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LEHI- The Stern Gang

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LEHI (Hebrew) is an acronym for Lohamei 'Herut Yisrael - Freedom Fighters of Israel (also LHI and LECHI) (also called "the Stern Gang" after its founder, Avraham ("Yair") Stern). LEHI was founded in 1940 by Avraham Stern. It had broken away from the Irgun in Palestine under the British Mandate to fight the British and bring about an end to the mandate, after the mandate had closed Palestine to massive Jewish immigration in violation of the terms of its mandate, trapping the Jews of Europe under Nazi domination.

Lehi disagreed with the Zionist program of cooperating with the British in fighting the Axis powers, because the British were preventing Jewish immigration to Palestine. Initially, LEHI  carried out mostly abortive operations against British personnel, often killing Jews by mistake instead of British personnel. In 1940 or 1941 LEHI tried to offer cooperation to the Nazis in a bizarre attempt to enlist German aid against the British and to save the Jews of Europe. It is not clear if the offer to set up a Nazi Jewish state was in any way motivated by ideology or if it was just an attempt to enlist German cooperation. It is also claimed that the letter, produced by German intelligence, may have been a forgery by Vichy French intelligence.

Stern was killed by the British in 1942. The group was then reorganized by Yitzhak Shamir, Nathan Yellin-Mor and Israel Eldad as LEHI. The Lehi had leftist anti-imperialist ideological components as well as right-wing aspects. It refused to be accountable to any Zionist organization including the Jewish agency, but the entire Jewish community had to suffer the consequences of its actions. Stern was not a Fascist and refused to join a Fascist movement when he had studied in Italy. He did found a socialist Zionist youth group elsewhere in Europe. Nonetheless, LEHI members had apparently trained in Italy. 

LEHI was a self-proclaimed terror group, its terror being mostly aimed against the British. A quote from their newspaper reads:

""But above all terror is part of our political battle under present conditions and its role is large and great:..."

(He 'hazit - the front - Issue 2, August 1943).

LEHI was responsible for the following operations:

1944 - Assassination in Cairo of Lord Moyne. Moyne was in charge of British immigration policy. The result of the assassination was to turn Winston Churchill against the Zionist project. Moyne himself was apparently not in favor of limiting immigration, and was only carrying orders.

1948 - Participated with the Irgun in the attack and massacre at Deir Yassin. This was an attack on an Arab village near Jerusalem that had a pact with the neighboring village of Givat Shaul, approved by the Jewish Agency. The attack was carried out against the advice of the Haganah and without the knowledge of Zionist leadership. It turned into a massacre apparently, though it was not planned as such. Four Irgun and LEHI fighters were killed. The evidence shows Irgun and Lehi killed over 100 Arabs, mostly women and children, and that most of them were killed in cold blood. Apologists for the Irgun and Lehi claim that the village was firing on the road to Jerusalem, but the site of Deir Yassin was and remains separated from the Jerusalem road by a massive stone ridge, that would prevent any possibility of sighting the road or firing on it from Deir Yassin using artillery or mortars. It is also claimed that the victims died when houses were dynamited, but several eyewitnesses reported that people were shot in the head at close range, including women and children.

1948 - Assassination of U.N. Mediator Count Bernadotte in Jerusalem. This created a bad atmosphere for Israel in the UN and was in part responsible for UN Resolution 194, which called on Israel to allow Palestinian Arab refugees to return.

LEHI was officially absorbed into the IDF on May 31, 1948 but continued independent operations until after the Bernadotte assassination, when it was forcibly dissolved by the Israeli government. At that point, Israeli PM Ben Gurion gave orders to round up the LEHI fighters and to shoot those who resisted.

Synonyms and alternate spellings:

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Encyclopedia of the Middle East

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Pronunciation - Arabic and Hebrew vowels are pronounced differently than in English. "o" is very short. The "a" is usually pronounced like the "a" in market, sometimes as the "a" in "Arafat."  The " 'A " is guttural.  " 'H "- the 'het ('Hirbeh, 'Hebron, 'Hisbollah') designates a sound somewhat similar to the ch in "loch" in Scots pronunciation, but made by touching the back of your tongue to the roof of your mouth. The CH should be pronounced like Loch, a more assertive consonant than 'het.

The "Gh" combination, and sometimes the "G," designate a deep guttural sound that Westerners may hear approximately as "r." The "r" sound is always formed with the back of the tongue, and is not like the English "r."

More information: Hebrew, Arabic

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