Eliayahu Golomb is considered the founder of Israel Defense Forces. Leader of the Jewish defense effort in Palestine and chief architect of the Haganah, the secret military organization for defense of the yishuv between 1920 and 1948.
Eliyahu Golomb came to Erez Israel, then under the Turks, from his home in Volkovysk, Belarus in 1909 at the age of 16. He first organized agricultural training courses and worked in Kibbutz Deganyah Alef. When World War I broke out in 1914 Golomb opposed the enlistment of Jews as officers in the Turkish Army and instead insisted on the creation of an independent Jewish defense force. In 1918 he became a founder of the Jewish Legion which he hoped would form the basis of a permanent official Jewish militia. After his demobilization he became a member of the committee entrusted with organizing the Haganah and in 1920 was active in sending aid to the defenders of the northern outpost of Tel Hai.
Golomb opposed the view that defense should depend on a small elite, and instead insisted that it was the concern of the Jewish population at large. In 1922 he was sent abroad to purchase weapons for the Haganah and until 1924 organized pioneering youth in Europe. During the Arab riots of 1936--39 Golomb was one of the initiators of the field units (pelugot sadeh) that confronted Arab terrorists in combat.
He supported active defense and retaliation bu t opposed reprisals on the general Arab population. Although supporting Jewish enlistment in the British Army during World War II and the parachuting of Jewish agents into Nazi-occupied Europe, Golomb never forgot the necessity for the removal of the British mandatory power from Erez Israel. He became a founder of the Palmah, the commando arm of the Haganah and foundation of the Israel Defense Forces, and trained many of its future commanders.
Eliayahu Golomb was instrumental in the development of Jewish self-defense forces. He claimed that the Jewish masses must be mobilized into fighting units capable of defending Zionist goals. Golomb was a founding member of the Haganah and served on its Command Council. He travelled extensively, purchasing arms for Haganah fighters. The organization and financing of "illegal" immigration in the late 1930's was in large part directed by Golomb.Golomb saw the Haganah as an integral part of the Zionist Movement, and thus objected to the existence of more radical defense organizations, such as the Irgun Tzeva'i Le'umi. He strongly disagreed with those who supported indiscriminate attacks against Arabs. At the same time, he did advocate active confrontation with Arab aggressors. Along with Berl Katznelson, Golomb spent much time working with Vladimir Jabotinsky of the Revisionist party trying to unify defense efforts among Jews. Golomb's home was later converted into a museum of the Haganah. The museum, Beit Eliayahu, is located in Tel Aviv.
Eliahu Golomb House - Beit Hagana-Israel Defence Forces Museum
Eliahu Golomb bio at Jewish Agency for Israel
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