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Speech in Senate Chamber: Inquiry into the Assassination of Lord Moyne and His Contributions to British West Indies


Assassination of Lord Moyne and His Contributions to British West Indies

Inquiry—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Anne C. Cools rose pursuant to notice of October 19, 2004:

That she will call the attention of the Senate to:

(a) November 6, 2004, the sixtieth anniversary of the assassination of Walter Edward Guinness, Lord Moyne, British Minister Resident in the Middle East, whose responsibilities included Palestine, and to his accomplished and outstanding life, ended at age 64 by Jewish terrorist action in Cairo, Egypt; and

(b) to Lord Moyne's assassins Eliahu Bet-Tsouri, age 22, and Eliahu Hakim, age 17, of the Jewish extremist Stern Gang LEHI, the Lohamei Herut Israel, translated, the Fighters for the Freedom of Israel, who on November 6, 1944 shot him point blank, inflicting mortal wounds which caused his death hours later as King Farouk's personal physicians tried to save his life; and

(c) to the 1945 trial, conviction and death sentences of Eliahu Bet-Tsouri and Eliahu Hakim, and their execution by hanging at Cairo's Bab-al-Khalk prison on March 23, 1945; and

(d) to the 1975 exchange of prisoners between Israel and Egypt, being the exchange of 20 Egyptians for the remains of the young assassins Bet-Tsouri and Hakim, and to their state funeral with full military honours and their reburial on Jerusalem's Mount Herzl, the Israeli cemetery reserved for heroes and eminent persons, which state funeral featured Israel's Prime Minister Rabin and Knesset Member Yitzhak Shamir, who gave the eulogy; and

(e) to Yitzhak Shamir, born Yitzhak Yezernitsky in Russian Poland in 1915, and in 1935 emigrated to Palestine, later becoming Israel's Foreign Minister, 1980-1986, and Prime Minister 1983-1984 and 1986-1992, who as the operations chief for the Stern Gang LEHI, had ordered and planned Lord Moyne's assassination; and

(f) to Britain's diplomatic objections to the high recognition accorded by Israel to Lord Moyne's assassins, which objection, conveyed by British Ambassador to Israel, Sir Bernard Ledwidge, stated that Britain "very much regretted that an act of terrorism should be honoured in this way," and Israel's rejection of Britain's representations, and Israel's characterization of the terrorist assassins as "heroic freedom fighters"; and

(g) to my recollections, as a child in Barbados, of Lord Moyne's great contribution to the British West Indies, particularly as Chair of the West India Royal Commission, 1938-39, known as the Moyne Commission and its celebrated 1945 Moyne Report, which pointed the way towards universal suffrage, representative and responsible government in the British West Indies, and also to the deep esteem accorded to Lord Moyne in the British Caribbean.

She said: Honourable senators, sixty years ago, on November 6, 1944, Walter Edward Guinness, Lord Moyne was assassinated in Cairo by the Jewish extremist Stern Gang Lehi, the Fighters for the Freedom of Israel. The assassins were Eliahu Bet-Tsouri and Eliahu Hakim. I was just a year old. I have no memory of the savage act itself, but I have vivid recollections as a young child in Barbados of hearing Barbadians speak about Lord Moyne. They spoke of this fine man with great esteem and reverence, both personally and politically. Barbadians spoke of Lord Moyne and the royal commission of which he was chairman, called the Moyne commission, and its Moyne report as a watershed in the social and constitutional development of Barbados, and as setting the stage for their improved social, political and economic conditions, including social and health services, minimum wages, labour relations, universal suffrage, representative and responsible government and even a federation of the British West Indies.

Honourable senators, the assassination of this British Minister Resident in the Middle East while Britain and the Empire were fighting a vicious war against the Nazi Germans, with their persecution of the Jews, shook British Barbados profoundly. Barbados was the home of the oldest Jewish communities in the British Americas, because after the Portuguese inquisitions, many Jews sought refuge in the British possessions in the 1620s. There is Jewish blood in many Barbadians, including myself. Lord Moyne was murdered exactly five months after D-Day, June 6, the day of the British and Allied assault to re-enter and recapture Europe from Nazi occupation and to conquer Germany. Many Barbadian men, my parents' friends, fought on the beaches of Normandy that day. I salute them.

Honourable senators, Lord Moyne, of the famous Guinness family, of whom one member owned Porters Plantation Great House in Barbados, had sailed his own boat to the West Indies for the hearings there. One of the many witnesses before the West India Royal Commission was Grantley Adams, a coloured lawyer who by then was the undisputed political leader of the Barbadian masses. As a public man, he felt the terrific responsibility the masses had thrust upon him. On January 24, 1939, he told the eight commissioners that the Barbadian people had high expectations of the commission's investigations into the conditions of Barbados. F. A. Hoyos quoted Adams in his biography Grantley Adams and the Social Revolution, saying:

... I say that the people of this colony, at the present, have a profound distrust of the Government doing anything for them. They look upon the Commission as their saviours...

