Lehi (group)

Lehi (group)
Lohamei Herut Israel
Dates of operation 1940–1949
Active region(s) Palestine
Ideology Zionism

Lehi (Hebrew pronunciation: [ˈleχi]; Hebrew: לח"י – לוחמי חרות ישראלLohamei Herut Israel, "Fighters for the Freedom of Israel"), commonly referred to in English as the Stern Group or Stern Gang,[1] was a militant Zionist group founded by Avraham ("Yair") Stern in the British Mandate of Palestine.[2] Its avowed aim was forcibly evicting the British authorities from Palestine, allowing unrestricted immigration of Jews and the formation of a Jewish state.

Initially called the National Military Organization in Israel,[3] it was the smallest and most radical of Mandatory Palestine's three Zionist paramilitary groups (Haganah, Irgun, and Lehi), and never had more than a few hundred members. Lehi split from the Irgun in 1940 and by 1948 was identified with both religious Zionism (although most members were not Orthodox Jews) and left-wing nationalism (despite most members wanting to remain politically unaligned).[4][5]

Lehi assassinated Lord Moyne, British Minister Resident in the Middle East, and made many other attacks on the British in Palestine. It was described as a terrorist organization by the British authorities.[6] Lehi assassinated United Nations mediator Folke Bernadotte and was banned by the Israeli government.[7] The United Nations Security Council called the assassins "a criminal group of terrorists,"[8] and Lehi was similarly condemned by Bernadotte's replacement as mediator, Ralph Bunche.[9] Lehi and Irgun were jointly responsible for the massacre in Deir Yassin.

Israel granted a general amnesty to Lehi members on 14 February 1949. In 1980, Israel instituted a military decoration, the Lehi ribbon.[10] Former Lehi leader Yitzhak Shamir became Prime Minister of Israel in 1983.


Founding of Lehi

Avraham Stern

Lehi was created in June 1940, by Avraham Stern, then a member of the Irgun (Irgun Tsvai Leumi – "National Military Organization") high command. Zeev Jabotinsky, then the Irgun's supreme commander, had decided that diplomacy and working with Britain would best serve the Zionist cause. World War II was in progress, and Britain was fighting Nazi Germany. The Irgun suspended its underground military activities against the British for the duration of the war.

Stern argued that the time for Zionist diplomacy was over and that it was time for armed struggle against the British. Like other Zionists, he objected to the White Paper of 1939, which restricted both Jewish immigration and Jewish land purchases in Palestine. For Stern, 'no difference existed between Hitler and Chamberlain, between Dachau or Buchenwald and sealing the gates of Eretz Israel.'[11]

Stern wanted to open Palestine to all Jewish refugees from Europe, and considered this as by far the most important issue of the day. Britain would not allow this. Therefore, he concluded, the Yishuv (Jews of Palestine) should fight the British rather than support them in the war. When the Irgun made a truce with the British, Stern left the Irgun to form his own group, which he called Irgun Tsvai Leumi B'Yisrael ("National Military Organization in Israel"), later Lohamei Herut Israel ("Fighters for the Freedom of Israel").

Stern and his followers believed that dying for the 'foreign occupier' who was obstructing the creation of the Jewish State was useless. They differentiated between 'enemies of the Jewish people' (the British) and 'Jew haters' (the Nazis), believing that the former needed to be defeated and the latter manipulated.[citation needed]

In 1940, the idea of the Final Solution was still "unthinkable," and Stern believed that Hitler wanted to make Germany judenrein through emigration, as opposed to extermination. In December 1940, Lehi even contacted Germany with a proposal to aid German conquest in the Middle East in return for recognition of a Jewish state open to unlimited immigration.[11]

Goals and methods

Lehi had three main goals:

  • To bring together all those interested in liberation (that is, those willing to join in active fighting against the British).
  • To appear before the world as the only active Jewish military organization.
  • To take over Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel) by armed force.[12]

Lehi believed in its early years that its goals would be achieved by finding a strong international ally that would expel the British from Palestine, in return for Jewish military help; this would require the creation of a broad and organised military force "demonstrating its desire for freedom through military operations."[13]

Lehi also referred to themselves as 'terrorists' and may have been one of the last organizations to do so.[14]

An article titled "Terror" in the Lehi underground newspaper He Khazit (The Front ) argued as follows:

Neither Jewish ethics nor Jewish tradition can disqualify terrorism as a means of combat. We are very far from having any moral qualms as far as our national war goes. We have before us the command of the Torah, whose morality surpasses that of any other body of laws in the world: "Ye shall blot them out to the last man." But first and foremost, terrorism is for us a part of the political battle being conducted under the present circumstances, and it has a great part to play: speaking in a clear voice to the whole world, as well as to our wretched brethren outside this land, it proclaims our war against the occupier. We are particularly far from this sort of hesitation in regard to an enemy whose moral perversion is admitted by all. [15]

The article described the goals of terror:

  • It demonstrates ... against the true terrorist who hides behind his piles of papers and the laws he has legislated.
  • It is not directed against people, it is directed against representatives. Therefore it is effective.
  • If it also shakes the Yishuv from their complacency, good and well.[15]

Yitzhak Shamir, one of the three leaders of Lehi after Yair Stern's assassination, argued for the legitimacy of Lehi's actions:

There are those who say that to kill Martin (a British sergeant) is terrorism, but to attack an army camp is guerrilla warfare and to bomb civilians is professional warfare. But I think it is the same from the moral point of view. Is it better to drop an atomic bomb on a city than to kill a handful of persons? I don’t think so. But nobody says that President Truman was a terrorist. All the men we went for individually — Wilkin, Martin, MacMichael and others — were personally interested in succeeding in the fight against us. So it was more efficient and more moral to go for selected targets. In any case, it was the only way we could operate, because we were so small. For us it was not a question of the professional honor of a soldier, it was the question of an idea, an aim that had to be achieved. We were aiming at a political goal. There are many examples of what we did to be found in the BibleGideon and Samson, for instance. This had an influence on our thinking. And we also learned from the history of other peoples who fought for their freedom — the Russian and Irish revolutionaries, Giuseppe Garibaldi and Josip Broz Tito.[16]

18 Principles of Rebirth

Avraham Stern laid out the ideology of Lehi in the essay 18 Principles of Rebirth:[17]

  1. The nation: The Jewish people is a covenanted people, the originator of monotheism, formulator of the prophetic teachings, standard bearer of human culture, guardian of glorious patrimony. The Jewish people is schooled in self-sacrifice and suffering; its vision, survivability and faith in redemption are indestructible.
  2. The homeland: The homeland in the Land of Israel within the borders delineated in the Bible ("To your descendants, I shall give this land, from the River of Egypt to the great Euphrates River." Genesis 15:18) This is the land of the living, where the entire nation shall live in safety.
  3. The nation and its land: Israel conquered the land with the sword. There it became a great nation and only there it will be reborn. Hence Israel alone has a right to that land. This is an absolute right. It has never expired and never will.
  4. The Goals
    1. Redemption of the land.
    2. Establishment of sovereignty.
    3. Revival of the nation.
      There is no sovereignty without the redemption of the land, and there is no national revival without sovereignty.
    These are the goals of the organization during the period of war and conquest
  5. Education: Educate the nation to love freedom and zealously guard Israel's eternal patrimony. Inculcate the idea that the nation is master to its own fate. Revive the doctrine that "The sword and the book came bound together from heaven." (Midrash Vayikra Rabba 35:8)
  6. Unity: The unification of the entire nation around the banner of the Hebrew freedom movement. The use of the genius, status and resources of individuals and the channeling of the energy, devotion and revolutionary fervour of the masses for the war of liberation.
  7. Pacts: Make pacts with all those who are willing to help the struggle of the organization and provide direct support.
  8. Force: Consolidate and increase the fighting force in the homeland and in the Diaspora, in the underground and in the barracks, to become the Hebrew army of liberation with its flag, arms, and commanders.
  9. War: Constant war against those who stand in the way of fulfilling the goals.
  10. Conquest: The conquest of the homeland from foreign rule and its eternal possession.
    These are the tasks of the movement during the period of sovereignty and redemption
  11. Sovereignty: Renewal of Hebrew sovereignty over the redeemed land.
  12. Rule of justice: The establishment of a social order in the spirit of Jewish morality and prophetic justice. Under such an order no one will go hungry or unemployed. All will live in harmony, mutual respect and friendship as an example to the world.
  13. Reviving the wilderness: Build the ruins and revive the wilderness for mass immigration and population increase.
  14. Aliens: Solve the problem of alien population [i.e. the Arab inhabitants of Palestine] by exchange of population.
  15. Ingathering of the exiles: Total in-gathering of the exiles to their sovereign state.
  16. Power: The Hebrew nation shall become a first-rate military, political, cultural and economical entity in the Middle East and around the Mediterranean Sea.
  17. Revival: The revival of the Hebrew language as a spoken language by the entire nation, the renewal of the historical and spiritual might of Israel. The purification of the national character in the fire of revival.
  18. The temple: The building of the Third Temple as a symbol of the new era of total redemption.

