Benzion Netanyahu, the Altalena, and Me

Looking back at the founding moments of the state of Israel with the father of the current prime minister.

The Altalena on fire after being shelled near Tel Aviv in June 1948. Wikipedia.

The Altalena on fire after being shelled near Tel Aviv in June 1948. Wikipedia.

Atar Hadari
Observation
July 12 2017
About the author

Atar Hadari’s Songs from Bialik: Selected Poems of H. N. Bialik (Syracuse University Press) was a finalist for the American Literary Translators’ Association Award. His Lives of the Dead: Poems of Hanoch Levin earned a PEN Translates award and was released in 2019 by Arc Publications. He was ordained by Rabbi Daniel Landes and is completing a PhD on William Tyndale’s translation of Deuteronomy.


For most of the period between 9/11 and Israel’s 2005 disengagement from Gaza I lived in Israel, the last couple of years in Jerusalem. By a series of coincidences, and because Israel is a very small country, I found myself working for Benzion Netanyahu, translating some of his old Hebrew articles for an English-language collection eventually published as The Founding Fathers of Zionism. Benzion was a historian of Spanish Jewry who, having failed to secure tenure at Hebrew University, had taught for years in the U.S. and subsequently published a biography of the late-medieval Spanish rabbi and courtier Don Isaac Abravanel and a monumental history, The Origins of the Inquisition in Fifteenth-Century Spain.

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More about: Altalena, David Ben-Gurion, History & Ideas, Israel & Zionism, Menachem Begin