"Irresponsible, undisciplined opposition": Ben Halpern on the Bergson group and Jewish terrorism in pre-state Palestine (1).
In December 1946, the Labor Zionist journal Jewish Frontier published an exchange between Daniel Bell (b. 1919) and Ben Halpern (1912-1990), two rising intellectual stars of twentieth-century American Jewry. The exchange highlighted the most pressing philosophical and existential dilemmas faced by the Jewish world in the aftermath of World War II and the Holocaust. Bell, a young instructor at the University of Chicago, opened his essay with a statement by the great German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, "Woe to man who has no home." He proceeded to raise and answer a series of probing questions: "What meaningful role can the young Jewish intellectual play in [today's] world?" "How can one maintain a critical temper?" "Where are we to go?" "What of the relation of this position to Zionism?" Taking his cues from Nietzsche, Bell asserted the futility of an ethnic-religious worldview and argued instead for the harnessing of Jewish passions to a universalist and this-worldly Weltanschauung. "The plight--and glory--of the alienated Jewish intellectual," he concluded, "is that his role is to point to the need of brotherhood.... He can only live in permanent tension and as a permanent critic." (2)
Halpern, Jewish Frontier's managing editor and a Harvard Ph.D. in sociology, challenged Bell's assertions. Disputing Bell's premise of the role of the "alienated Jewish intellectual," Halpern argued in favor of a search for community, fellowship, and belonging in the modern world. In his rejoinder, he insisted on a historically conditioned rationale for Jewish nationalism, and the significance of Jewish intellectuals in shaping the future of Jewish life:
Let me suggest that you are driving into a blind alley when you flirt with the idea that it is necessary to live in a physically defined state of alienation, like the Jews in the ghetto, in order to be a prophet.... It might be a fruitful exercise if you were to ponder all over again the question of love and social organization, of community and the pitfalls of romanticism and cynicism. We have gone through a very purgatory of social education in our century, and one of the chief devils stoking the fires has been the demon of intellectual theocracy--the Ideocrat.... Should we not still explore the possibility that there are ways of action and types of commitment by which the independence of the spirit need not be sold out? As a first modest contribution towards the quest, let me propose the thesis that loyalty to a dogma is a tyranny which suffers only slaves in its realm; but loyalty to one's fellowmen--and, first of all, to the concrete, particular aggregation of fellowmen who have the precise responses which meet the acts and fill the deeper expectations by which each of us defines his true personality--can be a compact of love and freedom, preserving the independence of the individual and the spirit." (3)
The Bell-Halpern exchange reflects the sea change in modern history effected by the Nazi regime's catastrophic destruction of European Jewry. It also underscores the gravity of the Jewish public debate in the years following World War II and the Holocaust, especially the vexing issue of the place of Jews in the postwar world. Bell's universalism, akin to Marxist historian Isaac Deutscher's conception of "the non-Jewish Jew," starkly contrasted with Halpern's unapologetic particularism. Like Horace M. Kallen, Louis D. Brandeis, Mordecai M. Kaplan, and other intellectuals who subscribed to an idealistic American brand of Jewish nationalism in the pre-state era, Halpern emphasized an appreciation of the peculiar conditions that shaped and defined Jewish life in the United States. He was to articulate this theme most fully a few years later in his trenchant essay "America Is Different." (4) In the latter, he examined the relationship of Jews to America--a postemancipationist, open, liberal society--and pointed to the special challenges faced by Jews in the New World. The new postwar reality in which America and the Yishuv (later Israel) assumed dominant roles in the Jewish public arena forced a reconsideration of and "a new focus in the direction of Jewish thought," particularly with regard to the dilemmas posed to the American Jewish society-in-the-making by the forces of acculturation, assimilation, and antisemitism. (5)
There is, however, another subtext to the Bell-Halpern exchange that merits investigation, namely, the heated debate in postwar American Jewish life over the best political strategy for driving forward the twin campaigns of Jewish statehood and alleviating the distress of the European Jewish refugees. In this period, American Jews showed increasing interest in the fortunes of the fledgling Yishuv, as well as the plight of some 65,000 Holocaust survivors stranded in Displaced Persons camps in the British, American, French, and Russian zones in Europe. The camps included a sizable number of Jewish DPs who wished to immigrate to Palestine. In general, American Jewish public opinion swung overwhelmingly in support of the Zionist policies and program of the Palestine-based coalition grouped around David Ben-Gurion and the socialist Mapai party which, starting in the mid-1930s, assumed a central position in the World Zionist Organization, in the Jewish Agency for Palestine, and in the Yishuv's affairs. That American Jews were predisposed in this regard was already evident at the Biltmore Conference of 1942, held in New York City in lieu of the World Zionist Congress, and the subsequent American Jewish Conference of 1943. In both instances, the plenaries focused squarely on the question of state building as the key to ensuring the viability of the Yishuv and saving the Jews of Nazi-occupied Europe. (6)
As the Zionist leadership became embroiled in an increasingly bitter struggle with the British over freedom of access to Mandatory Palestine, the internal Zionist debate over tactics intensified. The fierce tenor of relations among Zionist factions in the Diaspora reflected this situation. Dissenting voices from across the social and religious spectrum of American Jewry called for radical responses to the world crisis, the grave distress of the European Jewish refugees, and the intransigent attitude of the British Mandatory. Nowhere in the American Zionist arena was the conflict more apparent than in the bitter power struggle between the "moderates" and the "militants," led, respectively, by Rabbi Stephen S. Wise (1874-1949) and Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver (1893-1963). (7) The de bate was also joined by left- and right-wing fringe groups that promoted extremist and, in some instances, explicitly terrorist agendas. (8)
Between 1945 and 1948, membership in the organized American Zionist movement skyrocketed, and the constituencies of secular, religious, and partisan Zionist groups grew in an unprecedented fashion. (9) Within this matrix, American Jews generally supported the political strategy of the Zionist leadership. Moreover, as a result of Labor's dominance in world Zionist affairs, the American wing of Labor Zionism--the Pioneer Women's Organization, the Poalei Zion-Zeirei Zion party, the Farband fraternal order, the Hechalutz pioneer movement, and the Habonim youth group--enjoyed disproportionate significance in American Zionist affairs. (10) Meanwhile, even hitherto marginal forces found the scope and opportunity to flourish and to escalate the pace of their activities.
The annotated lecture published here offers a rare glimpse of the urgency and dynamism of this period. Given in 1947 by Ben Halpern to the leadership of Pioneer Women, the document throws light on the complex attitudes of American Jews to Zionism, Palestine, and the issues of postwar reconstruction and rehabilitation. It also reveals the considerable political savvy and determination of the Pioneer Women leadership. Halpern--part Zionist activist and part scholar-in-the-making--used the occasion to explain, analyze, and reflect on the nature and conditions of Jewish political affairs in the United States and Palestine on the eve of statehood. His talk is also instructive from another vantage point. It delineates the parameters of the mindset of the so-called "other New York Jewish intellectuals" (in distinction to the "New York intellectuals" grouped around Partisan Review) who placed a premium on questions of Jewish national identity and the integrity of Jewish culture in a rapidly changing postwar world.
The talk underscores the extent to which Halpern, himself, was the protege of three outstanding intellectuals of the previous generation, each of whom played a pivotal role in shaping his sense of intellectual engagement. Under Harry Wolfson (1887-1974) of Harvard University, a preeminent American scholar of Jewish thought, Halpern completed his doctorate and acquired a penetrating and systematic understanding of Jewish history. Alongside Enzo Sereni (1905-1944), the charismatic Italian socialist Zionist leader and Histadrut emissary to American Hechalutz in the 1930s, he developed a non-doctrinaire approach to haluziut (Zionist pioneering) and the Palestine labor movement. In fact, he eventually followed Sereni to Kibbutz Givat Brenner, of which Sereni was a founding member, and where Halpern and his wife, Gertrude, lived from 1938 to 1940. Last, in Hayim Greenberg (1889-1953), the spiritual guide of Labor Zionism in the Diaspora, he found a mentor whose profound understanding of Jewish thought and civilization inspired much of Halpern's own secular identity and worldview.
Halpern's first-hand understanding of American and Palestinian affairs leavened his abilities as a cogent writer and incisive analyst of the contemporary Jewish scene. By 1947, Halpern, who knew most of the major figures of the Palestine labor movement personally, had already emerged as a central figure in Labor Zionist affairs in the United States. He worked part-time as a member of the editorial board of Jewish Frontier, the influential Zionist publication edited by Hayim Greenberg, and was a crucial interlocutor in the United States of the Mapai party, the Histadrut, and the Haganah. (11)
The lecture is also significant from a historiographic standpoint in that it sheds light on an area of American Jewish history that has yet to receive sufficient scholarly attention: the contentious campaign in the United States for public support of Jewish self-defense efforts in the Yishuv on the eve of statehood. On one level, the debate stemmed from widely-ranging differences of opinion over Zionist tactics, including how best to facilitate the intensification of rescue and relief efforts visa-vis survivors of the Holocaust and the promotion of the illegal Jewish immigration to Palestine in defiance of the British blockade known as Aliyah Bet. On another level, it reflected a core problematic of the Jewish nationalist enterprise, namely the struggle of the Zionist mainstream to forge a consensus around a vision of a secure and viable Jewish state based on liberal and social democratic values.
In the United States, it was the Zionist right-wing, which otherwise remained numerically and politically insignificant, that mounted the most vigorous challenge to the dominant Zionist coalition grouped around Ben-Gurion and Silver on the eve of statehood. Organized by Hillel Kook (1915-2000), who assumed the Americanized pseudonym Peter Bergson, the so-called "Bergson group" was a flashpoint for a diverse mix of Jewish and non-Jewish Americans who sought to hasten the pace of the Zionist enterprise. At its core, the group also included a handful of right-wing Zionist activists who chafed under the hegemony of the Palestine labor movement and endeavored, in contravention of established World Zionist Organization (WZO) policy, to divert American support and funds to extremist Jewish political activities in Palestine. (12) The Bergson group's success in the United States was an important public relations coup for the Zionist right wing. It marshaled a highly effective propaganda campaign that played an important role in the process leading up to the establishment of the War Refugee Board by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. At the same time, it presented a quandary for the Zionist establishment, which was wary of the irrepressible Bergson group's impact on Zionist public relations efforts, as well as its clandestine support of right-wing violence and terrorism in Palestine. Such "irresponsible, undisciplined opposition," Halpern asserted, threatened to undermine the Zionist leadership's strategy for attaining sovereignty in Palestine and to bring the full force of the British Mandatory regime down upon the Yishuv.
The following document captures a moment in time when postwar American Jewish power was still raw and unformed and the Zionist campaign for Jewish statehood had reached a critical phase. Against this backdrop, Halpern's cogent analysis is a cautionary assessment of the impact of extremism and terrorism on American Jewish life and politics. His message continues to resonate today as the State of Israel and its American partners contemplate the next stage of the Jewish state's struggle to retain its democratic traditions and ensure its future. (13)
DR. BEN HALPERN: The program says that I am supposed to talk about the Bergson Group. (14) Now I am sure what you had in mind when you titled this talk "The Bergson Groups" was not solely the groups in the United States who support the terrorist or the dissident military organization in Palestine, (15) but also a discussion of those organizations themselves. (16) And that is what I intend to do, discuss both these topics. And since the organizations in Palestine are, after all, the most important phase of the subject, I will begin with them.
There are two such organizations who are supported, or at least are said to be supported, by the Bergson groups in the United States. One of these is the Ezel, (17) as it is called in Palestine, the Irgun Zvai Leumi, (18) the national military organization; the other, the Stern Gang, (19) the Fighters for the Freedom of Israel.
Most people know now, more or less, what strength these two groups have. Ezel is estimated variously at from three to four thousand men to about ten thousand men. The Stern Group is estimated at about a few hundred men. To understand the significance of these figures take them in comparison with the Haganah (20) which is the body whose function it is to defend the Jewish community in Palestine and which consists of a minimum of about sixty thousand men with a fully mobilized group called Palmah (21) of a thousand or more. These are therefore minor groups from a point of view of numbers. If you take the large group, Irgun Zvai Leumi, assuming that they have ten thousand men as the largest estimate, most of these men, so called, (22) are engaged in various activities such as posting billboards, doing intelligence, spying on the British, they have a loose connection--they have a very inactive connection with the Irgun Zvai Leumi. The people who carry out the attacks that you read about in the newspapers are a small minority of the Ezel. In total numbers they don't amount to much more than the Stern Group which is an entirely active body.
Now these minorities--why do they exist? What do they want? How do they expect to get it? That is, after all, the basis on which we have to judge their activities. And it is very important to make clear at the very beginning that these groups want two things.
In the first place, they wish to get rid of the British. (23) But that is not all they want. Even before they ever worked to get rid of the British--and these groups have a history going back before the war, in one case at least--they worked to get rid of the Jewish Agency. (24) Or, to put it more correctly, they worked to usurp the place of the leaders of the Jewish Agency. Their earliest objective was to become the leaders of the Jewish community and that was their objective at a time when they did not even think of getting rid of the British in Palestine--when they thought the Jewish aims in Palestine could be achieved in cooperation with the British.
I want to emphasize this point and I want to illustrate it so you won't have to depend on my word to understand this. I will give you one striking illustration that this is what they are after. I wish to call your attention to what happened during the [Twenty-second Zionist] Congress in [Basle,] Switzerland [in December 1946]. (25) At the time, as you know, the Irgun Zvai Leumi and the Stern Group called a truce in their war against Great Britain. They didn't do anything for weeks. Why didn't they do anything for those weeks? Was it because of thinking in relation to Great Britain? Did it have any connection with their aim in getting rid of the British? Certainly, not directly. The British were there. They had not stopped keeping immigrants out. They had not stopped arresting people in the Irgun Zvai Leumi.
They stopped their activities at that time, as they said very frankly, so that there would be no fighting during the period of the [Zionist] Congress. If you wish to interpret, that means to give the Revisionist organizations (26) a chance to become leaders in the World Zionist Congress. That is what they had in mind.
I will give you another illustration. Just a couple of weeks ago the Revisionist organization in the United States, which is a member of the World Zionist Organization, (27) had an advertisement in the papers, a full-page advertisement. (28) I want you to notice one or two things about the Revisionist Organization of America. (29) In the first place, as I said, it is a member of the World Zionist Organization. It attended the last [Zionist] Congress. (30) It is bound by a resolution at that last Congress which says that it must have nothing to do with either the Irgun Zvai Leumi or the Stern Groups--must not support them in any way. (31)
Now, what did this advertisement of the Revisionists say? It said they are opposed to partitioning as a solution in Palestine and they argued further that if partitioning is adopted as the solution for the political problem of Palestine, then the result will be that the Irgun Zvai Leumi and the Stern Group will fight against such a solution. (32) And therefore they warned us not to do anything of this kind. That was one of the reasons they gave why we should not think too much of partitioning.
I am not going to argue here for or against partitioning [Palestine]. I want to point out one or two things about it. In the first place, if partitioning were to be adopted, it would mean that Great Britain would get out of Palestine--at least that part of Palestine where the Jewish state would be set up. That is presumably what the Irgun Zvai Leumi and the Stern Group want. It would mean also the establishment of the Jewish state. Now it would mean the establishment of a Jewish state in what some Jews, most Jews perhaps, might think is not a sufficiently large part of the country.
