Irgun Radio Begins Broadcasting A 1930s Irgun Propaganda Poster. Photo: Public Domain

March 15, 1939

Kol Tzion HaLokhemet (“Voice of Fighting Zion”), the underground radio network operated by the Irgun, sends out its first broadcasts across Palestine as Esther Raziel-Naor hits the airwaves. The network broadcasts messages related to the Irgun and Israel and reports news the British would censor. The Hebrew broadcasts from Tel Aviv often feature Irgun leader Menachem Begin discussing the objectives of the militant movement.

Aside from a brief period after the British capture the transmitter in 1944, the station regularly broadcasts until signing off May 14, 1948, as Israel prepares to declare its independence. Begin does use the station again in June 1948 to urge Irgun members not to fight back after Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion orders the sinking of the Altalena. Among other notable moments for Kol Tzion are a September 1945 broadcast accusing Jewish Agency leader Chaim Weizmann, Israel’s first president, of being a “Jewish Quisling”; an August 1946 call for an open revolt against the British administration in Palestine; a November 1946 appeal to the Haganah to join the fight against the British; and a December 1947 announcement that the Irgun would no longer be restrained in fighting for the Jewish state promised by the U.N. partition plan.

The Irgun operates in Mandatory Palestine from 1931 to 1948. A breakaway from the Haganah, it embraces the Revisionist Zionism principles of Ze’ev Jabotinsky. The Irgun uses violence to achieve Zionist goals, including the bombing of the King David Hotel in July 1946. Lehi, which breaks away from the Irgun for not being aggressive enough, joins the Irgun in carrying out the Deir Yassin massacre in April 1948.