Avraham Stern, Yitzhak Shamir and Menachem Begin. All terrorists and murderers but only one--Stern--paid for his crimes. The other two went on to serve as Prime Minister of Israel, although Stern did later appear on an Israeli postage stamp. The message to the Palestinians was incontestable: terrorism works.
The terrorist organization Stern founded, Lehi (The Stern Gang) published an underground newspaper He Khazit (The Front). In August 1943, an article entitled 'Terror' appeared in the paper. A candid justification for terrorism, it read, in part:
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.Substitute the words 'Islamic' for 'Jewish' and the word 'Quran' for 'Torah' and this communique could have come from Hamas or Hizbollah. But it was the actions of terrorist organizations like Lehi and Menachem Begin's Irgun that showed a later generation of Palestinians the way.
The murder of Lord Moyne, the murder of Count Bernadotte, the massacre of Palestinian men, women and children at Deir Yassin, the bombing of the King David Hotel, the kidnapping of two young British soldiers (the Irgun killed its hostages and hung their booby-trapped bodies in a eucalyptus grove near Netanya.)
The list of outrages is a long and shameful one and conveniently forgotten by Israeli spokespersons and apologists, who specialize in clutching their pearls at the very thought of 'terrorism'.
So repelled by the actions of Stern, Begin and Shamir were many American Jews, that when Menachem Begin visited the United States in 1948 as the leader of “Freedom Party” (Tnuat Haherut), Albert Einstein, Hannah Arendt and many others wrote a letter to The New York Times:
Among the most disturbing political phenomena of our times is the emergence in the newly created state of Israel of the “Freedom Party” (Tnuat Haherut), a political party closely akin in its organization, methods, political philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties. It was formed out of the membership and following of the former Irgun Zvai Leumi, a terrorist, right-wing, chauvinist organization in Palestine.snip
The current visit of Menachem Begin, leader of this party, to the United States is obviously calculated to give the impression of American support for his party in the coming Israeli elections, and to cement political ties with conservative Zionist elements in the United States. Several Americans of national repute have lent their names to welcome his visit. It is inconceivable that those who oppose fascism throughout the world, if correctly informed as to Mr. Begin’s political record and perspectives, could add their names and support to the movement he represents.
Before irreparable damage is done by way of financial contributions, public manifestations in Begin’s behalf, and the creation in Palestine of the impression that a large segment of America supports Fascist elements in Israel, the American public must be informed as to the record and objectives of Mr. Begin and his movement.
The public avowals of Begin’s party are no guide whatever to its actual character. Today they speak of freedom, democracy and anti-imperialism, whereas until recently they openly preached the doctrine of the Fascist state. It is in its actions that the terrorist party betrays its real character; from its past actions we can judge what it may be expected to do in the future.
Within the Jewish community they have preached an admixture of ultranationalism, religious mysticism, and racial superiority. Like other Fascist parties they have been used to break strikes, and have themselves pressed for the destruction of free trade unions. In their stead they have proposed corporate unions on the Italian Fascist model.The Likud Party are the inheritors of Begin, Shamir and Stern. They have learned to do better PR. They have learned to be a little more circumspect in their racism and bigotry (but not much). And they have learned to be 'horrified' by terrorism (aside from little hiccups like putting Stern on a postage stamp).
During the last years of sporadic anti-British violence, the IZL and Stern groups inaugurated a reign of terror in the Palestine Jewish community. Teachers were beaten up for speaking against them, adults were shot for not letting their children join them. By gangster methods, beatings, window-smashing, and wide-spread robberies, the terrorists intimidated the population and exacted a heavy tribute.
But the collective punishment they are currently inflicting on the people of Gaza demonstrates that they have never lost their belief in the efficacy of terrorism.