Some Jews, and perhaps most Jews, think that even western Palestine is too small a part of the country in which to set up a Jewish state, that we should have Transjordan (33) to work in, too. The Irgun Zvai Leumi sometimes talks in terms of fighting if we don't get Transjordan, too, as well as Palestine. On their posters they have this emblem of a hand holding a rifle stretched over western Palestine and Transjordan and they say this the way to define their goal. (34)
If the majority of the Jewish people is willing to accept western Palestine alone or partition, the Irgun Zvai Leumi warns us--and the Revisionists back them up--that they will not accept the decision of the majority of the Jewish people. (35)
Now the question arises, therefore, just what are these people trying to do? Are they simply fighting the British or do they have something else in mind? And it becomes quite clear that they have something very definitely in mind. They are not merely trying to drive the British out of Palestine. (36) They are trying to set down the political demands of the Jewish people, whether or not they can get a majority to back them--to set these demands down at the point of their guns, to define what are the objectives of the Zionist movement by threat of using force against any solution that they don't agree with, even if the majority [does]. And to back up that attempt they are trying also to gain power in the Zionist movement, whether such power is given to them by a majority or whether they have to obtain it again by force of arms, by threat, by terrorism. (37)
This is terrorism--terrorism directed against the Jewish community as much as against the British government. If you look up the dictionary definition of "terrorism," you will see the concept means an attempt to administer or to coerce a government or a community by intimidating it. And that is what these people are trying [to do]. They are trying to intimidate the British; they are trying also to intimidate the Jewish community into adopting their political program, into letting them carry that political program into effect. And it is for that reason when the [Zionist] Congress took place the Revisionists went back to the Congress and there was hope that [Abba Hillel] Silver (38) and the American side would play ball with the Revisionists and the Mizrahi. (39) They declared a fight as to whether the Congress would satisfy their demands. The implication was, if the Congress satisfied their demands they would cease their terrorism against the Jewish communities and if the Congress did not satisfy their demands they would continue their terrorism against the Jewish community.
How is this terrorism carried out? It is carried out in two different ways. There is first, what I might say, the least important way: by direct attack upon Jews in Palestine. (40) The Irgun Zvai Leumi and the Stern Group are not recognized by the Vaad Leumi, (41) the national executive of the Jewish community in Palestine, nor by the Jewish Agency. They have no support, moral, financial or otherwise from any authoritative Jewish body. (42)
They raise their funds in two ways: by donations from sympathizers in the United States (43) or elsewhere, and by extortion and robbery. I read today in the Tog (44) an account of the Stern Group's income, which says they only get twenty percent of their money from expropriations. Whatever the percentage is, they engage in bank robberies and rob businesses in Palestine and they engage in extortions. They threaten people with bombing their business or beating them up if they don't kick in with the required sum.
They terrorize the Jewish community in many other ways. They seize taxi cabs and hold drivers prisoners so they can use them in their raids. They terrorize Jewish schoolteachers to force the children in classes to post their bills, to put up their billboards, their posters. They flog young boys for various reasons--sometimes because they have been members of the Stern Group and decided they don't want to be [in the group] any longer. And cases have been known where they killed young boys in public streets. (45)
This I say, is the least important, perhaps, method of terrorizing the Jewish community. Multiply such instances where they blow up hotels and do other things, (46) but it is the least important of ways.
The more important way is that they time their activities in a very peculiar fashion. If you go through the times when the Stern Group or the Irgun Zvai Leumi have been most active in the past two or three years, you will notice one or two striking things. In the first place, there is one occasion when the Stern Group, particularly, and Irgun Zvai Leumi, also, become very active and that is when one of their men is caught by the British or when some of their men have been hanged or when they hear that some of their men have been beaten by the British. (47)
Their activities take the form of the vendetta, the feud. The British do something to us; we do something to them; and the British do something in reply. (48) We do something in reprisal. It continues that way. That is one basis on which the activities of these groups are timed.
But there is an even more striking way. If you go through the record of the past two or three years and see when the Irgun Zvai Leumi or the Stern Group have carried out their most spectacular coups, the King David Hotel bombing and others, you will notice they are very closely connected with attempts on the part of the Jewish Agency to reach some kind of modus vivendi or agreement with the British or in other quarters. And these activities are very plainly directed toward sabotaging these political efforts, toward undermining the prestige of the Jewish Agency. (49)
Now, in addition to this motive that I have dwelt on at length because it is not spoken of much in the United States--people don't talk about it, of course, the Ezel and the Stern Group wish to drive the British out of Palestine, wish to achieve the Jewish State, wish to bring the Jewish immigrants into the country--how do they go about achieving these aims? The methods are well known. They range from assassinating Britishers, sometimes high-placed Britishers, sometimes any Britisher you meet in the street, to blowing up property owned by the British or in which the British have an interest. (50)
Are these methods likely to prove effective? What effects are these methods likely to have? We don't have much to discuss about these questions because by now we have had considerable experience in the results of these methods and we can make statements on the basis of known facts.
There is one effect which these methods must have, and have had, which again is not spoken of very much. This effect is that they are going to make impossible, if they were adopted by the whole of the resistance movement in Palestine, they would make impossible any resistance in which the whole Jewish community as a body could participate, (51)
Now this is a rather important point. I want to go into it a little detail again. The major resistance movement in Palestine, as you know, is the Haganah, which is far larger than any of the competing bodies. This body conforms, or obeys, its activities to the political activities of the Jewish agency. It keeps in mind all the time the interests of the Yishuv, it regards itself as part of Yishuv. This is very strikingly illustrated in the case of the mobilized force of the Haganah, the Palmah. The Palmah trains its men on agricultural settlements. (52) You can say, it is well known to the British, these men spend half their time in training. They regard themselves as members of the working members of the communities they were situated in for training, as an integral part of the Jewish community. It can do nothing which would injure vitally the Jewish community in Palestine. It regards the Jewish community in Palestine as the body which is resisting the British, not the Haganah.
Haganah is not the body that is resisting, but the Yishuv, and the Haganah resists the British in cases where its particular methods are necessary--bringing people into the country--the whole Yishuv cannot do that. Having men at the shoreline--establishing settlements--the whole Yishuv cannot do that, only the Haganah and those civilians, you might say, who are in the immediate neighborhood. But the Haganah regards the whole Yishuv as the body which carries out this struggle, and therefore it regards the strength of the Yishuv as the decisive element in whether that struggle will be won or lost.
Therefore, when the Haganah undertakes some raids or other activities, always bear in mind this: that the success or failure of the attempt is not going to be counted in terms of what they gain as against the cost to the Haganah, but it's going to be determined from another point of view--what we gain as against the cost of the whole Yishuv. Will it increase the strength of the Yishuv, not the Haganah alone, [and] in that case what do we do? Is it worth injury to the whole of the Yishuv, not the Haganah, if we do that? In that case we do [it]. If the answer is "no," then we don't do it. (53)
None of these things are taken into account by the Stern Group or the Ezel. When they undertake a job they think in these terms: How many are we going to do? What gains can we get out of it, we the Stern Group and not the Yishuv? How many men will we, the Stern Group, lose if we do this job? What gains will we the [Irgun] get out of it, not the Yishuv? The losses to the Yishuv mean nothing in their calculations or if they did mean something, they would never do something which would bring down such things as two weeks of martial law in Tel aviv. (54)
That is one phase of the effects of the tactics of the terrorists and this is closely connected with another. These tactics mean that the Yishuv is going to pay for the jobs of the Irgun and the Stern Group and they also mean that the Yishuv is never going to be willing to pay for these attacks because the Yishuv is bound to think in the terms of the Haganah: what does this mean to the whole community? The loss of the whole community, is it greater or less than the gain to the whole community of this activity? Anybody who does not think in those terms is going to be resented by the Yishuv and will not maintain the Yishuv as a whole body--will split it, will divide it.
Of course, when the British do something particularly nasty and then the Ezel retaliates, everybody is happy in the Yishuv for the moment. And then when the British retaliate after Ezel does something particularly nasty, like the blowing up of the King David Hotel, then the Yishuv feels resentful against the Ezel and the Stern Group. (55) Those fluctuations of mood in the Yishuv don't count. The British can always be depended upon to create sympathy for the Ezel and the Stern Group for a moment, for a week. But whether the Yishuv is going to back up the tactics depends on whether the tactics are in line with the interest of the Yishuv as a whole. They cannot be and are not.
Therefore, if the Ezel should gain the upper hand in the Yishuv or, if we take an impossible suggestion, if the Haganah should attempt to carry out such tactics as the Ezel, if it should think in those terms, then the Haganah would no longer be the representative of the whole Yishuv, even if a majority of the Haganah decided to carry out such a plan. If the majority of the Jewish Agency could vote in favor of such a plan, there would always be a part of the Yishuv that would be opposed. I won't say "opposed," would be more than opposed, would find it impossible to go along. Anything of this sort leads to a break in the in the integral structure of the Yishuv as a whole, as a resisting body.
Well now, let's pursue this question a little further. I have spoken about the effect of such tactics, the tactics of terrorism on the Yishuv itself. What about their effectiveness against the British? By now we have had years of experience with these things and we have seen the British are not afraid of losing eighty to a hundred lives. [Whether] they are going to get out of Palestine or not depends on altogether different factors; depends on whether they have the manpower to hold Palestine and whether Palestine is vital to their strategic plans. But if Palestine is vital in their strategy, if they need to keep a large army there and if they can afford to do it, it terms of the economic and political situation, then they are not going to be frightened off by losing one hundred, two hundred men. They are not going to be terrorized out of Palestine.
On the contrary, the killing of British soldiers in Palestine has enabled Ernest Bevin (56) and those who think like him, to hold the British people together in a policy of repressing the Jews in Palestine, as no other factor has been able to do. Almost every group [of] the British people from the civil servants to the members of the Labor Party can be appealed to in terms of keeping men in Palestine, keeping large forces in Palestine, because the Jews are killing British soldiers. (57) Naturally, the civil servant thinks--it is inevitable for him--that the most important thing is to maintain the British prestige and if we are being terrorized like an animal band there, the thing to do is wipe them out if we [have to] wipe out the whole settlement. Whole groups of Jews are not so important to us. It is more important for us not to get out under fire of this kind.
And that's what all groups of the British people think. And for this reason, the terrorist activities have been an ace in the hole for Bevin and all those who attempt to carry through a repressive policy in Palestine.
What kind of resistance is likely eventually to get the British out of Palestine? The Haganah and the Yishuv has its own views on this matter and the views are based on the following calculations. The British have something like one hundred thousand men in Palestine. They have half a million men, I think, under arms all over the world. But one million men are tied up in military occupations or in supplying the army. Within a year or two, the British are going to have to cut that down radically. They have already passed a law cutting down the period of service in the army and the inevitable result of this is that instead of having half a million men under arms, if this is the correct figure, they will have no more than a quarter of a million men, and out of a quarter of a million men they are not going to keep one hundred thousand in Palestine. They may keep a large number there but not one hundred thousand.
That is not going to happen tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, this drop. The British are going to stay in Palestine as long as they can. But eventually they can't stay there forever. The question resolves itself into whether the British can destroy Jewish resistance quickly before they have to take their men out or whether Jewish resistance can last beyond the point where the British have to back down.
Therefore, the Yishuv is in favor of a slow, long drawn-out resistance that does not lead to any face-to-face clashes, in which the British are bound to win. As a matter of fact, the Ezel and Stern Group never stand up and fight the British face-to-face. They would be stupid if they did. They understand very well that in any face-to-face fight the British are going to win because they have the men. They have more men then the whole Jewish community could supply at that age group. There are not that many Jews in the country of those ages.
But the Ezel is willing to raid the British and let the whole Yishuv stand the consequences because they are not interested solely in getting rid of the British. They are also interested in taking control of the Jewish community and this, they figure, is the way to do it.
The Haganah and the Yishuv have to think in terms of fighting over the long stretch and they have to think in terms of fighting by methods which will prevent the British from being able to use their full force against the Jews. When the Jews blow up the King David Hotel and when some Jews send dynamite by mail to the British, (58) not knowing just who is going to open the letter, but hoping that it gets to the right person, it is claimed in the United States that this gets us prestige among the gentiles. They think that Jews are pretty bold people. Maybe so to some extent. Certainly, it gets headlines, and to people who are not concerned in the whole matter and particularly people who don't like the British, there may be enjoyment here at the Jews sending dynamite to Eden (59) and Bevin by mail.
But it has another effect, also. When we take immigrants into Palestine under the noses of the British blockade or we don't get them into Palestine, and the British shoot at them and douse them with water, then we are the aggrieved party and the British are clearly the aggressors, the tyrants, the ruthless people, and there is an indignation in the world. There is more pressure against the British to show some kind of restraint, to try to put a good face on the matter. They can't let themselves go wild in Palestine, so long as this is the situation, where Jews are the aggrieved party and it is very clear that the Jews are the aggrieved.
But when Jews start blowing up houses without knowing who is going to be in them, when the Jews shoot at any Britisher in the street, even if his coming into the community may be justified, when Jews send dynamite by mail indiscriminately, then, Americans, let's say, begin to think--let's say an anti-British American--"They are fighting back." Did he think, "I have to prevent the British from hitting, also. Well it's a good thing the Jews are fighting back. Now the British are going to hit them. It's very interesting but not my business. If it's a fair fight, let the best man win."
Just to show you how invidious this attitude is I want to call your attention to something Ben Hecht (60) wrote. You know Ben Hecht and his position. You may not have read the letter to a British newspaper. I advise you to read it. In that letter he agrees the British are enemies, the nicest enemies we've ever had since Roman days. And we don't object if the British shoot at us. We don't object to the methods the British are using to fight us. After all it's a war. In a war blood has to flow. We are not going to bellyache because the British impose martial law in Tel Aviv for two weeks. Or because they use water hoses on defenseless ships. That is all in the game of war. What do we object to? We object to the British calling us terrorists and trying to rule us out of the fight. If you are entitled to shoot people we are entitled to shoot people. That is the basis on which he writes. (61)
This [is the] attitude of "Ben Hechtism"--it's a fair fight, the Jews shoot at the British in the streets, so the British are entitled to overun a settlement, uproot its trees, destroy its dining hall, to impose martial law on Jews for two weeks in Tel Aviv, it's all in the game. Then we will let the stronger man win.
Under conditions like this, the fight in Palestine will be a quick fight, not a slow and long-drawn out one and the British are going to be freed of all restraints. There will be no difference between the aggrieved and the oppressors--just a difference in strength. The same moral position, as the bystander who is concerned with one fellow is smaller than the other. That can't be prevented. You have to come to some basis on which to win the fight. If justice and morals are not involved, then let the stronger man win and let him do anything he pleases in order to win. After all, the Jews are sending dynamite by mail.
Now I will come down to the last of the Ben Hecht and Bergson Groups. You have read advertisements by these groups. They don't tell you many of these things. That is not the basis on which they appeal to your sympathy in asking for funds. They tell you they are fighting the Jewish Agency because they have been forced to do it. The Irgun and Stern Group have been fighting the Jewish Agency all along--long before the British--not now affiliated with the Revisionists directly, but they are still a very close connection and the background is there. (62) What do Bergson and Hecht tell you?
They tell you a pack of lies, directly or by implication. They tell you that they are bringing Jews to Palestine, when the fact is, as you all know, they have brought one boat of six hundred and some odd Jews in the last year, whereas the Haganah has brought over thirty thousand in about eighteen months. (63) And that one boat has been their trump card long before it ever sailed. They talked about it for months before it sailed. They had newspaper men feted in Brooklyn Harbor for weeks and weeks and after it sailed they are still parading that same boat.
They tell you they are going to drive the British out of Palestine. Just let them do as they please, when everybody knows that is a silly thing. They can't drive the British out of Palestine. A few thousand terrorists are not going to drive the British out of Palestine. They may tell you that they are going to establish a representative Hebrew government in exile; they have done it. I don't know personally how that is supposed to help in the fight except that it's an attempt to undermine the Jewish Agency. (64) When they tell it to you it sounds nice--a representative Hebrew government. It may not have any great relevance but it looks good on paper. (65)
They tell you that you are personally not involved in this whole thing, except as any gentile in America. You are a Jew in America. You don't have to go to Palestine. You don't have to have anything to do with the Hebrews in Palestine. Hebrews are quite a different race. Hebrews are in Palestine and in Europe and are citizens of Palestine. You here are a Jew, a member of a religion, somewhat related to these Hebrews, but not very closely related. You have the same duties as a gentile--no dual loyalties. The same arguments as the anti-Zionists use here because they figure this is the kind of argument that will appeal in America. (66)
I don't want to go into all of the misrepresentations, the lies which are characteristic of this type of front organization. They have been dealt with enough in our press and, of course there is a question period, or discussion period, that follows this.
