Betar was founded by the Zionist youth of Latvia together with Ze’ev Jabotinski in 1923 when they challenged him to come up with a way to save the European Jewry from anti-Semitism. They were inspired by his ideas and, with his leadership, formed Brit HaNoar Ha’Ivrit Al Shem Yosef Trumpeldor (The Covenant of the Jewish Youth in the Name of Joseph Trumpeldor). Its acronym is Betar.
By 1927, Betar had taken root in Austria, Poland, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Lithuania, Germany, France and Israel. The Jews were searching for a way to get out of Europe and into Israel and Betar provided training and transport for Aliyah.
Naturally, Betar grew substantially in a very short amount of time. At its peak in 1934, Betar Poland had over 40,000 members out of a total of 70,000 worldwide. Betar organised illegal immigration into Israel for tens of thousands of Jews from all over Europe for the next fifteen or so years. The 50s, 60s and 70s saw consistent growth for many Betar Maozim.
Betaris are proud of our heritage, which we use as a springboard for future development.
To begin talking about Betar, one must start with the beginning of Betar.
Betar was founded by Ze’ev Jabotinsky. Ze’ev Jabotinsky was a true man of the world. He was born in Russia, studied in Italy and Switzerland but like a few other Jews of the early twentieth century, he had his eyes set on one location: Israel.
Jabotinsky saw the solution to the issues that beset the Jewish people of his time as recovering our biblical national identity: recapturing the pride of our Jewish ancestors of scholars and kings, relearning our ancient tongue (Hebrew) and regaining our voice as a people; for “silence is mud”.
Jewish self-defence was at the epicentre of Jabotinsky’s socio-political philosophy, both as a physical imperative and as a wellspring of pride and self-confidence. The people of Israel should “serve as a living example of ideas and ideals” hence “contribute to civilization”.
It can be said this mission cannot be completed with a scattered nation. Thus, Betar’s highest value is Zionism. This is the one fundamental idea which distinguishes Betar from all other Zionist Youth movements. The stand of Betar is “Had-Ness” (One Banner). Betar places Zionism above all other principles.
To achieve our goal of strengthening Israel, Betar Southern Africa creates a comfortable atmosphere where we openly discuss Israel and the Betar Ideology. Israel programs are encouraged, as is Aliyah.
Betar believes that the highest ideal and greatest expression of Zionism is Aliyah – going to live in the State of Israel. We believe in and nurture a love for our Jewish homeland.
Every Jew is a prince and has an obligation to act as befits someone of royal heritage. Hadar is a Hebrew word, not easily translated, which embodies the ideas of self-pride and self-respect, respect for others and acting with a high moral integrity. Simply put, Hadar is about acting like a mensch.
Another Hebrew word lacking a pure English translation. Tagar is about tenacity and activism, having the strength to stand up and fight for what is right, even in the face of all obstacles.
While these three principles embody much of what Betar is about, it is important to remember that they are far from comprehensive, and the movement’s ideology is far more complex. It is drawn from the teachings of Rosh Betar, Ze’ev Jabotinsky, which includes hundreds of speeches, essays and letters.