was first published in April-May 1907 in Yaffo, as a journal for the Ha-Po’eel Ha-Tza’ir party. With the union of the two parties Ha-Po’eel Ha-Tsa’air and Ahdut Ha-'Avodah in 1930, it became the official periodical of Mapai, and from 1968 until its discontinuation in 1970, it was the main publication of the Labor party. The website’s collection currently contains only the issues of Ha-Po’eel Ha-Tsa’air
from the period in which it served as the primary journal of the Labor Movement, from its foundation in 1907 until the first appearance of the daily Davar
Ha-Po’eel Ha-Tsa’air was intended to provide a forum to the settling workers who had arrived during the Second Aliyah. The paper’s opening article was entitled “The Practical Labor in Eretz Yisrael,” and it concluded with an appeal to the youth contingent that their proper place was “here in the fields of Eretz Yisrael alongside the plow, and not on the barricades of the lands of Exile.” The publication’s first two issues were stencils. Beginning with the third issue, in October 1907, the paper appeared in print with the subtitle: “The Mouthpiece of the Jewish Workers Federation in Eretz Yisrael ‘Ha-Po’eel Ha-Tsa’air.” The paper’s first issues bore the stamp “Printed in Cairo” in order to mislead the authorities, while the paper was actually printed in Jerusalem. During its second and third years the paper was also printed in Jerusalem, and during its fourth to fourteenth years it was printed in Jaffa.
Ha-Po’eel Ha-Tsa’air initially came out as a monthly publication; during the years 1909-1912 it generally appeared twice a month, and beginning in 1913 it was published weekly. During World War I (1914-1918) the paper ceased operations, and from the time it was resumed in 1919 onwards, it was once again published weekly.
During the period of the Second Aliyah, Ha-Po’eel Ha-Tsa’air served as the main forum for the controversies that pervaded and stirred up the Yishuv—in particular among the workers—and it published articles on current events in various areas of settlement and labor. The paper provides a wealth of information on life in Palestine—on the experiences of the workers and the difficulties inherent in their absorption.
The paper provided a literary forum featuring the works of many of the leading Hebrew writers living in Ottoman and Mandatory Palestine, including those not associated with the Zionist Labor movement or with the Ha-Po’eel Ha-Tsa’air party; among them were: Dvora Baron, Yosef Haim Brenner (who was also the editor of a competing paper, Ha-Achdut, which was published by the Po’alei Zion party), Moshe Smilansky, Shai Agnon, Gershon Shufman, S. Ben-Zion, Asher Barash, David Shimonovitz (Shimoni), Ya’akov Fichman, Jacob Steinberg, Rabbi Benyamin (Yehoshua Radler-Feldman), Uri Zvi Greenberg and others. Authors who wrote on the lives and activities of workers were also encouraged by Ha-Po’eel Ha-Tsa’air; among the most prominent of these were: Nechama Pochatchevsky, Shlomo Zemach, and Meir Wilkansky. During different periods, the writers S. Ben-Zion, Y.H. Brenner, Dvora Baron and David Shimonovitz served as editors of the literary section.
Aharon David Gordon frequently published articles in Ha-Po’eel Ha-Tsa’air, and he exerted great influence over many of the paper’s writers and editors. Berl Katznelson began his publicistic writing on the pages of Ha-Po’eel Ha-Tsa’air. Other central figures in the life of the Yishuv also contributed regularly to the paper, such as Chaim Arlosoroff, Joseph Vitkin, Eliezer Jaffe, Hillel Jaffe, and Arthur Ruppin. Among the significant events in the history of the paper may be noted the “Brenner Affair,” a broad controversy which broke out after the publication of an article by Brenner in November 1910 on the issue of conversion, and which led the Hovevei Zion Committee in Odessa to withdraw their financial support from the paper. The community of Eretz Yisrael workers then banned together to ensure the paper’s continued existence by independent means. In the 1940s, the editor Yitzhak Lufban wrote of Ha-Po’eel Ha-Tsa’air: “Swimming against the current…has always been one of the foremost characteristics of this forum…Not the desire to be popular, to speak to the nature of the street, but rather the desire to be real and to educate the reader and the movement to true consciousness, to understanding, to serious and responsible consideration, such was the aim of this paper throughout all the years. It has received neither acclaim nor praise, and has always been anathema in the eyes of many, and even among its supporters and the public for which it has served as a mouthpiece, it has often been the butt of sharp criticism… A forum for education, for cultural and moral enlightenment, it has also been a forum for disputation and conflict during the forty years of its existence” (Yitzhak Lufbn, “On the Brink of Days: The 1940s,” 7.10.1946).
Throughout the many years of its publication, up to the establishment of the State of Israel, the paper represented the values of the Second Aliyah and the Eretz Yisrael Labor Movement, among them the conquest of labor, the land, and the Hebrew language. During this period the Labor Movement also achieved hegemony over the Jewish Yishuv of Eretz Yisrael. When the paper became the official journal of Mapai in 1930, the sections dealing with politics, social issues and political parties were significantly expanded. During the 1930s and 1940s, the editorial board also provided space to writers who opposed the line adopted by the party’s leadership; thus, for example, the paper published articles by members of Brit Shalom who often locked horns with Mapai’s activist line. After the establishment of the State of Israel Ha-Po’eel Ha-Tsa’air became the periodical of the ruling party, and its new editor was Yisrael Cohen, who had been a member of the editorial board since 1934. During Cohen’s editorship, the paper served as a stage and hotbed for the cultivation of young writers who would go on to become members of the party's leadership, as well as young authors and critics for whom the paper provided an initial place of publication.
In 1968 an index of the paper’s first fifty volumes (from the years 1907-1957) was published, edited by Isa and Getzel Kressel.