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Hamas: A Pale Image of the Jewish Irgun And Lehi Gangs

by repost Sunday, Jun. 25, 2006 at 7:44 AM

The reality is that when faced with a superior military force, such as Britain possessed in 1947 and Israel does today against the Palestinians, terror is the underdog’s only viable weapon. Once a state has been established and legitimized, however, as in the cases of Israel and South Africa, the former “terrorists” tend to gain a veil of legitimacy as well. But legitimacy is now being denied Hamas.

By Donald Neff

AS EASY as it is to dismiss clichés as banal and misleading, the troubling problem is that they often cloak an essential truth. Scoffs and derision often greet the cliché that “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.” Yet freedom fighters is exactly how Israelis view the early Zionists who fought in 1947 for the establishment of Israel—and how Palestinians now consider their fighters resisting Israeli occupation.

The reality is that when faced with a superior military force, such as Britain possessed in 1947 and Israel does today against the Palestinians, terror is the underdog’s only viable weapon. Once a state has been established and legitimized, however, as in the cases of Israel and South Africa, the former “terrorists” tend to gain a veil of legitimacy as well. But legitimacy is now being denied Hamas. Even though Palestinians elected a Hamas-led government in free and fair elections, Israel denies it legitimacy on the grounds that Hamas is a terrorist organization.

Sixty years ago, however, at the time of the British Mandate, it was Jews in Palestine who mainly waged terrorism against the Palestinians. As Jewish leader David Ben-Gurion recorded in his personal history of Israel: “From 1946 to 1947 there were scarcely any Arab attacks on the Yishuv [the Jewish community in Palestine].”

The same could not be said for the Zionists. Jewish terrorists waged an intense and bloody campaign against the Palestinians, British, and even some Jews who opposed them leading up to the establishment of Israel.

The two major Jewish terror organizations in pre-independence Palestine were the Irgun Zvai Leumi—National Military Organization, NMO, also known by the Hebrew letters Etzel—founded in 1937, and the Lohamei Herut Israel, Fighters for the Freedom of Israel, Lehi in the Hebrew acronym, also known as the Stern Gang after its leader Avraham Stern, known as Yair, founded in 1940.

The Irgun was led by Menachem Begin, the future Israeli prime minister who was a leading proponent of Revisionist Zionism, the militant branch of Zionism pioneered by Vladimir Zeev Jabotinsky, which openly despised the Arabs and sought restoration of what it called Eretz Yisrael, the ancient land of Israel. By this was meant “both sides of the Jordan,” the Irgun slogan meaning all of Palestine and Jordan was the rightful home of the Jews.

Another belief of Begin’s was that of the “fighting Jew,” a romanticized idea expressed in Jabotinsky’s old Betar movement song of “we shall create, with sweat and blood, a race of men, strong, brave and cruel.” Israeli scholar Avishai Margalit translated the verse as “proud, generous and cruel,” adding: “Many are still waiting for the generous part to emerge.”

The Irgun was the dominant Jewish terrorist organization, both in size and the number and frequency of its attacks. Its most spectacular feat up to this time had been the July 22, 1946 blowing up of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, with the killing of 91 people—41 Arabs, 28 British and 17 Jews. Mainstream Zionists despised Begin and his Revisionists, although there was cooperation between the two on military matters. Ben-Gurion, the leader of mainstream Zionism, fought throughout his premiership with Begin.

The other major Jewish terrorist group, Lehi, was more extremist than the Irgun, claiming all the land between the Nile and the Euphrates as belonging to the Jews. When Jabotinsky declared a cease-fire in the fight against Britain and its mandate troops in Palestine during World War II, Stern broke with him and founded Lehi. Stern sought alliance with the Nazis, both because they shared an enemy in Britain and because Lehi shared Hitler’s totalitarian ideology. During the war Sternists openly celebrated Nazi victories on the battlefield.

An infamous document called the “Ankara Document” because it was found in the German Embassy in Ankara after the war, detailed Avraham Stern’s ideas “concerning the solution of the Jewish question in Europe.” It was dated Jan. 11, 1941. At the time, Stern was still a member of the Irgun, which he called by its initials, NMO. Wrote Stern: “The evacuation of the Jewish masses from Europe is a precondition for solving the Jewish question; but this can only be made possible and complete through the settlement of these masses in the home of the Jewish People, Palestine, and through the establishment of a Jewish state in its historical boundaries....The NMO...is well acquainted with the goodwill of the German Reich government and its authorities toward Zionist activity inside Germany and toward Zionist emigration plans....The NMO is closely related to the totalitarian movements in Europe in its ideology and structure.”

