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Zionist Organization of America

ZIONIST ORGANIZATION OF AMERICA (ZOA), U.S. organization of General Zionists. In 1898 Richard *Gottheil, who attended the Zionist Congress in Europe, called a New York conference which formed the Federation of American Zionists. To attract support, the Federation began to publish a monthly, The Maccabean, in 1901, and Dos Yidishe Folk in 1909. The newly formed *Young Judaea (1907) and *Hadassah (1912) joined the Federation, and at a convention in 1918 the various Zionist branches merged into the ZOA. Louis D. *Brandeis was elected honorary president and Julian W. *Mack president. The Mack administration (1918–21) participated in the work of the *Zionist Commission in Palestine. At the Cleveland convention of 1921, Brandeis and his adherents, who differed from Chaim *Weizmann and the world leadership in favoring a policy of private economic investment in Palestine, withdrew from the ZOA. Louis *Lipsky, who supported the *Keren Hayesod, became president, and the ZOA grew numerically, politically, and financially. In 1924 a merger of the annual Zionist major fund-raising efforts created the United Palestine Appeal. After the outbreak of World War II in September 1939, the American Emergency Committee (Council after 1943) for Zionist Affairs (ECZA) began to function. ZOA representatives on the ECZA occupied the front rank in the political struggles and achievements of that period. During 1946–48, U.S. support for the Jewish state was achieved by the exertions of the mobilized Zionist forces, including the ZOA leaders, especially Abba Hillel *Silver and Emanuel *Neumann.

With the founding of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948, the ZOA's role diminished and shifted to fund raising and public relations on behalf of Israel. In 1957 a group of prominent Zionists seceded from the ZOA and organized the American Jewish League for Israel. The ZOA struggled to maintain its position by fostering projects in Israel such as Kefar Silver and the ZOA house in Tel Aviv, and stressing Zionist education and Hebrew culture in the U.S. ZOA supported the Young Judaea youth movement and several Zionist-oriented summer camps. It published a periodical The New Palestine which later was called The American Zionist. ZOA membership was 147,551 in 1918; 44,280 in 1939; and 165,000 in 1950. Since 1950 there has been a decline in membership.


Zionist Organization of America, Annual Reports, 1 (1898–to date); idem, ZOA in Review, 1 (1964–to date); M. Feinstein, American Zionism: 18841904 (1965); R. Learsi, Fulfillment: The Epic Story of Zionism (1951); H. Parzen, A Short History of Zionism (1962); S.H. Sankowsky, A Short History of Zionism (1947), 98–107.

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