Tabenkin, Yiẓḥak

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TABENKIN, YIẒḤAK (1887–1971), Israeli labor leader and one of the founders of *Ha-Kibbutz ha-Me'uḥad and *Aḥdut ha-Avodah, member of the First and Third Knessets. Born in Bobruisk, Belorussia, Tabenkin attended a ḥeder there. Later he went on to study in Warsaw, Vienna, and Berne. He helped to found *Po'alei Zion, belonging to the wing that favored agricultural settlement in Ereẓ Israel and participation in the Zionist organization. He settled in Palestine in 1911. Tabenkin worked on farms and joined *Ha-Shomer. He advocated collective settlement and was a member of Kinneret during World War i and of Gedudei ha-Avodah after the war. He also participated in the foundation of kibbutz *En Harod. Tabenkin favored large kibbutzim which would be open for mass membership.

In Palestine he belonged to the group that joined with Po'alei Zion in 1919 to form Aḥdut ha-Avodah, as a stage in the unification of the labor movement, and gave the programmatic address at its founding conference. He was a founding member of the *Histadrut in 1920 and of *Mapai in 1930. Tabenkin objected to David *Ben-Gurion's agreement with the Revisionists in 1934, opposed the 1937 partition plan for Palestine, advocated settlement in all corners of the country as part of the struggle for keeping Ereẓ Israel united, and fought for political activism, the independence of the Histadrut, the development of the labor economy, and loyalty to pioneering principles. When Mapai split in 1944, Tabenkin led the faction then called Ha-Tenu'ah le-Aḥdut ha-Avodah, which joined with *Ha-Shomer ha-Ẓa'ir in 1948 to form *Mapam, and was elected to the First Knesset on its list. Within Mapam he fought against the left-wing trend of empathy with the Communist bloc. He was not elected to the Second Knesset, but when Mapam split in 1954, he became the political and ideological leader of Aḥdut ha-Avodah-Po'alei Zion, and was elected to the Third Knesset on its list. In the early 1960s he retired from all his political and party activities, and devoted his time to teaching and writing. Following the Six-Day War Tabenkin opposed any withdrawal from the territories occupied during war, and participated in the establishment of Tenu'at ha-Avodah le-Ma'an Ereẓ Israel ha-Shelemah (The Labor Movement for Greater Israel), some of whose members joined the Likud in later years. He was a delegate at every Zionist Congress after World War i. He headed the Seminar Center of Ha-Kibbutz ha-Me'uḥad at Efal.

Tabenkin's son Moshe (1917–79) was a poet, and writer of children's books. Moshe served in the Palmaḥ, and was a teacher in kibbutz En-Harod.

Among his writings are Ha-Medinah ha-Ivrit ve-ha-Derekh Eleha ("The Jewish State and the Way Toward It," 1944); Vegn un Umvegn (Yid., "Ways and Roundabouts," 1947); Ha-Ḥevrah ha-Kibbutzit ("Kibbutz Society," 1954); Devarim 19181934 ("Collected Works 1918–34," 1967); Ein Le'an Laseget ("There Is Nowhere to Retreat," 1967); Devarim ("Speeches and Writings," 1967); Lekaḥ Sheshet ha-Yamim: Yishuvah shel Ereẓ Bilti Meḥulleket ("The Lesson of the Six Day War: the Settlement of an Undivided Land," 1971).


Yad Tabenkin, Yom Iyyun: ha-Soẓi'alizm shel Yiẓḥak Tabenkin (1973); Yad Tabenkin, Sugyot be-Mishnato shel Yiẓḥak Tabenkin: Yom Iyyun bi-Melot Shalosh Shanim li-Fetirato (1974); Y. Even-Nur (ed.), Shelilat ha-Golah be-Mishnato shel Yiẓḥak Tabenkin be-Meẓi'ut bi-Shenat 1973 (1974); Y. Tabenkin, Yiẓḥak Tabenkin ve-Etgarei Tekufatenu (1986); E. Kafkafi, Emet o Emunah: Tabenkin Meḥannekh Ḥaluẓim (1992); B. Kaneri, Tabenkin ve-Ereẓ Yisra'el (2003).

[Susan Hattis Rolef (2nd ed.)]