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FROM ITS BEGINNINGS, the political Zionist movement for a homeland for the Jewish people was heavily influenced by socialist thought. In the 19th century, discussion groups among politically aware Jewish working men, usually from Reformed Judaism, gradually replaced the older Orthodox Jewish Hasidic sects as the dynamic center of Jewish intellectual life. According to Walter Laqueur, Moses Hess, one of the ideological fathers of Zionism in the 1840s, believed that any Jewish state “was to be basically Socialist in character.” Hess envisaged the establishment of voluntary cooperative societies.

David J. Goldberg wrote how after the Russian pogroms, or anti-Semitic rioting, in 1881, socialist societies began to organize to return to the Jews' traditional homeland of Palestine. However, they would leave behind the religious heritage of ...

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