The Altalena Remembered

Ever since 1836 Texans were taught to "Remember the Alamo," the San Antonio siege where two hundred fighters for freedom and independence from Mexico (the legendary Davy Crockett among them) defended their mission fortress to the last man. Now Israelis of a certain persuasion are remembering the Altalena, the ship packed with more than nine hundred fighters and tons of desperately needed munitions that arrived six weeks into the Independence War in 1948. Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, hallucinating a putsch to overthrow the government by his despised Irgun political enemies, ordered the ship destroyed. In two days of fighting nineteen Jews were killed by fellow Jews, bringing the fledgling nation to the brink of civil war. One year later, after a memorial commemoration on the beach, in full view of the burned hulk 150 meters off shore, Ben-Gurion ordered the ship towed out to sea and sunk. It disappeared from sight and, for decades, from Israeli memory. But at a recent annual...(Read Full Article)