The Oldest Guard
Forging the Zionist Settler Past
Liora R. Halperin



Mother of the Colonies

In 1960, the Friedman and Sons Winery in Petah Tikva produced a new special edition liquor to celebrate the ninetieth birthday of Avraham Shapira, one of the last survivors of the city’s first Jewish settler generation and a longstanding patron of the winery.1 The Patron’s Old Brandy featured Shapira’s face on the front label and, on the back, a second image of Shapira on horseback overlooking a cultivated landscape. The act of consumption, the English-language text suggested to local and global consumers, “takes you back to the early years of the mother-colony and the foremost of its defenders, Abraham Shapira, who devoted himself to the defense of its fields and vineyards. . . . We now supply it to persons of discerning taste—for their exquisite enjoyment.” The elderly Shapira personally handed out bottles of the brandy bearing his image to winners of an opening night raffle hosted by a Tel Aviv cinema—the man and his commemorative representation thus appearing on the same stage.2 Consumers partaking of the spirits could simultaneously imbibe a past framed as a site of frontier heroism and successful agriculture, signal middle-class aesthetics, and understand their luxury consumption as a nationalist act.

Shapira was born in 1870 in a part of the Russian Pale of Settlement that is now southeastern Ukraine; he came to Palestine with his family in 1880 and, following stints in Jerusalem and Jaffa, came to Petah Tikva in 1883. Petah Tikva was a private Jewish agricultural colony founded in 1878 by a small group of Ashkenazi Jerusalemites on lands purchased near the Palestinian village of Umlebes, northeast of Jaffa. Facing agricultural failure and inclement weather, its residents abandoned it in 1881, but it was revived two years later on a slightly different site by new settlers, including Shapira’s older brother Michael, whom he soon followed to the colony.3 Avraham Shapira became the renowned head of the Petah Tikva guardsmen and an owner of agricultural lands in the colony.4 He died in 1965, at the age of 95, after living in Petah Tikva through periods of Ottoman, British, and Israeli rule.

FIGURE 2. The Patron’s Old brandy bottles, front and back (two bottle designs). Produced by Friedman & Sons Winery, ca. 1960 (courtesy of Hadi Orr).

Of the nearly sixty thousand residents of Petah Tikva in 1960, who might have seen The Old Patron’s Brandy for sale, the majority had arrived after the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, most of them from post-Holocaust Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa.5 Some of them had been settled by the state in transit camps or government housing constructed on confiscated Palestinian lands and later incorporated into the municipality.6 These newcomers, like several immigrant generations before them, would have become acquainted with Shapira mainly through stylized depictions and public performances that, like the brandy bottle, reliably featured his moustache, pipe, and Arabian horse. As he aged, he had become known by the moniker “the Oldest of the Guards” [zekan ha-shomrim] and remained a sought-after, if sometimes ridiculed, symbol of early Petah Tikva, of late-nineteenth-century private Jewish agricultural settlement more generally, and, most pertinently to those new immigrants, a symbol of the ongoing legacy of Zionism as a settler movement in which they themselves, willingly or not, were participants.

The period of settlement that Petah Tikva participated in and gave rise to is known retrospectively in Zionist discourse and Israeli historiography as the “First Aliyah,” or first wave of Zionist immigration to Palestine (typically dated 1882–1904). Its iconic communities, distinguished by their ongoing private landownership even as the Zionist movement turned toward centralized national models of land acquisition and management, were initially known, in both Hebrew and Yiddish, as kolonyot (sing. kolonya). From the early twentieth century onward this term was replaced by the Hebrew word moshavot (sing. moshava), a translation of the word “colonies” and related to other terms meaning “settlement.” The word “colony” continued to be used in European languages, including by Zionists, until after Israeli statehood, when the word “moshava” began to be used in those languages as well, borrowed from Hebrew untranslated.7 Modern-day Petah Tikva, a bustling (and lovingly ridiculed) city in its own right, is still known by the moniker Em ha-moshavot, “The Mother of the Colonies.”

Shapira’s image—on brandy bottles and in person—evoked not only the 1880s or 1890s, however, but also the decades-long, twentieth-century history that is the subject of this book: the construction and deployment of the “First Aliyah” private colony as iconic place and the landowning farmer-settler-colonist-guardsman as iconic person against the political and cultural backdrops of the twentieth century. The “First Aliyah” emerged as a site of memory,8 object of critique, and, specifically, symbol of private ownership and cultural conservatism. This happened in the context of the ascent and then reign of Labor Zionist leaders who considered the private farmers reactionary and anti-national; a growing Zionist partisanship within which private farmers were largely bit players; the arrival of waves of Jewish immigrants lacking familiarity with the early settlement past; and increasingly evident resistance among the Palestinian Arabs who found themselves displaced and had their national aspirations thwarted by the growth of the Zionist settlement project.

To their Zionist critics, the early colonies were discredited symbols of a failed first step at Jewish settlement. To Palestinian peasants, they were a source of employment within a Zionist ethnic labor hierarchy that exploited them and then increasingly, but never fully, excluded and displaced them. To Palestinian farmers and landowners, they were competitors within a growing export economy.9 To local boosters and advocates of private farming, however, the most prosperous colonies were long-standing symbols of private enterprise, traditional Jewish attachment to the Land of Israel, pragmatic economic policy on behalf of the Jewish nation, and what they regarded as hierarchical coexistence between Jewish owners and the Arab workers they hired, against the protestations of Labor Zionists who insisted on the principle of “Hebrew Labor.” Always celebratory, often counterfactual, highly selective, and sometimes—like the brandy advertising—apparently banal, evocations, re-creations, and constructions of the settler past concealed within themselves their own Zionist politics. The agriculturalist “ruling class” before World War I remained on “the fringes of the center in political and symbolic-value terms” under the British Mandate, but constituted a notable economic “elite” and “an alternative center” from a social standpoint.10 The First Aliyah past—produced, cleaned, processed, and packed along with oranges and wine grapes—could also appeal to other groups outside the hegemonic Labor parties, including segments of the industrial capitalist, religious Zionist, religious non-Zionist, Revisionist, and Sephardi Zionist communities. The colony farmers are the often-disregarded precursors of and early, if ambivalent, participants in an emerging Zionist center-right politics, some of whose representatives would formally join with the militant right in 1965 to form Gahal, the predecessor to the 1973 Likud party.

