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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Raise the Altalena!

The Menachem Begin Heritage Center is beginning an effort this week to raise the sunken ship Altalena. The Altalena was an arms ship brought to Israel by the Irgun Tzvai Leumi (National Military Organization), which was then commanded by Menachem Begin. In June 1948, while the War of Independence raged, the ship was sunk by the Palmach unit (the precursor of the IDF) led by Yitzchak Rabin on the orders of David Ben Gurion.

The salvage operation should take about two weeks.
The Altalena was a ship carrying Irgun weapons and fighters, many of whom were Holocaust survivors, to Israel in June 1948. Former prime minister Menachem Begin, then the Irgun's commander, boarded the ship as it approached Israel, and the Altalena was fired upon by Yitzhak Rabin's Palmach unit near Tel Aviv's shore and later sunk on a command from David Ben-Gurion.


The ship is seen by many Israelis as a symbol of the dangers of violence between Jews in Israel.

A representative of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center said that the search for the ship would begin this week, and that remains are expected to be found within two weeks.

MK Ya'acov Katz (National Union), who attended the meeting said that "lifting the ship and making it a memorial is important in order to perpetuate the national consensus that a Jew will never lift a hand against his brother."

"There will never be a civil war," Katz exclaimed, repeating a well-known Begin quote from after the Altalena affair.
This would never have happened with Labor in power.

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