TEL AVIV (Feb. 19)
Funeral services were held here today for Nathan Yalin-Mor, one of the leaders of the underground Stern Group, or Lehi, during the British Mandate of Palestine, who died yesterday after a long illness. He succumbed to leukemia at the age of 66.
The services, presided over by Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Yedidia Fraenkel, were attended by former comrades in arms and long-time political associates of both left and right. Among them were Premier Menachem Begin, who commanded the Irgun in the pre-Statehood days, Knesset Speaker Yitzhak Shamir, who was a co-leader of Lehi, Knesset members Meir Payil and Uri Avneri of the leftist Sheli faction and Twefik Toubi, of the Communist Party, who are members of the Israeli-Soviet Friendship League and the Committee for a Just Peace Between Israel and the Arabs.
The sharp ideological differences among the mourners reflected Yalin-Mor’s own progression from extreme right to far left during his career. At the time of his death he was a strong advocate of Israeli-Soviet-rapprochement and supported a Palestinian state to co-exist with Israel.
Born Nathan Friedman-Yelin in Poland, his career closely paralleled that of Begin, who is also of Parish birth. Yalin-Mor was an officer in Begin’s embryo Irgun movement in Poland. Both led that country after the Nazi occupation and arrived in Palestine in 1941.
TAKES DIFFERENT PATH
But their ways ported when Yalin-Mor joined the poet, Yair Stern, to form Lehi and Begin assumed command of Irgun. Both underground groups fought the British. After Stern was killed, Yalin-Mor became political chief of Lehi, one of the triumvirate heading the organization which included Shamir as chief of operations and Dr. Eldad Sheib who was in charge of information.
In the late 1940s, Yalin-Mor became convinced that Soviet power would one day dominate the Middle East and advocated a pro-Russian policy which estranged him from his Lehi colleagues. He was arrested by the Israeli authorities soon after the State was founded and charged with conspiracy in the assassination of Count Folke Bernadotte, of Sweden, the United Nations mediator in the Middle East. He was acquitted of murder but sentenced to eight years imprisonment for his underground activities. However, Yalin-Mor won a Knesset seat at the head of the Lehi list in Israel’s first elections and was released.
After the Six-Day War he broke sharply with Begin by advocating a Palestinian state. In later years he remained out of the public eye but continued to write books and articles calling for changes in policy toward the USSR and a close dialogue between Israelis and Arabs.
Speaking at the gravesite at Holon Cemetery, Shamir, who soon may be named Israel’s Foreign Minister, lauded the former underground leader’s career from the ultra-nationalist rightwing Betar in Poland to Lehi. But he voiced regret over Yalin-Mor’s ideological turn-about. “The heart aches for such a brilliant and great mind that did not find the proper path to serve the nation,” Shamir said.