Israel's Jerusalem Post broke a national taboo today by writing of a 1941 link between Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir's Stern Gang guerrillas and Nazi Germany.
The episode, known to historians, is almost never mentioned in a country that reveres the memory of 6 million European Jews, including Shamir's entire family, killed by the Nazis during World War II.
The respected English-language daily, which bitterly opposes Shamir, broke the silence in an editorial blasting "obscene attacks" by the premier and other right-wingers on the Peace Now movement's contacts with Palestinians.
Noting that Shamir said there would be "no KGB in Israel" to hunt down Peace Now activists, the Post commented:
"That might be reassuring, but for the disturbing memory (of the Stern Gang) . . . which, with the Final Solution already under way in all but name, sought out German cooperation in the setting up here of a Jewish state on a national and totalitarian basis."
The Stern Gang was an underground group of which Shamir was a leader. It tried to make an alliance with Nazi Germany in 1941 to oppose British rule in Palestine in exchange for the release of Jews from Nazi hands.
Mainstream Jewish leaders in Palestine condemned the idea of a Nazi alliance. They considered the Sternists fanatics and outcasts and were at that time raising troops for the Allies.
The Nazis rejected the plan because it clashed with their bid for support from Arab nationalists.
With the exception of a hostile statement by concentration camp survivors against Shamir when he first took power in 1983, the Israeli press virtually never mentions the episode.
Stern Gang memories caused controversy in January when British Foreign Office Minister William Waldegrave recalled Shamir's role in the 1944 assassination of Lord Moyne, Britain's minister-resident for the Middle East.
Shamir, who regularly receives foreign politicians, snubbed Waldegrave when he visited Israel last week.