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Stern: The Man and His Gang

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Stern: The Man and His Gang

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Stern: The Man and His Gang
By Zev Golan
Yair Publications, 2011
ISBN: 978-9659172405

Reviewed by Moshe Phillips - November 8, 2011

Writer Tom Tugend in the November 2, 2011 edition of The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles relates the amazing story of a Warsaw Ghetto Uprising fighter (http://www.jewishjournal.com/ los_angeles/article/tracking_a_warsaw_ghetto_fighter_20111102/) said the following:

"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 was published by Yair Publications in Israel. (See http://www.amazon.com/Stern-Man-his-Gang-Golan/dp/9659172400.)

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 U.S., 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 historian Zev Golan.

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 (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's 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. Awake was also only published in Hebrew.

An English edition of The First Tithe (Ma'aser Rishon) translated by Zev Golan was published in 2008. It is Dr. Israel Eldad's memoirs of Israel's battle for freedom from Britain. Eldad was one of the three commanders of the LEHI that shared the leadership of the LEHI after the assassination of Yair Stern by the British army in 1942.

Golan is 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 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.

-- There is a full chapter of biographical sketches of over a dozen famous and not so famous LEHI soldiers. This exceptionally inspiring portion of the book is over 60 pages. These histories are organized in a very readable way. There are large amounts of information in this chapter that has never been available before to English readers.

-- Golan includes a comprehensive timeline of LEHI's operations. Again this is something that was never published in English before.

-- The author has produced a well-thought out questions and answers section that teachers will 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 / AFSI. The chapter's website is at: http://www.phillyafsi.com. Moshe's blog can be found at http://phillyafsi.blogtownhall.com and Moshe tweets at http://twitter.com/MoshePhillips.
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