New Bill Calls to Establish National Day of Recognition for Jewish Underground Organizations

A new bill calls to establish a national day of recognition for the Jewish underground organizations that operated in Israel prior to the establishment of the state.

The legislation, submitted by MK Amir Ohana (Likud), aims to recognize the contribution of the pre-state underground organizations to the establishment of the state and the IDF.

The day would include a special discussion in the Knesset plenum, a national memorial ceremony, and programs in the education system focusing on the Palmach, Irgun, Stern Group, NILI, Hashomer, Bar Giora and Jewish Resistance Movement.

According to the proposed legislation, the day will be marked on the 25th of the Hebrew month of Shvat, the day on which Avraham (Yair) Stern, founder of the Stern Group, was murdered by the British Mandatory police.

“The story of the Jewish underground is taught far too little in our educational institutions,” said MK Ohana, “and as a result their tremendous contributions to the state have been mitigated.”

“These are the founding fathers of us all, those who not only dreamed but who acted: they built settlements, smuggled Jewish immigrants, fought battles, defended the Jewish community and gave their lives for the country. This law will preserve their heritage and will thank them on behalf of all the citizens of Israel.”

Matan Peleg, Chairman of the Zionist organization Im Tirtzu that has been advocating for this national day of recognition, said that showing appreciation to those who fought in the Jewish underground is a historic and moral duty.

“The underground organizations were the shield of the Yishuv, and were crucial in bringing about the establishment of the state after 2,000 years of exile,” said Peleg.

“These people were visionaries without whom we would not be here,” continued Peleg. “It is our historic and moral obligation to show them thanks and appreciation, and it is astounding that such a day has yet to be established.”

The Tragic Legacy of David Raziel

The twenty-third of Iyar marks the day David Raziel fell in battle during World War Two. Raziel is best known for being the commander of the Etzel (Irgun Zvai Leumi) during the late 1930s and as a model for what the modern Hebrew soldier was meant to be.

Less commonly known about Raziel was his connection to Palestine’s Chief Rabbi Avraham Yitzḥak HaKohen Kook and the yeshiva where national-religious ideology developed. He studied at Mercaz HaRav for years and was even a regular study partner of Rav Zvi Yehuda HaKohen Kook, son and ideological successor to the chief rabbi. Together the two learned the elder Rav Kook’s writings, specifically as those writings apply to Israel’s national rebirth as a means to usher in a better world for humankind.

The young men growing up in these communities are more often than not filled with a selfless dedication to this vision that generally finds expression through exceptional military service.

More than being the model for the modern Hebrew warrior, Raziel can more specifically be viewed as the prototype for Israel’s national-religious community, especially those inhabiting the mountainous Samaria and Judea regions. Many of the more ideological Jewish towns and villages throughout the West Bank have bred a culture of dedication to Rav Kook’s vision for Israel and the world and – like Raziel – the young men growing up in these communities are more often than not filled with a selfless dedication to this vision that generally finds expression through exceptional military service.

It was at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University that Raziel befriended Avraham Stern and introduced him to the Torah and traditions of Israel. Stern had come from a revolutionary socialist background, growing up in the All Union Leninist Pioneer Organization (youth faction of the Russian Communist Party) at the time of the Russian Revolution and first entering the Jewish community through the socialist Hashomer Hatzair. Stern had been unimpressed with both the Zionist right and left but was immediately inspired by Rav Kook’s messianic philosophy and – in addition to gradually taking on Jewish ritual practices – accepted upon himself the task of reviving the Israelite Kingdom.

Stern understood the Jews to constitute a people and not a mere culture or religion as most Marxists at the time claimed. He recognized Israel’s indigeneity to Palestine and identified British colonialism as the greatest obstacle to Jewish liberation. He joined Raziel in the Etzel command and the two worked together in building the nucleus of a Jewish fighting force that initially focused on defending Palestine’s Jewish community from the country’s increasingly hostile Arab population. At a time when the Haganah – the semi-legal Jewish militia under the command of Labor Zionists – practiced a policy of restraint in the face of attacks, Raziel led the Etzel in reprisals that demonstrated terror to be a sword capable of cutting both ways.