I want to make only one point. These people are responsible to nobody. They are not even responsible to Ezel and the Stern Group whom they pretend to represent in this country, for whom they are collecting money. I don't know what happens to their money--nobody does except those "who handle it, but there are complaints from Palestine and Irgun that they don't get very much of it from Bergson. Whether these complaints are justified or not, I won't say. I don't know. But in any case, it is clear that these people do not represent the Ezel, they are not accredited from them or the Stern Group, even though they are raising money for the work there. (67)
The Revisionists in this country--although on the basis of a [World Zionist] Congress resolution they are not supposed to have anything to do with the Irgun or Stern Group--nevertheless claim they have certain contacts with these groups, just as did Bergson and they pleaded with [the] Zionist [movement] not to come out in opposition to the Irgun or Stern Group, naming them, because if we do that they will fall into the hands of Bergson and Ben Hecht, and the Revisionists will lose their contacts with them. (68)
I am not talking about the Revisionists at this moment, but it is clear that, in the first place, the Ezel and the Stern Group are not responsible to the Revisionists and not responsible to anybody in Palestine and the Hecht and Bergson group[s] are not responsible to the Stern Group or Irgun.
What do you say in a situation like this? Do you sit around and say, "Well, it's too bad. They are nice boys. They are idealists." There are idealists among them, there is no question about it. I am not speaking about their leaders who have their clear political purposes, but the people who join these groups are emotionally unbalanced by the provocations of the British. It's too bad we can't take that attitude.
Or do you take the attitude of what is important--the unity of the Jewish groups, the effectiveness of our political fight and our resistance which can only be maintained if we do away with anarchy, if we prevent this anarchy? I think in our group at least there is no need to discuss this matter at length.
The position we must take in this matter is quite clear--particularly clear because our group, the Labor group, [are] the people against whom the activities of all these groups are most directly aimed. We are the target. (69)
And as in any fascist group--these people are fascists, and don't be surprised that there are idealists among them--there are fanatics, devoted to an ideal or ideology, among all fascist groups. (70) As in all fascist groups they are not choosey about their methods. They use lies, use murder, use extortion, they use the sympathy of the Jewish community in cases of provocation given by the British.
And it is up to us to be on our guard, to know that above everything else stands the need to maintain a strong, united Jewish group, capable of dealing, not only with its enemies on the outside, but with anybody who threatens to undermine its strength from the inside. Because you can't do one without the other and neglecting the inner dangers for too long a time will mean being unable to resist the other dangers as well.
QUESTION: I would like to know why the Labor Zionist movement has not taken a stand at the very beginning when the Bergson boys came to the United States rather then let it ride so long until it became a menace?
QUESTION: There are one or two questions I would like to clear up because of contacts with outside people who are not in the Labor Zionist movement. We in the Pioneer Women [Organization] (71) know the dangers, know the effects of terrorists. However, we know the Revisionists and the Sternists have popularized their ideas among the population at large. We who back Haganah, who are in sympathy with Haganah methods, don't know how to combat it in this respect. They do have the money; they make appeals in large ads; they have their speakers. We have the tendency to hush up Haganah activities. (72) We have not publicized them. We know it is useless to spend money in that way. However it is important if they are coming out publicizing their ideas to the uninformed public, then isn't it about time that we inform the uninformed public? (73) We ourselves don't have to be convinced; it is the others that have to be convinced.
In our ranks there are too large a number, I must say, that are sympathetic to the terrorist and Sternist groups for emotional reasons I can realize. However, we should have made it clear. What is their status, let us say, if there is a Jewish state? Our people should be notified; the question should be answered for them. What is the next step for the Sternist group? What is their platform in case we do achieve a Jewish state or trusteeship? (74) Does that mean they automatically disband because the purpose has been achieved?
QUESTION: I read recently an interchange of letters in PM, (75) a letter to the editor, from someone representing the Irgun refuting the claim of I.F. Stone (76) that they were anti-Labor. However he did not give any specific instance to prove that Irgun was not anti-Labor, and Stone in answering him made that statement that he had not given any proof, but Stone did not in turn give any proof that they were anti-Labor. I have yet to hear a concrete example. When my group asks in what way they are anti-Labor, I would like to know.
QUESTION: There has been a new group formed in New York, I believe, the American Friends of Haganah. (77) I would like to know who this group is. Do we support them? Are we affiliated with them in any way?
QUESTION: Mine is not a question. I would like to bring to the attention of this group that the director of the British Zone (78)--I can give his name--returned from Germany and told us that at the time when they blew up the King David Hotel, a British military man told them to prepare for a big group to go to Palestine, into the thousands of certificates, (79) just before the blowing up of the King David Hotel, and he said he had definite information that a large group would be able to get certificates. Right after the King David incident, all plans were cancelled. It is damage like that, that [is] so terrible to bear, knowing that those [Displaced Persons] (80) in the camps are suffering so badly. I don't know enough of them to know that. The man's name is Mannie (81) of the British Zone in Germany. He is connected with [the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society]. (82) He came back to Toronto and at that time told us that. It is authentic.
QUESTION: Is there any truth in the statement that I read somewhere that Bergson met with Lessing Rosenwald (83) and the idea of the "Hebrew people" was born after that particular interview, and that he received a nice contribution from [Rosenwald] for such a change of name?
QUESTION: Wouldn't it be wise if we went into a propagandizing program of refuting with actual proof of refutation? Let us say we don't perhaps publicize what Haganah is doing, for its own protection, but refuting the Bergson groups, the Committee for Hebrew Liberation. (84) Because I have met in many instances people that wanted to do something, perhaps because their families have been destroyed, and they can't make contact, or have a plain yidishe conscience, have not time to do anything else except raise money and give it to this group which tries to be in line with hands out. I try to get money myself and find they have given it already. They ask questions and receive more authoritative answers, and money is definitely given to a cause that never gets it. (85)
QUESTION: There was a very large ad in Saturday's PM that I think you would be interested in--a definite refutation with facts, figures and very well presented. It is the first thing of its kind I have ever seen, presented by Habonim (86) and all the Zionist youth organizations. (87)
QUESTION: Ann said that we in our ranks do not need advertisements to refute the various committees. Yet, in line with what Adeline said, I know when the Habonim put in their first ad "This is Haganah," I personally felt a lift. I know all the haverim (Hebrew for "comrades") walked around with the paper saying, "Did you see our ad?" That the ad was not put in by the Poalei Zion (88) or by our youth groups, (89) I think that is one of our big failures today.
The American public is well known for being suckers. They fall for all sorts of advertisements, and the Bergson group is giving it to them in great big doses. And I don't think that today we can afford to be complacent and say we know about it, our cause is just, we will just have to be patient. I think we have to fight the Bergson groups in their own methods and that is through advertisements, through answers; in other words, to acquaint the public with just exactly what we are doing and why we are doing it.
Take their recent ad asking for paratroopers. To any intelligent thinking person that is ridiculous--asking for volunteers as paratroopers so they can use them in Palestine. (90) And yet I have spoken to people who have said that it is a wonderful thing! I don't think we can afford to be complacent about these things. If it means spending money in order to divert extra funds into Palestine, we should spend it today.
QUESTION: I want to bear out Tillie's statement on "This is Haganah." I did not see the advertisement. About three weeks ago I got Furrows, (91) and I was thrilled to the depths of my being by that article, and I wanted to write in and ask that it be reprinted on little leaflets and distributed throughout the country, to spread it as far as possible. It seemed to me the most clear-cut refutation of the Bergson and Revisionist groups' misdemeanors and what we are really supporting for Haganah.
QUESTION: I was wondering what we do when we find in our ranks, whether locally or in different communities, strong sympathizers for these groups. Do we still keep them in our ranks or do we make it a point to lead them out of our ranks?
QUESTION: Educate them.
QUESTION: They may educate too many while we are trying to educate them!
QUESTION: Do you find many of your Communists friends in America have done what they have in Canada, saying if it were not for the Stern group the matter would have never have been brought to the United Nations? I find most of our Communists have become very militant Zionists.
QUESTION: What approach was used to get a woman like Eleanor Roosevelt (92) to sign her name to "A Flag Is Born"? (93)
QUESTION: Many gave their names who were not informed. Many politicians. Until they have an opportunity to come out with a new statement that we possibly can give them, their name is still carried as support, and eventually it will have to work itself out by a new statement, and until that statement comes, it stands as is.
QUESTION: For years we have been doing our work in such a quiet way that the world never knew about it. America is what it is. You have to talk about yourself. The Bergson group and Ben Hecht came out to the public, and we have to meet it, and we have to meet it in a nice way. We cannot come out and say they are not good, we are good, we are doing the work. We are not competitors. They reached people whom we never dreamed of reaching. We have to go out and work among people and reach new classes and new masses and spread our ideas and then there won't be any place for them. (94)
QUESTION: It was just stated they reach certain groups we can't reach. The point is, as has been said here, the American people are suckers. It is true. Copywriting is an important thing in journalism, as it is in selling a dress. You are advertising to a customer something she is going to buy. These people that are donating money to the Ben Hecht group or the Bergson group believe they are doing something. I don't know whether they are buying their way into heaven, if you want to call it that, or buying something, buying a piece of conscience, and they are getting it through advertisements that they get in newspapers. And we can reach the same people by advising them of the facts as they really are, and we have not done it up until now.
QUESTION: You said something which was not quite clear to me, about when the majority in the Jewish Agency would decide on a certain policy which may perhaps be similar if not quite the same, but just this, let us suggest, it may be similar to methods which are being used today by the so-called terrorists, or dissident groups, as we call them in Palestine. And you said even if the majority of the Jewish Agency would decide to the certain policy, it still may not have the support of the Yishuv.
I don't know whether you meant it that way or I just heard it. It certainly does not sound to me all right because I think the essence of the whole issue is that something is being decided and being pursued by a small minority. This is, I think, the main thing, and that forces the small minority, or the small minority forces its policy, its will on the majority, which we admit whether we agree or not, the majority has the right to decide for the whole community. I am not going to discuss it, but I really wanted you to touch on it again.
And another remark. Did you say that the Palmah (or the striking force) of Haganah numbers about one thousand? In Palestine we are not used to mentioning numbers at all. As a number was mentioned, I think there is a mistake here because there is no doubt that Palmah has today at least five thousand. You mentioned them. You should not minimize our strength. It is a force which is constantly being increased. You know there is constant training. There is no stoppage to that and it means that day by day the force is being increased and already at the moment certainly not less than five thousand people underwent the training, not during one year, but since this sort of training has begun.
DR. HALPERN: There are a number of questions as to our tactics. Why didn't we do anything when the Ben Hecht group or the Bergson group began? Why don't we do anything to publicize our activities?
I want to say, first of all, these reproaches which are implied in these questions are justified, by and large, and that we should have at the very beginning done more to oppose the Bergson group and certainly today we should do everything possible to make clear what are the facts of the situation about them and about our own participation in resistance in Palestine.
At the same time, there is certainly I would say [no] excuse or explanation for the hesitation to do anything in the beginning, but during the war years the Bergson groups were engaged in an activity again [to] which nobody could have any objection. At that time, their organization took the form of what was called "The Emergency Committee to Save the Jews of Europe." (95) Their full page ads were devoted toward urging the United States government to take more active measures in giving food to Jews in Europe, opening the doors of Palestine, letting them in--things against which no Jew could have any objection, which all Jews were in favor of.
And it is even possible that they had a certain influence, as they claim, and as some American statesmen say, in bringing about the establishment of the War Refugee Board, (96) through their ads. The War Refugee Board was established very late. By the time it was established millions of Jews were dead and it could not do very much to save the others. But to the extent that they were helpful in saving some Jews, there was a basis for thinking that the ads by Bergson and Hecht had something to do with it. It was very difficult at the time to oppose them.
At the same time, I believe we should have opposed them, even then perhaps by more active efforts on our part. It would have been a proper way of opposing them even though their aims were very laudable, we knew very well what those people were after in the long run. We knew why they were building up friends and adherents, who are still today the people who support the American League for a Free Palestine (97) in the fight against the Jewish Agency. These people became attracted in the early days when there was a Committee for a Jewish Army [of Stateless and Palestinian Jews]. (98)
That was a point on which we certainly should have opposed them. The Committee for a Jewish Army was something we were interested in. They were fighting for a falsehood. How many Jews would join them? They were small, especially because the really effective work for establishing a Jewish army was being done by the Jewish Agency and they were just the diversionary effort.
When it came to the postwar period and [they] started agitating the Palestine issue, two things were clear. They could not have any effect, they could not accomplish anything by their full page ads on behalf of Zionism. When it was a question of rescuing Jews of Europe they could accomplish something.
What was the obstacle to America's doing more to rescue Jews? There was no political impediment to America's establishing a War Refugee Board a year earlier. A question of inertia, bureaucracy and arousing the public could be an effective way to overcome that. When they spoke of Palestine as a political issue that was going to be determined by substantial bodies--the whole Yishuv, the Jewish Agency--and their activities could only lead to anarchy--we should have immediately fought them. We should have fought them over the Jewish army and certainly be more active ourselves.
The second question--why don't we do more today? This running of full page ads is a very expensive proposition. Full page ads in one paper, is a three thousand dollar affair. The income from such ads is not enormous. I don't know where all the funds of the American League for a Free Palestine come from, but they are not supposed to have raised it in the last couple years, two million dollars, as an outside figure. Most of that money went on ads. (99)
Now, when you say we should do something like that, certainly it does not mean the Poalei Zion. We don't raise money in those figures. On the other hand, there is the [American Zionist] Emergency Council (100) which does talk in those figures and operates in those figures and they certainly should do something about it.
I am not going into detail why they don't. Briefly and without explanation and without apology, because I can't go into it, I will give it as my opinion. I am saying it is my opinion because it is a very controversial opinion. They don't do it because Rabbi Silver and others hope to get elected to the dominant position in the World Zionist Organization in a year or two on the groundswell of Revisionist sentiment which they think is growing. And, therefore the Emergency Committee in which they are most active has abstained very carefully from doing anything to antagonize Revisionists or Revisionist sympathizers.
Therefore, nevertheless, there are [World Zionist] Congress resolutions which call upon them to do something. Therefore, Habonim attempted to force their hands by publishing an ad of their own. One ad. They won't be able to publish another ad. They don't have the money. The ad was published by a group of Zionist organizations. This second group won't. The only effectiveness of this method--if it forces eventually the [American] Zionist Emergency Council to do something in accordance with the resolutions of the World Zionist Congress--and maybe they will be successful doing it.
At any rate, you asked about American Friends of Haganah. This is a new organization established for the purpose of publicizing the work of Haganah, doing the things you mentioned. It is an organization of Zionist bodies. It is an independent organization which has the support of Zionist bodies. One thing that organization can't do, of course, is attempt to raise money for Haganah because we are engaged--we don't do too much about it--but the Labor Zionists and all other Zionists are engaged in a one hundred seventy million dollar campaign which is of vital importance. And we are engaged in other campaigns which are used directly for work--not in the position of the Bergson group to raise money for advertising. If we raise money we have to use it for good specific purposes.
There is this group, American Friends of Haganah, which is probably going to spend considerable money in trying to educate the American Jewish community in these matters. What is more important for us is to see to it that in our own groups at least something is done. If I hear that Hadassah (101) has lost a whole group to the Bergson people--for I hear in Washington, Habonim has had such an instance happen to them--certainly that is our fault.
I can understand how it happens. You have one prominent member in a group who is close to the American League or she carries great weight in the organization and she swings the group. Now, understanding all this, it is necessary for the bodies to keep an eye on their groups and to send them information and to know what are the opinions of the prominent persons in each and every group and to see that things are followed up.