In the Partition period, Irgun had around 2,000 men, while Lehi had about 800. Though the memberships were comparatively small, the damage these two groups caused in inflaming animosity between Arab and Jew was considerable. When Stern was killed by British police in 1942, leadership of Lehi was shared; among the leaders were Nathan Yalin-Mor, one of the eventual killers of Count Bernadotte, and Yitzhak Shamir, another future prime minister of Israel.

Arab terrorists carried out some major operations as well, including the bombing of the Jewish Agency and the Palestine Post. But in contrast to Jewish violence, it was unorganized and episodic. As historian Michael C. Hudson noted: “Organized Jewish violence against the British and Arabs (exemplified by the Irgun’s bombing of the King David Hotel in 1946), however, was far more systematic and successful than that of the Palestinians, and the latter were unable to play a significant role in the final years of the Mandate.”

The Jewish Agency, as the official representative of the Jewish community, repeatedly denied any responsibility for the acts of the Irgun and Lehi, maintaining they were underground terrorist groups operating outside the law. However, there was close cooperation among Irgun, Lehi and the Haganah underground army under an agreement called the Hebrew Resistance Movement and aimed specifically against the British Mandatory government. It went into force in the fall of 1945, when “Irgun and Lehi accepted Haganah discipline in the conduct of all armed operations,” in the words of historian Noah Lucas.

By December 1947, British High Commissioner Alan Cunningham reported to London: “...the Haganah and the dissident groups are now working so closely together that the Agency’s claim that they cannot control the dissidents is inadmissible.”

Donald Neff is the author of the Warriors trilogy, Fallen Pillars: U.S. Policy towards Palestine and Israel, and Fifty Years of Israel, all available from the AET Book Club.

