On This Day in Jewish History: June 15th, 1920 ⚔




100 years ago today, The Haganah (The Defense), the main paramilitary organization of the Jews living in British Mandatory Palestine is officially formed. . .

Created as a stepping stone in organized Jewish self-defense in the Land of Israel post-1880, this being the 3rd (previous two being Bar-Giora & Hashomer) in the ladder that would soon become the IDF. At the time, the Haganah was mainly composed of former WW1 units of the British Army: Zion Mule Corps & the Jewish Legion. . .

Following the Arab riots against Jews in the spring of 1920, the Yishuv (pre-Israel governing body) saw the clear need to establish a defense structure to be called the Haganah. By the 1936-39 Arab Revolt, the group would be subdivided into 3 main units: Field Corps, Guard Corps, and the Palmach. At the start of the War of Independence in 1948, the Haganah and various other separate paramilitary groups like the Irgun would come together to establish the core of the new Israeli Defense Forces. . . .

Since it’s inception in 1920, the leaders of the Haganah maintained a policy called “Havlagah” which translates as “Restraint”. The main purpose of Havlagah was to create a principled force that would not seek revenge or retribution from either Arab terror attacks or British incompetence. Groups like the Irgun, led by Ze’ev Jabotinsky and Menachem Begin, were strongly against the position of Havlagah, believing that Jews would only be safe if they strike first or in revenge. By 1948, these groups would unite under one army, maintaining the policy of Havlagah that the IDF continues to exercise today.


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