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Executed, Then Exonerated

Meir Tobianski, an officer in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) who was executed as a traitor for allegedly passing targeting information to Jordanian artillery forces during Israel’s War of Independence but was fully exonerated one year later, was born in Kovno, Lithuania on this date in 1904. Tobianski had served as a major in the […]

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The First Country to Recognize Israel

The Soviet Union, despite its official view of Zionism as, in Lenin’s words, “bourgeois nationalism,” became the first country in the world to give legal recognition to Israel on this date in 1948, just three days after the state declared its independence. A year earlier, on May 14, 1947, Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko had […]

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December 23: Pardoning the Makhalnik

President George W. Bush granted a posthumous presidential pardon to Charlie Winters, who had been jailed for illegally assisting Israel in its 1948 war of independence, on this date in 2008. “An Irish Protestant from Boston, [Winters] took up the clandestine cause from his perch in Miami and helped ferry military planes to Israeli fighters, […]

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December 22: The Antisemitic Displaced Persons Act, 1948

This date in 1945 was the cut-off for recognition of “Displaced Person” status that would enable people to emigrate to America under the American Displaced Persons Act of 1948. The legislation would ultimately result in 400,000 persons being admitted to the U.S., more than 70 percent of them  from Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. […]

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Volunteers in Israel’s War of Independence

by Dusty Sklar THEY WERE CALLED Makhalniks, Makhal being an acronym for Mitnadvei Khutz Le’Aretz, or volunteers from outside the Land — the Land being Israel, the volunteers being mainly U.S. and British World War II veterans. They totaled close to 4,000 men and women, and represented fifty-eight different countries. The year was 1948, when […]

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October 16: Moshe Dayan

Moshe Dayan, Israel’s military chief during the 1967 Six-Day War, who became the symbol of Israeli courage, nerve, and endurance, died at 66 on this date in 1981. Born on the Degania Kibbutz, Israel’s first, he was a fighter from the age of 15, and in 1941 lost his eye (and gained his signature eye […]

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The Last Resort: Hubert Humphrey’s Shadow

by Al Vorspan THE OTHER DAY I got a telephone call from an ambassador. It was David Saperstein, now a U.S. Ambassador at Large for Religious Liberty. David is a wonderful guy whom I mentored when I was the Director of Social Action for the Reform Jewish movement, and I hired him and watched him […]

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June 20: Ben Gurion Almost Provokes a Civil War

On this date in 1948, David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, ordered the new Israel Defense Forces to seize the ship Altalena, which was laden with weapons and about 1,000 Jewish immigrant fighters. The ship was controlled by Menachem Begin’s Irgun. Ben-Gurion first demanded that Begin hand over the weapons and the ship, and […]

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June 8: The Secular Israeli

Yoram Kaniuk, author of more than seventeen novels and a hero of secular Jews for his 2011 court victory allowing him to be identified in the Israeli population registry as a Jew of no religion, died at 83 on this date in 2013. Kaniuk was a sabra, born in Tel Aviv. At 17, he was […]

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