This week in Israeli history: Sept. 15-21

SEPT. 17: Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and U.S. National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski play chess at Camp David during a break in the September 1978 negotiations.


Sept. 15, 2009 — Goldstone Presents Gaza War Report

Judge Richard Goldstone, a South African Jew who prosecuted 1990s war crimes in Yugoslavia and Rwanda, presents his U.N.-sponsored “Report on the Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict.” The report criticizes Israel and Hamas for their actions the previous December and January. In April 2011 he recants suggestions that Israel intentionally killed civilians and acknowledges flawed investigative methods.

Sept. 16, 1949 — Israel Joins UNESCO

Israel becomes a member of the Paris-based U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, known for recognizing cultural and historical sites. Israel withdraws from the agency in 2018 after UNESCO repeatedly accuses Israel of ignoring Muslim and Christian connections to important sites and Israel repeatedly accuses UNESCO of trying to erase the Jewish connection to the Land of Israel.

Sept. 17, 1978 — Camp David Accords Are Signed

Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin sign the Camp David Accords, brokered by President Jimmy Carter. The accords have two parts: an agreement about the future of relations between the countries and a framework for implementing Palestinian self-rule. The former leads to a peace treaty in March 1979, but Palestinian autonomy awaits the 1993 Oslo Accords.

Sept. 18, 1918 — Swimmer Judith Deutsch Is Born

Champion swimmer Judith Deutsch is born in Vienna, Austria. She overcomes antisemitism to set every Austrian freestyle record at middle and long distances between 1933 and 1935. She joins fellow Austrian swimmers Ruth Langer and Lucie Goldner in refusing to go to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. She makes aliyah after she is suspended from competing in Austria, which expunges her records but apologizes in 1995.


Sept. 19, 1988 — Ofek 1 Is Launched

Israel launches its first space satellite, Ofek 1, from an undisclosed location near the Mediterranean Sea. Named for the Hebrew word for horizon, Ofek 1 completes an orbit every 90 minutes at heights of 400 to 1,600 miles. Israel becomes the ninth country able to launch a satellite and reveals its ballistic missile capability. Foreign Minister Shimon Peres declares the civilian project to be about technology, not an arms race.

Sept. 20, 1931 — Actress Haya Harareet Is Born

Actress Haya Harareet, best known as Judah Ben-Hur’s love interest Esther in the 1959 remake of “Ben-Hur,” is born Haya Neuberg in Haifa. She begins her acting career in 1955’s “Hill 24 Doesn’t Answer,” the first feature film produced in Israel for international distribution. She appears in Italian, U.S. and British films over the next decade. She wins acclaim but no awards for “Ben-Hur,” which grabs 11 Oscars.

Sept. 21, 2008 — Olmert Resigns as Prime Minister

Facing charges of corruption and financial improprieties on which he later is convicted, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert resigns. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, elected Sept. 17 as his replacement as the Kadima party leader, tries but fails to form a new government, so a national election is held in February 2009. Kadima wins the most seats with 28, but Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu forms a governing coalition.

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