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Ben Hecht

Ben Hecht, a writer of wide-ranging accomplishments and great fame and influence who became especially active in American Zionist efforts to save Jews from the Holocaust, died at 70 on this date in 1964. Hecht’s screenplays included The Front Page (1931), Scarface (1932), Gunga Din (1939), Angels Over Broadway (which he also directed, in 1940), […]

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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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February 19: The Lehi Leader Who Moved Left

Polish-born Nathan Yellin-Mor (Friedman), a leader of the so-called “Stern Gang” (Lohamel Herut Israel), the rightwing Jewish militia of pre-state Palestine that was responsible for several atrocities, including (with Irgun) the Deir Yassin massacre, died at 67 on this date in 1980. Yellin-Mor was arrested by the British in Syria in 1941 while he was […]

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July 8: Tzipi Livni

The most prominent woman politician in Israel today, minister of justice in Netanyahu’s third government from March 2013 until December 2014, Tzipi Livni was born in Tel Aviv on this date in 1958. Livni was the daughter of Irgun members and was raised a rightwing nationalist. She served in the Mossad, earned her law degree, […]

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February 26: Mourning the Sinking of the Struma

Jews of Palestine stayed indoors for twelve hours between noon and midnight on this date in 1942 to mourn and protest the killing two days earlier of nearly 800 Jews, including some 100 children, aboard the Struma, a ship carrying refugees from fascist Romania to Palestine. The Struma had been built in 1867 as a […]

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December 13: Irgun-Style Terrorism

The Irgun, a Jewish paramilitary group in Palestine rooted in Revisionist (rightwing) Zionism, mounted three terrorist attacks against Arabs on this date in 1947 — just one day after 20 Arabs had already been killed with a “barrel bomb” at the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City. At the Alhambra Cinema, six were killed and […]

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October 18: The Revisionist

The militant right-wing Zionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky was born in Odessa on this date in 1880. He became a Zionist after the Kishinev pogrom and helped to create the Jewish Self-Defense Organization, which worked to safeguard Jewish communities by arming their youth (his slogans included, “Better to have a gun and not need it than […]

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September 6: The Jewish Barnum

Showman Billy Rose, a nightclub owner who created the Aquacade at the 1939 World’s Fair and may well have been a secret sponsor of gun-running that helped arm the fledgling state of Israel, was born in New York on this date in 1899. Rose had a wild career, first becoming famous as America’s fastest stenographer, […]

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June 29: The Black Shabbat

British troops arrested over 2,700 Zionist activists in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, and several dozen settlements in pre-state Israel in an operation that began on this date in 1946. Less than two weeks earlier, the Palmach had blown up bridges, Lehi (the Stern Gang) had attacked railways in Haifa, and the Irgun had kidnapped six […]

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May 4: Prison Break

The Irgun used trucks, British uniforms, and a large bomb to break out 28 Jewish prisoners from the British prison in Acre (Acco) on this date in 1947. Four captured Irgun “terrorists” had been hanged there by the British on April 19th. The assault on the highly secure fortress involved 34 guerrilla fighters, of whom […]

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