Revisionist Zionism

Revisionist Zionism

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Revisionist Zionism is a nationalist
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

 faction within the Zionist
Zionism
Zionism is a Jewish political movement that, in its broadest sense, has supported the self-determination of the Jewish people in a sovereign Jewish national homeland. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, the Zionist movement continues primarily to advocate on behalf of the Jewish state...

 movement. It is the founding ideology of the non-religious right in Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, and was the chief ideological competitor to the dominant socialist Labor Zionism
Labor Zionism
Labor Zionism can be described as the major stream of the left wing of the Zionist movement. It was, for many years, the most significant tendency among Zionists and Zionist organizational structure...

. Revisionism is represented primarily by the Likud Party.

The ideology was developed originally by Ze'ev Jabotinsky who advocated a "revision" of the "practical Zionism" of David Ben Gurion and Chaim Weizmann
Chaim Weizmann
Chaim Azriel Weizmann, , was a Zionist leader, President of the Zionist Organization, and the first President of the State of Israel. He was elected on 1 February 1949, and served until his death in 1952....

, which was focused on independent settlement of Eretz Yisrael. In 1935, after the Zionist Executive rejected his political program and refused to state that “the aim of Zionism was the establishment of a Jewish state,” Jabotinsky resigned from the Zionist Organization
World Zionist Organization
The World Zionist Organization , or WZO, was founded as the Zionist Organization , or ZO, in 1897 at the First Zionist Congress, held from August 29 to August 31 in Basel, Switzerland...

. He founded the New Zionist Organization (NZO) to conduct independent political activity for free immigration and the establishment of a Jewish State. Revisionist Zionism was instead centered on a vision of "political Zionism", which Jabotinsky regarded as following the legacy of Theodor Herzl
Theodor Herzl
Theodor Herzl , born Benjamin Ze’ev Herzl was an Ashkenazi Jew Austro-Hungarian journalist and the father of modern political Zionism and in effect the State of Israel.-Early life:...

, the founder of modern political Zionism.

In its early years, and under Jabotinsky's leadership, Revisionist Zionism was focused on gaining British aid for settlement. Later, Revisionist groups independent of Jabotinsky's leadership, conducted campaigns of violence against the British authorities in Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

 to drive them out and establish a Jewish state
Jewish state
A homeland for the Jewish people was an idea that rose to the fore in the 19th century in the wake of growing anti-Semitism and Jewish assimilation. Jewish emancipation in Europe paved the way for two ideological solutions to the Jewish Question: cultural assimilation, as envisaged by Moses...

.

Ideology


Revisionism was distinguished primarily from other ideologies within Zionism by its territorial maximalism, while not alone, they insisted upon the Jewish right to sovereignty over the whole territory of Eretz Yisrael (originally encompassing all of Mandatory Palestine). The British handing of control of Transjordan to the Hashemite
Hashemite
Hashemite is the Latinate version of the , transliteration: Hāšimī, and traditionally refers to those belonging to the Banu Hashim, or "clan of Hashim", a clan within the larger Quraish tribe...

s disrupted this dream, however. After this and until statehood, Revisionist Zionism became known more for its advocacy of more belligerent, assertive posture and actions against both British and Arab control of the region.

Revisionism’s foremost political objective was to maintain the territorial integrity of the historical land of Israel and establish a Jewish state with a Jewish majority on both sides of the river Jordan. Jewish statehood was always a major ideological goal for Revisionism, but it was not to be gained at the price of partitioning Eretz Yisrael. Jabotinsky and his followers, therefore, consistently rejected proposals to partition Palestine into an Arab state and a Jewish state. Menachem Begin
Menachem Begin
' was a politician, founder of Likud and the sixth Prime Minister of the State of Israel. Before independence, he was the leader of the Zionist militant group Irgun, the Revisionist breakaway from the larger Jewish paramilitary organization Haganah. He proclaimed a revolt, on 1 February 1944,...

, Jabotinsky's successor, therefore opposed the 1947 United Nations partition plan. Revisionists considered the subsequent partition of Palestine following the 1949 Armistice Agreements
1949 Armistice Agreements
The 1949 Armistice Agreements are a set of agreements signed during 1949 between Israel and neighboring Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria. The agreements ended the official hostilities of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and established armistice lines between Israeli forces and the forces in...

 to have no legitimacy.

During the first two decades after independence, the Revisionist Party, Herut
Herut
Herut was the major right-wing political party in Israel from the 1940s until its formal merger into Likud in 1988, and an adherent of Revisionist Zionism.-History:...

, remained in opposition. The party slowly began to revise its ideology in an effort to change this situation and gain political power. While Begin maintained the Revisionist claim to Jewish sovereignty over all of Eretz Israel; by the late 1950s, control over the East Bank of the Jordan ceased to be an operative element within Revisionist ideology. Following Herut's merger with the Liberal Party in 1965, references to the ideal of Jewish sovereignty over "both banks of the Jordan" appeared less and less frequently. By the 1970s, the legitimacy of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan was no longer questioned. In 1994, the complete practical abandonment of the "both banks" principle was apparent when an overwhelming majority of Likud Knesset Members (MKs) voted in favor of the peace treaty with Jordan.