Although committed to the same ultimate vision, Raziel and Stern began to part ways in 1939. Raziel the soldier sought to turn the Etzel into a formidable army. But Stern the revolutionary saw more value in a clandestine underground. His Marxist background enabled him to analyze the factors standing in the way of Israel’s freedom. He identified Britain’s material interests in the Middle East, concluded that these interests demanded permanent control of Palestine and decided on the necessity of an anti-colonial struggle to free the country. In fact, by applying Marx’s method of analysis to the Jewish people as an indigenous people victimized by British imperialism, Stern came to deeply identify with the anti-Roman rebels of the Second Temple era – even taking for himself the penname “Yair” in honor of Masada’s Sicarii commander Elazar Ben-Yair (according to Professor Joseph Klausner, an influential teacher of Stern’s, the Sicarii were proto-communist Jewish nationalist guerrillas).

Raziel had the long-term vision for Malkhut Yisrael as a “light unto nations” but his short-term political vision was too narrow and myopic to reach Stern’s conclusions. When World War Two erupted, Stern distinguished between the German tzorer (persecutor) and British oyev (enemy), arguing that while the Germans hated and sought to harm the Jews, the British were the true enemy for standing in the way of the Jewish mission (by occupying our homeland and preventing Jews from returning home). These conclusions were reached prior to the Wannsee Conference at a time when German policy was merely to deport Europe’s Jews to whatever far-off country would take them. Adept at finding common ground with anti-Semitic Polish officials, Stern suggested a diplomatic agreement with Germany that would send the persecuted Jews to Palestine in exchange for the Etzel’s cooperation against England. But with or without such an agreement, Stern concluded that all efforts should focus on fighting British rule, for the sake of both freeing the homeland and rescuing Europe’s Jews.

Lacking the analytical tools to even recognize the inherent conflict between Jewish and British interests, Raziel accepted upon himself the political authority of Z’ev Jabotinsky and placed the Etzel at the disposal of the British war effort. Rejecting Jabotinsky’s leadership, Stern demanded a Jewish war aim in exchange for helping the British. He felt that without a commitment from London to either open Palestine’s gates to Jewish refugees or commit to a Hebrew state following the war, fighting for the British was betraying the Jewish cause. From Raziel’s perspective, the Germans – who most fiercely hated and were attempting to harm Jews – were the primary foe. But because Stern and his followers viewed the Jewish people not as an object with a problem (anti-Semitism, persecution, etc.) but rather as a subject with desires (independence in Jerusalem), they were able to recognize the necessity of an immediate anti-British struggle. They broke away from the Etzel and created a revolutionary underground dedicated to freeing Palestine from foreign rule. Although his knowledge of Torah was clearly deeper and broader than Stern’s, Raziel lacked the political sophistication to recognize the moves that would bring their people closer to the ultimate goal both men shared.

Hunted by the regime and driven by the symbolism and meaning of their leader’s demise, Stern’s small band of followers – the Fighters for the Freedom of Israel – possessed the strategic understanding to make each move count.

Raziel fell in battle wearing a British uniform on foreign soil. And the Etzel suffered from paralysis until 1944. Stern, by contrast, was shot dead while handcuffed by British detectives in Tel Aviv. Hunted by the regime and driven by the symbolism and meaning of their leader’s demise, Stern’s small band of followers – the Fighters for the Freedom of Israel – possessed the strategic understanding to make each move count. Every single explosion, shot fired and word of propaganda pasted to the walls of urban centers was geared towards very specific short- and long-term goals – forcing the British into a policy of collective punishment to maintain security, fostering general hostility towards the empire among the populace, dragging the Etzel (and even briefly the Haganah) behind them in their anti-colonial struggle, finding points of common cause with progressive forces in the Arab world, generating global sympathy – especially on the left – for their cause and making the price of ruling Palestine more expensive for the British than the benefits of exploitation. Applying the same Marxist analysis as their martyred leader, the Sternists identified the empire’s material interests in the region and attacked those interests until retreat became England’s best strategic option. And official British documents attest to the fact that it was “Jewish terrorism” that forced their withdrawal from Palestine.


