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Haganah Definition

Haganah - (Hebrew - pronounced "hah gah nah' ) Literally "defense." (see also Hagannah - comprehensive history). Underground organization first conceived in January 1920 and officially founded June 1920 during the British Mandate for Palestine, to protect the Jewish Yishuv (settlement) from Arab riots and violence. The official name was "Irgun Hahagannah Haivri" - The Jewish Defense Organization. The Hagannah Foundation Doctrine stressed loyalty, secrecy and devotion to humanitarian and Jewish values including the sanctity of life. By candlelight, and with a pistol on the table, recruits swore the Hagannah oath to abide by the foundation doctrine of the Hagannah in a dramatic induction ceremony.>A personal recollection of the dramatic induction ceremony and oath (1947) is given here: Joining the Haganah

The Haganah became the unofficial army of the Jewish Agency. The nucleus of its leadership was taken from the Zionist socialist movements and the Kibbutzim, and was a model of a citizens' army. The core of its membership were Kibbutz members who worked the land to pay their way, and Kibbutzim became the training grounds and secret arms stores of the underground army. For a time in the 1930s, the Haganah was legalized by the British mandate authorities in order to help put down the Arab uprising in Palestine and later to help in fighting World War II. In 1941, the Palmach, an elite strike force was formed with the approval of the British, in preparation for a possible invasion of Vichy Syria. When the Zionist Revisionist movement broke away from the mainstream, the Haganah came to be associated with the Labor Zionist ideology and movement and the Histadrut labor union federation.

The Haganah evolved into an effective military force by 1948 and was able to hold its own against the Arabs of Palestine and the invading armies of Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Iraq and Arab irregulars despite inferiority in arms and numbers during the initial fighting. The Haganah refrained from attacks on civilians and on political figures for the most part, unlike the Irgun and Lehi terror groups. The Haganah was merged into the IDF following the foundation of the state of Israel in May1948. The Haganah philosophy and political opinions were to some extent reflected in the organization of the IDF.

The official Haganah Web site (in Hebrew) is here. The banner logo has the Haganah emblem, symbolizing an army of fighters and farms, and reads: "The defense force of the Jewish Yishuv in the land of Israel and of the Zionist Movement"

Haganah Logo

Synonyms and alternate spellings: Hagana Hagannah

Further Information: Haganah The Zionist Defense Force in Palestine

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 acceptable transliterations.

'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 example.

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This work and individual entries are copyright 2005 by Ami Isseroff and Zionism and Israel Information Center and may not reproduced in any form without permission unless explicitly noted otherwise. Individual entries may be cited with credit to The Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Zionism and Israel

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