|Katy Andrews Writing
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PREFACE THE EARLY ZIONIST MOVEMENT AND THE CONTROL OF LAND
Land is a resource, not only in its intrinsic value as the supplier of food, water, fuel and minerals, but also in that it is a space in which to work and live and a territory of psychological and political importance which confers a sense of spatial belonging or rootedness on its inhabitants. Some places are given additional importance by people because of magical or religious associations, and perhaps more so in Palestine than in most regions of the world. Thus the land of Palestine has an additional symbolic value, which has been at least as important in the Jewish colonisation of the 19th and 20th Centuries as economic motivations to migration and settlement. The earliest "Zionists" were without exception religious Jews who "made aliyah" ("went up") to the Land of Israel to live, study, and sometimes to work and raise families. They felt a deep spiritual attachment to the Land itself, which Jewish tradition holds was the starting-place of the Creation of the World and which the Bible records was promised to Abraham (the ancestor of Jews and Arabs alike) by God Himself, to be the dwelling-place of his seed forever. Thus from the earliest days the Jewish people were affected by a fundamental belief about their special relationship with the physical territory of "Eretz Yisrael" ("the Land of Israel", i.e. of Abraham's grandson Jacob) which lent to Palestine a symbolic importance which was never lost. It was not until the failure of the Reformation and subsequent emancipatory movements to solve the "problem" of Europe's Jews that the idea of a Return to the Land and the "In gathering of the Exiles" became a political movement. This movement, was composed in its early days almost entirely of individuals and small groups of individuals, who planned their aliyah themselves in a piecemeal fashion and often quite separately from any organised colonising society. (Very little attention has been given by historians to the few private individuals and families who settled in Palestine in the late 19th Century. Since my purpose in this essay is to look at the colonisation of the early Zionist movement, I shall not deal with these planters, since they are in that sense peripheral.) The "official historiography" of the Zionist movement tends to present the Jewish colonisation of Palestine as being masterminded and planned by socialist Zionists. This has become a central part of the Zionist mythos, and values attributed to the early settlers have been incorporated into the secular "State cultus" of the modern Medinat Yisrael (State of Israel), values such as nationalism, self-sacrifice, hard work, pioneering settlement, "making the desert bloom", redemption of the land, frugality, solidarity, moral elitism, optimism and the idea that agriculture and the rural life are of more worth than urban
dwelling. Certain aspects of the colonisation process have been stressed, particularly the communal and collective settlements, the co-operative societies, trades unions and leftist movements. This stress was vastly encouraged by the overwhelming pre-eminence of the Labour Alignment in the politics of the Yishuv (settled Jewish community in Palestine) under the British Mandate and in the early State period until the success of the Revisionist 'Likud' Bloc in May 1977. Since then, the stress on utopian communism in the building of the State has declined somewhat in favour of a more realistic view emphasising the role played by individuals, by Sephardic (non-European Jewish) communities, and by nationalism and its historical role in stimulating the emigration of Jews to Palestine.
In this Dissertation, I intend to look at the earliest "modern" Jewish settlements in Palestine during the last days of Turkish rule over the Ottoman Province of "Lower Syria". Early Jewish penetration of Palestine was fairly random, determined almost entirely by the availability of land - itself more a consequence of the owner's willingness to sell than of price or of availability of money to would-be purchasers, since there was no true market in land until the Mandate period (and even then not in all districts), much land being in the possession of small peasant farmers or held communally by whole villages. Only later, when the expanded Jewish Agency after 1929 actually began planning land-purchases, was the siting of Jewish settlements undertaken overtly for the purposes of state-building and territorial consolidation.
Even in the Ottoman period, however, the strategic and resource importance of the Galilee was well recognised and the necessity of taking defensibility of settlements into account was becoming a factor in land-purchase and siting. In the 1920s, the physical design of settlements was planned with defence in mind -the farmstead of Nahalal (the first Moshav established by the Zionist Organisation) was built in a circular design and originally surrounded by a wall. Defence was early on seen as a necessity to be met by trained armed guards, rather than by fortifications, however. The "Keren HaYesod" (Foundation Fund) was not established until 1920, and settlers until then were usually a landholding vanguard who had at first to be responsible for their own building works and their own defence. Defence was vital and became a "professional" affair of Jewish paramilitary groups as a result., and I have devoted some space to the early militia movements, because without such mobile groups many of the settlements which were developed in the early years of the twentieth century could not have been settled and held, and because of the importance of members of these groups in other co-operative and labour movements of the time. Such movements were clearly, therefore, important forerunners of the permanent "workers' collectives" settlements which we now know by the name of "kibbutzim", and were the prototypes also of the "Hagana" which was the nucleus of the present Israeli Army, "Tzahal".
There was no single body co-ordinating colonisation or organising experiments with different forms of settlement in the pre-State period. I have used the term "Zionist Movement" somewhat loosely therefore, to mean not only the Zionist Organisation which came into being in 1897 but also those settlements which were set up with the aim of being economically productive and those immigrants who made aliyah for reasons of nationalism rather than religion alone, and with the aim of creating the basis for a mass "return" of European Jewry to the spiritual centre of the Jewish People.
There are no real starting or stopping places in history -no event occurs in isolation. The "obvious" start date for studying Zionist settlement is probably 1881, since this is the year from which Zionist historiography dates the "First Aliyah" :first wave of Zionist immigration). However, European "Maskilim" (literally "rationalists", i.e. those Jews who had adopted the ideology of the Enlightenment) had come to Palestine before then, the Agricultural Training School at Miqveh Israel had already been established as had a number of Jewish quarters outside the walls of Jerusalem and along the Jaffa Road, there was a Modern Hebrew press (although the language was not yet widely spoken - Arabic, Yiddish and Ladino or Spaniolo being the linguae francae of Palestinian Jews), and the first - albeit abortive - steps towards rural Jewish colonisation had already been taken by the "Old Yishuv" (pre-Zionist and non-Zionist Jewish community) at Gei'oni and Petach Tiqvah. I have therefore not begun in 1881 but have devoted some space to the situation in Palestine before the 1865 Ottoman Land Law Reforms and from then until emigrants from the Russian Pale of Settlement, pushed from Russia by anti-Semitism but strongly drawn by "Hibbat Tzion" (The love of Zion), began arriving in the 1880s.
Space has not permitted any discussion of the character or political situation of the Old Yishuv, nor of the Palestinian Arabs who formed the overwhelming proportion of the population. These are serious omissions, but unavoidable. I had hoped in developing certain themes in this Dissertation to bring the narrative up to at least 1922, the year in which Turkish rule was officially ended and the League of Nations Mandate established incorporating within it the crowning achievement of "Political Zionism" - the Balfour Declaration. Particularly I had hoped to deal with the establishment of "HaHagana" (The Defence) and of the "Gdud 'Avodah" (Labour Battalion), and particularly the establishment by the latter organisation of the first Kibbutzim, at 'Fin Harod (26.08.1921) and Tel Yosef (15.11.1921) and the concurrent founding of the first "Moshavim 'Ovdim" (Workers' Collective Settlements) at Nahalal and Nuns (Moshav Kfar Yehezkel) by the Zionist Organisation. Again, requirements of length have dictated that I must end at the Great War, and thus this crucial period in the history of the formation of the State
institutions and the settlement history of the land has had to be omitted.
I have used a mixture of primary and secondary sources. Primary sources have included fieldwork undertaken as part of a course [whilst studying on the One-Year Program for Overseas Students] at Hebrew University, Jerusalem, which included visiting settlements of the period and interviewing senior residents either directly or through an interpreter. This afforded a rare insight into the period. Written primary sources used were translations of the speeches and writings of Arthur Ruppin of the Z0's Palestine Office, and the collection of source material which has been translated by Harry Viteles (in seven volumes) on the history of the co-operative movement in Israel.
The major problem with using primary source material has been that most of the sources for the period are in Israel (and are not always easily available) and, more importantly, are generally written not in English, but in Yiddish, German, Russian or Hebrew. This has meant a rather narrow base of published works upon which to draw; fortunately this was supplemented by the year I spent at Hebrew University where I attended lectures incorporating some material not so far published in English.
I have not attempted to use a standard method of transliteration, for the simple reason that I believe this to be impossible. I have endeavoured to be consistent rather than precise in this regard, but in references the spellings used by the original author are of course retained. The fashion for adopting a Hebrew or Hebraicised name on making aliyah is problematical and where relevant I have tried to indicate this in the text. Where a place-name has a commonly-accepted English name and spelling I have used that; where there are several designations (such as Emeq Yezre'el or the Sea of Galilee) I have chosen the one which I believe to be in most common usage by English-speaking people familiar with Palestine today. A glossary is appended and entries are indicated by an asterisk within the text.
THANKS AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
I would firstly like to thank Dr. Tom Fraser of the History Department at the University of Ulster at Coleraine, Northern Ireland, for his help and constructive criticisms in supervising this Dissertation.
Acknowledgements are also due to the staff and lecturers of Hebrew University, Mount Scopus, Jerusalem, who helped to make my stay there so enjoyable, interesting and productive; in particular I would like to thank Sha'ul Sapir for his infectious enthusiasm, and I would also like to acknowledge the help and encouragement of Dr. Janet Aviad, Professor Evyatar Friesel, Dr. Ze'ev Katz, and my Advisor of Studies at the Rothberg School for overseas students, Ms. Gloria Dror
THE PRE-ZIONIST JEWISH SETTLEMENT
"Zionism is the belief in the existence of a common past and a common future for the Jewish people." (Walter Laqueur)
"The realization that the first step in the struggle for a Jewish Homeland is the struggle for land is one of the basic principles of Zionism. Land is the indispensable foundation of any human activity. Without it, there can be no agriculture, no industry, no urban settlement. The first task of a landless people is to provide this foundation for its existence." (Alexander Granowsky, 1940)
"Land was and is the key focus of Zionist - Arab Palestinian tension and struggle. Without land, there could not have been a Jewish National Home. Without land, there appears to be no acceptable means for the expression of Palestinian sovereignty and national identity." (Kenneth W. Stein)
BEFORE THE 'FIRST ALIYAH - THE SITUATION IN LOWER SYRIA
The religious Jewish "Longing for Zion" was in the early 19th century supplemented by a "Longing for a Homeland" in a secular sense: a longing for the end of a rootless, persecuted existence on the margins of Christian society in the European 'Galut" (Exile). This Dissertation is not concerned with the political background or inner workings of Zionism, but with the early attempts of small groups of Jewish settlers to create 'Ovdim baShetach" (Facts on the Ground) in Palestine and with the ways in which "HaYishuv HaHadash" ("The New Yishuv", the modern Jewish community) dealt with the twofold problems of early colonisation: the settling of the land and the building of institutions around which a new society could crystallise.
At the beginning of the 19th Century, the Land of the Bible was still largely terra incognita in Europe, but as notebooks and travelogues began to be printed, interest grew. Europe had undergone not only an agricultural and industrial revolution but an intellectual revolution too. The Age of Discovery had led to geographical as well as scientific exploration of the world. In 1865 a group of scholars from the Palestine Exploration Fund * produced sixteen one-inch maps showing various parts of Palestine, including (as well as roads, rivers and settlements) natural history and traditional biblical sites. The material collected by the PEF constitutes a virtual "Domesday Book" of mid-nineteenth century Palestine.
There were two main areas of settlement - the coastal plain (Gaza, Lydda, Ramleh, Jaffa, Haifa, Acre, Tyre, Sidon, Beirut) and the inland settlements along the ridge of the central hills (Hebron, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Ram-Allah, Nablus, Jenin, 'Afula, Nazareth, Safed). Major towns were walled for defensive purposes, and each was the focus of a local economy.
In the late 18th century there were an estimated 5,000 Jews in Palestine, about 1.5% of the population. Many were pilgrims who had immigrated for religious reasons and spent their time in study; most were indigenous Sephardic Jews, mostly descendants of Jews expelled from Spain in the 15th Century. Jews lived mainly in the "Arba' Artzot" (Four Holy Cities) of Tiberias, Jerusalem, Safed and Hebron. Jerusalem, the largest town in Palestine, had a population of around 9,000. Some Jews owned rural land and ran
farms, such as the Zerati clan of Pkei'in near Safed, who claimed to have lived in the village continuously since Biblical times, even under the Roman occupation. The lifestyle and agricultural pattern of this village was indistinguishable from that of the Arabs (mostly Druse *) of nearby villages. A few Jewish families also lived in the village of Shfar'am, and possibly in the area around Gaza.
Modern Jewish settlement began with the aliyah of Hassidim * in the 1770s. Most settled in Safed because their distinctive dress marked them out as Ashkenazim * in Jerusalem, where a debt was owed to the Arab community from an earlier attempt to build an Ashkenazi synagogue, Forty years later, Perushim * also arrived. Anti-Jewish riots in Safed induced some families to move and by 1816 an Ashkenazi presence had been renewed in Jerusalem. By 1830 Jerusalem's population had risen to 11,000, about 3,000 of whom were Jews - 1,000 more than at the start of the century.
From 1831 to 1840, Palestine was ruled by the French- influenced Egyptian dynasty of Mohammed Ali and his adopted heir Ibrahim Pasha. Law and order were imposed on Palestine and for the first time in hundreds of years people and property were relatively safe. Dhimmis * received rights and exemption from conscription, and Jerusalem's Arab community was ordered to waive the debt owed by the Ashkenazim.
The damage in Tiberias and Safed in the earthquake of 1837 led to more Jewish movement to Jerusalem . By 1840, Jews were the largest religious group in the city - about 5,000 (as compared with an estimated 4,750 Moslems and 3,750 Christians) in a population of about 13,500.
The Turks were restored to power with European help in 1840, Under pressure, they continued to liberalise their regime and gave greater freedoms to nationals of the interested Western Powers . For some time yet, however, non-Moslems could not buy land but had to rent from Moslem owners.
