Just when one wonders what sort of teaching moment is available for Israel and, for that matter, for those betting on the so-called Arab awakening comes news that Israel plans to raise the Altalena. That is the hulk of a World War II-era transport ship that has lain at the bottom of the Mediterranean just off the coast of Tel Aviv ever since it was sunk in June 1948 in a conflict between two Jewish armies.Read the whole article, and learn of who was behind the assault on the vessel at the time, and how Ben-Gurion basically performed it as an attempt to discredit and demonize his political opponents. This is definitely a very interesting project, to dredge up the sunken ship, and it's possible that it'll go on display near the Etzel Museum at the shore.
The combat lasted only hours, but the event looms large in the tale of how Israel, even though its factions were bitterly divided, turned away from civil war and toward long-lasting democracy. Though parallels are dangerously inexact, it holds lessons for those participants in the Arab spring who also have their eye on democracy. Its most important lessons obtain for the Israelis themselves, which is no doubt why the plan is underway to raise the vessel.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
SOME HISTORY OF THE ALTALENA
The New York Sun has written about the Altalena, an American-built ship bought by supporters of the Irgun, which David Ben-Gurion ordered attacked and sunk out of hostility towards his political rivals: