Spiritual Zionism - a trend in Jewish nationalist thinking and Zionist ideology, was most prominently championed by Ahad Ha'am (Asher Zvi Ginsberg), one of the leaders of Hibbat Zion, a predecessor of Zionism.
In contrast to the views of Herzl and Political Zionism, in which Jewish statehood was advocated as a solution to the question of the Jews, Ahad Ha'am saw the crux of the problem in the question of Judaism, which, he believed, had lost its spiritual assets - its sources of creative and national might.
Because Ahad Ha'am did not believe that Palestine could accommodate all of Jewry, a Jewish state there, in his estimation, would not solve the problem of the Jews' social and economic status. Efforts should concentrate on establishing a national spiritual center, a hub of high-quality life in Palestine, that would radiate to all Diaspora communities.
The correct course of action, Ahad Ha'am argued, is extensive and continuing educational activity among Jews and moderate settlement activity in Palestine.
Non-Zionist parties which proposed solutions to the Jewish problem outside the Land of Israel included:
Jewish Autonomism, a non-Zionist ideology first enunciated in the early twentieth century by Simon Dubnow, crystallized in Eastern Europe. It believed in the future viability of Jewish life in the Diaspora as long as Jewry continues to maintain self-rule in community organizations; to sustain its educational and mutual-assistance institutions; and to develop its "spiritual nationhood."
The Autonomism ideology served as a conceptual foundation for the People's Party (Volkspartei) that operated mainly in Poland and Lithuania, and it appeared in various versions in the platforms of Socialist Jewish parties such as the Bund and the Sejmists. Some of the Zionist parties favored Jewish self-rule in the Diaspora as long as the Diaspora existed, but did not consider it a solution to the problem of the Jewish people.
The Holocaust put an end to the foundation of autonomism; today it has no practical impact on Jewish life and philosophy.
Territorialism preached the formation of a Jewish collective in Palestine, or anywhere else, on the basis of self-rule. The territorialist outlook coalesced in the debate over the Uganda Program. In July 1905, after the Zionist Congress rejected this plan, the Territorialist Jewish Organization was established in Basle under the leadership of the writer Israel Zangwill. It attempted to locate territory suitable for Jewish settlement in various parts of Africa, Asia, and Australia, but with little success. The Balfour Declaration and the resulting Zionist awakening negated the movement and led to its dissolution in 1925.
Other territorialist attempts, meant as counterweights to Zionism, were undertaken in the Soviet Union between the two world wars. The first was in the southern Ukraine and the northern Crimea, where four non-contiguous "national districts" (raiony) were established in the early 1920s and obliterated when the Nazis invaded. The second was in Birobidjan, where a "Jewish Autonomous Region" was proclaimed in 1934. This venture also failed, leaving a small Jewish minority in the region. In 1935, in response to the Nazi accession to power in Germany, I. L. Steinberg established the Freeland League in the United States. This organization attempted, unsuccessfully, to pursue Jewish autonomy by obtaining a large piece of territory in sparsely populated areas in Ecuador, Australia, or Surinam.
None of the territorialist movements are today viable.