We, in our own groups at least, must maintain certain standards of understanding about these matters. One more matter I want to speak of in this respect--how can these groups be combated?
There is one point upon which they are very weak. I don't think it is sufficient for us just to publicize the Haganah. All we do is create a complete confusion unless we differentiate very clearly--here are people in Haganah--here are people with Haganah who are fooling you if they say they have to do with the Jews of Haganah. If we publicize Haganah without reference to Hecht and Bergson, we are doing what they have been doing. They have been successfully doing this. You have to make it clear what happens to the money that is collected and there is one point upon which they are very vulnerable and that is a point which they have been forced to bring into the open by the attack of the Haganah in Palestine. And that is that they are carrying on actually a civil war against the Haganah, against the Jewish Agency.
It does not matter, the actual attacks upon Jews are the relatively unimportant feature of this civil war. Their whole attack upon the British is so directed as to be an attack on the Jewish Agency, the Yishuv, and the Haganah. The people who support it do not lend their names and money for that reason. They do so because they are anti-British, or anti-British with respect to Palestine. And they believe you if you tell them this money is going to fight the British, it does not matter where it goes. If you tell them this money is going to fight the Jews, they don't have to know what these Jews are, that is not why they want to give people money. You don't have to prove to them even which Jew is good or bad. As soon as they understand they are engaged in an internal fight and they are going to get out.
This has to be made clear--that the Bergson group is not the Haganab--the Irgun is not the Haganah--and that it is the Haganah which is bringing Jews in and not the Bergson group. All these distinctions have to be made, even the small groups that are sold so completely that they can't be reclaimed.
Somebody raises the question about Bergson and Rosenwald. I don't know about that story. I doubt it very much. If there is such a background for this type of idea between the distinction of Jews and Hebrews, in the whole of Zionist authority and Revisionism, Bergson did not have to go to Rosenwald to talk about it. The Rosenwald people can sympathize with this out-and-out, secular, non-religious type of Bergson talk in terms of "Hebrews" and the Jews--there is no question of dual loyalties. Bergson did not have to learn this from Rosenwald. All along there was this theory in Zionism that you could utilize the assimilationist fears. [Theodor] Herzl himself, when he first came to Great Britain, used it as an argument to head off Jewish immigration to Britain and thus reduce fears of antisemitism in England. This is quite a distance from dividing Jews and Hebrews.
Dangers to Aliyah [Bet] as a result of terroristic activity. I don't have to have heard that particular story that you mentioned in connection with the King David Hotel. I am sure it is true. There have been several such instances. There was a time, only recently, before the attacks on the Officers' Club in Jerusalem where the British, the High Commissioner, I think, said he was granted authority to let in, if not fifteen hundred, but four thousand, at his discretion and was about to do it as a temporary palliative to ease the situation in Palestine before the attack on the Smith House in Jerusalem. (102)
All along there has been a strong trend in the [British] cabinet to try to increase the immigration quota, because, after all, the White Paper (103) does not apply any more, strictly speaking. According to the White Paper, Jewish immigration should have stopped entirely in 1945. If they did not observe the date because of the war, at least Jewish immigration should have stopped right after seventy-five thousand and there is no reason why they should not let in more in order to appease the Jews. There have been people in favor of it in the cabinet. They have gotten extensions to do it.
Illegal immigration has been hampered and now almost brought to a stop, at least in part, if not large part, due to the activities of the Stern group. Italy was one of the places where illegal immigration organizations were organized--and then came the blowing up of the British embassy in Rome and then it became difficult. France was a place where Aliyah [Bet] was organized. France and England were negotiating a treaty. France was interested in doing things to help--even so, were not going the whole way on this matter. France became a center of Irgun and Stern group activities and presumably the bomb letter was sent from there. France is a difficult country to get Jews out of--to get into, too. They don't give transit visas--sometimes legal immigrants have difficulties going into France because of this new situation.
The United States today is no longer letting Jewish immigrants into the American Zone, nor are they letting them out of the American Zone for illegal Aliyah, mainly due, no doubt, to the general political situation, the general hesitancy to be favorable to Zionist in view of the Truman Doctrine (104) and so on, but also due to, in some part, and significant part, to the Ben Hecht business which was publicized all over the world--the Ben Hecht boat, the Ben Hecht ads where he makes a holiday in his heart. (105)
The Haganah is no secret any longer--it has been operating in this country for some time. The papers have stories about boats that the Haganah bought in this country, and accidents happened to them, or something like that--all done very quietly. People looked the other way or, at least, did not look too closely. If they are looking very closely now, and if in Europe they are being very careful, it is due not only to the political changes but also to the provocations that Ben Hecht has granted and given to the British to back up all their appeals to the State Department. (106)
About Palmah, I thank you for the correction. This question--what I said about the majority of the Agency adopting a certain course and that it might then not be adopted by the whole Yishuv--I want to make clear, first of all, the major objection against what the terrorists are doing today is the irresponsible, undisciplined opposition to the will of the majority of Jews in Palestine.
There is another objection, and this might apply in the case I mentioned--in case there should be a majority of the Jewish Agency, an almost inconceivable case, that this should be backed by the majority of the Jewish Agency. They adopt a policy which does not count the costs of their acts to the Yishuv; only counts the cost of each act to the army, let us say, to the Irgun or the Stern group. Now it is conceivable, not very conceivable, that the Jewish Agency might on some occasion decide from now on we are not going to care what happens to the Yishuv as a whole. What happens to Haganah? Will they lose or gain strength? It is conceivable in certain situations, only one situation, in a situation where there would be out-and-out war between the Jews and the British, where we would decide this is the end of the story, we have to fight it out, nothing left to do, what is known in Palestine as Masada. (107) Such a thing might conceivably come on occasion. Who knows? I don't expect it. But supposing that the [United Nations] should decide that there has to be an Arab state in Palestine and the British accept it and try to enforce it. There might be this situation. Nothing left to do except fight regardless of the consequences to the Jews in Palestine. In that situation, which is an inconceivable situation, almost, then I don't think that the Agency or the Haganah would command the whole support of the Yishuv, because no such policy of fighting to the last man ever commands the support of a whole population. It is conceivable. All the Maquis and the partisans who were in that situation were opposed by a majority of the population. (108) In France and in all other countries the majority did not want to fight, were willing to submit. It might conceivably be that the Jewish Agency, the Haganah, the Histadrut (109) would decide nothing is left but a fight. In that case they would not have the support of the whole Yishuv, but what is important in this case is that we should not take this decision any time short of the final moment. If such a decision had to be made, certainly it should not be made until everything else possible had been done to hold it off. That would be the ultimate tragedy if such a situation would be reached and the policy of Irgun is driving us, is an attempt to drive us towards that, maybe an unconscious attempt to drive us towards that, sometimes not so unconscious, a very conscious attempt, actually.
QUESTION: I stress not that we will resort to these means, and not that when we will resort to them, but I just objected to the way you put it. First of all, we don't have such things as the Yishuv and the Haganah. We have one thing and that is the Yishuv, which is the Haganah, or the Haganah which represents the Yishuv. You know it. I do not want you to represent it in such a way that it would be misunderstood.
DR. HALPERN: Just a passing remark and therefore I did not say it very fully.
QUESTION: There may be a necessity to change methods, I don't know in what way. One thing we have to be sure, once a majority comes to decide on different methods, it commits us all, and by that I mean the Yishuv, and that is how the Yishuv takes it. Otherwise, it is again not democratic and again we are not united.
LEADER: You are right when you say whatever is decided and methods be changed, as long as it is decided, all of us are responsible to carry out this policy. But remember, because they are elected authorities, the power is delegated to them. If they decided something about methods, about policy which is not accepted with sympathy by the Yishuv, so because it is a very clear thing, and we are discussing, and we are electing those people, it may effect even our future leadership.
Here is something if they will accept the decision we will follow because we want to be organized and disciplined. But at the same time they are considering the interests of all of us, because they have to be supported by us. So through their action, they may be supported, but if it is against our action, it is illogical, it harms the Yishuv, it may react just for the second time on all our leadership and again their methods, and so on and so forth, and when you have those dissident groups, who consider everything only from their point of view, they are not asking for our criticism and not taking the consequences of it because all their work is not based upon democratic principles, upon discipline, upon the consent of the Yishuv, and so on and so forth.
It may happen this way we will act all together, but at the same time you know it very well, there happened occasions when deeds were carried out and everybody was satisfied, and you had parties that were against and expressed their opinions at [World Zionist] Congress elections.
DR. HALPERN: On the question if these forces are anti-Labor--you have to go into history somewhat. First of all I made it clear they are a group which is seeking power, regardless of whether they have a majority which supports them or not. And since Labor does have a majority they are anti-Labor for that reason. That is mainly the reason why most fascists are anti-Labor. Fascism in itself is a system for gaining power without any other objectives. People are wrong if they think fascism intends to maintain capitalism. This is all a means to gain power; a sheer power drive. If Labor stands in the way, they are anti-Labor.
Historically, Irgun is an offshoot of separate Revisionist private armies of an earlier day. Irgun was organized some time in 1938. I think that was the first appearance of the Ezel under that name. During the 1936-39 riots the Irgun appeared publicly as in opposition to the Haganah policy of not retaliating indiscriminately against Arabs. (110)
History goes back. They called themselves "biryonim"--thugs--"zveikeyim." In the times of the Roman wars, Jews went around stabbing other Jews because they were not extreme enough in their fight against the Romans. (111) The biryonim were strike-breakers, and they plainly stated their aim was to break the Histadrut, and they went about it with all the classical methods. The Revisionists have a separate trade union organization called the "Histadrut of National Labor." (112)
It happens that now the Ezel and the Stern group split off from the Revisionists. The Revisionists were not sufficiently maximalist, not sufficiently extreme for them. It is in the nature of any body which is sectarian, separatist, as the Revisionists were after they left the World Zionist Organization in 1935. Splits took place and some of these splinters led to the formation of the Ezel and Stern groups, which do not observe the discipline of the Revisionists, but are Revisionist in history and background, make-up, and mentality. And that mentality is anti-Labor. You can document that with the whole history of Revisionism, and to the extent that these people are Revisionist, they can talk in other terms from time to time just as other anti-Labor groups do, but their leaders are definitely Revisionist. The clearest proof of it was when they thought there was a chance for the Revisionists to get onto the executive [committee] of the World Zionist Congress, they stopped their terrorist activities to give them an opportunity to do it. It ties up very strongly, though officially it is not supposed to be connected.
There is a question as to what percentage of the parties it is in Palestine. I think that in the last [World] Zionist Congress elections the Revisionists polled about 12 percent. Between 10 and 15 percent voted for the Revisionist Party, which was more than they had gotten in other elections. Again, at the expense of other right-wing groups.
RIVKAH: (113) On the question of American Friends of Haganah. I am not going to state anything official, not from the point of the Pioneer Women before it has been decided in an official action. Privately, if you have any contact or interest, I personally would say by all means do whatever you can. Privately, everyone of us--no more need to stress it, how we are part of Haganah. The main thing to know is that American Friends of Haganah really represents the friends of Haganah.
(Whereupon, the session adjourned at 10:15 o'clock.)
(1.) Halpern gave this lecture to the Pioneer Women's Organization in spring 1947, probably some time in late March or April of that year. The transcript of the lecture, recorded by a stenographer as it was being delivered, is reprinted here with the permission of Elkan Halpern. The orthography has been changed to conform to standard modern usage. Special thanks are due to Naamat USA and Judith A. Sokoloff for granting me access to the organization's archive. I am grateful to Michael Marrus, Zohar Segev, Bernard Wasserstein, and Stephen J. Whitfield for their expert help with various aspects of the manuscript. I also wish to thank my former students Roger Cohen, Jonathan D. Estreich, and Morris Levy for their diligent research assistance.
(2.) For a reprint of the public exchange between Ben Halpern and Daniel Bell, see The Jew in the Modern World" A Documentary History, eds. Jehuda Reinharz and Paul Mendes-Flohr, second ed. (Oxford and London, 1995), 295-301. All quotations used here are from this source.
(3.) Ibid., 300-1.
(4.) See "America Is Different" in Ben Halpern, The American Jew: A Zionist Analysis, reprint (New York, 1983), 11-33. The essay first appeared in Midstream in Autumn 1955.
(5.) Halpern, The American Jew, 33.
(6.) Mark A. Raider, The Emergence of American Zionism (New York and London, 1998), 205-7, 212.-16.
(7.) Melvin I. Urofsky, "Rifts in the Movement: Zionist Fissures, 1942-1945," Herzl Year Book 8 (1978): 195-211; Mark A. Raider, "Idealism, Vision, and Pragmatism: Stephen S. Wise, Nahum Goldmann and Abba Hillel Silver in the USA" in Nahum Goldmann: Statesman Without a State, ed. Mark A. Raider (Albany, forthcoming).
(8.) For a useful overview of the radical left- and right-wing Zionist camps' strategies on the eve of Jewish statehood, see Joseph Heller, The Birth o f Israel, 1945-1949: Ben-Gurion and His Critics (Gainesville, 2000), chs. 8-12. To date, there is no corresponding analytic study of the American Zionist scene. On American Jewish anti-Zionists, see Thomas A. Kolsky, Jews Against Zionism: The American Council for Judaism, 1942-1948 (Philadelphia, 1990). For an analysis of American Jewish non-Zionists, see Menahem Kaufman, An Ambigious Partnership: Non-Zionists and Zionists in America, 1939-1948 (Jerusalem and Detroit, 1991), chs. 5-7.
(9.) See Samuel Halperin, The Political World of American Zionism, second ed. (Silver Spring, Md., 1985), appendix V, 327.
(10.) Raider, The Emergence of American Zionism, ch. 6
(11.) Evidence of Halpern's activities in the United States on behalf of the Mapai party, the Histadrut, and the Haganah can be found in the David Ben-Gurion Archive, Sde Boker, Israel, (hereafter: BGA). The extent and nature of Halpern's involvement in this regard is a topic worthy of further research. Regrettably, Halpern saved only a modest portion of personal letters and papers, some of which are preserved in the Brandeis University archives. Other Halpern material is scattered among various collections of the American Jewish Archives (Cincinnati, OH), American Jewish Historical Society (New York, NY), Central Zionist Archives (Jerusalem), Kibbutz Kfar Blum Archives (Kfar Blum, Israel), Lavon Institute Labor Movement Archives (Tel Aviv), and Yad Tabenkin--United Kibbutz Movement Archives (Ramat Efal, Israel). Halpern, himself, gave an exchange of correspondence between David Ben-Gurion and himself to Dr. Jehuda Reinharz, his close friend and former student, for safekeeping. According to his widow, the late Gertrude Halpern, Halpern deliberately chose not to assemble a personal archive, and over the course of many decades made a regular habit of disposing of all personal papers and correspondence. Halpern's rationale in this regard is unclear.
(12.) A memo written by investigative journalist Ruth Karpf supports Halpern's assessment. Reporting on the Bergson group's clandestine efforts to assist right-wing terrorist activities in Palestine, Karpf notes: "This information comes from Mr. Giloni, a leading Revisionist. ... Giloni has been in touch with the Bergson group all along and is also in touch with them now. His information is therefore reliable. I asked him for it as a journalist--(I got Irgun information from him once before as a journalist)--and he gave me the material on the United Committee which assists the Irgun off the record." Ruth Karpf, "Re: Revisionists--Irgun--Peter Bergson Tie Up." 22 November 1946. 189659/2000, BGA.
(13.) Ben Halpern's career as a Zionist thinker and historian awaits full-scale scholarly investigation. The following works were consulted when preparing this introductory note: Arthur A. Goren, "Ben Halpern: 'At Home in Exile,'" in The "Other" New York Intellectuals, ed. Carole S. Kessner (New York and London, 1994), 71-100; Marie Syrkin, "Ben: A Personal Appreciation," in Essays in Modern Jewish History: A Tribute to Ben Halpern, eds. Frances Malino and Phyllis Cohen Albert (Rutherford, NJ, and New York, 1982), 9-22; Edward S. Goldstein, "A Tentative Intellectual Profile," in ibid., 297-309; Sharon Muller, "The Zionist Thought of Ben Halpern," Judaism 27 (Summer 1978): 364-74.
