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Territorialism was a Jewish political movement calling for creation of a sufficiently large and compact Jewish territory (or territories), not necessarily in the Land of Israel and not necessarily fully autonomous.

Before 1905 some Zionist leaders took seriously proposals for Jewish homelands in places other than Palestine. Theodor Herzl's Der Judenstaat argued for a Jewish state in either Palestine, "our ever-memorable historic home", or Argentina, "one of the most fertile countries in the world". Many of the socialist Zionist groups were more territorialist than Zionist, such as Nachman Syrkin's Zionist Socialist Workers Party (the Z.S.).

The Jewish Colonization Association, created on 1891 by the Baron Maurice de Hirsch, was aimed at facilitating mass emigration of Jews from Russia and other Eastern European countries, by settling them in agricultural colonies on lands purchased by the committee, particularly in North and South America (especially Argentina).

In 1903 British cabinet ministers suggested the British Uganda Program, land for a Jewish state in "Uganda" (actually in modern Kenya). Herzl initially rejected the idea, preferring Palestine, but after the April 1903 Kishinev pogrom Herzl introduced a controversial proposal to the Sixth Zionist Congress to investigate the offer as a temporary measure for Russian Jews in danger. Notwithstanding its emergency and temporary nature, the proposal still proved very divisive, and widespread opposition to the plan was demonstrated by a walkout led by the Russian Jewish delegation to the Congress. Few historians believe that such a settlement scheme could have attracted immigrants, Jewish financial support, or international political support. Since there was strong support on the part of some members of the Zionist leadership, however, peace was kept in the movement by the time-honored parliamentary maneuver of voting to establish a committee for the investigation of the possibility, which was not finally dismissed until the 7th Zionist Congress in 1905.[1]

In response to this, the Jewish Territorialist Organization (ITO) led by Israel Zangwill split off from the Zionist movement. It attempted to locate territory suitable for Jewish settlement in various parts of America (e.g. Galveston), Africa, Asia, and Australia, but with little success. The ITO was dissolved in 1925.

Apart from the (ITO), within the USSR there was also a Territorialist effort in Ukraine, the Crimea and then in a region surrounding Birobidzhan, where a Jewish Autonomous Region was established in 1934.[2] (The Jewish Autonomous Oblast (JAO) (Russian: Евре́йская автоно́мная о́бласть, Yevreyskaya avtonomnaya oblast; Yiddish: ייִדישע אווטאָנאָמע געגנט, yidishe avtonome gegnt) is still today an autonomous oblast situated in Russia's far east.)

In the face of the looming Nazi genocide, Isaac Nachman Steinberg established the Freeland League in the United States in 1935. This organization attempted, unsuccessfully, to pursue Jewish autonomy by obtaining a large piece of territory in sparsely populated areas in Ecuador, Australia, or Surinam. One of the more well-known ventures was the Kimberley Plan, to secure land in Australia. [3] After the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, Steinberg had criticized the exclusivist politics of the Zionist government and continued his attempts to create a non-nationalist Jewish settlement in some other region of the world. After Steinberg's death in 1957 the Freeland League was led by Mordkhe Schaechter, who gradually changed the focus of the organization to more cultural, Yiddishist goals.

The 2007 alternate history detective story "The Yiddish Policemen's Union" by American author Michael Chabon, inspired by the 1939 Slattery Report and based on the premise that after World War II, a temporary Yiddish-speaking settlement for Jewish refugees was established in Alaska in 1941 while the State of Israel was destroyed shortly after its creation in 1948, can be considered a Territorialist alternate history (though the writer does not necessarily share the ideology of the Territorialist movement).

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Simple English

Territorialism, also known as Statism (but not to be confused with another belief also called statism), was a Jewish political movement. Jewish people wanted some land to live in that was big enough for them. It did not necessarily have to be in the land where the country of Israel is today, and it did not necessarily have to be its own country.

Development of territorialism

Before 1905, some Zionist leaders were thinking about making places for Jews to call home other than Palestine. Theodor Herzl's Der Judenstaat argued for a Jewish state in either Palestine, "our ever-memorable historic home", or Argentina, "one of the most fertile countries in the world". ("Fertile" means land where it is easy to grow crops. Many of the socialist Zionist groups were more territorialist than Zionist, such as Nachman Syrkin's Zionist Socialist Workers Party (the Z.S.).

The Jewish Colonization Association, started in 1891 by the Baron Maurice de Hirsch, was started to help move many Jews from Russia and other Eastern European countries. It wanted to move them to land where they could grow food and that it would buy. It had in mind land in North and South America (especially Argentina).

In 1903, British cabinet ministers suggested the British Uganda Program, land for a Jewish state in "Uganda" (the land they were thinking about is actually in the modern country of Kenya). At first, Herzl said no to the idea, because he liked Palestine better. After the April 1903 Kishinev pogrom, in which many Jews were violently attacked in Russia, Herzl suggested to the Sixth Zionist Congress to look at the offer as a temporary way to keep Russian Jews safe. The plan was very controversial, and many Russian Jews were so upset that they walked out of the meeting. Few historians believe that such a settlement idea could have attracted immigrants, received much money in donations, or been supported by many other countries. Because some members of the Zionist leadership liked the idea, however, peace was kept in the movement because they voted to start a committee to look at the possibility. They did not officially say no to the idea until the 7th Zionist Congress in 1905.[1] Because of this, the Jewish Territorialist Organization (ITO) led by Israel Zangwill split off from the Zionist movement. It tried to find land where Jews could settle in different parts of America (e.g. Galveston), Africa, Asia, and Australia, but with little success. The ITO broke up in 1925.

Apart from the (ITO), within the USSR there was also a Territorialist effort in Ukraine, the Crimea and then in a region around Birobidzhan, where a Jewish Autonomous Region was started in 1934.[2]

As the Holocaust become close and as Nazis were discriminating against Jews in Germany, Isaac Nachman Steinberg started the Freeland League in the United States in 1935. This organization tried, but did not succeed, to start a new Jewish country by getting a large piece of land in places in Ecuador, Australia, or Suriname where not many people lived. One of the more well-known tries was the Kimberley Plan, to get land in Australia.[3] After the State of Israel was created in 1948, Steinberg had criticized the exclusivist politics of the Zionist government and continued his attempts to create a non-nationalist Jewish settlement in some other part of the world. After Steinberg died in 1957, the Freeland League was led by Mordkhe Schaechter, who gradually changed the focus of the organization to more cultural, Yiddishist goals.

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