Hashomer Hatzair

From Academic Kids

Hashomer Hatzair (or Hashomer Hatsair or HaShomer HaTzair) (Hebrew: "The Young Guard" or "Guardian [that is] Young") is a Zionist-socialist youth movement founded in 1913 in Galicia (now in Poland) and was also the name of the group's political party in the Yishuv in the pre-1948 British Mandate of Palestine.



Early formation

Hashomer Hatzair came into being as a result of the merger of two groups, Hashomer ("The Guard") a Zionist scouting group, and. Ze'irei Zion ("The Youth of Zion") which was an ideological circle that studied Zionism, left wing socialism and Jewish history. Hashomer Hatzair is the oldest Zionist youth movement still in existence. Initially Marxist-Zionist, the movement was influenced by the ideas of Ber Borochov and Gustav Wyneken as well as Baden-Powell and the German Wandervogel movement. Hashomer Hatzair believed that the liberation of Jewish youth could be accomplished by aliya ("emigration") to Palestine and living in kibbutzim. After the war the movement spread to Jewish communities throughout the world as a scouting movement.

Members of the movement first settled in the British Mandate of Palestine in 1919. In 1927 the four kibbutzim founded by Hashomer Hatzair banded together to form the Kibbutz Artzi federation. The movement also formed a political party under the name Hasho[[Category:Jewish mer Hartzair which advocated a Binational solution in Palestine with equality between Arabs and Jews. Accordingly, Hashomer Hatzair voted against the Biltmore Program in 1942.

In 1936, Hashomer Hatzair launched a political party, the Socialist League of Palestine, to represent members and supporters of Hashomer Hatzair kibbutzim and the youth movement in the political organizations of the Yishuv (as the Jewish community in the British Mandate of Palestine was known). The Socialist League soon became known simply as Hashomer Hatzair and was the only Zionist political party to accept Arab members as equals, support Arab rights and call for a binational state in Palestine.

Growth and the Holocaust

By 1939 Hashomer Hatzair had 70,000 members worldwide. The movement's base was in Eastern Europe. With the advent of World War II and the Holocaust members of Hashomer Hatzair changed their focus from settlement in Palestine to resistance against the Nazis. Mordechaj Anielewicz, the leader of Hashomer Hatzair's Warsaw branch, became head of the Jewish Fighting Organization and one of the leaders of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Other members of the movement were involved in Jewish resistance and rescue in Hungary, Lithuania, Slovakia. The leaders of Hashomer Hatzair in Romania were arrested and executed for anti-fascist activities.

After the war, the movement was involved in organising illegal immigration of Jewish refugees to Palestine. Members were also involved in the Haganah military movement as well as in the leadership of the Palmach.

In the State of Israel

After the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the Hashomer Hatzair political party merged with other left wing parties to form Mapam which became the political party of both the youth movement and the Kibbutz Artzi federation.

Today, Hashomer Hatzair remains as a youth movement operating summer camps and youth clubs in Canada, The United States and Israel. The summer camp in Upstate New York and Perth,Canada is called Camp Shomria. Hashomer Hatzair runs educational activities promoting the peace process and withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza. In Israel it is was traditionally aligned with Mapam and later Meretz. It is not officially aligned with Meretz's successor party, Yahad, due to a recent merger of its parent organization, the Meretz-aligned Kibbutz Artzi Federation with the Labour Party's United Kibbutz Movement, Hashomer Hatzair is officially not aligned with either party though, by tradition, it is close in outlook to Yahad.

The movement has 3000 members worldwide (excluding Israel) running youth activities in Canada, the United States, Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina. Uruguay, Chile, France, Belgium. Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Netherlands, Hungary, Bulgaria, Belarus, Ukraine and Australia.

Famous alumni include Tony Cliff, Mordecai Anielewicz, Abraham Leon, Benny Morris, Eliane Karp, Amnon Linn, Abba Hushi and even Menachem Begin who was briefly a member before joining the right wing Betar. Noam Chomsky sympathized with and worked with the group, although he was never a member.

With the merger of the United Kibbutz Movement and Kibbutz Artzi, the likelihood of a merger between Hashomer Hatzair and UKM's youth movement, Habonim Dror has increased and the two youth movements, once rivals, have increasingly co-operated in various countries where they co-exist. Both movements even share an office in New York. However, the views of each movement on religion may be an obstacle to merger as Habonim Dror has a stronger identification with cultural Judaism as opposed to Hashomer Hatzair which has been at times stridently secular and anti-religious.

External links

fr:Hachomer Hatzar


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