Israel’s contemporary national-religious sector, of which I am apart, shares much in common with David Raziel – faith, long-term vision and a readiness to sacrifice. Our boys serve with distinction in Israel’s most elite units and we’ve successfully made a two-state solution impractical through our efforts to populate Samaria and Judea with Jews. But like Raziel, most of us sadly lack the political sophistication to recognize the material factors driving efforts to divide the country or to formulate effective strategies to advance Israel closer to our vision. The failure to save Gush Katif in 2005 is perhaps the clearest example of this flaw. Despite the many arguments focused on whether or not to actively resist, no one presented a sound strategy for HOW to effectively stop the disengagement plan. No one properly identified the material conditions and pressures driving Ariel Sharon to act as he did and no one suggested a comprehensive strategy to prevent the expulsion from being carried out.

There are questions the national-religious sector desperately needs to ask.

How do Israeli political leaders benefit from promoting a two-state solution?

How is such a policy in the regional interests of the United States and why does Washington push so aggressively for it?

How have the Israeli and Palestinian ruling classes benefited from the Oslo process?

In what way does accepting American aid make our leaders subordinate to Washington and vulnerable to pressure to surrender our heartland?

Is it possible to increase our Knesset representation without diluting ideology?

What is the best way to win over the Israeli masses to our vision?

Can the struggles for Eretz Yisrael and Jewish identity be communicated to the world in a language that would at the very least generate broad-based critical support?

With whom should political alliances be sought?

Is a relationship with Evangelicals desirable or dangerous?

Is reality truly as simple as “those giving us money are our friends and those trying to harm us our enemies” or should we carefully discern our own national interests, identify who might have common interests and then create the proper conditions to enable an alliance?

What material factors are driving Jews and Palestinians into conflict?

Must Palestinian grievances be rejected out of hand or could they somehow become part of advancing Jewish liberation?

If the forces of westernization within Israeli society have used the Palestinian cause to advance their agenda for decades, couldn’t those loyal to Eretz Yisrael and Jewish identity potentially do the same (especially now that partitioning the land has become practically impossible)?

We need to analyze the real obstacles standing in the way of Israel’s destiny and formulate the most effective means of overcoming those challenges.

In addition to raising another generation of dedicated soldiers, the national-religious sector must develop sophisticated political leadership. Rather than follow the modern-day Jabotinskys into a fantasy of Israel as an outpost of Western civilization, we need to analyze the real obstacles standing in the way of Israel’s destiny and formulate the most effective means of overcoming those challenges.

David Raziel, the prototype for our most courageous and dedicated young men, teaches us a valuable and tragic lesson. If we don’t learn to think outside the box and start questioning the very assumptions behind most of our political ideas, we can easily lose our way and unwittingly betray the struggle we’ve committed our lives to. Dedication to a higher purpose and the willingness to sacrifice for a greater vision might make us a powerful force in Israeli society. But a scientific analysis of our situation and the ability to formulate effective political strategies are crucial to actually thwarting the plans of those seeking to divide our land and advancing to the next stage of our people’s liberation.

The British, the Holocaust, and the Responsibility for Fighting for Your Own Freedom

On May 16th 1943, the Warsaw Ghetto lay in ruin. The uprising that lasted nearly a month was extinguished by German forces. 12,000 Jews who would not go quietly died ts the hands of their merciless enemies and yet, something about the uprising changed the energy in regards to the Jewish Nation.  

For centuries Jews had gone willingly to their deaths.  Exile in Europe and the Arabs lands had beaten down the Jewish soul, grinding it to become one of sheeplike submission. The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising gave a new message: “We are not your slaves.  We will not go quietly.”

Whether or not the fighters in the ghetto knew it, their valiant effort to restore a certain amount of respect and humanity into the Jewish Nation injected a new spirit in their brothers and sisters fighting for freedom in Israel.

The Holocaust was designed to destroy the hope of the eternal nation.  Hitler was not content at wiping out European Jews.  He sought to destroy them everywhere, including Israel.  The British fought Germany in WW2, but when it came to Israel the Nazis and Brits colluded in attempting to stamp out the fledgling Jewish community in the Land of Israel.  The Nazis worked to destroy the Jews of Europe, the Brits ensured they could not get into Israel, and of course the Arab street in the Holy Land acted as their willing foot soldiers in their continued attempts to wipe out the Jewish presence in the land.

It is not clear that a Jewish State could have happened before 1948, but what is clear is that if the British had allowed open immigration, there would have never been a Holocaust.

