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Proposals for a Jewish state

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There were several proposals for a Jewish state in the course of Jewish history between the destruction of ancient Israel and the founding of the modern State of Israel. While some of those have come into existence, others were never implemented. The Jewish national homeland usually refers to the State of Israel[1] or the Land of Israel,[2] depending on political and religious beliefs. Jews and their supporters, as well as their detractors and anti-Semites have put forth plans for Jewish states.

Ararat city (U. S.)[edit]

1844 Discourse on the Restoration of the Jews by M.M.Noah, page 1. The page 2 shows the map of the Land of Israel

In 1820, in a precursor to modern Zionism, Mordecai Manuel Noah tried to found a Jewish homeland at Grand Island, New York in the Niagara River, to be called "Ararat" after Mount Ararat, the Biblical resting place of Noah's Ark. He erected a monument at the island which read "Ararat, a City of Refuge for the Jews, founded by Mordecai M. Noah in the Month of Tishri, 5586 (September, 1825) and in the Fiftieth Year of American Independence." In his Discourse on the Restoration of the Jews, Noah proclaimed his faith that the Jews would return and rebuild their ancient homeland. Noah called on America to take the lead in this endeavor.[3] Some have speculated whether Noah's utopian ideas may have influenced Joseph Smith, who founded the Latter Day Saint movement in Upstate New York a few years later.

British Uganda Program[edit]

The Uganda Scheme was a plan to give a portion of the East Africa Protectorate to the Jewish people as a homeland. The offer was first made by British Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain to Theodore Herzl's Zionist group in 1903. He offered 5,000 square miles (13,000 km2) of the Mau Escarpment in what is today Kenya. The offer was a response to pogroms in the Russian Empire, and it was hoped the area could be a refuge from persecution for the Jewish people.

The idea was brought to the World Zionist Organization's Sixth Zionist Congress in 1903 in Basel. There, a fierce debate ensued. The African land was described as an "ante-chamber to the Holy Land", but other groups felt that accepting the offer would make it more difficult to establish a Jewish state in Palestine in Ottoman Syria, particularly the Mutasarrifate of Jerusalem. Before the vote on the matter, the Russian delegation stormed out in opposition. In the end, the motion to consider the plan passed by 295 to 177 votes.

The next year, a three-man delegation was sent to inspect the plateau. Its high elevation gave it a temperate climate, making it suitable for European settlement. However, the observers found a dangerous land filled with lions and other creatures. Moreover, it was populated by a large number of Maasai people, who did not seem at all amenable to an influx of people coming from Europe.

After receiving this report, Congress decided in 1905 to politely decline the British offer. Some Jews, who viewed this as a mistake, formed the Jewish Territorial Organization with the aim of establishing a Jewish state anywhere.[4]

Jewish Autonomous Oblast in USSR[edit]

Location of the Jewish Autonomous Oblast in the Russian Federation.

On March 28, 1928, the Presidium of the General Executive Committee of the USSR passed the decree "On the attaching for Komzet of free territory near the Amur River in the Far East for settlement of the working Jews." The decree meant that there was "a possibility of establishment of a Jewish administrative territorial unit on the territory of the named region".[5]

On August 20, 1930, the General Executive Committee of the Russian Soviet Republic (RSFSR) accepted the decree "On formation of the Birobidzhan national region in the structure of the Far Eastern Territory". The State Planning Committee considered the Birobidzhan national region as a separate economic unit. In 1932, the first scheduled figures of the region development were considered and authorized.[5]

On May 7, 1934, the Presidium accepted the decree on its transformation in the Jewish Autonomous Region within the Russian Republic. In 1938, with formation of the Khabarovsk Territory, the Jewish Autonomous Region (JAR) was included in its structure.[5]

According to Joseph Stalin's national policy, each of the national groups that formed the Soviet Union would receive a territory in which to pursue cultural autonomy in a socialist framework.[citation needed] In that sense, it was also a response to two supposed threats to the Soviet state: Judaism, which ran counter to official state policy of atheism; and Zionism, the creation of the modern State of Israel, which countered Soviet views of nationalism. Yiddish, rather than Hebrew, would be the national language, and a new socialist literature and arts would replace religion as the primary expression of culture.

Initially, there had been proposals to create a Jewish Soviet Republic in Crimea or in part of Ukraine, however these were rejected because of fears of antagonizing non-Jews in those regions.

Another important goal of the Birobidzhan project was to increase settlement in the remote Soviet Far East, especially along the vulnerable border with China.[6] In 1928, there was virtually no settlement in the area, whereas Jews had deep roots in the western half of the Soviet Union, in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia proper.