The first farmer in Palestine to try to introduce modern agricultural methods was a Jewish immigrant, Israel Drucker (later Israel Bak), a printer who in 1831 brought the first Hebrew printing press to Palestine, In 1837, when his press was wrecked during rioting in Safed against the high taxes imposed by the Egyptian administration, he and his family for some time cultivated a rented farm on Mount Meron in the Galilee . In the 1840s, Shlomo Zalman Tzoref rented agricultural land between Jerusalem and Jaffa. Soon after, two Jewish brothers-in-law, Yehoshua Yellin and Sha'ul Yehuda of Jerusalem, bought land through an intermediary from Koloniyyeh village at Motza near Jerusalem. Although a dwelling-house was built there (and in the 1870s a synagogue) they continued to live in Jerusalem. By the late 1850s the land had been developed into a working farm, but the labour was probably carried out by Arabs, possibly sub-tenant
sharecroppers, and certainly no Jews lived at Motza' on a permanent basis.
In 1855 Sir Moses Montefiore * received permission from the Sublime Porte to purchase land around Jerusalem, Tiberias, Safed and Jaffa for the "relief and settlement" of Jews. The situation in Jerusalem was particularly acute. The rapid population increase among all religious groups in the city - worsened by the increasing importance of Jerusalem as an administrative centre -led to building in almost all available space. The Jewish quarter had expanded into neighbouring quarters and was extremely overcrowded. As in all mid-19th Century cities, hygiene was appalling - the water supply, in both availability and safety, was a major problem. During the 1850s some private houses were built outside the walls; then the huge Russian Compound where pilgrims were housed, the Schneller Barracks orphanage, the French Catholic Notre Dame convent, and Montefiore's "Mishkenot Sha'ananim" (Dwelling-places of the Contented) suburb. By 1880 there would be nine Jewish suburbs outside Jerusalem's walls.
THE OPENING UP OF THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE
In 1865, land reforms allowed non-Moslem Ottoman subjects to buy and own title to land. Many bought up land as an investment besides those who bought land for security or prestige. The price of land rose. A process began whereby land was concentrated into a few hands, and a latifundia system began to develop.
In 1863 the first modern Hebrew newspaper, "Lebanon", appeared. In 1870, Israel Bak was licensed to run a rival journal, "Havasselet" (Ripening). His paper stressed the principle of self-help within the Yishuv, and in one of its earliest issues urged the development of Jewish agriculture. However, most of the two newspapers' readership was not the local Ladino- or Arabic-speaking Sephardim or Yiddish-speaking religious scholars but the "Maskilim" * of Eastern Europe.
The changing social world of Europe and the Jews within it was creating tensions. Zionism arose largely because of the pressures created by the enlightenment. It was "a response to the challenges of liberalism and nationalism much more than a response only to anti-Semitism" (Avineri) .
An early change in thinking took place within the Jewish theological framework when the Serbian kabbalist Alkalai * suggested in the 184Os that the "Galut" (Exile) was a punishment from God not because of rebellion against his Laws under the Greeks and Romans, but was due to and perpetuated by a lack of zeal for Zion.
Most Jews making "Aliyah" ("ascending") to Zion were pious scholars and elderly people going to the Holy Land to study, pray, die and be buried. This began to change with improvements in transport. Steamboat services were introduced in the 1840s from Jaffa to Alexandria, Beirut and Odessa and soon after to Marseilles and Trieste. The Odessa service was largely a
response to the huge Russian Orthodox Easter pilgrimage, but it had vast implications for Jewish migration. A Jewish community soon arose in Jaffa - by the end of the century Jews formed almost half the population of the little port town.
In 1866 further land reform allowed non-Ottoman citizens to buy land in Palestine, and there was a growth of colonies -especially religious compounds and pilgrim centres in cities - by many European nationalities from this time. Groups of German Christians founded rural settlements in the Sharon plain. Some followers of Rabbi Hirsch Kalischer * of Posen bought land near Jaffa; despite their religious outlook, Kalischer's ideas were consciously based on the nationalist revivals of the Italians, Poles and Hungarians. Nothing came of this purchase, but Kalischer later helped found a Jewish settlement near the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret).
A few Jewish families immigrating to Palestine tried to buy land, but often met with Arab opposition and other difficulties. All the "olim" (Jewish immigrants) were religious in varying degrees, but this was increasingly allied with a sense of nationalism and occasionally with socialist and populist ideas too. In 1861 Czar Alexander II freed the serfs, and early social revolutionary movements arose in Russia which were especially attractive to radical Jewish students and young Maskilim,
As well as Russian Jews, there was continuing immigration into Palestine by Sephardic Jews from the Middle East, North Africa, Georgia, Bokhara and Kurdistan. Lacking the "halukkah" * of the traditional European olim, they joined the Old Sephardi community and earned their living as traders, craftsmen or even labourers.
As well as Montefiore's new suburbs, the Jerusalem Yishuv began building its own quarters outside the walls - the Hassidim in Meah She'arim, Yemenites * and Moroccans above Mishkenot Sha'ananim, and Nahalat Shev'ah by a group of Old Sephardim. By 1875 there were 13,000 Jews in Jerusalem alone, half the total Palestinian Yishuv of around 25,000. This number tripled in the last quarter of the 19th Century, mainly through immigration.
In 1870 the French "Alliance Israelite Universelle" * set up the "Miqveh Israel" agricultural school at Holon on the lands bought by Kalischer's followers. This was a clear indication of the growing Western European Jewish desire to farm and settle the land and leave the cities where they had dwelt for generations.
In 1871, the Jewish Abu family of Safed acquired farmland from a-Zveyd village near Lake Huleh in Upper Galilee. They renamed it Mei-Marom, and hired Arab tenants to farm it under the supervision of a Jewish foreman. In 1878, lands were bought from Jeyouni village near Safed and settled by Jewish families, naming the village Gei'oni. Joel Moshe Salomon, one of the group who had founded Nahalat Shev'ah, acquired land from the village of
Meladdeis near Jaffa, and a colony called Petah Tiqvah (Gateway [lit. "opening"] of Hope) was built there . The difficulties of raising, transporting and marketing crops defeated the settlers' hopes of early self-sufficiency. In 1880, after only two harvests, both Gei'oni and Petah Tiqvah were abandoned.
By 1880, the Palestine Exploration Fund estimated that between 1,000 and 1,500 Jews were arriving each year in Palestine. Many of these were clearly immigrants intending to settle, not merely pilgrims or pious students sent by their communities to pray for the Jews of Europe or come to die on the holy soil, and clearly not all could have subsisted on hallukah. The character of the Yishuv was already changing.
THE FIRST ALIYAH
THE POGROMS OF 1881 AND THE FLIGHT FROM RUSSIA
1881 marked a turning point in Jewish history, and in the history of Zionism and of Palestine. The assassination of the Czar led to anti-Jewish pogroms, and this plus the economic plight of the Russian Jews caused a massive emigration. About 2 million Jews left the Pale by 1900 (and another million between then and the Great War). Some went to Western and Central Europe-- especially those too poor to afford the fare to the major destination, the U.S.A.-- causing a further upsurge in anti-Semitism. Less than 50,000, negligible in relation to the total migration, went to Palestine, arriving in two major waves between 1881 and 1900. About half remained for some time, but two-thirds eventually left, mostly for America.
Nonetheless, this migration was sufficient to change the demographic structure of Palestine and ultimately redirect its future. The vast majority of the olim settled in urban centres and so far as possible continued the economic and social pattern of their former lives in new surroundings. However, some came not merely as refugees but with definite ideas of agricultural settlement. Instead of becoming part of the "Old Yishuv" they tried to found rural colonies, and because of the need to purchase land for this some migrations were relatively well planned beforehand.
Those olim who came with such plans are recognised as being of "HaAliyah HaRishon" (The First Zionist Aliyah), but in fact few were more than forerunners of Zionism . Settlement was at
best sporadic. (Turkish law restricted colonies to less than 150 families and officially insisted on all settlers adopting Ottoman citizenship).
A number of different associations were founded in Russia during 1881 and 1882. They were often religiously-based, but some consisted of radical idealists, many influenced by Leo Pinsker's * pamphlet "Autoemancipation"(1881). In this, he identified the root of anti-Semitism as "judaeophobia", an ineradicable disease deriving from the spiritual sickness and abnormal national existence of the Jewish people, and arguing that the only remedy was for Jews to become a nation like all the others in "a land of our own" (which need not necessarily be Palestine).
Rabbi Mohilever * in Poland established similar groups, but the most active colonists were the Rumanian Jews. Rumania became independent in 1859, and her Jewish community although legally and politically severely disadvantaged was relatively prosperous.
Few of the settlers thought in political terms of laying the groundwork for a state - such an idea would have been fantastic -but among them were youthful idealists whose ideas of settlement
presaged later colonisation patterns which would be invaluable in doing so. Much has been made of these groups in Zionist history; in reality their impact was minimal.
Three hundred leftist students in Kharkov formed the best-known of these groups, BILU (an acronym from the biblical Hebrew words 'Beit Ya'akov lechu ve-nilchu' - House of Jacob [Israel] arise and let us go). With little preparation about 100 set out for Odessa. Forty arrived at Constantinople. Fourteen, including a woman, led by Israel Belkind, landed at Jaffa where they rented two cramped rooms. In a letter, Belkind described conditions :-
"We were very crowded and there were quarrels about the allocation of space. .. . For a number of consecutive months our food consisted of tea, bread and dried lentil soup. The question arose as to how we would support ourselves. We had to apply and accept work at Mikve Israel at a daily wage of five grush."
Not only did the BILU olim know nothing of agriculture, but they had no capital and no money to buy land or basic farm equipment and were unused to physical labour or the climate. Two further groups, of six and three persons, arrived later. The BILU established themselves as a communal group on socialistic lines and later some helped establish a small rural community at Gedera near Jaffa.
The BILU also established an office in Constantinople, hoping to direct immigrants to a chain of self-managing colonies across Palestine as a basis for mass Jewish migration. In fact
only 50-60 members of the group arrived and only 20 or so remained in Palestine in 1905.
The established "Old Yishuv" was generally opposed to such groups, considering them subversive, licentious and sometimes even anti-religious. The Turks also regarded the newcomers with suspicion, and occasionally tried to limit immigration of Jews.
Colony upon colony failed to thrive, but nonetheless many were founded. Immigrants from Europe travelled together under the auspices of groups which came later to be known as "Hovevei Tzion" (Lovers of Zion) Societies, and Jaffa began to develop as the centre for Jewish institutions of the "New Yishuv".
On 19th March 1881, the "Va'ad Halutzei Yesud HaMa'alah" (Council of Pioneers of the Ascent) was founded in Jaffa by immigrants who had arrived in Palestine on an individual basis. Headed by Zalman David Levontin and Joseph Feinberg, and located in Jaffa despite opposition from other colonisation groups' leaders who had insisted on Jerusalem, the Va'ad was "the first attempt to organise settlement activities within the country itself" (Aaronsohn) . It was a local organisation with its own charter, independent of overseas groups. On 31st July 1882 the Va'ad founded the settlement Rishon leTzion (First of Zion) on 3,340 dunams * of barren land purchased from Arabs at Ayoun Qar'a, 12 km south-east of Jaffa. It was settled by ten Russian olim and six poor labouring families. Once settled, the Va'ad ceased to function and plans
to set up other colonies under central direction never materialised.
In 1882, Rumanian Jews of "Aguda leYishuv Eretz Israel" (Association for the Settlement of the Land of Israel) purchased through their agent Moses David Schub 4,000 dunams from the village of Ja'une (Jeyouni) near Safed and set up the village of Rosh Pina.
The colony which became Zichron Ya'akov (Memory of Jacob) was also established in 1882, by the Va'ad HaMerkazi (Central Council) of Palestine Settlement Societies in Rumania which represented 33 I-Hovevei Tzion groups there. The village was founded on lands near Haifa sold by a Christian Arab absentee landowner and for three years retained the Arab name of the village the settlers occupied, Zamarin. The moshava (settlement) experienced problems with the villagers and tenant- farmers who had been evicted (a so far unheard-of occurrence in Palestine) and could not understand what had happened, and also with the Turkish authorities who disagreed that the sale of the land had been legal under Ottoman law. The Va'ad HaMerkazi continued to exist, hut its help was minimal and it never established another colony.
An attempt was made by the original settlers to re-found
Petah Tiqvah. In 1883 Yesod HaMa'alah colony was founded by
Polish and Lithuanian settlers of "Nahalat Sadeh veKerem"
(Possession of Field and Vineyard), which incorporated 24 Eastern
European settlement societies, on the a-Zveyd lands which had belonged to the Abu family of Safed. Although the first ten families settled there in 1884, the rest of the landowners never went to Palestine. In 1884 Mishmar HaYarden (The Jordan Watchtower) was founded between Lake Huleh and the Sea of Galilee.
Settlements used European building-styles and based their plans on European villages, often a single, wide main street leading from or across the main access road and along which houses and plots of land were allocated in parallel strips leading away from the main street. Towns were frequently surrounded by a picket fence.
In Eastern Europe, attempts were made to co-ordinate the various local groups involved in buying land and sending colonists. In 1884, a conference was held in Katowice in Upper Silesia, at which a central organisation was set up. The movement became known as "Hovevei Tzion" and was a philanthropic not political movement, few of whose members ever made aliyah. It decided to support the colonies of Petah Tiqvah, Yesod HaMa'alah and Gedera - an admission that the colonists could not manage without foreign subventions. (The entire Zionist enterprise has always relied heavily on donations from outside.)
Pinsker was elected President, and at first Hovevei Tzion stressed the establishment of a Jewish peasantry through "the return to the soil" - a peasant class being seen as the essential
repository of nationalist virtues - but soon the religious faction under Rabbi Mohilever took over.
Emissaries were sent to Palestine to purchase whatever land they could. Lacking any expertise, land was bought at high prices and often turned out to be very poor, stony or malaria- infested. Private plots were purchased unseen by individuals and families from the organisation's nominee, but there was a chronic shortage of development funds to finance such projects and give adequate backing to the initial purchase capital.
