Saturday, 21 March 2009

The Colonialist And Fascist Past Of Israel's Three Biggest Parties By Lenni Brenner

Lenni Brenner is a legend in his lifetime. An American Trotskyist, albeit unaffiliated, he has documented painstakingly the close affiliations between Zionism and anti-Semites of all shades, including Nazis. He has been a thorn in the side of the Zionist establishment for over 20 years. He has written some excellent books, including the pathbreaking ‘Zionism in the Age of the Dictators’ which provides as excellent summary as one could hope to the major episodes of Zionist collaboration with fascism.

Lenni has done a number of tours of Great Britain, speaking at packed meetings on university campuses, despite the best attempts of the Union of Jewish Students to ban him. Idiosyncratic to the last, Lenni’s major claim to fame is having hung out with Dylan when the latter was just starting his career and doing 3 years in a state penitentiary for smoking a joint! Lenni is truly a child of the 60s!

Tony Greenstein

How often have we heard Israel proclaimed "the only democracy in the Middle East"? But there's a problem, actually three problems, the top vote-winning parties in its recent election. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni's Kadima (Forward) got 28 seats, Prime Minister designate Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud (United) won 27, and Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu (Israel is Our Home) took 15 seats in the 120 seat parliament. They evolved out of Vladimir Jabotinsky's pith-helmet colonialist "Zionist-Revisionist" movement. And how many lectures have we all endured on Islamo-Fascism? But Revisionists trained at Mussolini's naval academy during his Ethiopean war. If that isn't enough, Rahm Emanuel, Obama's White House Chief-of-Staff, called by the 1/25 NY Times "arguably the second most powerful man in the country," was raised in this tradition.

Ask leaders of these parties what they think of Jabotinsky (1880-1940), or his classic 1923 article, "The Iron Wall (We and the Arabs)," and each would say something like 'he's the greatest Jewish writer since the Bible,' or 'the Bible was the greatest Jewish document before The Iron Wall.' But question typical US pro-Zionists, Jew or gentile, and they ask 'who is Jabotinsky?' Indeed we can see why modern Revisionists don't widely publicize what they believe is his masterpiece:

First of all, I consider it utterly impossible to eject the Arabs from Palestine. There will always be two nations in Palestine – which is good enough for me, provided the Jews become the majority.... It is utterly impossible to obtain the voluntary consent of the Palestine Arabs for converting 'Palestine' from an Arab country into a country with a Jewish majority.... Every native population, civilised or not, regards its land as its national home, of which it is the sole master, and it wants to retain that mastery always; it will refuse to admit not only new masters but, even new partners or collaborators...... Zionist colonisation must either stop, or else proceed regardless of the native population. Which means that it can proceed and develop only under the protection of a power that is independent of the native population –- behind an iron wall, which the native population cannot breach.... This does not mean that there cannot be any agreement with the Palestine Arabs. What is impossible is a voluntary agreement. As long as the Arabs feel that there is the least hope of getting rid of us, they will refuse to give up this hope in return for either kind words or for bread and butter, because they are not a rabble, but a living people. And when a living people yields in matters of such a vital character it is only when there is no longer any hope of getting rid of us, because they can make no breach in the iron wall. Not till then will they drop their extremist leaders whose watchword is 'Never!'


In 1917, Britain, looking for WW l support against Germany, issued the Balfour Declaration: If we beat the Kaiser's Ottoman confederate, we will establish a Jewish national home in Palestine. The post-war League of Nations gave London the 'mandate' for Palestine, meaning what moderns call Palestine and Jordan. But in 1922 London took Jordan out of the mandate and gave it to a son of the Sherif of Mecca. The World Zionist Organization leadership felt too weak to oppose the cut. But Jabotinsky demanded that they try to convince Britain to "revise" its policy and return Jordan to the Mandate. If Arabs saw London cut Jordan from their "loyal Jewish Ulster," they would try to get London to entirely dump Zionism.

Revisionists sing their traditional anthem, "One side of the Jordan is our's and so is the other," at rallies, though they know that Jordan was forever lost. Now Washington wants Israel to grant the Palestinians a state, to lower Arab and world-wide Muslim hostility towards Zionism's patron. But, although the three parties have policy differences, in essence all agree with Netanyahu's 1997 declaration that he will only allow a "Puerto Rico" or "Andorra." Indeed the Palestinians would only get this autonomous bit of less than nothing after they abandon their refugees' right of return to Israel. There is another tune, Giovinezza, the Italian Fascist Party anthem, that many elderly Revisionists also know by heart, but don't dare sing in public. By the early 1930s, Britain indeed rethought establishing a Zionist statelet. It would generate permanent hostility toward London in its then considerable Arab possessions. With Zionism still too weak militarily to dominate Palestine, Jabotinsky looked for a replacement Mandatory. He settled on Fascist Italy.

