Days of Irgun and Lechi

(My words can be attached to a popular Christian church hymn):

“ Onward Jewish soldiers marching on to war

With the Star of David going on before.

God our Holy Master leads against the foe

See our enemies tremble, watch them as they go.

Forward Jewish soldiers, show your colors true

Wave the flag of Israel, colors white and blue.”

I’ve been thinking back to pre-State days when our main enemy was British. Two of our underground organizations, the Irgun and the Lechi (Stern gang) were our main protectors. We called them our heroes. Others called them our Jewish terrorists.

The Irgun was the larger of the two groups and better organized. It was led and inspired by a Polish lawyer named Menachem Begin who was in future to become our most beloved Prime Minister.

The Lechi was a commando group meeting force with force. If the British executed a Jew, the next day a British soldier would be found hanged. The Lechi did not believe in negotiating. They were inspired to drive the British out of Palestine and to end the 40 years of British Mandatory rule.

At the same time, the Lechi made reprisals against local Arab villages which had harbored Arabs who murdered Jews in the streets and in their homes. Lechi struck deadly fear into the hearts of the Arab population which had been led by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Hitler’s ally in Berlin, Haj Amin el Husseini.

These two underground groups were in stark contrast to the official Haganah, Jewish defense force. But were it not for the underground movements, the British would have remained in Palestine. We owe a great debt of gratitude to those who served in the Irgun and in the Lechi.

Tomorrow, the American president will make a policy statement regarding the status of Jerusalem and future plans for the removal of the embassy in Tel-Aviv to a new location in Jerusalem. We cannot know in advance what he will say but our anticipation is feverish. Hopefully we will exult.

I have frequently commented over the past 50 years that a true just and lasting peace with the Palestinians is not a reality. Peace with other Arab and Muslim nations such as the peace we share with our neighbors Egypt and Jordan is very possible. Not so with the Palestinians.

Both we and they claim the same land. Like Abraham and his nephew Lot, the land was not sufficient for both of them and so they parted ways. Abraham remained in the land which God had promised and Lot settled in the region of Sodom.

Abraham’s descendants will continue to live in the land of Israel. The children of Ishmael and Lot may prefer the green pastures of the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan, 77 percent  which is historic Palestine.

The difference between our two Semitic peoples, Jews and Arabs, is noteworthy in one major respect.

Jews cherish life while Arabs cherish death as martyrs. Our values are very different, one from another.

While we yearn for peace, we are always prepared to march with our blue and white flags to inspire us, en route to the fields of battle.

The Crusaders of centuries ago, Christian soldiers marching on to war, turned the Holy Land into fields of blood. The Jews returned to Israel and turned the Holy Land into a blooming paradise.

It became a paradise re-born and it can never again be a paradise lost.

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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