Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Center Bulletin Vol. 3, No. 50

Volume 3, Issue 50
September 25, 2007

Total Number of Visitors Since October 2004: 326,097

Menachem Begin Once Again Number 1

Once again, Menachem Begin has emerged in the annual poll conducted by the Ma'ariv newspaper as the best Prime Minister Israel has had since the creation of the State. The numbers are more or less constant with past years and with different polls conducted by polling organizations for newspapers, television and radio stations.

Menachem Begin is number 1 with 26.8%, followed by David Ben Gurion at 25.6%, Itzhak Rabin at 17.4%, Ariel Sharon is number 4 with 9.1% and Yitzhak Shamir is number 5 with 5.4%. The lower middle group is Levy Eshkol with 4.8%, Binyamin Netanyahu with 4.4%, Golda Meir with 3%, and Shimon Peres with 2.5%. At the bottom of the list are Moshe Sharett at 0.9%, Ehud Barak at 0.2% and Ehud Olmert at 0.0%.

Druze Celebration of Menachem Begin

On 19 September in Daliat Al Carmel, the Druze community held a memorial day which recalled the positive effect Menachem Begin had on the Druze people and how he improved the relationship between the Druze and the Jews in Israel. The lunchtime event was opened by Sheikh Muwafak Tarif, a spiritual leader of the Druze, and by Amal Nasseraldeen, former Member of Knesset and head of the Druze Yad L'Banim. The event was emceed by Rafik Chalabi, former director of the Israel Broadcast Agency, who also made a few short films about Menachem Begin for th is event. Also in attendance and providing short remarks were former Speaker of the Knesset, MK Ruby Rivlin; former Foreign Minister, David Levy; recently confirmed Minister without Portfolio, MK Ami Ayalon; former MK Amnon Linn; and other leaders of the Druze.

In all, the event was attended by more than 100 of the most important leaders of the Druze in Israel—including representatives in the fields of education, spirituality and politics.

MK Ami Ayalon said in his remarks that although he had never been a supporter of Begin, "he learned that he was a true democrat and one of the most important leaders Israel has ever had."

Upcoming Publications


White Nights:

This book of Menachem Begin's recollections of his period of incarceration, interrogation at the hands of the infamous NKVD, his exile to forced labor camps in Northern Russia is being republished. This edition will contain, for the first time in English, selected documents from the NKVD protocols found in the KGB archives which were brought to Israel in 1989. This book was last published in English in 1979 by Harper and Row.

Basic Outlines of our World View and our National Outlook:

Out of print for decades, Menachem Begin's first major political/ideological tract, originally published in 1952 and based on a speech before the second Herut conference in 1951, is being translated for the first time into English. The pamphlet is prominently displayed at the beginning of the Roth Family Avenue of the Heritage and has been requested by many visitors. It is currently available in Hebrew.

Gidi: The Life Story of Amichai Paglin:

The Begin Center is sponsoring the publication in English of a book about Amichai Paglin (Gidi) who was the Irgun's Chief of Operations. Among the topics detailed in the book are the bombing of the British Mandate Government Offices and the Army HQ in the King David Hotel's South wing, the demolition of the Jerusalem Railway station and the conquest of Jaffa.
You may place orders through the Begin Center in advance for any of these titles.


1. Revolt of the Irgun: 60 Years After:

In 2004, upon the anniversary marking 60 years since the declaration of revolt against the British by the Irgun, two academic conferences were conducted by the Begin Center and the Jabotinsky Institute. A collection of the various lectures delivered during the conferences will be published by the Ministry of Defense publishing house in cooperation with the Begin Center and Jabotinsky Institute. The book will contain 18 of the lectures relating to all aspects of the revolt, covering political, military and diplomatic themes.

Israel's Strike Against the Iraqi Nuclear Reactor:

This collection of articles and lectures in Hebrew was originally published in 2003 and is now being reprinted. Many of the authors of the articles and lectures were active participants in the action on June 7, 1981 and provide a unique perspective on those historic events. This booklet is also available in English.

