Betar

The Betar Movement (בית"ר, also spelled Beitar) is a Revisionist Zionist youth movement founded in 1923 in Riga, Latvia, by Ze'ev Jabotinsky. Betar members played important roles in the fight against the British during the Mandate, and in the creation of Israel. It has been traditionally linked to the original Herut and then Likud Israeli political parties.

History

The name Betar בית"ר stands for "Brit Yosef Trumpeldor" ( ברית יוסף תרומפלדור ). Joseph Trumpeldor was a Jewish fighter who fell in the battle of Tel Hai coining the phrase: "Never mind, it is good to die for our country" (Hebrew: "לא נורא, טוב למות בעד ארצנו").

In the post-Versailles Treaty Poland, "Betar" became the fighting arm of the disenchanted right-wing Jewish settlers, who felt victimized by the treaty's anti-German stance which, through the creation of Poland, deprived them of the Germanic culture and as they spoke Yiddish - the German language. [http://www.naszdziennik.pl/bpl_index.php?typ=my&dat=20070215&id=my11.txt]

Whereas in other parts of Poland, that until the Versailles Treaty belonged to Russia, Jews would express a more leftist sentiment. In the Polish National Committee's report of 8th December 1919, the then temporary Polish Governing Body, we find: "In Kielce in the Polish Kingdom, a group of 300 Jewish youths organized a public demonstration on the city streets, shouting: 'Long live Lenin! Long live Trocky! Down with Poland!'. They were confronted by antagonized populous; in the bloody confrontation that ensued, about 40 demonstrators were killed. They fell victim not because they were Jews, but because they were Bolsheviks, because they offended Polish national sentiments and attempted to lead the country towards anarchy."

It is in this environment, that Jews felt a need to create a coherent and strong self defense arm. Latvia, with its historical and lingual links to German culture and language, offered an ideal haven.

Jabotinsky also wanted to connect the name of the first Jewish fighter after 2000 years to the name of the last fort of Jewish uprising against the Roman Empire in the Bar Kokhba's revolt, Betar, showing that Betar was intent to create a new generation of Jewish warriors. In order to produce the needed acronym, the normal spelling of Trumpeldor's name in Hebrew was changed - תרומפלדור instead of טרומפלדור.

In 1936 Betar membership in Poland alone numbered over 50,000 and was in permanent conflict with the polish radical nationalist movement, National Radical Camp or ONR. ONR had about a tenth of Betar's membership. [(por. P. Gontarczyk, 'Pogrom? Judo-Polish Conflicts in Przytyk on 9 March 1936', Biala Podlaska - Pruszkow 2000, s. 29, in Polish)]

During World War II, Betar members, former Polish Army officers, founded Żydowski Związek Walki (Jewish Fighting Union) which fought in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

In the campaign for Israel's creation in British controlled Palestine, some Betar members fought in the militant Irgun against British rule. A few "graduates" from Betar Poland even joined Abraham Stern's more radical Lehi militant group. Members of Betar were also instrumental in setting up Israel's navy.

Many of Israel's most prominent public figures on the Right have been "graduates" of Betar, including former Prime Ministers Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir, current Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, current Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and former Defence Minister Moshe Arens. Current Kadima Member of Knesset Yoel Hasson is a former national head of Betar in Israel.

Today, the Betar Movement is primarily involved in Jewish and Zionist activism. Tagar, Betar's young adult movement, was active on many university campuses throughout North America during the 1980s as part of the Revisionist Zionist Association. Although Betar has suffered a drastic decline in membership and activities since the 1970s, the movement continues to boast a few strong branches. The most notable of these are the Betar chapters of Australia and Cleveland, Ohio.

