Monday, October 6, 2014

Betar USA 1931

Selections from the December 1931 issue of the magazine Betar Monthly that began appearing in early 1931:










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Sunday, August 17, 2014

A Short Introduction to Betar North America 1927-1939

Despite visits by Ze'ev Jabotinsky to the United States in 1921-22 and 1926 (his only other subsequent visits were in 1935 and 1940), the formal organizational framework of a Revisionist movement branch only began in 1929.

Betar's beginnings were bound up with the efforts of Joseph Beder, a Betari from Eretz-Yisrael, who relocated to New York in 1927.  In November 1927, at a meeting of friends, which included Haim Messer and Willy Katz, it was decided to reach out to the Betar centers in Riga, Paris and Tel Aviv. These attempts were unsuccessful although there were some members recruited from within the ranks of the Revisionists which led to the age range from 18-60.

The next real attempt was in February 1929 but only in October that year, after Bader's return from a trip to Eretz-Yisrael, was the first Ken established and the impetus was the August riots in Mandate Palestine.  Most of the first recruits came from Lower Manhattan.  Within a short time, one hundred Betarim joined and after a Chanukah party in December 1929, the next big activity was the halting of a Communist rally of 2000 in support of the Arabs of Palestine.  The Manhattan Ken fell apart however, and branches were formed in The Bronx (led by Messer, Mogilinsky, Mirsky, Gibner, Greenberg) and Brooklyn (Zweibon).  Detroit was led by Aryeh Panuch and Dr. Aryeh Altman.

In the summer of 1930, a camp was conducted led by Bader, Zvi Stock, B. Modavsky, David Mogilinsky and A. Zweibon.  It was reported by the Revisionist party on December 30, 1930 that "meetings together with the Brith Trumpeldor were carried forward. By March 1931, 500 Betarim were registered.

Canadian Betar was founded on May 27, 1929 in Toronto by seven former Polish Betar members, followed by a branch in Vancouver established by a Betari from Harbin and then in Montreal.  The executive (mifkada) included Asher Shainhouse, Yoel Rubin, H. Frimmerman, Y. Steiger and Chaim Abeleh.





The first issue of Betar Canada's publication was in March 1932.

In May 1931, the Betar Monthly began to appear and articles of Jabotinsky, Yehoshua Yeivin, Gabriel Preil and others were published.  A general council meeting was held in the YMHA of The Bronx on August 28, 1931 with 23 delegates attending.  Camp in 1932 had 150 attendees after branches were established also in Chicago, Detroit and in New York: Brownsville, Flatbush and Brocksberry.




The first Kenes was held over August 20-21, 1932 with 50 delegates representing 600 members from nine cities (New York, Chicago, New Jersey, Detroit, St. Louis, Bridgeport, Chelsea, Roxbury and Newark).  Prof. Johann Smertenko was appointed Netziv (item: "a series of articles [were] written by Johan J. Smertenko and published in the New York Herald-Tribune sometime during the 1920s. His column was titled “Twice-Told Tales,” and it focused on newly published editions of classic books".)


Correspondence from 1932 indicating internal disputes regarding finances 
between Betar and the Revisionists.
Joseph Beder was Betar leader at the time and
Israel Baratz was then Chairman of the New York Executive 
and member of the national executive of the U.S. Revisionist Movement


Various mentions of Betar as well as names of Revisionists involved in Betar's development in the reports published in the Minutes of the World Executive of the Revisionist Movement:

September 9, 1930

September 26, 1930


October 20, 1930


September 26, 1930


November 20, 1930


January 1931


February 26, 1932



Betar found itself 'inheriting' disillusioned breakaways from the Bund and Communist parties but found it difficult to attract American-born Jewish youth on the basis of self-defense training and pioneering although assimilationist youth did express interest. University-aged youth were not attratced.  Some of the other names from that period include Judd Teller and Y. Sammler.  In the fall of 1933, Eliyahu Ginzburg, a Jewish Legion veteran, served as Netziv.