On Bookshelves Now

Several years ago, Udi Leibel's doctoral thesis on the discrimination practiced by the state authorities against the fallen of the Irgun and the Lechi received a student award from the Begin Center. We are now pleased to inform our friends that his thesis has been published as a book in Hebrew. Entitled The Path to the Pantheon – Irgun and Lechi and the Parameters of Israel's Commemoration, the book was published by Carmel with the participation of the Begin Center. Yechiel Kadishai wrote a Forward.

The book details the "politics of grief" in Israel and the practices of David Ben-Gurion and later Mapai politicians to minimize and set as outcasts those members of the fighting underground groups that did much to liberate the state of Israel from the British occupier. Non-recognition, lack of payments and other forms of discrimination are detailed as well as the eventual process of reclaiming the fallen in later years, especially after the Likud 1977 election victory.

The book can be ordered from the Begin Center or on-line at http://www.text.org.il/index.php?book=0704044.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Off They Go!

The participants in the Center's new Israel Government Fellowship Program are off on a two-day trip to Masada and environs.

Here they are, departing from the Center:-

A New Op-ed Article on nthe Altalena Docudrama

Take liberties with history, and you can fool millions

Sep. 19, 2007

At the Venice Film Festival early this month, British director Peter Greenaway spoke of his latest effort, Nightwatching, a movie about Rembrandt van Rijn. The film, in the style of docudrama, zeros in on three women in the painter's life.

"I can't prove every single fact, but you can't disprove it either," Greenaway told a press conference.

Maybe you can get away with that kind of approach on a Rembrandt docudrama and just hope for the best, but what if elements of Israel's history were portrayed on the basis of the "but you can't disprove it either" school of thought?

Israeli playwright Motti Lerner has shown he has no problem with taking just that line.

Lerner, the grandson of one of two woman presumed to have revealed to the Turkish authorities the spying activities of Sarah Aharonson in Zichron Ya'acov in 1917, leading to her arrest, torture and eventual suicide, is a theater personage of note. He has previously staged Messianic Pangs, The Murder of Isaac - with its infamous urination scene - and Bus 300, as well as Kastner's Trial among others.

In A Battle in Jerusalem, a television drama shown over Channel 1, IDF soldiers during the 1948 war are assigned to take an Arab position near Jerusalem. After a day of difficult fighting they retreat, but blow up the position with their wounded in it.

IN DESCRIBING the plot of The Murder of Isaac, Lerner explained that he sought to inculcate into his art the idea "that religious fanaticism was and is grounds for innumerable wars; and the fact that nationalistic and racist fanaticism still constitute[s] a central component of our culture."

The play was refused a stage in Israel, so Lerner took it to Germany for production. But it was the Kastner play that attained for him a place in all Israeli law schools - and no small amount of notoriety - when the subject of "freedom of expression" is taught.

In its script, produced for Channel 2 television more than a decade ago, Lerner takes liberal license with his Hannah Szenes character and suggests she handed two Palestinian Jewish parachutists over to the Hungarian police.

The incident not only didn't take place; it couldn't have. Szenes was already imprisoned when the parachutists arrived in the Hungarian capital. The scene was a figment of Lerner's imagination.

High Court president Aharon Barak decided, in the majority opinion, that an artist's right to freely express himself even if he actually falsifies what happened is protected from libel action. Justice Mishael Cheshin passionately dissented, arguing that the historical truth must take precedence.

LERNER, as he's written in a paper presented at Brandeis University, believes that Israeli society suffers from a "disease" - "that most Israelis do not recognize the simple and clear truth that there is a Palestinian people… [this] disease is the total denial of the Palestinian narrative… we, Israelis, must admit that this disease, which I've just described, is not very different from the same old racism that we suffered from for more than 20 centuries."

Now Lerner has a fresh project. Channel 2 will soon be showing a Lerner docudrama that purportedly portrays what happened when the Altalena arrived in Israel in June 1948.

