Shlomo Ben-Yosef was executed in 1938 by the British mandatory government in Eretz Yisrael. He was the first Jew to be executed in Eretz Yisrael since the time of the Romans.
This is the last letter of Shlomo Ben-Yosef to Rosh Betar, Zev Jabotinsky - the day before his ascent to the gallows. (Interpreted from Hebrew)
In honor of Rosh Betar Zev Jabotinsky,
I have the great honor to inform you that tomorrow I go to fulfill my last and holy duty as a member of Betar in Eretz Yisrael. For whatever good deeds have I been rewarded thus, that I have the pleasure to fulfill so holy a duty, I think that is but the result of my guiding leaders, whom I tried to follow - in the path of the "iron road", "for silence is filth". And I am proud that I have the honor to sacrifice myself for our lofty ideal. Do not be sad, my dear. For I know that you worry for Betar as a father for his children, it's not possible to stop natural processes. I promise you this last promise; that I will walk to the hanging head upright and high like a Betari. And I will die with your name that is so dear to me on my lips. Sir Rosh Betar, go forward with your brave youth, for you are the only man who will be able to free our persecuted people. I wish that you will be privileged to see "the Jewish State on both banks of the Jordan" in the near future... and I shake your hand. Long life to you,
from a Betari who has the honor to do for his homeland,
This is Shlomo Ben-Yosef's letter to his Betar group before his acsent to the gallows. (Interpreted from Hebrew)
Tel Chai friends,
The worst thing in this jail is that you don't have free opportunity to commit to paper that which you feel as the first Betari to be hung for his homeland. I wanted to explain to you that I am proud of this, though I'm not worthy of this honor but simply fulfilling the responsibility of the fighting Jew. And in truth there is nothing greater than to die for our country. The pioneering slogan "I have nothing and want nothing for myself, but all for the people, the nation of Israel" has made a deep impression on me. Under its influence I worked for Betar for 19 years. And now I am finishing my work for Betar in a Betar way. I am proud of this. I've served Betar to the day of my death. I am happy and go to die with complete confidence that the state of the Jews will arise despite all the obstacles!
Those who want are better than those who "can".
Long live Jabotinsky!
Long live the Jewish state in its historic borders!
Long live the fighting Jewish youth!
Long live the Betar movement!
(Please forgive me my mistakes. I haven't yet managed to learn our new language).
Copyright H. David Marshak, All Rights Reserved