Scholars of collective memory remind us that historical myths are created to serve the present and to help those in the present envision potential futures. Kristin Ross, writing about the protests and social upheaval of May 1968 in Paris, argues that the historical events themselves “cannot now be considered separated from the social memory and forgetting that surround them.” Ultimately, she says, the problem of managing the memory of 1968 forms the “center of the historical problem of 1968 itself.”11As Matt Matsuda has observed, “The past is not a truth upon which to build, but a truth sought, a re-memorializing over which to struggle.”12 Our concern, too, is not the period typically called the First Aliyah (1882–1904) but a later period during which the First Aliyah, as an amalgam, selection, and flattening of the stories of distinct late-nineteenth-century settlers and agricultural colonies, was truly constituted as a symbol in and object of collective discourse. The “First Aliyah” continued to reside spatially and symbolically in the nineteenth-century moshavot, particularly those on the Mediterranean coastal plain, well after the First Aliyah period had supposedly ended and been superseded. In presenting a foundational past in ceremonies, books, articles, interviews, and proclamations during the twentieth century—a modern nationalist variant of the “ritual and recital” that Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi associates with traditional Jewish memory13—the elites at the center of the moshava commemoration enterprise engaged in a dual project with a fundamental tension at its heart. On the one hand, they pushed for fellow Zionists to reintegrate the late-nineteenth-century Jewish colonies into the history of Zionism—indeed to place them, their commitment to private enterprise, and their status as “firsts” at its center. On the other hand, they endeavored to show that they represented a stage and phase of history that stood apart from Zionism as it had developed under the tutelage of Ben-Gurion’s party Mapai (est. 1930) and Mapai’s Labor Zionist predecessors and thus that it could model a path away from the movement’s myriad ongoing difficulties and missteps. As commemorations of “firsts” became more formal parts of national commemoration after Israeli statehood, all manner of groups sought to insert themselves into or reframe the story of “firsts.” As Jill Lepore has observed of the American Revolution, the foundational past, in this case a settler past that preceded statehood by more than half a century, exists outside the political dynamics of the present and is easily consolidated into a site of collective trans-political values that multiple groups can coopt.14

A History of Settlement

The First Aliyah agricultural colonies represented a numerically tiny phenomenon. By 1900, around fifty thousand Jews lived in Palestine, constituting about 10% of its population. Only around fifty-five hundred of them lived in rural Jewish colonies, most of them new immigrants but some of them former denizens of Palestine’s urban Jewish communities.15 The approximately thirty to fifty thousand Jews who had immigrated to Palestine within the previous quarter century had doubled Palestine’s Jewish population but had overwhelmingly settled in existing urban Jewish communities. Moreover, like the similar number who followed them in the prewar twentieth century, they frequently didn’t stay. Historians estimate that more than half left, usually either to join larger flows of immigrants to the Americas or to return to Europe. The total Jewish migration to Palestine around the turn of the twentieth century, moreover, represented a fraction of the 2.5 million Jews who sensed deteriorating economic and political horizons for themselves in the Russian and Austro-Hungarian Empires around that time and chose to emigrate (a group that, demographically, the Jewish migrants to Palestine mostly resembled). These Jewish migrations, in turn, occurred amidst much larger non-Jewish migration flows from Central and Eastern Europe and the Ottoman Empire.16

The instigators of rural Palestine settlement in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, a fraction within a fraction of the Jewish and non-Jewish migration that marked that period, included Jewish individuals with private capital and members of settlement organizations that had pooled personal and donor funds to purchase land in Palestine. Some of these bodies helped constitute, or emerged from, local Lovers of Zion (Hovevei Zion) chapters founded in the mainly Yiddish-speaking communities of Eastern Europe following the anti-Jewish pogroms of 1881–1882 in the Pale of Settlement, which followed the assassination of Tsar Alexander II.17 Though settlement decisions were typically instigated by men, whole families traveled to Palestine, and women’s journals and literary works convey the challenges of travel and settlement for women as well as their cultural lives and social aspirations.18

It was a time of intellectual ferment in Palestine, too, with religious modernist thinking expanding within the urban Jewish, Christian, and Muslim communities, in conjunction with the Jewish Enlightenment (Haskalah) and Arab Awakening (Nahda).19 Urban Jews began to move outside the walls of Jerusalem and Jaffa and establish new neighborhoods beginning in the 1860s.20 Agricultural settlement, however, was a significant step further. Rural Jewish settlers from abroad joined a small subset of these Ashkenazi Jewish religious modernists, most of them from families who had immigrated to Palestine only a generation or two prior. This group, including Yoel Moshe Solomon and Yehuda Raab, saw engagement in productive agriculture as a core part of Jewish modernization and a means of fulfilling the religious value of “settling the land of Israel” (yishuv Eretz Yisraʾel). They faced profound economic, religious, and security concerns about land settlement from their communities, however.21 While Jerusalemites made efforts in 1878 to establish Petah Tikva, religious Jews from Safed in the Galilee established Gei Oni (later, Rosh Pinna).22 Both communities faced severe agricultural difficulties and abandonment but were bolstered in 1882–1883 by the influx of settler cohorts from the Russian and Austro-Hungarian Empires. These new settlers had been inspired by their own urge toward productivization and affinity to the Land of Israel after being steeped in the ideas of the Haskalah and having faced the same economic instability, increasingly illiberal politics, and anti-Jewish violence that encouraged many of their friends and neighbors to immigrate elsewhere. Petah Tikva, in particular, would retain its strong connection to the Ashkenazi community of Jerusalem (disparagingly called, along with other urban Jewish communities, the “Old Yishuv”) even as it celebrated its role within a larger Zionist settlement narrative focused on immigration and settlement. But those who settled in other Jewish colonies during this period also tended to be and to remain religiously traditional compared to the activist Jewish worker factions who followed some decades later.23

Purchasers conducted their transactions, which were neither numerous, nor coordinated, nor well-organized, with the help of Ottoman Jewish, Christian, or Muslim brokers and translators. Sellers tended to be absentee landlords, urban notables in Palestine and other parts of the Ottoman Levant who had aggregated land from smaller holders as a consequence of the 1858 Ottoman Land Law, one piece of the empire’s Tanzimat reforms aimed at centralizing imperial power, ensuring tax receipts, and stabilizing the economy through foreign investment. 24 As a politically disorganized community in a land with an existing imperial land regime, Jewish colonists relied on an active market in land sales. Even so, they were stymied and delayed by efforts on the part of the Ottoman Empire, which, fearing a new nationalist threat amidst rising ethnonational separatism elsewhere in the empire, tried to limit Jewish colonization in Palestine.25

The small clusters of Jewish colonists embarked on their projects amidst heightened European Christian interest in Palestine. As Palestine opened to the world economy and Ottoman capitulations agreements with European states continued to allow consular protections for foreign subjects, German Templers established agricultural colonies in Jaffa, Jerusalem, Haifa, and the Jezreel Valley. Christians from a variety of other origins, including the United States, established mainly urban Christian schools, missions, and businesses in the mid-nineteenth century.26 Nineteenth-century Jewish colonists, too, typically maintained their European passports in order to secure the consular protection owed to foreign subjects, drew architectural influences in part from European colonies, dressed in European clothing, and, for the most part, had skin tones similar to those of European Christians. Yehuda Raab recalls the visit to Petah Tikva of an Ottoman Jewish trader, Daʾud Abu Yusuf, who did not initially recognize Raab and his fellow colonists as Jewish. Indeed, as Raab’s story recounts it, Abu Yusuf had previously expressed surprise when a sheikh from the nearby village of Fajja told him that the colony was Jewish; Abu Yusuf explained to the sheikh that “he didn’t see Jews, he saw afranj [European foreigners].”27 Arab peasants, too, understood the new arrivals as participants in a broader European interest in Palestine, though some Muslim and Christian urban Arab intellectuals began to take interest in the specificities of the Jewish affinity to Palestine over the course of the 1890s and early 1900s.28

In the early 1880s, when Rosh Pinna and Petah Tikva were reconstituted, immigrant settlers also established Rishon LeZion, Ekron (later Mazkeret Batya), Nahalat Reuven (later Ness Ziona), and Gedera in a settlement bloc on the southern coastal plain (known at the time, though no longer, as Judea); Zichron Yaʿaqov on the northern coastal plain (known as Samaria at the time); and Yesud HaMaʿala and Mishmar ha-Yarden in an Upper Galilee bloc near Rosh Pinna and the city of Safed.29 The Galilean colonies would remain demographically smaller and generate far less wealth than the coastal plain colonies, which participated most actively in Palestine’s growing export market.