Relationship with fascism and socialism

Unlike the left-wing Haganah and right-wing Irgun, Lehi members were not a homogeneous collective with a single political, religious, or economic ideology. They were a combination of militants united by the goal of liberating the land of Israel from British rule. Most Lehi leaders defined their organization as an anti-imperialism movement and stated that their opposition to British colonial rule in Palestine was not based on a particular policy but rather on the presence of a foreign power over the homeland of the Jewish people. Avraham Stern defined the British Mandate as “foreign rule” regardless of British policies and took a radical position against such imperialism even if it were to be benevolent.[18]

In the early years of the state of Israel Lehi veterans could be found supporting nearly all political parties and some Lehi leaders founded a left-wing political party called the Fighters' List with Natan Yellin-Mor as its head. The party took part in the elections in January 1949 and won a single parliamentary seat. A number of Lehi veterans established the Semitic Action movement in 1956 which sought the creation of a regional federation encompassing Israel and its Arab neighbors [19][20] on the basis of an anti-colonialist alliance with other indigenous inhabitants of the Middle East.[21]

Some writers have stated that Lehi's true goals were the creation of a totalitarian state.[22] Perlinger and Weinberg write that the organisation's ideology placed "its world view in the quasi-fascist radical Right, which is characterised by xenophobia, a national egotism that completely subordinates the individual to the needs of the nation, anti-liberalism, total denial of democracy and a highly centralised government."[23] Perliger and Weinberg state that most Lehi members were admirers of the Italian Fascist movement.[13]

Others counter these claims. They note that when Lehi founder Avraham Stern went to study in fascist Italy, he refused to join the "Gruppo Universitario Fascista" for foreign students, even though members got large reductions in tuition.[24] Also, as a teenager in the Soviet Union, Stern was a member of the Young Pioneers, the children's branch of the Communist Party.[25] While organizing for Irgun in Poland in the 1930s, Stern started a labor union organization (Histadrut) for the Tzofim Hashomer Hatzair in Suwałki, which followed the ideology of the socialist movement Hashomer Hatzair, and the youth organizations Hatzofim and Hechalutz.[26] Supporting theories of Stern's progressive leanings is his comment that "We... want to establish the Kingdom of Israel and to rebuild it on the eternal foundations of Fraternity, Respect and Friendship to all the nation's sons whoever they are."[27]

Evolution and tactics of the organization

Many Lehi combatants received professional training. Some attended the state military academy in Civitavecchia, in Fascist Italy.[28]

Others received military training from instructors of the Polish Armed Forces in 1938–1939. This training was conducted in Trochenbrod (Zofiówka) in Wołyń Voivodeship, Podębin near Łódź, and the forests around Andrychów. They were taught how to use explosives. One of them reported later:

Poles treated terrorism as a science. We have mastered mathematical principles of demolishing constructions made of concrete, iron, wood, bricks and dirt.[28]

The group was initially unsuccessful. Early attempts to raise funds through criminal activities, including a bank robbery in Tel Aviv in 1940 and another robbery on 9 January 1942 in which Jewish passers-by were killed, brought about the temporary collapse of the group. An attempt to assassinate the head of the British secret police in Lod in which three police personnel were killed, two Jewish and one British, elicited a severe response from the British and Jewish establishments who collaborated against Lehi.[29]

Wanted Poster of the Palestine Police Force offering rewards for the capture of Stern Gang members: Jaacov Levstein (Eliav), Yitzhak Yezernitzky (Shamir), and Natan Friedman-Yelin

Stern's group was seen as a terrorist organisation by the British authorities, who instructed the Defence Security Office (the colonial branch of MI5) to track down its leaders. In 1942, Stern, after he was arrested, was shot dead in disputed circumstances by Inspector Geoffrey Morton of the CID.[30] The arrest of several other members led momentarily to the group's eclipse, until it was revived after the September 1942 escape of two of its leaders, Yitzhak Shamir and Eliyahu Giladi, aided by two other escapees Natan Yellin-Mor (Friedman) and Israel Eldad (Sheib). (Giladi was later killed by Lehi under circumstances that remain mysterious.)[29] Shamir's codename was "Michael", a reference to one of Shamir's heroes, Michael Collins. Lehi was guided by spiritual and philosophical leaders such as Uri Zvi Greenberg and Israel Eldad. After the killing of Giladi, the organization was led by a triumvirate of Eldad, Shamir, and Yellin-Mor.

Lehi adopted a non-socialist platform of Anti-Imperialist ideology. It viewed the continued British rule of Palestine as a violation of the Mandate's provision generally, and its restrictions on Jewish immigration to be an intolerable breach of international law. However they also targeted Jews whom they regarded as traitors, and during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War they joined in operations with the Haganah and Irgun against Arab targets, for example Deir Yassin.

According to a compilation by Nachman Ben-Yehuda, Lehi was responsible for 42 assassinations, more than twice as many as the Irgun and Haganah combined during the same period. Of those Lehi assassinations that Ben-Yehuda classified as political, more than half the victims were Jews.[31]

Lehi also rejected the authority of the Jewish Agency for Israel and related organizations, operating entirely on its own throughout nearly all of its existence.

Lehi prisoners captured by the British generally refused to present a defence when brought to trial. They would only read out statements in which they declared that the court, representing an occupying force, had no jurisdiction over them and therefore was illegal. For the same reason, Lehi prisoners refused to plead for amnesty, even when it was clear that this would have spared them the death penalty. In one case Moshe Barazani, a Lehi member, and Meir Feinstein, an Irgun member, committed suicide in prison with a grenade smuggled inside an orange so the British could not hang them.[citation needed]

Contact with Nazi Germany

German cover letter from 11 January 1941 attached to a description of an offer for an alliance with Nazi Germany attributed to Lehi.

In 1940, Lehi proposed intervening in World War II on the side of Nazi Germany. It offered assistance in transferring the Jews of Europe to Palestine, in return for Germany's help in expelling Britain from Mandatory Palestine. Late in 1940, Lehi representative Naftali Lubenchik went to Beirut to meet German official Werner Otto von Hentig (who also was involved with the Haavara or Transfer Agreement, which had been transferring German Jews and their funds to Palestine since 1933). Lubenchik told von Hentig that Lehi had not yet revealed its full power and that they were capable of organizing a whole range of anti-British operations.

On the assumption that the destruction of Britain was the Germans' top objective, the organization offered cooperation in the following terms. Lehi would support sabotage and espionage operations in the Middle East and in eastern Europe anywhere where they had cells. Germany would recognize an independent Jewish state in Palestine/Eretz Israel, and all Jews leaving their homes in Europe, by their own will or because of government injunctions, could enter Palestine with no restriction of numbers. Stern also proposed to recruit some 40,000 Jews from occupied Europe to invade Palestine with German support to oust the British.[32]

On 11 January 1941, Vice Admiral Ralf von der Marwitz, the German Naval attaché in Turkey, filed a report (the "Ankara document") conveying an offer by Lehi to "actively take part in the war on Germany's side" in return for German support for "the establishment of the historic Jewish state on a national and totalitarian basis, bound by a treaty with the German Reich."[33][34]

The offer may have been conveyed orally to von der Marwitz by von Hentig, who was delayed in Ankara en route to Germany. It is also suggested that the supposed offer was proposed by an officer in the intelligence service of Vichy France in Syria, General Colombani, who is mentioned in the document. Colombani was at odds with other French officials in Syria, as noted by von der Marwitz; he wrote "Colombani is of the opinion that his return to France is a consequence of co-operation of Conti with Minister Pierroton." It is also possible that Colombani wanted to sabotage any possible German-Lehi deal: he had collaborated with the Mufti of Jerusalem in Lebanon in 1938–1939, and in 1939 escorted the Mufti through Syria to Iraq.[32]

Von der Marwitz delivered the offer, classified as secret, to the German Ambassador in Turkey and on 21 January 1941 it was sent to Berlin. There was never any response.[35]

This proposed alliance with Nazi Germany cost Lehi and Stern much support.[36]

Later history

As a group that never had over a few hundred members, Lehi relied on audacious but small-scale operations to bring their message home. They adopted the tactics of groups such as the Socialist Revolutionaries and the Combat Organization of the Polish Socialist Party in Czarist Russia,[37] and the Irish Republican Army, which had overcome Britain to gain Ireland's independence. To this end, Lehi conducted small-scale operations such as assassinations of British soldiers and police officers and Jewish "collaborators." Another strategy, adopted in 1946, was to send bombs in the mail to many British politicians. Other actions included sabotaging infrastructure targets: bridges, railroads, and oil refineries. Lehi financed their operations from private donations, extortion, and bank robbery.

Assassination of Lord Moyne

On 6 November 1944, Lehi assassinated Lord Moyne, the British Minister Resident in the Middle East, in Cairo. Moyne was the highest ranking British official in the region. Yitzhak Shamir claimed later that Moyne was assassinated because of his support for a Middle Eastern Arab Federation and anti-Semitic lectures in which Arabs were held to be racially superior to Jews.[38] The assassination rocked the British government, and outraged Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister. The two assassins, Eliahu Bet-Zouri and Eliahu Hakim were captured and used their trial as a platform to make public their political propaganda. They were executed. In 1975 their bodies were returned to Israel and given a state funeral.[39] In 1982, postage stamps were issued for 20 Olei Hagardom, including Bet-Zouri and Hakim, in a souvenir sheet called "Martyrs of the struggle for Israel's independence." [40][41]

British police station in Haifa

On 12 January 1947, Lehi members drove a truckload of explosives into a British police station in Haifa killing four and injuring 140.

Death threat against Hugh Trevor-Roper

Shortly after the 1947 publication of The Last Days of Hitler, Lehi issued a death threat against the author, Hugh Trevor-Roper, for his portrayal of Hitler, feeling that Trevor-Roper had attempted to exonerate the German populace from responsibility.[42]

Cairo-Haifa train bombings

During the lead-up to the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, Lehi mined the Cairo-Haifa train several times. On 29 February 1948, Lehi mined the train north of Rehovot, killing 28 soldiers and wounding 35. On 31 March, Lehi mined the train near Binyamina, killing 40 civilians and wounding 60.

Deir Yassin massacre

One of the most widely known acts of Lehi was the attack on the Palestinian-Arab village of Deir Yassin.

In the months before up to the British evacuation from Palestine, the Arab League-sponsored Arab Liberation Army (ALA) occupied several strategic points along the road between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, cutting off supplies to the Jewish part of Jerusalem. One of these points was Deir Yassin. By March 1948, the road was cut off and Jewish Jerusalem was under siege. The Haganah launched Operation Nachshon to break the siege.

On 6 April, the Haganah attacked al-Qastal, a village two kilometers north of Deir Yassin, also overlooking the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv road.[43]

Then on 9 April 1948, about 120 Lehi and Irgun fighters, acting in cooperation with the Haganah, attacked and captured Deir Yassin. The attack was at night, the fighting was confused, and many civilian inhabitants of the village were killed.[44] This action had great consequences for the war, and remains a cause celebre for Palestinians ever since.

Exactly what happened has never been established clearly. The Arab League reported a great massacre: 254 killed, with rape and lurid mutilations. Israeli investigations claimed the actual number of dead was between 100 and 120, and there were no mass rapes, but most of the dead were civilians, and admitted some were killed deliberately. Lehi and Irgun both denied an organized massacre. Accounts by Lehi veterans such as Ezra Yakhin note that many of the attackers were killed or wounded, assert that Arabs fired from every building and that Iraqi and Syrian soldiers were among the dead, and even that some Arab fighters dressed as women.[45]

However, Jewish authorities, including Haganah, the Chief Rabbinate, the Jewish Agency, and David Ben-Gurion, also condemned the attack, lending credence to the charge of massacre.[46] The Jewish Agency even sent a letter of condemnation, apology, and condolence to King Abdullah I of Jordan.[47]

Both the Arab reports and Jewish responses had hidden motives: the Arab leaders wanted to encourage Palestinian Arabs to fight rather than surrender, to discredit the Zionists with international opinion, and to increase popular support in their countries for an invasion of Palestine. The Jewish leaders wanted to discredit Irgun and Lehi.

Ironically, the Arab reports backfired in one respect: frightened Palestinian Arabs did not surrender, but did not fight either – they fled, allowing Israel to gain much territory with little fighting and also without absorbing many Arabs.[47]

Lehi similarly interpreted events at Deir Yassin as turning the tide of war in favor of the Jews. Lehi leader Israel Eldad later wrote in his memoirs from the underground period that “without Deir Yassin the State of Israel could never have been established.”[48][49]

The Deir Yassin story did not much sway international opinion. It did increase not only support but pressure on Arab governments to intervene, notably Abdullah of Jordan, who was now compelled to join the invasion of Palestine after Israel's declaration of independence on 14 May.


The conflict between Lehi and mainstream Jewish and subsequently Israeli organizations came to an end when Lehi was formally dissolved and integrated into the Israeli Defense Forces on 31 May 1948, its leaders getting amnesty from prosecution or reprisals as part of the integration.

Assassination of Count Folke Bernadotte

UN mediator Count Folke Bernadotte was assassinated by Lehi in Jerusalem in 1948.

Although Lehi had stopped operating nationally after May 1948, the group continued to function in Jerusalem. On 17 September 1948, Lehi assassinated UN mediator Count Folke Bernadotte. The assassination was directed by Yehoshua Zettler and carried out by a four-man team led by Meshulam Makover. The fatal shots were fired by Yehoshua Cohen.

Three days after the assassination, the Israeli government passed the Ordinance to Prevent Terrorism and declared Lehi to be a terrorist organization.[50][51] Many Lehi members were arrested, including leaders Nathan Yellin-Mor and Matitiahu Schmulevitz who were arrested on 29 September.[50] Eldad and Shamir managed to escape arrest.[50] Yellin-Mor and Schmulevitz were charged with leadership of a terrorist organization and on 10 February 1949 were sentenced to 8 years and 5 years imprisonment, respectively.[52][53][54] However the State (Temporary) Council soon announced a general amnesty for Lehi members and they were released.[52][55]

Lehi in politics

Some of the Lehi leadership founded a left-wing political party called the Fighters' List with the jailed Yellin-Mor as its head. The party took part in the elections in January 1949 and won one seat. Thanks to a general amnesty for Lehi members granted on 14 February 1949, Yellin-Mor was released from prison to take up his place in the Knesset. However, the party disbanded after failing to win a seat in the 1951 elections.

In 1956, some Lehi veterans established the Semitic Action movement, which sought the creation of a regional federation encompassing Israel and its Arab neighbors [19][20] on the basis of an anti-colonialist alliance with other indigenous inhabitants of the Middle East.[21]

Not all Lehi alumni gave up political violence after independence: former members were involved in the activities of the Kingdom of Israel militant group, the 1957 assassination of Rudolf Kastner, and likely the 1952 attempted assassination of David-Zvi Pinkas.[56][57][58][59]

The Lehi ribbon

Service ribbon

In 1980, Israel instituted the Lehi ribbon, red, black, grey, pale blue and white, which is awarded to former members of the Lehi underground who wished to carry it, "for military service towards the establishment of the State of Israel".

