IDF document labels Irgun, Lehi as 'terrorist organizations'

Army manual calls pre-state Jewish freedom fighters 'terrorist groups'. Following Arutz Sheva exposé, documents removed from circulation.

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Official IDF documents from the Education and Youth Corps accused pre-state Jewish freedom fighters of terrorism, labelling their efforts “terrorist activities,” Arutz Sheva has learned.

Instruction manuals from the army’s Education and Youth Corps, which is charged with providing educational material for officers and newly inducted soldiers, accuse the underground organizations Irgun Tzvai Leumi (National Military Organization) and Lohamei Herut Israel (Freedom Fighters of Israel) – better known as the Irgun and Lehi – of terrorism during their fight against the British mandate’s limit on Jewish immigration to Israel in the 1940s, when Jews were being slaughtered in Europe and had no where to go.

Along with the Haganah, the Irgun and Lehi were two of the three pre-state militias which operated in Israel prior to the Declaration of Independence in 1948.

Founded by David Raziel and Avraham “Yair” Stern, the Irgun and Lehi were later commanded by future Prime Ministers Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir. All three groups played a central role in the establishment of the State of Israel.

Yet according to official army educational materials obtained by Arutz Sheva, both groups are disparaged as terrorist organizations.

In a manual titled “Nationalism in the Land of Israel – Between Zionists and Palestinians”, the Irgun is accused of “terrorist activities” against the British. The document also accuses the Lehi of “radical terrorism” against the Mandate.

The manual also provides “food for thought” style questions which put forward comparisons between the pre-state Jewish groups and Arab terrorists who seek to destroy the State of Israel.

“Some have compared the Irgun and Lehi organizations to the Fatah movement [a member of the PLO] and other Arab terrorist organizations.”

Arutz Sheva reached out to the IDF, to clarify whether the document represents the army’s official stance on the Irgun and Lehi.

In response, an army spokesman claimed the document was a mistake and had been removed.

The IDF spokesman also noted that the document in question “was written more than a decade ago, is not relevant, and is no longer is use.”

Despite this claim, however, the document was offered on the IDF’s website for use by officers and training officials until it was removed following Arutz Sheva’s query. In addition, the document was used as training material just days prior to its removal from the army website.

Earlier this week, Arutz Sheva uncovered learning materials produced by the Education and Youth Corps warning army instructors not to tell soldiers or officers in training that the Old City of Jerusalem was liberated during the Six Day War.

In a document titled, "Emphasizing the explanations" under a section called "Jerusalem's reunification," it says, "The biggest accomplishment of the war was the reunification of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, 19 years after the War of Independence. Jerusalem is the beating heart of the Jewish nation, and it is a city holy to three nations, a city which combines past, present, and future."

"However, we call on the commanders to carefully choose their words, and not, God forbid, to say that Jerusalem was liberated during the Six Day War".