This week in Israeli history: March 24-30

MARCH 26: Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin shake hands at the White House signing ceremony for the peace treaty March 26, 1979. Photo by Ya’acov Sa’ar, Israeli Government Press Office


March 24, 1993 — Weizman Is Elected President

Ezer Weizman, a nephew of Israel’s first president, Chaim Weizmann, is elected the nation’s seventh president on a 66-53 vote in the Knesset. A native of Tel Aviv, Weizman is one of the founders of the Israel Air Force, which he commanded in 1958, and a former deputy chief of staff of the IDF. As defense minister, he was part of the Israeli delegation in the Camp David peace process. He serves as president until July 2000.

March 25, 1950 — Saudi: We’ll Never Recognize Israel

Visiting Saudi Arabia, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State George McGhee asks the Saudi deputy foreign minister, Sheik Yusuf Yassin, whether Arab states could normalize relations with Israel. Yassin says the Arabs will never agree to any working relationship with Israel. “Arabs have no aggressive designs against Israel but intend to treat that state as if a wall surrounded it,” Yassin says. “We shall never admit a Jew in Saudi Arabia.”

March 26, 1979 — Egypt, Israel Sign Peace Treaty

Sixteen months after Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s historic visit to Jerusalem and six months after the signing of the Camp David Accords, Sadat joins Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and U.S. President Jimmy Carter at the White House to sign the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty. The core of the treaty is Israel’s withdrawal from Sinai over three years in exchange for Egyptian recognition and normal relations.

March 27, 1949 — Poet Elisheva Bikhovsky Dies

Elisheva Bikhovsky, one of the “four mothers” of modern Hebrew poetry, dies of cancer at age 60 in Tiberias. Bikhovsky, who was not Jewish, was the first woman to write a volume of Hebrew poetry published in Palestine. She fell in love with Hebrew and Zionism in Russia. In 1920 she began writing exclusively in Hebrew and married her Hebrew tutor, with whom she moved to Palestine in 1925.

Beth Shalom Cemetery ad

March 28, 2002 — Arab Peace Initiative Is Unveiled

Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia presents what becomes known as the Arab Peace Initiative during the Arab League summit in Beirut. The plan includes an Israeli withdrawal to pre-1967 lines, the resolution of the Palestinian refugee problem based on U.N. Resolution 194, the establishment of a Palestinian state in all of the West Bank and Gaza, and peace with normal relations between all Arab countries and Israel.

March 29, 2002 — Defensive Shield Is Launched

Israel calls up 30,000 military reservists and announces Operation Defensive Shield in response to a particularly brutal month of terrorist attacks a year and a half into the Second Intifada. One of the worst attacks came two days earlier when 30 people were killed in the Hamas bombing of a Passover seder in Netanya. During the 19-day campaign, Israel kills or captures many terrorist leaders and besieges Yasser Arafat in Ramallah.

March 30, 1135 — Maimonides Is Born

Moses Ben Maimon, known as Maimonides and the Rambam, is born in Cordoba, Spain. (Some sources say it’s 1138.) His family in 1160 moves to Morocco, where he begins writing commentaries on the Talmud. After a time in Palestine, the family settles in 1166 in Fustat, Egypt, where Maimonides becomes a prominent doctor, rabbi and philosopher and one of the most influential writers ever on Jewish law and ethics.

Items are provided by the Center for Israel Education (, where you can find more details.