The World has been nurtured on the myth of an Israel born from the Holocaust, but this myth has perpetuated the lie that the Jews are to be eternal victims.  The State of Israel came about, because the Jews decided not to be victims anymore.  The Jews of Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa decided that it was time to actualize the promise that the Creator had given to them.  It is not clear that a Jewish State could have happened before 1948, but what is clear is that if the British had allowed open immigration, there would have never been a Holocaust.  

Most people bring up the demographic challenge in Israel in regards to the Arabs that live West of the Jordan River, but the same Europe that challenges Israel on this issue is the Europe and especially Britain that is responsible for the demographic challenges.  By colluding with Israel’s enemies, the British sought to do what they did in all of their colonies and that is underhandedly ensure that a violent population opposed to the legitimate indigenous people would in effect dictate the future of the colony.  

The tool for this policy was the White Paper, seen below.  The key sentences are bolded:

Section 1

“His Majesty’s Government believe that the framers of the Mandate in which the Balfour Declaration was embodied could not have intended that Palestine should be converted into a Jewish State against the will of the Arab population of the country. […] His Majesty’s Government therefore now declare unequivocally that it is not part of their policy that Palestine should become a Jewish State. They would indeed regard it as contrary to their obligations to the Arabs under the Mandate, as well as to the assurances which have been given to the Arab people in the past, that the Arab population of Palestine should be made the subjects of a Jewish State against their will.”

‘The objective of His Majesty’s Government is the establishment within 10 years of an independent Palestine State in such treaty relations with the United Kingdom as will provide satisfactorily for the commercial and strategic requirements of both countries in the future. [..] The independent State should be one in which Arabs and Jews share government in such a way as to ensure that the essential interests of each community are safeguarded.’

Section 2

‘His Majesty’s Government do not [..] find anything in the Mandate or in subsequent Statements of Policy to support the view that the establishment of a Jewish National Home in Palestine cannot be effected unless immigration is allowed to continue indefinitely. If immigration has an adverse effect on the economic position in the country, it should clearly be restricted; and equally, if it has a seriously damaging effect on the political position in the country, that is a factor that should not be ignored. Although it is not difficult to contend that the large number of Jewish immigrants who have been admitted so far have been absorbed economically, the fear of the Arabs that this influx will continue indefinitely until the Jewish population is in a position to dominate them has produced consequences which are extremely grave for Jews and Arabs alike and for the peace and prosperity of Palestine. The lamentable disturbances of the past three years are only the latest and most sustained manifestation of this intense Arab apprehension […] it cannot be denied that fear of indefinite Jewish immigration is widespread amongst the Arab population and that this fear has made possible disturbances which have given a serious setback to economic progress, depleted the Palestine exchequer, rendered life and property insecure, and produced a bitterness between the Arab and Jewish populations which is deplorable between citizens of the same country. If in these circumstances immigration is continued up to the economic absorptive capacity of the country, regardless of all other considerations, a fatal enmity between the two peoples will be perpetuated, and the situation in Palestine may become a permanent source of friction amongst all peoples in the Near and Middle East.’

“Jewish immigration during the next five years will be at a rate which, if economic absorptive capacity permits, will bring the Jewish population up to approximately one third of the total population of the country. Taking into account the expected natural increase of the Arab and Jewish populations, and the number of illegal Jewish immigrants now in the country, this would allow of the admission, as from the beginning of April this year, of some 75,000 immigrants over the next four years. These immigrants would, subject to the criterion of economic absorptive capacity, be admitted as follows: For each of the next five years a quota of 10,000 Jewish immigrants will be allowed on the understanding that a shortage one year may be added to the quotas for subsequent years, within the five-year period, if economic absorptive capacity permits. In addition, as a contribution towards the solution of the Jewish refugee problem, 25,000 refugees will be admitted as soon as the High Commissioner is satisfied that adequate provision for their maintenance is ensured, special consideration being given to refugee children and dependents. The existing machinery for ascertaining economic absorptive capacity will be retained, and the High Commissioner will have the ultimate responsibility for deciding the limits of economic capacity. Before each periodic decision is taken, Jewish and Arab representatives will be consulted. After the period of five years, no further Jewish immigration will be permitted unless the Arabs of Palestine are prepared to acquiesce in it.”

