Arlosoroff Murder

Arlosoroff Murder and London Agreement


Chaim Arlosoroff, Chairman of the Zionist Executive in Eretz Israel, was murdered by two anonymous people while he walked with his wife on the Tel Aviv beach, on Friday evening, June 16, 1933. The murder flooded the entire Zionist Movement with a wave of false libels, revelations of blind hate and political clashes. The Jewish Yishuv (pre-State community) was swept into a political battle between the Right and the Left. The Zionist Organization established a special investigative committee, headed by Shaul Avigor and Dov Hoz, to examine the affair. Three members of Jabotinsky's movement were arrested as suspects, including Abba Ahimeir, leader of the maximalist branch of the movement, Avraham Stavsky and Zvi Rosenblatt. From the beginning, Jabotinsky was convinced of his disciples' innocence and for more than a year he conducted a fight for their release and against the British authorities' treatment of the matter. Owing to his aggressive stance, world public opinion favored their release. At the same time, the Labor Movement staged a campaign against Jabotinsky and his movement. At the 18th Zionist Congress, held on August 21st to September 3rd, 1933, in Prague, the Revisionist Movement was maligned and its members accused of murder, a painful experience for all its participants. At its conclusion, Jabotinsky said, "One thing I regret: due to leftist provocation, the Zionist Congress was turned into a brothel." The accused were acquitted in 1934, but reverberations of the affair did not fade. The Arlosoroff murder brought the Yishuv (pre-State Jewish community) to the verge of a civil war, and divided all world Jews into two hostile camps.

The campaign against the Histadrut (General Federation of Laborers) reached its climax in Jabotinsky's article, "Yes, To Shatter!" published on November 4th, 1932, causing a windstorm in Zionist circles. In the article, Jabotinsky called to put an end to the monopoly of the Histadrut and its authorities, "The situation of a people in exile is the most abnormal from all that can be described. It is a condition of a deep organic illness," and therefore, "mostly likely in other countries it is a holy truth, that the worker's supreme obligation is his class solidarity with the rest of the workers …but in the hour when a people wants to build its homeland, no class solidarity can be a supreme obligation: national solidarity stands above it."

In order to avoid deepening the rift, Jabotinsky turned to the Executive Committee of the Histadrut (General Federation of Laborers) to attempt to improve its relations with the National Labour Organisation. Following protracted negotiations, held in London in October – November 1934, between David Ben Gurion, representing Mapai (Workers Party of Eretz Israel) and the Histadrut, and Jabotinsky, representing Hatzohar (Zionist Revisionists) and the National Labour Organisation, the two reached a general agreement intended to reduce the tension between the two camps and improve relations. They agreed about organized and fair division of work, equality between all workers in receiving work and a ban on collusion between employers and political parties in the job market. The agreement, which was generally intended to prevent violence and calm tensions, was accepted by Jabotinsky's movement, but rejected in a referendum held by the Histadrut. With this, the rift between the camps worsened.