Already, evidence is mounting that Lerner will be taking liberties with history. Yoske Nachmias learned that his character in the series will be firing a submachine gun at IDF soldiers at the Kfar Vitkin beach, a clash that occurred a day prior to the shooting that took place off Tel Aviv's beachfront; and that Menachem Begin will be hiding behind the Nachmias character, trying to protect himself.

The real Nachmias observes that this scene is completely fabricated. But neither the producer nor scriptwriter, as far as we know, appear to be interested in correcting the distortion.

WHATEVER the distortions of the past, Lerner's future crimes against history can still be corrected. In the first instance, the series should contain a prominent and explicit disclaimer stating that this is a work of fiction, and that any similarity with actual events is purely coincidental. If Law and Order can do it, Channel 2's Keshet franchise surely can.

Secondly, instead of calling the ship the Altalena, why not call the boat Shimshon?
Haim Hazaz published a book entitled In One Chain about the Irgun's Meir Feinstein and the Lehi's Moshe Barazani who, sentenced to be hanged, preferred to blow themselves up with a smuggled primitive hand grenade. All the names of the characters, major and minor, were changed. It did not detract from the story, and made it clear that Hazaz was interpreting a historical reality in a fictitious manner.

He could not have known what conversations transpired between the two heroes. But his approach emphasized that history and theatrical interpretation are two different things.

Only about 100 people who were involved in the Altalena incident are still alive. But millions may eventually accept the Motti Lerner docudrama take on the Altalena incident as genuine history. Very few will likely go on to read a genuine history book that would present an alternative to Lerner's narrative.

The medium of docudrama is subtle and facile and prone to convincing an unwitting audience that what they see is real and true.

Given Lerner's propensity for ideological antipathy to many of his subjects, as well as his record of playing fast and loose with history for (questionable) dramatic worth, the playwright should be forced to make these small alterations before his latest work airs on Israeli television.
The writer comments on political, cultural and media themes and blogs at www.myrightword.blogspot.com

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Center Bulletin, Volume 3, Issue 49

Volume 3, Issue 49
September 18, 2007

Total Number of Visitors Since October 2004: 325,635

Israel Government Fellows Program Launched

This week, nineteen young interns arrived from countries around the world to participate in the newest Menachem Begin Heritage Center initiative, in cooperation with MASA (a joint project of the Jewish Agency and the Government of Israel). The Israel Government Fellows program creates an opportunity for young people to work in Israel's Ministries and other governmental offices to gain a unique perspec tive on Israel and to have an unparalleled internship experience. In this September 2007 session, these interns will work in the Prime Minister's office, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Justice Ministry, the Labor, Trade and Commerce Ministry, the Health Ministry and the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, to name a few.

The interns are a diverse group of people, 14 women and 5 men, who hail from the US (Massachusetts, Florida, California, New York, Texas, Illinois, Ohio and Kentucky), from the UK (London), from Australia (Sorrento), from Hungary (Cegled), from Switzerland (Lausanne) and from Argentina (Buenos Aires). Many of them are multi-lingual and most have been to Israel before. All of them have at least a bachelor's degree and are proven leaders in their communities. Most are between the ages of 22-24.

The interns were formally welcomed on Tuesday, September 18, by Harry Hurwitz, Founder and Head of the Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation, and Herzl Makov, the Head of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center. The program starts with three weeks of orientation to help the interns acclimatize to life in Israel, to learn about the history of Isr ael and Jewish history and to cover a myriad of other cultural, historical, economic topics. The interns will start their internships on October 10 and will work four days a week for five months. The other day of the week is reserved for additional workshops, tours and trips. They will not only gain work experience, but also have a chance to explore all over Israel, meet their Israeli peers, and meet with leaders in Israel.

Tamar Darmon, Director of the Israel Government Fellows Program, and her assistant Alon Shani are very excited about the beginning of the program and are looking forward to working with these young, dynamic interns. For more information about the program, click here.

