Tel Aviv, Israel 61321
|Irgun/Etzel "Hebrew War of Liberation" Manifesto:|
|Presented here is a translation of a rare undated manifesto of the right-wing (also called "Revisionist") Zionist "Irgun" underground organization in Pre-State Israel. The manifesto, a 227 page book printed in Hebrew on half-sized typewritten pages, fastened by nails with a cardboard cover and reinforced spine, is called "The Hebrew War of Liberation (Ideological Foundations)". Its significance lies in the fact that it was produced around July-August 1946 at the height of a period of revolt called the "Hebrew Revolt" of 1944-1948 in Mandatory Palestine against British rule, led primarily by the Irgun itself, and this book is an attempt to explain the causes and justification of the revolt.|
Pre-State Israel counted three main underground armed organizations: the "Haganah" (or "Defence"), the main armed formation which closely identified with the Socialist-Zionist views of the Jewish leadership in Palestine (represented by an institution called the "Jewish Agency" and its labor union called the "Histadrut"); the "Irgun" (or "Organization" - a shorthand for the full name "National Military Organization", whose acronym in Hebrew is pronounced "Etzel"), a right-wing "revisionist" Zionist armed formation which broke away from the "Haganah" in 1931 and adopted the ideological views of Ze'ev Jabotinsky; and the "Lechi" (the Hebrew acronym for "Fighters for the Freedom of Israel"), formed in 1940 as a more radical revisionist splinter group from the Irgun.
Militarily, the distinction between these three groups was based on their perception of British rule in Palestine and of Jewish rights under that rule. The Irgun was formed in 1931 in response to the perception of weak Jewish self-defense (by the "Haganah") and insufficient British protection in the face of attacks by Arab marauders during the previous 12 years. The Irgun promoted a more active form of Jewish self defence and retaliation even as against the policies of the Mandatory Government, and so too also promotion of "illegal" immigration to Eretz Israel as against British policies later in that decade. A watershed in military policy between the above three formations occurred at the outbreak of the Second World War: shortly after the outbreak of the war, in 1939, the Irgun suspended activities contrary to British policy and cooperated, together with the "Haganah", with the British in the struggle against Germany. Within the Irgun however, arose a rift against the policy of cooperation with the British, and a new splinter group under Avraham Stern, the "Lechi", was formed. The "Lechi" felt that ongoing British restrictions to Jewish immigration to Palestine were as much a threat to the Jews as the German extermination of them on the European continent, and initiated underground activities against the British from 1940 onwards.
The Irgun detected the changing fortunes of the war relatively early and on 1 February 1944 issued a declaration against the British government in Palestine effectively signalling the beginning of the "Hebrew Revolt" (to be distinguished from the "Jewish Revolt" of 66-73 CE against imperial Rome). From that period onward Irgun and Lechi policies were virtually complimentary to each other, and both fought relentlessly against British immigration restrictions as well as militarily against the armed British and Mandatory forces with operations - many of them "terrorist" in nature in the eyes of the British and some Jews - occurring almost daily. Between November 1945 and September 1946 all three Jewish armed organizations operated in concert against the British, though before and especially afterwards, the Haganah also waged a harsh struggle against the Revisionist formations, fearing their detrimental influence on international public opinion and also of their possible political influence domestically on the Jews of Eretz Israel. The period of the revolt involved the participation of up to 100,000 British soldiers, plus Mandatory police forces and the employment of the elite Special Air Service (SAS). The revolt brought the Jewish-Palestine issue to the fore of international relations and led to the United Nations decision (29 November 1947) to end the Mandate and partition Palestine into two states - one Arab and another Jewish. Though the issue could be debated, it is hard to avoid the idea that the aggressive stance adopted by the Irgun and Lechi is actually what caused the British to leave Palestine and enabled Israel to be founded when it did (hence the significance of the tract presented here).
|This gallery exhibit is an ongoing translation of this long document. It is a conglomeration of materials based on quotations by Jabotinsky, commentaries showing the implementation of his beliefs, and includes material from the Irgun's own proclamations in print and by radio. There is also a series of economic and geographic studies regarding the future development of Israel. The Hebrew is at times verbose and difficult to transform into comprehendible statements, let alone into English - and at 227 pages, it will take some time to present in full. The English text is accompanied by pictures of the original Hebrew pages, and a column of comments (where appropriate).|
The contents of the book are:
Part A: 'The Instructor Taught - And the Students Achieved': selected writings of Jabotinsky; 'In Blood and Sweat Arose us a Race'; 'The Ethics of the War of Liberation'; 'We Believe'
Part B: 'Stages of the Yishuv's [Jewish Community in Palestine] War': commentary; 'Only a Fighting Nation Earns Independence'; 'The Way to Unite a Fighting Yishuv; 'Supporting Forces of the Zionists'
Part C: 'External and Internal Policies': 'Political Results'; 'The Alternative'; 'The Arab Problem'; 'Who Hurts the Solution to the Arab Question'; 'On Our Arab Neighbors'; 'The Soviet Union and the Return to Zion'; 'Settlement or War for Justice'
Part D: 'The Outlines of the Plan For Uprising': 'From the Point of View of Experience'; 'The Fundamental Question - How?'; 'The Irish Example'; 'Lesson of the American Revolution'; 'The Czech Example'
Part E: 'From the Home and From Outside': 'There Won't be a War of Brothers'; 'A Reply to Winston Churchill'; commentary
Part F: 'Conclusion': 'A Piece from the Fighting Youth'
Part G: 'The Meaning of the Hebrew Authority -
(I) Prosperity of the Homeland and its Cultivation' (appendicies): 'Development Opportunities for Eretz-Israel'; 'Geographic Background'; 'Geological Foundations of the Land'; 'The Dead Sea'; 'The Climate and Rainfall'; 'Desert Vegetation and Cultural Vegetation'; 'Treasures of the Quarries'; 'The Laudermilk Program'; 'The Absorption Ability of Eretz Israel'
(II) 'Names of the Land and her Borders': 'Names of the Land'; 'Her Borders'; 'Destined Borders'; 'Historical Borders'; 'Natural Borders'; 'The National Border'
1. A quotation from Jabotinsky from his address delivered on the occasion of the third anniversary of the death of Yaakov de Haas, in August 1940 - and just a few days before his own death.
2. The writer of the manifesto, using phrases almost word-for-word identical to an exhortation from Jabotinky, is referring to his 1923 cry (from "Being Familiar with Fire") for Jewish youth to "learn to shoot": For the generation which is growing up before our eyes, on whose shoulders will be imposed the responsibility - apparently for the greatest turning point in our history - its basics ring as simple as 'learn to shoot'..." ("בשביל הדור הגדל לנגד עינינו ואשר על כתפיו תוטל - כנראה,האחריות למפנה הגדול ביותר בתולדותינו, יש לאלף- בית צלצול פשוט ביותר: צעירים, למדו לירות...")
3. I translate the Hebrew word "khevra" as 'people' and not 'society' (as the word usually means).