(14.) The Bergson Group, led by Hillel Kook (1915-2000), a right-wing militant Zionist activist who adopted the pseudonym Peter Bergson, spearheaded the Revisionist Zionist movement's opposition to the Zionist leadership in the United States from 1940 to 1945. Known for its dramatic public statements and gestures, the group attracted a talented and distinguished circle of adherents, including former U.S. Senator Guy M. Gillette (1879-1973), the writer Ben Hecht (see note 60 below), and U.S. Congressman Will Rogers, Jr. (1911-1993). For an oral history of Hillel Kook, see David S. Wyman and Rafael Medoff, A Race Against Death: Peter Bergson, America and the Holocaust (New York, 2002).
(15.) The reference is to the Irgun Zvai Leumi (National Military Organization), the right-wing Zionist paramilitary organization in Palestine created in 1931 by Avraham Tehomi (1903-1990) and activists in the Revisionist Zionist movement. Known as the "Irgun" or "Ezel" (the Hebrew acronym for Irgun Zvai Leumi), the group stressed military training and discipline. Initially supported by a small coalition of non-socialist parties in the Yishuv, Ezet insisted--based on the teachings of the Revisionist leader Vladimir (Zeev) Jabotinsky (1880-1940)--on active retaliation to deter Arab attacks against Jewish settlers in Palestine. In late 1943, Menahem Begin (1913-1992), formerly head of the right-wing Betar Zionist youth movement in Poland (and later Israel's prime minister from 1977 to 1983), took charge of the Irgun. Under Begin's leadership, the group extorted money from Jewish businesses, executed Jewish informers, and intensified attacks on British targets, culminating in the bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem on July 22, 1946, killing 91 and injuring 45.
In the wake of the King David Hotel bombing, the Haganah (see note 20), which opposed the right-wing underground's indiscriminate attacks against the British, broke off a month-old rapprochement with the Irgun. The Jewish Agency and the Vaad Leumi (see note 41), the official representative bodies of the Yishuv, in which the Labor movement played a dominant role, condemned the attack. At the Twenty-second Zionist Congress (see note 25) David Ben-Gurion (see note 24) subsequently signaled the difference between the mainstream and right-wing Zionist attitudes to the use of force by declaring: "We have to realize that there are limits to our force, and we must also realize that we need our power--not only for resistance. We emphatically reject the anti-Zionist concept of 'Only this way.'" Quoted in Anita Shapira, Land and Power: The Zionist Resort to Force, 1881-1948 (New York and Oxford, 1992), 348-49.
For a revealing first-hand account of the animus between the Irgun and the Haganah, including the attack on the King David Hotel, see Menahem Begin, The Revolt: Story of the Irgun, seventh ed. (Jerusalem, 1977), ch. 15. For a useful analysis of this episode, see Colin Shindler, Israel, Likud and the Zionist Dream: Power, Politics and Ideology from Begin to Netanyahu (London and New York, 1995), 27-35.
(16.) The Bergson Group created several front organizations in the United States, notably the Committee for a Jewish Army of Stateless and Palestinian Jews (1941), the Emergency Committee to Save the Jewish People of Europe (1942), the American League for a Free Palestine (1943), and the Hebrew Committee of National Liberation (1944). The groups raised funds, staged public rallies, organized protest marches, published advertisements in major American newspapers, and generally lobbied throughout the United States to promote the rescue of European Jewry. The Jewish Agency and the Yishuv leadership viewed the activity of these groups with suspicion and hostility. David Ben-Gurion referred to the Emergency Committee in disparaging terms, calling the group "'a gang of reckless Ezel members who, for the sake of publicity, are desecrating the name of Israel among the gentiles." Quoted in Dina Porat, The Blue and Yellow Stars of David: The Zionist Leadership in Palestine and the Holocaust, 1939-1945 (Cambridge, MA, and London, 1990), 60.
(17.) Ezel is the Hebrew acronym for the Irgun Zvai Leumi (see note 15).
(18.) See note 15.
(19.) The Stern Gang, also known by the Hebrew acronym "Lehi" (Lohamei Herut Israel--Fighters for the Freedom of Israel), was created in 1940 by Abraham Stern (1907-1942), a right-wing Zionist leader who broke away from the Irgun after Vladimir (Zeev) Jabotinsky called for a halt to underground anti-British activities in Palestine for the remainder of World War II. The Stern Gang, made up of a few hundred activists, was opposed by a majority of the Yishuv, owing to its avowed policy of individual acts of terrorism. Stern himself was captured by British police in 1942 and executed. Following the assassination of Lord Moyne in 1946 (see note 36 below), the Lehi adopted a "policy of large-scale attacks on British military installations"; Joseph Heller, The Stern Gang: Ideology, Politics and Terror (London, 1995), 151. For a detailed examination of Stern and his impact on the right-wing Zionist underground, see ibid., chs. 3-4, esp. 100-5.
(20.) The Haganah (Hebrew for "Defense") was established in 1920 by a broad coalition of Zionist groups and settlers under the auspices of the Histadrut (see note 112) in order to provide security for the Yishuv. From the outset, several factions within the Haganah (some of which broke away to create the Irgun Zvai Leumi in 1931) vied to determine the policies and agenda of the semi-clandestine organization. The outbreak in 1929 of Arab riots throughout Palestine and visible lack of protection afforded the Jewish community by the British prompted the internal unification of the Haganah. From the 1930s onward, the Haganah was dominated and commanded by the Labor Zionist leadership in Palestine, which also emerged as the prevailing political faction in world Zionist affairs. During World War II, the Haganah became the unofficial military arm of the Jewish Agency and coordinated the Zionist organization's program of Aliyah Bet (clandestine Jewish immigration to Palestine in defiance of the British blockade), which continued until the end of the Mandate. Throughout the 1940s, the Haganah opposed the right-wing underground's indiscriminate attacks against the British. In November 1944, for example, David Ben-Gurion addressed the annual Histadrut convention and delineated the differences between the Haganah and Irgun in stark terms: "There is no compromise, no equivocation. The way of terror or the way of Zionism, gangsterism or an organized Yishuv; murder from ambush and banditry in darkness or the voluntary self-discipline of youth movements, of farmers and industrialists, a union of freedom and cooperation in argument, decision and act. Whenever and wherever there is a self-governing community of free men, gangsters find no place. If gangsters rule--free men are homeless. Take your choice--violence and repression, or constitutional liberties.... Let us rise up against terror and its agencies, and smite them. The time for words is past." David Ben-Gurion, Rebirth and the Destiny of Israel (London, '959), 144. With the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the Haganah was disbanded and reorganized as Zvah Haganah Leyisrael (Israel Defense Forces), also known by the Hebrew acronym, Zahal.
(21.) Palmah (Hebrew acronym for plugot mahaz, literally "shock troops") were commando units of the Haganah in Palestine. See Yoav Gelber, "Regular Army vs. Underground: Raising the Military Force of the Yishuv during World War II," Cathedra 13 (October 1979): 143-68.
(22.) The implication here is that the Irgun relied inordinately on boys and youths, who were members of the Betar youth movement in Palestine, rather than on grown men.
(23.) The British were granted the Mandate over Palestine by the League of Nations after the end of World War I, and retained control of the country until Israel's independence in 1948. See also note 24.
(24.) The Jewish Agency was legally recognized by the League of Nations in the Mandate for Palestine as "a public body for the purpose of advising and cooperating with the Administration of Palestine in such economic, social and other matters as may affect the establishment of the Jewish national home and the interests of the Jewish population in Palestine, and subject always to the control of the Administration, to assist and take part in the development of the country" (British Mandate for Palestine, Article 4); for the complete text, see The Jew in the Modern World, eds. Mendes-Flohr and Reinharz, 593-94. In its first decade, the Jewish Agency was headed by Chaim Weizmann (1874-1952), the architect of the Balfour Declaration of 1917 and later the first president of the State of Israel. Starting in the mid-1930s, however, the Jewish Agency was dominated by a Labor-led coalition under David Ben-Gurion (1886-1973), who later served as Israel's first prime minister, with brief interruptions, from 1948 to 1963. With the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the Jewish Agency was reorganized as a non-governmental organization responsible for many of Israel's overseas activities including education, fund raising, and aliyah.
(25.) In 1897, Theodor Herzl (1860-1904), the founder of political Zionism, established the World Zionist Congress (WZC). From the outset, the WZC functioned as the central plenary body and highest authority of the World Zionist Organization (see note 27 below). From 1897 to 1939 the WZC convened every year or two on twenty-one occasions. Only after World War II did the Twenty-second Zionist Congress convene, thereafter meeting every four to six years in the early decades of the Jewish state. The Twenty-second Congress, held in Basle, Switzerland in December 1946, was the scene of an intense political debate between two factions: those who favored a gradualist approach within the constraints of the British Mandate (led by Chaim Weizmann), and those who argued for combative approach (led by David Ben-Gurion and Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver). A majority of the delegates rebuffed Weizmann's moderate policy and sided instead with Ben-Gurion and Silver. The Congress also rejected Britain's call for a Jewish-Arab conference in London--fearing that such a gathering would undermine support for Zionist aspirations in Palestine--and the Morrison-Grady plan, which proposed the cantonization of Palestine. In the event, Weizmann resigned the presidency of the World Zionist Organization, and Ben-Gurion and Silver assumed power as chairmen, respectively, of the Zionist Executive and the newly created American Section of the Jewish Agency. On the political struggle at the congress, see Gabriel Sheffer, Moshe Sharett: Biography of a Political Moderate (Oxford and New York, 1996), 207-14; and Walter Laqueur, A History of Zionism (New York, 1972), 574-76.
(26.) The Revisionist Zionist party (also known as the Union of Zionist Revisionists) was founded in 1925 by Vladimir (Zeev) Jabotinsky. It originally advocated both a revision of the Zionist Executive's conciliatory policy toward the British Mandatory and stepping up the pace of the Jewish settlement in Palestine. Jabotinsky, a brilliant writer, orator, and polemicist, considered himself the true heir to Herzl's legacy of classical Zionism. He was a staunch opponent of Labor Zionism and placed a premium on the notions of military strength, armed resistance against the British, and retaliation by Jews in Palestine against Arab attackers. For a concise statement of Jabotinsky's views, see "What the Zionist Revisionists Want" (1926) in The Jew in the Modern World, eds. Mendes-Flohr and Reinharz, 594-97.
(27.) The World Zionist Organization (WZO) was created in 1897 by the First Zionist Congress in Basle, Switzerland. The WZO was charged with the responsibility of coordinating and implementing the political, financial, and development strategies of the Zionist movement in the diaspora and Palestine. In time, the Executive of the Jewish Agency became identical with that of the WZO.
(28.) In this period, owing to the efforts of Peter Bergson and Ben Hecht, the Revisionist party placed several highly provocative advertisements in major American newspapers. For example on May 15, 1947 an advertisement titled "Letter to the Terrorists of Palestine," signed by Hecht, appeared in the New York Herald Tribune: "My Brave Friends.... Every time you blow up a British arsenal, or wreck a British jail, or send a British railroad sky high, or rob a British bank, or let go with your guns or bombs at the British betrayers and invaders of your homeland, the Jews of America make a little holiday in their hearts." For the complete text see Ben Hecht, A Child of the Century (New York, 1954), 615-17. See also Joseph B. Schechtman, The United States and the Jewish State Movement: The Crucial Decade, 1939-1949 (New York, 1966), 193-94.
(29.) The Revisionist Organization of America, the American branch of the Union of Zionist Revisionists (see note 26), was established in the mid-1920s. The American Revisionists raised funds for the world organization and supported its activities in Palestine and elsewhere, including the Betar youth movement in America. In 1944, according to the Palestine Yearbook (1944-1945), the Revisionist group had grown to 14,700 members nationwide. At the time, the total number of dues-paying members of Zionist groups in the United States stood at 486,200. Cited in Joseph B. Schechtman, The United States and the Jewish State Movement, 63.
(30.) The reference is to the Twenty-second Zionist Congress, which met in December 1946 in Basle, Switzerland (see note 25).
(31.) On the Revisionist bloc and the Twenty-second World Zionist Congress, see Heller, Birth of Israel, 56-257.
(32.) The partition of Palestine into separate Arab and Jewish states was first proposed in January 1937 by Reginald Coupland, an Oxford University professor and member of the British Royal Peel Commission. The Revisionists strenuously opposed the Peel Commission's findings (as well as subsequent proposals to partition Palestine), citing the fact that much of the original Mandatory territory had already been transformed into the Emirate of Transjordan. The Arabs of Palestine unequivocally rejected the proposal. It caused deep division among the Zionists, who split over the issues of sovereignty and maximalism. The continued outbreak of Arab violence, which lasted from 1936 to 1939, prompted the British government to abandon the plan. For an excerpt from the Peel Commission Report see The Jew in the Modern World, eds. Mendes-Flohr and Reinharz, 611-12.
(33.) The term Transjordan applies to the area adjacent to Israel and east of the Jordan River. Since Biblical times, parts or all of it have been united with western Israel, and it often contained large Jewish settlements. In the decades following World War I, Abdullah, installed in 1922 as emir of Transjordan by the British Mandatory, was allowed to preside over his own semi-autonomous domestic government.
(34.) The Irgun Zvai Leumi emblem consisted of a hand holding a rifle against a backdrop of a map of the biblical Land of Israel (including Transjordan) and the Hebrew phrase "rak kakh" (only thus).
(35.) See Menahem Kaufman, "The Jewish Community of Palestine as Viewed by Non-Zionist American Jewry during the Holocaust--Pre-State Period," Cathedra 19 (April 1981): 205-26. See also the following comments on Kaufman's essay in the same volume: Zvi Ganin, "American Identity or Jewish Attachment?" 227-29; and Aryeh Goren, "Cooperation between Zionists and Non-Zionists," 230-34.
(36.) For a useful overview of the historical context in this regard, see Israel Kollat, et al., "Discussion: The British Decision to Evacuate Palestine," Cathedra 15 (April 1980): 140-94 (Hebrew).
(37.) The reference here is to right-wing Zionist terrorist activity in Palestine, including threats uttered at the Twenty-second World Zionist Congress (see note 25) by the American Revisionist Zionist leader, William B. Ziff (1898-1953), author of The Rape of Palestine (1938). In the months preceding the WZC, the Irgun was blamed (and in some instances claimed responsibility) for attacks on the Palestine railway, its officials, and cargo, which delayed the transport to Haifa harbor of tens of millions of boxes of citrus destined for export to Europe and elsewhere. Sporadic bomb explosions and rifle volleys in Jerusalem neighborhoods, a spate of robberies aimed at Jewish diamond merchants and banks in Tel Aviv, and violent attacks on civilians, including a much publicized attack on members of the gentile Committee of Polish Refugees, prompted the British to impose limited curfews in cities and rural sectors of the country.
(38.) Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver (1893-1963), a leader of Reform Judaism and Zionism in the United States, was a founder and co-chairman of the United Jewish Appeal and president of the United Palestine Appeal. A brilliant orator and skilled politician, Silver advocated the pursuit of public opinion and political pressure to achieve Zionist aims in Palestine. He favored a combative Zionist posture and worked with David Ben-Gurion to oust Chaim Weizmann and Rabbi Stephen S. Wise (1874-1949)--moderates intent on working within the restraints of official British and American policy--from, respectively, positions of leadership in the world and American Zionist organizations. Although Silver was generally inclined to collaborate with Ben-Gurion's Labor-led coalition in the WZO, he also expressed sympathy for the militant and non-socialist Revisionist groups.
