What can I say? I have a morbid interest in Jewish terrorist groups of Pre-Israel. It was only about a year ago that I actually first read about The Irgun (AKA: The Etzel), and The Lehi (AKA: The Stern Gang). My initial reaction was something along the lines of “What? There were Jewish terrorists? All this time I’ve been led to believe that terrorism is an exclusively Arab activity.” Well, we can’t deny that this belief is propagated and reinforced by the Western Media which seems to be so utterly loathe to say anything at all seeming like criticism of Israel.
The story of the Irgun and Lehi is a story of in-fights, splits, and splinter groups due to a constant and steady growth of militant radicalism in Zionist currents. It begins with the first Jewish Para-Military Group in Pre-Israel Palestine. The Haganah.Prior to the 30’s the Haganah was a fairly rag-tag, disorganized group. More of a militia that anything. Following the 1929 Palestine riots, in which 116 Arabs and 133 Jews were killed, the Haganah became a much larger, well organized force.
The espoused policy of the Haganah (which means “Defence”) was primarily one of restraint. However there were those in the organization who had other ideas and in 1931 a group of Haganah commanders formed their own group, “Irgun Beth.” In 37, during the Arab riots, Irgun Beth itself split and half its members returned to the Haganah. The remaining members changed the group’s name to “Irgun Zeva’i Le’umi” (abbr. Etzel).
After forming, the Irgun carried out attacks against both Palestinian Arabs and British Soldiers. Some were shooting attacks. Other attacks involved bombs being detonated on buses, in cafes and in marketplaces to ensure the maximum number or civilian casualties.The Irgun is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Palestinian Arab civilians and British Soldiers and Police. Its violence and ruthless tactics prompted the Irgun to be condemned as a terrorist organization by the UN and the US and British Governments. Check out the vintage New York Times reference an Irgun attack.
Among the more famous attacks include
-July 26, 1946 The bombing of the King David Hotel, killing 91 people.
-July 25 1947 The kidnapping and brutal murder of 2 British Sergeants.
-April 1948 Deir Yassin Massacre in which 107-120 Palestinian Villagers were killed.
In 1948 Albert Einstein 27 Jewish intellectuals wrote a letter to the New York Times condemning the Irgun and its activities. They also took a moment to call the former Irgun Commander, Menachem Begin, a Fascist. Note this in the last paragraph. Well, it’s a good thing that Fascist Begin never got any power…. wait a minute!
As Begin was transformed from a terrorist leader to a ‘legitimate’ politician and leader, so was the the Irgun legitimized and absorbed into the Haganah and the IDF. The same principles and practices of violence against civilians (like the Gaza Massacre) and foreign nationals (such as Emily Henochowicz or the brave activists slain on the Freedom Flotilla) continue.