada (Ontario and Western Canada), the United States (Nevada, , Idaho, Galveston), Argentina, Bolivia, and Columbia; In Africa, Rhodesia, Libya, Angola, and East Africa were looked into; in Australia, the North-East Territory and the Kimberley area were under negotiation; and in Asia, the option of Iraq (Mesopotamia) came up. From among the suggestion that were brought up, Zangwill made diplomatic efforts only in East Africa, Canada Australia, and Angola. The rest of them were insignificant, and disappeared as soon as they came up.

As time went by the Territorialists realized that obtaining a territory is no trivial matter, finding it difficult to convince the negotiating states that a Jewish autonomous entity in one of their overseas colonies is a vital interest for their own preservation. Each time Zangwill seemed to be on the brink of a diplomatic breakthrough, the negotiations collapsed. The reasons were varied: hostile public opinion to the idea of mass Jewish immigration; fear that the ethnically segregating Jews would constitute a state within a state; finally, the colonial powers demanded the financial support of Jewish philanthropists as a precondition for the Territorialist settlement enterprise, whereas these philanthropists conditioned their support on the agreement in principle of these powers. Unable to escape this vicious cycle, Zangwill found he reached a deadlock in every negotiation he conducted.

The ITO disbanded in 1925, with most of its members returning to the Zionist movement. The outbreak of the First World War, the Balfour Declaration, the massive immigration to Palestine in the 1920s, and the tightening of the relations between the Zionist movement and the British government, all weakened the ITO, turning it irrelevant to the new world order. Yet it is precisely the reasons that led to the collapse of the ITO that best illustrate the reasons for its establishment. The first half of the 1920s was marked by great hope for the Zionist movement, contrary to the first decade of that century. The British opened the gates of Palestine for immigration, and were determined to implement the Balfour Declaration; the League of Nations ratified the British Mandate of Palestine, recognizing the historic connection of the Jews to the Land of Israel; new settlements were founded, and it appeared as if the establishment of a Jewish state is but a matter of time. Given these circumstances, the Territorialist approach no longer seemed necessary, whereas the Zionist solution in Palestine seemed promising. Territorialism emerged in periods of despair and a climate of existential threat, yet faded during periods of hope.

When the sky began to cloud during the late 1920s and early 30s, voices questioning the capacity of the Land of Israel to absorb thousands of future immigrants were once again heard. The Nazis rise to power, the deteriorating world order, the Jewish-Arab conflict, and Britain’s retreat from the Balfour Declaration led to the revival of old-new Territorialist ideas, and to the establishment of the Frayland League, led by Isaac Nachman Steinberg.

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The attempt to get to the bottom of Territorialist thought reveals it to have been an essentially pragmatic worldview, whose advocates had a clear view of reality, and hence were looking for a quick, dramatic solution. The failure of their search for a land for the Jews might make them seem like utopian ideologists, out of touch with the reality of their people. Yet from the point of view of the early twentieth century, Zionism itself was no less utopian, driven by a dream or vision which was even less practical than the Territorialist one. The Land of Israel was as hard to obtain as any other land, including those considered by the Territorialists, and the Zionist movement too was not yet backed up by any superpower that took upon itself to promote the Jewish question. In this respect, the two rival movements had more in common than not. Both believed a territorial solution would solve the Eastern European Jewish problem, and both began their national endeavors against all odds and from a highly problematic and complex starting point.

But even if Territorialists and Zionists agreed on the diagnosis, they disagreed on the prognosis. Territorialists were pessimistic regarding the prospects of Jews in Eastern Europe, anticipating a bleak existential and economic future. Their biggest fear was that immigration-absorbing countries might close their gates, leaving Jews without any reasonable alternative. They would lead a life full of persecution, suffering, and economic hardship, sinking into a deep and long-lasting despair, with their fellow Jews unable to reach out and rescue them. A territorial sanctuary is therefore immediately required. On their other hand, following the Seventh Congress, the Zionists abandoned the approach of “catastrophic Zionism,” which characterized the era of Pinsker and Herzl, and modified their prognosis. Unlike the Territorialists, who believed that existing reality would only make matters worse for the Jews, the Zionists were convinced that the upcoming political transformations in the lives of Eastern European Jews would make things better for them and alleviate their distress.

Herein lies the essential difference between the Zionist Organization and the ITO. The Territorialists saw themselves first and foremost as a rescue organization (in the physical-existential sense), and therefore dedicated most of their time for searching after a territory suitable for immediate, mass settlement. Zionists, on the other hand—at least during the years prior to the First World War, and the first decade of the British Mandate—saw their movement primarily as a national one, centered around the Land of Israel, which was not simply regarded as a sanctuary for masses of Jews seeking an answer to their woes.

