Sunday, February 7, 2021

Menachem Begin's Arrest in 1937

In 1937, responding to the policy of the British Mandate power in Palestine to continue to restrict Jewish immigration into the country, Betar Poland conducted a demonstration outside the British Embassy in Warsaw.

As explained here,

The British created a system of criteria for determining the distribution of immigration certificates. The High Commissioner for Palestine was given the authority to determine immigration policy, the implementation of which was placed in the hands of the Immigration Department of the Mandatory Government. The certificates were to be distributed to four types of immigrant, according to defined criteria for each group...The group on which immigration limitations were imposed was the workers, people who had a chance of integrating into the labour market in the country [in other words, penniless halutzim - YM]...Most serious however was the situation of the Jews in Poland, the country with the largest population of Jews in Europe, about three and a half million people. Anti-Semitism in Poland had increased following the death of Pilsudski (1935), and the discrimination undermined the Jewish population's status and economic position. Desperate calls were made to organize youth groups...The year 1936 saw a drastic reduction in the number of certificates given by the British. The Arab Revolt which broke out in April 1936 further intensified British fears of losing Arab support. With London's decision to dispatch a Royal Commission to Palestine to examine the causes of the disturbances, [High Commissioner Arthur Grenfell] Wauchope proposed suspending Jewish immigration for the duration of the Commission's activities, in order to pacify the Arabs. The Secretary of State for the Colonies, Sir William Ormsby-Gore agreed with Wauchope and told him that the Secretary of State shared his view that there should be a suspension of all permanent immigration into Palestine during the period of the Royal Commission's work, and until the government had dealt with its report.'...The decision to reduce immigration continued into the spring of 1937. The Jewish Agency Executive demanded 11,250 certificates from the government in the April-September 1937 schedule. The government only authorized 770 certificates of which 150 were kept in reserve...

With the situation for Betarim in Poland critical as not only were they discriminated against by the "certificate" system but by the Zionist Organization which severely limited their access due to political bias, it became a matter of life or death, and so they decided to demonstrate.

Here is the JTA report:

Of course, that should be Menachem Begin (or Beigin).

It was not the first time such a demonstration was conducted.


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