Jewish Women and the Defense of Palestine

The Modest Revolution, 1907–1945

By Meir Chazan
Translated by Meir Chazan

Subjects: Israel Studies, Women's Studies, Jewish Studies, History
Hardcover : 9781438490137, 302 pages, September 2022
Paperback : 9781438490144, 302 pages, March 2023

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Table of contents


1. Power, Heroism, Socialism, and Women during the
Second Aliya Period

2. A Lost Battle: Women Volunteers for the Jewish Legion in 1918

3. The Women of Kibbutz Ein Harod as a Microcosm of the Women’s Struggles

4. Kibbutz Women and Guard Duty during the First Wave of the Arab Revolt in 1936

5. Gender, Defense, and the Public Status of Women, 1937–39

6. The Debate on Jewish Women’s Enlistment into the British Army during WWII

7. “There”—Heroes of the Holocaust, “Here”—Fighters in the Palmach


Examines the struggle of Jewish women to join defense and military activities during the decades leading up to the Israeli War of Independence.


The Jewish women's revolution was one of the quietest and most angst-stricken of the revolutionary processes experienced by Zionism and the Yishuv (the Jewish community pre-1948) in Palestine during the first half of the twentieth century but at the same time one of the most profound and lasting among them. Jewish Women and the Defense of Palestine addresses women's struggle to join defense and military activities during the period between the establishment of the Hashomer organization in 1909 and the outbreak of the War of Independence in late 1947. It describes the battles women fought as they sought to challenge the male assumption that members of the "weaker sex" should not be integrated into defense activities. Moreover, the book analyzes the explicit and self-conscious aspiration of women, especially in the Labor settlement movement, to actively participate in defending and guarding their settlements as part of their broader view of women having an equal right to share the burden of building the Jewish national home in Palestine.

Meir Chazan is Associate Professor of Jewish History at Tel Aviv University in Israel.


"The role of women is an increasingly popular topic in Israeli history. Gender-related issues are a growing focus of Israel Studies and there is a real dearth of literature, especially in English. Uniquely well-informed and well written, Jewish Women and the Defense of Palestine will be on many reading lists and should be in every university library." — Ronald W. Zweig, New York University