The geography and climate of Birobidzhan were harsh, the landscape largely swampland, and any new settlers would have to build their lives from scratch. Some have even claimed that Stalin was also motivated by anti-Semitism in selecting Birobidzhan; that he wanted to keep the Jews as far away from the centers of power as possible.[7]

The Birobidzhan experiment ground to a halt in the mid-1930s, during Stalin's first campaign of purges. Jewish leaders were arrested and executed, and Yiddish schools were shut down. Shortly after this, World War II brought to an abrupt end concerted efforts to bring Jews east.[citation needed]

There was a slight revival in the Birobidzhan idea after the war as a potential home for Jewish refugees. During that time, the Jewish population of the region peaked at almost one-third of the total. But efforts in this direction ended, with the doctors' plot, the establishment of Israel as a Jewish state, and Stalin's second wave of purges shortly before his death. Again the Jewish leadership was arrested and efforts were made to stamp out Yiddish culture—even the Judaica collection in the local library was burned. In the ensuing years, the idea of an autonomous Jewish region in the Soviet Union was all but forgotten.[citation needed]

Some scholars, such as Louis Rapoport, Jonathan Brent and Vladimir Naumov, assert that Stalin had devised a plan to deport all of the Jews of the Soviet Union to Birobidzhan much as he had internally deported other national minorities such as the Crimean Tatars and Volga Germans, forcing them to move thousands of miles from their homes. The doctors' plot may have been the first element of this plan. If so, the plan was aborted by Stalin's death on March 5, 1953.[citation needed]

Fugu plan (Japan)[edit]

Despite the little evidence to suggest that the Japanese had ever contemplated a Jewish state or a Jewish autonomous region,[8] Rabbi Marvin Tokayer and Mary Swartz published a book called The Fugu Plan in 1979. In this partly fictionalized book, Tokayer & Swartz gave the name the Fugu Plan or Fugu Plot (河豚計画, Fugu keikaku) to memoranda written in the 1930s Imperial Japan proposing settling Jewish refugees escaping Nazi-occupied Europe in Japanese territories. Tokayer and Swartz claim that the plan, which was viewed by its proponents as risky but potentially rewarding for Japan, was named after the Japanese word for puffer-fish, a delicacy that can be fatally poisonous if incorrectly prepared.[9]

Tokayer and Swartz base their claim on statements made by Captain Koreshige Inuzuka. They alleged that such a plan was first discussed in 1934 and then solidified in 1938, supported by notables such as Inuzuka, Ishiguro Shiro and Norihiro Yasue;[10] however, the signing of the Tripartite Pact in 1941 and other events prevented its full implementation. The memorandums were not called The Fugu Plan.

Ben-Ami Shillony, a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, confirms that the statements upon which Tokayer and Swartz based their claim were taken out of context and that the translation with which they worked was flawed. Shillony's view is further supported by Kiyoko Inuzuka.[11] In 'The Jews and the Japanese: The Successful Outsiders', he questioned whether the Japanese ever contemplated establishing a Jewish state or a Jewish autonomous region.[12][13][14]

Madagascar plan[edit]

The Madagascar plan was a suggested policy of the Third Reich government of Nazi Germany to forcibly relocate the Jewish population of Europe to the island of Madagascar.[15] The evacuation of European Jewry to the island of Madagascar was not a new concept. Henry Hamilton Beamish, Arnold Leese, Lord Moyne, German scholar Paul de Lagarde and the British, French, and Polish governments had all contemplated the idea.[15] Nazi Germany seized upon it, and in May 1940, in his Reflections on the Treatment of Peoples of Alien Races in the East, Heinrich Himmler declared: "I hope that the concept of Jews will be completely extinguished through the possibility of a large emigration of all Jews to Africa or some other colony."

Although some discussion of this plan had been brought forward from 1938 by other well-known Nazi ideologues, such as Julius Streicher, Hermann Göring, and Joachim von Ribbentrop, it was not until June 1940 that the plan was actually set in motion. As victory in France was imminent, it was clear that all French colonies would soon come under German control, and the Madagascar Plan could be realized. It was also felt that a potential peace treaty with Great Britain would put the British navy at Germany's disposal for use in the evacuation.

With Adolf Hitler's approval, Adolf Eichmann released a memorandum on August 15, 1940, calling for the resettlement of a million Jews per year for four years, with the island governed as a police state under the SS. The plan was postponed after the Germans failed to defeat the British in the Battle of Britain later in 1940. In 1942, the so-called "Territorial Solution to the Jewish question"[16] was abandoned in favour of the "Final Solution to the Jewish Question".

Jewish self-governing territory within Italian East Africa[edit]

The Italian government during the Fascist period proposed offering to resolve the "Jewish problem" in Europe and in Palestine by resettling Jews into a Jewish self-governing territory within the northwest territory of Italian East Africa that would place them among the Beta Israel Jewish community already living in Italian East Africa. Jews from Europe and Palestine would be resettled to the north-west Ethiopian districts of Gojjam and Begemder, along with the Beta Israel community.[17][18] The proposed Jewish self-governing territory was to be within the Italian Empire. The Fascist regime at the time showed racialist attitudes towards the Beta Israel Jews of Ethiopia since they are racially black and the Fascist regime deemed whites to be superior to blacks; and racial laws enacted in Italy also applied to the Beta Israel Jews in Italian East Africa that forbade intimate relationships between blacks and whites. Mussolini's plan was never implemented.

