The global Zionist youth movement 'Brith Trumpeldor' (Betar) originally was founded in 1923 by Ze'ev Jabotinsky. Ten years later, in March 1933, Amsterdam-inhabitants Da Silva Solis, Speijer and Sekir started Betar The Netherlands. Since the terrible outcome of the holocaust, on Europe's mainland Betar as a youth movement seized to function as such.
Nowadays, the Jewish population in The Netherlands is estimated to be of 40.000 souls. Approximately 12.000 are active within a Jewish organization. To give an idea: Currently there are only 200 Dutch-Jewish families left in The Netherlands who keep a traditional kosher household. Habonim-Dror, Bnei Akiva, Netzer and HaTzofim are the four Zionist youth organizations in The Netherlands. Except from some newspaper articles mentioning Betarim attending activities organized in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, there is no record of an organized Betar youth organization functioning as such since the terrible outcome of the holocaust.
However, from its establishment in 1933 in The Netherlands and for that matter throughout all of Europe, Betar has had a larger membership number than all existing Jewish youth organizations combined. Collective (physical) defensibility, (r)emigration to Eretz Israel, modern-Hebrew lessons, (Zionist) education and leadership-training were the main pillars in those days.
In 1945, the late Charles Nijveen initiated the Tel Haï/Iron Fund, which collected funding for the Irgun and just like before Germany’s occupation of The Netherlands, stimulated immigration to Eretz Israel. In 1947 Nijveen re-established the Union of Revisionist Zionists/Brith Cherut Hatzohar in The Netherlands. Two decades later Marc Stiftel, Haïm Natkiel and current Betar board-member Hans Knoop founded the Dutch branch of Menachem Begin’s Cherut Party, to counterpart the overall left-wing point of view most Jews within the Kehille embraced.
In 1992, Likud The Netherlands and the WZO-affiliated Federatie Nederlandse Zionisten (Federation of Dutch Zionists, the former Dutch Zionist Association NZB) came into existence. Zionist organizations Arza (Liberal-Religious), BONZ (Independent), Mizrachi (Orthodox), Poale Zion (Progressive), Bne Akiwa (Orthodox Youth), Haboniem (Socialist Youth), Ijar (College Students), and the Tarboet Foundation (Dutch Modern-Hebrew Ulpan, now bankrupt) all attached themselves to FNZ. The Federation Dutch Zionists on their part are one of seven representatives taking part in The Central Jewish Consultation (Centraal Joods Overleg), the umbrella representing the Dutch Jewish Community as a whole.
The other six are the Center of Information and Documentation Israel (CIDI), Netherlands Synagogues Coordinating Body (NIK), Portuguese Community (PIG), Progressive Judaism (Verbond Liberaal Religieuzen), the Jewish Social Works Foundation (JMW) and The Dutch Jewish Youth (NJJ, all four youth organizations combined).
Unfortunately, despite the wide variety of Jewish advocate organizations, but maybe also fortunately, we feel and know there’s a growing demand of a different approach in Zionist public diplomacy in The Netherlands. Nevertheless, we’ll make sure to seek alliance with all organizations represented within CJO in order to strengthen our community and act together whenever opportunity and necessity occurs.
We strongly believe the ‘different approach’ must be tougher and less apologetic than the way current organizations advocate and lobby for our Jewish community and the State of Israel. Therefore, Betar NL unlike its ‘predecessors’ chooses not to affiliate exclusively with any political party in Israel simply because Betar NL intends to be an independent voice for it’s people. However, historically Betar is inseparably connected to it’s center-right/right-wing secular roots, and Betar NL shall as a matter of course naturally retain it’s identity as such.
For example: An opinion about a one-state, two-state, or three-state solution is of minor interest to the Jewish community in The Netherlands. Only when the discussion results in anti-Semitic rhetoric, fists must be slammed on the table.
To counterpart the anti-Israel political left, BDS and alike movements, the biased media and/or the overall public opinion towards Jews and the State of Israel, it is of crucial necessity to preserve, educate and document the history of our people, both at home and abroad. In collaboration with the World Betar Movement and the Jabotinsky Institute, we find it of utmost importance to build an educational center/library in order to provide the necessary material and informative meetings to those interested. Unlike other pro-Israel organizations in The Netherlands, instead of fighting the enemy directly, our main focus shall be to work towards winning the sleeping mass-public, tired and mellow because of the often negative, one-sided, double standard information provided by the mainstream media. We won’t convince BDS, anti-Semites (anti-Zionists) and will not win them for our cause.
Academic teachers, journalists, politicians, authors, and other professionals stand by to start contributing articles to our website betar.nl and shall provide study material, offer readings and training to participants in order to become spokespersons to defend our people publicly; in the media, at schools, on campus and so forth.
Betar NL is seeking mutual partnership with the Israeli Embassy in The Hague, the European Centre for Jewish Students in Brussels, Women International Zionist Organization NL, Jewish Agency NL, Jewish Police Network NL, Stand With Us NL, the Jabotinsky Institute in Tel Aviv, Likoed NL and World Likud, the World Zionist Organization, the Menachem Begin Heritage Institute and World Betar in Jerusalem. Betar-Tagar NL shall be a government-registered foundation with a small staff in its start-up phase: a secretary/treasurer and one chairman.
A wide variety of prominent Jews, which we are approaching to this day, shall subsequently form our Committee of Recommendation. Currently, an advisory board, contributors and volunteers are being recruited. To keep fulfilling the Zionist interest of immigration to Israel, in collaboration with The Jewish Agency NL, Betar NL shall stimulate the making of Aliyah. The learning of the Hebrew language, as laid down by Jabotinsky, is a very important goal for every Betari and shall be considered mandatory. In the stream of the above mentioned activities and through close ties with the World Betar umbrella in Israel, our common ultimate goal shall be realized: the (re-)establishment of a solid Dutch Betar Youth Organization, just like the other +14 countries worldwide Betar nowadays is active in.
All ones representing Betar NL, out of free will, dedication and loyalty to the Zionist principles of our shilton Z“L; Rosh Betar Ze’ev Jabotinsky, pledge allegiance to the World Betar Movement, and the Jewish State of Israel with a majority of Jews; our people, those at home and those abroad.
Betar NL intends to reestablish Betar in The Netherlands under the supervision of and in accordance with the World Betar Movement.
Betar NL intends to work towards a solid Betar-branch in The Netherlands in first instance to advocate hasbará (Tagar), stand up against anti-Semitism and it’s equal anti-Zionism, and against the BDS-movement in order to strengthen the bond between the (Jewish inhabitants of the) kingdom of the Netherlands and the people and State of Israel.
Betar NL intends to (re-)produce, provide and offer documentation and study material about Zionism, Israel and the Jewish people and to organize manifestations, readings, lectures, debates, seminars, workshops, etc. for college and university students, journalists, politicians, and for those interested in order to counterpart the current global anti-Zionist impasse.