Decades after WW ll, the world public knows little about the specific politics of the war's major powers and less about holocaust-era Zionism. That there were pro-Musssolini Jews seems incredible to most post-Hitler moderns. In fact it would have been amazing if there hadn't been such Jews. All scholars agree that fascism was everywhere a middle class movement. While there was a significant Jewish working class, Jew and shopkeeper were synonyms in Poland and some other Eastern European countries where they were challenged by middle class national-fascists who wanted to get rid of their Jewish competitors and control their 'national market.' Given the fascist epidemic in their universities, it was inevitable that some middle class Jews should adapt the ideology to their own nationalist ambition, a Jewish empire from the Mediterranean to the Euphrates. Jabotinsky had been anti-Fascist. The gifted linguist studied for three years in Italy and identified with the liberal-nationalism that Mussolini despised. In 1926 he sneered

"There is today a country where 'programs' have been replaced by the word of one man ... Italy; the system is called Fascism: to give their prophet a title, they had to coin a new term – 'Duce' – which is a translation of that most absurd of all English words – 'leader.' Buffaloes follow a leader. Civilized men have no leaders."

By 1932, his wish for an Arab-crushing Mandatory overcame distaste for the head buffalo. He never called himself a Fascist, but he declared that "the time has apparently come when there must be a single, principled controller in the movement, a 'leader,' though I still hate the word. All right, if there must be one, there will be one."

In 1934, Mussolini set up a unit of Revisionism's Betar youth group at his Scuola Marittima , where 134 were trained by the Black-shirts. He personally reviewed his Zionist cadets there Jabotinsky became Mussolini's defense attorney, writing "Jews and Fascism – some Remarks – and a Warning" for New York's 4/11/1935 Jewish Daily Bulletin:

Whatever any few think of Fascism's other points, there is no doubt that the Italian brand of Fascist ideology is, at least an ideology of racial equality. Let us not be so humble as to pretend that this does not matter – that racial equality is too insignificant an idea to out-balance the absence of civic freedom. For it is not true. I am a journalist who would choke without freedom of the press, but I affirm it is simply blasphemous to say that in the scale of civic rights, even the freedom of the press comes before the equality of all men. Equality comes first, always first, super first; and Jews should remember it, and to hold that a regime maintaining that principle in a world turned cannibal does, partly, but considerably atone for its other shortcomings; it may be criticized, it should not be kicked at. There are enough other terms for cussing use – Nazism, Hitlerism, Polizeistaat, etc. – but the word 'fascismo' is Italy's copyright and should therefore be reserved only for the correct kind of discussion, not for exercises in Billingsgate. Especially as it may yet prove very harmful. That government of the copyright is a very powerful factor, whose sympathy may yet ward off many a blow, for instance in the League of Nations councils. Incidentally, the Permanent Mandate Commission which supervises Palestinian affairs has an Italian chairman. In short – thought I don't expect street-urchins (irrespective of age) to follow advice of caution – responsible leaders ought to take note.

There's an old saying, 'it takes one to know one.' Mussolini told Rabbi David Prato, that "For Zionism to succeed you need to have a Jewish state, with a Jewish flag and a Jewish language. The person who really understands that is your fascist, Jabotinsky."

Of course Fascism was never "an ideology of racial equality." Italy invaded Ethiopia, then called Abyssinia, In 1935. London's 6/12/36 World Jewry magazine reported an interview with Revisionist financial diirector Wolfgang von Weisl: "[H]e declared that, although opinions among the Revisionists varied, in general they sympathized with Fascism.... He, personally, was a supporter of Fascism, and he rejoiced at the victory of Fascist Italy in Abyssinia as a triumph of the White races against the Black." There no doubt as to deep rank and file Revisionist fascism. Their March 1936 Italian journal, L'Idea Sionistica, was dedicated to the "Inauguration of the new home of Betar's Maritime Squadron." "A triple chant ordered by the squad's commanding officer – 'Viva L'Italia! Viva Il Re! Viva ll Duce!' resounded, followed by the benediction which Rabbi Aldo Lattes invoked in Italian and in Hebrew for God, for the King and for

Il Duce.... 'Giovinezza' was sung with much enthusiasm by the Betarim.... Our human material is extremely intelligent. The majority are university students and 30 of them belong to the GUF."

