The Zionists in Palestine became increasingly frustrated with British policy during the Mandate. Members of the Jewish underground wanted to focus world attention on Palestine and punish the British for what they considered their complicity in the Holocaust.
The decision was made to assassinate the British High Commissioner in Palestine, Sir Harold MacMichael, but several attempts on his life failed. Lehi decided on another target, Walter Edward Guinness, better known as Lord Moyne.
Lord Moyne was a well-known Arabist and Anti-Zionist. He had served as colonial secretary and was British minister of state in Cairo. During the war, Joel Brand came out of Hungary with an offer from the Nazis to trade Jews for trucks and was supposedly told by Lord Moyne: “What would I do with a million Jews.”
According to a former Irgunist, Moyne had also opposed the formation of a Jewish Army, refused to allow the Struma to land in Palestine, sent another ship (the Atlantic) to Mauritius, and had ordered the Patria there as well before it was blown up.
On November 6, 1944, two members of Lehi, Eliyahu Hakim and Eliahu Bet-Zouri, were dispatched to Cairo and, on November 6, 1944, they assassinated Lord Moyne. They were arrested, tried by an Egyptian court on January 18, 1945, and sentenced to death.
This report from the OSS (the CIA’s forerunner) discusses protests mounted by American Zionists, particularly those associated with the Revisionists, immediately after the sentence was announced. Prominent rabbis, including Reform Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver, and some celebrities and member of Congress unsuccessfully petitioned the Egyptian government for amnesty.
The assassins were nevertheless hung on March 23, 1945.
J. Bowyer Bell, Terror Out Of Zion, (NY: St. Martin’s Press, 1977), p. 92.