And yet the prognoses of both Territorialist and Zionists proved wrong. With respect to the Territorialists, not only did the catastrophe they feared from and warned against fail to take place in their time. They abandoned the “catastrophic ideology” after the Balfour declaration, joined the Zionist movement, and took active part in the nation-building effort in Israel. On the other hand, an opposite processes took place within the Zionist movement. In the early twentieth century, it was Zionists who abandoned the catastrophic, pessimistic approach, and yet in later years they adopted it: Once it became clear that a national disaster of unprecedented scale was threatening the Jewish people, Zionists began to regard European reality the way Territorialists did in the years following the Seventh Congress. It was only in the 1930s (and in the period following the Holocaust)—during which the Zionist movement first realized that the distress of European Jews is extreme, and that it had to strive for a fast solution in Palestine—that it began to make use of a terminology taken from the Territorialist ideology of the early twentieth century.

The Territorialists’ departure from the Zionist Organization in light of the essential debate regarding the time-frame the Jewish people had at their disposal for establishing a state, not only highlighted the difference between the two ideologies. In addition, it no longer allows the Zionist movement to associate itself with the idea that the concern for the wellbeing of the Jewish people and for its very existence in Europe was a central component of its ideology since its beginning. It seems that the Zionist rhetoric and self-image of a rescue movement hides more than it reveals. The claim that Zionism realized the existential danger to Europe’s Jews, and that from its early days it went to great lengths to found a sanctuary land for masses of Jews, was a retroactive attempt done in hindsight.

Yet despite their accurate diagnosis of the Jewish problem, and the sensitivity they exhibited to Jewish suffering, the political achievements of the Territorialists were few. Ten years of searching for a territory yielded no practical results, and the ITO came to the end of its road in the eve of the First World War. Five main reasons led to the decline of Territorialist ideology:

1. The Territorialist idea put down roots in Jewish society in times of crisis and despair: Pinsker published Auto-Emancipation following the 1881–82 pogroms; the Uganda Proposal was discussed in Zionist establishments against the background of the Kishinev pogrom; the negotiations held by the ITO took place against the background of vast emigration; and the Nazi rise to power with its Jewish persecutions during the 1930s led to the revival of Territorialism, and to the establishment of the Frayland League. In quiet and optimistic years, Territorialism lost its grip on Jewish society, and in the absence of concrete results, its activists found new political homes. The ITO began its way during a hard and miserable period for Eastern European Jewish society: a fact that brought it many supporters, turning it into a mass movement. Yet as the existential distress receded and became less threatening, and the Jewish question was perceived not in terms of life and death, the Territorialist idea weakened and lost its appeal. The Balfour Declaration and the early period of the British Mandate for Palestine were a time of hope, forming a reality that turned Territorialism irrelevant.

2. The Territorialists sought to utilize Eastern European Jewish emigration for furthering their political purposes. They regarded the tens of thousands emigrating each year from Russia, Galicia, and Romania as potential manpower, which they were hoping to turn into the demographic basis for establishing a Jewish state, by diverting the emigration current from Manhattan to a some other territory. They believed they had the power to interfere in the internal dynamics of this process, thereby bringing about the desired change. It appears, however, that in this respect, the Territorialists misinterpreted this emigration, and exaggerated their capacity to interfere with it. The decision of Jews to emigrate was driven primarily by economic distress, and the urge to change their present condition. The Americas (especially the US) gave these emigrants the opportunity to start a new life that was completely different from the ones they had in Eastern Europe. The Territorialist idea—like the Zionist one—was unable to compete with the United State’s image as the land of endless opportunities, and with the hope it sparked in the hearts of millions. The starving Jewish emigrants were not interested in partaking in any kind of ideological social experiment: their sole purpose was to feed their families. Another related issue is the Territorialist concern that liberal immigration policies might change, with more countries following in the footsteps of England by closing their gates. In that case, Eastern European Jewry would find itself trapped within a hostile, violent society, with no way out. This prediction only came true in 1924, once two million people had already migrated to every possible destination country, with England publically supporting the establishment of a Jewish national home in Israel. Once mass migration ceased, and the Zionist movement received a charter for the Land of Israel, in the form of the Balfour Declaration, the ITO found itself with no political agenda and no influence in the Jewish public.

3. The ITO’s main aim was “To obtain an autonomous territory for those Jews who cannot or will not remain in their countries of residence.” In order to achieve this, Zangwill began searching for suitable places, thinly populated, which could absorb masses of Jews. His diplomatic efforts reveal that there was almost no place on earth that was not carefully examined, which in some cases led to official contacts with various governments. Every negotiating state agreed to accept Jews as individuals but under no circumstances as a nation, rejecting any possibility for establishing a Jewish autonomy in the areas under their control. In the absence of land, the ITO had no means of executing its sole purpose, thereby losing its raison d’être. Territorialist diplomacy was also problematic to some extent. The Territorialists relied on colonial European powers, seeking to make use of their interests in the areas under their rule. This activity can be said to suffer form a moral flaw. Zangwill did not question the moral right of the European powers—especially England—to rule over vast overseas areas, and sought to utilize this in favor of Jewish interests. The First World War, which put an end to the colonial age, left Zangwill no hope of finding such a shared interest between the ITO and a European power.

