Many anti-Israel extremists and haters in the UK, who have been defending Jeremy Corbyn and his Labor Party on the recent charges of anti-Semitism that have been leveled by British Jewish activists, have decided to bring lies about a Zionist organization called Herut into their campaign to support Corbyn and combat criticism against him. The lies about Herut in particular, and parts of Zionist history and Israeli politics in general on Twitter, but also elsewhere on social media, have risen to the point where Herut, as an international movement, must respond.
The lies being told about Herut are due in part to the fact that some of the most outspoken Jewish activists against anti-Semitism in the UK have been active with Herut. Herut is proud of these, and indeed, all of our activists in the UK who take a stand for Israel and the Jewish People.
Here are some of the lies Herut feels must be responded to:
It has been said that there is a Herut political party and a Zionist political party in the UK. This is not true and has never been true. Herut is not a UK political party and never has been. Similarly, there has never been a political party in the UK with the name “Zionist” that has run for public office in the UK. Herut is an educational movement and there has not been an active political party in Israel with Herut in its name since before the 2009 Israeli Knesset elections. Herut UK, is a Zionist group and is an affiliate of World Herut and is in no way connected with Israel’s Likud party and never has been.
Claims have been made that Herut is an extremist organization because settlers in Israel are involved with Herut in Israel. Herut is unabashedly supportive of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and has been since our inception and there is nothing extremist about that. Many members of the Knesset live in these communities and we do not believe there to be anything illegal or immoral about the settlement movement. We do not believe that Jews should be denied the right to live anywhere they so choose to, whether it is a neighborhood in London or in Hebron. Moreover, Herut is committed to the idea that Jews are indigenous to the land of Israel. Judea and Samaria are intrinsically Jewish and that Jewish history in these areas goes back to Genesis and in the foundational stories of our ancestors Abraham and Sarah; Isaac and Rebecca; and Jacob, Rachel, and Leah. The State Of Israel won these areas in a defensive war in 1967. Israel was rightfully entitled to these lands as part of the British Mandate. It really should go without saying that Israel must retain control of these areas for existential security needs; Israel must never be a nine mile wide country again.
Herut also wants to make clear that we have no relationship whatsoever with the English Defense League and no relationship of any kind has ever existed in the UK or elsewhere between the groups despite what some individuals have alleged.
Lastly, because Herut / Magshimey Herut is a Jabotinsky movement and is committed to remembering the historical heroes of our movement including the late Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and his Irgun comrades this has somehow been twisted to claim that Herut supports violence today. This is false.
It is completely true that Begin and the Irgun utilized violence in both self-defense, on the eve of the Holocaust, and in its famous “Revolt” against the British Mandate authorities during the Holocaust and also in the aftermath of the Nazi horror. Mandate authorities were morally wrong to stop Jewish refugees seeking a haven in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in the 1930s and 1940s. Jewish refugees that were refused entry were sent back to Europe where they faced slaughter. This cannot be denied.
The Herut movement views the Irgunists of the 1930s and 1940s as freedom fighters and soldiers who acted in the best traditions of the Jewish People, no different than others who took militant action in our history including the defenders of Jerusalem and Masada during Roman times and the Maccabees of Chanukah.
Moreover, just as the Minutemen and the Sons of Liberty are celebrated in the US to this day, Israel has every right, and indeed a moral obligation, to recall and honor the Irgun.
Many famous Americans in the 1930s and 1940s, both Jews and non-Jews, supported the Jabotinsky movement for exactly that reason. These Americans included: Senator Guy Gillette, Representative Will Rogers, Jr., Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes, Sen. Edwin Johnson, magazine publisher William B. Ziff, Marlon Brando, Paul Muni, Ben Hecht, Moss Hart, composer Kurt Weil, Billy Rose, Stella Adler, Arthur Szyk, New York City Mayor William O’Dwyer and many others. The US Jabotinsky activists of that time applauded the Irgunists as “modern-day Nathan Hales” and they were right.
-30- Karma Feinstein Cohen is the Executive Director of World Herut. More information about Herut is available at https://www.herutna.org