Zionism and Israel - Encyclopedic
Brit Shalom Definition
Brit Shalom - (Hebrew, áøéú
ùìåí Meaning "Covenant of Peace) Jewish peace group founded in
1925, primarily inspired by German Zionists, to seek coexistence with the Arabs of Palestine
by advocating a
rather than a Zionist state. The idea arose
primarily in opposition to the Iron Wall concept and seemingly uncompromising
Jabotinsky and in an effort to head off Arab opposition that was evident in
the riots of 1921.
Martin Buber, Robert Weltsch, Hans Kohn and Hugo
Bergmann are credited with being the originators of the idea. They were
followers of Achad
Haam and stressed the spiritual importance of a Jewish national home and the
effect of Zionism on renewal of individuals. They found an ideological home in
In these circles, the idea for a binational state had been discussed long before
the foundation of Brit Shalom, They did not consider it practical to oust Arabs
by force, and did not believe Arabs would agree to live in a Jewish state. They
discounted the importance of political power and amassing of material
possessions and land.
Their credo was already formulated in 1921 if not
before. "Palestine cannot be a nation state, not only because this is not a step
forward, but also because it is impracticable. It must be bi-national rather
than Eretz Yisrael." (1921 letter from Kohn to Weltch, quoted in Lavsky p. 652).
Weizmann agreed with this idea as well, at least at one time in his career.
The formation of the Brit Shalom movement in 1925 was catalyzed by Jabotinzky's
formation of the
Revisionist party in that year. The issues at stake were not only the
question of relation with Arabs, but also the means of development of Palestine.
The Fourth Aliya
peaked in 1925, and brought with it a large number of people opposed to workers
ownership and public development, who wished to develop the land based on
An open split occurred at the Fourteenth Zionist
Congress between the confrontational approach of Jabotinsky and the conciliatory
approach of mainstream Zionism to the Arabs. Chaim Weizmann said:
In true friendship and partnership with the Arabs
we must open the Near East to Jewish enterprise... Palestine must be built
in such a way that legitimate Arab interests are not impinged upon in the
slightest...- we must take Palestine as it is, with its sands and stones,
Arabs and Jews as they are. That is our work. Anything else would be
deception.,,, We shall rise or fall by our work alone. (Protocols of
Fourteenth Zionist Congress pp 328-329, translated by Lavsky, and cited in
Lavsky, p. 664)
... there is the possibility... to establish in
Palestine a community where both nations, with no ruling advantage (Vorherrshcaft)
to the one, nor oppression of the other, shall work shoulder to shoulder in
full equality of rights towards the economic and cultural development of the
(Protocols of Fourteenth Zionist Congress p 438, translated by Lavsky, and
cited in Lavsky, p. 664)
Brit Shalom was organized at an initial meeting in
Ruppin's house in mid-November of 1925. The founders, especially Weltsch,
believed they had the support of Weizmann, but that perhaps Weizmann found
himself unable to speak out because of the duties of office.
Yehuda Magnes, President of the Hebrew University,
was a friend and mentor of the Brit Shalom movement but was not a founder or
member. Though initially successful and long influential in German Zionist
circles, Brit Shalom lost the support of Ruppin and many others who were
disillusioned by the brutal
Arab riots and massacres of 1929.
Brit Shalom apparently never had more than a hundred
members, but its
state platform was adopted by
Mapam, the leftist
"United Workers Party in the 1940s.
Byt he time of the
Arab uprising of
1936, it became obvious to at least some in Brit Shalom that the
admitted on May 16, 1936:
“The peace will not be
established in this land by an ‘agreement’ with the Arabs, rather it will
come in due time, when we are strong enough so the Arabs will not be so
certain in the results of the struggle and be forced to accept us as an
That was not so different from the original thesis of Jabotinsky in
The Iron Wall
. In August, Levi Billig, a member of Brit Shalom was brutally murdered.
ref The movement lost most of its adherents.
However, in 1942, perhaps in reaction to the Biltmore Program,
Brit Shalom adherents and sympathizers including Yehuda Magnes,
Ernst Simon and
Henrietta Szold founded the small IHUD (Union) party that advocated a
binational state. They presented their case to various international commissions
and continued to function until 1948.
A different version of Brit Shalom was created recently. It seems to have little
relation to the former group. Brit Tsedek VeShalom, an American non-Zionist
Jewish peace group also based on the original name evidently.
September 7, 2009
Lavsky, Hagit, German Zionists and the Emergence of
Brit Shalom, translated from the Hebrew, reprinted in Reinharz, Jehuda and
Shapira, Anita eds. Essential Papers on Zionism, New York University Press, 1996,
Synonyms and alternate spellings:
Hebrew/Arabic pronunciation and transliteration conventions:
'H - ('het) a guttural sound
made deep in the throat. To Western ears it may sound like the "ch" in loch. In Arabic there are several letters that
have similar sounds. Examples: 'hanukah, 'hamas, 'haredi. Formerly, this sound was often represented by ch,
especially in German transliterations of Hebrew. Thus, 'hanukah is often rendered as Chanuka for example.
ch - (chaf) a sound like "ch"
in loch or the Russian Kh as in Khruschev or German Ach, made by putting the tongue against
the roof of the mouth. In Hebrew, a chaf can never occur at the beginning of a word. At the beginning of a word, it has a dot in it and is pronounced "Kaf."
u - usually between oo as in spoon
and u as in put.
a- sounded like a in arm
ah- used to represent an a sound made by
the letter hey at the end of a word. It is the same sound as a. Haganah and Hagana are alternative
'a-notation used for Hebrew and Arabic
ayin, a guttural ah sound.
o - close to the French o as in homme.
th - (taf without a dot) - Th was
formerly used to transliterate the Hebrew taf sound for taf without a dot. However in modern Hebrew there
is no detectable difference in standard pronunciation of taf with or without a dot, and therefore Histadruth and
Histadrut, Rehovoth and Rehovot are all acceptable.
q- (quf) - In transliteration of
Hebrew and Arabic, it is best to consistently use the letter q for the quf, to avoid confusion with similar sounding
words that might be spelled with a kaf, which should be transliterated as K. Thus, Hatiqva is preferable to Hatikva for
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