The Hebrew Resistance Movement was a movement which was prevalent for ten months in Palestine. This movement was also known as Jewish Resistance Movement and sometimes as United Resistance Movement. It was an alliance between Zionist paramilitary organizations Irgun, Haganah and Lehi. This resistance movement was against the British and were acts of sabotage and attacks. When they realised the civilians, their own people, were also being killed, this movement lost its aggressiveness and the leaders decided to stop it.
Zionism was a national movement to create a Jewish homeland in the land given to them in Palestine and call it Land of Israel. The primary goal of Zionism was to re-establish the Jewish sovereignty, by bringing back the exiled Jews. Jews were discriminated and persecuted in most countries and the policy of Hitler was to eliminate Jews from the face of earth. With so much hatred against them, the Jews wanted a safe haven to live and Zionism was making it happen. There was a religious side of Zionism which upheld Jewish traditions and opposed Jewish assimilation into other societies. There was another wing of Zionism which called cultural Zionism and it promoted a secular vision. The Hebrew Resistance movement was organised by the paramilitary wing of Zionism and they got the support of all sections of the Jewish society.
Reasons for the Hebrew Resistance Movement to happen
- Early in 1945, the Allies gave a shocking defeat to Germany and in this process the atrocities committed on the Jews by Hitler came to light.
- The Jews eagerly awaited the world to react strongly to Hitler and support the cause of the Jews.
- The Jews were sure that the refugees and survivors would be given a place in Israel and that the Jewish state would be established.
- Meanwhile Churchill who was the Prime Minister of Britain dissolved the wartime parliament soon after the war and announced elections absolutely confident that his people would vote him back to power.
- That did not happen and the Labour Party came to power with Clement Atlee as the Prime Minister. The Jews were overjoyed at this turn of fortunes.
- The Zionist Movement expected the new Labour government in Britain to fulfil their dreams of Holy Land in Israel.
- This did not happen and Britain continued to enforce the policies laid down in the White Paper of 1939 where there were many restrictions in the immigration of Jews to Palestine.
- Britain had persuaded the UN to divide Palestine into Palestine and Israel, the former for the Arabs and the latter for the Jews.
- The Jews considered Britain’s policies as anti-Zionist.
- Britain had a tough proposition on hand because it had to placate the Arabs as well as they had played an important role in the capture of the Ottoman Empire.
- Since the pleas of the Jews fell on deaf ears, the Jews decided to take it upon themselves to show their resistance and this was known as the Jewish Resistance Movement or the Hebrew Resistance Movement.
There were factions amongst the Jews but all the Jews felt a need to unite to fight the government and to get for itself a state. Early in September 1945 all these factions were formally brought together and reached upon certain conclusions.
- The movement was an armed movement and would be against the British.
- The leadership would be two representatives from the Haganah faction and one representative from the IZL(Irgun Zvai Leumi) and Lehi factions.
- All operations and military operations planned and carried out would be in the name of the Resistance Movement.
- Though IZL and Lehi had a lot of independence in function, they could not take up any independent activity especially in acquiring funds and arms or to free prisoner.
- The nature of operations would be decided after a political debate.
- Anyone could propose the operations but anyone could carry out these proposals on the operation.
- A civilian committee known as “committee X was also created to coordinate the activities of the group.
Aims of the Movement
The Haganah who was a large faction in the movement had no plan to compete with the forces of Britain. They wanted to make clear their displeasure with the White Paper and their preparedness to oppose it with arms. The IZL which was the Irgun faction saw the resistance as a movement to establish a Jewish government. Lehi wanted the strike hard to crumble the British power in their land Eretz Israel. They very clearly proclaimed that it was a war of liberation.
Ten Months of Resistance
During the ten months of the resistance, October 1945 to August 1946, eleven operations were carried out. Eight of them were by Haganah and Palmach and three by Lehi and Irgun. Lehi and Irgun also carried out smaller operations.
- In October 1945, the Atlit Internment Camp was attacked and more than 200 illegal immigrants were liberated.
- On 1st November 1945 the Lydda Railway station was attacked.
- On the same day Haifa Refinery was planned but could not be executed effectively as one of the bombs went off early killing the commander of the operation.
- On December 27th , 1945, Lehi and IZL attacked CID headquarters and police in Jerusalem and Jaffa. This attack was a huge success for the Jews as they retreated with no losses.
- Kfar SykrinAirfield was attacked on February 25th, 1946 and blew up airplanes.
- To get ammunition and rifles they attacked Kalaniot, the 6th Airborne division in Palestine.
- On June 18th , 1946 Haifa Railroad workshops were destroyed to cut off the transportation links of Britain.
Many more attacks were planned and executed of which a few were a failure. In August King David Hotel where British people stayed was bombed. In this bombing many foreign nationals died and some Jews and Arabs died too. This incident brought an end to the resistance movement as the collaboration formed for the resistance decided to end the agreement and each faction decided to follow their individual agendas.