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Kaplansky, Shelomo


KAPLANSKY, SHELOMO (1884–1950), Zionist labor leader. Born in Bialystok (then Russia), Kaplansky trained as an engineer and joined the Zionist labor movement at an early age. He lived in Vienna between 1903 and 1912, founded the *Po'alei Zion movement in Austria, and edited its journal Der Juedische Arbeiter, which appeared in German and Yiddish. He was a founder of the World Union of Po'alei Zion and was instrumental in having it accepted as a member of the Socialist International. He devised the idea of the Ereẓ Israel Workers' Fund (Kuppat Po'alei Ereẓ Yisrael) which was founded in 1910 by the World Union of Po'alei Zion to foster cooperative settlements and enterprises in Ereẓ Israel. He went to Ereẓ Israel in 1912 to settle there, but between 1913 and 1919 he was secretary of the *Jewish National Fund head office at The Hague. He was a member and chairman of the finance and economics committee of the Zionist Executive in London between 1919 and 1921. Kaplansky, who belonged to the moderate socialist trend, supported the participation of Po'alei Zion in the World Zionist Organization and all its institutions. At the 1920 World Conference of Po'alei Zion in Vienna he preferred the movement's split, repudiating its pro-Communist faction (the Left Po'alei Zion). Between 1927 and 1929 he was a member of the Zionist Executive in Jerusalem and the director of its Settlement Department. From 1929 until 1931 he lived in London as an emissary of the Zionist labor movement to the British Labour Party, which was then in power. From 1932 until his death, Kaplansky was director of the Haifa *Technion. During the debate over the partition of Palestine in 1937 he opposed the scheme, preferring the idea of a binational state in the whole of Palestine. As a result, he left the *Mapai Party in 1944 and later joined *Mapam. Some of his many articles and pamphlets in Russian, German, English, Hebrew, and Yiddish are collected in Ḥazon ve-Hagshamah ("Vision and Fulfillment," 1950).


Z. Shazar, Or Ishim, 2 (19642), 159–68; A. Granott, Dor Tekumah (1963), 321–4; M. Singer, Shelomo Kaplansky, 2 vols. (1971).

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