Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Moshe Sneh's Role in the King David Explosion

Recently, a new biography on Moshe Sneh has appeared, authored by Nir Mann, dealing with the period of his life when he commanded the Hebrew Resistance Movement.

Based on a review by Yossi Kister that appeared in Ha'Umma, in its issue 234, I summarize some new material on the King David Hotel explosion, portions which appeared in various articles Mann published.

Sneh pushed a line that was termed "activist" in those days in the Yishuv which meant that the fighting forces would attack rather than respond. As a result, between the end of 1945 and the summer of 1946, relatively large-scale and well-coordinated insurgency operations took place against British installations, rail lines, bridges and othe targets.

Already in May 1946, Sneh managed to get its Committee 'X' to authorize a new series of objects, one of which included the King David Hotel's southern wing. It was that section of the hotel that had been appropriated by the Mandate Government already in 1939 for offices. In 1946, senior officials, both in the civil and military departments, were in that wing.

However, on May 8, 1946, David Ben-Gurion had written of his unwillingess to continue offense actions. Sneh's policy was saved, as it were, by Britain's unwillingness to permit increased immigration which undermined the position furthered by Moshe Sharett and other moderates. In reaction to the "Black Sabbath" operation of the British, a further decision was taken to act in a triple operation.

Some ten days prior to the King David operation, the personal political secretary of Chaim Weizmann, Meir Wesigal, visited Sneh and instructed him to cease all military operations. As a result, Sneh tendered his resignation on July 17. However, despite the initial authorization given to both the Irgun and the Lechi for the planned actions at the Hotel and the nearby Royal Air Force Intelligence offices, Sneh did not inform neither Menachem Begin or Natan Yellin-Mor regarding his resignation.

His handwritten note to Begin of July 19 simply asked Begin, a second time, to delay the operation for a few days. Begin waited a few days and the new date was fixed for July 22. However, Begin was not apprised of the resignation. Moreover, he was unaware that Sneh on the day of the explosion was in Haifa sneaking aboard a commercial ship and the next day left the country clandestinely for Paris, there to join Ben-Gurion for a Zionist conference.

In a sense, Begin, and the Irgun, were left "holding the bag". The Hagana-led United Resistance Movement had insisted that the Irgun assume all responsibility even though the regular policy was that only the URM would appear as the sponsoring organization in announcements.

If Sneh had informed Begin of all the background, had told him he was no long the head of the URM (to one interviewer in his later years he said he didn't tell Begin to further delay the operation as he was no longer in command (!)) or even ordered him to halt the plans, there may have been a difference although I am not sure. 

In any case, the King David Hotel explosion was a joint Hagana-Irgun operation authorized by the highest echelons.


Sunday, May 26, 2024

Hebrew in Latin Characters

Ze'ev Jabotinsky enthusisasts know that one of his ideas was to have Hebrew appear in Latin characters. Joseph Nedava termed it the Latinization of the Hebrew script. He wrote a book, called Taryag Millim, to raise interest. In 1931, JTA reported:
The substitution of Latin characters in the Hebrew language, too, has been urged, notably, by Mr. Ittamar Ben Avi, the son of Eliezer Ben Jahuda, the Hebrew lexicographer, and Mr. Vladimir Jabotinsky. He was sure, Mr. Jabotinsky has written, that the movement would have a great influence on the development of Hebrew by enabling many people who could not read the present Hebrew script to read Hebrew books and papers. Efforts in this direction, he said, have also been made by Dr. Bodenheimer in Cologne and by the Hebrew poet, Dr. Jacob Cohen.
Here is an example, in Jabotinsky's handwriting from 1928, notes he wrote in Hebrew Latin characters:
What I didn't know is that a periodical appeared in Tel Aviv, named Deror that attempted to put this into actual practice. A page:
It wasn't a success and the initiative never gained traction. ^

Thursday, May 16, 2024

The Jewish Cordoba

I have blogged multiple times here on what I see as a parallel between the conflict between Catholics and Moslems over the Cordoba Cathedral and that of Jews and Moslems at the Temple Mount.

