Beyond Zion

BookBeyond Zion

Beyond Zion

The Jewish Territorialist Movement

The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization


May 1st, 2022



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Jewish political and cultural behaviour during the first half of the twentieth century comes to the fore in this portrayal of a forgotten movement with contemporary relevance. Commencing with the Zionist rejection of the Uganda proposal in 1905, the Jewish Territorialist Movement searched for areas outside Palestine in which to create settlements of Jews. This study analyses the Territorialists’ ideology and activities in the Jewish context of the time, but their thought and discourse also reflect geopolitical concerns that still have resonance today in debates about colonialist attitudes to peoplehood, territory, and space. As the colonial world order rapidly changed after 1945, the Territorialists did not abandon their aspirations in overseas lands. Instead, in their attempts to find settlement solutions for Europe’s ‘surplus’ Jews, they moved from negotiating predominantly with the European colonizers to negotiating also with the ever more powerful non-Western leaders of decolonizing nations.

This book reconstructs the rich history of the activities and changing ideologies of Jewish Territorialism, represented by Israel Zangwill’s Jewish Territorial Organisation (the ITO) and, later, by the Freeland League for Jewish Colonization under the leadership of Isaac Steinberg. Via Uganda, Angola, Madagascar, Australia, and Suriname, this story eventually leads us to questions about yidishkeyt, and to forgotten early twentieth-century ideas of how to be Jewish.

‘Laura Almagor offers us a biography of an entire though largely forgotten movement. It is especially relevant to recall this story at a moment of fierce contestation between globalization and a resurgent, territorially based ethnocentric nationalism. What other forms of collective political organization than the nation-state have been proposed over time? How do they hold up? Almagor's study pushes us toward those questions.’ David Myers, Professor of Jewish History, UCLA

‘In clear and compelling prose, Beyond Zion provides a window onto Jewish international strategies following the collapse of the post-World War I order.’ David Engel, New York University

Author Information

Laura Almagor is a lecturer in twentieth-century European history at the University of Sheffield, and was previously a teaching fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She has held fellowships at the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies, the Center for Jewish History in New York City, and the Central European University in Budapest.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
List of Figures11
List of Abbreviations12
Note on Transliteration13
1. Israel Zangwill and the Jewish Territorial Organization29
2. Recovering Atlantis: The Freeland League and Jewish Politics79
3. Freeland versus Zion158
4. Fitting the Zeitgeist: Territorialism and Geopolitics196