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LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 148 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
TITLE AUTHOR DATE
Wanted terrorists poster Sunday, Jun. 25, 2006 at 7:46 AM
1947: A Year of Terror sidebar Sunday, Jun. 25, 2006 at 7:47 AM
fascinating items on your list forgot to delete these, I suppose? Sunday, Jun. 25, 2006 at 8:20 AM
forgot to delete? Meyer London Sunday, Jun. 25, 2006 at 8:26 AM
A Whiter shade of Pale Sunday, Jun. 25, 2006 at 8:40 AM
The purpose of the article poster is transparent as cellophane Scapegoated Jew Sunday, Jun. 25, 2006 at 9:15 AM
"some 60 years ago" bogus Sunday, Jun. 25, 2006 at 10:05 AM
Another difference Sunday, Jun. 25, 2006 at 11:39 AM
Yeah, right what a crock Sunday, Jun. 25, 2006 at 6:56 PM
"Gaza is NO LONGER OCCUPIED???" now it's besieged Sunday, Jun. 25, 2006 at 9:26 PM
Ridiculous comparison Becky Johnson Monday, Jun. 26, 2006 at 7:29 AM
Capital punishment for terrorists Scapegoated Jew Monday, Jun. 26, 2006 at 7:36 AM
"And you claim it never happened?" another Zionist lie Monday, Jun. 26, 2006 at 8:10 AM
non sequiturs errata Monday, Jun. 26, 2006 at 8:12 AM
Maybe the editors here are wising up. one possible explanation Monday, Jun. 26, 2006 at 8:16 AM
'nessie' is having a hatred blast Scapegoated Jew Monday, Jun. 26, 2006 at 8:32 AM
"After all, it's more likely that not to be just another Zionist lie. " Scapegoated Jew Monday, Jun. 26, 2006 at 8:35 AM
My post was deleted Becky Johnson Monday, Jun. 26, 2006 at 9:37 AM
Remember Bill Levinson? Scapegoated Jew Monday, Jun. 26, 2006 at 9:56 AM
Please move the discussion elsewhere johnk Monday, Jun. 26, 2006 at 10:41 AM
"f the site is to be a place for Los Angeles news." all politics is local Monday, Jun. 26, 2006 at 11:41 AM
Comrades Lets take this show on the road Monday, Jun. 26, 2006 at 3:04 PM
Where is there freedom of speech on an IMC? Becky Johnson Monday, Jun. 26, 2006 at 5:47 PM
Response johnk Monday, Jun. 26, 2006 at 6:26 PM
'nessie' bullshits on autopilot Scapegoated Jew Monday, Jun. 26, 2006 at 6:39 PM
credibility gehrig Monday, Jun. 26, 2006 at 6:59 PM
Its debate and discussion/not "hijacking" Becky Johnson Tuesday, Jun. 27, 2006 at 5:35 AM
to johnk and the LA-IMC crew since you asked . . . Tuesday, Jun. 27, 2006 at 6:52 AM
There they go again this is the Zionist mentality Tuesday, Jun. 27, 2006 at 7:08 AM
SchtarkerYid Atelena Tuesday, Jun. 27, 2006 at 7:20 AM
nesstalin still doesn't get it gehrig Tuesday, Jun. 27, 2006 at 8:17 AM
Apologies not keeping up here.... Tuesday, Jun. 27, 2006 at 2:45 PM
""the Palestinian thugs' crimes" apples and oranges Tuesday, Jun. 27, 2006 at 5:54 PM
no nuance in nessie-land Tuesday, Jun. 27, 2006 at 6:02 PM
'nessie' idiocy Scapegoated Jew Tuesday, Jun. 27, 2006 at 6:15 PM
"Palestinians" Lord Locksley Tuesday, Jun. 27, 2006 at 6:18 PM
"Nothing good about Israel should ever appear...even if true" Becky Johnson Tuesday, Jun. 27, 2006 at 7:55 PM
Borders and Gradients johnk Wednesday, Jun. 28, 2006 at 9:30 AM
We once had a website, but now its gone.... Becky Johnson Wednesday, Jun. 28, 2006 at 10:05 AM
To the LA-IMC collective, especially the editors disgusted with this filth Wednesday, Jun. 28, 2006 at 10:25 AM
"disgusted with this filth " is 'nessie' Scapegoated Jew Wednesday, Jun. 28, 2006 at 10:42 AM
"the defunct Vancouver IMC" history buff Wednesday, Jun. 28, 2006 at 11:02 AM
always take 'nessie' with a salt shaker Scapegoated Jew Wednesday, Jun. 28, 2006 at 11:33 AM
A dissenting opinion Tia - aka racist filth Wednesday, Jun. 28, 2006 at 11:45 AM
"Arizmendi's cheese curry loaf" bunk logic and lies Wednesday, Jun. 28, 2006 at 12:35 PM
The Klan and neo-Nazis are always racist Scapegoated Jew Wednesday, Jun. 28, 2006 at 12:52 PM
Zionism is racist by definition. Death to the Zionist entity Wednesday, Jun. 28, 2006 at 1:13 PM
or garlic herb sourdough Tia Wednesday, Jun. 28, 2006 at 2:29 PM
Palestinian nationalism is racist by definition. Death to the Palestinian entity Wednesday, Jun. 28, 2006 at 4:34 PM
"IMC's should be the voice of the people. All the people." oh, really? Wednesday, Jun. 28, 2006 at 5:19 PM
Re: Banning anti-semites Tia Wednesday, Jun. 28, 2006 at 5:34 PM
keeping his ghost town uncluttered gehrig Wednesday, Jun. 28, 2006 at 6:47 PM
Why its so easy to edit at SF.IMC Becky Johnson Wednesday, Jun. 28, 2006 at 9:02 PM
