Nostalgia Sunday – Labor Zionism in posters

May 1, 2011 - 7:11 PM by

The Labor Movement in Israel website focuses on the history of the Movement from the beginning of Zionist settlement at the end of the 19th century up to 1977. The initiative for the creation of this site came from the Berl Katznelson Foundation, the Founders’ Foundation and a group of academic researchers in this field who wished to record the historical significance of Movement’s achievements from a variety of perspectives: historical, cultural and socio-economic.

The site also includes a wonderful gallery of Labor Movement posters. Presented here are a few May 1st posters — many more may be found online.

The modern State of Israel’s history is so intertwined with that of the Socialist movement that a bit of background is necessary. Here’s a short history, courtesy of the Labor Party Archives site:

“The Workers Party of Eretz Israel (Mapai) was founded in 1930 through the unification of two workers’ parties, Achdut Ha’avoda and Hapoel Hatzair. In 1932 the worldwide organizations affiliated with each of these two parties were also united, under the heading of Ichud Olami (World Union). From its inception, Mapai, which was a Zionist Socialist party, became the main political entity in the Jewish settlements in Palestine. It also headed the largest labor union, the Histadrut (General Federation of Labor) as well as the Jewish Agency and the Haganah defense forces.

” Mapai, and as of 1968 the Labor Party (Avodah), remained at the forefront of the State until 1977, forming the basis for every successive government. Among its leaders over the years were David Ben-Gurion, Berl Katznelson, Yitzhak Tabenkin, Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, Haim Arlozorov, Moshe (Shertok) Sharett, Eliahu Golomb, Golda Meir, David Remez, Yosef Shprinzak and Eliezer Kaplan. Through the years other persons joined the leadership of the party, among them Levi Eshkol, Pinhas Lavon, Pinhas Sapir, Moshe Dayan, Abba Eban, Shimon Peres, Yigal Alon, Israel Galili and Yitzhak Rabin.”

The Moshe Sharett Labor Party Archive was founded in 1965 as part of the Berl Katznelson Foundation, and was recognized by the government of Israel as a public archive, subject to the stipulations of the Archives Law. The source materials of this historical, administrative and documentational archive reflect the history of the party and of other organizations to this day.

Many of these materials — including hand-written texts by Rachel the poet — have been scanned and posted online in a Virtual Museum. There are also more posters there, too.

In the real world, the Archive is located at the main library in Beit Berl College. The documents housed there include protocols of party conferences, meetings of the Board (Moetza), of the Central Committee (Merkaz), of the Executive (Lishkah), of the Secretariat (Mazkirut), of various committees and other institutions; correspondence of the Central Committee with local branches; reports of emissaries representing the party abroad; correspondence with the Histadrut and Zionist institutions; background material for election campaigns (to the Assembly (Asefat Hanivcharim), the Histadrut, party conferences, Zionist congresses and the Knesset); documents from the Chairman’s office; documents of the Secretary General’s office; correspondence and publications of different departments and divisions of the party.

It also includes the archives of the offices of the World Union of Poa’alei Zion; the archive of the Rafi Party; minutes of meetings of the Alignment (Maarach) executive, the archive of the Ichud Olami (World Union) and the Zionist Labor Movement; the archive of Berl Katznelson Foundation.

“All of these documents relate to topics which were on the Party’s agenda: realization of the Socialist Zionist ideology in Eretz Israel; defense and security; settlement; safeguarding workers’ rights; encouraging emigration to Israel and helping in the resettlement of newcomers; developing the economy; crises, schisms and internal struggles; co-operation with the Socialist International Movement and with other Social Democratic parties, political initiatives and promoting the efforts towards peace with the Arab countries.”

Labor Zionism today is active via the World Labor Zionist Movement, which has affiliates in countries around the world, such as Ameinu in the US and Australia, Associação Moshé Sharett in Brazil and the Jewish Labour Movement in the United Kingdom. In Israel, Labor Zionism is identified with the Israeli peace camp.

If you’re interested in learning more about Labor Zionism, the Wikipedia entry is a great place to start.


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