On the day the Six-Day War
Six-Day War
The Six-Day War , also known as the June War, 1967 Arab-Israeli War, or Third Arab-Israeli War, was fought between June 5 and 10, 1967, by Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt , Jordan, and Syria...

 started in June 1967, the Revisionists, as part of the Gahal
Gahal
Gahal , lit. Herut-Liberals Bloc) was the major right-wing political faction in Israel led by Menachem Begin from its founding in 1965 until it merged into Likud in 1973.-Background:...

 faction, joined the national unity government
National unity government
A national unity government, government of national unity, or national union government is a broad coalition government consisting of all parties in the legislature, usually formed during a time of war or other national emergency.- Canada :During World War I the Conservative government of Sir...

 under Prime Minister Levi Eshkol
Levi Eshkol
' served as the third Prime Minister of Israel from 1963 until his death from a heart attack in 1969. He was the first Israeli Prime Minister to die in office.-Biography:...

; this resulted in Begin serving in the cabinet
Cabinet of Israel
The Cabinet of Israel is a formal body composed of government officials called ministers, chosen and led by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister must appoint members based on the distribution of votes to political parties during legislative elections, and its composition must be approved by a...

 for the first time. Ben-Gurion's Rafi
Rafi
Rafi is a male name used by Muslims, Jews and Christians of Armenian origin . The word Rafi is of Arabic origin, and its meaning is "holding high" or "servant of the exalted one". Common variants include "Rafee", "Rafie", "Raffi", Rafiq, "Rafay" and "Raffy". Amongst Jews, Rafi is a common nickname...

 party also joined. The war also brought to an end Labor’s previous efforts to delegitimize Revisionism, because on the eve of the war, the dominant party felt it had to include the Revisionist opposition in an emergency national unity government. This step not only made the opposition views acceptable in the eyes of the public. It also showed that the dominant party no longer felt that it could monopolize power. This unity arrangement lasted until August 1970, when Begin and Gahal left the government. Some sources indicate the resignation was due to disagreements over the Rogers Plan
Rogers plan
The Rogers Plan was a framework proposed by United States Secretary of State William P. Rogers to achieve an end to belligerence in the Arab-Israeli conflict following the Six-Day War and the continuing War of Attrition. The plan was publicly proposed in a December 9, 1969 speech at an Adult...

 and its "in place" cease-fire with Egypt along the Suez Canal
Suez Canal
The Suez Canal , also known by the nickname "The Highway to India", is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Opened in November 1869 after 10 years of construction work, it allows water transportation between Europe and Asia without navigation...

,; other sources, including William B. Quandt
William B. Quandt
William B. Quandt is an American scholar, author, professor and member of the Department of Politics at the University of Virginia. He previously served as senior fellow in the Foreign Policy Studies Program at the Brookings Institution and as a member on the National Security Council in the...

, note that Begin left the unity government because the Labor party, by formally accepting UN 242 in mid-1970, had accepted "peace for withdrawal" on all fronts. On August 5, 1970, Begin himself explained before the Knesset why he was resigning. He said, "As far as we are concerned, what do the words 'withdrawal from territories administered since 1967 by Israel' mean other than Judea and Samaria. Not all the territories; but by all opinion, most of them."

Following Israel's capture of the West Bank and Gaza in the 1967 war, Revisionism's territorial aspirations concentrated on these territories. These areas were far more central to ancient Jewish history than the East Bank of the Jordan and most of the areas within Israel's post-1949 borders. In 1968, Begin defined the "eternal patrimony of our ancestors" as "Jerusalem, Hebron, Bethlehem, Judea, [and] Shechem [Nablus]" in the West Bank. In 1973, Herut's election platform called for the annexation of the West Bank and Gaza. When Menachem Begin became leader of the broad Likud coalition and, soon Prime Minister, he considerably modified Herut’s expansive territorial aims. The party’s aspiration to unite all of mandatory Palestine under Jewish rule was scaled down. Instead, Begin spoke of the historic unity of Israel in the West Bank, even hinting that he would make territorial concessions in the Sinai as part of a complete peace settlement.

When Begin finally came to power in the 1977 election
Israeli legislative election, 1977
The Elections for the ninth Knesset were held on 17 May 1977. For the first time in Israeli political history, the right-wing, led by Likud, won the election, ending almost 30 years of rule by the left-wing Alignment and its predecessor, Mapai...

, his overriding concern as Prime Minister (1977–1983) was to maintain Israeli control over the West Bank and Gaza. In 1981 he declared to a group of Jewish settlers: "I, Menachem, the son of Ze'ev and Hasia Begin, do solemnly swear that as long as I serve the nation as Prime Minister we will not leave any part of Judea, Samaria, [or] the Gaza Strip." One of the main mechanisms for accomplishing this objective was the establishment of Jewish settlements. Under Labor governments, between 1967 and 1977, the Jewish population of the territories reached 3,200; Labor's limited settlement activity was predicated upon making a future territorial compromise when the majority of the territory would be returned to Arab control. By contrast, the Likud's settlement plan aimed to settle 750,000 Jews all over the territories in order to prevent a territorial compromise. As a result, by 1984, there were about 44,000 settlers outside East Jerusalem.

