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Zionism without Zion

The Jewish Territorial Organization and Its Conflict with the Zionist Organization

Gur Alroey

History, Jewish Studies, European History, Israel and Middle East

Published: May 2016
ISBN: 9780814342060
Pages: 288 Size: 6 x 9
Illustrations: 13 b&w illus.
Published: May 2016
ISBN: 9780814342077

While the ideologies of Territorialism and Zionism originated at the same time, the Territorialists foresaw a dire fate for Eastern European Jews, arguing that they could not wait for the Zionist Organization to establish a Jewish state in Palestine. This pessimistic worldview led Territorialists to favor a solution for the Jewish state "here and now"—and not only in the Land of Israel. In Zionism without Zion: The Jewish Territorial Organization and Its Conflict with the Zionist Organization, author Gur Alroey examines this group’s unique perspective, its struggle with the Zionist movement, its Zionist rivals’ response, and its diplomatic efforts to obtain a territory for the Jewish people in the first decades of the twentieth century.

Alroey begins by examining the British government’s Uganda Plan and the ensuing crisis it caused in the Zionist movement and Jewish society. He details the founding of the Jewish Territorial Organization (ITO) in 1903 and explains the varied reactions that the Territorialist ideology received from Zionists and settlers in Palestine. Alroey also details the diplomatic efforts of Territorialists during their desperate search for a suitable territory, which ultimately never bore fruit. Finally, he attempts to understand the reasons for the ITO’s dissolution after the Balfour Declaration, explores the revival of Territorialism with the New Territorialists in the 1930s and 1940s, and describes the similarities and differences between the movement then and its earlier version.

Zionism without Zion sheds new light on the solutions Territorialism proposed to alleviate the hardship of Eastern European Jews at the start of the twentieth century and offers fresh insights into the challenges faced by Zionism in the same era. The thorough discussion of this under-studied ideology will be of considerable interested to scholars of Eastern European history, Jewish history, and Israel studies.

Gur Alroey is professor in the department of Israel Studies at the University of Haifa. He is also the author of Bread to Eat and Clothes to Wear: Letters from Jewish Migrants in the Early Twentieth Century (Wayne State University Press, 2011) and An Unpromising Land: The Jewish Migration to Palestine in the Early Twentieth Century.

In Zionism without Zion, Gur Alroey, one of today’s leading scholars of Jewish migration, offers the fullest and most searching analysis of the Territorialist movement, one of the least-known but most intriguing of Jewish nationalist movements. Exhaustively researched and beautifully conceived, this book unpacks the ‘Big Bang’ of Territorialism, the ‘Uganda’ proposal by Theodor Herzl to settle Jews in Eastern Africa in 1903. It moves on to chart the ideological current of Territorialism as it snakes its way through Palestine and other possible sites of Jewish settlement. Readers owe Alroey a considerable debt of gratitude for excavating a largely neglected chapter of twentieth-century Jewish history with such verve and texture.

– David N. Myers, Sady and Ludwig Kahn Professor of Jewish History at the University of California, Los Angeles

A learned reminder of the urgency once attached to efforts to locate a Jewish national home outside Palestine. Alroey provides a treasure trove of information regarding a movement that saw itself, not entirely without validity, as the true heir to Theodor Herzl’s original vision.

– Steven J. Zipperstein, Daniel E. Koshland Professor in Jewish Culture and History, Stanford University

In this pioneering study, Gur Alroey reveals an unknown dimension of modern Jewish politics. Territorialism, which flourished during the first two decades of the twentieth century, was both an antagonist and ally of Zionism, as it strove to obtain a territory other than Palestine in which Jews could enjoy sovereignty, foster Jewish observance, and even develop a thriving Hebraic culture. Based on meticulous research, Zionism Without Zion is an innovative and illuminating work.

– Derek J. Penslar, University of Oxford and the University of Toronto

Gur Alroey’s Zionism without Zion profoundly illuminates a long-neglected facet of Jewish history in the modern period. His pioneering research explores the ideology and praxis of the movement to find a territorial home for the distressed Jewish people as an alternative to the Land of Israel: ‘a land for a people rather than a people for a land.’ Alroey insightfully situates the remarkably tenacious, if ultimately frustrated, Territorialist movement within the context of broader Jewish nationalist aspirations as well as the desperate search for migration outlets to relieve Jewish distress. His narrative sparkles with fascinating revelations of the paradoxical affinity with seminal Zionist ideology, which underlay Territorialism’s failed rivalry with the Zionist movement.

– Gideon Shimoni, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Gur Alroey is a historian based at Haifa University who has written two outstanding books on Jewish migration to Palestine in the early 20th century. Zionism without Zion stands in contrast to these earlier histories as it charts the heated debates, within and outside the Zionist movement, about whether Palestine was the most suitable location for a national homeland. . . . No one before Alroey has charted the ideology of Jewish Territorialism so objectively and comprehensively.

– Bryan Cheyette, The Jewish Chronicle Online