The Gioventù Universitaria Fascista was head buffalo's University Fascist Youth. Jabotinsky's Italian orientation ended in debacle. Spain's civil war persuaded Mussolini to unite with Hitler, whose Austrian ambitions he previously opposed. Victory for the Republic would have inspire Italian workers to revolt. But his military, alone, wasn't strong enough to help General Francisco Franco's rightists defeat the left. As he knew that he couldn't be Hitler's partner with Jews in his party, he cooked up an Italianate Aryanism, expelled his party's Jews and broke with Revisionism. Jabotinsky returned to supporting Britain with WW ll in 1939. By then Italy joining Germany and Japan in their 'Axis' made their previous Fascist ties a monstrous liability. When Jabotinsky died in 1940 they dropped his very own head buffalo rank, Rosh Betar -- High Betar. But that year a minority of their covert National Military Organization, led by Avraham Stern, split off and tried to link again with Mussolini and Hitler. A Sternist presented a note to Nazi diplomats in Vichy-dominated Lebanon. After the war, it was found in Germany's Turkish embassy. The "Fundamental Features of the Proposal of the National Military Organization in Palestine (Irgun Zvai Leumi) Concerning the Solution of the Jewish Question in Europe and the Participation of the NMO in the War on the Side of Germany" declared that

"The establishment of the historic Jewish state on a national and totalitarian basis, bound by a treaty with the German Reich, would be in the interest of a maintained and strengthened future German position of power in the Near East.

Proceeding from these considerations, the NMO in Palestine, under the condition the above-mentioned national aspirations of the Israeli freedom movement are recognized on the side of the German Reich, offers to actively take part in the war on Germany's side."

The British killed Stern in 1942. Everyone saw his followers as Zionism's lunatic fringe. But when Yitzhak Shamir, one of the triumvirate who ran the post-Stern Irgun, became Israel's reunified Revisionist Prime Minister (1983-84/86-92), the 1940 document reinforced the notion that Jabotinsky's movement was Zionism's fascism. Shamir is now Likud's retired elder statesman. In 1943, political youths trapped in the Warsaw Ghetto revolted against extermination. The Zydowska Organizacja Bojowa united Labor-Zionists, the anti-Zionist Socialist-Yiddishist Bund, and the Stalinists. All considered Revisionism to be fascist. Facing death at the hands of Hitler, a self-proclaimed disciple of Mussolini, they refused to sully their uprising by uniting with adherents of their murderers' ideology. Betar had to fight separately.

TELLING IT LIKE IT IS: "HE'S NOT GOING TO BE MOPPING FLOORS." Who was surprised when one of the 1st scandals around newly elected Barack Obama involved another Blagojevich-land Democrat? In November, White House chief-of staff Rahm Emanuel apologized to the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee for his 82 year-old Israeli father's candor about his appointment:: "Obviously he'll influence the president to be pro-Israel.... Why wouldn't he? What is he, an Arab? He's not going to be mopping floors in the White House." In his AAADC phone call, Rahm had to say that it is unacceptable to make such remarks against ethnic groups. "From the fullness of my heart, I personally apologize on behalf of my family and me. These are not the values upon which I was raised or those of my family."

Benjamin Emanuel was an Irgunist. In the late 1940s, he tried to smuggle Czechoslovakian guns to the Irgun in still-British ruled Palestine. He was a medic in the 1948 war.

This writer can only speculate as to how much very young Benjamin knew of Revisionism's Fascist connection while it was going on. But he certainly was aware of Irgun terrorism while he was in it. The December 4. 1948 NY Times ran a letter by Albert Einstein and other Jewish intellectuals:

"Among the most disturbing political phenomena of our time is the emergence in the newly created state of Israel of the "Freedom Party" (Tnuat Haherut), a political party closely akin in its organization, methods, political philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties. It was formed out of the membership and following of the former Irgun Zvai Leumi, a terrorist, right-wing, chauvinist organization.... A shocking example was their behavior in the Arab village of Deir Yassin..... On April 9... terrorist bands attacked this peaceful village, which was not a military objective... killed most of its inhabitants... and kept a few of them alive to parade through the streets of Jerusalem."

Medical training brought Benjamin to Chicago in 1953. He married an X-ray technician. They moved to Israel, then returned to the US. Rahm, named after Rahamin, a dead Sternist, was born and grew up in Chicago but went to summer camp in Israel where he became fluent in Hebrew. Indeed, in 1991, when Israel was endangered by Saddam Hussein's rockets during the first US-Iraq war, he proved to be as Israeli as you can get. He served in a military vehicles repair unit, but as a budding American politician, he was listed as a "civilian volunteer." What does Obama's chief of staff know about pro-Fascist Revisionism in the age of the dictators? Latter-day Revisionists are deep into lying or denying, I was in Jerusalem in 1983 when Shamir became Prime Minister. I published the offer to fight on Hitler's side in an English-language weekly. Foreign journalists asked Shamir about it. The October 21,1983 London Times reported that:

"Shamir... denied that he had any part in the effort by Mr. Abraham Stern... to establish contact with the Nazis..... 'There was a plan to... make contact with Germany on the assumption that these could bring about a massive Jewish immigration to Palestine. I opposed this, but I did join Lehi after the idea of contacts with the Axis countries was dropped.'"

