Pride, pain and brotherhood—Altalena monument unveiled
The new monument, dedicated to the 16 Irgun fighters who were killed when the ship was shelled, was unveiled in a ceremony attended by numerous Knesset members and ministers, including the Prime Minister; 'Pride, pain and brotherhood—that is the essence of the story of the Altalena and that is what this monument represents today.'
The unveiling of the new monument was attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Minister of Heritage Ze'ev Elkin, Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, Knesset members and Irgun veterans, including survivors of the incident.
The ship was shelled and caught fire after Irgun members refused to turn over weapons on the ship to the newly created IDF during the establishment of the State of Israel.
The new monument, which was designed by architects Tuvia Sagiv Shekarka and Rotem Ze'evi and artist Eyal Shalem, was erected alongside the old monument designed by artist Dan Rappaport in 1990.
The new monument, which was personally approved by Netanyahu, is made of concrete and metal from the actual Altalena. Part of the monument is submerged in the sea and on the side of the monument is a quote by Menachem Begin, who was onboard at the time of the shooting, saying, "There will never be a civil war."
The rust colored monument symbolizes the remains of the ship rising up, as if trying not to be forgotten. The monument is roughly seven meters long and two meters high. At night, it is illuminated by lights in the water and on the sides emphasizing the importance of the case as a defining moment in Israel's history.
"Pride, pain and brotherhood—that is the essence of the story of the Altalena and that is what this monument represents today," said the prime minister. "The salvation ship of the Irgun carried hundreds of exiles who sought to be fighters and citizens. In her belly was a huge quantity of arms, which were intended to be sent to various fronts during the War of Independence. It is doubtful that Zionism had ever seen such a large operation until then.
"Great pride is accompanied by great pain that lasts until today," added Netanyahu. "Five weeks after the founding of the state Jews shot Jews. All that happened due to an exaggerated sense of strength, hasty decision making and firing unnecessarily. Bitter pride led to bloodshed that left deep scars that hurt the soul of the nation. Menachem Begin will be remembered as someone who prevented major disaster with his restraint and his spirit. He made us unify even in the most difficult of moments."
Minister of Heritage Elkin added, "Above all, we remember the greatness of leaders that never crossed the red line of civil war. This led to the creation of the Jewish State and we will guard it against all bumps. This monument will bring this message to future generations."
Mayor of Tel Aviv, Ron Huldai, said, "There will still be difficult days where we will need to make difficult decisions that won't be accepted by everyone. If we can adopt moderate discourse, discourse that does not lead to incitement and violence and that condemns statements like 'every way that is not my way is treason.' It will be difficult to deal with, should we arrive at a moment in time like the Altalena."
Avraham Menala, director of the Tel Aviv Burial Society, said, "Our goal is that visitors will feel the respect that those who inhabited this Jewish community fought to establish a state here in a daily struggle against disease and harsh living conditions. The Burial Society's goal is to restore the oldest cemeteries in Tel Aviv in order to turn them into places of pilgrimage, and the reshaping of the Altalena memorial is just the first step in rebuilding the cemetery."