In short, I ask why can Moslems demand equal rights to a church, including prayer therein, that Moslems occupied and turned into a mosque after conquering Spain and then following the Reconquista, they were prohibited from doing so yet, when Jews retook the Temple Mount where Moslems had built an Islamic compound after conquering and occupying Judea, Jews demanding equal prayers rights and additional privileges are somehow in the wrong.

Read here; here; and here. And let's not forget the Hagia Sophia (and here).

And now what do I read?

Medieval synagogue discovered under Spanish church

Remnants of a medieval synagogue were discovered during restoration of altarpiece in Santa Maria la Blanca church in Seville. Archeologists performing restoration work on the apse and altarpiece of the Santa Maria la Blanca church in Seville, Spain, have uncovered the remnants of a medieval synagogue Ark.

I checked here:

Santa María la Blanca is the only church in Seville which has the remains of three religions. Formerly a mosque, it was made a synagogue on the orders of King Alfonso X in 1252, and was then consecrated as a Christian temple in 1391

The church:

The outline of the ark:

"In our work we have documented the rear wall of the main altar, made with solid bricks of variable dimensions but around 29x14.5x5 cm, prepared for rope and firebrand as it is a load-bearing wall. This wall has a thickness of about 94 centimeters," explained archaeologist José Antonio Valiente. The hejal that was discovered in 2012, like the mihrab of the mosque, is a rectangular space, open in front, "the wall documented during this performance would correspond to its rear closure, on the right side wall as shown. If you look straight ahead, it would include the space where the sacred books of the Torah would be placed and which is oriented to the east according to the canons of these religious buildings," the archaeologist explained.

If you are visiting Seville, go here:

Its in the Juderia, the old Jewish quarter.

Yes, the synagogue that existed there is well-known but finding the Ark is new:

José María Rincón, the director of the restoration, said that the Ark had been concealed by the wall-sized, gilded baroque altarpiece, built in the mid-1600s. Rincón called the discovery “a unique opportunity to witness an element unseen for 350 years, soon to be veiled once more, likely never to be seen again.” The Ark was in “an exceedingly precarious” condition, he continued. 

All confimed.

But we Jews cannot even do archaelogical work at the Temple Mount.


Monday, May 13, 2024

How Many? (Or, Gaza Arithmetic)

How many casualties are there amongst Gaza's population?

It depends.

At the New School last week, it was up to 40,000 dead.

Ken Roth has it as more than 34,000 and 77,700 injured.

UN data suggests large revision in Gaza war casualty figures. In reports released on May 6 and 8, previous estimates based on info provided by the Hamas-run Gaza Ministry of Health, the Government Media Office in Gaza, and Israel were seemingly halved. On May 6, the UN disclosed that 34,735 individuals had reportedly lost their lives in Gaza, with over 9,500 women and over 14,500 children among the reported casualties. However, just two days later, on May 8, revised figures showed a total of 34,844 fatalities, including 4,959 women and 7,797 children.

Then again, the UN Halves Its Estimate of Women and Children Killed in Gaza.

At OCHA on May 10, one can read that "Between 7 October 2023 and 9 May 2024, at least 34,904 Palestinians were killed in Gaza and 78,514 Palestinians were injured, according to MoH in Gaza."

Yesterday, the BBC reported that "more than 34,900 people have been killed in Gaza since then, according to the territory's Hamas-run health ministry."

Reuters, today, reads: "The Palestinian death toll in the war has now surpassed 35,000, according to Gaza health officials who fear many more bodies are lost under the rubble."

According to UPI, "The death toll in Gaza has since surpassed 35,000 people, according to Gazan health officials, who claim many of the victims are women and children."

And today, AP reads similarly: "Israel’s offensive has killed more than 35,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in Gaza."

However, are those figures reliable?

Could there be flaws?

Has the data been reviewed and checked?

Are perhaps they are faked?

Maybe there's no evidence of errors?

What's really going on?

They a scam?

Perhaps manipulated?

Wait. Is this an old story?

And why is it important?

UN blames ‘fog of war’ for major overcounting of Gazan child deaths
And Israel's official estimationin excess of 14,000 terrorists; 16,000 civilians