Grantley Adams' testimony was well received by the commission. En passant, he later became the first Premier of Barbados, and even later became Sir Grantley Adams.

Honourable senators, the masses of Barbadians assembled in Bridgetown to listen attentively to the commission's proceedings, relayed to them by loudspeaker. The Moyne report features an impressive photograph of these crowds, expectant of social change.

Lord Moyne knew Africa, the Middle East and the West Indies. He was a soldier and officer, first serving in the Boer War. He served again in World War I, fighting in France, in Flanders, in Gallipoli and, yes, in Egypt. He had been a member of the House of Commons and the House of Lords and had been the Secretary of State for the Colonies. He was a hunter, a sailor, an explorer, an anthropologist and an ethnographer. He was a friend of the colonies and a friend of the British Caribbean. The masses of the Black people of Barbados looked to his commission for amelioration of the prevailing social and economic conditions. Barbados was a plantation society, sugar was the mainstay, and the government and the economy were in the hands of a very few White Barbadian plantocrats.

Honourable senators, today I shall look at the heart of darkness that is terrorism. Lord Moyne's assassins, Bet-Tsouri and Hakim, 22 and 17 years old respectively, were members of Lehi, which specialized in political assassinations and individual terrorism. In the 1940s, Lehi's three leaders were Natan Friedman-Yellin, "Yellin-Mor," Israel Sheib, "Eldad" and Yitzhak Shamir, who later became Prime Minister of Israel. Nachman Ben-Yehuda wrote about Lehi's assassinations as propaganda in his 1993 book, Political Assassinations by Jews: A Rhetorical Device for Justice. On the morality of these assassinations, Ben-Yehuda quotes Yitzhak Shamir saying: was more efficient and more moral to go for selected targets.

We were aiming at a political goal. There are many examples that what we did could be found in the Bible — Gideon and Samson, for instance.

Honourable senators, Gerold Frank in his 1963 book The Deed, on Lord Moyne, similarly quotes Yitzhak Shamir, who had ordered and planned the brutal murder, explaining the nature of individual terrorism that:

A man who goes forth to take the life of another whom he does not know must believe one thing only — that by his act he will change the course of history.

This is shocking; the terrorist assertion that a belief, one's own righteousness, is a justification for murder, a black-hearted deed.

Honourable senators, a disturbing and worrisome fact is that the Jewish extremist Stern Gang Lehi tried to forge a collaboration with Hitler. Kati Marton, in her 1994 book A Death in Jerusalem, wrote:

Stern's astonishing and now-forgotten proposal of a Jewish-German alliance against Britain came as the eastbound trains transporting Jews had begun to pull out of European stations. It preceded by less than six weeks the Berlin Wannsee Conference, at which the Nazis planned the implementation of the Final Solution.

One time, Abraham Stern had dispatched Yellin-Mor to Turkey to contact German agents there. The Fighters for the Freedom of Israel could see no difference between the Nazis and the British.

Honourable senators, Colin Shindler, in his book The Land Beyond Promise: Israel, Likud and the Zionist Dream, in his chapter on Yitzhak Shamir, described Lehi terrorism thus:

They considered such assassinations to be moral acts which demanded great courage. Although Lehi was the smallest of the three Jewish military organizations, it nonetheless carried out 71 per cent of all political assassinations between 1940 and 1948.

Ben-Yehuda, in his book, told us about Lehi's killings of Jews, saying "...Lehi killed more Jews than non-Jews," and also that Lehi leader, Yellin-Mor, in 1948, on trial for charges related to Count Bernadotte, told the court that " was Lehi's right to execute 'low level and degraded traitors..."'

Honourable senators, Yitzhak Shamir, in his 1994 book Summing Up: An Autobiography, wrote:

...Bet-Tsouri and Hakim had done the deed ...there pause in which I could properly grieve for the boys whom I had sent to Egypt.... In 1975...I received their remains at the Israel-Egyptian border.... I recognized them at once, despite the years that had passed and the way in which they died. Their faces were untouched and calm; neither time nor the way they died had disfigured them. A chaplain told me that only the righteous are granted this privilege. I hope, and I believe, that this is so. At the funeral...I delivered the eulogy.

Honourable senators, the two assassins had travelled from Palestine to Egypt to kill Lord Moyne. On November 6, 1944, at 1 p.m., the assassins ambushed him in his car, shooting point blank. Hakim shot Lord Moyne three times. Simultaneously, Bet-Tsouri shot and killed Moyne's driver, Lance Corporal Fuller, as he tried to protect Lord Moyne. Lord Moyne died at about 8 p.m. that evening after surgery performed by King Farouk's own doctors. The malevolence and savagery of this "deed" is revealed in the fact that Hakim, the 17 year old, aimed his three bullets at Moyne's neck, abdomen and heart at very close range.