30th Anniversary Celebrations in Planning Stages

The 30th anniversary of the historic visit of President Anwar Sadat of Egypt to Jerusalem at the invitation of Prime Minister Menachem Begin on 19 November 1977 will be the opening of a three year program of activities culminating on 26 March 2009—30 years after the signing of the Peace Treaty between Egypt and Israel. The series of events proved to be a turning point in the Middle East and a breakthrough in the relationship between Israel and Egypt.

Work is now in progress on various exhibitions recalling the historic period and on the publication of a book highlighting the exchange of letters and statements between Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin. In processing the documents, researchers found that, remarkably, Menachem Begin had written to Anwar Sadat on October 5, 1981, the day before Anwar Sadat was assassinated at the height of a military parade on October 6, 1981.

Parashat HaShavua Renews for 5768

The new cycle of Bible studies in the Rohr Family Parashat HaShavua program will officially start on October 11, 2007. Parasha Bereshit will be combined with a special program taking place on Hoshana Raba (reference below). After an interval of several months, the popular dynamic lecturer, Dr. Micha Goodman, will return to the podium to introduce the new series and new concept. Students from Ein Prat, a Mechina (a pre-army study course) in Kfar Adumim, will give a 15 minute talk about the Parasha of the week and Dr. Micha Goodman will follow that with a 40 minute lecture about prophecy.

Special Program for Hoshana Raba

On the evening of October 2, 2007 the Begin Center will hold an all-night study session to celebrate Hoshana Raba. The evening begins at 10:00pm with a special opening lecture by Dr. Micha Goodman covering Parasha Bereshit. Lectures continue through the night until 4:00am. Speakers for the evening include Danny Segal and Rabbi Rafi Feurstein among others.

Yemenite Evening

During Chol HaMoed Sukkot, on Monday October 1, an evening celebrating Yemenite culture will be held at the Begin Center. The evening will be hosted by former MK Geula Cohen who is currently the head of the Uri Tzvi Greenberg Heritage House. The evening begins at 5:00pm with a round table discussion until 6:45pm. At the intermission, Yemenite foods will be available for tasting (inside a Sukkah). The evening continues with traditional Yemenite dancing. Entrance to this event is 40NIS. Tickets for the event are not available at the Begin Center, but only by calling 02-623-1532 or 02-625-1856.

A Quotation of Menachem Begin

We found this in an op-ed by Nadav Shragai:-

Menachem Begin once said, in a paraphrase on Ahad Ha'am's (Asher Zvi Greenberg) famous saying about the Sabbath, that more than the Jewish people have kept Jerusalem, Jerusalem has kept the Jewish people.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Center Bulletin, Volume 3, Issue 48

Volume 3, Issue 48
September 10, 2007

Total Number of Visitors Since October 2004: 325,119

Begin to be Celebrated by Druze Group

Next Wednesday, 19 September, the Druze community of Daliyat El Carmel will assemble for an event celebrating the great Israeli leader Menachem Begin. The event was initiated and organized by Amal Nasereldeen who is a former Knesset member and chairman of the Druze Yad L'Banim. He is also a member of the public council of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center.

The government of Israel will be represented by Minister Yitzhak Herzog, the Minister of Welfare and Social Services and Minister of the Diaspora, Society and the Fight Against Anti-Semitism, who will address the gathering. Other personalities expected to attend the event and to deliver greetings or short addresses are Prof. Moshe Arens, former MK Amnon Linn, Sheikh Tarif (who is the spiritual leader of the Druze). There will also be a panel of speakers from the Jewish community and the Druze community.

Menachem Begin Park Dedicated at Azur

Overcoming a decade of opposition from the Labour-oriented Local Council, the town of Azur finally approved the dedication of its central park to the memory of Menachem Begin. The initiative originated with Advocate Navon Katzav and it was he who organized the ceremony held on September 5th. It was addressed by Yechiel Kadishai, Efrayim Even, as well as Mr. Katzav. The park is 55 dunams in area (16 acres). The Menachem Begin Heritage Center donated the large stone memorial with a special text that is placed at the park's entrance. Present at the ceremony were Chassia Begin, Council Head Amnon Zach and Yisrael Drobles, representing the Menachem Begin Heritage Center, in addition to scores of local residents who will benefit from the recreational area.