A few settlers had theoretical knowledge of agricultural practice, but all lacked practical experience. "They had no idea what to grow or how or when to grow it" (Laqueur) . With the European arrogance of the day, they believed the native Arabs were backward and used "primitive" agricultural methods, so rather than learning from those with generations of experience of the Palestinian soil, they introduced inappropriate modern farming technology from Europe. Iron-shod ploughs turned the soil deeply and dried it out, horses gave no milk and were more expensive to feed than the local oxen - Arab scratch-ploughing or hoeing and the use of cattle (including camels) as draught animals was far more efficient. Nor were either planters or local Arab artisans capable of mending the unfamiliar farm implements when they broke. The colonists were also more prone than local Arab farmers to various exotic diseases, and this as well as the need for each settlement to provide defence, and their desire for social services such as medical care and basic
education, was a great strain on meagre manpower and other resources. Many settlers were religious and most accepted the injunctions of their own or local rabbis, for example regarding strict Sabbath observance; other religious rulings on agricultural practices, such as Shmitta *, also caused hardships.
Defence was a problem which had not been properly considered. The Hovevei Tzion settlers at Gedera had problems with the villagers of nearby Masmiyyeh so severe that repeated attacks led the supporting organisation in Russia to question whether the settlement was in serious enough danger to be abandoned.
The sixth settlement of the First Aliyah, Ekron, was founded on the initiative of and with money provided by the French philanthropist Baron Edmund de Rothschild. * This was his first venture into settlement activities in Palestine. The Arab village of Akir sold 2,260 dunams of fertile land to Shmuel Hirsch, head of the Miqveh Israel school where 11 handpicked Lithuanian Jewish settlers were training to establish a farming colony. From 1882-84 they lived in the Arab village until permission was obtained to build on the land. A former teacher from Miqveh Israel was appointed to handle all financial and management affairs and supervise the running of the settlement and farms. This was a prototype for all those colonies which eventually came under the wing of "HaNadiv HaYadu'a" ("The Well- Known Benefactor").
The many colonies soon faced financial ruin, and gradually Baron de Rothschild assumed financial responsibility for them on the terms that he would determine their economies. This did not always suit the middle-class would-be peasant farmers, however, since effectively it reduced them to the status of workers under the control of paid "Pakidim" (Officials). (In 1887 a workers' union was formed in Rishon le-Tzion and there was a rebellion against the Baron's Pakidim.)
The difficulties of establishing a viable farm from scratch meant that most immigrants moved into the existing cities, which were growing now at phenomenal rates, especially Jaffa and Jerusalem. There was little individual rural private settlement, and private farmlands were sometimes abandoned in the face of debt or ruin or were sold off again, sometimes to other Jews -such was the fate of the farmlands on which Nes Tziona was built.
In 1888, Rothschild bought land at Qastina for a Hovevei Tzion Group of 25 families from two towns in Bessarabia. The group had immigrated to find the purchase had not been completed, and stayed in Jaffa for seven months during which they spent all their savings. Rothschild's officials then presented the settlers with land and the idea that they would at first be not private farmers but tenants and day-labourers working together under supervision. Despairing of ever saving enough to buy their own farmsteads, and feeling enslaved, 20 families took compensation money and went at once. Gradually, both paid
tenants and labourers brought in to help set up the colony departed from the settlement. There was a chronic water shortage and serious defence problems. Two years later only two families plus some Jewish and Arab workers remained. The settlement was abandoned.
Many new olim lacking capital to purchase farms joined the colonies as paid labourers, but usually Jews were undercut by the low wages asked by local Arab workers with the result that often there were more Arabs than Jews living in the First Aliyah colonies.
Some colonies did well, and as the population grew and children reached adulthood more land was bought and daughter- colonies set up, such as Bat Shlomo (1889) and Shefeya (1891) at Zichron Ya'akov. Rothschild believed that if farmers were started with all they required they would be able to stand on their own feet from the start, but these daughter-colonies also ended up dependent on philanthropy and relying on the mother colony for all their services.
Whatever the reason for the enthusiasm of the interested parties, Jews continued to try to create facts on the ground, and were beginning to do so somewhat more methodically. By 1896 candidates for settlement were being screened by a Hovevei Tzion Committee in Jaffa and that year two model settlements were set up - one at Be'er Tuvia on the deserted lands of Qastina, sold to
Hovevei Tzion by de Rothschild on easy terms, and the other at Metullah in the Upper Galilee. The settlers at Metullah lived until 1903 in houses of the Druze village of Umm Tulah, whose lands they had bought. The villagers felt cheated by the sale, and there were constant problems between colonists and Druze. Livestock and crops were attacked, farmers shot at - one died and there were injuries. Only after negotiations with the Druze was "compensation for damages" paid to them and peace restored. De Rothschild thereafter paid for hired guards, but the main problem remained geographical isolation.
Attempts were made to extend the Yishuv geographically. Settlers continued to move into new areas, including the Hauran (meaning the area of the Golan Heights around Lake Huleh and the Sea of Galilee rather than the Damascus area). In February 1895 seven Hovevei Tzion Societies in Russia, Rumania, North America and Britain bought 70,000 dunams there owned by Rothschild's Palestine Commission in Paris since 1891. Three societies tried to start colonies in 1895-6, but in July 1896 Constantinople ordered all settlers in the area to leave. The only Jews left were the Baron's Pakidim and a few labourers on the 4,000 dunam Jeilin Farm, established to supply saplings and agricultural services to the abandoned settlements. In 1898 London Hovevei Tzion paid to establish a colony on the lands of Bir a-Sh'agum near the Sea of Galilee. Ten families and three labourers from the B'nai Yehuda society in Safed settled there, but a plague of locusts destroyed the first crops and the colony remained small and isolated. In 1902 half the settlers left as London's money
dwindled, and six families continued to farm on the verge of starvation for ten more years. Two colonies were also founded in the Jerusalem Corridor. In 1892 the Jerusalem B'nai B'rith office bought lands at Motza owned by Yellin and Yehuda since 1860. In 1894 two families of labourers settled and Hovevei Tzion made a one-off payment to help them set up. By 1898 ten families were producing wine, but still lived in temporary homes and lacked all social services. The Central Hovevei Tzion Society of Bulgaria bought land in the Corridor from a London missionary society who had tried to start a farm to help needy Jews in 1883, and nine families moved there by 1898 (the plan was for twelve families to pioneer the settlement). The mistaken decision was made to register the land at once, and the private capital was used up in the purchase leaving nothing for development. The settlement, named Hartuv, was isolated and did not grow for many years, but remained independent and the only rural Sephardi settlement in Palestine.
Philanthropists approached by Rabbi Mohilever of Hovevei Tzion included as well as de Rothschild and von Hirsch, the English Christian "Friend of Zion" Laurence Oliphant of Jaffa, who had arranged the sale of the Zamarin lands for Zichron Ya'akov. Effectively the First Aliyah was becoming the creation not of independent groups of settlers but of rich philanthropists who wanted to help their fellow-Jews but had no interest whatsoever in "Building Zion".
ATTEMPTS TO ORGANISE THE "NEW YISHUV"
The settlers of the First Aliyah sought "Autoemancipation" and a return to productive agricultural work, but their settlement was also "a first attempt at conscious national action." An independent national infrastructure was as much their goal as the creation of a healthy Jewish economy, since they saw their task as pioneering the way for the great 'Ingathering of the Exiles". A Narodnik-influenced idea arose among Russian Jewry that the educated elite had an obligation to aid and lead by example the less fortunate, for instance by organising self-defence groups during pogroms, and this attitude spilled over into the Jewish colonies of Palestine.
New forms of self-rule did not emerge, but the basis was laid for the use of Hebrew as a common tongue, and the principles of co-operation and mutual assistance were laid down, probably less from ideology than the struggle to survive against an alien environment and the vagaries of the Ottoman regime.
Despite the many failures, there were many successes, and there persisted a nationalist nucleus of people who remained faithful to their aspirations of an ultimate autonomous Jewish State , and attempts were made to organise the Yishuv towards this aim.
The official Ottoman framework of governmental control was the "millet" system, whereby religious authorities wielded wide
secular powers; but this applied only to Ottoman subjects whereas most of the New Yishuv retained their European nationalities or adopted consular protection (usually from the British).
Organising the New Yishuv was not easy. "The 'New Yishuv' carried with it the idea of national unity, but it lacked organisational ability from the very beginning" (Kollat) . The New Yishuv was a very disparate group- it consisted of Old Sephardim and European Ashkenazim, speaking a variety of languages, and living geographically quite distant from each other. It also felt a national commonality with the Old Yishuv, but had no means of expressing this. Thus, The Kollel Committee founded in 1866 was spokesman for the Old Yishuv Ashkenazim; the Old Sephardim worked through the Millet system; and Rothschild, the financial benefactor of the rural colonies of the First Aliyah, felt that public debate was unnecessary and potentially divisive. The largest division between the different Jewish groups was religion: the Shmitta Year of 1888-89 showed up how deep these differences were.
As early as 1882, Rumanian settlers had tried to set up a "Central Committee of the Organisations for the Settlement of Palestine" and in 1884 the "Moses Montefiore Association" tried to organise settlers from Hovevei Tzion colonists. In 1885, Ze'ev Kalonimus Wissotzky * arrived in Palestine as an emissary of the World Leadership of Hovevei Tzion, in order to set up an Executive Committee to supervise the local leadership in the
colonies and act as a counterbalance to the numerically far superior Old Yishuv. The committee was set up in Jaffa, and in 1886 came under the direction of Shmuel Hirsch, director of Miqreh Israel. In July 1887, the Hovevei Tzion Convention decided to open an office in Jaffa to deal with land purchase, brokerage and obtaining government permits; but this only began to function three years later. On 9th February 1890 the Russian Government legally recognised Hovevei Tzion, but even though it could now organise more freely it never became a mass movement. The Odessa Committee, the central council of Hovevei Tzion in Russia, set up a committee in Jaffa, headed by Ze'ev Tiomkin, to try to co-ordinate land purchase and colonisation. Land sales were arranged on the organisation's behalf by his agent, Yehoshua Hankin, the son of a founder of Rishon le-Tzion. Hankin became known as "Goel HaAdama" ("The Redeemer of the Land"). Hovevei Tzion lacked cash, and effectively limited its financial support to the colony of Gedera. The other settlements were eventually taken over by various philanthropists, particularly de Rothschild.
Settlers still put up money abroad for land purchases, however, and Hankin bought lands for new colonies at Rehovot and Hadera which were founded on the principle that they were to remain independent of the Baron's patronage. However, they would imitate his economic strategies and the two villages were to be based on viticulture. In 1890 Rehovot was founded by members of "Menuha ve-Nahala" ("Tranquillity and Possession") in Warsaw. Hired Arabs worked the land until it became profit-making. In
1891 Hadera was founded around a khan bought from a rich Greek- Catholic Beiruti named Khoury. It was the largest tract of land yet bought by Jews - 30,000 dunams, but mainly swamp. About 500 settlers lived there during its first ten years - half did not survive. These two sister-colonies became major colonies, but within a year Hadera had turned to de Rothschild for help and Baron Moritz von Hirsch, * another philanthropist, had tried to persuade them to move to Argentina instead. Rothschild helped fund swamp drainage schemes; later when permission was obtained to build structures the German "'Ezra Hilfsverein" ("Aid Charitable Society") financed a hospital.
Small groups were formed among New Yishuv settlers living in the cities; B'nei Tzion (Sons of Zion) and Ezrat Yisrael (Israel's Helper) were formed in 1887 to provide services and work for communal unity. These groups were more purposeful than the communal associations found in Jewish quarters everywhere, but were no more powerful.
From 1890, The Hovevei Tzion Executive Committee in Jaffa brought up topics for discussion, but a common forum was still lacking to discuss the problems of the Yishuv.
HOVEVEI TZION, THE JCA AND SETTLEMENT BEFORE "ZIONISM".
In 1891, Baron Moritz von Hirsch founded the Jewish Colonisation Association, a philanthropic response to
anti-Semitism and the economic problems of East European Jewry which aimed to settle Jews in Argentina. He met Herzl, and was unimpressed by the journalist's utopian pipe-dreams to the extent that he even tried to persuade Jewish settlers in Palestine, notably those in Hadera, to leave.
Rothschild, however, believed in helping those who needed aid, wherever they were. As to how this was best done, he took his own counsel. Rothschild believed there was nothing to be learned from the Arabs, whose "primitive" farming was doing nothing to "improve" Palestine. Rather he promoted farming systems dangerously based on monoculture, particularly vines. He set up factories based on agricultural products, producing silk, wine and perfumes. The first such factory was the Rishon le- Tzion winery (1890), followed by a second winery (1892) at Zichron Ya'akov. The major purpose was to create employment, not profit - there was no local market in alcohol, and European wine was cheaper and better. Sometimes the wine produced was dumped into the sea. Elsewhere, likewise, rather than encourage subsistence farming, Rothschild preferred to try plantation colonisation on the classic European imperialist model. Rather than worry about basic infrastructures such as water supply and irrigation, textile mills would be set up - in Rosh Pina mulberries were introduced with the idea of breeding silkworms, but again the silk could not compete with the Eastern product. Viticulture was introduced to Carmiel and Benyamina, and glass to Tantura. Citrus trees, particularly Jaffa oranges, were planted
at Petah Tiqvah, with rather more success. Sugar, tea and cotton were other crops introduced on a plantation-farm basis. Not surprisingly, the employment created was often passed on to Arab labourers.
Some Jews, however, were worried by this development - for them the creation of a class of Jewish labourers and peasant farmers was of national priority. In 1892, on the initiative of Me'ir Dizengoff *, "Hevrat HaAretz ve-Ha'Avodah" (Land and Work Society) was founded, recognising that :
"Without Jewish workers, the settlements cannot exist. The Arab workers are only a slender reed upon which to lean. ... It is the Jewish workers who are to the Yishuv what blood is to the healthy man's body; they will give it life. They will keep it. from destruction and failure."
