Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Altalena and the Founder of J Street

In a story on J. Street's founder, Jeremy Ben-Ami:

...His father served as a commander for Betar, the youth arm affiliated with Irgun, the fervent nationalist movement that fought the British to gain Israel’s independence. Ben-Ami’s father [Yitzhaq "Mike" Ben-Ami] was tasked with purchasing the Altalena, a naval vessel left over from World War II that was then filled with arms and was on its way to Palestine when David Ben-Gurion declared the independent state of Israel and ordered all fighters to accept the authority of the state. After Menachem Begin, the head of Irgun, refused to turn back the Altalena, it was sunk by Ben-Gurion’s forces, led by Yitzhak Rabin. Ben-Ami, who was born in New York, says, “I grew up with my father spending his entire life arguing with his friends about the Altalena and Ben-Gurion and what a schmuck he was and how could Begin give back the Sinai.”

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