The Lehi anthem "Unknown Soldiers"

The lyrics of "Unknown Soldiers" were written by Avraham Stern. This was one of the first songs written by Stern. He composed the song together with his wife Roni. The song became the anthem of the Irgun and remained so until 1940 when Lehi broke off. The song expresses an unlimited willingness to sacrifice. The anthem is sung by veteran members of the group in gatherings as well as by some political groups from time to time, from both ends of the political map.

Full text of the song :[60]

First stanza

חיילים אלמונים הננו, בלי מדים,
וסביבנו אימה וצלמוות.
כולנו גויסנו לכל החיים:.
משורה משחרר רק המוות.,

Unknown Soldiers are we, without uniform
And around us fear and the shadow of death
We have all been drafted for life.
Only death will discharge us from [our] ranks,


בימים אדומים של פרעות ודמים,
בלילות השחורים של ייאוש.,
בערים ובכפרים את דגלנו נרים,.
ועליו: הגנה וכיבוש

On red days of riots and blood
In the dark nights of despair
In towns and villages shall we raise our banner
On which are inscribed defence and conquest

Second Stanza

לא גויסנו בשוט כהמון עבדים,
כדי לשפוך בנכר את דמנו.,
רצוננו להיות לעולם בני חורין,.
חלומנו למות בעד ארצנו

We were not drafted by the whip, like a mob of slaves[61]
To shed our blood in foreign lands
Our will is to be forever free
Our dream – to die for our country

Third Stanza

ומכל עברים רבבות מכשולים ,
שם גורל אכזרי על דרכנו,
אך אויבים, מרגלים ובתי אסורים,.
לא יוכלו לעצור בעדנו

From all directions, tens of thousands of obstacles
Cruel fate has placed on our path
But enemies, spies and prison houses
Will never be able to stop us

Fourth Stanza

ואם אנחנו ניפול ברחובות, בבתים ,
יקברונו בלילה בלאט,
במקומנו יבואו אלפי אחרים
להגן ולשמור עדי עד

And if we fall in the streets and homes
We will be buried silently in the night
Thousands of others will fill our places
To protect and defend forever

Fifth Stanza

בדמעות אימהות שכולות מבנים ,
ובדם תינוקות טהורים ,
כמו במלט נדביק הגופות ללבנים
את בניין המולדת נקים

With the tears of bereaved mothers
And the blood of pure babies
Like mortar shall we put together the cadaver building blocks
The edifice of the homeland shall we raise

Prominent members of Lehi

A number of Lehi's members went on to play important roles in Israel's public life.

Geula Cohen, announcer of the Lehi underground radio station (1948)

See also

  • Roy Farran, letter bomb incident
  • Hamaas, an official publication of the Lehi.


