Lehi Teenager Disappears
Alexander Rubowitz Memorial in Jerusalem. Photo: Avi Deror
May 6, 1947

Alexander Rubowitz, 16, is abducted in the Rehavia neighborhood of Jerusalem while on a mission for Lohamei HaHerut b’Yisrael (Fighters for the Freedom of Israel), known by the acronym Lehi or as the Stern Gang (after founder Avraham Stern). Rubowitz is never seen again.

Lehi is dedicated to ending British rule in Palestine and establishing the Jewish state by any means necessary. Its members broke away from the militant underground group Irgun when the Irgun halted attacks on British troops during World War II.

Rubowitz is a member of Brit Hashmonaim, a religious youth group and Lehi front that distributes weapons and propaganda, including putting up wall posters, an essential form of communication for an organization without a newspaper or radio station. His parents learned of the extent of his nationalist activities only when he was expelled from high school for his work distributing information and recruiting members for Lehi months before his disappearance.

Rubowitz, who lives in Mea Shearim, is seen running through Rehavia around 8 p.m., fleeing a large, athletic man. He is caught and forced into a waiting car by his pursuer and another man. One witness, 15-year-old Meir Cohen, confronts the first man, who shows him British police identification. It is believed that Rubowitz is beaten to death that night outside Jerusalem after refusing to name other Lehi members.

A hat found at the scene of the abduction in Rehavia belongs to Roy Farran, a British major, a World War II hero and an Arab sympathizer. Farran is charged and tried for Rubowitz’s abduction and murder, but he is allowed to leave Palestine when the evidence is deemed inadmissible.

Farran has a successful business and political career in Canada. Rubowitz is remembered with a plaque at the site of his abduction.