This week in Israeli history: April 27-May 3


Theodor Herzl is home with his parents and sister in 1873. Photo: National Photo Collection of Israel

Center for Israel Education

April 27, 1955 — Uzi Is Unveiled During Parade

The Uzi submachine gun makes its public debut as an IDF weapon during a Yom HaAtzmaut parade. Named for its inventor, Uziel Gal, the Uzi was first used in the field two months earlier during Operation Black Arrow, a paratrooper raid on Egyptian forces in Gaza. Although Gal completed the prototype in 1950, and the IDF adopted the weapon in 1951, it does not receive extensive use until the Sinai campaign in 1956.

April 28, 1918 — AJC Endorses Balfour Declaration

Six months after the British government expresses support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine, the American Jewish Committee declares tepid support of the Balfour Declaration. AJC’s weak endorsement reflects the views during and after World War I of most American Jews, who either oppose or only vaguely support Zionism. AJC backs Jewish immigration to Palestine for those who want to go but does not foresee an independent Jewish state.

April 29, 1979 — Prisoners of Zion Arrive in Israel

Five recently released Soviet Jewish prisoners arrive at Ben Gurion Airport, where they are welcomed by Prime Minister Menachem Begin. The five were convicted in 1970 of trying to hijack an airplane to escape the Soviet Union and catalyzed the movement to free Soviet Jewry. “Our hearts are filled with emotions,” Begin says. “Let us pray to the Lord that we shall soon have here all — all the prisoners of Zion, freed from Soviet jails and gathering in Israel.”

April 30, 2012 — Netanyahu’s Father Dies

Historian and Revisionist Zionist leader Benzion Netanyahu, the father of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and slain Entebbe hero Yonatan Netanyahu, dies at home in Jerusalem at age 102. A native of Warsaw, Netanyahu makes aliyah as a child in 1920, when the family name is changed from Mileikowsky. An aide to Ze’ev Jabotinsky, he spends most of the 1940s in the United States, lobbying for Jewish statehood.

May 1, 1943 — Bermuda Conference Is No Help for Jews

A communiqué issued after a 12-day refugee conference held in Bermuda by Britain and the United States fails to announce any specific steps to help Jews facing extermination by the Nazis. The meeting of Allied countries was a response to public pressure to do something, but Bermuda was chosen to minimize press coverage and keep Jewish organizations away. Britain does not lift its ban on Jewish immigration to Palestine.

May 2, 1860 — Theodor Herzl Is Born

Theodor Herzl, a secular Jew who organizes the modern Zionist movement, is born in Pest, Hungary. After his sister dies in 1878, his family moves to Vienna, where he becomes a lawyer and writer. While reporting from Paris for a Vienna newspaper, he covers the 1894 trial of Capt. Alfred Dreyfus. He is so shaken by the open antisemitism that he writes “The Jewish State” in 1896 and convenes the First Zionist Congress in 1897.

May 3, 1898 — Golda Meir Is Born

Israel’s only female prime minister, Golda Meir, is born Golda Mabovitch in Kyiv, Ukraine. She and her family immigrate to the United States in 1906 and settle in Milwaukee, where she marries Morris Myerson. They move to Palestine in 1921. She becomes active in labor politics. Her Israeli government posts include ambassador to the Soviet Union, labor minister and foreign minister. She serves as prime minister from 1969 to 1974.

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