The problem was that those Zionists with capital desired to buy land and settle in Palestine for nationalist reasons, and saw this as sufficient to create a "peasant" class of small owner- occupier farmers; whereas those who laid stress on the need for Jews to themselves indulge in physical labour were often those who lacked capital to purchase farmlands themselves. Profit was not a motive for purchase, however - a better reward would have been obtainable elsewhere. Palestine was seen as a hazardous and unremunerative investment, which accounted for the reluctance of many people to sink money into settlement projects. Those who tried to do so were motivated by nationalism first, and often ended up in dire straits. Ruppin wrote:
"When Baron Rothschild and the Odessa Committee began the settlement of Jews in Palestine, it was accepted as axiomatic that every settler had to be given whatever was
needed to put him on the land. ... No-one would ever have dared to risk his own capital."
In fact many did risk - and lose - their own capital before turning to philanthropists for assistance. However, Ruppin was correct insofar as settlements were kept from collapse by capital gifts, a monthly dole of allowances to farmers, a paid bureaucratic management system, and reliance on cheap but skilled Arab labour. The First Aliyah planters made no fortunes, were allowed no personal initiative, and did not usually even work.
"The principle aim of these settlers was to enjoy as good a living as the conditions permitted. Hence, they saw no reason for refusing to employ cheap Arab labour. Their work was thus made easier and more profitable. They soon progressed from the status of coloniser to that of employer. They soon behaved in accordance with their new position."
The New Yishuv had arrived with the "conscious purpose of creating a new, self-contained Jewish society," but as the dream failed to materialise the settlements continued only "Al Heshbon haBaron" (On the Baron's [Bank] Account), many of the colonists' children left for America or Western Europe (especially France, as schools in the Baron's settlements were Francophone despite the settlers usually speaking Yiddish), and no-one was really satisfied with life in the colonies. In the view of Arthur Ruppin *, who would later mastermind the Zionist Organisation' s colonisation activities :
"The colonisation work of the Baron was the enterprise of a rich man who wanted to indulge in the luxury of seeing a piece of work completed in less time than it should have taken by a process of organic growth."
At the JCA Annual General Meeting in 1896, it was decided to extend the Association's aid to the four New Yishuv colonies not being helped by Rothschild - Nes Tziona, Gedera, Rehovot and Mishmar HaYarden. At last the JCA was beginning to accept the Palestinian experiment as worthy of its interest.
Possibly Edmund de Rothschild became disheartened by the continuing failure of his enterprises to become self-supporting plantations, or perhaps illness made him depressed and pessimistic; whatever the reason, on 1st January 1900, aged 55, he handed over to von Hirsch's JCA all his eighteen settlements, with a population of 5,200 inhabitants. The JCA had been growing increasingly more pro-Palestinian thanks to the efforts of Albert Goldsmith, a British Jew who had worked as a JCA Administrator in Argentina. After the transaction, de Rothschild headed the Palestinian branch of JCA.
The JCA had based its ideas for colonisation in Argentina on
Eastern European peasant farming and were willing to adopt the
methods of Arab fellahin. They did not stress dependence on
export markets, and favoured a lower standard of living with less wastage of resources.
However, no-one had thought about how to develop a country -the First Aliyah settlement for all its fine aims did no more than establish a few villages. Middle-class urban Jews arrived with little preparation or knowledge, without any overall planning, and attempted to run plantation-style farms on land
which groups had jointly bought and shared out knowing nothing of local conditions. They never developed the traditional peasant farmer's dependence on the soil or the attachment to his own land that goes with it (an attachment which perhaps they never understood), and they never felt the responsibility for decision- making of the independent smallholder because this was done for them by an "Agronom" (agriculturally-trained administrator). Goods were produced for non-existent markets, and agricultural practices were not geared towards self-sufficient mixed-crop farming under Palestinian conditions .
The importance of these early colonies has often been over stressed by Zionist historians. Had the Zionist Organisation and the Second Aliyah not arisen when they did, most would probably have collapsed. Instead they came to be seen as pioneers, the essential forerunners of an eventual Jewish State.
ZIONISM AND OTHER INFLUENCES ON EUROPEAN JEWISH YOUTH
The first Zionist Congress - not in itself at the time a particularly important event, even for most European Jews - was convened by Theodore Herzl * in Basel in August 1897. From this event the Zionist Movement is usually formally dated.
From its inception there were three major streams within Zionism - political (diplomatic), spiritual (cultural) and practical (colonising). The spiritual and practical wings were
often referred to collectively as "Synthetic Zionism" and stressed the need "leVanot ve-leHibanot" (to Build and Be Built) in the Land, believing the task to be that of developing the Jewish People spiritually and culturally through the physical act of creating a material presence in Palestine and through "Ge'ulat HaAretz" (Redeeming the Land). This trend of course pre-dated the Zionist movement. Political Zionists followed Herzl's view that this could not succeed until the Jews had obtained recognised areas of land in which to settle (preferably receiving from the Turks title to land in Lower Syria) which had to be internationally recognised and guaranteed by the Ottoman Empire and the Great Powers of Europe .
Thought had already been given as to the sort of utopian society to be created in Palestine, whether on an elite or a mass basis. Since the Judenstaat (Jews' State) was to be founded on a tabla rasa, it should be possible to found it on the purest moral principles, on a basis of liberty, equality and a social contract. Zionist ideologues such as Nachman (Nahum) Syrkin argued that private property and social inequality should be abolished and a utopian settlement planned and executed scientifically. Zionism, in Syrkin's view, because of the unusual position of the Jews in Europe, stood "not in contradiction to the class struggle but beyond it" , and in liberating themselves as a nation the Jewish People could move beyond the class struggle of European capitalism by establishing immediately a classless national existence based on socialist
principles. In 1889, Syrkin was the first to express the idea of collective settlement in Palestine, whereby all land would be communally-owned and the economy managed through the free association of co-operative groups and "kommunas". One influential group in Russia which appealed to many of the Second Aliyah immigrants was HaThiah (The Revival), Socialists who believed there was no real social differentiation among the Jews, and "consequently, it was their view that the Jewish nation could be rebuilt without the necessity of engaging in class struggle" (Porat) .
Syrkin's ideas were probably less influential on European Jews of the time than those of Tolstoy, Bakunin, Marx, and even -especially in the case of those who later formed "HaShomer HaTza'ir" * - the "Wandervoegel" German Youth Movement; a confluence of whose socialist, utopian and libertarian ideas were profoundly affecting those who would become the "Halutzim" (pioneers) of the Second Aliyah. Nationalism and Zionism naturally were also a great influence; so too was the coming together of these strands in the various Jewish "Hagana" self- defence organisations, which were set up for protection against pogroms particularly after the 1903 Kishinev pogroms in Southern Russia. Money and arms were supplied to these militias by Russian Jewish emigrants in the U.S.A., and up until the 1917 Revolution many young Jews, such as (Maniah) Vilbushevitz * were sent to America to raise funds and purchase arms; some whilst in North America investigated religious and utopian secular communes and ideal villages.
Even before the influx of 1904-5 from which the Second Aliyah is dated, young people with such outlooks were already arriving in Palestine. These liberal, secular pioneers further established the image of the New Yishuv as youthful, modern, hardworking and idealistic, in contrast to the traditional Sephardic and Old Yishuv community, which nevertheless was larger and saw these newcomers as an anti-religious rabble, licentious, disruptive and to be avoided and if possible (and with Turkish connivance) kept out of The Holy Land.
THE WORK OF THE JCA AND THE SETTLEMENT OF THE LOWER GALILEE
The transfer of Baron de Rothschild's moshavot to the JCA in 1900 was accomplished without consulting the colonists, who demanded independent administration rather than continuing bureaucracy. Through the Zionist philosopher Asher Ginsburg * (who wrote under his better-known pen-name of "Ahad HaAm" - One of the People), who visited Palestine in 1900, several hundred Jewish farm workers elected a delegation to petition Rothschild to loosen JCA's control over the rural settlements. The appeal failed. The principle of self-organisation was, however, given a boost by the formation in 1900 of an organisation of craftsmen and workers throughout the New Yishuv (not only in colonies). This was a major attempt to pool the resources of the Yishuv, but was insufficient to stem the emigration of the second generation, who preferred to take "compensation money , nor to prevent a social and economic crisis following the transfer of title from
the Baron to the JCA. Political Zionists used this crisis to support their theory that without legal international guarantees the Yishuv could not survive.
The JCA did not have the financial resources to supply large allowances to farmers, nor could it pay the Baron's huge administrative staff. A phylloxera (louse) infestation in 1900 ruined Palestine's vineyards, activity in all the colonies decreased, and unemployment increased to such an extent that the JCA actually provided boat tickets to enable destitute Jewish workers to leave. But on the positive side, the sudden ending of almost limitless munificence introduced a new sense of reality into the Yishuv.
The JCA tried to increase work opportunities, and bought lands around Zichron Ya'akov, establishing Atlit and Giv'at Ada. In 1901 ten young farmers from Zichron Ya'akov, Shefeya and Bat Shlomo moved to JCA lands at Atlit which had been bought in 1899 to establish a presence on the land to avoid forfeiture. They worked the lands in rotation, and although it had not been intended that they would settle permanently in 1904 a permanent colony was established. In September 1903 Giv'at Ada was founded by landless families from the same three colonies. At Kfar Saba near Petah Tiqvah the JCA tried between 1900-03 to settle people to grow aromatic herbs on land bought in 1892. In 1904 the land was subdivided and sold off in individual plots and a colony began to develop.
Labourers, landless farmers and farmers' sons from the colonies were also transferred to the Lower Galilee. This opening up of the Galilee to Jewish settlement can be seen as the start of a new era in colonisation - certainly the region developed a character of its own, partly due to the combination of settlement principles adopted there ~y the JCA. None of these was novel, but in conjunction they were successful.
The first land-purchase in the area by the JCA was an old khan on a hilltop near Sejera, in 189~. Here a colonisation method tried at Leloir in the Argentine was introduced. Prospective settlers were screened, and those accepted given employment as worker trainees, whilst they learned about agriculture and accustomed themselves to the life. They were then leased farmland and given credit to buy stock and farm- buildings. No further advice was given by instructors, and smallholders were responsible for their own decision-making and running their farms. All farming in he Lower Galilee was dry farming, based on grain, but the JCA encouraged its trainee farmers to diversify into mixed arable.
The Sejera Farm was intended both to train labouring immigrants in farm-work and to provide employment, and its manager, Haim Margalit Kalvarisky * eventually came to administer all the JCA's Lower Galilee colonisation activities. The first settlers selected to train at Sejera were twenty families of Kurdish Jews who had been farmers before their immigration, eight
families of fanatically-Zionist Russians recently converted to Judaism, and about 50 single labourers. Whilst training, they worked as tenant-farmers under Kalvarisky, the Agronom (farm- manager).
From October to December 1901, several groups of young farmers and labourers from Sejera were rapidly settled on three nearby sites - Yavniel, Mesha (Kfar Tabor)and Milhemmiyeh - living in the homes of evicted Arab villagers. People with previous agricultural experience were selected to settle these new sites, and the JCA provided them with all the basic necessities, including farming implements and even livestock. Basing practice on experience in the Argentine, the JCA tried to do away with the dole and promote individual initiative, so rather than subsidise the new settlers credit was extended, at low interest, which had to be repaid although not within any specified period.
In December 1901, the Jewish National Fund (JNF) was established by the Zionist Organisation (Z0). This was not concerned with colonisation or settlement, but with collecting funds for land purchases, not for re-sale to private farmers but on behalf of the whole Jewish People as a national asset. The idea was that land would have to purchased for colonisation once the location of the Jewish Home was agreed, and this should be owned by the Jews as a nation rather than as individuals. The JNF did not begin functioning at once, however.
In 1902 the Anglo-Palestine Company was set up as a subsidiary of the Jewish Colonial Trust, and in 1903 it became the Anglo-Palestine Bank, granting loans at low interest to manufacturers and merchants and occasionally farmers.
Despite the Zionist Organisation's domination by the Hovevei Tzion faction, many Zionists felt that the most pressing need in practical terms was not settlement in Palestine but a refuge from antisemitic persecution and a safe haven for victims of pogroms. Not until 1903 was it agreed to concentrate efforts towards
Palestine rather than elsewhere, with the defeat of the "territorialists" who urged acceptance of Britain's offer of lands in "Uganda" (actually Kenya), and even so these efforts would concentrate on the "Political Zionist" aim of securing international guarantees for a territory to which masses of "surplus" Jews could be removed, rather than towards settlement.
In October 1902, 10 workers from Meshek Sejera (Sejera Farm) were authorised as tenant-farmers and each given 250 dunams nearby. houses were constructed at the foot of the hill as the nucleus of a colony. 24 homes in two rows, surrounded by a defensive wall, were built within two years, and a school and agricultural services centre for the region established nearby.
In the winter of 1903 another JCA colony in the Lower Galilee was settled at. BeiL Can by 21 labourers from Sejera and their families.
Land purchase was fraught with difficulties, and early acquisitions by the JNF were made via the JCA. After Herzl's death in 1904 JNF funds were finally released, for the specific purpose of buying land to plant Ya'ar Herzl (Herzl Forest) in his honour, near Tel Aviv. More funds were released for this land at Ben Shemen to establish an orphanage for the child victims of the 1903 Kishinev Pogroms. The Olive Tree Fund provided funds for trees to be planted there and a nursery was set up. Pressure from Practical Zionists brought about the purchase of land at Kinneret (Sea of Galilee). A small tract of land was also purchased at Hulda, near Rehovot.
Difficult climatic conditions with seasonal extremes, poor harvests, lack of funds, water shortage, diseases (such as malaria), disputes with neighbours and general security problems made life very hard in the Lower Galilee colonies. The local Arabs called the colonists "awlad il-mut" - children of death.
As the Turkish Government became less effective in the early years of the twentieth century, JCA colonies across Palestine held town meetings to issue local regulations and neighbouring villages frequently conferred on matters of common interest. As a result of the increasing anarchy in the Empire, "a certain rudimentary self-government developed on the local and regional level" (Sachar) .