Other attempts of Jewish self-governance throughout history[edit]

The list below contains both historical moments of Jewish self-governance as well as other proposals for Jewish self-governance.[note 1]

Ancient times[edit]

Middle ages to 19th century[edit]

Modern times[edit]

Contemporary proposals for a second Jewish state[edit]

Following the creation of the State of Israel, the goal of establishing a Jewish state was achieved. However, since then, there have been some proposals for a second Jewish state, in addition to Israel:

  • State of Judea – many Israeli settlers in the West Bank have mulled declaring independence as the State of Judea should Israel ever withdraw from the West Bank. In January 1989, several hundred activists met and announced their intention to create such a state in the event of Israeli withdrawal.[32][33][34][35]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Included in the list are: regions that had been led by Jewish monarchs; local Jewish self-governance within the context of a larger sovereign power; and proposals for Jewish states before 1948. It does not include majority-Jewish cities which were or currently are de facto Jewish-led like Salonika, Qırmızı Qəsəbə, Jodensavanne, and Kiryas Joel. It also does not contain ethnarchies, Jewish tribes like the Banu Nadir, or one-off proposals that did not garner serious consideration.


  1. ^ "The Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel". Knesset. May 14, 1948. Archived from the original on October 24, 2001.
  2. ^ The Land of Israel and Jerusalem have been embedded into Jewish national and religious consciousness since the 10th century BCE:
    • "Israel was first forged into a unified nation from Jerusalem some three thousand years ago, when King David seized the crown and united the twelve tribes from this city... For a thousand years Jerusalem was the seat of Jewish sovereignty, the household site of kings, the location of its legislative councils and courts. In exile, the Jewish nation came to be identified with the city that had been the site of its ancient capital. Jews, wherever they were, prayed for its restoration." Roger Friedland, Richard D. Hecht. To Rule Jerusalem, University of California Press, 2000, p. 8. ISBN 0-520-22092-7
    • "The centrality of Jerusalem to Judaism is so strong that even secular Jews express their devotion and attachment to the city and cannot conceive of a modern State of Israel without it. ... For Jews Jerusalem is sacred simply because it exists. ... Though Jerusalem's sacred character goes back three millennia...". Leslie J. Hoppe. The Holy City: Jerusalem in the theology of the Old Testament, Liturgical Press, 2000, p. 6. ISBN 0-8146-5081-3
    • "Ever since King David made Jerusalem the capital of Israel 3,000 years ago, the city has played a central role in Jewish existence." Mitchell Geoffrey Bard, The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Middle East Conflict, Alpha Books, 2002, p. 330. ISBN 0-02-864410-7
    • "For Jews the city has been the pre-eminent focus of their spiritual, cultural, and national life throughout three millennia." Yossi Feintuch, U.S. Policy on Jerusalem, Greenwood Publishing Group, 1987, p. 1. ISBN 0-313-25700-0
    • "Jerusalem became the center of the Jewish people some 3,000 years ago" Moshe Maʻoz, Sari Nusseibeh, Jerusalem: Points of Friction – And Beyond, Brill Academic Publishers, 2000, p. 1. ISBN 90-411-8843-6
    • "The Jewish people are inextricably bound to the city of Jerusalem. No other city has played such a dominant role in the history, politics, culture, religion, national life and consciousness of a people as has Jerusalem in the life of Jewry and Judaism. Since King David established the city as the capital of the Jewish state circa 1000 BCE, it has served as the symbol and most profound expression of the Jewish people's identity as a nation." Basic Facts you should know: Jerusalem Archived January 4, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, Anti-Defamation League, 2007. Retrieved March 28, 2007.
  3. ^ Selig Adler and Thomas E. Connolly. From Ararat to Suburbia: the History of the Jewish Community of Buffalo (Philadelphia: the Jewish Publication Society of America, 1960, LCCN 60-15834)
  4. ^ Schreiber, Mordecai. The Shengold Jewish Encyclopedia, 2003. p. 291.
  5. ^ a b c Establishment and Development of the JAR Jewish Autonomous Region official government website. Retrieved August 30, 2007