Honourable senators, public reaction to Lord Moyne's murder was unequalled, both in the U.K. and internationally. Jews and non-Jews were horrified around the world. In London, Parliament met on November 7, 1944. Prime Minister Winston Churchill, a close friend of Lord Moyne for 30 years, did not trust himself to speak at length. In his stead, on November 9, 1944, Anthony Eden gave the assassination details to the Commons. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth sent cables of condolences. In Barbados, called "Little England," where I was born, Barbadians were dismayed. Jewish reaction universally condemned the murder. In The Deed, Gerold Frank wrote:

The Hebrew press could not find words strong enough to denounce the deed. It was an "abomination." ..."Since Zionism began," lamented Haaretz, the most influential newspaper in the country, "no more grievous blow has been struck at our cause." The Jewish Agency expressed its horror "at this revolting crime." In London Dr. Chaim Weizmann...said that this shock had been "far more severe and numbing than that of the death of my own son" ...missing in action against the Germans....

..."The bullet that struck down Lord Moyne," wrote a distinguished Zionist leader, "was aimed not only at him but at our own hearts."

Honourable senators, in the U.K. House of Commons on November 7, 1944, saying that Moyne's murderers narrowly escaped being lynched by Egyptian passers-by and describing Lord Moyne as a good and faithful servant, Winston Churchill paid tribute to him, saying:

...His work as Secretary of State for the Colonies was admirable....

During this present year a press of the most difficult, tangled, anxious and urgent problems was thrust upon him.... These affairs affected not only matters in the Middle East, but the relations with Allied Governments and enemy Governments seeking to surrender....

...In particular, Lord Moyne devoted himself this year to the solution of the Zionist problem, and I can assure the House that the Jews in Palestine have rarely lost a better or more well-informed friend.

Honourable senators, days later, on November 17 in the House, Prime Minster Churchill spoke again. He said:

...If our dreams for Zionism are to end in the smoke of assassins' pistols and our labours for its future to produce only a new set of gangsters worthy of Nazi Germany, many like myself will have to reconsider the position we have maintained so consistently and so long in the past.

Prime Minister Churchill told the House that the Palestinian authorities were engaged in an active campaign against the Stern gang. About the Palestinian reaction, he added, in part:

I have received a letter from Dr. Weizmann, President of the World Zionist Organization — a very old friend of mine — who has arrived in Palestine in which he assures me that.... In Palestine the executive of the Jewish Agency have called upon the Jewish community — and I quote their actual words: "to cast out the members of this destructive band...and to render all necessary the eradication of the terrorist organisation."

Honourable senators, in 1975, the Israeli government gave the two assassins a state funeral with full military honours and reburied them at Mount Herzl. The British government protested. British media commentary scorned this. On June 26, 1975, The Times editorial, headlined "The Terrorists Receive a Welcome in Israel," said:

The justification for these men, whose actions at the time were deplored by Dr. Weizmann, is precisely the same as the justification for any other terrorists.... The same Stern gang of which these terrorists were members murdered Count Bernadotte....

But the great men who led the Israeli nation then did not accept the support of murder, and it is a reflection on the men who lead Israel now that they accept other and lower standards....

Honourable senators, Victor, Lord Rothschild, the third baron, whose family foundation had financed the Knesset and Supreme Court buildings in Israel, in his letter to The Times, June 27, 1975, condemning the assassin honours, wrote:

Sir, I voice the feelings of a vast number of British Jews and non-Jews, who are well disposed towards Israel, in expressing a sense of outrage at the behaviour of the Israeli Government if, as reported in The Times today June 26, the Jewish terrorists who assassinated Lord Moyne were honoured by members of the Government of Israel....

Israel is by no means the only country which appears to condone terrorism. But standing, or purporting to stand, as it does, for adherence to the law, international or otherwise, and to the most famous Commandments ever propounded, their behaviour in this case is a source of indignation to all those who believe in justice, peace and freedom.

Yours truly,

Honourable senators, in closing, I wish to state that I understand that human beings are flawed, imperfect and rarely know themselves and their own motivation. Human beings are capable of justifying foul deeds in the name of beliefs, causes, ideology and their own righteousness.

Terrorists seek to distinguish between good terrorism and bad terrorism. Earlier in my remarks, I had said that terrorism is a heart of darkness, but there is another darkness — the darkness of the heart. The mystics who write and pray about the discernment of good and evil, particularly Jacques Guillet, say it best:

...there is the darkness in man himself who is incapable of seeing his own heart clearly, incapable of grasping completely the seriousness of his actions and the results deriving from them.

Honourable senators, today I commemorate Lord Moyne. I close by saying that I praise him. On Saturday, it will be sixty years that he was assassinated. I also add that the terrorism that ended his productive and useful life at age 64 can never be justified.

I thank honourable senators for their attention.

On motion of Senator Prud'homme, debate adjourned.

The remainder of this day's Senate Debates are available here.