Thursday, May 17, 2007

The "Tankless Parade" of 1967

There's a great story in these pictures:

1. 2.



You know by now that during 1966-67, as a Betar madrich, I was in Israel in Jerusalem at the Jewish Agency's Youth Movement Leadership Training Institute (here are pics from my Machzor) and then at Amatzia.

The Independence Day parade that was to be held in Jerusalem that year was trimmed down when the international community protested Israel's intention of including tanks in its display of its military might. Israel capitulated and so, there were to be no armored units and their vehicles.

Well, as you can expect, that decision did not sit well with the members of Betar in Jerusalem. Dr. Israel Eldad, who had formed the previous year a youth framework called the "Chugim Leumi'im" (National Cells) planned a major distribution of flyers calling upon Israelis to remember the Kotel. One Betari, Moshe Amirav, now a far leftist, even thought of marching in to the Old City and blowing the Shofar there at the Wall.

Well, the Betarim, local and the crew at the Machon program, got involved in making "tanks" made out of plywood. The parade was coming down Jaffa Road and would turn right up King George Street. We painted "We Are Here" on them.

The Betar clubhouse was situated behind the stores located next to where the Mashbir L'Tzarchan store in now located at the corner of Betzalel and King George. The facade of the building, the Talita Kumi, has been left there as a reminder. A narrow driveway led up to the building and sure enough, it hid us from prying eyes until the moment when the command cars unit drove by.

We charged down the driveway, across the sidewalk and into the street. The Betarim caried the wooden images of tanks and for maybe a minute, mingled with the actual parade until the police move in and knocked the tanks out of our hands. But I managed to get pictures.

The first shows the command cars driving by.

In the second, you can see a "tank" aloft.

The third zeroes in on a verbal altercation.

It then became quite physical and what's left are broken pieces of wood on the ground.

Three weeks later, tanks moved into the Old City and a short while after, there was the victory parade with tanks rolling down Salah A-Din Street.



Some of the diplomatic background:



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