A socialist-Zionist youth movement, ha-Shomer ha-Tzaʿir was founded in 1913, unifying the Zionist youth organizations in Poland and Galicia into one movement. Its name, which means "Young Guardian," was also the name of the largest of the existing youth organizations as well as that of a Jewish militia organization in Palestine. The new organization placed emphasis on settlement, and in 1919 ha-Shomer ha-Tzaʿir sent its first group of settlers to Palestine. By 1924 its membership was more than 10,000. In the 1920s and 1930s it developed a Marxist-Zionist ideology, and many of its members envisioned a socialist Palestine that would work with the Soviet Union to bring about a worldwide workers' revolution. By 1940 ha-Shomer ha-Tzaʿir had grown to a membership of over 70,000 with thirty-nine kibbutzim in Palestine.
Because it had favored the creation of a binational Arab-Jewish state in Palestine, ha-Shomer ha-Tzaʿir had little influence on the politics of the Zionist movement in Palestine preceding the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. That year, when several socialist factions joined together to form MAPAM, or the United Workers' Party, ha-Shomer ha-Tzaʿir became its youth movement. It has remained active primarily as an educational movement.
SEE ALSO MAPAM.