Friday, July 06, 2018

A Missing Letter to the Editor on the Altalena

David Geffen published a piece on the sinking of the Altalena arms ship by the IDF seventy years ago opposite the Frishman Street beach in Tel Aviv last month.

I read it, thought things were missing or misrepresented and sent a letter to the editor.

The letter was not published. Someone else's letter, however, was. That letter did not address the issues I thought were important from a historical viewpoint.

My letter did, however, contain a slight, well, imprecisivity. 

One of my points was that the day of the shelling went unmentioned in Geffen's piece.  In a response, I was told that it was - "in the picture caption."

I replied, 

"But not by Geffen as I presume picture captions are a separate editor's job. If Geffen pointed it out, you have my permission to edit that bit out."

And the JPost reaction to that was

We actually note in our letters section that letters may be edited. Readers aren't privy to the process of how a story is edited and laid out, so don't assume.

I waited another week to see if my letter would be published but I guess that for daring to assume I earned enough negative points.

So, here is my letter. Why should you be denied facts and perspective because of my presumptions.

There are a few errors of fact in David Geffen's overview of the Altalena Affair ("A Sad Saga 70 Years Later", June 15).

June 20, 1948, was a Sunday, not a Monday. The date of the ship's shelling at Frishman Street beach, inexplicitly missing, is June 22. Menachem Begin did not meet David Ben-Gurion at all during or preceding these events but other Irgun High Command members such as Shmuel Katz and Yaakov Meridor met with Israel Gallili, Levi Eshkol and other senior officials who briefed Ben-Gurion. Not only were meetings and deliberations conducted in Israel but in France, Hagana commanders were conferring with Irgun leaders since March, and reporting back to Mandate Palestine HQ. 

Communique 113 of the government, published on the Palestine Post's front page on June 22, 

misleadingly declared to the public that the Altalena's arrival "was referred to the Provisional Government" by the army's High Command when actually the Hagana and Mapai leadership had known for a long time about the ship and its imminent arrival and had informed the army that it would dock at Kfar Vitkin. Geffen quotes Ben-Gurion's June 16 diary entry that the arms brought "should not be sent back. They should be disembarked".  At Kfar Vitkin, Begin was not "hoping for a compromise" but rather that the government fulfill the agreement mutually reached and keep to its conditions but that was not to be.

It need be emphasized that in using "force", Palmah members shot at, and killed, Irgun members who were swimming ashore and physically could not even have fired back if they had sought to do so. Already the previous day, Ben-Gurion had authorized the naval units to use force to prevent the Altalena from leaving the Kfar Vitkin area.

In addition, generally unknown, on the same day of the events at Tel Aviv involving the Altalena, a smaller Palmach arms ship, the Inaco, slipped into Jaffa Port, undisturbed by the IDF, the government or the UN*. That organization seems to have had no political or ideological difficulties with Ben-Gurion.


From a Palmach source:

Begin felt that he had to let the Ministry of Defense know of the vessel’s arrival. On the 16th June Begin called Galili, Eshkol and David HaCohen to an urgent meeting with himself, Ben Eliezer, Meridor, Landau and Feiglin. The important item on the agenda was: In view of the cease-fire did the government want the vessel to come in? Or should they direct it back to France or somewhere else? Begin did not know that the Hagana was waiting for a vessel of its own – “Inaco” - that was carrying dynamite and half-tracks to Tel Aviv. He also did not know that the Hagana had all the information about the load and the passengers that the Altalena was carrying. Eshkol reprimanded Begin for carrying arms and men on the same voyage and Galili asked Begin if Etzel would sell the arms to Tzahal. Begin answered that the weapons were the holy property of the Jewish people; Galili said that he would report that to BG.


Why is the Shin Bet trying to frame Pearlman? Pe said...

Your knowledge is remarkable

How does this information help us today?

YMedad said...

Don't trust the Left.