In Summer 1903, the Odessa Committee of Hovevei Tzion sent a delegation under Menachem Ussishkin and Alter Druyanov to
Palestine. On its initiative, the Histadrut Eretz-Israelit (Palestine Organisation) was established, intended as a covering society "to unify all the Jewish forces, both material and spiritual, in Palestine in order to enlarge and develop the quantity and quality of the Hebrew elements in Palestine."
Membership was limited to all Jews who did not depend entirely on halukkah, and thus was also open to many of the Old Yishuv. It was organised regionally but had central bodies intended to serve as intermediaries between the Yishuv and various Jewish agencies and institutions. It was based on voluntary membership, and drew too little support to be representative. Despite an attempt in 1905 to institute collective membership, through various sub¬groups represented in the Histadrut, this attempt to establish an over-all representative organisation failed. "It did not co-ordinate funds and did not become an authority on questions of economic development and services" (Kolatt) .
Thus, as the Second Aliyah began there was still no overall nucleus of national institutions yet formed within the Yishuv.
THE SECOND ALIYAH - ITS NATURE AND IDEAS
THE CHARACTER OF THE SECOND ALIYAH
In 1903 in the Southern Russian town of Kishinev, a blood- libel spread against the Jews and was even mentioned from the pulpit. The result was three days of anti-Jewish rioting which left many dead, injured and homeless. This came as a shock to the Jews, who had hoped such pogroms were a thing of the past. Defence Committees were set up, and the affair gave a boost to Zionism rather than to the anti-nationalistic Marxist "Bund". * Many Jews left Russia as a result, some for Palestine.
The 1904-5 Russo-Japanese War led to the emigration of young Russian Jews, known as "The Japanese" in Palestine, avoiding the draft or deserting from the Russian Imperial Army.
The abortive 1905 Revolution was followed by renewed pogroms. The position of Jews was not ameliorated by subsequent reforms, and again support for Zionism grew.
Many olim had only recently become Zionists, and for many of the revolutionary Maskilim even Jewish traditions and religion were virtually unknown. Most were Socialists disillusioned with the Russian masses, idealists who wanted to see their utopian principles made reality, and - with all the impatience of youth -
to see this happen in their own life time. The first group of idealistic Socialist-Zionists, "The Homelites", arrived in Palestine in 1904, believing their aliyah to be the vanguard of a great mass movement. It is from this year that the Second Aliyah is usually dated, but strangely - given its vast influence on later developments (an influence greatly overplayed in the early years of the State of Israel) - it was not a large migration. About 30-40,000 Jews arrived in Palestine during the Second Aliyah period, but as David Ben-Gurion * later wrote: "Half the immigrants who came to Palestine in those early days took one look and caught the same ship home again." Not all that number were Zionists of the New Yishuv outlook, but even those who were often found themselves swiftly disillusioned. The Promised Land was even more backward than Russia and many became disheartened by the magnitude of the task ahead. "There was a blatant discrepancy between what the pioneers expected and what they found upon their arrival at the guest house of Chaim Bloch in Jaffa, the first station for most of them" (Laqueur) .
Probably just over 8,000 Jews who arrived during the ten years of the Second Aliyah eventually settled in Palestine. The British 1918 Census showed 7,965 Jews who had immigrated 1904-10. Of these, over half lived in moshavot (colonies), about 2,000 in Jerusalem, and less than 2,000 in towns other than Jerusalem. Of all these, perhaps 2,000 could be accounted Second Aliyah Halutzim. About 20,000 other ohm probably "returned to Europe or continued on to America within weeks or months of their arrival" (Sachar) .
For those who remained, the situation was better than it had been for the early settlers of Hovevei Tzion. Besides the Old Yishuv, there were New Yishuv communities in Jaffa and Haifa and the 28 JCA moshavot, with around 5,500 residents, many of which ran farms based on plantation-type agriculture offering employment prospects or otherwise offering unskilled labouring employment carrying out drainage and land-improvement schemes. There were also the Agricultural School and Training Farms where landless immigrants could work for pay whilst they studied farming.
After Herzl's death in 1904 the Zionist movement came more under the influence of Ahad HaAm, and particularly so among the New Yishuv. Spiritual and practical values were emphasised rather than Herzl's diplomatic/political approach. Ahad HaAm attended the first Zionist Congress (1897) as a Hovevei Tzion spokesman, but in the same year he published "The Jewish State and the Jewish Problem", in which he questioned whether emigration to a Jewish State in Palestine by 10 million European Jews was feasible. He felt rather that a cultural and spiritual centre should be created, which would affect the position and prestige of Jews in the Galut and whose inhabitants "will be able, on a favourable opportunity, to establish a state which will be truly a Jewish state, and not merely a Jews' state." The physical and economic survival of Jews was worthless unless Judaism and the Judaic spirit and Jewish kultur also survived. As Ahad HaAm's thought developed, he turned the Neitzschean view
of temporal power and the physical superman on its head and wrote of the Jews as having a "nationalism of the spirit" and being "by essence alien to the political world." He denied that a Jewish state could (or should) be "normal", and increasingly argued against concentrating Jews in Palestine on the grounds that this would not be a solution to the "Jewish Problem" but rather would "beget in us a tendency to find the path of glory in the attainment of material power and political dominion, thus breaking the thread that unites us with the past and undermining our historical foundation." However, even the attainment of an elitist Jewish spiritual centre in Palestine would require practical groundwork for the survival of such a community. Ruppin told the Eleventh Zionist Congress (1913): "A Jewish culture in Palestine cannot be the forerunner, but can only be the consequence, of a Jewish development in that country."
At this stage, the Zionist Organisation still believed that what was needed was a class of Jewish peasant smallholders with middle-class values and a profit motive, through whose enterprise a Jewish economic sector would be built up laying the foundation for the national homeland and eventual state. It proved difficult, however, to attract this type of investment. Money was donated without people, and people immigrated without money. As late as 1927 Arthur Ruppin was still complaining that: "What [our settlers] want to bring into Palestine is not the capital but the mentality of the middle class." The joke arose that the definition of Zionism was "one Jew giving money to a second Jew to send a third Jew to Palestine."
Most Halutzim were from Russia. They tended to be young, single, non-religious, socialist and very idealistic. Many had been active in revolutionary movements, and they were politically-aware and usually well-educated. Tolstoy was a big influence, as was Vintza, a commune in South Russia established by the Social Revolutionaries. Their views differed from those of the First Aliyah settlers, and their motivation for making aliyah was often politically-inspired, socialistic and utopian as well as Zionist/nationalist. "Their notion of pioneering was a kind of secularised messianism" (Sachar) . Many believed in the Bakuninist principle of "creation through destruction": only through destroying the servile, cringing image of the traditional "Ghetto Jew" could the new free Jew be created in Palestine, overcoming the paralysis of religion and the spiritual sickness engendered through centuries of persecution during which the Jews were divorced from the soil and exiled from their spiritual homeland. The aim of the Halutzim was 'kibbush" (conquest -perhaps more properly "overcoming" or "winning"), kibbush HaAretz (The Conquest of Land) and Kibbush Ha'Avodah (The Conquest of Labour) being the most prominent. For them, the exploitation of underpaid Arab labour was both morally and nationally indefensible. One of the leading ideologues of the Second and Third Aliyot, Aharon David Gordon *, believed that without labour the Jews would be a mere island of planters in a sea of Arabs:
"The Land will not be ours and we shall not be the people of the Land. Here, then, we shall also be aliens."
The earliest years of the Second Aliyah saw little colonisation by Halutzim, however. Sachar writes that: "The onset of the Second Aliyah coincided with a growing momentum of Jewish agricultural settlement in Palestine" , but much of this was enlargement of existing villages and what little settlement occurred was carried out by the JCA as before. In 1908 Mitzpah was settled to the north of Tiberias, and in 1909 another colony founded at Kinneret, near the JNF lands of the same name.
ATTEMPTS TO ORGANISE THE SECOND ALIYAH IN PALESTINE -"PO'ALEI TZION" AND "HAPO'EL HATZA'IR"
The numbers involved in the Second Aliyah were small, but because of their organisational ability, motivation and influence, their impact was huge. "It was they who were to provide in later years the leadership of the Socialist Parties, the Zionist Movement, and the State of Israel" (Laqueur) . Many olim tried again to organise the Yishuv, on socialist and nationalistic lines. Some felt this should not be done publicly, in order not to alarm the Government or antagonise the Arabs, and believed a secretive organisation would be best. In the early days, however, most organisational activity was directed towards setting up political parties. Development and land settlement remained in the hands of private groups and Jewish life in Palestine was still typically religious and capitalistic, whether Sephardi or Ashkenazi, Old or New Yishuv. This had to be radically changed. Possessing nothing but their (unwanted)
labour-power, the Halutzim wanted social, economic and political power on behalf of the rural proletarian class to which they aspired to belong, and therefore the destruction of the existing order. Not surprisingly, for the Jewish community in Palestine the young Second Aliyah pioneers represented a disturbing threat.
In 1905, some of the 550 Jewish workers then in Palestine organised themselves into two rival groups. It was originally intended to form one united organisation, but no common ideological platform was agreed, and in October 1905 a group of about 60, calling itself "Po'alei Tzion" (Workers of Zion) after the political grouping in Russia to which many had already belonged, founded a political party with headquarters at Bloch's Guest House. They claimed to be "The Party of the Palestinian working-class in creation, the only revolutionary party of the Jewish worker in the Ottoman Empire." In November, the first indigenous party - "HaPo'el HaTza'ir" (The Young Worker) - was founded by 90 immigrants, with headquarters at Spektor's, a rival Jaffa guest-house. During 1906, both workers' associations set up mutual aid organisations, employment exchanges, sickness funds and social clubs. They ran cultural, educational and political activities, and produced newsletters.
Neither became a mass party, rather they were ideological conspiracies, but Po'alei Tzion did finally crystallise as a Party in December 1906 after a few members ad decided on a set of principles at a clandestine meeting in Ramleh guest-house. Ber Borochev * co-wrote the Party's platform, which was broadly
Marxist and almost identical to that of the Po'alei Tzion in Russia. Gradually, the leadership - Isaac (Itzhak) Ben-Zvi *, David Gruen (Ben-Gurion) and Israel Shohat * - developed a conflicting ideological approach, whereby history had to be helped along by encouraging the aliyah of workers rather than waiting for Jewish capitalists to invest in Palestine as a natural historical process. A split also developed over the Russian Party's increasing concern with issues other than Zionism, especially its growing insistence on class struggle in terms converging with the ideas of the Bund. The Palestinians, in their turn, were criticised for putting the Yishuv before class issues, although they did try to establish contact with other workers' organisations in the Ottoman Empire.
HaPo'el HaTza'ir, despite the Populist origins of some of its dogmas, was from the first aware of the labour situation of Jews in Palestine, and was ab initio a constructivist, pragmatic movement which stressed nationalism before socialism - workers were the vanguard of the national renaissance, of which socialism and Kibbush HaAvodah were integral parts. The parasitism and non-productivity of Ghetto existence were to be expunged and replaced by a New Jew, spiritually and materially creative. Jewish workers must penetrate all sectors and levels of the economy and especially re-establish ties with the ancestral soil, so as to create a normal, healthy nation. HaPo'el HaTza'ir supported the World Zionist Organisation; it also followed the
pacifist, mystic teachings of the visionary worker-philosopher and poet, A. D. Gordon, whose view was that:
"there is a cosmic element in nationality which is its basic ingredient ... the blending of the natural landscape of the Homeland with the spirit of the people inhabiting it. ... We are told that it is national sentiment that prevents the Jews from assimilating. But what is this national sentiment? ... that elusive, unique and persistent force that will not die and will not let us die? ... [T]here is a primal force within every one of us, which is fighting for its own life, which seeks its own realisation. This is our ethnic self, the cosmic element ... which combined with the historic element, forms one of the basic ingredients of the personality. ... It is life we want, ... our own life feeding on our own vital sources, in the fields and under the skies of our Homeland, a life based on our own physical and mental labours; we want vital energy and spiritual richness from this living source. ... We want to create a new people, a human people whose attitude towards other people is informed with the sense of human brotherhood and whose attitude towards nature and all within it is inspired by noble urges of life-loving creativity. ... What we seek to establish in Palestine is a new, recreated Jewish people, not a mere colony of Diaspora Jewry. ... We seek the rebirth of our national self, the manifestation of our loftiest spirit, and for that we must give our all."
Sachar suggests a deeper reason for the obsession with the
soil than the romantic Slav view of peasant virtues - the emphasis on simple rural living perhaps "expressed unconscious resentment at the creeping industrial revolution in Eastern Europe, a social transformation that dislodged the Jews economically and confronted them with the new and more vicious anti-Semitism of the urban lower-middle class." However, it is difficult to find any evidence to support this sort of theory.
The pacifist tendencies of HaPo'el HaTza'ir prevented them from helping found any self-defence organisations, which they considered militaristic. However, as early as 1907 Ben-Zvi and
Shohat of the Po'alei Tzion founded the first clandestine Jewish paramilitary organisation, "Bar-Giora".
THE "KVUTZOT KIBBUSH" COMMUNES
The independent organisation of the moshavot was strengthening. In 1906 the Rishon le-Tzion and Zichron Ya'akov wineries were turned over to a farmers co-operative, and co-operative marketing and credit organisations developed. At last, the colonies were beginning to make their way independently.
Another attempt was made to establish a body capable of representing the entire Yishuv and providing a forum for consultation between its various elements. Through the initiative of the Odessa Committee (led by Tiomkin, Pines and Bentovim), The Palestine Council was set up, with representatives from Hovevei Tzion, the Zionist Organisation (ZO), co-operatives, professional bodies, unions and workers' organisations, and various land-purchasing companies such as JCA and "Ge'ulah" (Redemption). "The goal of the Council was defined as co-ordination of the various bodies of the Yishuv" (Kolatt) . In this it was quite successful. The Council met frequently, but its meetings were secret, excluding even the Press.
The JNF had now acquired its first tracts of land, at Kfar Hittim, Umm Juni, Ben Shemen and Hulda the latter two only 2,000 dunams each, very isolated, and with water-supply problems.