Regional Activities

Israel

Once a vibrant movement tied to the opposition Herut Party, Betar's following in Israel has declined since the 1970s as a result of a changing political situation. One important change was the rise of the religious right-wing in the 1970s. Though Betar had many of the same political goals as the rapidly growing Gush Emunim (Believers' Bloc) and Bnei Akiva youth movements (tied to the National Religious Party), they remained a secular movement and never took the initiative that their counterparts did in settling the West Bank and Gaza. During the 1980s as a result of the Camp David Accords negotiated by Menachem Begin (the leader of Herut and its successor movement, Likud), a similar effect began with the Secular Right, as more extreme movements appeared there and drew away youth.

As the Likud party, under Benjamin Netanyahu's leadership, moved away from the traditional values of Revisionist Zionism, Betar drew criticism from many on the political right. Old-time Herut supporters, viewing themselves as ideological purists, have claimed that Betar had turned into a breeding grounds for youth seeking political careers. In the late 1990s, Benny Begin broke away from Likud to form Herut – The National Movement. This trend has continued in many countries around the world, and can be seen on Betar's central website.

Betar's chief disadvantage was the predominance of other youth groups. Belonging to the left wing and the Kibbutz movement, Hashomer Hatzair ("Young Guard" - Socialist Zionist), HaNoar haOved vehaLomed ("the Working and Learning Youth" - Labor Zionist), and Habonim Dror (Freedom Builders - Socialist/Labor Zionist), had taken most Israeli youth in throughout the 1950s-70s. Alongside them were the Tzofim (Scouts) and Bnei Akiva. Today Betar remains a marginal youth movement in both Israel and the Diaspora, and has remained far from the power that its parent movement, the Likud, had on the country. Many Betar members, however, have become important political figures in both the Likud and Kadima parties.

Betar sponsors sports clubs, the most notable is the popular Beitar Jerusalem (or sometimes spelt Betar Jerusalem) football (soccer) club.

Canada

Betar in Toronto opposes the propagation of the use of an Israeli apartheid analogy by pro-Palestinian organizations in Canada. In February 2006, Tagar at the University of Toronto produced "Know Radical Islam Week" featuring civil rights activist Nonie Darwish, former Sudanese slave Simon Deng, a Muslim activist speaking on gay rights in the Middle East, Dr. Salim Mansur and presentations by Honest Reporting and Palestinian Media Watch. [ [http://www.news.utoronto.ca/inthenews/archive/2006_02_07.html University of Toronto News, Feb 7, 2006] ] [ [http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/news/toronto/story.html?id=be4c288a-8613-45a7-95b0-9d5ee7037357 National Post, 'Radical Islam week' sparks U of T furor, by Peter Kuitenbrouwer, February 06, 2006] ] [ [http://www.torontosun.com/News/TorontoAndGTA/2006/02/07/1429452-sun.html Toronto Sun, Feb 7, 2006] ] and was also co-sponsored by groups like the Toronto Secular Alliance. Betar in Toronto and Montreal have also worked with such off-campus organizations as the Canadian Coalition for Democracies to promote the importance of secular, participatory politics in Canada. In March 2007, Betar-Tagar at the University of Toronto changed its name to Zionists at U of T.

Betar-Tagar was active in Montreal and Toronto during the 1980s Lebanon-Israel conflict. A revival of Betar occurred in Montreal on November 9th, 2006. Entitled "Taking Liberties: Terrorism in the West," the event featured keynote speaker Dr. Salim Mansur and was the first film screening of at McGill University. It was co-organized with Conservative McGill students. [ [http://www.takingliberties.ca Taking Liberties, Feb 9, 2006] ] [ [http://www.jewishtribune.ca/tribune/PDF/jt061130.pdf Jewish Tribune, November 2006] ] Again at McGill University in March 2007, Betar Montreal held "Radical Islam Awareness Week," a three day conference featuring former Sudanese slave Simon Deng, Canadian lawyer and security specialist David B. Harris and John Thompson of the Mackenzie Institute. Concurrent with the 2007 Montreal program, Betar in Toronto held "Freedom and Democracy Week" at the University of Toronto. Speakers included co-founder of the Western Standard newspaper Ezra Levant and Jonah Goldberg of the National Review. [ [http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/columnists/story.html?id=c5b199b6-9696-4e3a-a978-21e91ab2b2da Israel's Grassroots Defenders, March 2006] ]

