How Menachem Begin Saved Israel in 1948

March 22 2018

On June 20, 1948, the Altalena dropped anchor on Israel’s northern coast. The ship was loaded with arms and munitions brought by the Irgun—a Jewish militia led by Menachem Begin—to help the recently created state of Israel fight its Arab attackers. Because of a dispute with Begin over whether the ships’ cargo should go directly to Irgun units or to the nascent IDF, David Ben-Gurion ordered his troops not to allow it to land. Meir Soloveichik describes how the events that followed made the Jewish state’s continued existence possible:

“Jews do not shoot at Jews.” So the young Menachem Begin confidently assured a worried young man . . . assisting in the unloading of [the Altalena’s] cargo, [who] fretted that those who had just come ashore might be fired upon. Begin . . . proved badly mistaken. A firefight did break out, and the Altalena fled back to the Mediterranean, landing near what is now Tel Aviv’s Frischman Beach on June 22, with Begin on board. David Ben-Gurion ordered the ship shelled. Sixteen members of the Irgun were killed.

Standing on the ship while being fired upon—with dear friends of his dying—Begin ordered those aboard the Altalena not to fire back, declaring milḥemet aḥim l’olam lo, never a war between brothers. After leaving the smoldering Altalena, with much of its arms cache lost forever, Begin went on the radio and again ordered his seething followers not to seek revenge. After wrongly predicting that Jews would never shoot at Jews, Begin now enunciated an even more extraordinary principle: Jews do not shoot at Jews even when those Jews are shooting at them.

This was his greatest moment. The survival of the newly born state was anything other than assured, and shooting back, however justified the self-defense might have been, would have torn the people apart. . . .

Statesman, leaders, great men of history, are usually remembered for what they achieved. Yet often their greatest moments are best understood by what they choose not to do. We speak of George Washington as the father of our country, and in that context we recall what he accomplished: expelling the British from Boston, crossing the Delaware in the dead of night, conquering Cornwallis at Yorktown, leading the Constitutional Convention, becoming the first president of the United States. Yet it may well be that these achievements pale in comparison to Washington’s decision not to seize power and also to resign his commission once victory over the British had been secured.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Altalena, David Ben-Gurion, George Washington, Israel & Zionism, Israeli history, Menachem Begin

American Aid to Lebanon Is a Gift to Iran

For many years, Lebanon has been a de-facto satellite of Tehran, which exerts control via its local proxy militia, Hizballah. The problem with the U.S. policy toward the country, according to Tony Badran, is that it pretends this is not the case, and continues to support the government in Beirut as if it were a bulwark against, rather than a pawn of, the Islamic Republic:

So obsessed is the Biden administration with the dubious art of using taxpayer dollars to underwrite the Lebanese pseudo-state run by the terrorist group Hizballah that it has spent its two years in office coming up with legally questionable schemes to pay the salaries of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), setting new precedents in the abuse of U.S. foreign security-assistance programs. In January, the administration rolled out its program to provide direct salary payments, in cash, to both the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Internal Security Forces (ISF).

The scale of U.S. financing of Lebanon’s Hizballah-dominated military apparatus cannot be understated: around 100,000 Lebanese are now getting cash stipends courtesy of the American taxpayer to spend in Hizballah-land. . . . This is hardly an accident. For U.S. policymakers, synergy between the LAF/ISF and Hizballah is baked into their policy, which is predicated on fostering and building up a common anti-Israel posture that joins Lebanon’s so-called “state institutions” with the country’s dominant terror group.

The implicit meaning of the U.S. bureaucratic mantra that U.S. assistance aims to “undermine Hizballah’s narrative that its weapons are necessary to defend Lebanon” is precisely that the LAF/ISF and the Lebanese terror group are jointly competing to achieve the same goals—namely, defending Lebanon from Israel.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, U.S. Foreign policy