Zionist Socialist Workers' Party

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ZIONIST SOCIALIST WORKERS' PARTY (or ss , the initials of "Zionists-Socialists" in Russian), territorialist group in Russia founded at a conference held (interrupted as a result of the arrests of its participants) in Odessa, in January–February 1905. The party was the outcome of the rift between two conflicting tendencies in *Po'alei Zion in 1903–04, and though efforts were made to unite the separate groups into a united Zionist Socialist party, the ideological differentiation led to three distinct trends: territorialist, autonomist, and Ereẓ-Israel-centered. There were also differences on the participation of Jewish socialists in the revolutionary struggle in Russia. Among the leaders and activists of the party were: N. *Syrkin, J.W. *Latzky-Bertholdi, the brothers Jacob and Joseph *Lestschinsky, G. *Abramowitz (Avrahami), J. Chernikhov (Danieli), M. Rashkes, M. *Litvakov, A. *Yoffe, M. Shatz-Anin, S. *Niger, the brothers David and Moses Gepstein, J. *Pat, D. *Lvovich, B. Zelikovich (M. Gutman), Samuel *Weizmann, and A. Sokolovski. B. *Dinur (Dinaburg), B. *Katznelson, A. *Harzfeld, M.D. *Remez (Drabkin), as well as S. *Mikhoels, A. Leyeles *Glanz, and Elisha *Rodin, who belonged to it during various periods. In its foundation statement the party adhered to *territorialism, arguing that the essence of Zionism was its "social economic content," and not "the revival of the Jewish land, Jewish culture, and Jewish tradition." Therefore, "there is no organic link between Zionism and Palestine." Because the ss had rejected the purely autonomist principle of "Sejmism," the supporters of the *Vozrozhdeniye group rapidly seceded from it. The party participated in the Seventh Zionist Congress (summer 1905), after which it left the Zionist Organization, supporting the Jewish territorialist organization founded by I. *Zangwill. The first proper convention of the party was held in Leipzig (March 1906) and decided to change its name, but it postponed it until the establishment of a Jewish world socialist organization. A minority within the party did not support its extreme anti-Ereẓ Israel stance.

The ss viewed the future of the Jews in the Diaspora with extreme pessimism and saw an urgent need for a radical solution for fear of catastrophe. The party did not believe in "national cultural autonomy" of the Bundist type, nor in the national-political autonomism of the Sejmists. The absence of a "national economy" and "acute, social-economic and national-political pressures" were leading to the constant impoverishment of the Jewish masses and their "cultural sterility." The formula "non-proletarization" evolving into "non-industrialization," explained the abnormal conditions of the Jewish proletariat and its restriction to small industry and craftsmanship. Thus it could not be "the real bearer of the socialist ideal." The "historical necessity" for realizing the concept of territorialism was linked to the actual flow of Jewish mass emigration, which occupied a central place in the party's ideology. The Jewish emigration, flowing to developed countries and towns, would reach a saturation point. It would be compelled to chance its direction toward agriculture, toward a compact settlement, which would foster "the concentration of the Jewish masses in a free territory." Once political rights would be won this evolution would lead to the formation of a "Jewish national economic organism." This concept lacked, however, any indication as to the role to be played by the party in the realization of Jewish territorialism. The party regarded itself as a social-democratic Marxist party, supported active participation in the revolutionary struggle of Russia, but did not see any organic link between it and the aims of territorialism. In the revolution of 1905–06 its influence reached a peak and it became a factor second in importance only to the *Bund, which regarded it as a serious rival. The party also struck roots in Poland, especially in *Czestochowa (J. Kruk and A. *Syngalowski). It claimed to have 27,000 members and played an active role in Jewish *self-defense and in the trade-union movement. In 1907 it was joined by the Jewish territorialist workers' party, the successor of the "Minsk trend" of Po'alei Zion.

There was also a "ss League Abroad." The party maintained relations with sister organizations in the United States (the "Zionist territorialists," led by N. Syrkin, B. *Zuckerman, and A. Goldberg), England, and Argentina. The ss participated in the Congress of the Second Socialist International at Stuttgart (1907) on a consultative basis, but it was not accepted as a member of the International. In the reaction years, after the abortive revolution of 1905–06, the ss declined greatly in importance and was abandoned by a number of its leaders. Its slogan became "regulation of emigration" (Vilna Convention, 1908), hence its initiative for the calling of a World Emigration Congress, the project of an emigration bank, and its participation in the congresses of the Jewish Territorial Organization. The ss stood for Yiddishism. At its fourth conference (1911) it decided to participate in the life of the Jewish communities, while at the fifth conference (March 31–April 1, 1915), it adopted, for the first time, a positive position on autonomism. The ss participated in the activities of the *ort, the *Society for the Promotion of Culture among the Jews of Russia, and the *oze. During World War i the ss adopted an anti-war attitude (fifth conference, 1915) and was opposed to participation in the patriotic war-industrial committees in Russia. After the February 1917 Revolution it substituted in its name the word "territorialist" instead of "Zionist," and adopted – at its sixth conference (April 1917) – the program of national autonomy. Thus the road was open for a union with the Sejmists and the establishment of the *United Jewish Socialist Workers' Party (Fareynigte; June 1917). Several former members of the ss were prominent for their role in Jewish settlement in the Soviet Union (e.g., I. Golde and Y. Liberberg). The organs of the ss included: Khronik fun der Tsionistish-Sotsialistisher Arbeter Partey (1905), Forverts (Warsaw, 1905–06); Der Nayer Veg, Unzer Veg (Vilna, 1906–07), Der Shtral, 2 vols. (1907–08), and Tsukunft (1913).


A. Kirzshanski, Der Yidisher Arbeter, 2–4 (1925–28), index; B. Borochov, Ketavim, 1–3 (1955–66); Sotsialistisher Teritorializm (1934), 43–51, 79–115, 140–8; A.L. Patkin, The Origins of the Russian-Jewish Labor Movement (1947), 222–8; M. Gutman, Royter Pinkas, 1 (1921), 152–73; B. Katznelson, Ketavim, 5 (1947), 382–5; B. Dinur, Be-Olam she-Shaka (1958), 303–60; M. Katz, A Dor Vos Hot Farloyrn di Moyre (1956), 54–57, 156–67, 195–216; I. Gordin, Yorn Fargangene, Yorn Umfargeslekhe (1960), 54–116; I. Rubin, Fundanen Ahin (1952), 143–91; O. Janowsky, The Jews and Minority Rights (1933), index; J. Kruk, Taḥat Diglan shel Shalosh Mahpekhot (1968).

[Moshe Mishkinsky]