In the diplomatic arena, Begin pursued his core ideological objective in a relatively pragmatic manner. He held back from annexing the West Bank and Gaza, recognizing that this was not feasible in the short term, due to international opposition. He signed the Camp David Accords (1978) with Egypt that referred to the "legitimate rights of the Palestinians" (although Begin insisted that the Hebrew version referred only to "the Arabs of Eretz Yisrael" and not to "Palestinians"). Begin also promoted the idea of autonomy for the Palestinians, albeit only a "personal" autonomy that would not give them control over any territory. But his uncompromising stance in the negotiations over Palestinian autonomy from 1979 to 1981 led to the resignations of the more moderate Moshe Dayan
Moshe Dayan
Moshe Dayan was an Israeli military leader and politician. The fourth Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces , he became a fighting symbol to the world of the new State of Israel...

 and Ezer Weizman
Ezer Weizman
' was the seventh President of Israel, first elected in 1993 and re-elected in 1998. Before the presidency, Weizman was commander of the Israeli Air Force and Minister of Defense.-Biography:...

, Foreign and Defense Ministers, respectively, both of whom left the Likud government.

According to Weizman, the significant concessions Begin made to the Egyptians in the Camp David Accords
Camp David Accords
The Camp David Accords were signed by Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin on September 17, 1978, following thirteen days of secret negotiations at Camp David. The two framework agreements were signed at the White House, and were witnessed by United States...

 and the Egyptian—Israeli peace treaty of the following year were motivated, in part, by his ideological commitment to the eventual annexation of the territories. By removing the most powerful Arab state from the conflict, reducing international (mainly American) pressure for Israeli concessions on the issue of the territories, and prolonging inconclusive talks on Palestinian autonomy, Begin was buying time for his government's settlement activities in the territories. Begin continued to vow that territory, which was part of historic Eretz Israel in the West Bank and Gaza, would never be returned. His adamant stand on the territory became an obstacle to extending the 1979 peace treaty.

The Revisionist ideological stand concerning the territories has continued, although it has moderated some and become more ‘pragmatic’ in the years since, as discussed below. The lack of withdrawal remains among the major obstacles to resolution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Jabotinsky and Revisionist Zionism



After World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, Jabotinsky was elected to the first legislative assembly in the Yishuv
Yishuv
The Yishuv or Ha-Yishuv is the term referring to the body of Jewish residents in Palestine before the establishment of the State of Israel...

, and in 1921 he was elected to the Executive Council of the Zionist Organization
World Zionist Organization
The World Zionist Organization , or WZO, was founded as the Zionist Organization , or ZO, in 1897 at the First Zionist Congress, held from August 29 to August 31 in Basel, Switzerland...

 (known as the World Zionist Organization after 1960). He quit the latter group in 1923, however, due to differences of opinion with its chairman, Chaim Weizmann
Chaim Weizmann
Chaim Azriel Weizmann, , was a Zionist leader, President of the Zionist Organization, and the first President of the State of Israel. He was elected on 1 February 1949, and served until his death in 1952....

. In 1925, Jabotinsky formed the Revisionist Zionist Alliance
Hatzohar
Hatzohar , officially Brit HaTzionim HaRevizionistim was a Revisionist Zionist organisation and political party in Mandate Palestine and newly-independent Israel.-Background:...

, in the World Zionist Congress to advocate his views, which included increased cooperation with Britain on transforming the entire Mandate for Palestine
Palestine (mandate)
The British Mandate for Palestine, also known as the Palestine Mandate, The British Mandate of Palestine and the Mandate for Palestine, was a legal commission for the administration of Palestine, the draft of which was formally confirmed by the Council of the League of Nations on 24 July 1922 and...

 on both sides of the Jordan River into a sovereign Jewish state, loyal to the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

. To this end, Jabotinsky advocated for mass Jewish immigration from Europe and the creation of a second Jewish Legion
Jewish Legion
The Jewish Legion was the name for five battalions of Jewish volunteers established as the British Army's 38th through 42nd Battalions of the Royal Fusiliers...

 to guard a nascent Jewish state at inception. A staunch anglophile, Jabotinsky wished to convince Britain that a Jewish state would be in the best interest of the British Empire, perhaps even an autonomous extension of it in the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

.

When, in 1935, the Zionist Organization failed to accept Jabotinsky's program, he and his followers seceded to form the New Zionist Organization. The NZO rejoined the ZO in 1946. The Zionist Organization was roughly composed of General Zionists
General Zionists
The General Zionists were centrists within the Zionist movement and a political party in Israel. Their political arm is an ancestor of the modern-day Likud.-History:...

, who were in the majority, followers of Jabotinsky, who came in a close second, and Labour Zionists
Labor Zionism
Labor Zionism can be described as the major stream of the left wing of the Zionist movement. It was, for many years, the most significant tendency among Zionists and Zionist organizational structure...

, led by David Ben Gurion, who comprised a minority yet had much influence where it mattered, in the Yishuv.

