The Movement Habonim Dror was formed by the merger, in 1980, of Ichud Habonim (An English Scouting Movement) and Dror(A Polish movement dedicated to the continuation of Herzl's way)
Ichud Habonim (refer to Wellesley Aron, ‘Rebel With a Cause’, 1992)
At the outbreak of the Second World War, the membership of Habonim in England was approximately 4000 members. During the same year, a camp was run with 1400 participants, and according to all reports it was the biggest Jewish camp in England. Habonim advertised all its membership in the national press. Another achievement was the aliya of 20 Bogrim to the Baltic English kibbutz Binyamina.
Of course, on a quantitative level one could not compare the achievements of Habonim in England and the youth movements of Europe. Nevertheless, the development of the movement in the English Jewish community prompted waves of curiosity. Britain was a comfortable place for Jews to live compared to other places in Europe. The emancipation of Palestine from Britain reflected development in the attitude towards Jews, although there were societal anti-Semitic undertones in Britain, especially during the immigration of Eastern Europeans at the beginning of the century and the later growth of European fascism in the 1930s.
However, these undertones of anti-Semitism were marginal, and thus Zionist philosophy could not be presented to the British Jews as a shelter from anti-Semitism (as in Europe) but rather as a means against assimilation for the strengthening of Jewish identity.
In 1929 when Habonim was founded, there was no intention to develop a youth movement for pioneers. The founder, Wellesley Aron, thought to develop an organisation of scouts based upon the philosophy of National Judaism as opposed to other secularised Jewish clubs. Aron’s philosophy was extremely successful due to his use of informal Jewish education which featured in the new Jewish education system in England. Three years later the movement grew to 10,000 members, with branches not only in East London, the location of the original branch, but also through the whole city and its surrounds.
Despite the excitement surrounding the new movement, described in the Jewish Chronicle (the popular Jewish press release), there was also opposition to Habonim. The opposition believed that Habonim was educating youths to see themselves as strangers in Britain and not as loyal British citizens. This was expressed in an argument between the community and shlichim. Aron was sensitive to this argument and attempted to distance Habonim from all contact with the National Zionist Movement, despite his employment by the NZM. Additionally, Aron and his patrons added to the organisation the principle that it is an obligation for every Jew to be a loyal citizen to the nation in which he lives.
The council of these patrons who, for the most part, were not involved in the daily activities of the movement, nevertheless determined Habonim policies. Rapidly, the Habonim youth of university age expressed their frustration at their lack of involvement in the direction of the movement, and in 1933 they developed a committee of branch heads to question the authority of the patron council. Their first success was the acceptance of the decision to allow expression of Zionism as one of the organisation’s main objectives. Two years later, the young madrichim served an ultimatum to the council – reestablish Habonim with an elected central committee that would meet on a regular basis, and if not they would leave the movement. The council conceded to their demands and a central committee was established to replace the council. At this point, Habonim was still far from being a real youth movement, however by a few years time, the movement was finally in the hands of the youth, and this was only the beginning of a stormy new chapter in its ideology.
In 1930, Berl Katznelson was invited to examine the activities of Habonim, and upon his return to Palestine he recommended that the Histadrut send shlichim as soon as possible to Habonim in England. In his opinion, Habonim represented a potentially pioneering movement. However, many at Habonim – even those who supported the idea of British pioneering – were concerned that the attempt to impose this pioneering philosophy on this independent youth movement would isolate Habonim from its target population. This prompted the supporters of a pioneering movement to develop a separate new movement called ‘Hachalutz Ha’anglim’ – “the English Pioneers” in which members received physical and spiritual training prior to making aliya. Later, youths who were also excited in this pioneering idea pressured the older members of Hachalutz Ha’anglim to create a connected youth movement. Despite shlichim being sent from Hechalutz in Palestine, it was decided to close this separate youth movement and amalgamate it with Habonim again, and influence Habonim from within.
Hechalutz in Palestine was convinced that they had to find a way to train potential pioneers before they made aliya. Due to unsuccessful attempts at cooperative work on Jewish farms, Hechalutz approached the British Zionist Federation to find a more suitable framework for agricultural training. Despite the doubt of many people in training young English Jews to become pioneers, the Federation promised to cover the costs of the project. At the end of 1935 the Ringlestone Farm in Ken became the first Hechalutz training farm in England, designed to prepare youths for a rural life in Israel. This event became the cornerstone for training pioneers in Britain for the future, and this continued until 1970.
Madrichim of Habonim became involved at this training farm, and so they encouraged the youth movement to hold its annual camps at the farm as well as encouraging visits to the farm as often as possible. The Friends of Hechalutz Organisation brought a suggestion forward to the senior members of Habonim to adopt pioneering as part of the movement's central ideology. This was accepted with much debate.
