Eliyahu Golomb Passes Away

June 11, 1945

Eliyahu Golomb was born in Belorussia in 1893.  He immigrated to Palestine in 1909 and became a prominent leader of the Jewish defense effort in Palestine. He began his work in the Yishuv (Jewish community in Palestine), organizing agricultural training courses and working at Kibbutz Degania Alef .  In 1920, he went on to help found the Haganah, the Jewish defense organization in Palestine prior to the founding of the state.  He also organized supply shipments to the Haganah defenders of the northern outpost at Tel Hai.

Convinced that the defense of the Jewish communities in Palestine was a global Jewish issue, he went to Europe to purchase weapons for the Haganah in 1922. In Europe, he organizined groups of young Jews to become pioneers in Palestine. In the 1930s, as the Arab population in Palestine violently lashed out against the Jewish settlers, Golomb was the key force in establishing field-units to defend the Yishuv.  Golomb’s policy was clear.  He was known for both his active support of defensive and retaliatory measures against Arab insurgency, and for being firmly opposed to violent measures against Arab civilians.

Golomb believed a unified defense institution was essential to the development of the Jewish State. He was subsequently opposed to splinter defense organizations such as the Irgun and the Lehi (the “Stern Gang”). For this reason, Golomb and Zionist leader Berl Katznelson worked with the leader of the Irgun, Ze’ev Jabotinsky, to try and merge their organizations’ respective defense efforts.

He died on June 11, 1945, at the age of 52.

The photo, from Yad Vashem, shows the “illegal immigrant” ship Eliyahu Golomb in 1946.  The ship was purchased in the winter of 1946 and its name was changed from Fenice to Eliyahu Golomb as a tribute to the Haganah commander.