Lechi

Synonyms:
Lehi, לֶּחִי
Lechi (Wikipedia)

Fighters for the Freedom of Israel – Lehi

לח"י – לוחמי חרות ישראל
Lohamei Herut Israel – Lehi
LeadersAvraham Stern
Nathan Yellin-Mor
Yitzhak Shamir
Israel Eldad
FoundedAugust 1940
DissolvedLate 1948
Split fromIrgun
Succeeded byFighters' List
Kingdom of Israel (group)
Semitic Action
IdeologyRevisionist Zionism
Sternism
Fascism (until 1942)
National Bolshevism (after 1944)
Anti-imperialism (after 1945)
Political positionSyncretic
ColorsBlue
Party flag
Flag of the Lehi movement (blue on white).svg

Lehi (Hebrew pronunciation: [ˈleχi]; Hebrew: לח"י – לוחמי חרות ישראלLohamei Herut Israel – Lehi, "Fighters for the Freedom of Israel – Lehi"), often known pejoratively as the Stern Gang, was a Zionist paramilitary organization founded by Avraham ("Yair") Stern in Mandatory Palestine. Its avowed aim was to evict the British authorities from Palestine by resort to force, allowing unrestricted immigration of Jews and the formation of a Jewish state, a "new totalitarian Hebrew republic". It was initially called the National Military Organization in Israel, upon being founded in August 1940, but was renamed Lehi one month later. The group referred to its members as terrorists and admitted to having used terrorist attacks.

Lehi split from the Irgun militant group in 1940 in order to continue fighting the British during World War II. Lehi initially sought an alliance with Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, offering to fight alongside them against the British in return for the transfer of all Jews from Nazi-occupied Europe to Palestine. Believing that Nazi Germany was a lesser enemy of the Jews than Britain, Lehi twice attempted to form an alliance with the Nazis. During World War II, it declared that it would establish a Jewish state based upon "nationalist and totalitarian principles". After Stern's death in 1942, the new leadership of Lehi began to move it towards support for Joseph Stalin's Soviet Union. In 1944, Lehi officially declared its support for National Bolshevism. It said that its National Bolshevism involved an amalgamation of left-wing and right-wing political elements – Stern said Lehi incorporated elements of both the left and the right – however this change was unpopular and Lehi began to lose support as a result.

Lehi and the Irgun were jointly responsible for the massacre in Deir Yassin. Lehi assassinated Lord Moyne, British Minister Resident in the Middle East, and made many other attacks on the British in Palestine. On 29 May 1948, the government of Israel, having inducted its activist members into the Israel Defense Forces, formally disbanded Lehi, though some of its members carried out one more terrorist act, the assassination of Folke Bernadotte some months later, an act condemned by Bernadotte's replacement as mediator, Ralph Bunche. After the assassination, the new Israeli government declared Lehi a terrorist organization, arresting some 200 members and convicting some of the leaders. Just before the first Israeli elections in January 1949, a general amnesty to Lehi members was granted by the government. In 1980, Israel instituted a military decoration, an "award for activity in the struggle for the establishment of Israel", the Lehi ribbon. Former Lehi leader Yitzhak Shamir became Prime Minister of Israel in 1983.

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