The aforementioned colonies initially attempted the grain and field-crop cultivation typical in Palestine at the time, but faltered and soon sought the support of the French Jewish philanthropist Baron Edmund de Rothschild, a supporter of Jewish productivization. He began to fully administer Rishon LeZion and Ekron/Mazkeret Batya and, through a Paris-based but locally staffed administration, provided farmers in other colonies with indirect subsidies, machinery, and French technocratic expertise, much of it gained in the French settler colony of Algeria.30 The administration encouraged cultivation of and agricultural experimentation with wine grapes, which were the colonies’ single largest crop in 1900.31 Citrus cultivation, though not Rothschild’s main area of investment, began to grow dramatically as the global market for the famous “Jaffa” oranges expanded.32

The later 1880s saw a settler society from Bessarabia establish Qastina (1887, later Beer Tuvia) northeast of Gaza and settlers from Zichron Yaʿaqov establish nearby Bat Shlomo (1889). During this period, the Lovers of Zion organization in Odessa sought permission from the Russian government to establish a settlement organization and, in 1890, founded the Society for the Support of Jewish Farmers and Artisans in Syria and the Holy Land, usually referred to as the “Odessa Committee.” Vladimir Tiomkin, head of its Jaffa office, coordinated land purchases and dispatched agents, most importantly Yehoshua Hankin, to investigate and conduct transactions.33 In the period that followed, Jewish settlement societies founded Rehovot (1890) and Hadera (1891), which remained independent of formal philanthropic support, though not of the technocratic expertise that also flowed to other colonies.34 The late 1890s saw additional colony creation, including Metulla in the Upper Galilee, founded by the Rothschild administration; Kfar Saba, founded by settlers from Petah Tikva to its south; and Hartuv in the Jerusalem corridor, founded by Bulgarian Sephardi Jews.

It is worthwhile to dwell for a moment on the population numbers in individual colonies at this time. In 1900, the largest Jewish colonies were Zichron Yaʿaqov, with 871 residents; Petah Tikva, with 818; Rishon LeZion, with 626; and Rosh Pinna, with 512. Rehovot, Metulla, and Yesud HaMaʿala, which had 200–300 residents each, were considered mid-sized, and a dozen more had 150 or fewer residents each—some as few as two dozen.35 Only some of these residents, moreover, were landowners. By 1905, Rehovot had 425 residents, of whom only 56 were landowning farmers, and Hadera had 140 residents, of whom 36 were landowners.36

Colony landowners hired a combination of landless Muslim Arabs and poor Jewish immigrants to labor in their fields, typically favoring the former for unskilled work because of the lower wage they commanded and their greater experience doing similar work, usually on the lands of absentee owners, sometimes administered by local tax farmers.37 Residents of nearby villages—and sometimes of improvised housing within the colony itself—had historically engaged in subsistence farming but increasingly sought wage labor in the growing export economy. Jewish farmers thus participated in and expanded a market that predated their arrival on the scene. These labor arrangements generated quotidian contact between owners and workers that would lead those commemorating the past to construct memories of “hierarchical coexistence,” as we will explore. At the time, however, observers noted the harsh and often cruel treatment of peasant workers by Jewish employers and the hostility that changing land tenure created among Palestinian peasants who had their grazing and cultivation rights abrogated by new Jewish owners. Some of these peasants, Yuval Ben-Bassat has shown, appealed to the Ottoman sultan for his intervention to prevent these deleterious effects. Others attacked or directly confronted the colonists.38 Arab rural space persisted in the colonists’ psyches, however. Many continued to refer to their colonies by the names of the Arab villages where their lands had been purchased and whose denizens they encountered and employed: ʿUyun Qara/Rishon LeZion; Umlebes (sometimes Melabes)/Petah Tikva; Wadi Hanin/Ness Ziona. The use of Arab workers in the earliest private colonies became a particular bone of contention between landowners and the ideological cohort of settlers who would come to be known as the “Second Aliyah” and who, as we will discuss below, first constructed the private landowners as a discrete—and discredited—settler cohort.39

Arabic-speaking Jews—North African Sephardi, Mashriqi (Oriental), and Yemenite—also played notable roles in the establishment and labor economy of the colonies. Sephardi and Oriental Jews facilitated land purchases as financiers, translators, and intermediaries—and sometimes as settlers themselves, as Yuval Ben-Bassat has shown.40 When Zalman David Levontin, the founder of Rishon LeZion, came to Palestine as an emissary of the Lovers of Zion, he gained introductions to several Sephardic dignitaries, including the British vice-consul in Jaffa, and several Jerusalem bankers, including Avraham Moyal and Haim Aharon Valero.41 Some less prominent Arabic-speaking Jews were hired as guards, and many sold goods and services to the colonies nearest to their cities.42 Yemenite Jews arrived in Palestine in several waves beginning in 1881, and while the first of them tended to settle in Jerusalem, from 1908 some secured agricultural work in the colonies, encouraged by Labor Zionists and the new Palestine Office of the Zionist Organization, who saw this population as an ideal work force: Jews who could be paid an “Arab” wage. The internal Jewish ethnic and racial labor hierarchies of the late Ottoman and mandate periods are thus an important precursor to the better studied dynamics associated with the post-1948 Jewish migrations from the Arab and Islamic world. As Nimrod Ben-Zeev has compellingly shown in his work on race and labor in the construction industry of Palestine/Israel, intra-Jewish dynamics intersect with and are sometimes concealed by the Jewish/Arab (implicitly Ashkenazi Jewish/Arab Muslim) ethnic hierarchies that Zionist (and British) discourse often referenced and reproduced.43

The earliest rural colonies, it should be noted, preceded the efforts by the Budapest-born Viennese journalist Theodor Herzl to unify Jewish fundraising, political advocacy, and settlement action through the Zionist Organization. Having articulated this call in his book Der Judenstaat (The State of the Jews), in 1896, Herzl convened the First Zionist Congress in Basel in 1897, at which point the oldest colonies were a decade and a half old and being buffeted by accusations of corruption and mismanagement. Though the “First Aliyah” became a part of Zionist settlement history, its constituent communities were appropriated into the Zionist narrative only ambivalently and in retrospect, and have appropriately been called “proto-Zionist.”44