Habonim Dror was established in South Africa at the end of the 1930s. In the 1950s Habonim had spread worldwide including to Australia. ‘Ichud Habonim’ – ‘World Habonim’ - was born in Haifa on September 1, 1951. The Ichud movement Veida took part of the Habonim Movement from Britain, America, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, India, Holland and the combined movement from Israel. At the committee, representatives from Habonim Australia were also present. Together, they declared the birth of the world movement that was developed from the combination of all the Habonim movements worldwide. After 25 years of activity of all the separate Habonim movements, a common base of activity and assistance was established. The movement grew from strength to strength each year until it eventually reached South America.
In 1911, in Poland, the Jewish youth movements rose. The Jewish youth organised themselves into movements according to different streams, for example Hashomer, Hachalutz and Blau Weiss. Years later, after the Uganda Debate and after the dismissal of Herzl, a new generation rose in Zionism and developed into different divisions under many different names, the most popular of which being Tzeirei Tzion (Young Zionists). Out of Tzeirei Tzion in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, emerged a group that called itself the ‘Et livnot’ – “time to build” and whose aim was to continue Herzl’s way.
At the Petersburg Veida, which was a Veida for the entire Russian Zionist movement, it was decided that the Zionist community was of religious character. Et Livnot demanded that the secular community be validated, and together with other youth movements left the room. Upon returning to Kiev they officially declared their distinction from the religious National Organisation of Russian Zionism and developed a Democratic Union called ‘Dror’ – “Freedom” in 1915.
Dror was not a mass movement, however at all stages of its development it excelled in central Zionist thought. It was both vibrant and invigorating, educating the Jewish intellectual youth in Russia and eventually in Poland through intellectual activities. Dror was both modern and revolutionary in it character and aims. The spiritual father of Dror was Ze'ev Zlickin, nicknamed ‘Valia’, who was influenced by the teachings of the movement "Nadorobolchi" which gave rise to revolutionary Socialism in Russia.
The first newspaper of the movement was published in 1917 in Hebrew. Leading up to the elections of the Jewish community in Kiev, the influence of Dror could be felt for the first time in the Russian Jewish consciousness through the purification of the Hebrew language which was taking place. This was in spite of the presence of the strong Bundist movement.
In 1918 Dror developed and grew further and added many branches. In the summer of the same year, the first Veida took place.
The Dror movement developed different chugim according to different ages. The youth (under the age of 20) belonged to the Shichvah "El Hamishmar" for all their lives as members of Dror. They were commited to the movement. Dror educated them and brought them to the movement ‘Hachalutz Hatzair’ – “the Young Pioneer” (led by Yitzchak Tabenkin) and through this movement they came to Eretz Israel and Kibbutz. This created a link between Dror and the ‘Hityashvut’ (‘Settlement’ movement) and thus a partnership with Degania and Rehavia.
In 1925 a contingency from the Histadrut (Workers’ Union) in Palestine, mostly from Kibbutz Ein Harod, was sent to Hechalutz in Poland. This contingency was instrumental in the development of Hachalutz in Poland and thus also reinjected life into Dror. By the 1930s, the centre of Dror was in Warsaw, Poland. From there, with the help of shlichim, the movement spread throughout the map of Europe to other Jewish communities in Eastern Europe and also to South America.
With the rise of the Nazi movement in Germany and the breakout of the Second World War, these youth movements were involved in actions against the Germans and were involved in big uprisings in cities such as Bialistock, Vilna, Warsaw and many other cities throughout Europe. In Warsaw the Jewish Fighters’ Brigade together with Hechalutz, Dror, Hashomer Hatzair and other youth movement, fought in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising in 1943.
Graduates of Dror made aliyah to Palestine, fought as partisans and in the Jewish brigade. The joined groups joined many kibbutzim throughout Israel. This took place both before and after the declaration of the State of Israel.
Amongst the youth movement members training groups were built which eventually developed into garinei aliya to many kibbutzim in the ‘Kibbutz Hameyuchad’ movement. In the 1940s there was major cooperation in the formation of common garinim by the movements Hechalutz and Habonim, particularly in Hungary, with the help of shlichim from Kibbutz Hameyuchad. At this time there was major criticism of this cooperation due to differing ideological attitudes towards the yishuv in Israel – its social character, economics, and the return to Jewish work in Israel.
In 1961 Dror was established in England.
The movement Ichud Habonim and the movement Dror were active in different countries and each identified with a different stream of the kibbutz movements. In 1952, the segmentation of the Kibbutz Hameyuchad movement developed into a new kibbutz movement in Israel, "Ichud Hakibbutzim ve hakvutzot". This movement combined the groups and kibbutzim and separated from the Meyuchad kibbutz movement on an ideological basis. Whole families were split and some kibbutzim were divided ideologically between the two movements, such as Ein Harod, Givat Chaim, Ashdod Ya'akov and many more. The youth movement for Kibbutz Hameyuchad was Dror, and the youth movement from Ichud Hakibbutzim was Ichud Habonim.
In 1980, the reunification of the two kibbutz movements under one name, the "Takam", led to the parallel combination the different movements under one name, "Habonim Dror". Since then, the movement has operated as one body and at each world Veida challenges its direction and redefines its activities to suit its ideology in the Diaspora.
