The Making and Unmaking of Israel – Historical Documents

Gershom Gorenberg

This is a gradually expanding library of historical documents that I have found in various archives and libraries that shed light on the development and undermining of the Israeli state and Israeli democracy.

1951: Ya’akov Amrami and Menachem (Mendel) Malatzky, Divrei Haymim Lemilhemet Hashirur (The Chronicles of the War of Liberation). The missing epilogue.

Amrami and Malatzky were veterans of the right-wing Irgun Tzva’i Le’umi underground. Their book contains a detailed listing of the armed struggle of the Irgun (a.k.a Etzel) and Lohamei Herut Yisrael (a.k.a. Lehi) against British rule of Palestine and against Palestine’s Arabs, from 1937 to Israeli independence in 1948. A colophon lists sources including the IDF Archives and the Irgun Tzva’i Le’umi Archives. The listing includes many attacks on the British army and police, on civilian institutions of the British government, on British and Arab civilians, and on Jews suspected of collaboration with the British. According to the colophon, the introduction and epilogue were written by Lehi ideologue Yisrael Eldad.

The four-page epilogue describes the early weeks of statehood from the radical right’s perspective, including the Altalena affair and the fighting in Jerusalem. Eldad describes Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion’s decision to shell the Irgun’s arms ship, after the organization refused to turn the weapons over to the Israel Defense Forces, as a “thought-out and deliberate order to murder.” Describing the provisional government’s suppression of the Irgun as an independent fighting force, he writes, “Wells were poisoned.” The epilogue argues that the 1948 war proved that only through armed possible to create a Jewish state and decries the provisional government’s willingness to accept United Nations ceasefires.

In 1981, after the right gained power democratically, a new edition of the book was published, with assistance of the Defense Ministry. Strikingly, the epilogue does not appear in the easier-to-find 1981 edition. For the convenience of researchers, the original epilogue can be found here.

For detailed information on the Altalena affair, see my The Unmaking of Israel (forthcoming). On the Irgun Tzva’i Le’umi and Lehi in the context of the history of terrorism, see David C. Rapoport’s “The Four Waves of Modern Terrorism.”On the Chronicles, see Tom Segev, “The Tzipi Livni Test,” and Yossi Sarid, “Are Begin and Shamir Also Considered Terrorists?”



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