Shamir lied. In 1963, Gerold Frank wrote The Deed, a study of the Sternists' 1944 assassination of Lord Moyne, Churchill's High Commissioner for the Middle East. Frank wrote, three times, about Shamir making a recruiting speech for Stern in 1940, "in the days immediately following the... Stern split" from Jabotinsky's Irgun. That was months before they first made contact with the Nazis. The November 14,1983 Times ran a letter of mine on Shamir's fraud, adding that he certainly "joined up with Stern before December 1941, when the Sternists tried to send Nathan Yallin-Mor to Turkey to contact the German ambassador there with the same proposal." In 2003, ex-Foreign Minister Moshe Arens published "The Changing Face of Memory" in the Jerusalem Post:

"The movements that founded ZOB and its precursor organization, the anti-fascist bloc, considered Betar to be a semi-fascist movement, whereas they saw themselves as representing all the workers' parties and progressive movements in the ghetto." Without even trying to refute the ZOB accusation, Arens insisted that we discount it. After all, didn't Revisionists fight well against the Nazis?

"Sixty years have passed since the outbreak of the revolt in the Warsaw Ghetto. As it becomes a legend it should be freed of political bias and made to conform as closely as possible to the actual course of events. This is a debt we owe to the heroes of the revolt."

Given Revisionism's entanglement with the Axis, and these pathetic defense lawyer briefs by Revisionist leaders, don't we have the duty to ask "the second most powerful man in the country" what he thinks about the colonialist, Fascist and terrorist history of the movement he grew up in? And what has he told the "most powerful man in the country" about the history of his and Olmert, Livni and Netanyahu's ideological current?

Indeed, as Benzion Netanyahu, Benjamin's father, was Jabotinsky's secretary, aren't we also obliged to ask some questions of Israel's Prime Minister designate?

1 - What did your father tell you about Jabotinsky establishing a Betar unit at Mussolini's naval academy?

2 - What do you think, today, about Revisionists being trained by Mussolini and joining the Italian Fascist Party's student group?

3 - What do you think of former Likud Prime Minister Shamir's denial that he was a member of Stern's organization when it offered to go to war on Hitler's side?


As this is written, Zionist media discuss Netanyahu's problems putting together a Knesset majority coalition, giving us a window into contemporary intra-Revisionist disputes. Post holocaust Revisionism must play down its 1930s Fascist linkage and the notion of an israeli Mussolini or Hitler has been left to the country's comedians. But if modern Revisionists don't still dream of a Fascist Israel, doesn't their leaders' inability to candidly treat their movements' past mean that today's Revisionism has yet to qualify as genuinely ex-Fascist?

Today's Jabotinskyite parties might argue that their ideology rests on The Iron Wall, written in his no-head-buffalo-for-me period, therefore their politics are untainted by Revisionism's later connection with Mussolini. Thus their critics are putting the cart before the horse in denouncing them as Fascists, whatever moderns think of that link. But the fact remains that Jabotinsky hitched his horse, Iron Wall military colonialism, to Il Duce's imperialist cart, whatever personal problems he had with being a duce or fuhrer.


If Jabotinsky hoped that Italy would be the arab-bashing mandatory needed to 'revise' giving Jordan to Arabs, now the rival Revisionist parties have different strategies to prevent Obama from making them give up one inch more than necessary to the Palestinians.

Olmert must step down re exposed corruption, so Livni speaks for Kadima.. But she, as responsible for the Gaza slaughter as Olmert, refuses a post in Netanyahu's cabinet. Claiming to be for a two-state deal, she says joining his government would only give everyone illusions that he might agree to it. Ariel Sharon, Olmert and Livni split from Likud after Netanyahu opposed Sharon's use of troops to force settlers out of Jews-only colonies in the Gaza strip. Condy Rice told Sharon that those isolated settlements with a few thousand inhabitants reminded the world of apartheid South Africa and that the US couldn't change public opinion. Sharon abandoned these glaring apartheid examples while insisting on holding onto West Bank colonies with hundreds of thousands of settlers, thus creating a 'greater Israel' with the Jewish majority Jabotinsky insisted on, even if it did not include all of Palestine. Zionism lost Jordan and survived. Sharon had it give up Gaza and it survived. Netanyahu opposed this, warning that quitting Gaza would be a rerun of giving up Jordan. Hamas would say 'Today we got an inch. If we fight on, tomorrow we get the whole mile..' With Hamas rocketing Sederot, enough voters switched from Kadima to Likud so that President Peres felt that Netanyahu was more likely than Livni to sew together a Knesset majority for a cabinet, either with Yisrael Beitenu, or Orthodox parties always ready to join a rightist government that would pump money into their yeshivas.

