The American League for a Free Palestine (often known as the "Bergson Group") was a political action committee, acting as the American support group for Menachem Begin's Irgun Zvai Leumi terrorists, which was created by a militant Zionist emissary from Jerusalem, Peter Bergson. In 1945-48, its president was Senator Guy Gillette of Iowa.
To make the Jewish revolt more attractive to the American public, the League constantly invoked analogies from America's own history. "It's 1776 in Palestine!" was the League's rallying cry. Its pamphlets compared Irgun fighters hanged by the British to Nathan Hale. It organized a "George Washington Legion" of American volunteers for the Irgun. The League's boycott of British goods was staged under the auspices of the Sons of Liberty Committee, in imitation of the Americans who boycotted British goods in the 1770s. Thomas Jefferson's memorable phrase, "Resistance to tyranny is obedience to God," adorned the League's press releases. Such comparisons made it easier for Americans to sympathize with the Jewish struggle for a state in Palestine.
Many Hollywood figures joined the ranks of the American League for a Free Palestine. They included comedians Harpo Marx and Carl Reiner; actors Vincent Price, Jimmy Durante, Charles Bickford, Sidney Blackmer, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, and Canada Lee; producer David O. Selznick; Edward Buzzell of MGM Studios; singer Frank Sinatra; conductor Leonard Bernstein; and many others.
A rising young star named Marlon Brando volunteered for the lead in "A Flag is Born," a pro-Irgun play authored by Hollywood's leading screenwriter, Ben Hecht, which the League staged throughout the U.S. during 1946-1947. Brando also spoke at showings of "Last Night We Attacked," an 18-minute film heralding the Irgun's exploits which the League sponsored in many cities. The London Evening Standard denounced "A Flag is Born" as "the most virulent anti-British play ever staged in the United States." Hecht dismissed such criticism; "Britain may be able to patrol the Mediterranean [against ships bringing would-be Jewish immigrants to Palestine], but she cannot patrol Broadway," he declared.
Big-name athletes also lent a hand to the Bergson group's pro-Irgun campaigns. Former middleweight boxing champion Barney Ross spoke at ALFP rallies. College basketball, which in those days was more popular than the professional league, also did its share: a team of college basketball stars staged exhibition games in the Catskills in the summer of 1947 to raise money for the Irgun's fight against the British in Palestine.