Hillel Kook (Peter Bergson)
Hillel Kook (24th July 1915 –18th August 2001), also known as Peter Bergson, was a Revisionist Zionist activist and prominent member of the Irgun. Hillel Kook was born in Kriukai in the Russian Empire (today in Lithuania) in 1915, the son of Rabbi Dov Kook. In 1924, his family immigrated to Palestine and by 1930 Kook had joined the Haganah terrorist organisation. In 1931, Kook helped found the Irgun Jewish Zionist terrorist cell and fought with them in Palestine through most of the 1930s. He served as a post commander in 1936, and eventually became a member of the Irgun General Headquarters. In 1937 Kook began his career as an international spokesperson for the Irgun and Revisionist Zionism. He first went to Poland, where he was involved in financing and establishing Irgun cells in Eastern Europe. It was there that he met the founder of the Revisionist movement, Ze’ev Jabotinsky. Kook travelled to the United States with Jabotinsky in 1940, where he soon served as the head of the Irgun and Zionist mission in America following Jabotinsky’s death. This assignment was clandestine, and Kook publicly denied he was affiliated with the Irgun many times while in America.
While in America, Kook also led a group of Irgun activists under the pseudonym “Peter Bergson”. This was composed of a hard-core cadre of ten Irgun terrorists from Europe, America and Palestine, including Aryeh Ben-Eliezer, Yitzhak Ben-Ami, Alexander Rafaeli, Shmuel Merlin, and Eri Jabotinsky. The Bergson Group was closely involved with various Jewish Zionist groups, such as the American Friends for a Jewish Palestine and the Organizing Committee of Illegal Immigration. The group also founded some separate initiatives of its own, specifically the Committee for a Jewish Army of Stateless and Palestinian Jews, whose goal was the formation of Jewish terrorist cells in European cities. The outbreak of World War II saw a dramatic transformation in the group’s focus as Kook and his fellow terrorists began to spread Holocaust propaganda across America. This included putting full-page advertisements in leading newspapers, such as “Jews Fight for the Right to Fight”, published in The New York Times in 1942. In 1943, Kook established an “Emergency Committee for the Rescue of European Jewry”. United States immigration laws at the time limited immigration to only 2% of the number of each nationality present in the United States since the census of 1890 The proposal to admit more refugees was ratified by the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in response to pressure from members of the Emergency Committee to Save the Jewish People of Europe particularly Hillel Kook (Peter Bergson), Aryeh Ben-Eliezer and Eri Jabotinsky.