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August 25, 1978 - Image 21

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1978-08-25

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Friday, Awst 25, 1978 21

Addition to Yitzhak Ben-Ami's Memoir of Altalena Tragedy

Yitzhak Ben-Ami, author firmed sailing date 24 hours
of the important memoir
about the sinking of the
"We sailed in a hurry be-
Irgun munitions-carrying
cause once the weapons
boat, the Altalena, on or-
were aboard the French and
ders from the then Prime
we couldn't dilly-dally any
Minister David Ben-
longer. The decision to sail
Gurion, and the exonera- on June 11 was not Begin's,
tion of Menahem Begin of but Lankin's, based only on
charges that he had aimed local circumstances.
at usurping power in Israel
"The only crucial point on
30 years ago, has written a
follow-up note on the sub- which negotiations broke
down during the unloading
The Ben-Ami article, was Begin's insistence that
which was featured in last 20 percent of the arms go to
week's Jewish News, refer- the Irgun units in
red to the books that in- Jerusalem. Zahal did not
cluded references to the Al- function as yet in
talena. Ben-Ami comments
on the various views relat-
ing to Begin and the Irgun
policies 30 years ago in this
As to: '0 Jerusalem' —
Altalena version, it is basi-
cally the official version,
based on misinformation
and untruths as given to the
authors by the Hagana his-
torians. It is distorted as are
all its other major chapters,
when it comes to choose be-
tween the Hagana and
Irgun versions.
"When the Altalena
docked, there were three
ex-Irgun batallions al-
ready incorporated in
Zahal. Begin did origi-
nally insist on their re-
ceiving 80 percent of the
Altalena arms, but gave
up this demand in the
later phase of the negoti-
ations. The unloading at
Kfar Vitkin was at Zahal
orders, and detailed in-
structions with a promise
to help in the unloading.
"Begin did not advise
Zahal on the exact sailing
date and what was on board
because he did not know on
June 11 that the vessel had
sailed and what was on
board. He received the con-

American Finds
Jews in Yemen

American Embassy official
in the Republic of North
Yemen recently came upon
a small community of some
40 Jews living in Wadi Waj-
bara in the northern part of
the country.
Although it had been
thought that the entire
Yemenite Jewish commu-
nity had been brought to Is-
rael by "Operation Magic
Carpet" in the early 19,50s,
the American official dis-
covered that between 1,000
and 2,000 Jews still live in
North Yemen.
They informed their
American visitor that they
enjoy good relations with
their Moslem neighbors as
well as the freedom to prac-
"'rice their religion and to
travel throughout the coun-

Jerusalem. Eventually, the
Hagana let down the Irgun
and Lehi, and Jerusalem
was not liberated as plan-
ned. All this today is public
knowledge in Israel. How-
ever, the Hagana/Labor
historians adhere to their
version and continue to feed
same to overseas resear-
"J.B. Bell's story is bas-
ically accurate, some-
what embellished. Pag-
lin's 'ideas of rushing to
Tel Aviv to take over the
government' may have
been Paglin's ideas,
which he actually may or

may not have related to
Bell. In any event, neither
Begin nor Lankin on the
vessel nor Landau at
Irgun headquarters
talked or planned such
action. A number of ex-
Irgun people in a position
to know, told me that
Bell's reporting of his
conversations with them
was sometimes incorrect.
"I can only speak for my-
self, Meridor who was
nearby, Lankin, Ben
Eliezer, and Begin, basing
myself on their comments to
me and on their writings
over the years.

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