The incredible life of Sarah Aaronsohn, the self-taught Allied spy who helped the British defeat the Turkish Army and liberate Palestine in WWI.
Sarah Aaronsohn, the self-taught spymaster and martyr to the Allied cause in World War I, well-deserved her reputation as the Flame of Israel. Her heroic story begins in the 1880s, with her family’s journey from Romania to the province of Syria-Palestine, where they helped settle the village of Zichron Ya’akov as part of the First Aliyah. When the war broke out in 1914, their settlements faced cruel oppression from the Ottoman Empire.
Sarah and her brother Aaron, the prominent botanist and settlement fundraiser, established a spy network to collect information for the British in their campaigns against the Turkish Army. They called their espionage ring NILI, an acronym for the Hebrew phrase Netzah Yisrael Lo Yeshaker (The Eternal One of Israel will not lie).
In 1917, Sarah assumed command of NILI as the group’s penetration of the Turkish Army reached a critical juncture. The intelligence she gathered was crucial for the British liberation of Palestine in what would be the first dramatic victory for the Allies. Captured by the Turks, Sarah withstood excruciating torture without divulging a single secret to the enemy. Her tragic end would prove important in holding the victors to their promise of a new Jewish state. Sarah was idolized by T.E. Lawrence, the fabled Lawrence of Arabia who dedicated The Seven Pillars of Wisdom to her.