District heads of the Hit’aḥadut party in Poland, Łódź, 1946. On the wall are portraits of (left to right) Zionist leaders Chaim Arlozoroff, Aharon David Gordon, and Berl Katznelson. (The Ghetto Fighters’ Museum/Israel)

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A Labor Zionist party established in 1920 uniting the Po‘el ha-Tsa‘ir (Young Workers) party of Palestine with members of Tse‘ire Tsiyon (Zionist Youth) in the Diaspora. The formal name of Hit’aḥadut, which means union, changed more than once before 1932 when the party amalgamated with Po‘ale Tsiyon (Workers of Zion) in the Iḥud ‘Olami (World Union).

Chapters of Tse‘ire Tsiyon emerged, mainly in the Pale of Settlement, shortly after 1900. The group was devoted to practical Zionist work, and particularly stressed preparation for emigration to the Land of Israel. The relationship of Tse‘ire Tsiyon to socialism was a focus of continuing debate. In Palestine, Jewish workers, many of whom had been members of Tse‘ire Tsiyon, founded Histadrut ha-Po‘alim ha-Tse‘irim be-Erets Yisra’el (Organization of Young Workers in the Land of Israel); in October 1905, it was renamed Mifleget ha-Po‘el ha-Tsa‘ir (Party of Young Workers).

In August 1913, during the Eleventh Zionist Congress in Vienna, 30 representatives of Tse‘ire Tsiyon and 26 delegates of Ha-Po‘el ha-Tsa‘ir met. They agreed to maintain close contacts between the two groups, with the option of concluding a formal agreement or federation. Discussions of the position on socialism did not lead to consensus or resolution, however. Nor was this question resolved at a much larger conference of Tse‘ire Tsiyon held in Petrograd in May 1917. At the time, the movement claimed 26,000 members in Russia. Debates over the political platform were intense; eventually, a majority decided to refer to the group as a popular faction. With this stance, the party identified with workers and the oppressed and hoped eventually to create a socialist society in the Land of Israel, but it rejected class struggle as the basis for the liberation of Jews in the Diaspora. In sum, the Popular Faction regarded Zionism as a national and egalitarian movement. The movement grew and set up the youth groups Tse‘ire Tsiyon or Ha-Po‘el ha-Tsa‘ir in Eastern Europe and the Americas.

A founding conference of the Hit’aḥadut was held in March 1920 in Prague. A working committee was delegated to formulate a platform that was presented at a conference in Berlin in 1922 attended by 40 representatives of groups in 12 countries. The platform stressed the key values of the two groups: labor that does not exploit; pioneer settlement of Palestine; Hebrew culture; working toward a socialist society in Palestine; and the promotion of productive occupations among Jews in the Diaspora.

The party was quite successful in organizing chapters of He-Ḥaluts in various countries, especially Poland (where thousands of members formed more than 100 chapters, and produced the newspaper Folk un land), but also in the Soviet Union (mainly Ukraine). Hebrew culture was promoted and strong linkages were formed between the Tarbut school movement and Hit’aḥadut, whose ranks included many teachers. In the 1920s, Hit’aḥadut also fostered the establishment of the Gordonia youth movement, named for Aharon David Gordon

During the 1920s, Hit’aḥadut expanded its activities in various countries and participated actively in Diaspora political life. Its members served on municipal councils and were elected as deputies to several European parliaments, notably in Poland where, at one point in the 1920s, four Hit’aḥadut deputies were elected.

The formal amalgamation of Hit’aḥadut with Po‘ale Tsiyon as the Iḥud ‘Olami took place at a conference in Gdańsk in August 1932. This paralleled the merging of the Ha-Po‘el ha-Tsa‘ir and Aḥdut ha-‘Avodah parties in Palestine.

Suggested Reading

Shlomo Derech and Ze’ev Otits, eds., Mifleget hit’aḥadut be-Polin ben shete milḥamot ha-‘olam (Tel Aviv, 1988); Ezra Mendelsohn, Zionism in Poland: The Formative Years, 1915–1926 (New Haven, 1981).



Translated from Hebrew by Rami Hann