Habonim Dror is the largest non-religious youth movement of the Jewish youth in the Diaspora. Its values are based upon Socialist Zionism. Each country has a national secretariat of its own that works in cooperation with the secretariat of the world movement. Today there are more than 15,000 Habonim Dror chanichim spread out throughout the nations of the world in the Diaspora:
Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, South Africa, Mexico, USA, Canada, Zimbabwe, England, France, Holland, Germany, Hungary, Sweden, Ukraine, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, Turkey, and Belgium.
History of Habonim Dror in Australia
Habonim Dror Australia – timeline of its origins (refer to ‘Five Years Habonim’ publication, July 1945)
February 1940 – Seven young new “Recent Arrivals” meet and decide to form Zionist Youth Group on European lines.
March 1940 – First public meeting held at Herzl Hall.
April 1940 – Official flag presentation ceremony at Herzl Hall.
November 1940 – First full-scale Palestine Exhibition ever held in Australia.
December 1940 – Camp at Kallista.
June 1941 – Two children’s groups formed; both failed due to inexperience.
April 1942 – Union with Betar.
June 1942 – Dissolution of union.
October 1942 – Successful formation of first junior group.
December 1942 – Camp at Emerald. Reorganisation of senior movement.
January 1943 – First Australian Zionist Youth Conference held in Melbourne.
February 1943 – Amalgamation with Young Zionists of St. Kilda.
December 1943 – Camp at Emerald. Formation of Habonim Charter.
May 1944 – Second Zionist Youth Conference held in Sydney. Formation of Australia-wide Habonim movement and acceptance of Habonim Charter.
December 1944 – Combined all-Australian Habonim camp and Leaders’ Training Course on Georges River, NSW.
January 1945 – Junior camp at Warrandyte.
May 1945 – Gedudim “Heatid” and “Amal”, the first junior groups to have been established, become senior members. Leaders’ Training Course started.
June 1945 – Habonim-Hechalutz Hachshara established at Springvale, Victoria.
1946 – First five chaverim from Australia make aliyah – four from Melbourne and one from Sydney – settling on the first kibbutz of the English and American Habonim Movements, Kfar Blum.
Habonim is separated into four organised shichvot to facilitate more suitable programs for different ages.
Federal Mazkirut is set up in Melbourne to coordinate nation-wide activities.
1947 – Ehud Lederberger, the first shaliach from the Jewish Agency arrives, creating a living link with the spirit of pioneering Israel.
1948 – Three Habonim chaverim are sent on the Jewish Agency’s Israel Scholarship scheme.
The State of Israel is proclaimed.
Kibbutz Kfar Hanasi is established on the Syrian border. Australians who have joined the English garin participate in the Hityashvut and are later reinforced by more chalutzim from Australia.
1950 – Numbers on the hachshara farm in Springvale have so increased that it is transferred to a larger farm at Toolamba, 300km out of Melbourne.
1951 – Largest group of Australian chalutzim (most of whom are from Habonim) make Aliya
1953 – Ideological differences in the movement cause a split, from which emerges Hashomer Hatzair Movement. Reorganisation and consolidation follows.
Habonim Australia launches a project to plant a section of the World Habonim Forest in Israel.
1957 – First organised group of Habonim make Aliya as a garin to Kibbutz Yizreel.
1965 – 25th anniversiary of Habonim. Jamboree camp held at Anglesea with record attendance.
1970 – First shnat hachshars group leaves for Israel. Jamboree camp held at Whittlesea.
1973 – Habonim celebrates Israel’s 25th anniversary with Jamboree camp at Heathcote, NSW, attended by 550 Jewish youth.
1974 – Garin Makor is formed
1980 – Garin to Kibbutz Mevo Chama.
1981 - ‘Ichud Habonim’ becomes known as ‘Habonim Dror’ when the parent organisations of two movements – Ichud Habonim and Dror – merge.
1982 – The Habonim-established kibbutz, Kibbutz Kadarim, is chosen as Meshak Yad.
1983 – Garin Shuva formed with about 20-25 members, committed to arrive in Kadarim by the end of 1985
1984 – Garin Mizrah formed, committed to arrive in Kadarim by the end of 1986
1988 – Including members of Habonim Dror Australia and New Zealand, Garin Ofek is formed, intending to arrive in Israel by end of 1992
1990 – Habonim celebrates its 50th anniversary with a ‘Habo Spectacular’ in the Hall
1991 – Garin Ma’ayan is formed in August with the aim of living in a small kibbutz in Israel
1996 – Shnat program in Israel is changed to include spending time in the Arava, community work in a development town, and various seminars around Israel on peace, Judaism, Habo ideology and the desert.
1998 – Habonim celebrates Israel’s 50th anniversary
2000 – 3 Habonim bogrim (1 from Melbourne, 2 from Adelaide) make Aliya.
Habonim Melbourne celebrates their 60th anniversary with a carnival
2002 – Shnat program changed to include a hachshara in an urban-garin style, in Karmiel
2004 – Garin KGB makes Aliya to Jerusalem, comprised of one British, 2 Sydney and 1 Perth boger of Habonim Dror