Despite its strong representation in the Zionist Organization, Revisionist Zionism had a small presence in the Yishuv, in contrast to Labour Zionism, which was dominant among kibbutz
Kibbutz
A kibbutz is a collective community in Israel that was traditionally based on agriculture. Today, farming has been partly supplanted by other economic branches, including industrial plants and high-tech enterprises. Kibbutzim began as utopian communities, a combination of socialism and Zionism...

im and workers, and hence the settlement enterprise. General Zionism was dominant among the middle class
Middle class
The middle class is any class of people in the middle of a societal hierarchy. In Weberian socio-economic terms, the middle class is the broad group of people in contemporary society who fall socio-economically between the working class and upper class....

, which later aligned itself with the Revisionists. In the Jewish Diaspora, Revisionism was most established in Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

, where its base of operations was organized in various political parties and Zionist Youth groups, such as Betar. By the late 1930s, Revisionist Zionism was divided into three distinct ideological streams: the "Centrists", the Irgun
Irgun
The Irgun , or Irgun Zevai Leumi to give it its full title , was a Zionist paramilitary group that operated in Mandate Palestine between 1931 and 1948. It was an offshoot of the earlier and larger Jewish paramilitary organization haHaganah...

, and the "Messianists".

Jabotinsky later argued for a need to establish a base in the Yishuv, and developed a vision to guide the Revisionist movement and the new Jewish society on the economic and social policy centered around the ideal of the Jewish middle class in Europe. Jabotinsky believed that basing the movement on a philosophy contrasting with the socialist oriented Labour Zionists would attract the support of the General Zionists.

In line with this thinking, the Revisionists transplanted into the Yishuv their own youth movement, Betar. They also set up a paramilitary group, Irgun
Irgun
The Irgun , or Irgun Zevai Leumi to give it its full title , was a Zionist paramilitary group that operated in Mandate Palestine between 1931 and 1948. It was an offshoot of the earlier and larger Jewish paramilitary organization haHaganah...

, a labour union, the National Labour Federation, and their own health services. The latter were intended to counteract the increasing hegemony of Labour Zionism over community services via the Histadrut
Histadrut
HaHistadrut HaKlalit shel HaOvdim B'Eretz Yisrael , known as the Histadrut, is Israel's organization of trade unions. Established in December 1920 during the British Mandate for Palestine, it became one of the most powerful institutions of the State of Israel.-History:The Histadrut was founded in...

 and address the refusal of the Histadrut to make its services available to Revisionist Party members.

Irgun: Origin and activities



The Irgun
Irgun
The Irgun , or Irgun Zevai Leumi to give it its full title , was a Zionist paramilitary group that operated in Mandate Palestine between 1931 and 1948. It was an offshoot of the earlier and larger Jewish paramilitary organization haHaganah...

(shorthand for Irgun Tsvai Leumi, Hebrew for "National Military Organization" ארגון צבאי לאומי) had its roots initially in the Betar youth movement in Poland, which Jabotinsky founded. By the 1940s, they had transplanted many of its members from Europe and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 to Palestine. The movement, now acting autonomously from the Hatzohar
Hatzohar
Hatzohar , officially Brit HaTzionim HaRevizionistim was a Revisionist Zionist organisation and political party in Mandate Palestine and newly-independent Israel.-Background:...

 leadership in Poland, decided to organize locally, as its small membership was increasingly overshadowed by Labour Zionists, who were predominantly focused on settling the land. While Jabotinsky continued to lobby the British Empire, the Irgun, under the leadership of people such as David Raziel
David Raziel
thumb|David RazielDavid Raziel was a fighter of the Jewish underground during the British mandate, and one of the founders of the Irgun.-Biography:...

 and later Menachem Begin
Menachem Begin
' was a politician, founder of Likud and the sixth Prime Minister of the State of Israel. Before independence, he was the leader of the Zionist militant group Irgun, the Revisionist breakaway from the larger Jewish paramilitary organization Haganah. He proclaimed a revolt, on 1 February 1944,...

, fought politically against the Labour Zionists and militarily against the British for the establishment of a Jewish state, independent of any orders from Jabotinsky.

Acting often in conflict (but at times, also in coordination) with rival clandestine militias such as the Haganah
Haganah
Haganah was a Jewish paramilitary organization in what was then the British Mandate of Palestine from 1920 to 1948, which later became the core of the Israel Defense Forces.- Origins :...

and the Lehi
Lehi (group)
Lehi , commonly referred to in English as the Stern Group or Stern Gang, was a militant Zionist group founded by Avraham Stern in the British Mandate of Palestine...

(or Stern Group), the Irgun 's efforts would feature prominently in the armed struggles against British and Arab forces alike in the 1930s and 1940s, and ultimately become decisive in the closing events of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War
1948 Arab-Israeli War
The 1948 Arab–Israeli War, known to Israelis as the War of Independence or War of Liberation The war commenced after the termination of the British Mandate for Palestine and the creation of an independent Israel at midnight on 14 May 1948 when, following a period of civil war, Arab armies invaded...

