Featured weekly article: Searching for a Homeland: The Territorial Dimension in the Zionist Movement and the Boundaries of Jewish Nationalism

Searching for a Homeland: The Territorial Dimension in the Zionist Movement and the Boundaries of Jewish Nationalism

By Yitzhak Conforti

Volume 14, Issue 1, pages 36-54

 

Abstract

This article addresses the relationship between territorial borders and ethnic boundaries in the Zionist movement. Beginning with the Sixth Zionist Congress in 1903, the distinction between these two components of the Zionist movement rose to the forefront of the Zionist consciousness. The argument over the Uganda proposal revealed the differing preferences of political and practical Zionism. But this argument, which ended with the rejection of the Uganda plan in 1905, did not terminate the discussion of the relationship between ‘the people’ and ‘the land’. The aspiration of Zionism’s central stream to establish a Jewish nation-state in Palestine was challenged by political groups on the right and on the left, each of which emphasized either the ethnic or the territorial component. While Palestinian Zionism reinforced the territorial component during the 1920s and ’30s, the 1937 partition plan of the Peel Commission returned the issue of the relationship between the people and the land to the centre ring of political decision-making. This article demonstrates that the attempt of the central stream of the Zionist movement to balance between the people and the land, between the ethnic and the territorial components, defined the boundaries of Zionism during the period discussed.

 

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