Section 3

“The Reports of several expert Commissions have indicated that, owing to the natural growth of the Arab population and the steady sale in recent years of Arab land to Jews, there is now in certain areas no room for further transfers of Arab land, whilst in some other areas such transfers of land must be restricted if Arab cultivators are to maintain their existing standard of life and a considerable landless Arab population is not soon to be created. In these circumstances, the High Commissioner will be given general powers to prohibit and regulate transfers of land.


The Revolt and Never Again

The White Paper was built to create a Jewish dependent within the Land of Israel.  The British knew the Jews had no hope of surviving under a majority Arab rule, which they created by allowing open Arab immigration while restricting Jewish immigration.

Each section can be summed up in the following way: “We British have no interest in a sovereign Jewish State and will ensure this by preventing Jews from moving to their ancestral homeland and restricting land sales to Jews.”  

The White Paper was the British way of creating another Warsaw Ghetto The Jews of Israel began a Revolt in February of 1944, less than a year after their brothers and sisters in Europe rose up to fight instead of being gassed like passive sheep.

The revolt led by the Irgun of Menachem Begin and the Lehi of Shamir, Eldad, and Mor succeeded in taking the spirit of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising to the front lines of the war for Hebrew freedom in the Land of Israel.  This war lasted until the the British left, licking their wounds on what is now Israel Independence Day.


Holocaust Remembrance Day is more than remembering the fallen Jews of the Holocaust, it is about understanding that it is up to us to ensure a prevention of profaning the name of G-d, which occurs when his children are wantonly destroyed.  We may lose or win, but the fight is necessary to preserve the name of the Creator in the World. Blessings are eternal, but they can only be actualized by action.  

Driving the British out and defeating five British trained Arab armies from destroying the Jewish state, restored the Name of G-d to its rightful place. The action which began this reversal was the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

Never Again, does not mean we always win.  It means from now on the Jewish Nation will not allow the name of G-d to be tarnished by our passivity.  Never Again!

Confining Meir Ettinger, Israel Tries to Derail a Revolution

When one strolls the streets of Jerusalem these days, Meir Ettinger’s picture is everywhere. The posters demand justice for the young activist.  After all no one has charged him with anything and yet he remains in administrative detention, now for another four months.  Ettinger tried to influence the latest decision by going on a hunger strike, which rallied many rightwing activists behind him, but the security apparatus appeared unshaken.

The question that remains is what is the State of Israel so threatened by, which causes them to hold Ettinger for so long?

To answer this one must look back into the annals of Zionist history.

Although the Zionist movement’s goals were to attain statehood in the Land of Israel, the movement grew in various ways and approaches in reaching this goal. For most the state was a solution to a greater issue. Three distinct types of Zionism had formed by the time the Jews of the Holy Land revolted against the British Empire.

Settling the Land Leads to Sovereignty

Practical Zionism sprung forth in the late 19th Century by way of land purchases in Israel. Led by the “Lovers of Zion” movement Practical Zionists believed that the most important action to take was to settle as much of the Land of Israel as possible.  In their eyes independence would be driven by control and could only be sought after once the land was settled.  Statecraft was not on their radar.  

Speeches Will Gain Us Standing

Political Zionism took to heart the failure of the European Jews’ emancipation and decided to win supporters for resettlement in the Land of Israel.  Those who ascribed hope for the Jewish Nation in the international community believed that a Jewish State could be attained by appealing to “friendly” nations of the need to avoid a Jewish catastrophe.

Herzl was a Political Zionist.  Although the World Zionist Congress and World Zionist Organization (under Jabotinsky) achieved global notoriety, sovereignty was not decided in the halls of law around the world.  Only one form of Zionism merged all the necessary components to be able to take on the British Empire.

Zionism is about National Jewish Liberation

When Menachem Begin became the head of the Irgun he adopted the Lehi’s outlook on Revolutionary Zionism.  This is of course not a surprise as the Israel Eldad became the philosophical head of Lehi after Avraham Stern was killed. Eldad and Begin were good friends and chess partners. Their brand of Zionism saw the direct need to push each and every occupying power out of the Land of Israel.

