Tom Tugend, writing in the Nov. 2 edition of The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, relates the amazing story of a Warsaw Ghetto Uprising:
“One early revelation (to me) was that there were two main, separate Jewish organizations — and a couple of minor ones — fighting the Nazis in the (Warsaw) ghetto, based on the left- and right-wing loyalties of the Zionist youth organizations of the time. Apparently, to this day, adherents of these ideologies are loath to credit the “other” side with its contributions to the battle.”
The day before Tugend’s words appeared, a book with the title “Stern: The Man and His Gang,” by Zev Golan came out. Tugend’s words apply just as appropriately to the history of the Hagana, Palmach, Irgun and LEHI in their fight against the British in the land of Israel.
For decades Israel’s left-leaning academic establishment in Israel, as well as Jewish educators in the United States, have tried to minimize the impact the Irgun and LEHI had on London’s decision to end the British Mandate. The LEHI’s story is finally getting the fair treatment it was denied for far too long.
Yair (Avraham) Stern was the founder and leader of the Stern Group (Gang), which is remembered in Israel as the LEHI (Fighters For the Freedom of Israel.) The LEHI Museum’s publishing arm released the new English book by Golan — a historian.
Golan is well-known as the author of the 2003 book “Free Jerusalem: Heroes, Heroines and Rogues Who Created the State of Israel” (Devora Publishing), which is available in English and should not be missed by those who want to know more about the Zionist underground before Israel was a modern state.
Golan’s “The Shofars of the Revolt,” which was published only in Hebrew, is about the men who from 1930 to 1947 bravely ignored British regulations against sounding the shofar at the Western Wall at the conclusion of Yom Kippur services. Golan also produced a Hebrew book about the first hero to sound the shofar titled “Awake O’ Israel: The Life and Thought of the Late Rabbi Moshe Segal.”
Golan is an American-born Zionist historian and “Stern: The Man and His Gang” is full of important lessons from Zionism’s untold history. It seems like a culmination of sorts of all of his previous output.
Some of the features that make this six-chapter softbound book so engaging are:
• The story of Stern’s life, which is presented as it has never appeared in English, with anecdotes, translated Stern poems and a full portrait of the leader, his ideas and his motivations;
• A full chapter of biographical sketches of over a dozen famous and not-so-famous LEHI soldiers — an exceptionally inspiring portion of the book, over 60 pages long — which is organized in a very readable way with large amounts of information that have never been available before to English readers;
• A comprehensive timeline of LEHI’s operations, again something that was never published in English before; and
• A well thought out question-and-answer section that teachers would find especially useful for classroom use.
The book is a compelling narrative and even readers with a limited knowledge of the larger subject of Israeli/Zionist history will both enjoy it and find it accessible.
With this addition to his prior body of work, Golan has done more to safeguard the history and ideas of the heroic soldiers who fought to create a modern, independent Jewish commonwealth than any other writer of this generation.
Golan’s work over the last eight years has had the intensity of a man on a mission. And his readers are the true beneficiaries of the fruits of this mission.
The soldiers of the LEHI were passionate Zionists who understood the higher ideals for which they fought. Their words and deeds of long ago are continuing to inspire many young people in Israel today. These young Israelis understand that knowledge and appreciation of LEHI’s history and philosophy are critical to the future of the Jewish State. With Golan’s book, American readers can be inspired as well.
(Moshe Phillips is the president of the Philadelphia Chapter of Americans for a Safe Israel — phillyafsi.com. His
blog can be found at phillyafsi.blogtownhall.com and he Tweets at twitter.com/MoshePhillips.)