WI: Jewish Argentina

As we all know, the first Zionist Congress took place in 1897 in Basel, Switzerland as headed by Theodor Herzl. Almost right from the beginning, the most popular choice for a Jewish homeland was Palestine. But, Herzl evidently favored Argentina with its much more temperate climate and being far more suitable for agriculture. 1897 was in the middle of the large wave of emigration of Eastern European Jews to the Americas (particularly the USA) and Argentina and Chile were disputing over their border until 1902 so perhaps the Jews could have taken advantage of this split. Let's say that Herzl was more successful in persuading his colleagues that Argentina was preferable for a Jewish homeland over Palestine. How do you think it would pan out?
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I think it depends on the number of inmigrants. Argentina at the time had HUGE waves of inmigrations from Italy and Spain, and then from every other country in Europe (and Asian and Middle East countries too...). Jewish inmigrants from all nations formed a sizeable portion of that, as the vibrant Jewish community in Argentina attest. However, from what I've read, they seemed to have little interest to establish an independent homeland in South America. And if even if they did, other inmigrants were WAY more numerous, so there was little chance they could have a piece of land all for themselves.

Also, while the Generación del 80 weren't exactly theocrats, they were conservative Catholics, and I doubt they would be easily convinced to make an independent Jewish state or homeland. 'Colonies', inmigrant towns under Argentine jurisdiction, sure. There were a lot of examples, the Welsh in Chubut most famously, but every inmigrant group you can think off had some sort of settlement in Argentina.
I think you’d first need a large Jewish Palestinian populaiton for this to happen, which isn’t impossible at all, if The US limit immigration, at least of jews, earlier than IRL and there isn’t any british Palestine to go, hundred of thousands could move to Argentina, maybe up to a point they make up more than 5% of the population (Argentina was the second destination for migrants in the Americas... if half of the Jews who went to the us go there that would already be close to 7.5% today).

The question would be if they are willing to move inside Argentina... most will be urban in Buenos Aires and will have little desire to move inland,
Right, but neither country would willingly give it up. Would they?
No, they wouldn't.

I see a possibility, but it's kind of out there: at the time neither the UK or the USA wanted either Argentina or Chile to fully own the Strait of Magellan or Cape Horn, and indeed, it's one of the reasons it is divided OTL. Maybe they could take over Tierra del Fuego, and some enterprising zionist could push for making it a Jewish homeland.

This would, of course, make no one happy, probably not even the Jews moving there (Tierra del Fuego was quite unforgiving at the time, it was even a penal colony for Argentina). Most of Patagonia is rather unforgiving in any case. Little else to do at the time except sheepherding and fishing.

The closest equivalent would probably be the Welsh Colonies in Chubut, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Y_Wladfa or the various German/Czech/Italian/Russian/Hungarian and a long etc. settlements in Chaco, Misiones and elsewhere. They eventually all assimilated into wider Argentina, mostly by being overtaken by Italian and Spanish inmigrations (seriously, a LOT of Italians came to Argentina... my great-grandparents included).

The Welsh, like many other inmigrant collectivities, were actually invited by Argentina to colonize those harsh territories. Maybe an open-minded Argentine president (quite hard to get that in those times :p ) could also invite Jews to colonize Patagonia, or maybe the Chaco or Misiones.

But to be truly independent, a Jewish Argentine colony would need extraordinary inmigration (most Jews who inmigrated to Argentina went to the cities from what I understand) and foreign backing not to be absorbed by the growing Argentine state (which probably won't see with good eyes them becoming independent). So that means no being landlocked... but the rich coasts of Buenos Aires and Rio Negro are NOT going to be given up, and the rest of Patagonia is too harsh to attract further settlers, as the Welsh found out. It would take great efforts to make such a colony prosper, and I doubt it would be self-sufficient to survive until, say, the discovery of oil (which isn't that much oil anyways). It would be a land of shepherds and fishermen.

Still, could be a very interesting story.