In 1996-99, Prime Minister Netanyahu said he wanted to grant the occupied territories the autonomous status of Puerto Rico. That's because he knew that saying 'I want to turn the territories, minus the settlements, into an Indian reservation' would be too much for most modern Americans to accept.

Now Washington wants a two-state arrangement, so Netanyahu hasn't recently cited Puerto Rico as the 'final solution' for the Palestinians. Instead he talks about pumping money into the territories' economies, so their population would resign itself pragmatically to Israeli domination.
As a student of the Iron Wall, Netanyahu knows that Jabotinsky warned against doing anything like this:

"Our peace-mongers are trying to persuade us that the Arabs are... corrupt and can be bribed to abandon to us their claim to priority in Palestine, in return for cultural and economic advantages. I repudiate this conception of the Palestinian Arabs"

Netanyahu's proposal is really for US politicians' ears. He knows that the Palestinian masses won't trade their country for money. But he also knows that Washington's bipartisan hacks first trick solution to any problem is typically crumbs-off-the-table-of-the-rich reformism.He will say 'Guys, I went to high school in the US. I tried what you would do if you were in my place and the Palestinians say no! So blame them. Don't press me to do more for such ingrates.'


Yisrael Beitenu in Netanyahu's cabinet would be a hard sell in America. Avigdor Lieberman was a member of Rabbi Meir Kahane's Kach/Jewish Defense League movement, declared terrorist by both the US and Israel. Lieberman wants to add all the Jews-only settlements in his greater Israel and he wants to legally transfer Palestinian towns now just inside Israel's pre-1967 borders into his Indian reservation. He would then make the Palestinians still remaining inside his reshaped Israel swear loyalty to it as a Jewish state. If they refuse and call for a democratic secular binational state -- something like the US -- they would lose their right to vote in the fabled 'only democracy in the Middle East.' A higher percentage of American Jews voted for a black president than other whites. Yisrael Beitenu is new to most of them. Some US Zionist leaders fear that Obamaite Jews would come to see Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu as Zionism's KKK. And we may presume that Emanuel and Obama don't want any party in Israel's cabinet that's so likely to simultaneously infuriate Palestinians and American Jews. These Jews and Obama might accept Likud relying on Yisrael Beitenu voting for Likud policies from outside the cabinet, but more intimate entanglement with Lieberman & Co. can only be disastrous for Israel's image among Jews and gentiles, here and everywhere.

Presumably, Obama and Emanuel, an Orthodox Jew, prefer Netanyahu to include Orthodox fundamentalist parties in his cabinet, rather than Yisrael Beitenu. But that won't please most American Jews. Only circa 10% are Orthodox. Most older US Jews are members of the "Reform" or "Conservative" Jewish sects, or are not religious. Most young Jews go further and intermarry with gentiles. These elements dislike the fact that there is no secular marriage in Israel, and Israeli Reform and Conservative marriages are not recognized by the Zionist state. Ever more American Jewish women are enraged at the officially Orthodox Zionist state. They know that every Orthodox male adult's morning prayer is supposed to include "Thank you, God, for making me a man, not a woman." And they also know that no Jewish woman, not even Livni, can initiate a divorce in Israel.

Whether Netanyahu turns towards Yisrael Beitenu or Orthodox fundamentalism or both, and succeeds or fails to put together a cabinet, be certain that more Americans, Arabs, Jews, including Israelis, and other folks, everywhere, will be trying to understand Zionism. So allow me to toot my own horn. As the author, I recommend two of my books on the Internet.

Zionism in the Age of the Dictators

The chapters on Revisionism from its origins thru the holocaust will be of special interest now.

The Iron Wall: Zionist Revisionism from Jabotinsky to Shamir

"Supplement to L'Idea Sionistica, Number 8, dedicated to the Betar Maritime School at Civitavecchia," March, 1936.

The Inauguration of the new home of Betar's Maritime Squadron at Civitavecchia, March 29, 1936.

The ceremony, combined with the official inauguration of the school's 2nd academic year, took place on a truly Spring-like day, which contributed much to its great success.

The guests, who came from outside the base, numbered more than 100. Many of them were youth, who wanted to give the event a lively tone. They also wanted to provide a sense of fraternization with these brave young sailors.

The celebration, in its own terms, although of short duration, was one of self-communing, in order to appreciate better the magnitude of the partially completed work here, before our very eyes, to deepen our joy, to make us aware of what a great thing has been started here, with this significant Hebrew maritime squadron.


