AḤDUT HA-AVODAH-PO'ALEI ZION


AḤDUT HA-AVODAH-PO'ALEI ZION ("Unity of Labor–Workers of Zion"), Zionist Socialist Party established in 1946. *Aḥdut ha-Avodah emerged as an independent party in 1944 after a faction in Mapai calling itself Si'ah Bet (B Faction) seceded from it because of its objections to the policies of the *Histadrut leadership. In 1946 it united with the left-wing Po'alei Zion, assuming the name Aḥdut ha-Avodah–Po'alei Zion. In 1948 the new party joined with Ha-Shomer ha-Ẓa'ir to form *Mapam and ran within its framework in the elections to the First and Second Knessets. In August 1954, due to ideological differences set against the background of antisemitic "show trials" in Moscow and Prague, it resumed its independence. Aḥdut ha-Avodah–Po'alei Zion ran independently in the elections to the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Knessets, winning ten, seven, and eight seats, respectively. In the elections to the Sixth Knesset it ran on a single list – the Alignment – with *Mapai, and in 1968 it united with Mapai and *Rafi to form the *Israel Labor Party.

The core group of the party membership was made up of members of Ha-Kibbutz ha-Me'uḥad (see *Kibbutz), and among its best-known leaders were Yitzḥak *Tabenkin, Yigal *Allon, Yisrael *Galili, and Yitzḥak *Ben-Aharon. Throughout its independent existence the party was radical in its Zionist and social outlook, advocating a Jewish state with full rights for the Arab minority within what later came to be known as "Greater Israel." It opposed the various partition plans and, during the *War of Independence, demanded that the IDF occupy the whole territory of Eretz Israel within the boundaries of the British Mandate. Both in 1949 and again in 1957, following the *Sinai Campaign, it opposed the withdrawal of the IDF from the Sinai Peninsula, unless the Arab states accepted a peace settlement.

During World War II Aḥdut ha-Avodah–Po'alei Zion favored not only participation of Jewish youth in the British Army, but also the establishment of an underground military force under the sole authority of the *Haganah. Its members played an important role in the foundation and leadership of the *Palmaḥ. It advocated a comprehensive struggle against the British Mandatory regime, the organization of large-scale clandestine immigration, settlement in areas forbidden to Jewish settlement, and, after the war, sabotage operations against British installations in Palestine. However, it objected to acts of personal terror, such as those practiced by the two dissident underground organizations I.Ẓ.L. (*Irgun Ẓeva'i Le'ummi) and Leḥi (*Loḥamei Ḥerut Israel), though it objected to cooperation between the Haganah and the Mandatory police in the apprehension of members of these organizations, advocating instead their detention in Haganah undercover prisons.

The party adopted the philosophy of "scientific socialism," containing distinctly Marxist elements, but advocated "Zionist socialism" unfettered by any international, ideological, or organizational authority. Although sympathetic to the social experiment in the Soviet Union, it rejected the dictatorial regime in that country, and criticized manifestations of violence and persecution in it as well as its policy toward the Jews and Zionism. At the same time it maintained ties with other left-wing socialist movements and groups around the world. Aḥdut ha-Avodah opposed David *Ben-Gurion's policy of rapprochement with West Germany.

From 1959 until 1965 Aḥdut ha-Avodah–Po'alei Zion was a member of governments led by Ben-Gurion and Levi *Eshkol. It was also an active member of the Histadrut leadership, advocating the preservation of the Histadrut's independence, and the maintenance of full ideological and organizational democracy within it. After the establishment of the Labor Party, one of its leaders, Yitzḥak Ben-Aharon, served as secretary general of the Histadrut in the years 1969–73. In 1954 it started publishing a Hebrew daily, Lamerhav, that survived until 1971, and for a while after 1967 it published a Yiddish weekly, Folksblat.

[Susan Hattis Rolef (2nd ed.)]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.