Land was forbidden under Turkish law to lie idle, and these areas were therefore worked by Arabs.
Unable through lack of capital to become smallholder farmers, lacking work experience or basic skills, and distrusted by the Old Yishuv and JCA farmers alike, resentment and disillusion soon set in among the young olim. Planters were hostile to the newcomers? socialism, and in any case found them unemployable. "Faced with this antagonism, the immigrants wandered from settlement to settlement, in rags, on the edge of collapse from malnutrition" (Sachar).
The Halutzim were obsessed with the idea of national rebirth through physical labour on the soil - with what even a realist like Ruppin described as: "our desire to transform ourselves into workers and to fructify the soil with he sweat of our own bodies." . However, the labour market, small as it was, was dominated by Arabs in private and public employment. "This they regarded as a cancer in the body politic of the Yishuv" (Laqueur) . To enable them to compete against Arab labour, the Halutzim devised the method of banding together into contracting work-gangs known as "Kvutzot kibbush" (Conquest Groups, the word Kvutzah being the Hebrew version of "Kommuna" [Commune]. Most kvutzot coalesced for a particular task and few remained together for more than a couple of years, but some gangs made an ideology of communal living - in some cases having intended to do so before making aliyah - and maintained their existence despite changing external circumstances. The kvutzot Kibbush were a useful support system for the atomised individuals of the Second Aliyah - they lived together communally, sharing chores, eating together, and devising systems of mutual aid. Kvutzot occasionally also tried to intimidate Jewish farmers, insisting that they - rather than the cheaper, more skilled, unorganised and obedient Arab workers - should be given employment on Jewish- owned land. "From the outset the pioneers and their trade unions fought for the replacement of Arab by Jewish labour wherever feasible in the face of strong opposition from the Jewish farmers" (Laqueur) .
Thus the idealistic young Socialists came into economic conflict with the Arab workers with whom their ideology insisted they should have common cause.
RELATIONS BETWEEN SETTLERS AND THE PALESTINIAN ARABS
Despite the oft-repeated slogan of "A Land Without a People for a People Without a Land" (Herzl), even pre-Herzlian Zionists were well aware that Palestine was far from uninhabited. From the start, the Arabs were expected to be unfriendly - Kalischer in 1862 wrote of the dangers of Arab hostility and questioned whether Jewish settlers would be safe in Palestine. In 1891 Ahad HaAm visited Palestine for Hovevei Tzion, and in his report of that journey - "Emet me-Eretz Israel" (Truth from The Land of Israel) - he confronted the issue of Jewish-Arab relations:
"We tend to believe abroad that Palestine is nowadays almost completely deserted, a non-cultivated wilderness, and anyone can come there and buy as much land as his heart desires. But in reality this is not the case. It is difficult to find anywhere in the country Arab land which lies fallow."
Not only were there many Arabs living in Palestine, but Ahad HaAm found many Jewish settlers regarded them with contempt, as backward semi-savages. He warned against adopting such a superior attitude to the Arabs and their culture:
"The Arabs, and especially the city dwellers, understand very well what we want and what we do in the country; but they behave as if they do not notice it because at present they do not see any danger for themselves or their future in what we are doing and are therefore trying to turn to their benefit these new guests.
Herzl's own book "Altneuland" (Old-new-land), 1902, took the utopian view that with the spread of European civilisation and modern methods of cultivation, mass settlement of Jews would be possible with plenty of room for everyone and no displacement from the land. This, of course, was too utopian to be practicable, but Herzl should perhaps be forgiven for regarding the Arabs as individuals only and not as a collective entity, for when he wrote there was little Arab nationalism in Ottoman Syria and virtually no concept of Palestinian Arabs as a sub-nation within "esh-Sha'ab el-'Arab" (the Arab People).
From the very first, the Arab tenants of landowners who sold land to Jews were evicted from their ancestral homes and lands, rather than passing over with the land to become tenants of the new owner, as previously. Thus land sales to Jews had an ominous
quality lacking in sales between Arab landowners. From the beginning of Zionist settlement, therefore, a latent conflict was present.
Arab landowners (as opposed to peasant farmers) were interested not in the land itself - although land owning conferred a high social status - but in the wealth to be derived from those who worked it. The landowner was often tax-collector, tithe-collector, local government administrator and personal creditor (charging anything up to 50% interest on loans or taking part of a future crop yield as collateral on loans of seed), all in one. Creditors sometimes confiscated peasants' lands in compensation for outstanding debts which the fellah (peasant) could clearly never repay; seldom would a peasant willingly sell his land. Stein puts it thus:
"The Palestine fellah had a lifelong personal and ancestral attachment to his land and was philosophically opposed to selling it. But oppressive taxes, enormous debt, inefficient land usage, and climatic vicissitudes were the burdensome pressures that forced the fellah to relinquish his independence as an owner. An independent owner-occupier sometimes became a tenant, and then, in some cases, an agricultural labourer."
This was not the only way whereby lands were concentrated into the hands of a few landowners. The Ottoman Land Reforms of 1856 and 1858 laid the basis for private ownership of land, which thus became easily disposable, and were followed by the start of registration of land in the name of individuals - usufruct was to be replaced by legal title, a concept which was not grasped by the peasantry whose primary concern was that the registers could
be used for tax-collection or military recruiting purposes and who therefore registered lands in the names of influential local people in order to obtain some protection. As a result, many fellahin lost their land rights and legally became tenants liable to eviction. The land laws were sometimes misrepresented to the illiterate and distrustful peasantry by those likely to benefit from the changes, some of whom were willing to sell to Jewish colonists.
In some cases, lands purchased were uninhabited or surplus to local requirements. In other cases - e.g. Zamarin (Zichron Ya'akov) and Umm Tulah (Metullah) - villagers were displaced, and did not always accept their fate quietly. In some cases, displaced Arabs became day-labourers in the Jewish moshavot and the settlements became essentially mixed villages with Jewish and Arab children educated (in French, of course) together. But Ahad HaAm, in "Emet me-Eretz Israel", mentioned Jewish settlers who
used violence in disputes with their Arab neighbours and foresaw
"One thing we should have learned from our past and present history, and that is not to create anger among the local population against us. ... Our brethren are right when they say that the Arab honours only those who show valour and fortitude, but this is the case only when he feels that the other party has justice on his side."
There were disputes between Arab villages too (for instance
over field boundaries or water rights), but "it cannot be
maintained that these incidents totally lacked political
undertones" (Laqueur). Among these undertones was emergent
Arab Nationalism, which in Syria was mostly developed by Christian Arabs, a large proportion of the educated and European- orientated intelligentsia. By stressing a common Arabness, the Christians could overcome their inferior position in a Moslem- dominated society. They were also more open to anti-Semitic influences within Christianity - in 1899 Eliyahu Sapir wrote that
the Catholic Church particularly was spreading anti-Semitic
propaganda. (However, some Christian Arabs supported Zionism,
regarding the Jews as a counterbalance to the Moslems).
These concerns of the intelligentsia did not really affect
the average fellah, however. His complaints were more
"There was bitterness against the newcomers and sporadic armed attacks, and the situation was aggravated by the refusal of the Jewish settlers to share the pasture land with the Arabs as had been the custom before. In Galilee the problem was even more acute than in southern Palestine as here the Jewish colonies could not offer employment to the Arabs who had lost their land."
Many of the evicted Arabs naturally felt angry and resentful towards the Jews who had taken their homes and livelihood, and the new settlers found themselves embroiled in constant clashes with former inhabitants and neighbouring Arab villagers.
In 1891, the same year in which Ahad HaAm wrote "Emet me- Eretz Israel", some of the Arab a'yan ("notables") in Jerusalem sent a petition signed by 500 people to Constantinople, complaining that the Jews were depriving Arabs of their lands, taking over Arab trade, and bringing arms into the country.
The First Aliyah ohm certainly paid little heed to the Arabs. By 1905, this was changing in response to growing Arab opposition to Zionist colonisation. The teacher and
agriculturist Yitzhak Epstein spoke on the "Arab Question" at a
closed meeting during the Seventh Zionist Congress (1905),
saying Jews should not return as conquerors and arouse the hatred of the Arabs. In cases where Arabs had been deprived of their livelihood by Zionist land-purchases the Jews were legally in the right but it created moral problems - "it is easy to make enemies, but difficult to make friends."
The influx of Russian socialist ohm - "Muskub" as the Arabs called them - should logically have improved relations with their Arab co-workers. That this did not happen was due to economic necessity, to their Zionist nationalism, and to a dogmatic Marxism which saw European society as progressive and themselves as the vanguard of the organised class-conscious proletariat, whilst the Arabs represented a semi-feudal backward society whose low productivity and archaic structures would be best swept away. There was also a problem of social attitudes - the background of the ohm was a Czarist regime which repressed and imprisoned them for their political beliefs and subjected and attacked them for their Jewishness. Consequently they over-reacted to minor provocations, and tended to react in the pattern familiar in Russia - hence self-defence became a priority when problems were encountered with their Arab neighbours and fellow-workers.
THE SECOND ALIYAH - SETTLEMENT AND ORGANISATION
"HA-HORESH" - "BAR-GIORA" AND THE FIRST COLLECTIVE FARM
The activities of the few hundred socialist Zionists "seemed
to confirm Arab suspicions about Jewish separatism and the
displacement of Arab peasants and workers" (Laqueur) and with
the deteriorating political and security situation on the edge of the Ottoman Empire this could mean danger for the Yishuv. As it was, the plantation system of most existing colonies helped stabilise matters, but nonetheless two of the leaders of Po'alei Tzion - Israel Shohat and Itzhak Ben-Zvi - decided during the Third Annual Convention of the Party in Jaffa to form a clandestine organisation for defence and settlement.
Shohat had recently visited Jewish settlements trying to persuade his fellow agricultural workers to assume responsibility
for guarding the land as well as working it. Guard work was
usually performed by hired Arabs or (Moslem) Circassians. In
Russia, Shohat's Po'alei Tzion group had organised effective self-defence groups against pogromists and he had been impressed by the increased self-esteem of the Jewish guards and the community as a whole. In 1905 the first group of "HeHalutz" was formed in Odessa, with the object of training young Jews for both agricultural labour and self-defence. The movement quickly grew
and became increasingly militaristic. Many of its graduates made
aliyah to Palestine in the Second and Third Aliyot.
Seven men and a woman signed the original Charter of "Bar- Giora" * in Ben-Zvi's home on 29th September 1907, named after a Jewish liberation fighter of the Roman era. "Shohat's primary concern was to create a paramilitary organisation which would
assume responsibility for the defence of the scattered Jewish
settlements" (Point), but the first project was to found a
collective settlement at Sejera. This was the brainchild of Maniah Vilbushevitz, whom Shohat later married. She had put proposals for an experimental communal village to HaPo'el HaTza'ir and Po'alei Tzion, but neither was interested. However, Shohat was interested in combining the goals of labour and defence with collectivist principles, and thus this became an early experiment of the "Bar-Giora" group.
In 1907 Krause, the supervisor at the JCA's Sejera training farm, agreed to hand the agricultural work over to the proposed
workers' collective, named "HaHoresh" (The Furrow). Livestock,
seed and equipment was advanced against earnings by the JCA to the 14 men and 4 women of the group. 18 months later the group had risen to 50 members, including many Yemenites. A fifth of the crop was sufficient to pay off the JCA loan. As a farm, the collective had been an unqualified success. But "Bar-Giora" wanted to be not only a prototype of communal living but also a nucleus for Jewish self-defence in the Lower Galilee, using Jewish guards rather than hiring Arab watchmen or relying on
baksheesh to local sheikhs and administrators (or the aid of foreign consuls) to protect them from incursions. To the "Bar- Giora" group this was appalling cowardice. Only by defending oneself could one expect respect from one's enemies or peers. The group was opposed by the Arab guards and also by Jewish farmers, who disliked the brash Halutzim anyway.
THE PALESTINE OFFICE AND EARLY Z0 LAND PURCHASES
In 1905 the Zionist Congress decided to organise settlement instead of relying on private initiative alone. In Spring 1908, the Z0 established a "Palastina Amt" (Palestine Department) in Jaffa. This Palestine Office was run by the sociologist and lawyer Arthur Ruppin, and was to be responsible for land purchases and for urban and agricultural settlement in Palestine. Ruppin thus became the chief planner and implementer of the Zionist Organisation' s settlement policy. The master-plan he devised in 1907 "insisted that the pattern of Jewish settlement
had to avoid scattering Jews at random throughout the country,
but had to concentrate on a few points" (Caplan). This,
however, would not be easy to achieve. A rational long-range land policy could not be attempted when so little land was changing hands and with the limited funds at the Zionist Organisation's disposal. Even after Keren HaYesod's establishment in 1920 JNF land acquisitions continued to depend
on chance purchases. As Alexander Granowsky (Granott) put it:
"For fifty years the majority of land purchases made by the Jews in Palestine ... were entered into on the spur of the moment and under the pressure of the immediate and urgent needs. They bought whatever land was offered for sale and whatever seemed to be the need of the moment. Possibly there were compelling reasons for adopting such a method. Primarily the most compelling reason was the lack of great resources which would be necessary for planning and implementing a land purchasing program on a scale far greater than that necessitated by immediate requirements."
Nonetheless, Ruppin felt something had to be done, and had
to find a way of doing it. He said later:
"We did not choose the way of the old colonisation system; nor did we wait with folded arms for the coming of private initiative ... to wait for private initiative would have been to defer the work until the Greek Calends. What was there to tempt the Jewish capitalist to investment in Palestine? And even if he wanted to do it, how would he set about it? ... So much, then, for private initiative. It was quite clear that nothing could he expected from it if a new method of procedure was not found in order to prepare the
One of Ruppin's first acts was to found the Palestine Land
Development Company (PLDC), which between 1908-13 would purchase about 50,000 dunams but which at its foundation was still hampered by the old Ottoman legal system which made it virtually impossible to set up a company to buy or sell land. Ruppin saw the PLDC as "a land purchasing agency which did not ignore entirely the possibility of profits but which was directed in its buying policy primarily by national interests. It was to do
pioneer work and buy also the kind of land which would not
interest private capital."