  1. ^ "This group was known to its friends as LEHI and to its enemies as the Stern Gang." Blumberg, Arnold. History of Israel, Westport, CT, USA: Greenwood Publishing Group, Incorporated, 1998. p 106., "calling themselves Lohamei Herut Yisrael (LHI) or, less generously, the Stern Gang." Lozowick, Yaacov. Right to Exist : A Moral Defense of Israel's Wars. Westminster, MD, USA: Doubleday Publishing, 2003. p 78. "It ended in a split with Stern leading his own group out of the Irgun. This was known pejoratively by the British as "the Stern Gang' – later as Lehi" Shindler, Colin. Triumph of Military Zionism : Nationalism and the Origins of the Israeli Right. London, , GBR: I. B. Tauris & Company, Limited, 2005. p 218. "Known by their Hebrew acronym as LEHI they were more familiar, not to say notorious, to the rest of the world as the Stern Gang – a ferociously effective and murderous terrorist group fighting to end British rule in Palestine and establish a Jewish state." Cesarani, David. Major Faran's Hat: Murder, Scandal and Britain's War Against Jewish Terrorism, 1945–1948. London. Vintage Books. 2010. p 01.
  2. ^ "ELIAHU AMIKAM Stern Gang Leader" (Free Preview; full article requires payment.). The Washington Post. 16 August 1995. pp. D5. http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/washingtonpost/access/19447354.html?dids=19447354:19447354&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:FT&fmac=&date=Aug+16%2C+1995&author=&desc=DEATHS. Retrieved 18 November 2008. "The [AMIKAM] Stern Gang – known in Hebrew as Lehi, an acronym for Israel Freedom Fighters – was the most militant of the pre-state underground groups." 
  3. ^ Laqueur, Walter (2003) [1972]. "Jabotinsky and Revisionism" (Google Book Search). A History of Zionism (3rd ed.). London: Tauris Parke Paperbacks. p. 377. ISBN 9781860649325. OCLC 249640859. http://books.google.com/books?id=NMjh319vnwAC&pg=PA377&dq=history+of+Lehi+stern&ei=ikMjSfHsGoHaygSb46X6Ag. Retrieved 18 November 2008. 
  4. ^ Heller, J. (1995). The Stern Gang. Frank Cass.
  5. ^ Israel Eldad, The First Tithe
  6. ^ "Stern Gang" A Dictionary of World History. Oxford University Press, 2000. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press [1].
  7. ^ Ami Pedahzur, The Israeli Response to Jewish terrorism and violence. Defending Democracy, Manchester University Press, Manchester and New York 2002 p.77
  8. ^ Security Council 57 (1948) Resolution of 18 September 1948.
  9. ^ Ralph Bunche report on assassination of UN mediator 27th Sept 1948, "notorious terrorists long known as the Stern group"
  10. ^ [The Stern Gang] LEHI – Fighters for the Freedom of Israel Ribbon on the Israeli Ministry of Defence website
  11. ^ a b Colin Shindler (1995). The land beyond promise: Israel, Likud and the Zionist dream. I.B. Tauris. p. 22. ISBN 9781860647741. http://books.google.com/books?id=7VBoVr089GwC&pg=PA22#v=onepage&q&f=false. 
  12. ^ Heller, p. 112, quoted in Perliger and Weinberg, 2003, pp. 106–107.
  13. ^ a b Perliger and Weinberg, 2003, p. 107.
  14. ^ Calder Walton (2008). "British Intelligence and the Mandate of Palestine: Threats to British national security immediately after the Second World War". Intelligence and National Security 23 (4): 435–462. doi:10.1080/02684520802293049. 
  15. ^ a b He Khazit (underground publication of Lehi), Issue 2, August 1943. No author is stated, as was usual for this publication. Translated from original. For a discussion of this article, see Heller, p. 115
  16. ^ Bethell Nicholas , The Palestine Triangle: The Struggle between British, Jews, and the Arabs, 1935–48 (1979), page 278
  17. ^ Amichal, page 316, a copy on the web exists here
  18. ^ Israel Eldad, The First Tithe, p. 84
  19. ^ a b Diamond, James S. (1990). "We Are Not One: A Post-Zionist Perspective". Tikkun 5 (2): 107. http://docs.google.com/gview?a=v&q=cache:u5iG5WrE5J8J:www.tikkun.org/mediagallery/download.php%3Fmid%3D20090505142537689+%22We+Are+Not+One:+A+Post-Zionist+Perspective.%22&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESgTWzHS7FvDOoPppUaA5svzLFaOkhaHGmK-VbqxkEaohgC_EHY9CrUjeu2iEdrkWynaIxhJh8Yf37_oYJHSRNuOoQKUp-_wU1jOZB1zoWhg8FNFPi7wDuV1uo1hCgSJw-pvEMH_&sig=AFQjCNE4qzSmJWJqAhPLUxz1o7u1Lt_dvQ. 
  20. ^ a b Hattis Rolef, Susan. "YELLIN-MOR (Friedman), NATHAN". Encyclopaedia Judaica. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0021_0_21240.html. 
  21. ^ a b Beinin, Joel (1998). The Dispersion of Egyptian Jewry: Culture, Politics, and the Formation of a Modern Diaspora. University of California Press. pp. 166
  22. ^ Heller, 1995, p. 70.
  23. ^ Perliger and Weinberg, 2003, p. 108.
  24. ^ Amichal, 77
  25. ^ Amichal, 14
  26. ^ Amichal, page 16
  27. ^ Lochamei Herut Yisrael (Lehi), writings, chapter 1, pages 70–71
  28. ^ a b (Polish) Jakub Mielnik: Jak polacy stworzyli Izrael, Focus.pl Historia, 5 May 2008
  29. ^ a b Perliger and Weinberg, 2003, p. 109.
  30. ^ Boyer Bell, 1996, p. 71.
  31. ^ N. Ben-Yehuda, Political Assassinations by Jews (State University of New York, 1993), p397.
  32. ^ a b Full details depicted in Ada Amichal Yevin, "In Purple," The Life of Yair – Abraham Stern," Hadar Publishing House Tel Aviv, 1986, pp. 225–230
  33. ^ Heller, 1995, p. 86.
  34. ^ David Yisraeli, The Palestine Problem in German Politics, 1889–1945, Bar Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel, 1974. Verified web copies: German English. Also see Otto von Hentig, Mein Leben (Goettingen, 1962) pp 338–339
  35. ^ A Meeting in Beirut, Habib Canaan, Haaretz (musaf), 27 March 1970
  36. ^ "Stern Gang" The Oxford Companion to World War II. Ed. I. C. B. Dear and M. R. D. Foot. Oxford University Press, 2001.
  37. ^ Iviansky 1986, 72–73.
  38. ^ Yitzhak Shamir, 'Why the Lehi Assassinated Lord Moyne', Nation, 32/119 (1995) pp. 333–7 (Hebrew) cited in Perliger and Weinberg, 2003, p. 111.
  39. ^ Israel honours British minister's assassins, The TImes, 26 June 1975, p1.
  40. ^ The Israel Philatelic Federation
  41. ^ http://www.israelphilately.org.il/catalog/series.asp?id=416 (detailed)
  42. ^ Rosenbaum, Ron. Explaining Hitler: the search for the origins of his evil. p. 63. 
  43. ^ Silver 1984, p. 91.
  44. ^ Yoav Gelber, Palestine 1948, Appendix II
  45. ^ Ezra Yakhin (1992), Elnakam, p.261–272.
  46. ^ Yoav Gelber (2006), Palestine 1948, p.317.
  47. ^ a b Benny Morris (2003), The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited, p.239.
  48. ^ Israel Eldad (1950), The First Tithe, p.334–335.
  49. ^ Heller, 1995, p. 209.
  50. ^ a b c Sprinzak, p45
  51. ^ Ami Pedahzur, ‘The Israeli Response to Jewish terrorism and violence. Defending Democracy’, Manchester University Press, Manchester and New York 2002 p.77
  52. ^ a b Sprinzak, p47
  53. ^ Heller, p265.
  54. ^ "LHY leaders get 8,5 years", Palestine Post, 11 Feb 1949.
  55. ^ Heller, p267.
  56. ^ Baram, Daphna (10 September 2009). "Amos Keinan: Controversial Israeli journalist, writer and artist". The Independent. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/amos-keinan-controversial-israeli-journalist-writer-and-artist-1784599.html. Retrieved 8 November 2009. 
  57. ^ Melman, Yossi (13 August 2009). "Time bomb". Haaretz. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1107261.html. Retrieved 8 September 2009. 
  58. ^ Segev, Tom; Arlen Neal Weinstein (1998). 1949: The First Israelis. Macmillan. pp. 230–231. ISBN 0029291801. 
  59. ^ Pedahzur, Ami, and Arie Perliger (2009). Jewish Terrorism in Israel. Columbia University Press. p. 31–33
  60. ^ Lyrics and data about the song on the Betar site (Hebrew)
  61. ^ A reference to "a mob of slaves" or "a horde of slaves" ("horde d'esclaves") appears in the second stanza of the Marseillaise – with which Stern was likely to have been familiar – as a scornful description for the armies opposed to the French Revolution. Both anthems make the same opposition between the oppressors' army which is composed of "slaves" – i.e. of soldiers who were drafted or impressed against their will – and the freedom-seekers, who volunteered to fight and give their all to the cause they support.
  62. ^ Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, December 1986, "Portrait of a Mideast Terrorist"


