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Organizers: Part IV: The Fighters
By Sarah Kronenberg - January 11, 2009


Frank Shershel: The Underground
Nothing in Jewish history has ever been achieved easily and for the early recruits of Zionism to their original homelands they quickly learned that not only would they have to struggle to earn a living and build community they would also have to very rapidly develop an ability to protect themselves. Their first defenders were known as the Guild of Watchman, a small group of Jewish immigrants who guarded settlements for an annual fee. But as the Jewish population in Palestine increased so too did the need for security and the growing feeling that the members of the British protectorate were not really interested in providing this service.

In June, 1920 the Jewish Agency established their own security force called Haganah or Defense and during its early years Haganah was a loose organization of local defense groups but the Arab riots of 1929 brought about a complete change in Haganah's status. It was forced to very quickly move from a volunteer organization to a large paramilitary grouping that represented nearly all the youth and adults in the settlements, and several thousand members from each of the cities. It also began a comprehensive training program for its members, ran officers' training courses and initiated a program to import arms and ammunition from its allies and friends in Europe.

During the years of the Arab Revolt, Haganah matured and developed from a militia into a full military body and although it was never fully recognized by the British administration it did have its approval to establish civilian militia and police. Haganah used this informal approval to further develop its capacity and in the early 1940ís developed alliances with other Jewish militias to not only protect Jewish settlers and settlements but begin to push for a fully independent Jewish state.
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