Eliezer “Yehezkel” Ben-Ami
How was the Lehi symbol born?
- The idea of the symbol was born within the combat division (Pelah) of Lehi in Jerusalem, commanded by Yehoshua Zatler in early 1948, before David Ben-Gurion declared the establishment of the State of Israel. As the Partition Plan came together, it was determined that Jerusalem would be outside the borders of the Jewish state. Zatler and his comrades decided that they needed a symbol to represent the uniqueness of Jerusalem and our commitment to it. That is why the biblical phrase was chosen: “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand be forgotten.” Thus we chose the salute of a half-clenched right fist, with only two fingers held aloft.
- In March 1948, about a month after I was freed from the central prison in Jerusalem on February 9th, I was invited to a Lehi meeting taking place in Ramat Gan, in the office of David “Amihai” Gottlieb, who was in charge of all Jerusalem operations and was Zatler’s deputy. Amihai went down to the coastal plain to organize the assistance for Jerusalem. During our meeting, Amihai said to me: “Lazer! Why don’t you draw for us our symbol in Jerusalem?” I asked him: “What is it exactly?” Amihai demonstrated the salute with the two fingers held aloft. He added that below this had to appear, either in an arc or in a straight line, the words “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand be forgotten.” Right on the spot, I drew the hand and I added caption as described below.
- In August 1949, when I was overseeing the work at Wadi Fuqra, near Ma’ale Akrabim on the old way down to Eilat, Lehi member Zvi Shohami (Finkelstein), “Old Danny,” sought me out. He was the camp commander in the same area where we had paved the road to Eilat, in the Southern Command, under the authority of the Engineering Corps. He said: “Lazer! Draw us the symbol from Jerusalem!” I did as he asked, and for two days I drew this symbol on a supporting wall at the third turn above Ma’ale Akrabim. It was five meters high and eight meters wide.
- Some years later, I learned that Adina, who was responsible for the society’s work, had chosen the same symbol of Lehi as the society’s banner for events and shows. Kariel “Dosh” Gardosh, another Lehi member, painted this symbol when he was imprisoned in Jaffa (next to the famous clock), after he was arrested with other Lehi members because of the assassination of Count Folke Bernadotte, on September 17th, 1948.