4. The Territorialist movement had no pioneer elite who took upon itself the task of preparing the territory of destination for the absorption of mass waves of future immigrants. To prepare the land and establish a viable economic framework required a long period. The Zionist movement had at its disposal regiments of pioneers who visited Israel since the First Aliyah (immigration wave) up until the founding of the state. Like a relay race, in which a tired runner finishes his role by passing the baton onto the next one, who is fresh and ready, new pioneers took over veteran ones in continuing the task of Zionist activity. The Zionist locomotive kept rushing ahead, constantly increasing speed despite every hurdle. The ITO never had the kind of motivated and dedicated reservoir of pioneers that the Zionist movement had. Without a territory, the idealist quality group that every national movement requires in order to turn its ideas into practice never materialized.

5. Beyond the historical and rational reasons for the decline of the Territorialist movement, there was one other reason that was not essentially related to Jewish distress or to the geopolitical conditions of the early twentieth century. Territorialism analyzed reality in a stark manner and with open eyes: they saw the persecution of Jews as an existential danger, and regarded their rescue as their main motivation. Yet such a cold and calculated approach is not enough for fueling a national movement. The Territorialists disengaged the emotional aspect of their national activity, relying on the assumption that in times of need Jews would move to any territory whatsoever as long as it would save their lives and those of their loved ones. Yet it turned out that bleak prophesies were not enough, and that followers also had to be inspired by hope, and by a positive connection with national activity. In peaceful, more relaxed periods, Territorialism found it hard to pursue its activity and to persuade others of its importance. Just as fast as those Zionist activists moved to the Territorialist camp, they abandoned it in order to return to the bosom of Zionism. Zion proved inseparable from Zionism. The ITO’s lack of success testifies to the power of myths in national movements. Short of such a myth, the Territorialist Organization remained a small circle of intellectuals who, while indeed analyzing reality, and the grim prospects of Eastern European Jews, in a cold and calculated manner, did not have at its disposal the army that could execute their ideas when the day would come. Territorialist ideology thus suffered from a paradigmatic flaw. Whereas the Zionist movement was guided by a national approach with historical-mythical foundations, Territorialists were scientific, rational, and intellectual. Such tools and methods (surveys, statistics, choosing optimal alternatives) proved irrelevant for a national discourse whose heart and soul is mythical. This was the secret power of the Zionist movement, as well as the main source of weakness of the Territorialist one.

Historical perspective proved that the Zionist path finally led to the establishment of a Jewish state in the Land of Israel, whereas the Territorialist attempts to find a suitable territory failed. At the same time, this paper refrained from using the terms “Zionist success” and “Territorialist failure.” First, since a historic study has no room for evaluative terms: Territorialist ideology has to be understood first and foremost from the point of view of its contemporaries, and not from ours. The 1903–1906 pogrom, the West-bound emigration of hundreds of thousands of Jews during the early twentieth century, the poverty of Eastern European Jewry, and the limited capacity of the Land of Israel to absorb masses of immigrants were the main reasons for the rise of Territorialism. The problems of the time were so urgent and consequential that some Jews believed that the Zionist schedule is not in alignment with Jewish distress—hence it was imperative to hurry, and to quickly establish a Jewish national home for the poor, the emigrants, and the survivors of pogroms in whatever place possible.

Second, 130 years of Zionist activism are no necessary guarantee for the success of its idea. Zionism indeed “won” over all its rivals—but the words must immediately be added: so far. The future of the Zionist project in Israel—like the future of any individual or group—is uncertain and foggy. Were Territorialist predictions to some day materialize, historical perspective would change with them: what is now regarded as a glorious victory might turn into a painful defeat. The Territorialist claim that six hundred thousand Arabs would not let the Jews settling in Israel live in peace, that the ensuing conflict would be irresolvable and last for many years, and that it would be unwise to put all the eggs in one basket, in the sense that the concentration of Jews in a single territory not only does not improve the Jewish condition but endangers it—might turn out to be a sober view of reality, and a prophecy that might fulfill itself.

The second half of the twentieth century was good to the Jewish people: it received new strength, and entered on a promising, successful course. In many respects, the State of Israel now constitutes the center of Jewish life and being, taking upon itself the right to defend the Jewish people from future catastrophes that might arrive. Should that be the case, and should the state of Israel find it hard to handle these catastrophes, we are likely to witness the rebirth of Territorialism (albeit probably in a somewhat different version), rising from the ashes like a Phoenix in times of distress and crisis.

Translated by Naveh Frumer


[1]Constitution of the ITO, Central Zionist Archives (=CZA), A36, File 1, 1.

[2] See: Speeches, Articles and Letters of Israel Zangwill (ed Maurice Simon), in Israel Zangwill, ‘The East Africa Offer’, London 1937, p.  210

[3] Ibid,, 210.

[4] See: Zeitlin, ‘Ha-Mashber: Reshimot Teritoryali’, Ha-Zeman: Yarchon le-Inyanei ha-Chaimm ha-Sifrut, ha-Omanut, veha-Mada, Vol. 3 (July-September 1905): 259.

[5] Ibid., 264.