In 1900, the Rothschild administration turned over its Palestine colonies to the Jewish Colonization Association (JCA), founded by the German-Jewish philanthropist Maurice de Hirsch in 1896, initially around the idea of encouraging productive Jewish agricultural settlement in South America.45 Soon, however, private owners in the first colonies took steps to ensure greater independence and control over their export operations. In 1900, citrus growers created their first marketing cooperative, Pardess, and in 1906 viticulturalists established the Vinegrowers’ Association (Agudat ha-kormim) to take the place of the JCA in practice.46 The JCA continued acquiring lands for colonization, primarily in the Lower Galilee, and in 1924 was reorganized as the Palestine Jewish Colonization Association under the oversight of Edmund de Rothschild’s son James.47 Though the colonies founded in the early years of the twentieth century under JCA auspices are typically regarded as part of the First Aliyah based on their year of founding and mechanism of purchase and ownership, the historical geographer Yossi Ben-Artzi has suggested that 1900 and the transfer of the Rothschild colonies to the JCA is the more appropriate cutoff point.48 Some of the Lower Galilee colonies of the JCA period, most notably Sejera, became better known as organizing centers for Labor Zionist Second Aliyah activism than as ongoing exemplars of the First Aliyah.49

Though the nineteenth-century Jewish colonies represented a tiny and economically precarious phenomenon in their own time, their twentieth-century commemoration—and, I argue, their constitution as objects of memory—occurred in places that had been radically transformed. In the decade before World War I, the total colony populations grew by 60%, to around nine thousand inhabitants, and commenced growing again after the disruption of World War I. These later increases were thanks both to new British provisions for Jewish immigration in the context of their League of Nations mandate and to the prosperity created by the global demand for citrus in the 1920s and early 1930s, an industry that was centered in Petah Tikva, which the historian Nahum Karlinsky describes as “the cradle of Jewish citriculture as a private-initiative activity.” Between 1922 and 1927, Petah Tikva’s population nearly doubled. Rishon LeZion grew by 50%, and Rehovot by 40%. Despite the growing ideological importance of Labor Zionist settlements, 75% of Palestine’s agricultural output by 1935 was from citrus, which was almost solely in private hands. Labor Zionists, too, were becoming much more tolerant of private enterprise in practice, though on the condition (rejected by many veteran farmers) that Arab labor be wholly excluded.50

The 1981 publication of Sefer ha-ʿAliyah ha-Rishonah (The First Aliyah), a definitive collection of Israeli scholarship edited by Mordechai Eliav, proclaimed in its introduction that “Despite its importance in the history of the Yishuv [Jewish community of pre-1948 Palestine, literally “settlement”], the First Aliyah has not merited the appropriate place in the historiography of the Yishuv and the national movement.”51 That volume drew on and reflected a growing body of Israeli scholarship on the “First Aliyah” since the late 1970s that had revealed the constructed quality of the “Aliyot” paradigm; explored historical connections between the “First Aliyah” settlers and Palestine’s Sephardi and Ashkenazi urban religious communities (the “Old Yishuv”); examined significant divisions within the period known as the “First Aliyah”; and placed immigration stories in their European imperial and East European Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenment) contexts. In the decades since, a significant field of largely Israeli scholarship, much of it cited along with earlier scholarship in the preceding paragraphs, has continued to illuminate the economic, social, and cultural life of the late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century colonies.

Despite the growth of nineteenth-century colonies during the British Mandate years, however, scholars often limit their interest in the “First Aliyah” per se to the period of the First Aliyah “itself,” or, noting the artificiality of the First/Second Aliyah division at around 1904, the period ending in World War I. When early moshavot appear in the historiography of the Yishuv and Israel in the interwar and post-1948 periods, in contrast, they typically appear as centers of economic production led by ideologically disengaged farmers, sites of immigrant settlement and urban growth, or targets of criticism by Labor Zionist spokespeople and local Jewish workers.52 Historians have continued to sidestep the ongoing cultural development of the colonies, the political stakes and utility of the “First Aliyah” framing, and the perspectives of increasingly well-established leaders and owners in the twentieth century. Few have explored processes of memory, though works by the historians Anat Helman, Yosef Lang, Billie Melman, and Nili Aryeh-Sapir are notable.53 Karlinsky, in his notable history of the private citrus industry through 1939, notes the nearly wholesale exclusion of capitalists and private owners—industrial and agricultural—from the history of Zionism, a result of the historiographic assumption that the “capitalist plain,” containing the most prosperous colonies, was defeated by the “socialist [Jezreel] valley,” the area in the Lower Galilee targeted for collective and communal settlements on nationally owned land beginning in the early twentieth century.54

The capitalist plain, ultimately dominated by privately held Jewish lands, was the site of thriving agriculture, industry, and sizable communities of Jewish immigrants. It remains Israel’s capitalist center today. Many of those whom we will encounter in the following pages saw the vitality of their communities as lying in private enterprise and individual landownership, even though in fact many survived their early years only thanks to external philanthropic support. They frequently cited the aspiration for “each man to sit at peace beneath his own vine and fig tree” (Micah 4:4), a verse that George Washington, in another context, considered a favorite because of its allusion to the agricultural idyll and the paradigms of private property and individual initiative so central to the vision of American settlement.55

As of the end of 1936, only 23% of the Jewish rural population of nearly a hundred thousand lived in “national” settlements. The remaining 77% lived on privately owned lands in cities and moshavot.56 On the eve of Israeli statehood, private Jewish landownership in the part of Palestine that would become Israel was almost as common as national ownership: the Jewish National Fund owned approximately 1 million dunams, while 800,000 were in private Jewish hands (and a similar number were privately owned by non-Jews, mostly Arab Muslims and Christians).57 The State of Israel, of course, was the inheritor of the pre-1948 Zionist national settlement project. When it appropriated Palestinian village lands, as well as British state-controlled lands, in and after 1948, it rendered them state lands. The combination of nationally owned Jewish lands purchased before 1948 and state lands nationalized during or after 1948 now forms 93% of Israeli territory, not including Gaza or the West Bank, though the state has moved to authorize limited land privatization in the past decade.58 This statistic, however, obscures the centrality of private landownership to the pre-1948 Zionist settlement story and its exclusive role in Jewish land acquisitions before 1900.

Some scholars have erroneously suggested that discourses about private property and profit, so central to Anglophone settler societies, were absent from the Zionist case because they were replaced by a “pure settlement” model of Labor Zionism in which all land was to be owned by the national collective.59 The tendency of both Zionist and anti-Zionist scholars to focus on Labor Zionists and national models of land acquisition while overlooking other earlier and ongoing private models—and the enduring influence of those who benefited from them—is, to use Dmitry Shumsky’s phrase, “methodological rather than ideological.”60 If we shift our historical methods to acknowledge the “capitalist plain,” its historical exemplars, and its ongoing centrality, we reveal a core component of the Zionist story.

