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Labor Zionist Alliance

LABOR ZIONIST ALLIANCE (from 2004 Ameinu; originally Po'alei Zion), U.S. Zionist organization. Socialist Zionist circles existed in the U.S. as early as 1903, but it was only at a convention in Baltimore on December 23–25, 1905 that the national organization of Po'alei Zion was founded. During the first decade the organization waged struggles on three fronts: against the socialist-territorialists who advocated Jewish statehood in a country other than Palestine; against the assimilationism of Jewish labor leaders who denied the legitimacy of Po'alei Zion as a trend in socialism; and for recognition as an integral part of the Zionist movement. By the time World War I broke out, the fight had been largely successful in all aspects.

In 1910 Po'alei Zion introduced a new trend in North American Jewish education by establishing secular Jewish afternoon schools. In 1912 Po'alei Zion founded the Jewish National Workers Alliance. In 1914 it launched a movement to establish a democratic and representative body to deal, on behalf of U.S. Jewry, with Jewish problems growing out of the war. The movement succeeded in bringing into being the first American Jewish Congress.

During the 1920s Po'alei Zion organized the Histadrut Campaign (National Committee for Labor Israel) and supported the establishment of Pioneer Women (now Na'amat U.S.A.). The 1930s and 1940s were spent in combating Nazism and Fascism, aiding the victims of Hitlerian savagery, and fighting for Jewish statehood. A wide program of action on the American Jewish scene was developed at the same time and over the next few decades a number of other groups merged with Po'alei Zion. In 1971 Po'alei Zion joined with *Farband and the American *Habonim Association to form the Labor Zionist Alliance. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, efforts of the Labor Zionist Alliance have been concentrated on supporting Israel and contributing to its growth. Many members have settled in Israel, where they have established kibbutzim, moshavim, and urban cooperatives; pioneered in the development of Israel experience programs for American Jewish youth; led the effort to found the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel as a nonpartisan framework for North Americans living in Israel; and participated actively in the campaign for religious pluralism.

In 2000 the organization adopted a new ideological statement. Among the priorities in that statement are innovative formal and informal Jewish education; pluralism and egalitarianism in Jewish life; the mutual recognition by the State of Israel and the Palestinian people of each other's self-determination; promotion of aliyah; and the elimination of poverty worldwide. In 2004 the Labor Zionist Alliance adopted a strategic plan, including the name change to Ameinu and new programs designed to increase communal impact and attract younger members. Ameinu, whose name is followed by the tag line "Liberal Values, Progressive Israel," sponsors missions to the volunteer and cooperative sectors of Israel, speaking tours to the United States by leaders of Israel's labor and peace movement, and – in partnership with several like-minded organizations – the Union of Progressive Zionists on college campuses.

Local Ameinu affiliates belong to Jewish community relations councils, federations, boards of Jewish education, and other umbrella organizations in their respective cities. Since 1934 the organization has published the Jewish Frontier, now a quarterly. Among the most influential ideological and political personalities in the century-long history of Ameinu were Nachman Syrkin, Baruch Zuckerman, and Hayim Greenberg.


J. J Goldberg and Elliot King (eds.), Builders and Dreamers: Habonim Labor Zionist Youth in North America (1993); Labor Zionist Handbook (1939); Mark A. Raider, The Emergence of American Zionism (1998); C. Bezalel Sherman, Labor Zionism in America (1957).

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