Zev Golan writes in his book Stern and his Gang, “For Lehi, sovereignty was not a solution but a goal, an expression of Jewish culture, as any nation-state is the expression of a people’s culture. The few hundred Lehi fighters of 1943 declared themselves determined to fight  war to liberate the homeland from the foreigner.  It mattered not to them whether this foreigner was Turk, as it had been, British as it was then, or someone else in the future.”

The Lehi fighters desired to “establish the Hebrew kingdom based on our historic rights, on our national desire as expressed in all the messianic longings and attempts [Lohamey Herut Israel, Collected Writings].”

The Revolution Continues

When we succeeded in chasing the British Empire out of the Land of Israel, the nation was not ready for its destiny.  It’s true the State of Israel is successful, but goals of the Zionist Revolution as envisioned by Begin and Eldad have never been accomplished.  

Building a true Jewish State, one that pushes its sovereignty to all corners of our biblical promise has not come about.  Large areas of our ancestral homeland lie under the feet of foreign occupation.  The Temple Mount, “liberated” by fearless Jewish warriors in 1967, stands defiled and trampled by the urinating masses of Muslims who care more about controlling the holiest site to Jews than treating it with respect.

Jews are still murdered for daring to return to their ancestral homeland and politicians care far more about Western values than being proud Jewish leaders.

Meir Ettinger was arrested six months ago, and is still confined because he dared to speak the truth.  There have been no charges filed against Meir, but he is the most “dangerous man in Israel.” Why? Simply, because he called for the revolution to continue.  And why not?  Afterall Jewish destiny at the end of the day is Messianic. Meir’s revolt was not physical.  If it was it would not last.  The government in Israel is scared of the most potent revolt of all, an awakening that we have incomplete work here.  For that the elites who run the State of Israel are truly scared.

They are scared because their destiny expresses the internal struggle held within.  That we may actually be who we say we are and our return is more than just a temporal liberation, but rather the ultimate liberation which if allowed to reach fruition can liberate the entire world.

Deep down inside we all know the system we live in is a system that defines state institutions as divine. However, a system that disconnects itself from its divine mission does not get to claim inherent divinity.  Divinity is attained by expressing that which is held within each one of us.  The Zionist Revolution will only be complete when the State returns to the mission it was intended for and that is the complete and total liberation of Zion with the goal of setting up a true and righteous kingdom.


In State We Trust

“He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.”
― George Orwell, 1984

When the Palmach fighters won control of the State from the Irgun and Lehi, a white washing of history and rewriting of the State’s past began in earnest. With all of the gusto of the elite Palmach unit and their mythical place in the anals of the State, the single most important thing they did along with the new emboldened socialist leadership was to cement complete control over the lives of the State’s citizenry.

Bureaucracy became their tool to control the masses and the masses being tired and poor gave in without a fight.  With a stroke of a pen State worship was born.  The bureaucracy was designed in a way to be unmoving, incapable of fault.  Year after year Israelis grew to depend and need the faceless dictatorship of the bureaucracy.

The Palmach fighters turned politicians and technocrats, built a super structure that grew and reigned through the media and the courts.  Dare to challenge it and you stood accused of destroying something akin to the destruction of the Temple.

The Palmach is gone.  Its leaders and leaders’ children no longer run the State openly, yet their bureaucracy remains.  The faceless dictatorship succeeded in controlling the past and in turn sets the tempo for the future. Dare to criticize and you stand a chance at being demolished publicly and personally ruined.

Yet there is hope.  Darkness can be dispelled by light. The emperor stands naked before us now and the faceless dictator has begun to crack.  We are plagued by income disparity, corruption, and security threats to our existance. People are beginning to see through the lies they have been fed.

It’s true the media is far reaching in its influence and the court seems unstoppable, but that is an impression and not the truth.  There is another way, but one cannot fear a system that has no power other than the power we let it have. The State is truly powerless if we do not give it power.

Who will provide for us? People have asked me. I turn and point up and then remind them that there was a time before all of this bureaucracy when yong Jews returned to the Land of our Nation’s past to fulfill the promise of the Creator.  Those young Jews had no State and did what needed to be done.  We must restore the light of redemption and free it from the confines of the State.  We must take control of our destiny and steer our Nation back on the proper course.  “If not now, when?”

Article originaly published on HaKol HaYehudi