The moshavot in the center of the country grew as rapidly as they did because these communities—like other privately held towns and cities founded later—nurtured middle-class Jews’ desire to own property, allowed agricultural land to be subdivided for new residential areas as demand grew, and did not restrict Jewish settlement on ideological grounds, as some Labor Zionist settlements did. In 1924, Moshe Smilansky, the Rehovot agriculturalist and writer of fiction who also chronicled the history of the “First Aliyah” colonies, told Arthur Ruppin of the Zionist Organization’s Palestine Office that middle-class arrivals specifically wanted to buy land in the moshavot, since “The type of people, the living conditions, and the economic conditions in the moshavot suit their taste.”61 The growth of population and industry in central moshavot led the British to invest in roads and infrastructure and connect central moshavot to the electric grid and railway lines before both smaller Jewish settlements and most Arab cities.62 In general, the larger, more central, and better connected a colony was, the more new immigrants felt comfortable moving there, especially if the idea of pioneering self-sacrifice and geographic isolation didn’t excite them. Many central moshavot, then, promoted themselves as symbols of settler identity and the rural frontier without demanding of immigrants the sacrifices that were associated with newer, more far-flung, or more overtly ideological rural settlements.

In the few years following the 1948 War of Independence/Nakba and Israel’s declaration of statehood, Israel absorbed a mass immigration of Jews from Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa, doubling its population to 1.5 million, this after displacing and then preventing the return of around 700,000 Arab Palestinians who had lived in the territory that became Israel. Jewish immigrants, many of them survivors of the Nazi Holocaust or postwar ethnonational violence in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa, were provisionally settled by the state near central moshavot, some in immigrant transit camps on the sites of Palestinian village lands that Israel or its pre-state Zionist militias had recently captured and confiscated.63 These areas were initially outside the moshavot municipal boundaries but were sometimes later annexed into the jurisdictions of moshavot, and in either case provided much of their labor force. Between 1948 and 1972, the population of core moshavot exploded: Hadera’s population went from 11,800 to 32,000; Petah Tikva’s from 21,900 to 93,500; Rehovot’s from 12,500 to 39,300; Rishon LeZion’s from 10,400 to 53,000. Tiny Ness Ziona, between Rishon LeZion and Rehovot, grew from 2,300 to more than 12,000.64 Population growth and growing Jewish diversity meant protracted challenges from Labor interests and the regnant Mapai party. Nonetheless, landowning elites continued to actively promote the commemoration of “their” past even when they didn’t control municipalities. The private landowners of the moshavot, called “bourgeois” by their early detractors for their aesthetics and labor practices, evolved into one pillar of centrist politics in the Yishuv and Israel, even though urban capitalists and the professional middle class displaced them as the prime exemplars of the Israeli center and the icons of the twentieth-century Israeli bourgeoisie.

Aliyot and the Making of “First Ones”

The nineteenth-century Jewish colonies gained the mantle of modern Zionist “firstness” after the fact. By the later 1920s, the term “First Aliyah” had come to refer—simultaneously and often inconsistently—to a period of time (typically 1882–1904); a group of people (Jewish immigrants during this period); a set of associated places (privately owned agricultural colonies); a set of economic sectors (particularly citrus and wine grapes); and a set of ideologies or, as it often seemed to Labor Zionist observers and as we will address in a moment, non-ideologies.

The system of marking Jewish immigrations through numbered aliyot (first, second, etc.) emerged following the issuance of the Balfour Declaration in 1917, nearly forty years after the founding of Petah Tikva. A product of Britain’s imperial aspirations during World War I, this nonbinding British statement of support for the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine became the basis for key terms of the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine. Granted in 1922 and applied in 1923 amidst a wave of postwar support for movement toward ethnonational state creation in the formerly Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman lands, the mandate obligated the British to facilitate Jewish immigration, establish an undefined “national home for the Jewish people,” and protect the “civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities.” The term aliyah, “ascent,” had been in use since the nineteenth century to describe delineated periods of historical Jewish migration to the Land of Israel. This modern usage derived from the ancient Jewish concept of ʿaliyah la-regel, ascent to Jerusalem during the three yearly Jewish pilgrimage festivals. Aliyah had also been used more generally since ancient times to describe Jewish travel from the Mediterranean coast to the hilltop city of Jerusalem.

To Zionists perceiving modern history through the lens of trans-historical, symbolic Jewish time, the 1917 Declaration seemed to augur a mass return movement such as those that had transpired in ancient times: first, after 538 BCE, when the Persian potentate Cyrus invited exiled Judeans back to the Land of Israel following the Babylonian exile nearly a half century earlier, and second, the population movement from Babylon to Jerusalem described in the biblical books of Ezra and Nehemiah. If the Cyrus Decree had spurred the “First Aliyah” of the Jews and Ezra and Nehemiah had led the “Second,” Balfour seemed to promise a modern “Third Aliyah.” Some writers even imagined that this immigration wave could create a Jewish majority in Palestine, though such a large migration was not immediately forthcoming.65

As the terminology of a macrohistorical “Third Aliyah” caught on in Zionist circles in the post-Balfour years, Hizky Shoham has shown, activists in the ascendant Labor Zionist movement started to retroactively divide prewar Jewish settlers into modern “First” and “Second” Aliyot. Against an emerging left-wing Zionist ethos marked by affinity to socialism and commitment to Jewish-only (“Hebrew”) labor, the private colonists of the nineteenth century were remembered, to varying degrees, as being economically reactionary, religious, Yiddish-speaking, dependent on philanthropic capital, and, because of their practices of both hiring Arab labor and refraining from partisan engagement, unsupportive of the Jewish national project.

Distinctions over labor and culture that had motivated local struggles before the war served, in the writing of Labor Zionists, to delineate which people, communities, and economic efforts belonged to the “First” Aliyah and which belonged to the emerging “Second.” In setting themselves apart as the instigators of a Zionist vision, early-twentieth-century Labor Zionists distinguished between Jewish owners and class-conscious workers as they began to initiate new settlement, initially adjacent to moshavot and increasingly on lands acquired by the Jewish National Fund in the Lower Galilee and elsewhere.66 The chronological division point between “First” and “Second” Aliyot, later set in 1904–5—just before the first major organizing of workers in the colonies—remained murky until the later 1920s. The temporal Aliyot divisions were then and remain today an arbitrary and imprecise periodization convention, ideological distinctions crudely mapped onto periods, people, and spaces during a period in which private land purchase initiatives continued.