United States

Betar has had a Shaliach in New York City and Cleveland Ohio. The Cleveland chapter offers a fall and spring camp that is open to all cities. Betar offers summer and winter tours of Israel. It is one of the few movements that offer students a change to visit Judea and Samaria. Both programs allow students to spend time at Kedumin, Itamar, Alon Moreh, Sderot, East Jerusalem and Hebron. They have officially adopted Kedumin as a sister city and spend an extensive time volunteering in that city. The winter tour is for college age students and runs in late December.

During the period of the early to mid-90's, Ronn Torossian served as National President and had hundreds of people involved. Previous leadership in the U.S. included Glenn Mones, Barry Liben and Fred Pierce(Mid 70's), and Benny Rosen (60's).

In addition to its programs for younger students it also has an affiliated program for college age students called Tagar.Betar strongly promotes the idea of Aliya, Jewish immigration to Israel [ [http://www.betar.org Betar Website] ] [ [http://www.betaramerica.org Betar America] ] [ [http://www.betar.org.uk Betar England] ] .

Previous Shaliachs to the U.S. have included Sallai Meridor, current Israel Ambassador to the U.S.(late 1980's), Eli Cohen, former Israel Ambassador to Japan (early 1990's), Tova Vagimi, Sharon Tzur and others.

United Kingdom

Betar UK is an active youth, student and young professional movement with the main branch being located in London with over 100 members and 1000+ supporters. It is involved in pro-Israel activism including self defense classes for youths, government lobbying, countering perceived UK media bias against Israel and has held regular weekly demonstrations on Thursday evenings for the past 5 years outside Marks and Spencers in Oxford Street to counter the weekly anti Israel demonstrations/pickets boycotting Israeli goods and distributing anti Israel literature.

Australia

Betar Australia Inc. is an active movement which has branches in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. Each of these branches conducts activities and functions and holds camps for Jewish youth in each state.

Betar Australia was established in 1948 in Melbourne. Later expanded to Sydney, Canberra and Brisbane, the Queensland branch celebrated its 50th Reunion in 2006.

The largest Betar Australia snif (local organization) can be found in Sydney, on Australia's East Coast. Betar Sydney's maon (home) has been located in Beit Herzl on Old South Head Rd in the Eastern Suburbs since the early 1980s. The Sydney movement has experienced periods of increase and decline, but probably reached its zenith in the early 1990s. During that time, winter camps regularly attracted over 220 chanichim (campers). Summer camps were also large, often held in conjunction with the rest of Betar Australia. Several federal camps were held during that time, including Jamboree in Toowoomba, Queensland.
Betar also holds annual seminars for senior chanichim as well as educational and training conventions for the senior leaders.

Betar has always been at the forefront of activism in the Australian Jewish communities. From its first protests against the pro-Nazi German pianistWalter Gieseking in Melbourne in 1952 by releasing pigeons and stink bombs during one of his concerts through the battling neo-Nazi groups in the 1960s to spearheading the Sydney Jewish community to protests on behalf of Soviet Jewry in the 1970s and 80s. Betar Sydney was closely involved in the annual protest outside the Soviet Consulate in Trelawney St, Woollahra each Pesach, as well as mass protests outside the Bolshoi Ballet, the Moscow Circus on Ice (at the Sydney Entertainment Centre) and during the visit to Canberra and Sydney of Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze. In later years, Betar took the initiative to organize community protests outside the Iraqi Embassy in Canberra during the First Gulf War and the Iranian Embassy to protest Iranian state sponsorship of terrorism. Betar also marched in front of the German Consulate in Sydney to protest rising anti-Semitism in the then-newly-reunified Germany. In 2004 Betar Sydney was active in protesting Dr. Hanan Ashrawi's receiving of the then Sydney Premier's peace prize.