. After 1948, members of the Irgun were variously demobilised, or incorporated directly into the nascent Israeli Defense Forces; and on the political front, Irgunist ideology found a new vehicle of expression in the Herut
Herut
Herut was the major right-wing political party in Israel from the 1940s until its formal merger into Likud in 1988, and an adherent of Revisionist Zionism.-History:...

(or "Freedom") Party.

See also: Altalena Affair
Altalena Affair
The Altalena Affair was a violent confrontation that took place in June 1948 between the newly formed Israel Defense Forces and the Irgun, a right-wing Jewish paramilitary group...


Lehi: Origin and activities


The movement called Lehi
Lehi (group)
Lehi , commonly referred to in English as the Stern Group or Stern Gang, was a militant Zionist group founded by Avraham Stern in the British Mandate of Palestine...

and nicknamed the "Stern Gang" by the British, was led by Avraham "Yair" Stern
Avraham Stern
Avraham Stern , alias Yair was a Jewish paramilitary leader who founded and led the militant Zionist organization later known as Lehi .-Early life:Stern was born in Suwałki, Poland...

, until his death. Stern did not join the Revisionist Zionist party
Herut
Herut was the major right-wing political party in Israel from the 1940s until its formal merger into Likud in 1988, and an adherent of Revisionist Zionism.-History:...

 in university but instead joined another group called "Hulda". He formed Lehi in 1940 as an offshoot from Irgun, which was initially named Irgun Zvai Leumi be-Yisrael (National Military Organization in Israel or NMO). Following Stern's death in 1942—killed while already in custody by British police—and the arrest of many of its members, the group went into eclipse until it was reformed as "Lehi" under a triumvirate of Israel Eldad
Israel Eldad
Israel Eldad , was a noted Israeli independence fighter and Revisionist Zionist philosopher...

, Natan Yellin-Mor, and Yitzhak Shamir
Yitzhak Shamir
' is a former Israeli politician, the seventh Prime Minister of Israel, in 1983–84 and 1986–92.-Biography:Icchak Jeziernicky was born in Ruzhany , Russian Empire . He studied at a Hebrew High School in Białystok, Poland. As a youth he joined Betar, the Revisionist Zionist youth movement...

. Lehi was guided also by spiritual leader Uri Zvi Greenberg
Uri Zvi Greenberg
Uri Zvi Grinberg was an acclaimed Israeli poet and journalist who wrote in Yiddish and Hebrew.-Biography:Uri Zvi Grinberg was born in Bialikamin, Galicia, then Austria-Hungary, into a prominent Hasidic family. He was raised in Lemberg . Some of his poems in Yiddish and Hebrew were published...

. The Lehi, in particular their members in prison, were encouraged in their struggle by Rabbi Aryeh Levin
Aryeh Levin
Rabbi Aryeh Levin, , known as Reb Aryeh, was an Orthodox rabbi dubbed the "Father of Prisoners" for his visits to members of the Jewish underground imprisoned in the Central Prison of Jerusalem in the Russian Compound during the British Mandate...

 a greatly respected Jewish sage of the time. Shamir became the Prime Minister of Israel
Prime Minister of Israel
The Prime Minister of Israel is the head of the Israeli government and the most powerful political figure in Israel . The prime minister is the country's chief executive. The official residence of the prime minister, Beit Rosh Hamemshala is in Jerusalem...

 forty years later.

Irgun—and, to a lesser extent, Lehi—were influenced by the romantic nationalism of Italian nationalist Giuseppe Garibaldi
Giuseppe Garibaldi
Giuseppe Garibaldi was an Italian military and political figure. In his twenties, he joined the Carbonari Italian patriot revolutionaries, and fled Italy after a failed insurrection. Garibaldi took part in the War of the Farrapos and the Uruguayan Civil War leading the Italian Legion, and...

. The movement's activities were independent of any diaspora leadership, but were backed by several figures in the diaspora.

While the Irgun stopped its activities against the British during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, at least until 1944, Lehi continued guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare and refers to conflicts in which a small group of combatants including, but not limited to, armed civilians use military tactics, such as ambushes, sabotage, raids, the element of surprise, and extraordinary mobility to harass a larger and...

 against the British authorities. It considered the British rule of Mandatory Palestine to be an illegal occupation
Military occupation
Military occupation occurs when the control and authority over a territory passes to a hostile army. The territory then becomes occupied territory.-Military occupation and the laws of war:...

, and concentrated its attacks mainly against British targets (unlike the other underground movements, which were also involved in fighting against Arab paramilitary
Paramilitary
A paramilitary is a force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not considered part of a state's formal armed forces....

 groups).

In 1940, Lehi proposed intervening in the Second World War on the side of Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 to attain their help in expelling Britain from Mandate Palestine and to offer their assistance in "evacuating" the Jews of Europe. Late in 1940, Lehi representative Naftali Lubenchik was sent to Beirut
Beirut
Beirut is the capital and largest city of Lebanon, with a population ranging from 1 million to more than 2 million . Located on a peninsula at the midpoint of Lebanon's Mediterranean coastline, it serves as the country's largest and main seaport, and also forms the Beirut Metropolitan...

 where he met the German official Werner Otto von Hentig
Werner Otto von Hentig
Werner Otto von Hentig was a German diplomat from Berlin. He was the elder brother of criminal psychologist Hans von Hentig and the father of Hartmut von Hentig....