There were many notable guests: We will record some of them here, requesting the forgiveness of those we omit: Col. Fiore, Commander of the Port of Civitavecchia; Prof. Aldo Lattes, Assistant Head Rabbi, Commissioner David Fano, councilor of the Roman community, and Mrs. Fano, President of the A.D.E.I., Prof. Marco Almagia; Professoressa Maggi, Mrs. Ascarelli, Kurt Korniker, correspondent of the Jüdische Rundschau, Dr. Edmond Schaechter, President of the Austrian Zohar, Col. and Mrs. Mendes; Amadio and Mrs. Fatucci, representing the Directory of the Italian Zohar, Profs. Sciaky and Cohen of Florence, Mr. and Mrs. Maurizio Mendes of Rome. "Our Flag" of Turin, unable to send a correspondent, sent a telegram of congratulations.


One representative of the squad, as well as Captain Fusco, the Director of the school, was to wait at the station for those coming by train. Others joined who came to Civitavecchia by car. And this was our first fine impression: Strapping young men with broad smiles, looking proud, wearing beautiful uniforms (if only their fatigues), knowing how to wear them; on the uniforms a Star of David stands out vividly, which encloses a Menorah, interlaced with an anchor; without hesitation, the young men obey and execute a perfect military salute, with broad smiles and happy and intelligent looks. Now there is an air of amazement among the guests. Their thoughts are apparent: Is the ghetto Jew finally going to disappear, once and for all? Or are they just a creation of a sick imagination? This pleasant thought, this doubt about the very existence in the future of the present day ghetto, will not go away very soon. Friendships are made, and friendly feelings were directed towards the school-ship 'Sara,' during the very enthusiastic gathering.

A Betari on guard at the gangway, stands rigidly at attention as the guests pass by. Another is on the bridge, and is no less sharp, with his martial air, and the precision and perfection of his salute. The guests suddenly swarm all over the ship.


Listen to this: A whistle, some sharp commands in Hebrew, then the crew lines up. It passes in review before Col. Fiore, who looks satisfied. The participants take their seats, crowding around the Betarim, still at attention, and the ceremony begins. Mounted on the ship's anvil, Professor Sciaky speaks.

The orator underlines the great significance of the fact that young Jews today are in Italy to take the course being officially inaugurated: Jews who have come from the most diverse countries, even from those with sanctions. A sure sign of the people who first proclaimed the idea of justice to the world, and of the great injustice and injuries done to that people, who first gave the world the Law. And the similarity between the Hebrew national revival and the Italian is not without significance.

The speaker remembers that while Europe's better known politicians were ambiguous about the possibility of Italian unity, a Jew, Moses Hess, almost a century ago, in his "Rome and Jerusalem," predicted that the revival of Rome would contain within it the revival of Jerusalem.

Italy preceded Israel in obtaining independence. This was in the order of things. And today she has much to teach the Jewish people. It is here that our young men are coming to learn the maritime arts. They will have to live a hard life, a life of sacrifice. As the High Betar says, in a letter to speaker, our youth will have to spend 10 years, their engineering diplomas in pocket, as simple sailors. But in that time the Hebrew merchant marine will be created.

The thought spontaneously occurs that in some very near future, it will be possible for the Hebrew merchant marine to reciprocate the cordial hospitality and the honor that today Italy is bestowing upon the Jewish people by welcoming its young men into this school. The Jewish people will not forget Civitavecchia. It will remember Italy with gratitude. It will remember Col. Fiore's constant aid in the hard work of laying the foundation for a Hebrew fleet, it will remember the work of Captain Fusco, who created this first base, and for whom the seriousness of his work, and his skill, have won him, not only the esteem, but also the friendship of the Rosh Betar.

The speaker concluded by turning his thoughts to Italy, to its head of government who, lighting the King's victorious reign, showed us the destiny of Italy, whose guidance bears signs of great Italy's valor and civilization. One thinks of the purity expressed by the Rosh Betar, chief and father of the new Hebrew youth.

A roar of applause greets the end of the brief speech, heard with total attention, not only by those on the ship, but by the numerous people on the pier.


Then the squadron commander, A. Blass, reads the following Hebrew message from the Rosh Betar:

London, March 27, 1936

Dear Mr. Blass,

I beg you to transmit to the cadets at the Maritime School my thanks for having sent me the photo with the signatures. I am very delighted with this lovely gift, which will be one of the most beautiful ornaments here in my room at our new agency. If you receive this letter by inauguration day, I beg you to say to your comrades that my heart is with them at this very moment. Please believe that even while away from the official inauguration, I do not forget Civitavecchia. I know how hard your road will be after the end of studies, because we do not yet have a fleet. If destiny gives me sufficient strength to continue my struggle, I will fight along side of you, also, for this goal, but that is not important; with me or without me, I believe in your future.

I beg you to give my greetings to Captain Fusco: it is not necessary that I describe his character to you and the spirit of his nation. To all the instructors and their assistants, blessings and thanks.