Chol HaMoed Sukkot

Large crowds of visitors are expected at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center during the five days of Chol HaMoed Sukkot and therefore, persons desiring to visit the Center are urged to make reservations ahead of time by calling (02) 565-2020 (or from abroad at 972-2-565-2020). Those requiring translations of the commentary in the museum are fortunate this year to have the translation available in five languages—English, Russian, Spanish, French and Arabic. These all appear on the sound system that can be heard on the earphones provided at the reception desk. Recent visitors have been most grateful and complimentary about the various languages available to them.

During Chol HaMoed Sukkot the museum will be open as follows:

First day of Chol Ha'Moed (Friday)

September 28 9am-12:30pm

Chol Ha'Moed

September 30-October 2 9am-7pm

The day before Simhat Torah

October 3 9am-12:30pm

Mazal Tov

A hearty Mazal Tov to Yuval and Nirit Bar Or on the birth of their second son, brother to Magen. Yuval is the Director of Office Administration at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center.

Begin's Speaking Venue to Become Apartments

The Edison Theater, located on Yeshayahu Street corner of Belilius Street in Jerusalem, one of the city's landmarks since it was built in 1932, and a site where Menachem Begin frequently made major public indoor addresses, is undergoing a major alteration.

The theater was a central element of the city's cultural affairs with distinguished guests and officials in attendance. For many years the theater served as a culture center; artists from all over the world performed there, and political parties held their conferences at the venue. Amos Oz's The Hill of Evil Counsel detailed the p laying of the British anthem "God Save the King" before the screening of movies. On May 16, 1936, at the beginning of the three-year Great Arab Revolt, terrorists bombed the movie house killing three Jews - a doctor, baker and Hebrew University student. Once, in 1944, an attempt to assassinate the High Commissioner MacMichael there was made by the Lechi but failed. In another Amos Oz book, A Tale of Love and Darkness, the author describes a speech made in the theater by Begin in the early 1950s. It was also the scene of many Neturei Karta demonstrations as the old secular-religious border used to run near Edison which borders Geula and Meah Shearim.

However, the building, which stood vacant for many years, was purchased by the Satmar sect led by Aharon Teitelbaum and will become an apartment complex.


Prof. Joe Ben Simon and his wife Terry were welcome visitors at the Begin Center last week when they met with Harry and Freda Hurwitz in the White Nights restaurant. They had previously visited the Center and were most impressed at the time by the building, the museum and other features.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Begin Park in Azur

The town of Azur, just south of Tel Aviv, dedicated the central park area in the community in the memory of Menachem Begin on September 5, 2007.

In the presence of the Local Council head, Mrs. Chassia Begin, Yehiel Kadishai, Efrayim Even of the Irgun Veterans' Associations and Israel Drobles of the Begin Center, a large stone was uncovered reading

The Menachem Begin Park
1913 - 1992
Sixth Prime Minister
Signer of the Peace Treaty with Egypt
Irgun Commander

Here's a picture.

Deep appreciation is extended to Advocate Navon Katzav who initiated this project a decade ago and belabored on its behalf until achieveing the authorization of the Local Council.

Some other photographs:-

Friday, September 7, 2007

About the Docu-Drama "Altalena"

Last week filming began on the historical docudrama "Altalena," directed by Eli Cohen ("Avia's Summer"). It tells the story of the Altalena, a munitions ship brought to Israel by the Irgun (the pre-state underground militia led by Menachem Begin) during the War of Independence, and the dispute that erupted between prime minister David Ben-Gurion (played by Yossi Kantz) and Begin (Yoram Hatav). B-G ordered the shelling of the ship by the fledgling Israel Defense Forces. The film requires the Tel Aviv skyline of 1948 and will place actors against a computer-generated background. Moti Lerner wrote the screenplay, and the film is being produced by Riki Shelah and Zvi Shapira, with a budget of about $600,000, provided by Keren Makor (the main investor), Keshet Television and the Israel Film Foundation. It has not yet been decided whether the film will be broadcast on TV or screened in theaters.


