Ben-Nachum, Victor

Birth Name Ben-Nachum, Victor
Gender male


Event Date Place Description Notes Sources

Military Service   אצ"ל ארגון צבאי לאומי ITzL Irgun Tzvi Leumi  

Membership   Bergson Group Bergsonites, see American League for Free Palestine  

Boat June, 1947 אלטלנה USS LST-138 Altalena  

Place Note

In June, 1947, Yitzhak Ben-Ami, Avrasha Stawsky, Gershon Hakim and Victor Ben-Nachum, of the Bergson Group,acquired Altalena, as surplus, originally intended to carry new immigrants to Israel, but, perhaps partially due to Begin's influence, was used to ship arms.
Initially, they wanted to call the boat the Zeev Jabotinsky. who wrote in Yiddish using the pen name The Elter Learner (The old student), which was disguised by calling the boat, Altalena.

Event Note

Altalena sailed from Fort Lauderdale to Marseille, where she refuelled, and then sailed on a series of trips from Marseille to Casablanca and back, transporting onions, which brought money and fuel.

Event Note

On November 15, 1949, according to the testimony of General Henri Coudraux, who played a key role in transfering arms to ETZL, France "reached a secret agreement with the Irgun, which promised it advantages if it were to come into power (in Israel)."
He dealt with Shmuel Ariel, ETZL's representative in the negotiations, who tesified that ETZL signed a secret agreement with the French government whereby the latter would "provide arms to the Irgun to fight the Arabs."
The arms ultimately arrived at Israel's shores aboard Altalena, sunk on June 22, 1948, off Tel Aviv at the order of acting prime Minister David Ben-Gurion.
The agreement, which has not been found, was concluded by Foreign Minister Georges Bidault, who feared occupation of Jerusalem by the Jordanian Arab Legion, with British support; in May 1948, the Arab Legion had damaged French Catholic institutions and France's consulate in Jerusalem.
In 1944, French intelligence recruited an agent in the Syrian government, who provided information about clandestine British activity in Syria and other Arab countries.
Georges Bidault witnessed the efficiency of the British secret services, which played a major role in expelling the French from Syria in 1945, and as a devout Catholic, he attributed great importance to maintaining Jerusalem's status as an international city, and saw a vital French interest in the creation of the state.
The French suspected that Britain had adopted a "double policy," used effectively in Syria, i.e., alongside the declared policy about ending the Mandate and evacuating British forces from Palestine on May 15, 1948, the French believed that Britain's secret services sought to prevent establishment of a Jewish state, or at least to limit its size.
David Ben-Gurion suggested that France gave ETZL the arms, in return for protection of the Catholic institutions in the city.
On May 24 the French Foreign Ministry sent communiques to Jordan's King Abdullah, Israel's government, ETZL representatives in Paris. and British and Arab legations in Paris, demanding they avoid attacking religious and diplomatic institutions in Jerusalem.

Event Note

Dan Nimrod helped to equip Altalena אלטלנה with war materiel, and was responsible for recruiting and training of many of Altalena אלטלנה's 940 volunteers.

Event Note

At Port-de-Bouc, Altalena was stripped and loaded with 5000 Lee-Enfeld rifles, five million rounds of ammunition, 250 Bren machine guns, 50 cannon, 1,000 grenades, 400 aerial bombs, nine tanks, 50 anti-tank guns, tons of medical equipment and more than 900 trained soldiers.
Originally, Altalena was to sail on May 15 under the flag of Israel, that was to be declared as the British departed on the day before, but the purchase of weapons and other organizational matters took longer than expected.
Added to the delay was the fact that, the longshoremen at Port-de-Bouc decided to stage a strike after a box of weapons fell and broke open revealing its contents.
Shmuel Katz acted unilaterally, and okayed the departure of Altalena.
The sailing of Altalena was in violation not only of the United Nations brokered cease-fire, but of an agreement made by Menachem Begin, to incorporate his ETZL underground militia into the new IDF.
Menachem Begin, surprised that Altalena had actually set sail without his direct approval, decided it wise to postpone the arrival, and sent a cable with instructions to stay put at sea and await further orders.
Throughout the journey, Menachem Begin and his radio operator, Ziporeh Kessel-Levi, attempted to reach Altalena by radio and instruct the captain to avoid arriving into Tel Aviv.
After coded transmissions failed to raise a response, Ziporeh Kessel-Levi opened voice communications, repeating over and over: “Keep away. Await Instructions.”



    1. Ben-Nachum, Victor