His immediate concern, however, was to find a way of creating employment opportunities for thousands of destitute,
landless and unskilled young idealists. His plan was to set up "auxiliary" (as opposed to working) farms to train people in agricultural work, during which they would receive a small wage; then buy up land in Judea or Galilee to be sold or leased on easy terms to them. "The colonist does not and cannot play the role
of teacher; he does not and cannot turn his farm into a school.
He needs men who already know their work" (Ruppin).
Ruppin also organised an estate company - "Achuzat Bayit" -to establish a modern Jewish suburb on the sand-dunes north of Jaffa, providing much-needed employment in its construction. Meetings held from 1906 on had discussed the founding of "Tel- Aviv" (after a city in Herzl's "Altneuland"). During 1908-09 Achuzat Bayit built 50 housing units as a planned Garden City with a full infrastructure of paved roads, water and sewage supply and even street lighting.
An early PLDC project was to rent land owned by the JNF at Kinneret to found a training farm colony. According to the PLDC statutes, the settlement of colonists could not be the aim so the ostensible object of the farm was the improvement of its lands for later resale at a profit. There were unforeseen and unproductive expenditures, but it was hoped such a farm, run by a paid Agronom, would eventually become self-supporting.
The other two major JNF areas - Hulda, between Rehovot and Latrun, and Ben Shemen, near Lydda, were not really suitable for agricultural development, but abandonment was forbidden under the
JNF Charter. It was decided that the planting of the Herzl Forest should be an excuse for funding the creation of the Ben Shemen Farm. At both farms, olive tree plantation financed by the Olive Tree Fund (which leased land at Hulda from the JNF for the purpose) was begun. Ben Shemen became the first farm to introduce dairying - learned from nearby German settlers - and with Ekron became a major supplier of milk to Tel-Aviv.
The three JNF training farms gave one year's training to new ohm. "The farms are not there as ends in themselves, but serve a purpose outside of themselves, and part of this purpose, the
principle part, indeed, is the training of Jewish land workers"
THE YOUNG TURK REBELLION - SECURITY CONCERNS AND "HASHOMER"
As the ZO was putting its plans into operation, the Ottoman regime was overthrown by the Young Turk revolution, which began in Macedonia in July 1908. The aim of the revolutionaries was to transform the decadent Empire into a modern European state with a parliamentary constitution. Abdul Hamid II, "The Red Sultan
was deposed in favour of a constitutional monarchy, and a process of devolution and Turkification began.
In Palestine, the most noticeable immediate result was an outpouring of anti-Turkish Arab nationalism and an increase in general lawlessness due to weakened central authority. "General
security deteriorated sharply in Palestine after the revolution of 1908 against the Sultanate. Jewish settlements in Lower Galilee were frequently attacked, and there were clashes between Jews and Arabs in Haifa, Jaffa and Jerusalem. The situation was
even more critical in Galilee" (Laqueur). Over 15,000 Jews
lived in Galilee, most of them in Tiberias and Safed, but the greatest danger was in the isolated village settlements such as Rosh Pina and Metulla.
The Sejera "Bar-Giora" commune offered to work as guards at nearby settlements. Mesha (later Kfar Tabor) dismissed its Moroccan watchmen and hired 2 "Bar-Giora" guards. The clandestine existence of the group was ended soon after. In Mesha in 1909 the decision was taken by "Bar-Giora", the "HaHoresh" collective at Sejera, and leaders of the Russian Jewish "Hagana" self-defence movement who had just arrived in
Palestine, to "reorganise in the form of a broadened, more open
self-defence force" (Cohen).
The new Guild of Watchmen was legally registered under the name "HaShomer" (The Watchman). A small clandestine society was insufficient to protect the Yishuv, especially now that Ottoman authority had broken down. Bandits were roaming the country and Bedouin "ghazzias" (raids) became frequent on the cultivated fringes. Additional guards were needed, but "HaShomer's" admission criteria and the rigorous training effectively limited numbers. In two years it expanded to only 26 "Shomrim" (Guards).
The Sejera settlement had never been intended to become permanent, and in April 1909 it split up. The new and wider "HaShomer" organisation became a mainly mobile force, its members
- and increasingly their young families too - moving from place to place on the organisation' s rotation system or as they were needed. "HaShomer" continued to be organised as a secretive body, based in Sejera, and gradually their crack Watchmen assumed responsibility for the defence of all the Lower Galilee settlements and later those of "Judea" (i.e. the area around Jaffa) and "Samaria" (i.e. the Sharon Plain). The Shomrim became closely associated with Haim Kalvariski, until 1923 the Chief Administrator of the JCA's Galilean settlements.
Despite the pan-Ottoman tendencies of the reformed Empire, the growth of separatist trends suggested an ultimate development towards regional autonomy. Arab nationalism blossomed, encouraged by and further deepening local differentiation. In Palestine this movement was complicated by Arab opposition to Jewish settlement, which was affecting the nationalist outlook of the Palestinian Arabs in a different way from that of the rest of Syria. It was no longer quite true that "the stretch of land sanctified for Jews as Eretz Israel was for Arabs merely
Southern Syria' with no special national character to
distinguish it from other Arab territory" (M. Syrkin).
External problems also affected the Empire - wars in Libya and the Balkans - and further weakened the authority of Istanbul. Security and self-defence became even more important.
The actual Shomrim were men, and the organisation was male- dominated, the women being relegated to rearing the children, in a variety of locations and unsatisfactory living conditions. Although now openly registered, the "secretive nature and highly- selective membership procedure added somewhat of a mythical
element to the organisation' s reputation" (Porat). This
secrecy extended to the women, who were never told what the men were doing, on the excuse that the general security situation and complex relations with the Arabs meant only full members could be kept properly informed.
COLLECTIVISM AND SETTLEMENT - "HAKOMMUNA HAROMNIT"
Guard work and landholding remained the motivation for the mobile groups established by "HaShomer"; but some members, such as Maniah (Vilbushevitz) Shohat, still regarded the ideal of collective settlement as the eventual aim and saw the ad hoc co-operation of the group's daily life as training for this. In this they were not alone.
In 1907 four young men from the HaThiah movement set out for Palestine from the small Ukrainian town of Romni. On the boat they were joined by eight others and formed a "Kommuna", "HaKommuna HaRomnit" (The Romni Commune). They arrived in Jaffa in December and next day walked to Petah Tiqva, where they were hired together. They rented a room and spent five months there. They visited the Ben Shemen tree nursery, run by the agronomist
Berman, and found only Arabs employed there, growing saplings for the Herzl Forest. They uprooted trees and were employed at the same rates as the Arabs to re-plant them. When Berman was sent to the JNF lands at Kinneret, "HaKommuna HaRomnit", now including a woman, went with him as contracting labour to found the training farm there, adopting the slogan "Kibbush HaGalil" (Conquest of the Galilee).
In the hot summer of 1909 there was a malaria epidemic which brought many of the Galilee Halutzim together at the Zichron Ya'akov Hospital at about the same time that disagreements between colonists and workers there came to a head in a strike. Some of the workers went to Hadera to establish a Kommuna, but many left for the Galilee despite the turbulent and physically insecure conditions there. Some went to Kinneret.
The first year's balance-sheet at Kinneret showed a deficit and Arab labour was cheap, so Berman brought in Arab labourers from Pkei'in and Safed at starvation wages. The Jewish Halutzim at the farm soon voiced their opposition to this. In October 1909 the Kommuna, led by Ben Katnelson * and Israel Bloch, called a strike against the management, ostensibly brought about by the autocratic manager's refusal to let workers visit a sick comrade in hospital at Tiberias.
Ruppin's response was to sack both management and workers:
"The only way out was to relieve a group of the most experienced workers from the direction of the administrator and to settle them, as a separate unit and on their own
responsibility, on part of the land owned at Deganiah. The contract with this group, drawn U]]] in the heat of the strike, contained only a few paragraphs."
The success of the "HaHoresh" group Sejera had convinced Ruppin that this form of settlement was an ideal way of using the youthful idealism and self-sacrificing devotion of the pioneering communal groups. it was cheaper to settle a temporary workers' collective on the land than to hand it unprepared to middle-class farming families, and the initial defence and security problems were also well handled by the group's' own armed and mounted guards.
Five workers from Kinneret signed a contract for one year with the Zionist Organisation, and six men and a woman, including one member of "HaKommuna HaRomnit", moved .o the 3,000 dunams of land, then still called Umm-Juni, newly purchased by the JNF on the East bank of the Jordan on the shores ~f the Sea of Galilee. The group occupied 1,200 dunams of the uncultivated land, and set about preparing a collective farm settlement. The environment
was harsh and malarial, and they used unconventional methods.
The farm was a failure but this was still the first attempt by
the Zionist Organisation to establish a co-operative farming settlement.
The rest of "HaKommuna HaRomnit" left Kinneret in December 1909 for Hadera, where with other Jewish workers they formed a new commune - "HaKommuna HaHedratit" (the H era Commune), living
in an Arab khan and finding separate employment on various Jewish-owned farms.
As yet, the idea of establishing and maintaining a permanent communal settlement had occurred to very few. The aims of such groups remained self-defence and trailblazing, living as a mobile group. Only when the question of child rearing became acute would this position come to be questioned.
THE ELECTIONS OF 1908 AND ATTEMPTS TO UNITE THE YISHUV
Before taking up his new duties in Jaffa, Ruppin had spent five months investigating the colonisation situation in Palestine and concluded, in a Memorandum to the Zionist Organisation' s
Smaller Actions Committee, that "the Yishuv was not yet ripe for
an autonomous existence within the Turkish Empire" (Sachar).
The Turkish revolution, however, altered the picture dramatically and raised practical questions of organisation and political
representation. The legal status of Jews changed. The idea of
millet persisted, but the new participatory structure of elected
representatives at an Istanbul (Constantinople) parliament
became more important - "the hakham bashi * was no longer the only
certified representative before the authorities" (Kolatt). The
belief that the Yishuv should have parliamentary representation was almost universal, but the Jewish community was completely
divided and there was no agreement as to how any political
activity should be organised.
Under the Electoral Law, elections were on the college system, with 1 elector per 12,000 local voters. In the indirect regional elections, only 4 Jewish electors were chosen in Palestine, as compared with 140 Moslem and 30 Christian electors. The scattered nature of the Yishuv as well as its smallness had conspired to make the issue of Jewish politics in the new government one of almost academic interest only.
The ''Political Zionist" aim of obtaining concessions from the Turks by diplomacy was further away than ever now that the Empire had become constitutional. The way forward now appeared
to be through the "Practical Zionist" path of strengthening the
Yishuv. In the words of Israel Kolatt:
"Many of the Zionists saw the importance of the new regime not in terms of participation in the government but rather in terms of freedom for Zionist activity for which they had always hoped. While the members of the Yishuv valued organisation, the Palestine Office seems to have felt that the focal point should be expansion through land purchase, the founding of co-operative settlements and farms to train workers, and the encouragement of all branches of the Jewish economy; the organisation of the existing Yishuv was a secondary matter.
Nonetheless, attempts were made, following the debacle in
the elections, to organise the Yishuv as a whole. The moshavot pressed for this to be under a federal structure, rather than through a central body elected by majoritarian voting, feeling
themselves to be "the most important part, from the standpoint of
a normal economic existence", of the Yishuv, and feared
domination by the numerically-stronger Old Yishuv. An attempt to expand the old Palestine Council failed, and it was replaced by
the "Permanent Executive Committee" of representatives of various organisations and factions. This became the official co-ordinating body of the Yishuv, but from this time on the WZO's Palestine Office began to grow in authority.
THE MERHAVIA FARM (1910) AND EXPERIMENTS IN COMMUNAL LIVING
In 1909, Joshua Hankin arranged to purchase from a rich Turkish family 9,500 dunams of land at Kafr Fuleh in the fertile Jezre'el Valley ("HaEmeq"), where a private Russian Jewish investor was seeking to set up a 1,000 dunam farm. The JCA, Hankin's employers, could not afford the remaining 8,500 dunams. Hankin offered the land to the Palestine Office in Jaffa. 3,500 dunams were bought by the JNF, and the PLDC bought the rest on behalf and with the funds of a co-operative colonisation society organised by the economist and sociologist Franz Oppenheimer. Here "Merhavia" Farm was to be set up as the experimental model for a series of enterprises to demonstrate Oppenheimer's principle of "peaceful competition". Herzl had approved the scheme in 1903, and it fitted in well with Ruppin's colonisation schemes. Oppenheimer advocated large-scale agricultural operations because of the technical advantages, with collective ownership of all capital and stock of the enterprise and co- operative rather than wage labour - although he had recommended rewards for effort and achievement, an idea discarded at Merhavia.
A group from "HaShomer" and some members of "HaKommuna HaHedratit" moved onto the site in 19I(~O and despite difficulties succeeded in establishing a co-operate farm; however at this stage it was still under the direction of an administrator, Agronom Dyk, and the inevitable friction soon developed once the permanent workers - an inchoate group ~f diverse backgrounds -moved onto the site.
"HaKommuna HaHedratit" considered moving to the Merhavia lands of the JNF, where a moshava was to be established, but
Ruppin suggested they should instead replace the occupational
group at Umm-Juni. On 28th October 1910 ten men and two women
of the Kommuna, under the ideological leadership of Yosef Bussel, went there to establish an independent community. The Palestine Office provided them with buildings, but they refused to move into them because Arabs had worked on their construction. They did not occupy replacement homes until 1d112. The Palestine Office provided them with some initial farm equipment and were supposed to pay a small monthly wage (reckoned inn Swiss Francs). There were also initial hesitations about accepting wage-labourers, since this would put the settlers in the position of employers, but over the next four years many people came to the Kommuna to work, and some stayed, becoming members (joining was informal) of the commune or permanent workers - these included many Yemenites who brought families and even parents with them. Thus, "During the early days of settlement there were three types of workers in the new community. The most prominent w re the members of the
cohesive Hadera Group. In addition, new arrivals in the country also participated as members with equal rights. ... Finally, there were some workers who had joined the community on a
temporary basis, and so remained without a voice in the conduct
of the settlement's affairs" (Porat).