Head of the Begin Center, Herzl Makov, was interviewed on Israel's Kol Yisrael - Reshet Bet radio on Thursday morning and expressed his concern that the series will present an unhistoric picture and twist facts.

Information published in the press as well as discussions with actors and other persons connected with the production indicate that there is much about which to be concerned.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Center Bulletin, Vol. 3, No. 47

Volume 3, Issue 47
September 4, 2007

Total Number of Visitors Since October 2004: 324,657

Rosh Hashana Greetings from History

Soon after becoming Prime Minister of Israel, Menachem Begin used the approaching Rosh Hashana holiday to greet the people of Israel and the Jews of the world with blessings from Jerusalem.

In an interview on the Israel Defense Forces radio on 6 September 1977, Menachem Begin said:

We are on the threshold of a new year and I believe with implicit faith that the day of peace will come. The one thing that is inevitable is Peace. It will come because this government's policy leads to serious consideration of Peace Treaties, not interim agreements.

He concluded the lengthy interview with the words:

As I am speaking over the IDF radio station, allow me to wish all the soldiers and officers of Israel a happy and blessed New Year. We have a glorious army of which all the people of Israel are proud. All the best, soldiers of Israel. We are proud of you.

And a year later on 22 September 1978, upon his return to Israel from the Camp David negotiations, he said in a statement:

May there be a good and blessed New Year for the whole House of Israel. A year of Peace. May we, with G-d's help, soon be able to sign a Peace Treaty and to bring the message that not only in this generation, but in the coming generations, too, we shall live in our country in peace, in honor, in liberty and in justice.

Quandt on Carter

William B. Quandt is Professor of Government and Foreign Affairs at the University of Virginia and was a member of the National Security Council staff during the Carter Administration. He has written periodically about Carter's program during the Camp David negotiations and his attitude toward Prime Minister Menachem Begin and the people of Israel. His latest article, published in the Spring 2007 Journal of Palestine Studies, deals with Carter's latest controversial book and says that Carter believed that the Camp David Accords referred to the "negotiations on final status issues which shall be based on all the provisions and principles of UN Security Council Resolution 242. The word withdrawal was initially listed among those principles, but Begin insisted that it be removed, and it was."

Quandt goes on to say that

"Begin rejected the Carter formulation precisely because it would have obligated Israel to withdraw after a transitional period to approximate the 1967 lines as part of an eventual peace agreement. This he would not do. The most that he would accept was that "the negotiations", not even "the outcome of the negotiations", would be based on "all the provisions and principles of UN Security Council Resolution 242." For Begin this meant that the Palestinians or Jordanians could raise the issue of withdrawal if they so chose, but he was under n o obligation to agree to it. The wording of the final agreement left all parties able to read into the text their preferred positions. It did not resolve the issue and Carter is incorrect to imply that Begin made any commitment to withdrawal from the West Bank."

Russian Birthright

Two groups of Birthright visitors totaling some 50 people came to the museum last week. Prior to their arrival, the request had been made for them to have the museum soundtrack in Russian. This was easily available through the earphones which carry the Begin story in five languages—English, Russian, French, Spanish and Arabic.

The young people were very pleased with the service and complimented the Begin Center for providing it.

Wolf Blitzer Interviewed on IBA

Wolf Blitzer, the well-known CNN senior political correspondent was interviewed by Leah Stern of the English television program of Israel Broadcast Authority to mark the completion of Blitzer's 30 years in print, radio and television journalism.