(39.) The religious Zionist movement Mizrahi (a Hebrew acronym for merkaz ruhani--spiritual center--also meaning "eastward"), was created in Vilna in 1902 under the leadership of Rabbi Isaac Jacob Reines (1839-1915). Mizrahi dedicated itself to working within the structure of the WZO and promoting a Jewish nationalist agenda according to Orthodox Jewish values and principles. It proclaimed the slogan "The Land of Israel for the people of Israel according to the Torah of Israel." In 1944, the American branch of Mizrahi numbered 75,000. Cited in Schechtman, The United States and the Jewish State Movement, 63. See also Mizrahi's manifesto Kol koreh (The Voice Calls) from 1902 in The Jew in the Modern World, eds. Mendes-Flohr and Reinharz, 546.
(40.) For information on violence in this period, see Heller, The Stern Gang, 166; Albert M. Hyamson, Palestine Under the Mandate, 1920-1948, reprint (Westport, CT, 1976), 160-62; Naomi Shepherd, Ploughing Sand: British Rule in Palestine, 1917-1948 (New Brunswick, NJ, 2000), 221-26.
(41.) The Vaad Leumi (National Council), recognized by the British Mandatory as the official leadership of the Yishuv, was an executive committee of Palestine's resident Zionist leaders selected by the annual session of the Elected Assembly to administer the affairs of Palestine Jewry under the Mandate.
(42.) In the wake of right-wing Zionist violence, both the Vaad Leumi and Jewish Agency adopted positions deploring the terrorist activity of the Ezel and Stern group. Indeed, the World Zionist Congress publicly disavowed "murder and the shedding of innocent blood as a means of political warfare." In the United States, many American Jewish groups condemned political Palestinian Jewish extremism and violence. The American Jewish Committee, for example asserted its agreement with "the responsible Jewish bodies of Palestine" and deplored what it called "senseless and inexcusable crime[s] committed by a band of terrorists who represent no substantial Jewish group in or out of Palestine." Meanwhile, however, the Revisionist movement as a whole continued to enjoy the tacit support of key leaders like Abba Hillel Silver, head of the American Zionist Emergency Council, who asserted, "The Jewish Agency has indicated it will restrain extremist groups. It will not ask the Jewish population to turn informists and spies for [a British] administration which has been guilty of gross illegalities and cruelties against the Jews." Quotes from American Jewish Year Book, vol. 49 (1947), 251-53. In fact, Silver's statement reflected the consensus and increasing militancy of the Jewish Agency, Vaad Leumi, and the Yishuv in the turbulent months prior to November 1947, when the United Nations voted to partition Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states. See American Jewish Year Book, vol. 49 (1947), 447-48, 451.
(43.) There is a dearth of evidence about fundraising by Revisionist groups in the United States. This lacuna stems, in part, from the fact that organized American Jewish bodies, including the United Jewish Appeal, ostracized Revisionist front organizations, such as the American League for a Free Palestine, the Hebrew Committee of National Liberation, and the Committee for a Jewish Army of Stateless and Palestinian Jews. As such, there is little or no public record of the fundraising efforts of Revisionists. Ben Hecht later claimed his play, A Flag Is Born, "netted the Irgun nearly a million dollars," and that the Bergson group "raised millions" in other projects. To be sure, Revisionist supporters did mount a series of successful public pageants and events, but such activity failed to create a steady stream of funding for right-wing Zionist activity in the United States or Palestine. By contrast, in 1947, the United Palestine Appeal raised a total of $56,578,000, while discreet groups such Hadassah and the Labor Zionists raised, respectively, nearly $4,500,000 and $3 million for palestine projects. See Hecht, Child of the Century, 14-615; Stephen J. Whitfield, "The Politics of Pageantry, 1936-1946," American Jewish History 84 (September 1996): 221-51; Walter Roth, Looking Backward: True Stories from Chicago's Jewish Past (Chicago, 2002), 155-70; and American Jewish Year Book, vol. 50 (1949), 260, 275.
(44.) Der tog (Yiddish for "The Day"), a daily, non-partisan Yiddish newspaper, was founded in 1914 by group of Jewish intellectuals and businessmen in New York City. Edited by William Edlin (1878-1947), a dynamic labor activist and writer who espoused high journalistic standards, the paper attracted a talented cohort of journalists, playwrights, literary critics, poets, and essayists. It reached its zenith during World War I, with an eastern seaboard circulation of 81,000. Although the paper declined steadily thereafter, it continued to be read by Yiddish-speaking immigrants and their children well into the 1940s and early 1950s.
(45.) Attacks by the Stern Gang were, in part, the product of the highly charged atmosphere that prevailed in Palestine from 1943 onward, after news of Nazi atrocities in Europe became known. Indeed, this period witnessed frequent clashes among left- and right-wing Zionist youth organizations, some of which erupted into violence. After 1942, the Stern Gang concluded that targeted reprisals were the most effective method for driving the British from Palestine. As their attacks against the British mounted in intensity, so did their ruthlessness. After the assassination of Lord Moyne (Walter Edward Guiness, 1880-1944) on November 6, 1944, the Stern Gang was publicly condemned by Chaim Weizmann and David Ben-Gurion. In the weeks that followed, the Haganah denounced members of the right-wing underground and assisted the British police. Under the threat of long prison terms and/or hanging, members of the Stern Gang resorted to the extortion of funds from Jewish shopkeepers and, in several instances, killed suspected Jewish informers. See ESCO Foundation for Palestine, Palestine: A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies (New Haven, 1947), 1040; The Letters and Papers of Chaim Weizmann, vol. 21, ed. Michael J. Cohen (New Brunswick, NJ, and Jerusalem, 1979), 246-47, 251-52; Shapira, Land and Power, 349-50. On the assassination of Lord Moyne, see Heller, Stern Gang, ch. 6. Richard Meinertzhagen, a pro-Zionist British officer, described the Stern Gang as "a small desperate gang of exasperated Jews"; see Richard Meinertzhagen, Middle East Diary, 1917-1956 (New York, 1959), 193-94.
(46.) As right-wing militant Zionist opposition to the British occupation increased, the Irgun under the leadership of Menahem Begin plotted the bombing on July 22, 1946 of the King David Hotel, which served as the British headquarters (see note 15). The bombing was part of a larger campaign conducted against the British by the Irgun and the Lehi, which also destroyed bridges, roads, tanks, and warplanes, as well as the British embassy in Rome.
(47.) As the Irgun and the Stern Gang intensified their violent campaigns against the British, they were met with mass arrests, curfews, and the imposition of the death penalty on those carrying weapons. The first Jew to be hanged by the British in Palestine was an Irgun partisan named Shlomo Ben-Yosef (1918-1938), who was responsible in 1938 for an attack on an Arab bus. News of Ben-Yosef's capture and subsequent trial shocked the Yishuv. For a glimpse of the Yishuv's wariness and ambivalence toward the Stern Gang, see the following articles in the Palestine Post: "Attack on Bus Near Rosh Pina," April 24, 1938, 2; "Special Meeting of Vaad Leumi," May 3, 1938, 2; "Three Jews on Trial Under Emergency Regulations," May 25, 1938, 2; "Trial of Three Rosh Pina Youths" (May 26, 1938), 2; "Prosecution Case Closed in Rosh Pina Shooting Trial" (May 20, 1938), 2; "Nine Revisionists Arrested in Old City," May 30, 1938, 2.; "Fifth Day's Hearing of Rosh Pina Bus Shooting Case," May 31, 1938, 2; "Evidence in Bus Shooting Case Concluded," June 1, 1938, 2; "Two Condemned to Die in Rosh Pina Trial," June 6, 1938, 1, 7; "The Rosh Pina Sentences" (editorial), June 6, 1938, 8; "Clemency Pleas in Sheen-Ben-Yosef Case," June 7, 1938, 2; "Death Sentence Confirmed," June 26, 1938, 1; "The Essential Issue," June 26, 1938, 8; "G.O.C. Asked to Re-Open Ben-Yosef Case" (June 28, 1938), 1; "Revisionists Injured in Demonstration" (June 28, 1938), 1; "Ben-Yosef Doomed," June 29, 1938, 1-2; "Shlomo Ben-Yosef Executed at Acre," June 30, 1938, 1-2. Despite British efforts to quash Jewish terrorist activity, the right-wing Zionist underground escalated its campaign, including violence in direct response to British countermeasures. See Heller, The Stern Gang, 38-42, 121.
After the "Night of the Bridges" in mid-June 1946, in which ten major bridges that linked Palestine to surrounding countries were blown up, the British began striking back at Jewish saboteurs with the same harshness demonstrated against rebels in other British-controlled territories of the period. A contemporary accounted noted: "The Palestine administration cast aside all restraints in dealing with individual 'terrorists' when apprehended (for the first time in years it executed such idealistic political 'criminals' as Dov Gruner [1912-1947], despite worldwide Jewish and non-Jewish pleas for mercy) in retaliating against the Jewish Agency and the Jewish community at large, and in violently combating the so-called illegal Jewish immigration"; American Jewish Year Book, vol. 49 (1947), 106. Less than one month after "Black Sabbath" (June 29, 1946), when the British conducted a countrywide search for underground right-wing commanders and weapons stores, the Irgun destroyed the King David Hotel on July 22, 1946 (see note 15).
(48.) Halpern is referring to instances such as the chain of events set off by the "Whipping Night" (October 29, 1946), when the Irgun flogged several British soldiers in retaliation for the same punishment having been administered to its own members. In turn, the British military captured and subsequently sentenced to death three Irgun members. Thereafter, the Irgun determined to retaliate against the British to avenge the executions of its members. On March 1, 1947, the Irgun attacked a British officers' club in Jerusalem, resulting in the deaths of twelve people--only five of whom were officers and soldiers. Consequently, the British declared martial law in north Jerusalem and Tel Aviv for fifteen days.
(49.) For useful analyses of the strategy of the Irgun Zvai Leumi and the Lehi in this period see Heller, The Stern Gang, ch. 7; and Yaacov Shavit, Jabotinsky and the Revisionist Movement, 1925-1948 (London, 1988), 314-20. Typical of the Jewish Agency leadership's concern about right-wing Zionist terrorism is Chaim Weizmann's statement to Oliver Stanley (1886-1950), a Conservative British official who was Secretary of State for Colonies from 1942 to 1945. Weizmann wrote to Stanley following the killing of seven British soldiers by the Stern Gang on April 25, 1947: "I am grateful for every day that passes without untoward incidents. Whatever influence I can exercise in the direction of restraint, I am certainly using to the limit.... Although there are, of course, small terrorist groups, still I think [the Jewish Agency leaders] have some influence on public opinion in general. Moreover, since the ugly incident in Tel Aviv, of which everybody was ashamed, the public has begun to realize that, if they allow this demoralization to receive any sanction at all, even negative, they will gravely endanger all that has been built up in the last sixty or seventy years." See The Letters and Papers of Chaim Weizmann, ed. Joseph Heller, vol. 22 (New Brunswick, NJ, and Jerusalem, 1979), 144.
(50.) See Shavit, Jabotinsky and the Revisionist Movement, ch. 7.
(51.) At this juncture, Halpern is distinguishing between mainstream resistance to the British Mandate--both overt and covert forms of Jewish resistance under the direction of David Ben-Gurion and the Jewish Agency executive, including the Haganah and Aliyah Bet--and the militant actions of the Irgun and the Stern Gang. On the activities of the Haganah in Palestine in this period, see Ronald W. Zweig, "Great Britain, the Haganah, and the Fate of the White Paper," Cathedra 29 (September 1983): 145-72 (Hebrew).
(52.) The reference is to the underground training of Haganah members in various kibbutzim. See Henry Near, The Kibbutz Movement: A History, vol. 2 (London and Portland, OR, 1997), ch. 1; Paula Rayman, The Kibbutz Community and Nation Building (Princeton, 1981), 37-39. Near indicates that in this period "all kibbutz members were automatically enrolled in the Haganah, and a high proportion of the individuals involved in the [Haganah's] special operations ... belonged to kibuzim or to groups preparing for communal settlement" in Palestine; Near, The Kibbutz Movement, 18.
(53.) For an analysis of the Haganah's policy and tactics vis-a-vis the struggle against the British in Palestine, see Shapira, Land and Power, 290-96.
(54.) Martial law and curfews were imposed by the British Mandatory on the Jewish and Arab communities of Palestine with increasing frequency in 1947. See American Jewish Year Book, vol. 49 (1947), 447-48. See also note 48.
(55.) The swing in public opinion and attitudes toward the mounting violence is also noted in Jewish Frontier (August 1947), 4.
(56.) Ernest Bevin (1881-1951), a British trade union leader and minister of Labor and National Service in the wartime and postwar governments of Winston Churchill, was the architect of Britain's restrictive anti-Jewish Palestine policy in the years immediately preceding the establishment of the State of Israel.
(57.) See note 40.
(58.) Whether Halpern is referring to a specific incident or not is unclear. He may be speaking generally about Lehi's policy of mailing and/or planting explosives intended to terrorize and kill British officials. See Heller, The Stern Gang, 122; and The Letters and Papers of Chaim Weizmann, ed. Michael J. Cohen, vol. 21 (New Brunswick, NJ, and Jerusalem, 1979), 127-28, 135, 156-58, 163-64, 230-31.
(59.) Sir Robert Anthony Eden, First Earl of Avon, (1897-1977), a Conservative member of the British parliament from 1923, was elected and served as prime minister from 1955 to 1957. Eden also served as foreign secretary in 1935-1938 and 1940-1945.
(60.) Ben Hecht (1893-1964), the son of Russian Jewish immigrants, was born in New York City. Referred to as "the Shakespeare of Hollywood," he became an accomplished and successful screenwriter, director, producer, playwright, and novelist. Hecht's anti-Nazi stance was first manifest in his writing for PM magazine and the film Let Freedom Ring (7939). In September 1941, Peter Bergson contacted Hecht and--in an episode reminiscent of Jacob DeHaas's impact on Louis D. Brandeis decades earlier--helped to convert the award-winning Hollywood writer to Zionism. Thereafter, Hecht emerged as a fervent believer in an independent Jewish state. He shared Bergson's deep distrust of the WZO and Yishuv leadership, and lent his considerable talents and public support to the activities of the Revisionists in the United States. During World War II, he composed the provocative text for several newspaper advertisements sponsored by the Bergson group, which decried the alleged complacency of American Jews, the Zionist leadership, and the Roosevelt administration in the Holocaust. Deployed in the New York Times and other major American newspapers, the advertisements attracted widespread attention and generated considerable public debate. One ad entitled "My Uncle Abraham Stands Up," which appeared in late 1944, "so upset Rooseveh that he had ]the Wall Street financier] Bernard Baruch [1870-1965] ask Hecht to discontinue his criticism...." After the war, Hecht also wrote a spate of anti-British pieces that valorized the efforts of the Revisionist groups in Palestine. As a result, British authorities deleted Hecht's name from the credits of American films shown in England for many years. Finally, Hecht's public vilification of David Ben-Gurion and the Zionist leadership in Perfidy (1954), a book in which he accused the Zionists of knowing about but failing to prevent the Nazi regime from exterminating European Jewry, prompted Ben-Gurion to deny Hecht permission to be buried in the Jewish state. See William MacAdams, Ben Hecht: A Biography (New York, 1990), 211-50.
(61). For a full text of Hecht's "Letter to the Terrorists of Palestine," see Hecht, Child of the Century, 615-17.
(62.) The reference here is to the political tension between the leaders of the Revisionist party and the Jewish Agency, which dated back to the late 1920s and early 1930s when Vladimir (Zeev) Jabotinsky became the main voice of opposition to Chaim Weizmann's leadership, as well as the policies of the World Zionist Organization and the Vaad Leumi in Palestine. In this period, the Revisionists' growing strength in Poland and elsewhere, combined with mounting tension between the right-wing Zionist groups, on the one hand, and Weizmann and the emergent Labor-led majority in Palestine, on the other, prompted Jabotinsky and his followers to secede from the World Zionist Organization. In 1935, the Revisionist movement founded the New Zionist Organization (NZO)--an alternative framework to the WZO. The NZO rejected the proposed partition of Palestine in 1937, and proffered its own policies for rescuing Jews from the Nazi-occupied Europe and opposing the British Mandatory regime in Palestine. The NZO disbanded after the war, and in 1946 the Revisionists rejoined the WZO.