The question of the allowances to be paid by the ZO raised basic questions about the status of women. At the beginning of negotiations for the contract to settle the land there was opposition to listing women on the membership roll, the men claiming the women were merely "independent contractors" rendering domestic services to the farm workers. The two women almost walked out (one later did), but even after they were enrolled as members the Palestine Office decided to pay women only if they were working, and only 25 (not 30) Francs for expectant women and mothers. Child rearing was not in fact encouraged by the group because of the uncertain security situation and because the contract stated that the group was only a temporary pioneering unit so it was unclear whether they would attempt to establish a permanent settlement or disband. The women remained dissatisfied with their role, and attempts were made to change the pattern of work so as to bring them more within the productive sector.
There were no managerial committees - all decisions were made collectively until 1914. The collective did not run entirely smoothly. The Hadera Commune's dominant position disturbed the social equilibrium, and many workers left in
quarrels over remuneration for unequal work; but in 1911 a good harvest was brought in and additional ii stock purchased. The group stayed on, and named their settlement "Deganiah" ("Cornflower").
After the sacking of the entire personnel at Meshek Kinneret
(Kinneret Farm) in 1909, Ruppin had begun to question the
traditional system of supervisors:
It soon became evident that the system could not be maintained. There were no agronomists who, in addition to their agricultural equipment, had an understanding for the psychology of the revolutionary youth which had come to Palestine from Russia."
In August 1910, a small group of Jews convened in Romni and drew up a written constitution for founding a commune in Palestine whose aim would be "to foster the national and social liberation of the Jews." Prominent amongst this group were Josef Trumpeldor *, a young lawyer who had lost an arm and been imprisoned by the Japanese in the 1904-5 war, and Zvi Schatz, who was not a Zionist but a social idealist who pioneered the idea of voluntary communal living because he feint it immoral to exploit others or to submit to exploitation. In the summer of 1911 their commune was established at the Migdal Training Farm in Lower Galilee.
For the Second Aliyah, the Galilee had a frontier quality which appealed indefinably to their pioneering idealism. Yosef Baratz of "HaKommuna HaHedratit' and a founder of "Deganiah", wrote later: "We always directed our vision towards the Galil, to
a new place which would require exceptional fortitude, effort and
self-sacrifice." The North became the ideological base of the
Yishuv, displacing in importance the coastal plain settlements of the first colonising wave. Geopolitical considerations also
strongly influenced this desire to settle the north Jordan
valley, however. David Ben-Gurion, in 1q21, stated:
"It is necessary that the water sources, upon which the future of the land depends, should not be outside the borders of the future Jewish homeland. ... For this reason we have always demanded that the land of Israel include the southern banks of the Litani River ,,, the head waters of the Jordan, and the Hauran region from the El Adja spring south of Damascus. All the rivers run from east to west or from north to south. This explains the importance of the Upper Galilee and the Hauran for the entire country. The most important rivers of the Land of Israel are the Jordan, the Litani and the Yarmuk. The Land needs this water."
The JNF was now purchasing lands ~s and when offers and
money became available. "The irregular flow of national capital made it usually impossible both to purchase the land and
immediately to settle it by providing all the equipment needed by
the farmer" (Weintraub, Lissak & Azmon), but because of legal
usufruct requirements, land had to he minimally worked by the landowner. Hence mobile Kvutzot (settlement groups) were formed to settle temporarily on the land mid safeguard it until permanent settlements could be established. Such communities were registered as "Temporary Workers' Settlements", a designation which applied equally to farms which later became permanent communal settlements (Kibbutzim).
In 1911 two agricultural workers' federations were
established - one in Judea, organised in Petah Tiqva, and one in
Galilee. From these bases emerged concepts later adopted by the Histadrut - Jewish national self-sufficiency, independence from other indigenous forces, and organisation of a Jewish workers' commonwealth with a popular defence army. The socialist Jewish Homeland was to be built after all on system of economic and social apartheid, without any attempt at incorporating the Arabs. Another step towards establishing the Zionist utopia was taken when the Kupat Holim (Sick Fund) was launched in 1911. By 1914 it had 2,000 participants benefiting from its medical coverage.
In 1911 a Kvutza (communal group or "Kommuna") was formed at Hulda. Using this collective as a basis, the moribund First Aliyah moshava of Be'er Tuvia was regenerated. There the lands had been worked by Arab harat (hired ploughmen), receiving part of the crop in return. The young generation of Jews had mostly left the colony since no further land was available for them, and the older generation had fallen in debt to Arab moneylenders at
70% interest. Only financial liabilities prevented the
inhabitants abandoning the colony. am 1912 the PLDC acquired 1,000 dunams from planters who had quarrelled and left the settlement, and gave this to the works' commune at Hulda. The German "Ezra" company loaned the JNF money to purchase more land from any colonists who wished to leave. Even this fifth attempt to found a colony at Qastina failed. 'The kvutza, like all the others, had a shifting membership and soon the Halutzim began to disperse - by the outbreak of War, Be'er Tuvia was again a
shrinking colony with overheads still out of all proportion to
In 1912, the Palestine Office demanded that Merhavia should integrate the lands of Deganya and the co-operative transfer to Kinneret, but this was turned down by the settlers.
In 1912 a kvutza was formed at Gan Shmuel near Hadera, and in 1913 a kvutza settled JNF land at Kinneret near the farm and moshava of the same name. Workers? settlements existed at Kfar Saba and 'Ein Ganim, and a commune was set up in Karkur, near Gan
Shmuel. "By 1914 there were fourteen such farms, half of them
barely more than outposts" (Sachar).
In September 1913 Kvutza Achva (Brotherhood Communal Group), an agricultural workers' and producers' co-operative group, was formed with the aim of providing work for Jewish labourers. Po'alei Tzion had long been discussing the formation of such a group. It was organised without a loan from the Palestine Office, being funded entirely from the pooled wages of its members. Until the outbreak of the War it did not emphasise living communally, but concentrated on sharing resources and knowledge. It was a large kvutza of over a hundred members which specialised in teaching ohm how to work, through the "Ma'avar" (Transition) organisation at Petah Tiqva. Hundreds of ohm passed through its training schemes. It began at Petah Tiqva, ploughing on a contract basis and owning its own ploughs and draught animals, and later members worked in the citrus groves
and vineyards of Miqve Israel and Nes Tziona. All its male members joined the Jewish Battalion when the British Army entered Palestine, and they revived the kvutza on demobilisation.
"HaShomer" on the eve of the War had 40 members, about 60
candidates for membership, and could deploy about 300
"auxiliaries" during the harvest. Four squads operated round the plantation villages of Judea alone, and 100 men -- members and candidates -- were on permanent call throughout Palestine. Self-- defence was now being accepted by more moshavot. By the outbreak of the War, "The Yishuv was demanding more guards than the Shomer could supply, and the guild's three--man executive agreed that Jewish self--defence would have to be de--professionalised; in time
of danger all farmers and workers should be capable of bearing
arms" (Sachar). In the Galilee, it was already claimed that
"workers held the ploughshare with one hand and a gun in the
other hand" (Baratz).
The increasing number of Watchman families was becoming a problem. Some -- such as Mendel (Menachem) and Tovah Portugali --were suggesting the formation of a permanent settlement where families could be concentrated and the children raised to be Shomrim of the future, on the pattern of a Cossack village in which women ran the economy (i.e. did all the work) whilst the "warriors"" fought elsewhere, returning between battles. In 1914, Israel Gil'adi and Menachem Portugali took over lands at Tel Adashim. They lived in a nearby Arab khan and began fencing in
an enclosure for the settlement, which it was intended would become not merely a base for "HaShomer" but a viable farm. Soon after the transfer of families was made, Turkey entered the War on the side of the European Central Powers.
A large number of Shomrim from all over Palestine became concentrated in the Tel Adashim community, now the "HaShomer" headquarters, and this was a great social and economic burden. Strained relations detracted from the application of collective principles, and two factions emerged, one wanting Tel Adashim to be a community of farm workers alone, the other -- lid by Gil'adi --seeing it as a centre for Jewish national self--defence.
In 1915 Gil'adi and his faction set out for Mesha to form there a community based on collective principles in both ownership and military matters. Disagreements soon arose, both within the group over a wages formula and with the villagers' attitudes to the local Arabs -- the farmers favouring the fostering of good relations but the Shomrim generally considering the physical safety of the settlement first and being abrasive.
Gil'adi appealed to Haim Kalvarisky of the PJCA for help in founding a settlement elsewhere. Lands at Hamara on the Hazbani (?Iyyon) River in Upper Galilee were given. In October 1917 the group trekked north, hut having an insufficient budget to settle they lived near Metullah, hiring themselves out as guards whilst
beginning to cultivate the lands. In May 1918 the commune settled permanently on the site, re-naming it Kfar Gil'adi.
THE YISHUV DURING THE GREAT WAR
The Yishuv suffered greatly during the War years. The Jewish population was reduced to 57,000 as a result of natural disasters, disease, emigration and deportation. Some Jews joined the Ottoman Army. Many of the Yishuv's leading organisers, including Ruppin (who was replaced at the Palestine Office for the duration by Jacob Thon) and leaders of political groupings, were exiled. Exports from the established colonies were hit, the Anglo-Palestine Bank closed, and prices rose whilst jobs and wages decreased. "Beyond the political dangers facing the Yishuv, arrests and persecution by the Turkish military
authorities, economic ruin and acute hunger threatened the
working-class community and its institutions" (Laqueur).
Immigration ceased completely until late 1919, despite the famine and upheavals in the Russian Pale, with the result that social life, especially in the small kvutzot, stagnated. The roads from the Haifa a coast to Nazareth and Galilee were cut, making the situation in the Galilee particularly hard.
To cope with food shortages, a central buying and selling
co-operative, "HaMashbir" (The Provisioner) was established.
Many kvutzot were formed in the towns, living communally on a
basis of complete sharing, to overcome wartime scarcities. Some of these groups persisted after the War.
Some kvutzot continued to settle rurally despite the War. The collective at Merhavia sacked its administrator just before the outbreak of the War and set itself up as a commune. In 1918 a kvutza moved onto JCA lands in Upper Galilee and in 1919 founded the settlement of Ayelet HaShachar (The Gazelle of the Dawn?) - in 1921 this would be the first settlement to be registered as a Kibbutz.
However, many existing kvutzot were adversely affected by Wartime conditions. Some were forcibly evacuated by the Turkish authorities in the face of the British advance. Others suffered increased problems of consolidation. Deganiah tried to grow scarce wheat in preference to intensive farming, and hired Jewish workers (mostly from Tiberias) who soon penetrated what had been a small and close-knit group although not as haverim (members -literally, comrades). Some haverim protested at this widespread use of paid labour and some left. On 31st March 1918, with Deganiah expecting a deficit due to falling wheat prices as the British arrived, Josef Bussel proposed a return to small-scale mixed farming and a limit of 25 members. (The group at that point had 50 working men living at Deganiah.) This was agreed.
The JNF divided the Umm-Juni lands into three parts, with the
intention of establishing two more communes, Deganiot B and C.
Land purchases were also halted by the war. "In 1914, the
acquisition of an additional 838,000 Turkish dunams was in
various stages of negotiation with Jewish purchasers" (Stein).
Much of this was in the fertile Emeq (Jezre'el Valley), a broad plain well served by road and rail linking the north Sharon Plain with the Jordan Valley and Lower Galilee. De Rothschild and the Russian sugar magnate Brodski had given money to the JCA for the
purchase of 20,000 dunams in Meshach, adjoining Merhavia, for
which Hankin had been negotiating in 1913. During the War, and
for two years after, land purchases were prohibited by law; but the money was a great help to the JCA.
A further important if not at the time widely recognised step towards eventual statehood was taken in 1914 when a young Jewish war-correspondent in Egypt, Vladimir (Ze'ev) Jabotinsky *, heard of the deportation of hundreds of young Russian Jews from Palestine by the Turkish authorities. In 1904-5 he, like many of the deportees, had participated in organising self-defence groups during the pogroms.
Jabotinsky helped form the Zion Mule Corps of Jewish soldiers and later strove to persuade the British to form a Jewish Legion. This was finally announced in August 1917, consisting of three battalions, to be raised one each in Palestine, the U.S.A. and the U.K. One of the aims of the Palestinian Battalion was "to create the nucleus of a future
Jewish militia, which will be set up for the defence of the
country after its conquest."
The Legion had symbolic more than practical importance. Recruitment was organised by Eliahu Golomb, who believed the militia should become permanent and if stationed in Palestine would demonstrate to the Arabs that the Jews were well prepared and ready to defend themselves, and therefore would act as a deterrent. A trained and well-armed Jewish battalion would do more than simply protect the Yishuv - a .Jewish army was a political symbol.
Jabotinsky, although a firm pacifist in his youth, had come to believe that 'however many agricultural settlements were
established, they would be defenceless in the absence of Jewish
military units (Laqueur) and that military training and
discipline were important for a people who had for so long been defenceless strangers in other people's countries. He hoped the Legion would be the start of a Jewish Army, under British control at first if necessary.
However, by far the most important development for the Yishuv of the War years was the Balfour Declaration in November 1917. The British occupation of Palestine, where the recently- published Declaration stated that His Majesty's Government promised to facilitate the establishment of a National Home for the Jewish People, changed the whole colonisation picture considerably. "Suddenly, the possibility of the rapid settlement of Jews in Palestine was no longer in the realms of fantasy, but
became an immediate reality" (Porat). The basis for this had already been laid by the First and Second Aliyot. "Everything was on a small scale, much was merely inchoate or experimental. But a national life was there in miniature" wrote the anonymous author of "Palestine and Jewish Nationalism" in 'The Round Table" of March 1918. The Turks had gone, and having achieved recognition of their right to a Homeland the next task of the Zionists was to use the British as an umbrella beneath which to create a fully-fledged independent State.