“The Pioneers of Palestine (Chalutzim) are not merely revolutionizing their new country, they are revolutionizing our ideas of a peasant population and even of economics,” writes Col. Josiah Wedgewood, M.P., in the special issue of the “Pro-Palestine Herald”, in an article entitled “The Pilgrim Fathers of Palestine.”
THE REVOLUTIONARY CHALUTZIM
Discussing the colonization methods in Palestine before the advent of Zionist activity there, Col. Wedgwood says: “There is nothing very exciting about the old Jewish colonies which were being founded on charitable lines by Baron Edmund de Rothschild from 1878 onwards. The first waves were plantation colonies and Petah Tikvah, Richon-le-Zion, Zichron Jacob, and Rosh Pinah have done well enough commercially with oranges, wine and tobacco…. But most of the old Jewish settlers are not now working on the land; they are following the example of the old Wurtemburg colonists at Sarona alongside; they are directing and leave the natives to do the work. Yet every true Jew knows that Jews will never be natives of Palestine till they do the work themselves.”
Tracing the development of the Rothschild colonies, Pica Colonies, (Palestine Colonization Association), he points out that they dropped the expensive plantations and went in like the natives for growing cereals, but on a larger scale. But they were not very prosperous and these colonists tended “to drop to the native level of comfort, and Jews cannot afford to sink in their homeland.”
These were the conditions when the Zionist Organization began to take in hand the colonization of Palestine. The establishment of the forty-one of the new free colonies, states Col. Wedgwood, changed the whole prospect of a Jewish Palestine.
“They learnt from the older colonies that their settlements must be based on self-labor and must carry mixed farmingâ€”feeding themselves. Plantations, even small ones, are too expensive, for they must take years to come into bearing; cereals require too much land, and the Zionists had neither the land nor the capital, so they were forced into mixed farming, and they were forced into the Kvutzah or cheap communal colony. Necessity and experience worked together to bring about the great change.”
These communal colonies represent the new society of Zion. The workers are aware that they are building for their children and their homeland and it is this courage and this enterprise which Col. Wedgwood pays tribute to in “The Pilgrim Fathers of Palestine.”
“Labor Palestine”, published monthly by the League for Labor Palestine made its first appearance last month. Its aim is to “acquaint” the progressive elements of American Jewry with the aims, efforts and achievements of organized Jewish labor in Palestine”. The first issue contains articles on the various contributions of organized labor to the upbuilding of Palestine. David Ben Gurion writes on the origins, aims and achievements of the “Histadruth”, The General Jewish Federation of Labor in Palestine. A. Brudni discusses the “Economic Achievements of Jewish Labor in Palestine.” The magazine also contains the reprint of Dr. Chaim Arlosoroff’s article entitled “What Can Palestine Offer to the German Jews?”