Nonetheless, historians still conventionally divide the period between 1882 and 1948 into five waves of Jewish immigration to Palestine. The moshavot are firmly enshrined as the central accomplishment of the first of these waves—the term is used only for privately owned colonies. The second wave is marked by ongoing labor activism within the older private colonies; the establishment of kibbutzim (Jewish-only labor communes) and other labor settlements; and, come the 1920s, an infrastructure of workers’ organizations including the Histadrut labor union, various social service arms, and a militia (the Haganah). The post-Balfour immigration, which proved to be much smaller (around 35,000 people) than the messianic wave some Zionists had originally forecast but whose leaders augmented many of the “Second Aliyah” labor institutions, became the “Third.” The “Fourth” and “Fifth” Aliyot, significantly larger and named while they were still ongoing, followed in the later 1920s and 1930s, respectively, as a Polish economic crisis and then the Nazi takeover in Germany and Austria roiled Central and Eastern European Jewish communities. Though stereotyped descriptions of these later waves—for example of German Jews as snobbish—came from those Jews already in Palestine, the new immigrant groups themselves also adopted this periodizing language in understanding and commemorating themselves as a cohort.67

The periodization scheme was primarily directed internally. It provided Jewish settlers a way, albeit imprecise, to negotiate internal tensions along linguistic, cultural, and ideological lines. Debates over “firstness” didn’t begin in the twentieth century, however. Jewish settlers who had arrived in the 1880s briefly described themselves as the “First Aliyah” in comparison to the arrivals of the 1890s, the so-called Tiomkin Migration (after the director of the Odessa Committee’s Jaffa Office, mentioned above). Romanian Jewish founders of Zichron Yaʿaqov and Rosh Pinna (from the Austro-Hungarian Empire) claimed the crown of symbolic (if not chronological) firstness against the Russian Jews who had founded Rishon LeZion. Petah Tikva residents argued that their abortive 1878 founding made them the true settler “First Ones” (rishonim) but argued internally over which Petah Tikva settlers should be regarded as the true founders.68 Unimpressed with the “firsting” claims of these relative latecomers, some Jerusalemite Jews referred to the early-nineteenth-century “First Aliyah” of the students of the Vilna Gaon, the rabbinic scholar and teacher who had encouraged his followers (known as the Perushim, or separatists) to go to the Holy Land.69 These early squabbles over firstness suggest that the Zionist settlement periodization scheme that called the private agricultural colonists the “First Aliyah” emerged in a cultural climate already concerned with primacy, firstness, and the enumeration of waves of migration.

The first stage of private and uncoordinated land acquisition and its attendant difficulties led both to Labor Zionist settlement movements and, even more consequentially for the Zionist project, to coordinated land purchase efforts by the Jewish National Fund (1901) and the Palestine Office of the World Zionist Organization (1908).70 Both Labor Zionists and Zionist Organization officials looked askance at the private landowners, albeit for different reasons. As Zalman David Levontin, founder of Rishon LeZion and, later, of the Jewish Colonial Trust and Anglo-Palestine Bank, wrote in 1924, “As is well known, the messengers of the [Zionist] Organization also dismiss the value of private initiative, as well as the [private] colonies that were founded before the Organization existed.”71 Meanwhile, driven as much by economic pressures as by ideological vision, local pro-Labor Zionist groups perceived—and wrote into their historiography—a battle between two settlement models that culminated in the victory of their own more deserving one.

Both their early economic difficulties and their distinctive (and, to Labor Zionist observers, aberrant) cultural features led early historians of Zionist settlement, most of them associated with the Labor movement, to present moshavot as epitomes of failure, undesirable continuity with the Jewish diasporic past, or, more charitably, as a first stage in an evolving process of Zionist colonization that took on a more collectivist cast with time. Shmuel Yavneʾeli notably promoted negative assessments of these communities in his two-volume 1961 work on the “Lovers of Zion period,” calling most of the settlers non-Zionist and the Lovers of Zion movement itself “bloodless, unenergetic, and lacking intimate connections to the project in the land.”72 More recent survey histories have by and large replicated these dismissive assessments. “The achievements of the first two decades of Jewish settlement were not impressive,” writes Alan Dowty, explaining briefly that this immigration “failed to put the return to Zion on the world’s agenda.”73 In the “clash of civilizations” between the First and Second Aliyot, “the Second Aliyah clearly won,” writes Anita Shapira (no relation to Avraham), who also compared the earliest colonies to “a Lithuanian shtetl” or, in the case of Rishon LeZion, “a mix of a Jewish shtetl and quasi-French customs” because of the Rothschild influence.74 As Zeev Sternhell writes, “Although the builders of the first moshavot, the people of the First Aliyah, had preceded them, the real founders were the members of the Second Aliyah.”75


1. “Brandy bottle, Friedman-Tnuva Winery, with stickers showing picture of Avraham Shapira on horseback.” Oded Yarkoni Archives of the History of Petah Tikva (henceforth PTA) 003.136/4, undated, probably 1964–1972. Friedman, like Shapira, was an entrepreneur and a participant in Palestine’s private sector. Born in the traditional Jewish community of Tiberias, he had founded his winery in Haifa in 1889 but had moved it in 1912 to Petah Tikva.

2. “Be-hatzagat ha-bekhorah ha-hagigit shel ha-seret ‘Adamah zot sheli hi’ hamutzag be-kolnoaʿ ‘Yaron’” [At the festive opening night of “This land is mine” at the Yaron Cinema], Maariv, February 29, 1960, 4.

3. Yizrael, “Le-vikoret ha-historiyografyah shel shenotehah ha-rishonot shel Petah Tikva”; Lang, “Hityashvut ha-Yarkonim: nisayon she-hikhziv.” Shapira’s father, Yitzhak Zvi, initially settled in Jerusalem in 1880 while investigating options, including the already faltering Petah Tikva, for land settlement. Around 1883, he moved to Jaffa and purchased 120 dunams there, but continued to live in Jaffa. Around this same time, his older son Michael joined a group of settlers from Bialystok who were resettling Petah Tikva at a nearby site, closer to the village of al-Yahudiyya. Michael’s wife and children initially stayed behind in Jaffa. Michael summoned Avraham to help him with driving wagons, and Avraham commuted to this work from Jaffa for a time before fully settling in Petah Tikva. Edelstein, Avraham Shapira, 1:37.

4. Contracts from 1900 to 1916 record several of Shapira’s land purchases from several different Jews. PTA 003.002/3.

5. The figure for December 31, 1962, was 58,700. “Israel: Statistical Survey,” 265.

6. The Fajja neighborhood (later Naveh Kibush and then Kiryat Alon) was established as a workers’ neighborhood in 1951 on Fajja village lands. The Amishav transit camp, also the site of the village of Fajja, was annexed to Petah Tikva in 1955, with a population of 8,500 at the time. Yeshayahu Aviam, “ha-Kol mitragshim seviv ʿAmishav: anshei ha-maʿabarah ʿatzmam adishim” [Everyone is getting worked up about Amishav: the residents of the transit camp themselves are apathetic], Maariv, July 5, 1955, 2.

