General Zionists

General Zionists

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The General Zionists were centrists
Centrism
In politics, centrism is the ideal or the practice of promoting policies that lie different from the standard political left and political right. Most commonly, this is visualized as part of the one-dimensional political spectrum of left-right politics, with centrism landing in the middle between...

 within the Zionist
Zionism
Zionism is a Jewish political movement that, in its broadest sense, has supported the self-determination of the Jewish people in a sovereign Jewish national homeland. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, the Zionist movement continues primarily to advocate on behalf of the Jewish state...

 movement and a political party in Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

. Their political arm is an ancestor of the modern-day Likud
Likud
Likud is the major center-right political party in Israel. It was founded in 1973 by Menachem Begin in an alliance with several right-wing and liberal parties. Likud's victory in the 1977 elections was a major turning point in the country's political history, marking the first time the left had...

.

History


General Zionism was initially the term to refer to the beliefs of the majority of members of the Zionist Organization
World Zionist Organization
The World Zionist Organization , or WZO, was founded as the Zionist Organization , or ZO, in 1897 at the First Zionist Congress, held from August 29 to August 31 in Basel, Switzerland...

 [ZO] who had not joined a specific faction
Political faction
A political faction is a grouping of individuals, such as a political party, a trade union, or other group with a political purpose. A faction or political party may include fragmented sub-factions, “parties within a party," which may be referred to as power blocs, or voting blocs. The individuals...

 or party and belonged to their countrywide Zionist organizations only.

In 1922, various non-aligned groups and individuals established the Organization of General Zionists as a non-ideological party within the Zionist Organization (later the World Zionist Organization) at a time when the Zionist movement was becoming polarized between Labour Zionists and Revisionist Zionism
Revisionist Zionism
Revisionist Zionism is a nationalist faction within the Zionist movement. It is the founding ideology of the non-religious right in Israel, and was the chief ideological competitor to the dominant socialist Labor Zionism...

.

However, eventually the General Zionists became identified with European liberal
Liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 and middle class
Middle class
The middle class is any class of people in the middle of a societal hierarchy. In Weberian socio-economic terms, the middle class is the broad group of people in contemporary society who fall socio-economically between the working class and upper class....

 beliefs in private property
Private property
Private property is the right of persons and firms to obtain, own, control, employ, dispose of, and bequeath land, capital, and other forms of property. Private property is distinguishable from public property, which refers to assets owned by a state, community or government rather than by...

 and capitalism
Capitalism
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

. From 1931 to 1945 the General Zionist movement was divided into two factions due to differences over social issues, economics and labour issues (e.g. the Histadrut
Histadrut
HaHistadrut HaKlalit shel HaOvdim B'Eretz Yisrael , known as the Histadrut, is Israel's organization of trade unions. Established in December 1920 during the British Mandate for Palestine, it became one of the most powerful institutions of the State of Israel.-History:The Histadrut was founded in...

). In the years following the establishment of the state of Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 in 1948, the General Zionists moved towards the right in opposition to the hegemony of Mapai
Mapai
Mapai was a left-wing political party in Israel, and was the dominant force in Israeli politics until its merger into the Israeli Labor Party in 1968...

 and other Labour Zionist movements in Israeli politics.

In 1936 the General Zionists established a daily newspaper, HaBoker
HaBoker
HaBoker was a Hebrew-language daily newspaper in Mandate Palestine and Israel associated with the General Zionists.The paper was established in 1935 by the right-wing of the General Zionists, with the first edition published on 11 October that year...

, which was edited for the first ten years of its existence by Peretz Bernstein
Peretz Bernstein
Peretz Bernstein was a Zionist activist and Israeli politician and one of the signatories of the Israeli declaration of independence.-Biography:...

. It ceased publication in 1965.

Political activity in Israel


The General Zionists entered the elections for the first Knesset
Israeli legislative election, 1949
Elections for the Constituent Assembly were held in newly independent Israel on 25 January 1949. Voter turnout was 86.9%. Two days after its first meeting on 14 February 1949, legislators voted to change the name of the body to the Knesset...

 in 1949. They won 5.2% of the vote and seven seats, but were not included in either of David Ben Gurion's coalition governments.

The 1951 elections
Israeli legislative election, 1951
Elections for the second Knesset were held in Israel on 30 July 1951. Voter turnout was 75.1%.-Results:¹ Rostam Bastuni, Avraham Berman and Moshe Sneh left Mapam and set up the Left Faction. Bastuni later returned to Mapam whilst Berman and Sneh joined Maki. Hannah Lamdan and David Livschitz left...

 were a huge success, with the party winning 20 seats, making it the second largest in the Knesset
Knesset
The Knesset is the unicameral legislature of Israel, located in Givat Ram, Jerusalem.-Role in Israeli Government :The legislative branch of the Israeli government, the Knesset passes all laws, elects the President and Prime Minister , approves the cabinet, and supervises the work of the government...