Aaron Propes visited shortly thereafter and his conclusion was that the term "Jewish youth" really didn't exist.  He made a radio broadcast on July 31, 1934 and met with journalists from Der Tag and the Morgen Journal.  As the August 1934 issue of Our Voice noted, Betar was accused of fascist tendencies. The Arlosoroff murder contributed to the negative attitude expressed in the Jewish press as did the claims in relation to the outbreak of the 1929 riots, as detailed in the Schechtman/Ben-Ari history of the Revisionist Movement:




Betar held a street parade on the occasion of Herzl's death on 20 Tammuz 1934. In 1935, several Betarim participated in the American government's summer camp program to gain experience and administrative training.  A madrich training camp for the Nesharim group was held at a 120-acre camp.  The Revisionist by this time had their own youth group, YZROA.

As for aliyah, on September 27, 1933, Betar Eretz-Yisrael saw fit to complain that one of the first olim from Betar USA, Tova Rosen, refused to enlist in the plugot giyus, claiming she was told by Bader that only if she was unemployed was she to do so:



To be continued.

Appendix:

A section of Jabotinsky's March 19, 1940 speech delivered at 
the Manhattan Center with notations in his own hand.


P.S.  There may be spelling errors of names for which I apologize.  And if anyone has relevant information to the period as well as corrections, please comment.

The material for this review was culled from:

Joseph Schechtman and Yehuda Benari, History of the Revisionist Movement
and 
the Online Archives of the Jabotinsky Institute

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Jabotinsky in 1933

Some excerpts relating to Rosh Betar's attitude towards Germany from an article by Benny Morris researching the response of the Yishuv's newspapers to Hitler's rise to power in 1933:

The newspapers tended to look at the events from a narrow perspective, that is, in the context of the future of the Jewish people and the Zionist enterprise (primarily the latter). This was manifested inter alia in articles by the Revisionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky, who castigated the Yishuv newspapers for “not wishing to see that German youth is streaming” to Hitler and accused them of discussing Nazism with exemplary superficiality. In his attacks on the newspapers, Jabotinsky mentioned by name the journalists Robert Weltsch and Yeshayahu Klinov (who wrote for Ha’aretz), who advised Jewish voters in Germany to vote for the Communists. Nazis and Communists were indistinguishable, he alleged, except that Nazis were “subjective” antisemites
and Communists were “objective” antisemites. As a consistent repudiator of the Diaspora, Jabotinsky considered Hitlerism an “essential and objective” phenomenon of destruction, brought to bear against a “non-territorial people with neither statehood nor sovereignty.” He asserted that:
German Jewry bears much guilt for the affliction that has befallen it. Each and every assimilationist article . . . poured fuel on to the flame of Hitlerism. . . . Jewish public circles have much to learn from Hitler, the science of learning from one’s enemies. . . . Hitler has reminded assimilated German Jewry . . . of its origins. . . . If our people’s public figures draw the appropriate conclusions . . . we will be able to say that we made the best of the worst.

and

...During Hitler’s first few weeks in office, the Palestinian newspapers made a perceptible if fleeting attempt to understand him and Nazism.  In Doar Yom, Jabotinsky wrote that some Jews argued that (1) Hitler would become a “statesman” and halt the attacks; (2) his regime might not survive long; (3) the president of Germany, Marshal Hindenburg — to whom the chancellor was officially subordinate — would not allow violence in any case; and (4) it was a mistake to think that antisemitism played an important role in the Nazis’ plans.