7. The term moshava also remained the conventional Hebrew translation for “colonies” in the sense of French or British overseas colonies. In the Palestine/Israel context, moshava (pl. moshavot) refers exclusively to those communities that were acquired using private funds and that remained under private rather than Zionist national management (though there was some fluidity of terminology in the early twentieth century). The easily confused term moshav (pl., moshavim), from the same Hebrew root, refers to cooperative settlements of individual farmers on nationally owned land. Several different types of moshavim were established over the years; the first was Nahalal, founded in 1921. Kibbutzim, or agricultural communes, also were premised on national land ownership but engaged in more radical experiments in communal living and community property. Degania (est. 1910) is typically considered the first kibbutz, though it was preceded by several years by experimental communes known as kvutzot (sing, kvutza) at Kinneret and Sejera, the latter of which was founded as a moshava.

8. Pierre Nora claims that a public focus on memory emerges at “a turning point where consciousness of a break with the past is bound up with the sense that memory has been torn—but torn in such a way as to pose the problem of the embodiment of memory in certain sites where a sense of historical continuity persists.” The “First Aliyah” colonies were such a site of perceived, if contested, historical continuity. “Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de Mémoire,” 7.

9. Kabha and Karlinsky, “ha-Pardes ha-neʿelam: ha-pardesanut ha-ʿArvit-haFalastinit ʿad shenat 1948”; Karlinsky, California Dreaming; Seikaly, Men of Capital.

10. Moshe Lissak, ha-Elitot shel ha-yishuv ha-Yehudi be-Eretz-Yisraʾel bi-tekufat ha-Mandat, 83–92; Ben-Porat, Hekhan hem ha-burganim ha-hem?, 49; Karlinsky, California Dreaming, 219.

11. Ross, May ’68 and Its Afterlives, 1.

12. Matsuda, The Memory of the Modern, 15.

13. Yerushalmi, Zakhor, 11.

14. Lepore, The Whites of Their Eyes, 7.

15. Ben-Artzi, “ha-Hityashvut ha-Yehudit be-Eretz Yisraʾel 1900–1917,” 348.

16. Zahra, The Great Departure; Alroey, An Unpromising Land; Alroey, Bread to Eat and Clothes to Wear; Alroey, “Two historiographies”; Alroey, “The Jewish Emigration from Palestine in the Early Twentieth Century.”

17. Pappé, A History of Modern Palestine, 32; Ben-Artzi, Early Jewish Settlement Patterns in Palestine, 1882–1914.

18. Shilo, Etgar ha-migdar; Shilo, Kark, and Hasan-Rokem, ha-ʿIvriyot hahadashot; Ben-Artzi, “Have Gender Studies Changed Our Attitude?”; Green, “Defuse hekerut ve-shidukhim ba-moshavot bi-tekufat ha-ʿAliyot ha-Rishonah veha-Sheniyah”; Green, “Meʿoravut vaʿade ha-moshavot u-vne ha-moshavot be-ʿinyane ha-perat ba-ʿAliyot ha-Rishonah veha-Sheniyah”; Berlovitz, Le-hamtzi eretz le-hamtzi ʿam.

19. Bartal, “Petah Tikva.” Urban Arab intellectuals, in particular, took up thinking connected to the Nahda, or Arab Awakening, with the extension of press freedoms after 1908. See Seikaly, “Christian Contributions to the Nahda in Palestine Prior to World War I.”

20. Ben-Arieh, ʿIr bi-reʾi tekufah.

21. Yehoshua Kaniel has described the range of factors that led members of the so-called “Old Yishuv” to question the viability of land settlement, factors that included security fears, concerns about non-adherence to Torah law, and doubts about economic viability. Kaniel, “Ha-vikuah ben Petah Tikva le-Rishon LeZion.”

22. Bartal, “ʿAl ha-rishoniyut”; Bartal and Ben-Arieh, Shelhe ha-tekufah ha-ʿOthmanit; Kaniel, Hemshekh u-temurah.

23. Kaniel, “ha-Vikuah ben Petah Tikva le-Rishon LeZion”; Eliav, “Hevle bereshit shel Petah Tikva”; Yizrael, “Le-vikoret ha-historiyografyah shel shenotehah ha-rishonot shel Petah Tikva”; Eliav, Eretz Yisraʾel vi-Yishuvah be-meʾah ha-19, 1777–1917, Part 2; Bartal, Galut ba-aretz.

24. Nineteenth-century Jewish purchases were part of a larger de jure process of land privatization generated by the Tanzimat. Solomonovich and Kark, “Land Privatization in Nineteenth-Century Ottoman Palestine.”

25. Shafir, Land, Labor and the Origins of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict 1882–1914, 31–36; Gurevich, ha-ʿAliyah, ha-Yishuv veha-tenuʿah ha-tivʿit shel ha-ukhlusiyah be-Eretz Yisraʾel, 18–19.

26. Ben-Arieh, “ha-Nof ha-yishuvi shel Eretz-Yisraʾel ʿerev ha-hityashvut ha-Tziyonit.”

27. Raab, ha-Telem ha-rishon, 67.

28. Jonathan Gribetz considers discussions about Jews, religion, and race in al-Hilal, al-Manar, and al-Muqtataf, journals of the Arab Awakening (Nahda) published outside of Palestine but sometimes with Palestine-based contributors. He identifies this trend in particular following the Young Turk Revolution in 1908, after which Palestinian intellectuals also published in new local Arabic publications. Gribetz, Defining Neighbors.

29. Judea and Samaria are now used exclusively in reference to the southern and northern halves, respectively, of the West Bank, and are not associated with the coastal plain. This transformation of terminology occurred only after Israel’s 1967 conquest of the West Bank. For a discussion of the importance of settlement blocs for the creation of roads, administration, joint security, and relations with local Arab villages, see Ben-Bassat, “Proto-Zionist–Arab Encounters in Late Nineteenth-Century Palestine, 50–52.

30. Aaronsohn, ha-Baron veha-moshavot; Aaronsohn, Rothschild and Early Jewish Colonization in Palestine; Schama, Two Rothschilds and the Land of Israel; Penslar, Zionism and Technocracy, 13–25.

31. Gvati, Meʾah shenot hityashvut, 1:346.

32. Giladi, “Rishon LeZion be-hasut ha-Baron Rothschild (1882–1900)”

33. Ben-Artzi, Early Jewish Settlement Patterns in Palestine, 1882–1914, 31–32.

34. Giladi, “ha-Moshavot she-lo be-hasut ha-Baron bi-shenot ha-90.”

35. Ben-Artzi, “ha-Hityashvut ha-Yehudit be-Eretz Yisraʾel 1900–1917,” 349.

36. Cited in Giladi, “ha-Moshavot she-lo be-hasut ha-Baron bi-shenot ha-90,” 534.

37. Shafir, Land, Labor and the Origins of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict 1882–1914, 55.

38. Roi, “Yahase Yehudim-ʿArvim be-moshvot ha-ʿAliyah ha-Rishonah”; Ben-Bassat, “Proto-Zionist–Arab Encounters in Late Nineteenth-Century Palestine; Ben-Bassat, Petitioning the Sultan.

