From Academic Kids

The Betar Movement (בית"ר, also spelled Beitar) is a youth movement founded in 1923 in Riga, Latvia, by Zionist leader Ze'ev Jabotinsky. The Movement quickly established a reputation as the premier activist Zionist youth organization, a position that it has maintained to this day. Betar members played vital roles in the fight against the British during the Mandate, and in the creation of Israel.

During World War II, Betar members, former Polish officers, founded Zydowski Zwiazek Walki (Jewish Fighting Union) which fought in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

The name Betar בית"ר stands for "Brit Yosef Trumpeldor" ( ברית יוסף תרומפלדור ). Joseph Trumpeldor was a Jewish fighter who fell in the battle of Tel Hai coining the phrase: "Never mind, it is good to die for our country".

Jabotinsky also wanted to connect the name of the first jewish fighter after 2000 years to the name of the last fort of jewish uprising against the Roman Empire in the Bar Kokhba's revolt, showing that Betar was intent to create a new generation of jewish warriors.

Many of Israel's most prominent public figures have been graduates of the Movement, including former Prime Ministers Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Shamir and former Defence Minister Moshe Arens.

Today, the Betar Movement is primarily involved in Jewish and Zionist activism and has chapters worldwide.

In France, members of the Betar have clashed with pro-Arab supporters. The Betar offices were bombed by the leftist FLNC, a Corsican militant organization. Also, members of Betar assaulted the anti-globalisation activist José Bové upon his return from a protest in Ramallah.

Betar in Israel

Once a vibrant movement tied to the opposition Herut Party, Betar's following in Israel has declined since the 1970s as a result of a changing political situation. One important change was the rise of the religious right-wing in the 1970s. Though Betar had many of the same political goals as the rapidly growing Gush Emunim (Believers' Bloc) and B'nei Akiva youth movements (tied to the National Religious Party; MAFDAL), they remained a secular movement and never took the initiative that their counterparts did in settling the West Bank and Gaza. During the 1980's as a result of the Camp David Accords negotiated by Menachem Begin (the leader of Herut and its successor movement, Likud), a similar effect began with the secular right, as more extreme movements appeared there and drew away youth.

Betar's chief disadvantage, which was only made worse by Bnei Akiva's rise, was the predominance of other youth groups. Belonging to the Kibbutz movement, Hashomer Hatzair (Young Guard), HaNoar HaOved Vehalomed (the Working and Learning Youth), and HaBonim Dror (Free Builders), had taken most Israeli youth in throughout the 1950s-70s. Alongside them were the Tzofim (similar to the Boy Scouts) and Bnei Akiva. Today Betar remains a marginal youth movement in Israel, and far from the power that its father group, Likud, has on the country.

Betar sponsors sports clubs, the most notable is the popular Beitar Jerusalem football (soccer) club.

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