Betar Australia Inc. is strong in sending Jewish Australian youth to Israel on long-term programs, in January 2008 sending 9 school-leavers on the year long program, Shnat Hachshara, as recognised by the Australian Zionist Youth Council.

Protests

Russia

Dr. Michael Shtern was imprisoned by the Russian Communists because his sons were openly Zionists. In an effort to free Shtern due to his sickening condition, a group of seven people from Betar, led by Fred Pierce and including Elie Yossef, offered to exchange themselves and serve out his sentence instead of Shtern. The Russian government later deported all of the peaceful protesters.

ee also

* Kadima
* Likud
* Revisionist Zionism
* Ze'ev Jabotinsky
* Zionist youth movement
* Betar Jerusalem FC
* Ronn Torossian

References

External links

* [http://www.betar.org.il/world/argentina/letter1.htm Betar Argentina Website]
* [http://www.betar.org.au/ Betar Australia website]
* [http://www.162smilingfaces.com/ Betar Australia nostalgia website]
* [http://www.geocities.com/samykogan/israel.htm Betar Brazil website]
* [http://www.betar.org.uk/ Betar UK website]
* [http://www.betar.org.il/english/World/uruguay/ Betar Uruguay Website]
* [http://www.betar.ca/ Betar Canada website]
* [http://betarcis.narod.ru/ Betar CIS website]
* [http://www.betar.co.za/ Betar Southern Africa Web site]
* [http://www.betaramerica.org/ Betar USA website]
* [http://www.betar.org/ Betar USA website]
* [http://betar.free.fr/betar/home.php Betar France Web Site]
* [http://www.betar.org.il/ World Betar Web site]
* [http://www.tagarnet.com/index.jsp Tagar Zionist Student Activist Movement ]


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • BETAR — (abbreviated name of Berit Trumpeldor, Heb. בֵּיתָ״ר, בְּרִית תְּרוּמְפֶּלְדוֹר), an activist Zionist youth movement founded in 1923 in Riga, Latvia, and attaining significant proportions in the 1930s, mainly in Eastern Europe. Betar played an… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Bétar — Betar Pour les articles homonymes, voir Betar (homonymie) …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Betar — oder auch Beitar ist eine jüdische Jugendorganisation, die im Jahr 1923 in Riga (Lettland) durch den Zionisten Ze ev Jabotinsky gegründet wurde und als Vorläufer der israelischen Parteien Cherut und Likud betrachtet werden kann. Der Name Betar… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • betar — v. tr. 1. Listrar de várias cores. 2. Matizar. 3. Casar bem as cores. • v. intr. 4. Dizer bem; condizer; concordar; harmonizar se; assentar …   Dicionário da Língua Portuguesa

  • Betar — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Betar (homonymie). Le Betar[1] (בית ר est l acronyme hébreu de ברית יוסף תרומפלדור qui signifie Alliance Yosef Trumpeldor) est un mouvement de jeunesse juif radical, sioniste[2 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Betar —    Hebrew acronym for Brit Yosef Trumpeldor (Joseph Trumpeldor Pact). A Revisionist Zionist youth movement founded in 1923 in Riga, named after Joseph Trumpeldor, and affiliated with the Revisionist Movement, the movement s ideological mentor was …   Historical Dictionary of Israel

  • bétar —    Dites, bêta ; qui est fort bête …   Dictionnaire grammatical du mauvais langage

  • BETAR — Çok fazla sevinmek. * Hayret. * Dehşet. * Tekebbürlenmek, gururlanmak …   Yeni Lügat Türkçe Sözlük

  • Betar Jerusalem — Betar Jérusalem Pour les articles homonymes, voir Betar (homonymie). Betar Jérusalem …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Betar Illit — (he) ביתר עילית Données générales Pays …   Wikipédia en Français


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