"You're also an anti-Semite" sticks and stones Wednesday, Jun. 28, 2006 at 11:33 PM
nessie's rationalizing again gehrig Thursday, Jun. 29, 2006 at 4:53 AM
Mendacious bunk Scapegoated Jew Thursday, Jun. 29, 2006 at 6:18 AM
There they go again so typical Thursday, Jun. 29, 2006 at 11:33 AM
"There they go again" heard it before Thursday, Jun. 29, 2006 at 11:43 AM
stick a fork in him, and SF-IMC too gehrig Thursday, Jun. 29, 2006 at 12:05 PM
"nessie" off topic Thursday, Jun. 29, 2006 at 1:54 PM
"by off topic Wednesday, Jun. 28, 2006 at 4:54 PM " debate coach Thursday, Jun. 29, 2006 at 2:06 PM
The only one who wants to discuss Nessie is Nessie Thursday, Jun. 29, 2006 at 2:08 PM
More about Israel's terrorist roots back to the topic Thursday, Jun. 29, 2006 at 3:06 PM
he can't stand the scrutiny gehrig Thursday, Jun. 29, 2006 at 6:01 PM
Anti-semite MEANS Jew-hater Becky Johnson Thursday, Jun. 29, 2006 at 8:20 PM
more from nessie's bizarro-lexicon gehrig Friday, Jun. 30, 2006 at 2:42 AM
The Devil (George Warmonger Bush) on Likud Extremism and the Irgun Zvai Leumi The Devil (George Warmonger Bush) Friday, Jun. 30, 2006 at 3:22 AM
To "the Devil" Scapegoated Jew Friday, Jun. 30, 2006 at 6:59 AM
Carte blanche to Muslim sepremacism Scapegoated Jew Friday, Jun. 30, 2006 at 7:35 AM
The Bush End Times Death Cult on Likud Extremist / Irgun Zvai Leumi The Bush End Times Death Cult Friday, Jun. 30, 2006 at 7:36 AM
Likud Extremist / Irgun Zvai Lemi fer Jesus Scapegoated Jew Friday, Jun. 30, 2006 at 7:49 AM
non sequitur confusing Friday, Jun. 30, 2006 at 1:23 PM
try to keep up gehrig Friday, Jun. 30, 2006 at 1:37 PM
A Zionist is someone who wants you to believe a racist is a racist is a racist Friday, Jun. 30, 2006 at 2:21 PM
SchtarkerYid Just more meaningless Nessie droppings Friday, Jun. 30, 2006 at 2:44 PM
More about Israel's terrorist roots back to the topic Friday, Jun. 30, 2006 at 4:15 PM
Exactly Scapegoated Jew Friday, Jun. 30, 2006 at 4:40 PM
there they go again so typical Friday, Jun. 30, 2006 at 4:52 PM
Nessie: no new thoughts since 1972 gehrig Saturday, Jul. 01, 2006 at 3:13 AM
Why Nessie is a Liar Tia Saturday, Jul. 01, 2006 at 4:04 AM
"Fom Palestine remembered- an anti-Israel site" conflicting accounts Saturday, Jul. 01, 2006 at 6:49 AM
perfect for you, nessie gehrig Saturday, Jul. 01, 2006 at 8:30 AM
"off topic" au contrair Saturday, Jul. 01, 2006 at 8:58 AM
Still off topic Scapegoated Jew Saturday, Jul. 01, 2006 at 9:12 AM
"This thread's topic is *Hamas*" another Zionist lie Saturday, Jul. 01, 2006 at 9:18 AM
It stands for the Israeli Occupation Force Death to the Zionist entity Saturday, Jul. 01, 2006 at 9:36 AM
"no such military" another Zionist lie Saturday, Jul. 01, 2006 at 10:01 AM
"Their victims tell us otherwise" debate coach Saturday, Jul. 01, 2006 at 10:20 AM
"People who do stuff like this can't be trusted to be telling the truth about anythin bunk logic Saturday, Jul. 01, 2006 at 4:56 PM
straw man bunk logic Sunday, Jul. 02, 2006 at 1:27 AM
"its implications today" pointer Sunday, Jul. 02, 2006 at 2:34 AM
Desecration of Jewish and Muslim cemeteries: a comparison Becky Johnson Sunday, Jul. 02, 2006 at 5:52 AM
"t's obvious the story of desecrating the Muslim graves in Deir Yassin is fabrication another Zionist lie Sunday, Jul. 02, 2006 at 9:10 AM
open-minded vs. empty-headed gehrig Sunday, Jul. 02, 2006 at 9:44 AM
"the moon" an insult to your intelligence Sunday, Jul. 02, 2006 at 11:58 AM
"I've visited the site and can vouch for BJ's claim." not good enough Sunday, Jul. 02, 2006 at 12:42 PM
The truth prevails in spite of all Scapegoated Jew Sunday, Jul. 02, 2006 at 1:27 PM
one little two little three little massacres Sunday, Jul. 02, 2006 at 1:30 PM
"three little massacres" moral revulsion Sunday, Jul. 02, 2006 at 4:39 PM
interesting charismatic megafauna Sunday, Jul. 02, 2006 at 4:50 PM
Havi g a homeland is not the issue. apartheid Sunday, Jul. 02, 2006 at 6:37 PM
Having a homeland is a very big issue. Jew-free Muslim Waqf Sunday, Jul. 02, 2006 at 7:19 PM
Nessie reboots and attempts damage control Sunday, Jul. 02, 2006 at 7:50 PM
one person one vote charismatic megafauna Sunday, Jul. 02, 2006 at 8:02 PM
"Palestinians used to be only Jews" another Zionist lie Monday, Jul. 03, 2006 at 6:15 AM

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