My respectful greetings to the Mendes family, Messrs. Carpi and Sciaky, and to all my friends.

Tel Hai,

Z. Giabotinschi


The order – "Attention!" A triple chant ordered by the squad’s commanding officer – "Viva L'Italia! Viva IL Re! Viva IL Duce!" resounded, followed by the benediction which Rabbi Aldo Lattes invoked in Italian and in Hebrew for God, for the King and for IL Duce, followed by a prayer for the Rosh Betar.

Remembering with suitable words, with this act he consecrated the naval school, making it not only a home, but also a temple, he blesses the Sefer Torah which has just been put back into the lovely Aron Ha Codesh, together with the necessary mezuzah for the school, gifts from Signore Amadio of Rome.

"Giovinezza" was sung with much enthusiasm by the Betarim, still somewhat awkward with the Italian language. (The majority have been in Italy for no more than two months, others for much less time, and some even for a few days only), and the singing of "Besciùv Adonái," the official Betar hymn, close the ceremony. The public again swarms into the ship, most not forgetting to partake of the refreshments offered by the school, demonstrate a distinct enthusiasm for the joyful Betar company, who give vent to their youthful exuberance, with Italian and Hebrew songs. (The "Black Front" is also heard.) The Betarim extend their cordiality to teaching the "hora" dance to all desirous of learning it. We confess that we don't know if Terpsichore is one of its enthusiasts, but we a re. And we would want a few years, at least, consorting with the dancers..... However it is not possible. And the only thing for us to do is exchange a few quick words with the Betarim on guard at the gangway and on the bridge, and temporarily substitute for them, so even they can at least try the vermouth and, for a few minutes, join the hora circle.


The inauguration took place, at the base, then on board the ship. The naval school is a more stable place, i.e., more enduring: even when not on a cruise, the boat provides good accommodations for a part of the Betarim, making up, with its berths, for the insufficiency of hammocks on the base itself.

And the party of guests goes to the school after dinner and remains there up to the moment of departure.

The structure, which faces the sea, is wooden, but lacks nothing: from the bath (with tub) to the library, from the infirmary, the secretariat and the Commander’s office, etc., etc. All is orderly, polished, inviting. There one breaths the air of the "Hadàr Betari" (Majesty of Betar). A vast clearing lies before the school, on it a mast, completely outfitted for military drills. The guests are housed here and after touring the building, there are scenes of cordial fraternization and merriment, with songs and dances accompanied by an orchestra (two violins and two guitars) which the cadets can boast of.

Some guests prefer more specific proof of the cadets' actual ability and entrust their lives to the new mariners, going for a turn in the boat. Upon their return, we see them so happy that we can infer that all went well.


Some visitors, new to this thing, wish to know the significance of the school within the complexity of the Jewish national movement. And Professor Sciaky satisfies them, explaining that the basic idea of Zionism is that of normalization of Jewish life and, therefore, the creation of the necessary organs of its development on its own land. Revisionist Zionism, has seen this demand as constructive, and has created, by the way, this school as a branch of the apolitical, athletic and military Betar activities. Real sacrifices are asked and will be asked of the cadets. They will the first sailors of the Hebrew navy. Officers will, at first, have to be simple sailors, that is pioneers, as the first agricultural workers in Eretz Israel were pioneers. They will abandon comfort, neglect the careers towards which their completed studies gave them the right to aspire - and all this to bring about the settlement of the Hebrew people, giving them a position which it previously lacked.

The speaker was vigorously thanked for putting forward a lucid and thorough synthesis of the school’s idealistic and practical reasons for being.

Soon afterwards, the guests returned to their homes.



Correspondence on life in the Civitavecchia school can in no way be thought of as ordinary news. It must be the description of a process of transformation, of the struggle of young Jews against nature. It is the sound of a hammer striking an anvil where Jewish spades are being forged, a laboratory in which bent backs are being straightened, character is elevated, muscles hardened, and the spirit educated to the "Chibbùsh Haiam."

The pride of a people is its sailors; what people is not proud of them? They always serve as symbols of heroism and bravery. For thousands of years we dreamt of our conquerors of the sea, and these came when no one believed in it - unforeseen, unexpected.

Here in this little city on the Tyrrhenian Sea, something began to stir: here was found a man who declared himself ready to realize this dream of ours as a people; here was found the group of idealists from all parts of Europe, and - the dream has been transformed into a reality. The first Hebrew naval units were created.

I wish to dedicate this first article to the Commander and the Cadets.

Captain Nicola Fusco

To speak of the Jewish navy without citing captain Fusco's name would be the greatest absurdity. It is only to him, this tall, slim and always affable Italian captain that we owe so much. He, he alone, is the one who built, created and brought to such a dazzling result, the world's first Hebrew maritime school.

