Arlosoroff, Chaim

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ARLOSOROFF, CHAIM (Victor ; 1899–1933), Zionist statesman and leader of the Zionist labor movement. Arlosoroff was born in Romny, Ukraine, the grandson of a famous rabbi. He was taken to Germany by his parents in 1905 in the wake of a pogrom. In 1918 Arlosoroff joined the Zionist labor party Hitaḥadut (*Ha-Po'el ha-Ẓa'ir) and soon became one of its leaders. A pamphlet he wrote in 1919, "Jewish Popular Socialism," attempted to combine non-Marxist socialism with a practical approach to the problems of Jewish settlement in Palestine. He soon attracted attention by advocating new methods of financing Zionist settlement, especially through an international loan guaranteed by the League of Nations and the Mandatory power. He also expressed the belief that cooperation between the Arab and Jewish national movements was possible.

Arlosoroff settled in Palestine in 1924, after finishing his studies in economics at Berlin University. In 1926 he became a member of the yishuv delegation to the League of Nations Permanent Mandates Commission. In that year, and again in 1928–29, he visited the United States, publishing his impressions in a series of letters, New York vi-Yrushalayim (1929), which contain sociological and economic studies of American Jewry. With the founding of *Mapai in 1930, Arlosoroff became one of the party's leaders and spokesmen. A staunch supporter of Chaim *Weizmann's policies, Arlosoroff was elected a member of the Zionist and Jewish Agency Executive and head of its Political Department at the 17th Zionist Congress in 1931. Despite the friendly personal and political relations he established with the British High Commissioner in Palestine, Sir Arthur Wauchope, Arlosoroff began to doubt the durability of Britain's commitment to Zionism in view of its involvement in the Middle East. This was a reversal of his earlier conviction that the Zionist ideal could be fully implemented in cooperation with Britain. He also came to doubt the feasibility of a Jewish-Arab understanding in the foreseeable future. In a confidential letter to Weizmann, written in June 1932 (published in 1949), Arlosoroff discussed the possibility of an interim "revolutionary" period, in which a Jewish minority develop the country and save as many Jews as possible, as the approaching world war and emerging Arab nationalism might otherwise prevent the ultimate realization of Zionism. In 1933 Arlosoroff dedicated himself to organizing massive emigration of Jews from Nazi Germany and the transfer of their property to Palestine. In June 1933 he was assassinated by unknown assailants while walking with his wife on the seashore of Tel Aviv (see below).

Arlosoroff was a man of vision and action, a shrewd observer of sociological and economic processes, and a poet. A prolific writer, his works included political and economic analyses, a world history of colonization, research works, and poetry. His writings, Kitvei Chaim Arlosoroff, were published in seven volumes (1934–35), the last one containing his poetry. His highly informative diaries from the years 1931–33, Yoman Yerushalayim, were published in 1949 (ed. by Z. Sharef). In his "Selected Articles" (in Hebrew: Mivḥar Maʿamarav, 1944) there is a list of his works and writings about him. Kiryat Ḥayyim near Haifa, Kibbutz Givat Ḥayyim, and the village Kefar Ḥayyim in Emek Ḥefer, as well as streets in many towns, are named after him.

[Benjamin Jaffe]

The Arlosoroff Murder Trial

The Arlosoroff murder trial (1933–34) did not solve the mystery of the assassination but greatly exacerbated political relations in the yishuv and in the Zionist movement. Abba *Aḥimeir, the head of a clandestine "activist" group, "Berit ha-Biryonim," was charged by the Palestine police with plotting the murder. He was also a leader of an extremist *Revisionist faction, whose organ, Ḥazit ha-Am, violently attacked the Labor movement and the official Zionist leadership, including Arlosoroff. Two rank-and-file Revisionists, Abraham Stavsky and Ẓevi Rosenblatt, were arrested as the actual murderers, and were identified by Arlosoroff 's widow. All three vehemently denied the accusation. The district court acquitted Aḥimeir and Rosenblatt but convicted Stavsky, who, however, was eventually acquitted by the Supreme Court for lack of corroborating evidence. The defense accused the police of manipulating the widow's testimony and other evidence for political reasons, and expounded the theory that the murder was connected with an intended sexual attack on Mrs. Arlosoroff by two young Arabs. One of these Arabs, in prison for another murder charge, twice confessed to having been involved in Arlosoroff 's murder, but twice retracted his confession, accusing Stavsky and Rosenblatt of having bribed him to confess. At the time, members of the Labor movement, with few exceptions, regarded the widow's testimony as proof of the existence of criminal fascist tendencies among Revisionists, while the Revisionists and most other non-labor circles, including Chief Rabbi *Kook, firmly maintained Stavsky's innocence, denouncing the affair as a blood libel of Jews against Jews.

[Binyamin Eliav]


E. Biletzky, Chaim Arlosoroff – Iyyunim be-Mishnato ha-Yehudit (1966); A. Zweig, in: Jewish Frontier (June 1936). murder trial: Dinur, Haganah, 2 pt. 1 (1959), 497–9; Arlosoroff Murder Trial (1934); A. Aḥimeir, Ha-Mishpat (1968); M. Sharett, Orot she-Kavu (1969), 30–38.