. See Lehi (group)#Contact with Nazi authorities

Lehi prisoners captured by the British generally refused to present a defence when brought to trial in British courts. They would only read out statements in which they declared that the court, representing an occupying force, had no jurisdiction over them. For the same reason, Lehi prisoners refused to plead for amnesty, even when it was clear that this would have spared them from the death penalty. In two cases, Lehi men killed themselves in prison to deprive the British of the ability to hang them.

Tensions between the Irgun and Lehi simmered until the two groups forged an alliance during the Israeli War of Independence.

Revisionist Zionism: Ideology


Ideologically, Revisionism advocated the creation of a Jewish state on both sides of the Jordan River, that is, a state which would include the present-day Israel, as well as West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

, Gaza
Gaza
Gaza , also referred to as Gaza City, is a Palestinian city in the Gaza Strip, with a population of about 450,000, making it the largest city in the Palestinian territories.Inhabited since at least the 15th century BC,...

 and all or part of the modern state of Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

. Jordan was separated from Mandatory Palestine in 1922 in response to Arab resentment of the Balfour Declaration. All three Revisionist streams, including Centrists who advocated a British-style liberal democracy
Liberal democracy
Liberal democracy, also known as constitutional democracy, is a common form of representative democracy. According to the principles of liberal democracy, elections should be free and fair, and the political process should be competitive...

, and the two more militant streams, which would become Irgun and Lehi, supported Jewish settlement on both sides of the Jordan River; in most cases, they differed only on how this should be achieved. (Some supporters within Labor Zionism, such as Mapai
Mapai
Mapai was a left-wing political party in Israel, and was the dominant force in Israeli politics until its merger into the Israeli Labor Party in 1968...

's Ben Gurion also accepted this interpretation for the Jewish homeland.) Jabotinsky wanted to gain the help of Britain in this endeavor, while Lehi and the Irgun, following Jabotinsky's death, wanted to conquer both sides of the river independently of the British. The Irgun stream of Revisionism opposed power-sharing with Arabs. On the topic of "transfer
Population transfer
Population transfer is the movement of a large group of people from one region to another by state policy or international authority, most frequently on the basis of ethnicity or religion...

" (expulsion of the Arabs), Jabotinsky's statements were ambiguous. In some writings he supported the notion, but only as an act of self-defense, in others he argued that Arabs should be included in the liberal democratic
Liberal democracy
Liberal democracy, also known as constitutional democracy, is a common form of representative democracy. According to the principles of liberal democracy, elections should be free and fair, and the political process should be competitive...

 society that he was advocating, and in others still, he completely disregarded the potency of Arab resistance to Jewish settlement, and stated that settlement should continue, and the Arabs be ignored.

National-messianism vs. Jewish nationalism


Up to 1933, a number of members from the national-messianist wing of Revisionism were inspired by the fascist movement of Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism....

. Abba Ahimeir
Abba Ahimeir
Abba Ahimeir was a Jewish journalist, historian and political activist. One of the ideologues of Revisionist Zionism, he was the founder of the Revisionist Maximalist faction of the Zionist Revisionist Movement and of the clandestine Brit HaBirionim....

 was attracted to fascism for its staunch anti-communism
Anti-communism
Anti-communism is opposition to communism. Organized anti-communism developed in reaction to the rise of communism, especially after the 1917 October Revolution in Russia and the beginning of the Cold War in 1947.-Objections to communist theory:...

 and its focus on rebuilding the glory of the past, which national-messianists such as Uri Zvi Greenberg felt had much connection to their view of what the Revisionist movement should be.

Abba Ahimeir's ideology was based in Oswald Spengler
Oswald Spengler
Oswald Manuel Arnold Gottfried Spengler was a German historian and philosopher whose interests also included mathematics, science, and art. He is best known for his book The Decline of the West , published in 1918, which puts forth a cyclical theory of the rise and decline of civilizations...

's monumental study on the decline of the West, but his Zionist orientation caused him to adapt its ultimate conclusions. Achimeir's basic assumption was that liberal bourgeois European culture was degenerate, and deeply eroded from within by an excess of liberalism
Liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 and individualism
Individualism
Individualism is the moral stance, political philosophy, ideology, or social outlook that stresses "the moral worth of the individual". Individualists promote the exercise of one's goals and desires and so value independence and self-reliance while opposing most external interference upon one's own...

. Socialism and communism were portrayed as "overcivilized" ideologies. Fascism on the other hand, like Zionism, was a return to the roots of the national culture and the historical past. According to Achimeir, Italian Fascism was not anti-Semitic
Anti-Semitism
Antisemitism is suspicion of, hatred toward, or discrimination against Jews for reasons connected to their Jewish heritage. According to a 2005 U.S...

 or anti-Zionist
Anti-Zionism
Anti-Zionism is opposition to Zionistic views or opposition to the state of Israel. The term is used to describe various religious, moral and political points of view in opposition to these, but their diversity of motivation and expression is sufficiently different that "anti-Zionism" cannot be...