. The party was enlarged soon after the elections when the Sephardim and Oriental Communities
Sephardim and Oriental Communities
Sephardim and Oriental Communities was a political party in Israel and is one of the ancestors of the modern-day Likud party.-History:The Sephardim and Oriental Communities party represented Sephardi Jews and Mizrahi Jews who were already living in Israel at the time of independence, and was part...

 party and the Yemenite Association
Yemenite Association
The Yemenite Association was a political party in Israel.-History:The party was founded by Yemenite Jews in 1923. It took part in Israel's first elections in 1949, crossing the electoral threshold by just 53 votes, and winning one seat, which was taken by Zecharia Glosca.Despite the influx of...

 merged into it (though the one Yemenite Association MK left the party again before the end of the session). Although they were not included in the coalition for the third government, they were brought into the fourth government after Ben Gurion had removed the Ultra-orthodox
Haredi Judaism
Haredi or Charedi/Chareidi Judaism is the most conservative form of Orthodox Judaism, often referred to as ultra-Orthodox. A follower of Haredi Judaism is called a Haredi ....

 parties, Agudat Israel
Agudat Israel
Agudat Yisrael began as the original political party representing the ultra-Orthodox population of Israel. It was the umbrella party for almost all ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel, and before that in the British Mandate of Palestine...

 and Agudat Israel Workers
Agudat Israel Workers
Poalei Agudat Yisrael was a political party in Poland, and is a minor political party and settlement movement in Israel. It is also known as PAI or PAGI, its Hebrew acronym .-History:...

, over the dispute over religious education
Religious education
In secular usage, religious education is the teaching of a particular religion and its varied aspects —its beliefs, doctrines, rituals, customs, rites, and personal roles...

 that had brought down the previous government. They were also included in Moshe Sharett
Moshe Sharett
Moshe Sharett on 15 October 1894, died 7 July 1965) was the second Prime Minister of Israel , serving for a little under two years between David Ben-Gurion's two terms.-Early life:...

's fifth government, but not the sixth.

In the 1955 elections
Israeli legislative election, 1955
Elections for the third Knesset were held in Israel on 26 July 1955. Voter turnout was 82.8%.-Results:Mapai retained its plurality in the Knesset, although its share of the vote dropped by 5.1 and its share of seats dropped from 47 to 40...

 the party slumped to 13 seats, and were not included in either of the third Knesset's coalition governments.

A further slump to eight seats in the 1959 elections
Israeli legislative election, 1959
Elections for the fourth Knesset were held in Israel on 3 November 1959. Voter turnout was 81.5%.-Results:¹ The General Zionists and the Progressive Party merged to form the Liberal Party....

 and exclusion from the coalition made the party rethink their strategy. Eventually the party decided to merge with the 6-seat Progressive Party
Progressive Party (Israel)
The Progressive Party was a political party in Israel.-History:The Progressive Party was a liberal party, most of whose founders came from the ranks of the New Aliyah Party and HaOved HaTzioni, which had been active prior to independence...

 to form the Liberal Party
Liberal Party (Israel)
The Israeli Liberal Party was a political party in Israel and is one of the ancestors of the modern-day Likud.-History:The Liberal Party was formed on 8 May 1961, towards the end of the fourth Knesset, by a merger of the General Zionists and the Progressive Party, with the new party having 14...

. Nevertheless, the party helped bring down the government in 1961 when it and Herut
Herut
Herut was the major right-wing political party in Israel from the 1940s until its formal merger into Likud in 1988, and an adherent of Revisionist Zionism.-History:...

 tabled a motion of no confidence in the government over the Lavon Affair
Lavon Affair
The Lavon Affair refers to a failed Israeli covert operation, code named Operation Susannah, conducted in Egypt in the Summer of 1954. As part of the false flag operation, a group of Egyptian Jews were recruited by Israeli military intelligence for plans to plant bombs inside Egyptian, American and...

.

In the 1961 elections
Israeli legislative election, 1961
Elections for the fifth Knesset were held in Israel on 15 August 1961. Voter turnout was 81.6%.-Results:¹ Eight MKs broke away from Mapai to establish Rafi² Herut and the Liberal Party merged to form Gahal...

 the new Israel Liberal Party
Liberal Party (Israel)
The Israeli Liberal Party was a political party in Israel and is one of the ancestors of the modern-day Likud.-History:The Liberal Party was formed on 8 May 1961, towards the end of the fourth Knesset, by a merger of the General Zionists and the Progressive Party, with the new party having 14...

 won 17 seats, making it the third largest in the Knesset. During the session, ten MKs (mostly former General Zionists) merged with the right-wing
Right-wing politics
In politics, Right, right-wing and rightist generally refer to support for a hierarchical society justified on the basis of an appeal to natural law or tradition. To varying degrees, the Right rejects the egalitarian objectives of left-wing politics, claiming that the imposition of equality is...

 Herut
Herut
Herut was the major right-wing political party in Israel from the 1940s until its formal merger into Likud in 1988, and an adherent of Revisionist Zionism.-History:...

 to form Gahal
Gahal
Gahal , lit. Herut-Liberals Bloc) was the major right-wing political faction in Israel led by Menachem Begin from its founding in 1965 until it merged into Likud in 1973.-Background:...

 whilst the other seven (most from the Progressive Party) set up the Independent Liberals
Independent Liberals (Israel)
The Independent Liberals were a political party in Israel between the 1960s and 1980s.-History:The Independent Liberals party was formed during the fifth Knesset in the aftermath of the merger of the Liberal Party and Herut. Seven of the 17 Liberal Party MKs led by former Minister of Justice,...

. Gahal later became Likud
Likud
Likud is the major center-right political party in Israel. It was founded in 1973 by Menachem Begin in an alliance with several right-wing and liberal parties. Likud's victory in the 1977 elections was a major turning point in the country's political history, marking the first time the left had...

.

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