39. Tzahor, “ha-Mifgash ben ha-ikarim le-foʿale ha-ʿAliyah ha-Sheniyah be-Petah Tikva”; Azmon, Historiyah basar va-dam.

40. Ben-Bassat, “The Challenges Facing the First Aliyah Sephardic Ottoman Colonists”; Klorman, “Hityashvut poʿalim temanin ve-Ashkenazim”; Klorman, Traditional Society in Transition; Klorman, “ha-Yahas el ha-‘aher’ be-tarbut ha-politit shel ha-moshava.”

41. Glass and Kark, Sephardi Entrepreneurs in Jerusalem, 277.

42. Halperin, “Trading Secrets.”

43. Ben-Zeev, “Foundations of Inequality.”

44. See for example in Ben-Bassat, “Proto-Zionist–Arab Encounters in Late Nineteenth-Century Palestine.”

45. Matthias Lehmann discusses Hirsch as an exemplar of a new modern Jewish figure, the “banker as philanthropist,” who was interested more in questions of Jewish productivization than in questions of Jewish nationalism or religious continuity strictly speaking. Lehmann, “Baron Hirsch, the Jewish Colonization Association and the Future of the Jews.”

46. Karlinsky, California Dreaming, 52.

47. Goldstein and Stern, “PICA: irgunah u-matarotah.”

48. Ben-Artzi, “ha-Hityashvut ha-Yehudit be-Eretz Yisraʾel 1900–1917,” 345.

49. The legacy of the colony of Sejera, founded by the JCA between 1900 and 1902, lies firmly in its status as a site of Labor Zionist organizing among workers; David Ben-Gurion was one of the organizers who saw the Galilee as a more conducive region for Jewish labor organizing. In 1907, a Jewish guard organization called Bar-Giyora, the precursor to ha-Shomer, began efforts to take control over guarding in Sejera. In 1908, Jewish Labor activists established an Agricultural Collective that became a center of Labor Zionist organizing. Kfar Tavor, founded in 1901 by settlers from earlier “First Aliyah” colonies, also become a center for Labor Zionist organizing. Yair Seltenreich has written extensively on education, Jewish-Arab contacts, gender issues, and labor politics in the JCA colonies in the Galilee. See Seltenreich, ha-Anashim mi-kan; Seltenreich, “Gavriyut, kavod, ve-guf”; Seltenreich, “Jewish or Arab Hired Workers?”; Seltenreich, “Mifgashe tarbuyot?”

50. Karlinsky, California Dreaming, 52.

51. Eliav, “Yihudah shel ha-ʿAliyah ha-Rishonah,” ix. Landowning farmers and their Labor Zionist critics had written non-scholarly histories and reminiscences about the private colonies as early as the turn of the twentieth century, during a period of European nationalist memory-making that the historian Jay Winter has called the “first memory boom.” Professional historians of the Yishuv, however, didn’t take up this task until the period in the 1970s and 1980s that Winter, calling attention to Pierre Nora’s work at that time on sites of memory (les lieux de mémoire) in modern France, associates with a transnational “second memory boom.” Winter, “War, Memory, and Mourning in the Twentieth Century,” 97.

52. For example Hakohen, Immigrants in Turmoil; Graiczer, “Spatial Patterns and Residential Densities in Israeli ‘Moshavot’ in Process of Urbanization”; Gonen, “ʿIyur ha-moshavot ba-mishor ha-hof be-Yisraʾel”; Gonen, Between City and Suburb; Seltenreich, “Jewish or Arab Hired Workers?”; Shapira, ha-Maʾavak ha-nikhzav.

53. Aryeh-Sapir, “‘Sefer Gedera’ le-Amnon Horvitz”; Yosef Lang, “Sefarim veyovlot”; Helman, “Place-Image and Memorial Day in 1920s and 1930s Petah Tivkah”; Melman, “Motah shel sokhenet.”

54. Karlinsky, California Dreaming, 6; 217. See also Ronen Shamir’s 2000 call to recenter the stories of Palestine’s urban Jewish capitalists and their close relationship with British colonial rulers, in Shamir, “Burganut Yehudit be-Palestinah ha-koloniyalit.”

55. For Washington, the first president of the United States, this verse represented individual serenity, security of personal property, and freedom from oppressive government. He would include this phrase in his famous letter to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island, in 1790. Dreisbach, “The ‘Vine and Fig Tree’ in George Washington’s Letters,” 314.

56. Karlinsky, California Dreaming, 6.

57. Katz, The “Business” of Settlement, 34.

58. The principle enshrined in the founding documents of the Jewish National Fund was that nationally owned land was in effect the property of the Jewish people and therefore could not be sold, but only leased long-term. With the reform of the Israel Lands Administration in 2009 and the formation of the Israel Lands Authority in 2013, Israel has sought to allow land privatization in some cases in order to encourage economic development. See Katz, The Land Shall Not Be Sold in Perpetuity.

59. Piterberg, The Returns of Zionism, 65; Bhandar, Colonial Lives of Property, 129; Wolfe, “Purchase by Other Means,” 154.

60. Shumsky, Beyond the Nation-State, 10.

61. Zeev Smilansky to Arthur Ruppin, June 1924. from CZA L18/228/2. Cited in Karlinsky, California Dreaming, 68.

62. Jaffa, connected to the grid in 1921, is an important exception. Shamir, Current Flow, 140–41; Meiton, Electrical Palestine, 112–13.

63. More Palestinian villages survived in Galilee, the Negev/Naqab, and a strip of land known as “The Triangle” within Israel that runs along the edge of the West Bank.

64. Gonen, “ʿIyur ha-moshavot ba-mishor ha-hof be-Yisraʾel,” 31–44.

65. Shoham, “Meha-ʿAliyah ha-Shelishit la-ʿAliyah ha-Sheniyah uva-hazarah,” 199.

66. Shoham, “Meha-ʿAliyah ha-Shelishit la-ʿAliyah ha-Sheniyah uva-hazarah,” 205.

67. Descendants of the Fifth Aliyah published a commemorative volume in 1994, ha-ʿAliyah ha-Hamishit: 60 shanah la-ʿaliyah mi-merkaz Eropah.

68. Kaniel, “Ha-vikuah ben Petah Tikva le-Rishon LeZion”; Lang, “Sefarim veyovlot: Petah Tikva mitmodedet ʿim ʿavarah.”

69. Bartal, “ʿAl ha-rishoniyut: zeman u-makom ba-ʿAliyah ha-Rishonah,” 16

70. Derek Penslar is less interested in the “First Aliyah” colonists and colonies as local symbols and cultural objects than in the French model of productivization that influenced the Alliance Israélite Universelle and then Baron Rothschild to invest in agricultural development and colonization.

71. Levontin, “ha-Hityashvut be-Eretz Yisraʾel: emtzaʿeha ve-shitoteha.”

72. Yavneʾeli, Sefer ha-Tziyonut, 1:46, 1:52.

73. Dowty, Israel/Palestine, 36.

74. Shapira, Israel: A History, 46; Shapira, Herev ha-yonah, 88.

75. Sternhell, The Founding Myths of Israel, 77.