(63.) Rafael Medoff notes that, "between 1946 and 1948, ten ships purchased in the United States attempted to bring Holocaust survivors from Europe to Palestine. They carried more than 32,000 people, about half the total number of those who attempted to immigrate during that period. Nine of the ships were sponsored by the Haganah, and one by the Irgun (the 'Ben Hecht'). All ten were intercepted by the British, and their passengers were interned, most in detention camps in Cyprus"; Medoff, Militant Zionism in America, 196.
(64.) The minutes of a closed meeting of the Zionist Executive reflect the public relations dilemma posed by the Bergson groups: "In view of confusion which had been created in certain journalistic circles by a recent statement emanating from the Bergson group, it was decided to issue a short statement explaining that only the Zionist Congress or the Jewish Agency are authorized to issue statements of policy." Minutes of a Meeting held on Friday, 29th November 1946 at 77 Great Russell St., W.C. 29 November 1946. 22166, Z4/302/31, BGA.
(65.) In a letter dated March 8, 1947, Chaim Weizmann commented on the parallel efforts of Peter Bergson and Menahem Begin to undermine the Jewish Agency: "I have had the opportunity of reading an interview which the head of the Irgun has given to an American journalist. I think this interview has been printed in the [New York] Herald Tribune.... The impression one gets in reading such an interview is that you deal with a man who is a megalomaniac suffering from a Messiah complex. Whether he is just a fanatic or a charlatan or both is hard to say. He is apparently working in close touch with the famous Mr. Bergson in Paris, who is trying to organize the Government in Exile--whereas Mr. Begin the commander of the Irgun represents the counterpiece which is the Maquis or the underground movement. They have obviously adopted the French style and seem to have a great deal of valuable connections in France, including men like [the socialist leader Leon] Jouhaux [1879-1954]. Rumor had it here that Mr. [Leon] Blum [1872-1950] has joined the band of the faithful; I have telegraphed to him and the information came back that it is not true. They boast that [Foreign Minister Georges] Bidault [1899-1983] is one of their friends. There is some truth in all that as Frenchmen would support almost any movement likely to embarrass the British. They do not care very much that it does a great deal of harm to us. Still, I have written to Mr. Blum and am going to do so again. It is deplorable that all these charlatans should thrive on the sick body of the Jewish people. They spend an untold amount of money and apparently these people in Paris are having a very good time. It is a racket but it is remarkable how many sentimental ladies, particularly in America and in Paris, fall for it." See The Letters and Papers of Chaim Weizmann, ed. Heller, vol. 22, 276-77.
(66.) In this instance, Halpern is drawing a parallel between the anti-Zionist position of groups like the American Council for Judaism (ACJ) and the philosophical approach of advocates of a "Hebrew government in exile." Rafael Medoff asserts that Bergson's effort to distinguish between "Hebrews" and "Jews" stemmed from his desire to prove that "even though he was a foreigner, he was sensitive to American Jews' concerns about their place in American society"; see Medoff, Militant Zionism in America, 113.
The ACJ, which was created in 1942 as an offshoot of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, doggedly opposed Zionism and the movement to create the Jewish state in this period. Among the leaders of the ACJ in 1947 were the philanthropist Lessing J. Rosenwald (1891-1979) and the Reform rabbi Elmer Berger (1908-1996), who argued that Judaism was not a nationality but a religion of universal values. The viewpoint of the ACJ was articulated in hearings held by the U.S. House of Representatives in 1944: "We oppose the effort to establish a national Jewish state in Palestine or anywhere else as a policy of defeatism, and one which does not offer a practical solution of the Jewish problem. We dissent from all those related doctrines that stress the racialism, the nationalism, and the theoretical homelessness of Jews. We oppose such doctrines as inimical to the welfare of Jews in Palestine, in America, or wherever Jews may dwell.... We look forward to the ultimate establishment of a democratic, autonomous government in Palestine, wherein Jews, Moslems, and Christians shall be justly represented; every man enjoying equal rights and sharing equal responsibilities; a democratic government in which our fellow Jews shall be free Palestinians whose religion is Judaism, even as we are Americans whose religion is Judaism." For the complete text, see The Jew in the Modern World, eds. Mendes-Flohr and Reinharz, 523-24.
(67.) In his autobiography, the Chicago-born writer Meyer Levin (1905-1981), who had strong ties to the Palestine labor movement, reflected on the controversy over Revisionist fundraising tactics in the United States. He questioned the Bergson group's credibility in this regard, asserting that "the Bergson adherents, and through them a very large number of American Jews and non-Jews, received their formative view of the Palestine situation through a side-window. They received, to my mind, a distorted, certainly an incomplete view. Their activity was mobilized, large funds were collected from them in ensuing years, ostensibly for payment for 'medical aid to Hebrew fighters,' and they thought they were very wise in assuming that their funds were really paying for explosives; apparently their funds were paying for political agitation along extremist lines. Such funds might otherwise have flowed to organizations that were arming Israel for the coming war of survival, and to the people who were systematically bringing shipfuls of immigrants and of fighters to the land"; Meyer Levin, In Search: An Autobiography (New York, 1950), 304.
(68.) The reference is to political in-fighting among American Revisionist groups and their attachments to Palestinian right-wing Zionist groups. To date, there is no comprehensive academic study of right-wing Zionism in the United States. The issue awaits scholarly investigation.
(69.) The reference here is to the Palestinian context. For a useful analysis of the antagonism between the Revisionists and the Labor Zionist movement in Palestine and the WZO, see Mitchell Cohen, Zion and State: Nation, Class and the Shaping of Modern Israel (New York, 1987), chs. 7-9; and Shabtai Teveth, Ben-Gurion: The Burning Ground, 1886-1948 (Boston, 1987), 410-15.
(70.) On the relationship between Revisionism and fascism, see Gideon Shimoni, The Zionist Ideology (Hanover and London, 1995), 249-54; Shavit, Jabotinsky and the Revisionist Movement, ch. 12; Heller, Stern Gang, 5-6, 188-89; Cohen, Zion and State, 170-74.
(71.) For an overview of the Pioneer Women's Organization (renamed "Pioneer Women" in 1947; later "Naamat USA" in 1981), see Mark A. Raider, "The Romance and Realpolitik of Zionist Pioneering: The Case of the Pioneer Women's Organization," in American Jewish Women and the Zionist Enterprise, eds. Shulamit Reinharz and Mark A. Raider (Hanover and London, 2004), 114-32.
(72.) There is still no authoritative scholarly work on clandestine Haganah activity in the United States. A good starting point for such research is "Summary of Activities of Americans for Haganah, July-October 1947." July 1947. 187402/2933; "Haganah Speaks to the United Nations." 11 July 1947. 175313/A454. BGA. See also Saadia Gelb, The Chase Is the Game: The Journeys of an American-Israeli Pioneer (Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 2001), 70-73, 77; Arise and Build: The Story of American Habonim, ed. David Breslau (New York, 1961), 73-74, 79-83; Builders and Dreamers: Habonim Labor Zionist Youth in America, eds. J.J. Goldberg and Elliot King (New York, 1993), 103-15, 124-25, 134-37; Pioneers From America: 75 Years of Hechalutz, 1905-1980, eds. Sima Altman, et al. (Tel Aviv, 1981), 120-27; Against the Stream: Seven Decades of Hashomer Hatzair in North America, ed. Ariel Hurwitz (Givat Haviva, Israel, 1994), 232-42. For useful context, see Arthur A. Goren, "'Anu Banu Arzah' in America: The Americanization of the Haluz Ideal," in Envisioning Israel: The Changing Ideals and Images of North American Jews, ed. Allon Gal (Jerusalem and Detroit, 1996), 107.
(73.) In fact, the National Committee for Labor Palestine, a front organization for several pro-Labor Zionist groups in the United States, placed several ads in periodicals, including the New York Post and PM. The ads sought to delegitimate the Bergson group and portray the Haganah as the sole authentic channel for the Zionist movement's clandestine immigration activity. Medoff, Militant Zionism in America, 194-96.
(74.) Following World War II, it became increasingly evident that Great Britain was unable to maintain order in Mandatory Palestine or to sustain the confidence of the international community in this regard. In 1946, a number of proposals were put forward concerning the "Palestine question," including a plan to transfer responsibility for the region to an American trusteeship. In February 1947, the British government brought the matter to the United Nations for consideration. It was subsequently referred to the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP), which ultimately recommended the partition of Palestine into separate Arab and Jewish states.
(75.) PM, a widely-read afternoon daily, proved to be something of a battleground in which left- and right-wing Zionists vied for public support for their views. See Hecht, Child of the Century, 520-21; and Schechtman, The United States and the Jewish State Movement, 195-96. On PM's reportage concerning Palestine and Zionism, see Paul Milkman, PM: A New Deal in Journalism (New Brunswick, NJ, 1997), 195-97, 205-6.
(76.) I.F. (Isador Feinstein) Stone (1907-1989) was born in Philadelphia to Russian Jewish immigrant parents. In the 1930s, he became a radical journalist and wrote for several prominent publications, including The New York Post, The Nation, and PM. In 1953, he started his own paper, the I.F. Stone Weekly, which reached a circulation in the 1960s of 70,000. Among his books was Underground to Palestine (1946), originally serialized in PM as "Through Europe Underground to Palestine," which traced the path of Jewish refugees fleeing Europe through Czechoslavakia and Austria to Italy, and then finally via Aliyah Bet to the port of Haifa. Milkman, PM, 197.
(77.) The reference is to an organization called "Americans for Haganah," which was initially directed by David Wahl, a prominent American Jewish Congress official. On the group's activities in the United States in this period, including community organizing efforts, newspaper and radio publicity, coordination of a speakers bureau and special events, and a review of its $35,000 budget and future plans, see "Summary of Activities of Americans for Haganah, July-October 1947." July 1947. 187402/2933. BGA.
(78.) After World War II, Germany and Austria (and Berlin and Vienna) were divided into four zones: British, American, French and Russian. So far as Germany was concerned this lasted until 1949. With some minor exceptions, there were no such zones elsewhere in Europe. See Henry Ashby Turner, Jr., The Two Germanies since 1945 (New Haven and London, 1992), 9-16; Barbara Jelavich, Modern Austria: Empire and Republic, 1815-1986 (Cambridge, MA, 1987), 249-50. A partisan but nevertheless detailed and and useful study is Harold Zink, The United States in Germany, 1944-1955 (Princeton, 1957).
(79.) The reference is to legal immigration certificates issued by the British Mandatory regime. Certificates were allotted to the Jewish Agency and subsequently distributed among potential immigrants. See Ben Halpern and Jehuda Reinharz, Zionism and the Creation of a New Society, second ed. (Hanover and London, 2000), 230-31.
(80.) Displaced Persons (also known as "DPs") was the euphemism used to describe the millions of European refugees, including many thousands of Jewish survivors, who suddenly came under the jurisdiction of the victorious Allied occupation forces with the conclusion of World War II. The magnitude of the refugee crisis prompted the Allies to establish scores of DP camps, including several camps designated for Jewish DPs in the American and British military zones in Italy, Germany, and Austria. Although many Hungarian and Czech Jewish DPs opted to be repatriated, approximately 65,000 other Jewish DPs were unable to do so owing to the intensity of antisemitism in their former communities. Indeed, the number of Jewish DPs rose steadily as many thousands of Jews who did attempt to return to their prewar homes were forced to seek refuge in the wake of continued regional anti-Jewish violence, especially in Poland where a series of pogroms occurred in the summer of 1946. By 1947, there were over 200,000 Jewish DPs in the Allied camps. Still, severe British restrictions on Jewish immigration to Palestine precluded the possibility of Jewish resettlement in Palestine. The alarming situation attracted widespread international attention, and President Harry S. Truman placed increased pressure on the British to allow for Jewish immigration to Palestine. Meanwhile, however, the Haganah smuggled many DPs into Palestine as part of Aliyah Bet. The British intercepted many Haganah vessels, and the captured passengers were held in detention camps in Cyprus. An especially noteworthy episode in this period was that of the Exodus, whose passengers included a sizable number of DPs. Intercepted by the British while trying to reach Palestine, the Exodus was forced to return to Europe, where its weary and half-starved passengers were beaten off the ship with clubs by British forces, all in the glare of the world media. The tragic episode signaled a major public relations defeat for the British and a turning point in support for the Zionist enterprise. For further analysis, see Bernard Wasserstein, Vanishing Diaspora: The Jews in Europe Since 1945 (Cambridge, MA, 1996), ch. 1.
(81.) The reference is apparently to Morris "Mannie" Kraicer, an official of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society who was assigned to the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration in Germany. In June 1946, Kraicer wrote to HIAS in Toronto and explained the situation of the Holocaust survivors in the DP camps:
"All of them survived by a miracle, every one of them should have been dead according to all rules of medicine. They went through hell, lost everything, even their belief that human beings can be kind.
"They were liberated in April 1945, over a year ago. They expected to be moved from this cursed land, where their nearest ones were burned or gassed alive. Every inch of German soil reminds them of the years they [were] tortured and bled. The armies of liberation came, gave them candles, food, but a few weeks later things had gone back to 'normal,' the same camps--no barbed wire but still a guard at the gate....
"A year went by and they are still here. No prospect of emigrating. You must realize that they are all youngsters in age, but not mentally. The first time in my life I met here people who conquered death. For six years they played with death hide and seek, they are the victors.
"You find among the people here not only sole survivors of families, but sole survivors of such famous camps like Treblinka and Sobibor and others.... More than anything else do they need a home environment. It is a crime against anything that is human to keep them here any longer." Quoted in Irving Abella and Harold Troper, None Is Too Many: Canada and the Jews of Europe, 1933-1948 (New York, 1983), 270-71.
(82.) The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, popularly referred to by the acronym HIAS, was created in 1902 by Jewish immigrant leaders in New York City. Known originally as the Hebrew Sheltering and Immigrant Aid Society of America, the society's primary mission was to provide needy East European Jewish immigrants with temporary shelter, food, clothing, and other modest forms of assistance. In the early decades of the twentieth century, HIAS swiftly grew to become the premier Jewish immigrant aid organization in the United States, with operations in most major American cities. It also worked with the American government to facilitate the regulation of Jewish immigration from abroad, as well as the distribution and resettlement of newcomers in different parts of the country. Over time, the scope of HIAS's activities grew to encompass the international, arena, and it played an important role, along with other Jewish philanthropic and relief organizations, vis-a-vis the increasingly complex situation of European Jewish refugees before and after World War II.
(83.) Lessing Rosenwald (1906-1988), a prominent American Jewish merchant and philanthropist, was a founder and the first president of the American Council for Judaism (see note 66), an anti-Zionist organization formed in 1942. He campaigned vigorously against the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine.
(84.) The writer Meyer Levin (see note 67) offered the following explanation of the Haganah's attitude toward publicity in this period: "[The] Haganah's silence was partly due to a feeling that a contest with the Irgun through full-page advertisements would merely be a further waste of money. And partly due to a rigid policy of secrecy." Levin, In Search, 304.
(85.) On the competition for American Jewish funds and concerns over the Bergson group's tactics, see the comments by Meyer Levin in the previous note.
(86.) Habonim (Hebrew for "The Builders"), an American Labor Zionist youth organization affiliated with the centrist kibbutz movement and the Histadrut in Palestine, was established in Buffalo, New York, in 1935. During the 1930s and 1940s, Habonim was at the center of Zionist youth activity in the United States and operated several training farms for prospective American haluzim (pioneer immigrants). In addition to organizing year-round educational activities and summer camps for children, the group's young adult leaders were politically active. See Raider, Emergence of American Zionism, ch. 3.
