Meir Tobyanski

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Meir Tobianski, (1904-1948), born in Kovno, migrated to Palestine in 1921. He was a Haganah member wrongly suspected of collaborating with the British who was executed in June 1948. Different sources give different IDF ranks for him -- Captain and Major.

One day in summer 1948 Meyer Tobiansky went from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv to visit his brother. When he did not come back, his wife Lena went to the headquarters of the Haganah, in which her husband held a high post. "I asked everyone where Mischa was," she recalls. "Most of them wouldn't talk to me. They shut their doors in my face."

Then Lena heard a report that Meyer had been executed as a spy by the Haganah; she could not believe it. Tobiansky was a Zionist pioneer who had come to Palestine from his native Lithuania when he was 19 and was imprisoned by the British for his underground work. During World War II, like many Zionists, he had fought in the British army against the Axis, rising to be a major. When the 1948 war broke out, Tobiansky, with the full approval of the Haganah, kept his civilian job in the British electric light company in Jerusalem. He also commanded a secret Haganah airbase outside the city. He was a quiet man with a slight paunch, who liked to sit in Jerusalem's Cafe Vienna with his wife and some friends, sipping beer.

About a month after Tobiansky's disappearance, the new Israeli government issued a curt announcement: Tobiansky had been convicted of treason by a Haganah court-martial and shot.

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Michael Bryant   • Avraham Kraemer

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