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Ha-Po'el Ha-za'ir

Ha-Po'el Ha-Za'ir (Heb. הַפּוֹעֵל הצָּעִיר; The Young Worker) was the first newspaper of the labor movement in Ereẓ Israel. It was founded in 1907 by the first pioneers of the Second Aliyah. Its full name was Histadrut ha-Po'alim ha-Ẓe'irim be-Ereẓ Israel – and it was called Ha-Po'el ha-Ẓa'ir for short. Ha-Po'el ha-Ẓa'ir was founded in Petah Tikvah in the autumn of 1905 on the initiative of Shelomo *Ẓemaḥ and Eliezer *Shoḥat, who were among the first arrivals of the Second Aliyah in 1904. Its name symbolized the new character of the Jewish worker of the Second Aliyah, to be distinguished from that of the earlier workers (who had been organized since the beginning of the 1890s) and from *Po'alei Zion (the first of whose members began to arrive in the country at the same time). The new idea was expressed in the words carried as a motto on its newspaper for years: "An indispensable condition for the realization of Zionism is the conquest of all branches of labor in Ereẓ Israel by the Jews." Certain modifications were made in this definition after the revolution of the Young Turks (1908) because of the misunderstanding that might be aroused by the word "conquest." The wording was then changed to "the increase of Jewish workers in Ereẓ Israel and their consolidation in all branches of labor."

The uniqueness of this party was in its being the first indigenous workers' party in Ereẓ Israel. It groped to formulate an exact program for its activities, but its direction was clear to its founders and its members, and it was formulated a few years after the party's foundation by one of its first ideologists and the editor of its paper, Yosef *Aharonovitch. These were: to introduce the principle of labor into the official work program of Zionism; to spread the idea of the "conquest of labor" among the farmers and employers in Ereẓ Israel; to win over Jewish youth and inspire them to join the ranks of the "conquerors of labor"; and to pave the way for and assist the workers in Ereẓ Israel, who would set out to establish their place in labor.

From its foundation, Ha-Po'el ha-Ẓa'ir opposed Po'alei Zion because of the latter's acceptance of international socialism and the theory of the class struggle, which Ha-Po'el ha-Ẓa'ir felt were incongruous with the situation in Ereẓ Israel.There were also disagreements between the two movements over the relationship to Yiddish; Po'alei Zion began to publish its paper, Onfang, in Yiddish in 1907 (but later changed over to Hebrew) and fought for the use of Yiddish abroad. Nonetheless, there was complete cooperation between the two parties in almost every sphere of practical activity, in spite of the perpetual polemics in their newspapers. The idea of labor, which was the fundamental principle of Ha-Po'el ha-Ẓa'ir andits great innovation in Ereẓ Israel, was exalted a few years later by A.D. *Gordon (who never formally joined the party, but maintained strong ties with it and its press throughout his life) as an absolute and cosmic value in the life of man and in his inner and spiritual worlds. Labor was transformed from a means of livelihood into a supreme value, as an answer to the moral demand of the Jews.

At the time, the "conquest of labor" meant basically the competition of Jewish workers in the Jewish villages with Arab laborers who were willing to accept lower wages. There were members of the party who wished to propose other means of rooting the Jewish worker in the soil of Ereẓ Israel, e.g., by settlement on the land, and also requested the inclusion of city workers in the party's program. Eventually, a compromise was reached between the "conquest of labor" in the villages and the establishment of independent agricultural-workers' settlements. The members of Ha-Po'el ha-Ẓa'ir were among the founders of the "mother of kevuẓto," *Deganyah; among the initiators of the idea of the moshav ovedim (e.g., E.L. Joffe); and the founders of the first moshav, *Nahalal, after World War I. Politically the party was able to express its ideas only after the revolution of the Young Turks. It formulated them as "a Jewish majority, healthy in the economic and cultural sense." This political article was also connected with the "conquest of labor" and with rooting the Jewish laborer in Ereẓ Israel by perpetual encouragement of immigration (the party even published a manifesto which called for aliyah). The constitutional freedom afforded by the Turkish revolution was not regarded as valuable in itself, except as a means of reaching a Jewish majority in Ereẓ Israel.

The members of Ha-Po'el ha-Ẓa'ir participated in guarding the settlements and self-defense activities, but their relationship to *Ha-Shomer, which was established by members of Po'alei Zion, was one of reserve. The same is true of participation in volunteering for the *Jewish Legion at the end of World War I. However, there were those who supported enlistment in the Legion, and when the supporters eventually constituted a majority, the minority (which included A.D. *Gordon and other leaders) continued to oppose it. The party participated in Zionist congresses, beginning with the Eighth Congress in 1907, and maintained ties with the Ẓe'irei *Zion movement abroad. Before World War I, the party took steps to establish a world organization, an aspiration that was realized after the war at the Prague Conference (1920), which created the *Hitaḥadut from Ha-Po'el ha-Ẓa'ir in Palestine and Ẓe'irei Zion abroad.

