The lawyer Max Zeligman was not a member of Lehi. But he was a proud nationalist Jew with an impressive personality. He did so much for his “clients” from the undergrounds, prisoners and detainees who’d fallen into British custody, that we consider it our duty to include him in this book. Otherwise we’d be committing a wrong unto all those he’d rescued from hanging or lengthy imprisonment, and all those for whom he’d fought to improve their conditions.
He was born in Wales Britain on October 12,1902. His parents, Hayim and Rivka, who’d emigrated from Vilnius, were ardent Zionists. Max made Aliyah 1921 aged 19. At the beginning he worked at his uncle’s Petach-Tikva orchard. After a while he moved to Jerusalem to study Law becoming the first Anglo-Saxon Jew to pass the Law examinations in the country, in 1930. He rapidly became the best-known Lawyer in the country during the British Mandate, defending Jews, Arabs, even British policemen. He “made headlines” 1939 in the international press, when sentenced to six months imprisonment (he was imprisoned for four) for assisting Jews in immigrating ‘illegally’. At prison, he met Avraham Stern – Yair.
Zeligman was fortunate that his attorney-license was not taken away. His mastery of the English language and his brilliant oratory style became two great weapons during trial in military courts, and were valuable assets in forming friendships with various government officials, whilst he undertook defending many underground fighters. Among his clientele were Shlomo Ben-Yoseph, Yehoshua Israeli, Nissim Reuben, Eliezer Ben-Ami, and many others. He rose to fame when he defended Dov Gruner, May God Avenge His Blood. He fought ardently for the underground fighters, as if they were his very own sons and daughters.
He invested great effort in battling for the rights of prisoners and detainees in the prisons of Jerusalem, Akko and Bethlehem, and the ‘administrative’ prisons Sarafend, Mizra, Latrun, and Atlit. He also visited Sudan and Eritrea and tried to improve the conditions of the exiled prisoners there.
In 1977 the Queen of Britain honoured him with the rank of C.B.S. (Commander of the British Empire). Max Zeligman passed away in London 1987 at the age of 85.