Territorialism preached the formation of a Jewish collective
in Palestine, or anywhere
else, on the basis of self-rule. The territorialist outlook coalesced
in the debate over the Uganda
Program. In July 1905, after the Zionist
Congress rejected this plan, the Territorialist Jewish Organization
was established in Basle under the leadership of the writer Israel Zangwill. It attempted to locate territory suitable for Jewish
settlement in various parts of Africa, Asia, and Australia, but with
little success. The Balfour Declaration and the resulting Zionist awakening
negated the movement and led to its dissolution in 1925.
Other territorialist attempts, meant as counterweights
to Zionism, were undertaken in the Soviet Union between the two world
wars. The first was in the southern Ukraine and the northern Crimea, where four noncontiguous "national
districts" (raiony) were established in the early 1920s
and obliterated when the Nazis invaded. The second was in Birobidjan, where a "Jewish Autonomous
Region" was proclaimed in 1934. This venture also failed, leaving
a small Jewish minority in the region. In 1935, in response to the Nazi
accession to power in Germany,
Isaac Nachman Steinberg established the Freeland League in the United
States. This organization attempted, unsuccessfully, to pursue Jewish
autonomy by obtaining a large piece of territory in sparsely populated
areas in Ecuador, Australia, or Surinam.
None of the territorialist movements are today viable.