10 Things You Need to Know About… Eliyahu Golomb

Chief architect of the Haganah

1. He was born in March 1893 in Volkovysk, Byellorussia. When he was sixteen, his family made aliyah. He graduated with the first class of Herzliyah High School.

2. He went to settle in Kibbutz Degania Aleph, working there and organizing agricultural training courses. But upon the death of his father, he returned to run the family flour mill in Jaffa. When World War I came, he was ordered by the Turks to operate the flour mill on Shabbat. He refused, and was publicly whipped for it.

4. He opposed Jewish enlistment in the Turkish Army. When, late in the war, the British permitted formation of a Jewish Legion, he headed up the volunteers for it.

Golomb.stamp5. He was active in the labor party Ahdut Ha-Avodah, but he is best known for his work in creating a Jewish military presence. Golomb believed that all Jews must be involved in their own defense. After the war, he was active in founding and organizing the Haganah. He served on its command council and in 1920 was involved in sending aid to the defenders of Tel Hai.

6. From 1922-24, he was abroad – Vienna, Berlin, Paris – purchasing arms for the Haganah and organizing pioneer youth groups.

7. Through the 1930s, Golomb largely directed the organization and financing of illegal immigration of Jews to Palestine. During the riots of 1936-9, he was one of the initiators of the field units that confronted Arab terrorists. He supported defense against Arab attacks, but not indiscriminate attacks on Arab populations. These punitive actions he opposed.

8. Like most of his compatriots, he supported the British in World War II without ever forgetting the need to remove the mandate. He was a founder of the Palmach – the elite unit of the Haganah – and trained many future commanders of the IDF.

9. He authored “The History of Jewish Self-Defence in Palestine, 1878-1921,” a pamphlet that is currently (May 2014) up for bid at Delcampe.net.

defence-museum-_0110. He died in June 1945. His home on Rothschild Street in Tel Aviv, where the command council typically met, is now Beit Eliyahu Golomb, the museum of the Haganah. His apartments have been restored, and the museum is adjacent.

In Haifa, you’ll find Eliyahu Golomb Street running southeastward from the Bahai Shrine.

12 Things You Need to Know About…Yigal Allon

Israeli warrior and labor Zionist

1. His father had made aliyah in 1890, and he was born Yigal Pelkowitz (or Palcovitch) at Kfar Tavor in the lower Galilee in October 1918. Shortly after graduating from Kadoorie Agricultural High School in 1937, he became one of the founders of Kibbutz Ginosar, also in Galilee.

2. During the Arab revolt of 1936-9, he commanded a field unit of the Haganah and then a mobil patrol. He was part of a hand-picked unit that included Moshe Dayan, working alongside the British in the counter-insurgent Special Night Squads under Captain Orde Wingate, who taught and favored ruthless tactics.

180px-Yigal_Allon3. World War II broke out. In 1941, Allon became one of the founding members of the Palmach, the elite strike force of the Haganah. In 1941-2, he was a scout with the British forces against the Vichy French in Syria and Lebanon. In 1945, he became Commander-in-Chief of the Palmach. In 1947, he approved an attack on the village of al Khisar in which homes were destroyed and civilians killed.

4. In June 1948, following the establishment of the State of Israel, he commanded the troops ordered to shell the vessel Altalena in Ben-Gurion’s confrontation with the Irgun.

5. That same year, in the Israeli War of Independence, Allon led several operations on all three fronts – the Galilee, the Center and the Negev – driving out the invading Arab armies and capturing many prisoners of war. He retired from active service in 1950.

6. He studied at the Hebrew University and at St. Anthony’s College, Oxford, reading philosophy and history. He became prominent in the Ahdut HaAvodah (Labor Unity) party and in 1955 was elected for the first time to the Knesset. He was to serve until his death twenty-five years later.

7. He held many prominent portfolios in the cabinets of David Ben-Gurion, Levi Eshkol and Golda Meir. From 1961-7 he served as Minister of Labor; from 1967-9, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Immigrant Absorption; interim Prime Minister, briefly, in February-March, 1969; Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education and Culture, 1969-74; Minister of Foreign Affairs, 1974-77.

220px-Yigal_alon8. He was the architect of the Allon Plan, a proposal to end the Israeli occupation of the West Bank by negotiated partition of the territories between Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, plus a Druze state on the Golan Heights. The plan was presented to the cabinet in July 1967, at the end of the Six-Day War. It was not accepted by Jordan’s King Hussein.

9. In 1974, he served as a member of the Israeli delegation to the separation-of-forces agreements signed with Egypt and Syria.

10. He was Chairman of the World Labor Zionist movement from 1978-80.

11. He authored Shield of David, 1970, an account of the development of Israel’s defense forces; and My Father’s House, 1975, an autobiography. (He is listed, as well, as the author of The Making of Israel’s Army, 1970, but I believe this to be the British edition of Shield of David.)

12. He died unexpectedly of heart failure in February 1980. His funeral was attended by tens of thousands of mourners. President Yitzhak Navon said in his eulogy that Allon dedicated himself to three matters: Israel’s quest for a just, secure peace with its neighbors; strengthening ties with diaspora Jewry; and finding new paths for Israeli youth. He was buried on the shore of Lake Kinneret in the cemetery of Kibbutz Ginosar, where there is a museum named in his memory.

In Tel Aviv, you’ll find Yigal Allon Street just east of the Ayalon River, running north-south in the vicinity of Derech HaShalom. In Safed you’ll find the Yigal Allon Cultural Center, named in his memory.