, whereas communist ideology and praxis were intrinsically so.

He also developed a favorable attitude toward fascist praxis and its psycho-politics, such as the principle of the all-powerful leader, the use of propaganda
Propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....

 to generate a spirit of heroism and duty to the homeland, and the cultivation of youthful vitality (as manifested in the fascist youth movements). Ahimeir joined the Revisionist movement in 1930, but before joining he wrote a regular column entitled "From the Notebook of a Fascist" in the unaffiliated but pro-Revisionist magazine Doar Hayom. He crafted his pro-fascistic views in these columns, and also wrote an article in 1928 titled "On the Arrival of Our Duce" to celebrate Jabotinsky's visit to Palestine, and propose a new direction for the Revisionist movement, more in line with Achimeir's views. (Segev, Tom, The Seventh Million: Israelis and the Holocaust pg 23.)

When Ahimeir was on trial in 1932 for having disrupted a public lecture at Hebrew University, his lawyer, Zvi Eliahu Cohen, argued "Were it not for Hitler's anti-Semitism, we would not oppose his ideology. Hitler saved Germany." Tom Segev has remarked, "This was not an unconsidered outburst." An editorial in the Revisionist newspaper Hazit Haam praised Cohen's "brilliant speech." It continued, that "Social Democrats of all stripes believe that Hitler's movement is an empty shell (but) we believe that there is both a shell and a kernel. The anti-Semitic shell is to be discarded, but not the anti-Marxist kernel. The Revisionists would fight the Nazis only to the extent that they were anti-Semites." (Segev, Tom, The Seventh Million: Israelis and the Holocaust pg 23).

In 1933, when Hitler came to power, the newspaper, whose editors were Revisionist Party members, praised Nazism as a German national liberation movement and said that Hitler had saved Germany from Communism. Jabotinsky responded by threatening to have the newspaper's editors expelled if they repeated such "kow-towing" to Hitler. (Schechtman, Fighter and Prophet, p. 216.)

The national messianist wing differed from the ideological vision of Jabotinsky to the extent that on August 9, 1932, Jabotinsky wrote to tell Abba Ahimeir that his romantic ideas and the zeal of his followers were considered excessive. Hatzohar
Hatzohar
Hatzohar , officially Brit HaTzionim HaRevizionistim was a Revisionist Zionist organisation and political party in Mandate Palestine and newly-independent Israel.-Background:...

, he wrote, was a democratic political movement of a patrician rather than populist or Romantic kind. As a consequence, he argued, the behavior of Ahimeir and his friends threatened Jabotinsky's own movement. He also argued that if Achimeir's views were indeed similar to those which he expressed in his articles and letters, there was no room for the two of them in the same political camp.

Despite his flirt with fascism, Ahimeir was also known for his fight against Nazism, with the most visible example being his climb on the German embassy roof in Jerusalem taking off the swastika flag. In later years, Ahimeir said he was sorry for calling himself a "fascistan" (fascist symphatizer).

Irgun to Likud


The Irgun
Irgun
The Irgun , or Irgun Zevai Leumi to give it its full title , was a Zionist paramilitary group that operated in Mandate Palestine between 1931 and 1948. It was an offshoot of the earlier and larger Jewish paramilitary organization haHaganah...

 largely followed the Centrists' ideals but with a much more hawkish outlook toward Britain's involvement in the Mandate, and an ardently nationalist vision of society and government. After the establishment of the State of Israel, it was the Irgun wing of the Revisionist Party that formed Herut
Herut
Herut was the major right-wing political party in Israel from the 1940s until its formal merger into Likud in 1988, and an adherent of Revisionist Zionism.-History:...

, which in turn eventually formed the Gahal
Gahal
Gahal , lit. Herut-Liberals Bloc) was the major right-wing political faction in Israel led by Menachem Begin from its founding in 1965 until it merged into Likud in 1973.-Background:...

 party when the Herut and Liberal parties formed a united list called Gush Herut Liberalim (or the Herut-Liberal Bloc). In 1977 the new Likud
Likud
Likud is the major center-right political party in Israel. It was founded in 1973 by Menachem Begin in an alliance with several right-wing and liberal parties. Likud's victory in the 1977 elections was a major turning point in the country's political history, marking the first time the left had...

 Party was formed by a group of parties dominated by the Revisionist Herut/Gahal, became the dominant party in a governing coalition, and remains an important force in Israeli politics until today. In March 2006, the Likud lost many of its seats to the Kadima party. The Likud bounced back in Israel's most recent Knesset elections, garnering 27 seats, although still less than Kadima's 28 seats. However, because right-of-center parties who favored a Likud-led coalition, comprised the majority, Likud was chosen to form the coalition and leads the government today. In the years since the 1977 election, particularly in the last decade, Likud has undergone a number of splits to its right, including the 1998 departure of Benny Begin, son of Herut founder Menachem Begin
Menachem Begin
' was a politician, founder of Likud and the sixth Prime Minister of the State of Israel. Before independence, he was the leader of the Zionist militant group Irgun, the Revisionist breakaway from the larger Jewish paramilitary organization Haganah. He proclaimed a revolt, on 1 February 1944,...

