8 Nisan 5705 – March 22 1945
Lehi (or Stern Gang as the British derisively called them) fighters Eliahu Bet Zuri and Eliahu Hakim were executed by the British for the assassination of Walter Guinness, Lord Moyne. Stationed in Cairo, the British Minister for Middle East Affairs was singled out by Lehi members for his supposed anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist leanings, and particularly for his statements against allowing Jewish immigration to Mandate Palestine. Moyne did all in his power to keep the borders closed to refugees, despite emerging reports of the wholesale genocide of Europe’s Jews then reaching its peak. On November 6 1944, after weeks of surveillance and planning, Bet-Zuri and Hakim ambushed Moyne’s car as he arrived home. Eliahu Hakim opened the car door and fired three shots, killing both Moyne and his body-guard. The two assassins then escaped by bike, only to be apprehended by an Egyptian policeman who injured Bet Zuri, leading to the capture of both. An Egyptian military court sentenced them to death, despite widespread support among both Jews and Muslims in Cairo, who saw their action as an act of rebellion against the hated British administration. The two sang “Hatikva” as they were taken out to be hanged.
During his trial, Hakim denounced his judges:
Law must be based on justice; imposing duties on its citizens, it must also grant them rights. Otherwise, there’s no reason to abide by it. My friends and I have been brought up on the Bible, which commands: Thou shalt not kill. But there was no other recourse that could make them honor our rights… So we decided to act, in the name of a higher justice.
Today we’re being asked to answer the accusation of murdering Lord Moyne. We accuse Lord Moyne and the government he represents of the murder of hundreds of thousands of our brothers and sisters. We accuse them of stealing our homeland and our possessions. Where is the law that would judge them for their crimes? To whom could we turn for justice? That law is still unwritten in any law book, but it’s written on our hearts. Forced to take the law into our own hands, by what right does the world demand that we keep the peace? In the name of hypocritical self-righteousness? In the name of standing by while our people’s blood is spilt? In the name of shame, or in the name of the slavery they’ve imposed on us? Where is that code of law which will list these clauses among its statutes?
That is why I have requested from the outset that our case be brought before an international court, which alone has the right to judge the higher moral cause for which we acted. In the name of that higher justice, I ask you to acquit us under your law.