Visionary poet, writer, soldier and leader of many – Jabotinsky left his mark on Jewish contemporary history. Instead of pursuing success in the Russian literary field, Jabotinsky devoted his life to the service of his nation. As founder of the Betar Zionist Youth Movement, the Jewish Legion and as defender of Jerusalem, he became the inspired teacher of a generation of fighter in the Jewish Renaissance Movement. In addition, Jabotinsky was the head of the Irgun and the Zionist Revisionist Organization. Jewish self-defense was at the epicenter of Jabotinsky’s socio-political philosophy, both as a physical imperative and as a wellspring of pride and self-confidence He is Rosh Betar forever, his example and thoughts are alive in our hearts.
Herzl is the father of political Zionism and founder of the idea of the Jewish state. Herzl was so moved by anti-Semitism at the Dreyfus trial in France that he wrote a book called “The Jewish State”, a book which started a revolution. Herzl said “If you will it, it is no dream” – and being true to his belief, he set Zionism in motion with the formation of the first World Zionist Congress in 1897.
Yosef Trumpeldor was a Jewish hero. He helped the Jewish Legion and advocated sherut – service to the nation, any form of service that the nation needed most. Trumpeldor died defending the settlement of Tel Hai in theUpper Gallileein 1920. His last words were – “ein Davar, tov lamut be-ad artsenu.” (Never Mind, it is good to die for our land).
David Raziel was a commander of the Irgun. He was an Orthodox Jew and yeshiva student. In addition, he attended the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His efforts were important groundwork for the latter Revolt. Raziel felt that the Irgun had to make a truce with the British to fight the Nazis. Raziel died on a military mission for the British.
Avraham Stern disagreed with the Irgun truce with the British. He formed his own group called the Lechi, or Freedom Fighters for Israel. The poem, “Chayalim Almonim” (Unknown Soldiers), written by Stern, is still often sung by Betarim.
Menachem Begin was National Director of Betar in Poland. To escape the Nazi invasion ofPoland, he went to theSoviet Unionwhere he was sent to a labour camp for the “crime” of Zionism. After being released, Begin went to Eretz Israel where he led the Revolt which forced the British from Israel. In 1977, Menachem Begin was elected Prime Minister of the State of Israel.