  6. ^ Pavel Sudoplatov and Anatolii Sudoplatov, with Jerrold L. Schecter and Leona P. Schecter, Special Tasks: The Memoirs of an Unwanted Witness – A Soviet Spymaster, Boston, MA: Little, Brown & Co., 1994, p. 289.
  7. ^ "Managing cultural, ethnic, religious and national identities in the Jewish autonomous region of post-Soviet Russia". University of Surrey. Retrieved March 21, 2014.
  8. ^ Politics and Culture in Wartime Japan by Ben-Ami Shillony. p. 209
  9. ^ Adam Gamble and Takesato Watanabe. A Public Betrayed: An Inside Look at Japanese Media Atrocities and Their Warnings to the West. pp. 196–197.
  10. ^ Shillony Ben-Ami. 'The Politics and Culture in Wartime Japan' p. 170
  11. ^ Inuzuka Kiyoko, Kaigun Inuzuka kikan no kiroku: Yudaya mondai to Nippon no kōsaku (Tokyo: Nihon kōgyō shimbunsha, 1982)
  12. ^ Ben Ami-Shillony, The Jews and the Japanese: The Successful Outsiders (Rutland, VT: Tuttle, 1991)
  13. '^ Origins of the Pacific War and the importance of 'Magic by Keiichiro Komatsu, Palgrave Macmillan, 1999. ISBN 0-312-17385-7
  14. ^ Politics and Culture in Wartime Japan by Ben-Ami Shillony. Edition: reprint, illustrated Published by Oxford University Press, 1991
  15. ^ a b Browning, Christopher R. The Origins of the Final Solution. 2004. Page 81
  16. ^ "The territorial solution to the Jewish question". holocaust.cz.
  17. ^ "Religion: Jews' Luck". Time. July 18, 1938. Archived from the original on October 4, 2008. Retrieved December 25, 2010.
  18. ^ "Vatican City: Pope to Get Jerusalem?". Time. July 8, 1940. Archived from the original on October 14, 2010. Retrieved December 25, 2010.
  19. ^ Gottheil, Richard. "Adiabene". Jewish Encyclopedia. Retrieved November 8, 2011.
  20. ^ Geoffrey Herman (2012). A Prince Without a Kingdom: The Exilarch in the Sasanian Era. Mohr Siebeck, Tubingen, German. p. 295. ISBN 978-3161506062. Retrieved January 15, 2014.
  21. ^ Michlic, Joanna Beata (2006). Poland's Threatening Other: The Image of the Jew from 1880 to the Present, pp. 48, 55–56. University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 0-8032-3240-3.
  22. ^ Blobaum, Robert (2005). Anti-Semitism and Its Opponents in Modern Poland, p. 61. Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-8014-4347-4.
  23. ^ Jerusalem: The Biography, pp. 380–381, Simon Sebag Montefiore, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2011. ISBN 978-0-297-85265-0
  24. ^ Gürel, Şükrü S. "Zionist Plans and Cyprus (1896–1948)".
  25. ^ Steinberg, Isaac Nachman (1888–1957) by Beverley Hooper, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, Melbourne University Press, 2002, pp 298–299. Online Ed. published by Australian National University
  26. ^ [1]
  27. ^ "The plan for a Jewish homeland in Tasmania". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. January 18, 2010. Retrieved November 6, 2010.
  28. ^ "Tasmania: The New Jerusalem?". Jews Down Under. February 10, 2015.[dead link]
  29. ^ "Zionist Movement And The Foundation Of Israel 1839–1972, The – Archive Editions". Archived from the original on September 23, 2015. Retrieved June 5, 2008.
  30. ^ Kizzia, Tom. "Novel involving Alaska Jewish colony is rooted in history". Anchorage Daily News. Archived from the original on August 21, 2007. Retrieved June 13, 2007.
  31. ^ Yerith Rosen (January–February 2012). "Alaska: That Great Big Jewish Land". Moment Magazine. Archived from the original on April 22, 2012. Retrieved February 3, 2011. According to Ickes's diaries, President Roosevelt wanted to move 10,000 settlers to Alaska each year for five years, but only 10 percent would be Jewish "to avoid the undoubted criticism" the program would receive if it brought too many Jews into the country. With Ickes's support, Interior Undersecretary Harold Slattery wrote a formal proposal titled "The Problem of Alaskan Development," which became known as the Slattery Report. It emphasized economic-development benefits rather than humanitarian relief: The Jewish refugees, Ickes reasoned, would "open up opportunities in the industrial and professional fields now closed to the Jews in Germany."
  32. ^ Kass, Ilana; O'Neill, Bard E (1997). The deadly embrace: the impact of Israeli and Palestinian rejectionism on the peace process. University Press of America. p. 146. ISBN 978-0-7618-0535-9.
  33. ^ Ron, James (2003). Frontiers and ghettos: state violence in Serbia and Israel. University of California Press. p. 170. ISBN 978-0-520-23657-8.
  34. ^ Rubinstein, Danny (January 22, 2007)."The State of Judea". Haaretz.
  35. ^ "Settlers seek new nation called Judea". Eugene Register-Guard. January 17, 1989. p. 3A.

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