DEMOCRATIC FRACTION, radical opposition faction in the Zionist movement between the years 1901 and 1904 that demanded the democratization of Zionist institutions, the organization of cultural activities by the Zionist Organization, and immediate settlement in Ereẓ Israel. Its leaders were Leo *Motzkin and Chaim *Weizmann. Their demand that the Zionist Organization conduct cultural activities sharply contradicted the stand of the religious wing, which violently opposed such programs, fearing that they would be used for the dissemination of "secular" culture. During the Fourth *Zionist Congress (1900) it was decided at a Zionist student meeting to establish a democratic-progressive faction or party. A conference was held in Basle, a few days before the Fifth Zionist Congress (1901), attended by about 40 delegates, most of
An Information Bureau in Geneva headed by Chaim Weizmann served as the secretariat for the Democratic Fraction. Its activities centered around the development of the publishing house *Juedischer Verlag, the establishment of the statistical bureau, and the creation of a fund to found a Jewish university in Ereẓ Israel.
The organization of the Fraction was weak, and it did not even hold the planned annual conference. Only a consultation of 11 men (including Weizmann, Feiwel, and Martin *Buber) was held in January 1904. When they decided to join the emerging opposition to the *Uganda scheme, the Fraction practically ceased to exist. Thereafter, its members worked individually for the overall Zionist Organization.
A. Bein, Sefer Motzkin (1939), 56–66; Ch. Weizmann, Trial and Error (1966), index; I. Klausner, Oppozizyah le-Herzl (1960); B. Feiwel, in: Ost und West (1902), 687–94.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.