Monday, April 27, 2015

Mobilizing for Israel's Independence War

[with thanks to Sheldon Lerman]

From this Canadian newspaper, January 1948

….The Jewish underground and partisans are on the offensive. Young Jews throughout the world stand ready to join the struggle. 'The Brith Trumpledor — Betar (contracted name of the organization)— is their place of mobilization. The officer's training school will supply instructors, one hundred from every class, to the thousands who look to Betar for guidance and adequate preparation for the task confronting them and Jewry." 

For several weeks, a uniformed group of ninety-eight young men and women, members of an affiliate of the New Zionist Organisation of America, whose headquarters are at 55 West Forty-second Street, New York, have been quietly drilling and training two mights a week in a Harlem gymnasium. Neither the affiliate nor the New Zionist Organization of America is in any manner connected with the Zionist Organization of America, with national headquarters in Washington, and offices in the larger cities. The affiliate of the New Zionist Organization of America calls itself Brith Trumpledor of America, Inc., and has for its objective joining up with the militant movement in Palestine for a Jewish state. Spokesmen declared that those who complete the course at the end of two months will endeavor to get into Palestine through the so-called "illegal route," if visas from the U. S. to that country are not made available. 

Brith Trumpledor of America, Inc., describes itself as a militant Zionist youth organization. Its members are receiving instruction in drill, jiu jitsu, map reading, Palestine geography and topography, radio communications, Jewish history, Hebrew, Arabic, wrestling and hand-to-hand fighting. Headquarters of Brith Trumpeldor in the U.S. are the same as those of the New Zionist Organization of America, on the fifteenth floor of the West Forty-second Street address. Aaron Z. Propes, a former Latvian army officer who came to America from Palestine …Many American Jewish youths, he declared, "are disgusted with British treachery, practiced on a people which is prostrate. "England did not commit only an injustice," he said; "England and the world are responsible for the death of millions of Jews, and American Jewish youth knows that but for a slight accident in their own family history, they too would have been among the corpses. "in the war just concluded, the Jews suffered twenty-five times more dead than the whole British Empire combined. The world has been liberated, yet the Jewish nation remains in English chains. "We will not accept this position. American Jewish youth has been reared in the letter and spirit of the democratic principles of the United States. They know the value of liberty and they will secure it for the Jewish nation. Guts are not lacking in America. The Betar officers school has started the ball rolling on the North American continent." 

Jiu jitsu is taught by an instructor described as Major Allen Smith, a veteran of the Spanish-American War. Military drill is under the instruction of Isaiah Warshaw, a former member of the 112th Cavalry, United States Army. Spokesmen of Brith Trumpledor has a membership of 1,000 throughout the country. In its appeal to prospective recruits through Illustrated pamphlets, Trumpeldor says to Jewish youth: "If you are ready for action, if you want more... 


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This story, like the original, is another example of colossal propaganda, none of it true.
Betar never had 1,000 members in the U.S., that's a figment of Katzin Propes's vivid dreamworld.
I doubt that nearly 100 Betarim were training in a Harlem gym, and they certainly would not have received the kind of training described here.
Finally, Betar had no way of getting people from the U.S. into Palestine, which is why we, of Plugat Hagiyus Bet, sailed on the Marine Carp under the auspices of the Haganah's Land and Labor, whose Poughkeepsie headquarters flew a red rag, er flag.

Steve Esrati