Ha-Po'el ha-Ẓa'ir did not join *Ahdut ha-Avodah (A) when it was formed in 1919 to unite all the workers of Ereẓ Israel because it regarded Aḥdut ha-Avodah as a branch of the world movement of Po'alei Zion. On the other hand, it participated in the establishment of the *Histadrut in 1920. In it Ha-Po'el ha-Ẓa'ir was a minority party, facing an Aḥdut ha-Avodah majority (26 delegates to 37 from Aḥdut ha-Avodah at the first conference, 36 to 69 at the second conference, 54 to 108 at the third conference) and struggling against it. A representative of Ha-Po'el ha-Ẓa'ir, Joseph *Sprinzak, was the first workers' representative from Ereẓ Israel to become a member of the Zionist Executive (1921). Members of Ha-Po'el ha-Ẓa'ir were also among the leaders of the Agricultural Workers' Organization in Galilee and Judea (Ha-Histadrut ha-Ḥakla'it ba-Galil u-vi-Yhudah) before World War I, which was the first nucleus of a roof organization for Second Aliyah workers, and were also the founders of the agricultural press in Hebrew, which reflected the agricultural experience of Jewish laborers (the editor was E.L. Joffe and among the first contributors was Berl *Katznelson).

The ideological evolution of Ha-Po'el ha-Ẓa'ir did not cease after World War I, especially with the rise of Chaim *Arlosoroff, who coined the term "popular Socialism," as distinct from the class struggle. Arlosoroff was influenced by the ideas of Gustav *Landauer and Martin *Buber (also a member of the party and among the participants in the Prague Conference) and the practical experience of his party in Ereẓ Israel. With the first consolidation of the kibbutz federations in the 1920s (*Ha-Kibbutz ha-Me'uḥad), the bloc of small kevuẓot was consolidated into Ḥever ha-Kevuẓot with ties to Ha-Po'el ha-Ẓa'ir (see *Iḥud ha-Kevuẓot ve-ha-Kibbutzim). In the controversy over forms of collective settlement (between the kibbutz and moshav), the party's stand was equally in favor of both forms. Ha-Po'el ha-Ẓa'ir adopted *Gordonia abroad, the first of whose members settled in Palestine in 1929 during the discussions over the merger with Ahdut ha-Avodah. The pioneers of *Ha-Shomer ha-Ẓa'ir who arrived in Palestine with the Third Aliyah were also close to Ha-Po'el ha-Ẓa'ir, and only later did they part ways.

Ha-Po'el ha-Ẓa'ir had extensions in a number of countries, the most outstanding of which was in Germany. This branch was created after World War I, and its outstanding figures were Martin Buber, Georg *Landauer, Arlosoroff, and others. Ha-Po'el ha-Ẓa'ir's aliyah bureau in Vienna was a very impressive instrument after World War I; it was created by members of the party in Palestine and assisted and directed the first immigrants of the Third Aliyah. Ha-Po'el ha-Ẓa'ir created the first labor newspaper in Ereẓ Israel, called Ha-Po'el ha-Ẓa'ir (1907 in stencil and printed from 1908). With the cessation of publication during World War I, it was replaced by several journals until it could resume publication in 1918 (until 1970). The party also had a publishing house during the Second Aliyah called La-Am, which published tens of popular scientific pamphlets (in Hebrew translation), and after the war it published a social-literary monthly, Ma'abarot, edited by Jacob *Fichmann (1919–21). Ha-Po'el ha-Ẓa'ir laid the groundwork for the new Hebrew literature in Ereẓ Israel, and the best of its authors contributed to the party's periodicals and publications.

During its existence, the party held 21 conferences. At the last one (1929), it was decided by a large majority to merge with Aḥdut ha-Avodah. The union was carried out in the following year through the creation of a common party: Mifleget Po'alei Ereẓ Israel (Ereẓ Israel Workers' Party) – *Mapai. The most outstanding personalities in Ha-Po'el ha-Ẓa'ir, throughout its existence, were A.D. Gordon, Joseph *Vitkin, Joseph Aharonovitch, Yiẓḥak *Elazari-Volcani, E.L. Joffe, Joseph Sprinzak, Shelomo *Shiller, Eliezer *Kaplan, Shemuel *Dayan, Ẓevi Yehudah, Joseph *Baratz, and others.


J. Shapira, Ha-Po'el ha-Ẓa'ir (1967), detailed bibl. 492–6; I. and G. Kressel, Mafte'aḥ le-ha-Po'el ha-Ẓa'ir (56685717) (1968).

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.