38-year-old Murder Case Revived in Libel Suit; Case Dealt with Arlozoroff’s Murder
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38-year-old Murder Case Revived in Libel Suit; Case Dealt with Arlozoroff’s Murder

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A 38-year-old murder case that once shocked Jews around the world and caused a near bloody confrontation between the Labor and Revisionist factions of the Zionist movement, was revived in a libel suit filed today in a Jerusalem magistrates court. The suit names Prof. Edwin Samuel, of the Hebrew University, son of the late Lord Herbert Samuel, the first British High Commissioner of Palestine, and Ted Lurie, editor of the Jerusalem Post. The suit charges libel in excerpts from a book by Prof. Samuel, published in the Jerusalem Post. The book holds an extremist group of the Revisionist faction–the Brit Habiryonim–responsible for the murder on July 16, 1932 of Chaim Arlozoroff, a Labor Party leader and head of the Jewish Agency’s political department at the time. In 1933, the Jewish Agency was the defacto government of the “yishuv,” the Jewish community in Palestine. The suit was filed by Tzvi Rosenblitt, an employee of the Tel Aviv municipality, who is the sole survivor of the three defendants tried for the Arlozoroff murder, all of whom were eventually acquitted. He is supported by Yacob Orenstein and Chaim Deviri, founding members of the Brit Habiryonim.

Rosenblitt claims that the Samuel book was a “repetition of a blood libel” of which he was cleared. His lawyer is Knesset member Shmuel Tamir of the Free Center faction. Arlozoroff was killed under mysterious circumstances while strolling with his wife along the Tel Aviv beach. Revisionist zealots were accused of the act. Rosenblitt along with Abba Achimeir and Abraham Stavski, both now deceased, were tried for the murder. Achimeir was released after the preliminaries and Rosenblitt was acquitted after a trial that lasted almost a year. Stavski was found guilty and sentenced to death but the High Court later reversed the verdict and acquitted him. A generation later, the Arlozoroff murder is still a sensitive point between old timers of the Labor Party and Revisionists who adhere mainly to the opposition Herut faction. According to Samuel’s book, Revisionists murdered Arlozoroff and threatened the life of the late Dr. Judah Magnes, president of the Hebrew University, whose advocacy of a bi-national Jewish-Arab state in Palestine offended nationalist extremists.

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