When asked to highlight the main stories and personalities that he had followed in Israel, he replied that the main personalities were Anwar Sadat of Egypt and Menachem Begin of Israel who have achieved a special place in history by terminating the state of war between their two countries. He also thought that King Hussein of Jordan, whom he had interviewed, was a leading figure in the region.

Museum Hours During the Holidays

Please take note of the following:

The day before Rosh Hashana September 12 Closed

Rosh Hashana September 13-14 Closed

The day before Yom Kippur September 21 Closed

The day before Sukkot September 26 9am-12:30pm

Sukkot September 27 Closed

First day Chol Ha'Moed (Friday) September 28 9am-12:30pm

Chol Ha'Moed September 30-October 2 9am-7pm

Day before Simhat Torah October 3 9am-12:30pm

Simhat Torah October 4 Closed

Friday October 5 9am-12:30pm

We wish all readers of this bulletin and their families and the Whole House of Israel


Sunday, September 2, 2007

Haggai Segal Recreates the Altalena Quandry

In this past week's Makor Rishon weekly paper, Chagai Segal wrote a fiticious piece on the Altalena incident:-

In the [Israeli 1948] War of Independence, I served as an infantry soldier in the religious platoon in the 22nd division of the Carmeli Brigade. Our company commander assembled the company, and announced that the IDF and Hagana Chief of Staff had ordered us to quash an insurgence by the “Etzel” as a boat full of ammunition and Etzel soldiers was arriving. He threatened us that we needed to follow every single order, including opening fire, if so commanded. Insubordination would be dealt with extremely harshly.

The religious platoon was the only one in the company, perhaps the only one in the Brigade. We inspired shock and awe. I will mention that our company, specifically our platoon, were very battle experienced. We labored tirelessly, with unparalleled mesirut nefesh, and through the help of Hashem we had many successes -- the conquests of Haifa, Acre, Bazet, Ramat Yochanan, the Hula Valley, and more. Afterwards, we fought in the Jordan Valley, Jenin and others. We all served in the “Hagana” and were drafted in January 1948. Our platoon was the pride of the company and brigade, and we paid for that honor with the lives of our fighters and many wounded.

The orders about the “Altalena” reached us when we were up North, far away from Tel Aviv. Our platoon got on the bus in silence. There was no rabbi or spiritual leader that told us to refuse orders. The refusal was not as a collective, but each and every one individually, according to their conscience. I will note that Religious Zionism movement at the time (Mizrachi and Hapoel Mizrachi) was aligned with Mapai, specifically, “Red Haifa.” The leaders of the Religious Zionist movement saw eye to eye with Mapai on matters of security, settlement and social welfare.

During the ride on the bus to the Altalena, I contemplated the predicament, and deicded that I would not fight against my brothers, and if G-d forbid the time would arrive [and the order came] I would remove the firing pin from my rifle. Our luck improved and the drive from the North to Tel Aviv was drawn out, so that when we arrived at Tel Aviv, the Altalena was already burning. Every explosion [from the ship] flayed our skin, as we knew that the [destroyed] weapons and ammunition were desperately needed for the war [of Independence]. In the Hagana camp across from the Altalena, thousands of soldiers arrived from all battlefronts. There were fierce Palmach fighters, bearded and dirty, battle scarred “Negev Fighters” who arrived for this holy mission with rejoicing and merriment. The education they received from their mother’s womb was a hatred of religious Jews, the Etzel, the Lechi, and anything that had the fragrance of an international anthem: “The old world will be destroyed to its foundations.” Their faces beamed with happiness when they saw the boat explode and hundreds of Etzel soldiers taken captive and imprisoned in the camp. I saw the young innocence on the faces of the captives, scarred by fire -- they came with the ship to fight for the Jewish State. I heard that many of them died in battle after being conscripted into the IDF – thrown into battle without knowing the language and without appropriate training.

We returned back to our regular duties, and we didn’t discuss the subject, but our hearts were broken.

Segal wrote this on the backdrop of what happened in Hebron two weeks ago.

(thanks to The Muqata)