(87.) See note 73.
(88.) Poalei Zion (Hebrew for "Workers of Zion"), a socialist Zionist party that originated in Russia in 1901-1903 and subsequently established branches in other countries, including Palestine and the USA. For an overview of American Poalei Zion, see Raider, Emergence of American Zionism, ch. 2.
(89.) The reference is to Habonim (see note 86) and the younger branches of Poalei Zion and Pioneer Women. For an overview of these groups, see Raider, Emergence of American Zionism, ch. 3.
(90.) The idea of recruiting American Jewish volunteers to serve in Zionist-sponsored military efforts dated back to World War I, when Vladimir (Zeev) Jabotinsky spearheaded the successful campaign to create the Jewish Legion, a Jewish military unit that served under British auspices in Palestine. The Bergson group's effort to establish the "Committee for a Jewish Army of Stateless and Palestinian Jews," which called for an updated version of the Jewish Legion that would fight under the Allies, coincided with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Despite considerable public activity in 1941-1942, the Jewish army campaign and other Revisionist-sponsored efforts like the Jewish Aviation League did not produce any substantive results. However, such activity did reflect the groundswell of Zionist-backed and, in some instances, clandestine Zionist efforts to assist the embattled Yishuv. For example, even before the war's end, the Haganab quietly developed a widely-ranging network of financial and military support in the United States. In the years immediately following World War II, the Zionist Organization, including its underground paramilitary branches, did recruit select American Jews to participate in various operations. Among the best known of such recruits was David Daniel "Mickey" Marcus (1902-1948), a trained American soldier and lawyer, who retired in 1947 from the U.S. army with the rank of colonel and returned to private legal practice. In 1948, at the suggestion of Haganah operatives in the United States, Marcus was called to Palestine to serve as David Ben-Gurion's personal military advisor. In May 1948, he was appointed commander of the Jerusalem front. He was the first officer to attain the rank of brigadier general in Israel's fledgling army. On June 11, 1948, he was accidentally killed by a sentry in a friendly fire incident outside military headquarters in Abu Ghosh. Mishmar David, a Judean settlement, is named in his memory.
(91.) Furrows, the official publication of American Habonim (see note 86), appeared from 1942 to 1964.
(92.) Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) was one of several sponsors of Ben Hecht's theatrical pageant, A Flag Is Born (see note 43). The pageant raised funds for the Irgun and Jews living in DP camps. Other well-known sponsors of the production were the American playwright Maxwell Anderson (1888-1959) and New York City mayor William O'Dwyer (1890-1964).
(93.) The theatrical pageant, A Flag Is Born, opened on September 5, 1946, and ran for 120 performances. Written by Ben Hecht and directed by Luther Adler (1903-1984), the show included a score by the famous German Jewish composer Kurt Weill (1900-1950). It featured some well-known celebrities including Paul Muni (1895-1967) and Marion Brando (1924-2004). On Hecht's pageants, see note 43.
(94.) Rafael Medoff asserts that "during the final months of World War II and especially during the first years after the war, a wide range of legislators, intellectuals, and entertainers were moved to embrace the militant Zionist agenda by the horrors of the Holocaust and the inspiring image of modern-day Maccabees fighting for Jewish freedom against the British"; Medoff, Militant Zionism in America, 149-50. The writer Meyer Levin (see note 67) offered an alternative contemporary view of the weak public relations efforts mounted by mainstream Zionist groups in this period, as well as an assessment of the publicity campaigns engineered by the Bergson group: "Many of the personalities whose names later adorned the Bergson committees could just as well have been assembled to aid [the] Haganah, to aid central Zionist activity, had the leaders known how to arouse them. ... In the wake of the 'big names' headed by Ben Hecht there were some joiners among artists and writers and politicians whose names are so easily secured for committees. A natural consideration--as in the days of the committees to aid Spain--is whether the leading names are prominent enough to make high company. Then, of course, aside from the passionately sincere, there are usually some to whom inclusion in such a list means status and free advertising, besides maybe helping a cause, so why not let one's name be used? It is inconceivable that the hundreds of public figures who suddenly blossomed out as [Bergson] adherents were intimately enough acquainted with the complex politics of Palestine to have given their adherence on a truly informed basis." Levin, In Search, 304-5.
(95.) See note 16 above.
(96.) President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the War Refugee Board through Executive Order 9417 in January 1944. Its purpose was to provide the American government with a mechanism "to take all measures within its power to rescue the victims of enemy oppression who are in imminent danger of death and otherwise to afford such victims all possible relief and assistance consistent with the successful prosecution of the war." See Henry Feingold, The Politics of Rescue: The Roosevelt Administration and the Holocaust, 1938-1945 (New York, 1970), 244-47.
(97.) On the American League for a Free Palestine, see note 16.
(98.) On the Committee for a Jewish Army of Stateless and Palestinian Jews, see note 16.
(99.) On the Bergson group's fundraising and public relations efforts, see notes 43, 60, and 67.
(100.) The American Zionist Emergency Council (AZEC), initially named the Emergency Committee for Zionist Affairs (ECZA), was created in 1939 by the World Zionist Organization. The ECZA was set up in order to sustain the central functions of the Zionist Executive in the event of war that, it was believed, would follow a course not unlike World War I. During the latter, the Provisional Executive Committee for general Zionist Affairs had fulfilled a similar function. In due course, the ECZA (renamed the AZEC in 194z) emerged as the hub of American Zionist activity during World War II. Circumstances differed significantly from those of World War I, however, and the American Zionist leaders quickly became embroiled in a conflict between the "moderates" led by Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, who sought to work within the constraints of the British Mandate and the Roosevelt administration's wartime policies, and the "militants" led by Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver, who challenged the Democratic and Republican parties alike to adopt a pro-Zionist position and championed an activist approach that in general dovetailed with the political strategy of the Yishuv leadership. In 1944, the clash between Wise and Silver came to a head and led to a public imbroglio that resulted in a complete reorganization of the AZEC leadership,
ultimately placing Silver firmly in control of the organization. In this capacity, Silver played a key role in the American Zionist campaign to win public sympathy and American congressional support for the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine. He worked closely with David Ben-Gurion and other Yishuv leaders to accomplish this objective and represented the Zionist movement at the postwar deliberations of the United Nations. Following the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the AZEC's influence declined, and its functions were eventually assumed by new organizations, including the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
(101.) After traveling to Palestine in 1909 at the invitation of Rabbi Judah L. Magnes (1877-1948), Henrietta Szold (1860-1945) founded the Daughters of Zion--Hadassah Chapter of the ZOA. What was at first regarded by the ZOA as a ladies' auxiliary, swiftly emerged as an independent women's Zionist organization that blossomed into the largest and most successful of all American Zionist groups. Among Hadassah's primary objectives was the establishment in Palestine of the Hadassah Medical Unit, a precursor of the Yishuv's emerging medical care infrastructure and the Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem.
(102.) The reference to Smith House in Jerusalem is probably an error by the stenographer. Halpern more likely referred to Goldsmith House--or, as it was known by its German name in Palestine, Goldschmidt House--which was located on King George Street, adjacent to a military depot, and included a British officers' club. The attack on Goldschmidt House was the culmination of several months of Jewish terrorist activity conducted freely by the Irgun and the Lehi in Palestine--in defiance of the Haganah--including a steady stream of road mines, acts of sabotage, and assassination attempts carried out against British officers, military personnel, and, in some instances, civilians. The violence, which escalated in the spring 1946, resulted in dozens of British deaths and injuries, as well as British reprisals. Finally, on March 1, 1947, the Irgun attacked Goldschmidt House, which was situated in one of four security zones in Jerusalem imposed by the British Mandatory in response to Jewish political disturbances in January 1947. The bombing of Goldschmidt House destroyed the officers' club and caused the collapse of nearly the entire compound. In the event, seventeen British officers were killed and twenty-seven were injured. Subsequently, the British High Commissioner imposed martial law on the Yishuv. For a useful overview of Zionist politics and the Yishuv at this juncture, see Howard M. Sachar, A History of the Jews in the Modern World (New York, 2005), 581-85. I wish to especially thank Mr. Marc Nezer for his assistance with this information.
(103.) The reference is to the MacDonald White Paper of 1939, one in a series of official British policy statements that sought to address the complex and frequently volatile political situation of Palestine. Issued in May 1939 against the backdrop of sporadic Arab rioting that lasted from 1936 to 1939, the White Paper called for restricting Jewish immigration to Palestine to "75,000 immigrants over the next five years ..." and placing a cap on the growth of the Yishuv. In sum, the White Paper reflected Colonial Secretary Malcolm MacDonald's (1901-1981) antipathy to Jewish national aspirations in Palestine, and was tantamount to a repudiation of the Balfour Declaration of 1917, during what the Jewish Agency called "the darkest hours of Jewish history." For the text of the White Paper of 1939 and the Jewish Agency's response, see The Jew in the Modern World, eds. Mendes-Flohr and Reinharz, 613-17. For a detailed overview of the White Paper of 1939, see ESCO Foundation for Palestine, Palestine: A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies, 876-955.
(104.) In response to the crisis of the Greek Civil War (1946-1949), President Harry Truman declared that the United States would support "free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures." In short, Truman insisted that, without American support, Greece and Turkey would inevitably fall to Communism, resulting in a domino effect throughout the Mediterranean region and extending the Soviet Union's sphere of influence. This proclamation, made before the U.S. Congress in March 1947, came to be known as the Truman Doctrine. It provided the conceptual framework for American assistance to governments and regimes that resisted Communism during the Cold War. In May 1947, Truman authorized American legislation that granted $400 million in military and economic aid to Greece and Turkey.
(105.) Halpern is referring to the quote by Ben Hecht cited in note 28.
(106.) Until late in 1947, the British government flatly opposed Jewish sovereignty in Palestine. This attitude was reflected in the communications between the British foreign ministry and the U.S. State Department. See William Roger Louis, The British Empire in the Middle East, 1945-1951 (Oxford, 1984), 397-419; and Michael Cohen, Palestine and the Great Powers, 1945-1948 (Princeton, 1982), 68-95. See also Evyatar Friesel, "Towards the Partition of Palestine: The Goldmann Mission in Washington, August 1946," in Nahum Goldmann: Statesman Without a State, ed. Mark A. Raider (Albany, forthcoming).
(107.) The reference is to the royal citadel of Herod, built on an isolated mountain top at the edge of the Judean desert and the Dead Sea Valley, which became the last outpost of the Zealots during the Jewish rebellion against Rome in 66-70 C.E. In 73 C.E., following a prolonged siege led by the Roman governor Flavius Silva, the Roman legion breached the walls of the Masada garrison, only to discover that the community of 960 Jewish defenders had committed collective suicide. The role of Masada in Zionist literature and folklore is examined in Shapira, Land and Power, 310-19.
(108.) Halpern is referring to the French underground that fought against the German occupation forces during World War II. The French underground movement was known as the Maquisard and its adherents as the Maquis. See also note 65.
(109.) Starting in 1943, the American Zionist Emergency Council (AZEC), spearheaded by Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver, emerged as the main political instrument of American Jewry. For the duration of the war, Silver directed the AZEC's unremitting efforts to establish links with the American political establishment. He presided over a relatively efficient organization with an annual budget of approximately $500,000 that mobilized local and national support for the Zionist cause and the rescue of European Jewry through fourteen professionally staffed departments, a bureau in Washington, D.C., a network of metropolitan councils, and a steady stream of educational, public relations, and propaganda materials. As a result, the AZEC developed into a highly effective "pressure group," and succeeded in generating broad public support for Zionism, as well as in procuring official declarations of support from thousands of non-Jewish organizations, hundreds of municipalities, scores of state legislatures, and a majority of American congressmen.
(110.) The reference is to the Zionist policy known as "bavlagah" (self-restraint), a synthesis of pragmatic considerations and moral principles adopted by the Yishuv in the 1930s in response to sporadic Arab rioting. For example, in the wake of right-wing Zionist terrorist activity in the spring of 1938, The Palestine Post commented:
"There is little doubt that nothing would give greater satisfaction to the organizers of Arab terror than its provocation of similar counter-measures on the part of the Jews. It would please them because it would suggest that Jews and Arabs were equally responsible for the bloodshed which has disfigured and disgraced the country, while the argument that there were two protagonists ('six of one and half a dozen of the other') could be used to reject Jewish claims. It is not, of course, on this account that Palestinian Jewry, from the very outbreak of the attacks two years ago, has refused to follow the primitive instinct of an 'eye for an eye.' Their restraint, remarkable under the circumstances, and acknowledged in the report of the Royal [Peel] Commission, is based upon moral grounds because reprisals upon the innocent are repulsive to a self-respecting community. Palestine Jews have preferred to reserve their moral and physical endurance for the protection of their settlements against wanton attack, and there has been scope enough for manifestation of endurance and courage not only of a high degree, but also of a constant character. This has been seen in the [Beit Shean Valley] and in the hills of Galilee.
"The news, therefore, that three Jewish youths have been apprehended on a charge of carrying arms shortly after an attack upon an Arab bus has alarmed and shocked the Jewish public. The case itself is in the hands of the police, and pending judicial proceedings, we would pass no comment.... But the possibility that the splendid self-restraint exercised by old and young for so long may have been broken is disturbing. Consideration may be given to the effect upon the Jews of Galilee of the terrorism from which they have suffered so cruelly, but nothing in the eyes of the overwhelming mass of the population will excuse the imitation of the very acts which caused the bereavement of Safed. If it is necessary that the heads of the local communities should once more emphasize the Jewish attitude toward reprisals, which besides being ethically wrong, can do nothing but harm, then that must be done. The good name of Jewry, which so far has been preserved, must not be stained by irresponsible acts." Quoted in "Irresponsibility" (editorial), The Palestine Post, April 25, 1938, 6.
The concept of havlagah and its impact on Zionist institutions and partisan groups is examined in Shapira, Land and Power, 234-57. See also Shavit, Jabotinsky and the Revisionist Movement, 331-32.
(111.) On the adoption of the theme of zealotry in Zionist literature and the use of the image of biryonim, see Shapira, Land and Power, 23-24, 32-33. A powerful exposition of this theme came from the pen of the radical Hebrew writer Mikha Yosef Berdichevksy (1865-1921), whose poem, "The Hooligans," became something of an anthem for the militant Zionist right-wing in the 1930s: "We arose, returned, we, the biryonim!/We came to redeem our oppressed land-/With a strong hand, we demand our right!/In blood and fire did Judea fall/In blood and fire shall Judea rise"; quoted in ibid. For an analysis of the right-wing Zionist terror cells that referred to themselves as the Brit Biryonim (Covenant of Zealots), see Shavit, Jabotinsky and the Revisionist Movement, 89-91.
(112.) The Revisionist Zionist leadership created the Histadrut Ovdim Leumit (National Workers' Organization), referred to here as the "Histadrut of National Labor," as an alternative to the Histadrut Haklaklit Shel Haovdim Haivriim Berez Israel (General Federation of Jewish Workers in the Land of Israel), the umbrella framework of the Labor Zionist movement in Palestine established in 1920. By creating a Histadrut organization of their own, the Revisionists sought to penetrate the workers movement and capitalize on the name recognition of their Labor adversaries. Additionally, as Gideon Shimoni suggests, the adoption of Labor Zionist symbols, institutions, and ideas reflected the dominance of socialist Zionism in Palestine and world Zionist affairs in this period. See Shimoni, The Zionist Ideology, 252-56.
(113.) The precise identity of Rivkah is uncertain. Given the context of this lecture and the remarks of the individual in question, it may have been Rivkah Yoffe, who served as the Moezet Hapoalot emissary to Pioneer Women in 1946-1947.
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|Author:||Raider, Mark A.|
|Publication:||American Jewish History|
|Date:||Sep 1, 2004|
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