April 28, 1918 — AJC Endorses Balfour Declaration

The American Jewish Committee’s delayed response to the Balfour Declaration reflected concerns about the effects on Jews in the United States and elsewhere.

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

Prime Minister Menachem Begin poses with three of the five newly freed prisoners of Zion on April 29, 1979.

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

Benzion Netanyahu’s Revisionist Zionism is considered a major influence on his son Benjamin, the longest-serving prime minister in Israel’s history. By Avi Ohayon, Israeli Government Press Office.

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 made aliyah as a child in 1920, when the family name is changed from Mileikowsky. An aide to Ze’ev Jabotinsky, he spent most of the 1940s in the United States, lobbying for Jewish statehood.

May 1, 1943 — Bermuda Conference is no Help for Jews

 Delegates meet in Bermuda in April 1943. Harold Dodds, Princeton University’s president, led the Americans, and Richard Law, an undersecretary in the Foreign Office, headed the British.

A communiqué issued after a twelve-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 is home with his parents and sister in 1873. National Photo Collection of Israel.

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

Golda Meir, shown in 1956, came out of retirement in 1969 to serve as prime minister after Levi Eshkol died. By Moshe Pridan, Israeli Government Press Office.

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.

May 4, 1947 — Irgun Blasts Prisoners out of Acre

 A British wanted poster provides details on the Jews who escaped from the Acre prison May 4, 1947. 

The Irgun breaks thirty of its men and eleven Lehi members out of the British prison at Acre (Akko). The escape uses explosives smuggled into the prison and attached to the outside of the southern fortress wall. But six of the forty-one prisoners are killed during the escape, and eight are recaptured. Three members of the attack team are killed. Five other raiders are captured; three of them are executed. In the confusion, one-hundred-eighty-two Arab prisoners also escape.

Items are provided by the Center for Israel Education.