These notions were pleasant to the ear, Jabotinsky wrote, but the truth was different.  He explained that he had read both volumes of Mein Kampf (for some reason, Jabotinsky called the book Hayay, “My Life”) and stated that Hitler’s writings did not allow one to adduce that the man was crazy, even though the book was written “ineptly and disingenuously.” Hitler undoubtedly “has . . . an honest intellect [and] knows the secret of polemics.” He also has several talented advisors: “Strasser is both learned and clever; Goebbels is tremendously gifted.” There is no assurance that a man in power becomes more moderate, Jabotinsky wrote. “Presumably . . . Hitler will not be overly moderate.” Even Hindenburg cannot be trusted to check the antisemitic eruptions. Finally, the Jews’ weighty role in Nazi propaganda may be absurd, “but I fear that this is actually an integral part, the most important part, no less, the collective psychology.”

and

Before the [Eighteenth] Congress convened, the Zionist General Council had decided not to debate the matter publicly; the Revisionists, who boycotted the Congress, insisted on a public debate on a declaration regarding a “systematic, orderly [boycott] of German goods, [sponsored and] managed by the Zionist movement, and a worldwide propaganda campaign against Germany.”

Jabotinsky also urged the Great Powers to leave the Versailles settlement intact and not to amend it to Germany’s advantage. This was in contrast to congress delegates, such as Glücksohn, who expressed doubt about whether the settlement had ever been an “ideal of justice and probity,” and went out of their way to explain that “our war. . . [is not] against the German people and its
political aspirations.”


As regards the Jewish Agency arranged financial transfer program,

Jabotinsky continued to favor the boycott and to oppose the Ha’avara. “This [Ha’avara] agreement,” he said, “is base, disgraceful, and contemptible. Were it to come about, the Jewish masses, especially in Palestine (which is at issue here) would refuse to uphold it.”

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Betar Pics Circa 1965

From Dovid Skolnick


On the parade ground at Camp. Dovid (l.) and Yisrael Medad (r.)


The Bronx Moadon.


The Bronx Moadon.


At Camp.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Jabotinsky Memorial 2014

President (and Betari) Reuven Ruby Rivlin speaking



Present were Moshe Arens, Danny Rosing, Micky Bar-Neder, Nissan Teman, Josh and Steve Adler, Chandi Medad and Yisrael Medad (Winkie).

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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Abe Foxman - A Betari

For someone born in Poland during the war, who survived the Shoah in Vilna – the ‘Jerusalem of Lithuania‘ – someone whose father z”l was the editor of “Bloy Weiss,” the Zionist revisionist paper in Warsaw, whose father headed “Brith Hatzohar” in a DP camp in Austria from ’46 –’48 and whose “Betar” commander in NYC was Misha Arens. 


Someone who was also suspended from the yeshiva of Flatbush for three days and called a “Jewish fascist” by his principal, because he cut school to welcome Menachem Begin at La Guardia Airport in NYC.


A person who staged a protest in 1958 during a “machon hakaitz” [Summer camp] visit to Acre when the Jewish Agency forbade the group to visit the gallows room, for  someone who was blackballed from becoming the CEO of the KKL-JNF in the USA because he once was a “Betari” – this evening is very, very special...



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Friday, April 4, 2014

Parade

Salute To Israel Parade 2001

Here are pictures from the Salute to Israel Parade from 2001 showing the Betarim                                      






from  Cleveland - their first parade.  Also in attendance were Aaron and Linda Kinsberg and myself





Tel Hai
Shachna Waxman

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Israel Day Parade

Also from Shachna:



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Maccabiah in Canada & At Camp Shomriah 1964/65


Pictures from Chuck Shachna Waxman








Only the 5th picture is from Canada
All the others are from the first US Maccabiah at Camp Shomria 1964 or 1965
On misdar picture: Manny Spring is near soccer goal, and Eli Soloman z'l is holding flag.
Bottom: Mella Pollachek in center
Top: Benny Rosen in military cap, Phyllis Newman behind guy in Hashomer Chultza,  
At backstop - Mel Laytner, behind him Manny Sprung, Wally Chayes, Chaim Hornstein z'l, Yitz Aptowitzer, me at far right
Jerry Gissinger?, Linda (Fuld) Kaufthal, Uriel Messa, Mel Laytner
: ?, Mike Chayes, Jeff Pickel, Tom Kovary, Wally Chayes
 
Canadian Picture, next to last: Barry Liben kneeling, Moshe Kicsales seated, Josh Scharf standing, George Feldman kneeling, ?

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