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Palestinian Boy Scouts: British Mandate--Jewish Scouts

Palestinian Jewish Boy Scouts
Figure 1.--Here are Jewish Boy Scouts at Tel Hai in the northern Galilee which had been attacked by Arab militias. It was one of the first actions by Jewish self defense forces in Palestine (1920). The small outpost had to be abandoned, but as the security situation improved the Jewish settlers retuned (1921). The boys here may be involved in creating a make-shift memorial to the Jews killed in the fighting there. The photograph looks to be taken soon after the Jews retuned in the early-1920s or mid-1920s. We are not sure what the Hebrew writing says.

We note Jewish Scout groups during the Mandatory period. We do not yet, however, have details these troops such as who the sponsoring groups were.The first Jewish Scout and Guide groups were founded after the British seized Palestine. There seems to have been interest erlier, but given the association ofScouting with Britain it probably was not possible durng the Ottoman era. As with Arab Scouting, the schools played an important role in the develoment of Jewish Scouting. The idea of Jewish Scouting appears to have begun during Passover (1918) by some youth and sports associations, including the Meshotetim Association and the Herzliya Aassociation that conducted activities long the lines Baden-Powell's program, but without calling in Scouting. They elected Zvi Nishri to lead the movemet. They did not form a formal associations for some time. [Alon] Jewish Scouting was known as Tzofim and from the beginning was coeducational. As far as we know it was the first coeducational Scout movement. We are not sure that there was an assocition during the Mndate period. The first Scout tribe "Meshotetei BaCarmel" was founded in the Hadar neighborhood in Haifa by the Haifa's Reali School (1925). The funder was a teacher, Aryeh Croch. He would become the head of the Hebrew Scouts Movement. As was the case of the Zionist mivement n general, there was a division between secular and religious Scouts. The religious Scouts or Adat HaTzofim joined to the Hebrew Scout Movement. They were led by Asher Rivlin. As the political situarion worsened in the 1940s, the older Scouts joined the Palmach, the elite fighting force of the Haganah. The Jewish Scouting movement was strongest in the northern Palestine. Palmach recruits were trained on the "Reali" school ground before joining the organization. The Hebrew Scout Movement in Israel also sent its graduates across the country to create Jewish settlements and Hebrew labor, as part of the establishment of Israel.


Alon, Hemda. היֵה נכון"- חמישים שנות צופיות עברית בארץ ישראל 1919 – 1969. (Tel Aviv: עם הספר בע"מ 1976).


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Created: 4:49 PM 3/25/2017
Last updated: 1:51 PM 3/26/2017