A Jewish colony in the Chaco or Misiones would face even greater challenges. Misiones is covered by tropical rainforest, and the Greater Chaco is covered by hot, dry (or floodable!) forest, the Impenetrable (just the name tells you a lot). But still, they had a lot of inmigrant collectivities, just ask the Mennonites in Paraguay https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mennonites_in_Paraguay or my own Trentine ancestors. It would be also interesting to see how a potential Jewish colony interacts with the native peoples, whatever in Patagonia or the North.
The question would be if they are willing to move inside Argentina... most will be urban in Buenos Aires and will have little desire to move inland,
Zionists in general were less excited about being urban and more excited about establishing farms. Zionist philosophy placed a lot of emphasis on a personal relationship with the land and a "redemption" of the Diaspora Jewish character as "middlemen" (though this was never complete and would fade later - OTL, this philosophy was struck a strong blow by the wave of German immigrants fleeing the Nazis, who were generally well-educated and well-off).
Would the Argentines and the Chileans have given up territory for a Jewish state?
The thing is the Jews would plan to settle territory that both Argentina and Chile claimed and were actively disputing.
The plan also involved buying parts of Patagonia to settle there as the land at that time was only sparsely settled and of no major interest to the world and regional powers. Herzl himself suggested doing so among other options.
The plan also involved buying parts of Patagonia to settle there as the land at that time was only sparsely settled and of no major interest to the world and regional powers. Herzl himself suggested doing so among other options.
It's also worth noting that at this point people were also considering the possibility of a non-state "Jewish homeland". A Jewish-majority province or two within Argentina would suffice.
Essentially, we're looking at a larger Jewish community in Argentina, being integrated into the country as the rest of the migrants. Eventually, the first generation of Argentines born from those migrants would seek a nationalist ideology as in OTL and such an ideology may very well aim to integrate them more, like OTL Peronism did.

In any case, a lot of Jewish people would remain in Europe. A hard butterfly effect means Nazism doesn't happen so even if the world wars still happen, the State of Israel may be butterflied away. Argentina, in that case, becomes the home of the largest Jewish community in the world. Considering antisemitism wouldn't be discredited for some time (economic research showing that discrimination hurts productivity would still happen so discrimination would be slowly chipped away) so that may hurt Argentine image abroad. Or not - people may just not care outside Argentina.
The plan also involved buying parts of Patagonia to settle there as the land at that time was only sparsely settled and of no major interest to the world and regional powers. Herzl himself suggested doing so among other options.
That's actually what I wanted to articulate but couldn't remember. Thanks for the assistance (even though you didn't mean to).
By 1897 it is too late for a Jewish independent State in the territory of what is now Argentina, I think. By then, Patagonia, though sparsely settled, was firmly in control of both the Argentinean and Chilenean States. Only a great power like the UK could take territory from any of both countries. The border between both countries had been largely settled by the treaty of 1881: what was left to define were comparatively minor areas located at the Andes mointains, not usefull as a territory for an independent state, which would had to be landlocked.

Argentina could sell public lands to Jewish settlements: in fact Jewish "colonies" were established in the interior of Argentina in the late XIX century/early XX century IOTL. Many of them were sponsored by the Baron Von Hirsch.

These colonies were not located in Patagonia, though, but in the pampas, in areas more productive for agriculture (Mainly in Santa Fe, Entre Rios and Buenos Aires). These colonies were pretty autonomous, they had their own Yddish schools (although the Government began making it mandatory for them to teach Spanish and other subjects included at the national school sylabus). It is important to know that these colonies were autonomous but they were not independant. They were part of the Argentine State. Eventualy, most of the descendants of their first inhabitants abandoned the rural life of these colonies, and moved into the big cities, like Rosario or Buenos Aires, where they assimilated into the rest of the country's population (while keeping their Jewish religion or identity in many cases).

In order to have a Jewish independent state in part of what is now Argentina you would need both an earlier POD and the support of a great power (I do not see any other possible supporter than the UK). Let me explain further: I personaly believe a Welsh State in Patagonia was possible: the Welsh settlement was established in the 1860ies, in Chubut, BEFORE the military campaing that assured Argentine control of Patagonia (which took place in 1879). The Welsh settlement was isolated from the rest of the country and was only accesible by sea, separated as it was from the rest of Argentina by deserts and "Indian" land. Had more settlers come, and had the UK supported them in order to create a protectorate, a Welsh independent settlement COULD have been established in Patagonia#. But a Jewish one (or one from any nationality or group) could not be created with a POD as late as 1897. At least not an independent one. Any "colony" established after 1897 would never have been given independence by Argentina or Chile.

#Even an independent Welsh settlement is difficult, of course, because the Welsh had come to Patagonia (littetaly the middle of nowhere back then) in order to be as far as possible from the UK, so they would not be assimilated into the English identity; only in the face of extreme difficulties wiuld they seek British protection.
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