 (he rejoined Likud in 2008), and in 2005 experienced a split to its left with the departure of Ariel Sharon
Ariel Sharon
Ariel Sharon is an Israeli statesman and retired general, who served as Israel’s 11th Prime Minister. He has been in a permanent vegetative state since suffering a stroke on 4 January 2006....

 and his followers to form Kadima
Kadima
Kadima is a centrist and liberal political party in Israel. It was established on 24 November 2005 by moderates from Likud largely to support the issue of Ariel Sharon's unilateral disengagement plan, and was soon joined by like-minded Labor politicians...

. Although the party platform has been consistent with Revisionist ideology, most supporters believe that prime ministers from the party have consistently deviated from what many see as their mandate.

The National Union
National Union (Israel)
The National Union is an alliance of nationalist political parties in Israel. In the 2009 elections the National Union consisted of four parties: Moledet, Hatikva, Eretz Yisrael Shelanu, and Tkuma.-Background:...

 and other parties, such as Lieberman's Yisrael Beytenu now claim to be the true representatives of Revisionist Zionism, and that Likud has abandoned its ideology, which is by some evidence true, since although historically, does not in complete form adhere to former Lehi
Lehi (group)
Lehi , commonly referred to in English as the Stern Group or Stern Gang, was a militant Zionist group founded by Avraham Stern in the British Mandate of Palestine...

 or Irgun
Irgun
The Irgun , or Irgun Zevai Leumi to give it its full title , was a Zionist paramilitary group that operated in Mandate Palestine between 1931 and 1948. It was an offshoot of the earlier and larger Jewish paramilitary organization haHaganah...

ist principles.

While the initial core group of Likud leaders such as Israeli Prime Ministers
Prime Minister of Israel
The Prime Minister of Israel is the head of the Israeli government and the most powerful political figure in Israel . The prime minister is the country's chief executive. The official residence of the prime minister, Beit Rosh Hamemshala is in Jerusalem...

 Begin and Yitzhak Shamir
Yitzhak Shamir
' is a former Israeli politician, the seventh Prime Minister of Israel, in 1983–84 and 1986–92.-Biography:Icchak Jeziernicky was born in Ruzhany , Russian Empire . He studied at a Hebrew High School in Białystok, Poland. As a youth he joined Betar, the Revisionist Zionist youth movement...

 came from Likud's Herut faction, later leaders, such as Benjamin Netanyahu
Benjamin Netanyahu
Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu is the current Prime Minister of Israel. He serves also as the Chairman of the Likud Party, as a Knesset member, as the Health Minister of Israel, as the Pensioner Affairs Minister of Israel and as the Economic Strategy Minister of Israel.Netanyahu is the first and, to...

, and Ariel Sharon
Ariel Sharon
Ariel Sharon is an Israeli statesman and retired general, who served as Israel’s 11th Prime Minister. He has been in a permanent vegetative state since suffering a stroke on 4 January 2006....

 have come from or moved to the "pragmatic" Revisionist wing.

See also

  • Betar
    Betar
    The Betar Movement is a Revisionist Zionist youth movement founded in 1923 in Riga, Latvia, by Vladimir Jabotinsky. It has been traditionally linked to the original Herut and then Likud political parties of Israel, and was closely affiliated with the pre-Israel Revisionist Zionist splinter group...

  • Hatzohar
    Hatzohar
    Hatzohar , officially Brit HaTzionim HaRevizionistim was a Revisionist Zionist organisation and political party in Mandate Palestine and newly-independent Israel.-Background:...

  • Herut
    Herut
    Herut was the major right-wing political party in Israel from the 1940s until its formal merger into Likud in 1988, and an adherent of Revisionist Zionism.-History:...

  • History of Zionism
    History of Zionism
    Zionism as an organized movement is generally considered to have been fathered by Theodor Herzl in 1897; however the history of Zionism began earlier and related to Judaism and Jewish history...

  • Israel
    Israel
    The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

  • Jewish State
    Jewish state
    A homeland for the Jewish people was an idea that rose to the fore in the 19th century in the wake of growing anti-Semitism and Jewish assimilation. Jewish emancipation in Europe paved the way for two ideological solutions to the Jewish Question: cultural assimilation, as envisaged by Moses...

  • Labour Zionism
  • Likud
    Likud
    Likud is the major center-right political party in Israel. It was founded in 1973 by Menachem Begin in an alliance with several right-wing and liberal parties. Likud's victory in the 1977 elections was a major turning point in the country's political history, marking the first time the left had...

  • List of notable Irgun members
  • Magshimey Herut
    Magshimey Herut
    World Magshimey Herut is a Zionist young adult movement founded in 1999 by a group of Jewish activists who felt the need for a young adult movement dedicated to the ideals of aliyah, social justice and the territorial integrity of the Land of Israel...

  • Zionist Freedom Alliance
    Zionist Freedom Alliance
    The Zionist Freedom Alliance is an activist grassroots Zionist movement that advocates Israel's moral, legal and historic rights for the Jewish people to the entire Land of Israel, which they consider to include the territory captured during the 1967 Six-Day War...