Blood Repaid in Blood

Daily Mail (London), April 28, 2011 | Go to article overview

Blood Repaid in Blood


Byline: Compiled by Charles Legge

QUESTION Was Menachem Begin - who would later become Israel's prime minister - behind an assassination attempt on German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer?

MENACHEM Begin (born in Brest-Litovsk, Poland, in 1913 and died in Tel Aviv in 1992) was a right-wing Israeli politician, founder of the Likud political party and the sixth prime minister of Israel.

A charismatic figure in Israeli politics, he was highly impulsive and irrational.

No stranger to violence before independence, he was the leader of the Zionist militant Irgun Zvai Leumi, known as Irgun for short or by its acronym, Etzel, which fought against British occupation in the Thirties and Forties.

In 1946, he ordered the bombing of the King David Hotel, where the British civil-military authorities in Jerusalem lived, killing 91 people: 28 British, 41 Arabs, 17 Jews and five others.

He later insisted a warning had been sent to evacuate the building.

The assassination attempt on Chancellor Konrad Adenauer was precipitated by the Reparations Agreement between Israel and West Germany - the pay-off to Israel and world Jewry for the collective sins of the German people in the Hitler era.

Begin despised the agreement, seeing it as blood money to exonerate the Nazis.

He led a campaign against it, with the slogan: 'Our honour shall not be sold for money; our blood shall not be atoned by goods. We shall wipe out the disgrace!'

In March 1952, during negotiations for the agreement, a parcel bomb addressed to Adenauer was intercepted at a German post office. While being defused, it exploded, killing one and injuring two others.

Five Israelis, all former members of Etzel, were arrested in Paris for their involvement in the plot but Adenauer kept Etzel's involvement secret to avoid a backlash against Israel. The five conspirators were extradited from France and Germany, without charge, and sent back to Israel.

Forty years after the assassination attempt, Begin was implicated as its organiser in a memoir written by one of the conspirators, Eliezer Sudit-Sharon, known by the codename Kabtzan or 'beggar'.

He described how Begin approved and helped organise the assassination attempt using a bomb hidden in an encyclopaedia, even offering to sell his gold watch when the conspirators ran out of money.

Sudit-Sharon said he had been summoned to a meeting at Begin's Tel Aviv home.

'Begin said that something had to be done against Adenauer and the reparations. I didn't know even who Adenauer was but I agreed with Begin that this agreement should not be accepted.

'We thought the Germans should pay directly to the survivors of the Holocaust and the government of Israel should not take the money from them in the name of the Jewish people and buy tractors with it for the kibbutzim.' Compiled by Charles Legge

Michael Farley, Southampton.

QUESTION Do any other animals suffer from cleft palates?

CLEFT palates and lips are common in dogs. Breeds such as boxers and Boston terriers are particularly prone, with up to a quarter suffering some degree of deformity.

A hereditary basis for the disease is suspected for congenital clefts but the mechanism has not been determined.

There has also been a link with excess vitamin A and the use of steroids in pregnancy.

Corrective surgery is usually done when the dog is three months old but there is a high rate of failure, resulting in repeated surgeries. Cleft palate is also common in cattle. Afflicted animals are often destroyed at birth because they are difficult to care for and the condition may be hereditary. It is commonly associated with a congenital skeletal deformity called crooked calf disease.

Difficulty with nursing is the most common problem but aspiration pneumonia, regurgitation and malnutrition are often seen and can lead to death. …

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