Middle East History: It Happened in January; Rabin's Murder Rooted in Zionism's Violent Legacy

By Neff, Donald | Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, January 31, 1996 | Go to article overview

Middle East History: It Happened in January; Rabin's Murder Rooted in Zionism's Violent Legacy


Neff, Donald, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs


MIDDLE EAST HISTORY: IT HAPPENED IN JANUARY; Rabin's Murder Rooted in Zionism's Violent Legacy

By Donald Neff

It was 48 years ago, on Jan. 4, 1948, when Jewish terrorists drove a truck loaded with explosives into the center of the all-Arab city of Jaffa and detonated it, killing 26 and wounding around 100 Palestinian men, women and children. 1 The attack was the work of the Irgun Zvai Leumi--the "National Military Organization," also known by the Hebrew letters Etzel--the largest Jewish terrorist group in Palestine. The Irgun was headed by Revisionist Zionist Menachem Begin and had been killing and maiming Arabs, Britons and even Jews for the previous 10 years in its efforts to establish a Jewish state.

This terror campaign meant that at the core of Revisionist Zionism there existed a philosophical embrace of violence. It was this legacy of violence that contributed to the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on Nov. 4, 1995.

The Irgun was not the only Jewish terrorist group but it was the most active in causing indiscriminate terror in pre-Israel Palestine. Up to the time of the Jaffa attack, its most spectacular feat had been the July 22, 1946 blowing up of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, with the killing of 91 people--41 Arabs, 28 Britons and 17 Jews. 2

The other major Jewish terrorist group operating in Palestine in the 1940s was the Lohamei Herut Israel, "Fighters for the Freedom of Israel," Lehi in the Hebrew acronym, also known as the Stern Gang after its fanatical founder Avraham Stern. Two of its more spectacular outrages included the assassination of British Colonial Secretary Lord Moyne in Cairo on Nov. 6, 1944, and the assassination of Count Folke Bernadotte of Sweden in Jerusalem on Sept. 17, 1948. 3

Both groups collaborated in the massacre at Deir Yassin, in which some 254 Palestinian men, women and children were slain on April 9, 1948. Palestinian survivors were driven like ancient slaves through the streets of Jerusalem by the celebrating terrorists. 4

Yitzhak Shamir was one of the three leaders of Lehi who made the decision to assassinate Moyne and Bernadotte. Both he and Begin later became prime ministers and ruled Israel for a total of 13 years between 1977 and 1992.

They were both leaders of Revisionist Zionism, that messianic group of ultranationalists founded by Vladimir Zeev Jabotinsky in the 1920s. He prophesied that it would take an "iron wall of Jewish bayonets" to gain a homeland among the Arabs in Palestine. 5 His followers took his slogan literally.

Begin and the Revisionists were heartily hated by the mainline Zionists led by David Ben-Gurion. He routinely referred to Begin as a Nazi and compared him to Hitler. In a famous letter to The New York Times in 1948, Albert Einstein called the Irgun "a terrorist, rightwing, chauvinist organization" that stood for "ultranationalism, religious mysticism and racial superiority." 6 He opposed Begin's visit to the United States in 1949 because Begin and his movement amounted to "a Fascist party for whom terrorism (against Jews, Arabs, and British alike), and misrepresentation are means, and a `leader state' is the goal," adding:

At the core of Revisionist Zionism there existed a philosophical embrace of violence.

"The IZL [Irgun] 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, windowsmashing, and wide-spread robberies, the terrorists intimidated the population and exacted a heavy tribute."

Ben-Gurion considered the Revisionists so threatening that shortly after he proclaimed establishment of Israel on May 14, 1948, he demanded that the Jewish terrorist organizations disband. In defiance, Begin sought to import a huge shipment of weapons aboard a ship named Altalena, Jabotinsky's nom de plume. 7

The ship was a war surplus U. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Middle East History: It Happened in January; Rabin's Murder Rooted in Zionism's Violent Legacy
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.