This is his work, his pride and joy.

I am not his biographer, and am not obliged to give you Fusco the whole man; nor am I the school's historian, who might give you a flawless image of the school's founder and director. Here I just want to present to you the Fusco that we students see and know.

He is a man who labors for the whole society. Wherever you wish, you may see his work and his spirit at work.

He is the director of the local Maritime School, captain of the Balilla and directs the autonomous group of foreigners at the Maritime School - our "ghedud."

All day long, we see him working for our "ghedud." Classes, reports, financial matters, ect. Where does he find time for all this? No one knows.

The pupils, arrived from abroad only yesterday, attend his classes, even when they understand hardly a word of Italian. He talks, teaching very complicated seafaring questions. I am thinking that all his efforts to make his words understood are in vain. But how I marvel when I am convinced that even the weakest students have understood! This is his art, his secret, He knows everyone by name, altho he saw them only yesterday for the first time. If you want to know a pupil’s character, Capt. Fusco will tell you at once. He is a brilliant psychologist - a cunning man, full of wit, thus intelligent and energetic. He admirers Jabotinsky greatly - "don’t shame your Mr. Jabotinsky, a man blessed by God," he says, to scold us.

All the pupils love him.

Besides Capt. Fusco, the principal instructor, the other teachers are:

Capt. Scalabrino

A man who is still very young, but nevertheless a sailor, very experienced in his trade. He is also an enthusiast for our cause, and his dedication knows no limits. He is very concerned that the students study and know everything, so that they may serve their people honorably.

Capt. Cervilini

A good and sincere teacher who relates to us like a father. He himself suffers along with our sufferings, and rejoices with us, like a baby. He teaches us rowing and signaling.


I should dedicate a special chapter to this good Tuscan. He was the one who made it possible for us to speak and understand Italian. He grew so much into our circles that he is a part of us. I remember that when we began the Hebrew curriculum he came to me to register for the first course. He helps us at every opportunity.

In addition to the Italian personnel, there are Jews among us. The Commander of the ghedud is a marine officer, first class. He directs the Betar work at the school. Moreover we often have inspections and visits from sympathizers like Maurizio Mendes.


This year there are 49 cadets - from Poland, Romania, Lithuania, Germany, Austria, Latvia, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Tripoli and Rhodes. As you can see, a mixture of different peoples and countries. The mixture of languages forms a "Tower of Babel." A record - in all, 21 languages! A microcosm of our settlement in the Diaspora. But it can also be seen that Hebrew unifies us all. Poland is the most represented, with 22 Betarim. Czechoslovakia with 9, Germany with 5, etc., etc.

Nevertheless they live well together. In off moments there have been clashes between persons of two different mentalities and educations. But at once the thought comes that we are Betarim and at once the conflict is resolved.

Our human material is extremely intelligent. The majority are university students and 30 of them belong to the GUF.

Among us are different specialists and even journalists. An interesting community of differing characters and customs. There is only one banner, only one chief, under whom we are forging and creating our colossal opus: A Hebrew Navy.

The school-ship "Sara 1" is our life, our different future.



Facing the catastrophic conditions in which people find themselves almost everywhere, some throw up their hands, look toward heaven, and await miracles. But it is centuries and centuries since miracles rained from the skies, and today they come only in the wake of huge effort and a great expenditure of energy.

Our generation has understood this: it is not the waiting but the will that creates miracles!

Life is hard, it demands many sacrifices. All of which makes us stop and think and, actually, prepares our consciousness for the task ahead, for the struggle on behalf of our holy cause: The regeneration of our people and the creation of our fatherland.

Thus, the psychology of the Jew has changed. Jews look toward nationhood..... We have undergone a profound revolution of the spirit, of which we are proud, because we have made this revolution ourselves, and by ourselves alone.

Not long ago, we launched a new "Conquest of the Hebrew Sea!"

Hebrews and the Sea! How strange the words sound to the cultivated ears of many Jews! But for nationalists it is obvious: Palestine is bathed by the best-stocked seas in the world. The sea must feed us, it must be our strategic base.

This is logical!

Lovers of Deeds, we have accomplished this end; we have founded a maritime school, acquired a ship, towards the conquest of the sea-lanes. We have already generated seamen; today 25 and in several months another 50!

We are consciously advancing, our work is methodical, and we are creating the Hebrew navy. As it was in the beginning, when Hebrew sailors founded Carthage; as it was at the time of Solomon; and still earlier, when there existed a maritime Zebulon!

With the aid of the seamen that we are creating, our people will have a fountain of nutrition, our fatherland a base of defense!

That is our aim! And we will reach it for the grandeur of our people, for its future of freedom and of life in its fatherland!

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