Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Irgun and Lechi War for Liberation - An Appraisal

...The Irgun and Stern groups, however, were committed to all-out "national liberation" wars. They did not believe that the British would give Palestine to the Jews and thus were determined to force them out. They tried to increase the human and political costs to Britain of remaining in Palestine by attacking British troops and police, military bases and police stations, oil refineries, trains, bridges, and banks. Between them, the three groups carried out 78 attacks in the nine months after October 1945. However, the united resistance dissolved after the Irgun blew up the British administration headquarters in the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in July 1946, killing 92 people. Following that disaster, which was a grave embarrassment to the moderate Zionists, the Haganah effectively withdrew from armed operations. Unrestrained by the need for a united front, the Irgun and the Stern Gang rapidly escalated the levels of violence nearly four-fold in this second phase, carrying out 286 attacks over the next twelve months. Casualties exceeded 1,000 over the whole two-year period.

 But numbers don"t tell the whole story. The insurgents confounded the British by conducting a "two-front war": a tactical paramilitary battle for control – the ability to rule; and a strategic, political, and psychological battle for legitimacy – the right to rule. On the tactical front, they used innovative terrorism techniques to reduce the country to chaos, thereby making Palestine ungovernable. At the strategic level they expanded the armed struggle to Europe and Britain, and conducted an imaginative propaganda war against Britain in the United States that frustrated British policy efforts. Together, these two fronts undermined the British will to remain in Palestine.<


Jewish Terrorism and the Modern Middle East, David A. Charters

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