  • (Hebrew) Amichal Yevin, Ada (1986). In purple: the life of Yair-Abraham Stern. Tel Aviv: Hadar Publishing House.
  • Bell, J. Bowyer (1977). Terror Out of Zion: Irgun Zvai Leumi, Lehi, and the Palestine Underground, 1929–1949. Avon. ISBN 0-380-39396-4
  • Ben-Yehuda, Nachman (1998). Political Violence. Political Assassinations as a Quest for Justice. In Robert R. Friedmann (Ed.). Crime and Criminal Justice in Israel: Assessing The Knowledge base Toward The Twenty-first Century (pp. 139–184). SUNY Press. ISBN 0-7914-3713-2.
  • Golan, Zev (2003). Free Jerusalem: Heroes, Heroines and Rogues Who Created the State of Israel. Devora. ISBN 1-930143-54-0
  • Golan, Zev (2011). Stern: The Man and His Gang. Yair. ISBN 9789659172405
  • Heller, J. (1995). The Stern Gang. Frank Cass. ISBN 0-7146-4558-3
  • Iviansky, Z. (1986) "Lechi's Share in the Struggle for Israel's Liberation," in: Ely Tavin and Yonah Alexander (Ed.).Terrorists or freedom fighters, Fairfax, Va.: HERO Books.
  • Katz, E. (1987). "LECHI: Fighters for the freedom of Israel", Tel Aviv: Yair Publishers
  • Lustick, Ian S. (1994). "Terrorism in the Arab-Israeli Conflict: Targets and Audiences." In Crenshaw, Martha (ed). Terrorism in Context (pp. 514–552). University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press. ISBN 0-271-01015-0
  • Marton, K. (1994). A death in Jerusalem. Pantheon. ISBN 0-679-42083-5 — Bernadotte assassination
  • Munson, Henry (2005). "Religion and violence". Religion 35 (4): 223–246. doi:10.1016/j.religion.2005.10.006. 
  • Perliger, Arie; Weinberg, Leonard (2003). "Jewish Self-Defence and Terrorist Groups Prior to the Establishment of the State of Israel: Roots and Traditions". Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions 4 (3): 91–118. doi:10.1080/14690760412331326250. 
  • Ehud Sprinzak (1999). Brother against Brother. The Free Press. ISBN 0-684-85344-2. 

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