Yigal Allon[1] (Hebrew: יגאל אלון‎; 10 October 1918 – 29 February 1980) was an Israeli military leader and politician. He was a commander of the Palmach and a general in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). He was also a leader of the Ahdut HaAvoda and Israeli Labor parties. He served briefly as acting Prime Minister of Israel between the death of Levi Eshkol and the appointment of Golda Meir in 1969, the first native-born Israeli to serve in the position. He was a government minister from the third Knesset to the ninth inclusive.

Yigal Allon
יגאל אלון
Allon in 1969, serving as Minister of Education & Culture.
Interim Prime Minister of Israel
In office
26 February 1969 – 17 March 1969
PresidentZalman Shazar
Preceded byLevi Eshkol
Succeeded byGolda Meir
Deputy Prime Minister of Israel
In office
1 July 1968 – 10 March 1974
Prime MinisterLevi Eshkol
Golda Meir
Preceded byAbba Eban
Succeeded bySimha Erlich
Yigael Yadin
Ministerial portfolios
1968–1969Immigrant Absorption
1969–1974Education and Culture
1974–1977Foreign Affairs
Faction represented in the Knesset
1955–1965Ahdut HaAvoda
1968–1969Labor Party
Personal details
Born(1918-10-10)10 October 1918
Kfar Tavor, Palestine
Died29 February 1980(1980-02-29) (aged 61)
Afula, Israel
SpouseRuth Episdorf
EducationKadoorie Agricultural High School
St Antony's College, Oxford

Born a child of pioneer settlers in the Lower Galilee, Allon initially rose to prominence through his military career. After the outbreak of the 1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine, he joined the Haganah and later the Palmach. He commanded a squad and organized key operations in the Jewish Resistance Movement such as the Night of the Bridges. During the 1947–1949 Palestine war, Allon commanded the conquest of the Galilee, Lod and Ramla, as well as the entire Negev up to Eilat as Head of the Southern Command.

Allon entered politics after a forced relief from command by then-Premier David Ben-Gurion. During his political career, he served as foreign and education minister, deputy prime minister, and briefly as acting prime minister. He was one of the architects of the creation of the Labor party, advocating for the merge of Ahdut HaAvoda with Mapai.

In 1967, he devised the eponymous Allon Plan, which proposed next steps for Israel after the 1967 Arab–Israeli War. While the plan was not officially adopted, it served as a guideline for the next decade of Israeli settlement.[2][3] He also took part in the Sinai Interim Agreement in 1975.

In 1980, Allon died unexpectedly due to cardiac arrest while campaigning for the leadership of the Labor party.

Early years (1918–1931) edit

Yigal Peikowitz (later Allon) was born on 10 October 1918 in Kfar Tavor, then a part of the Occupied Enemy Territory Administration. His father, Reuven, immigrated to Palestine in 1890 along with his father and elder brother from Belarus, then a part of the Russian Empire.[4] His mother, Haia Shortz-Peikowitz, came from a Jewish family of Safed. Her father was a founding member of Rosh Pinna.

Allon's father initially wanted to name him "Yigael", meaning "he will be redeemed", but decided it was too passive, and instead decided on "Yigal", meaning "he will redeem".[5]

When Allon was five years old, his mother died and his older brothers left home. Allon, the youngest child, remained with his father. The area of Kfar Tavor was isolated and dealt with regular raids and thefts by neighboring Arab and Bedouin communities. After his bar mitzvah at age 13, Allon was given a gun by his father to protect the family crops from thieves.

In 1934, 16-year-old Allon began attending the Kadoorie Agricultural High School. Here, he became aware that his home education was poor compared to his classmates from urban areas. His teachers encouraged him to expand his horizons and close gaps in his education. In his autobiography, Allon praised the school director and claimed that he taught Allon important social values.

During school, Allon adopted Labor Zionism. After graduating in 1937, Allon and a group of Labor Zionists founded the Kibbutz Ginosar on Palestine Jewish Colonization Association land leased to the settlement of Migdal.[4] In Ginosar, Allon made an impression as a local leader and became friends with Berl Katznelson.

Military career (1931–1950) edit

L-R: Moshe Dayan, Yitzhak Sadeh, Yigal Allon, at Kibbutz Hanita (1938)

Allon joined Haganah in 1931 and went on to command a field unit and then a mobile patrol in northern Palestine during the 1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine.[6] During the revolt, while working on the fields and farms of the kibbutz, Allon was summoned to take a position of command in the Haganah by Yitzhak Sadeh. After completing a squad command course, Allon was appointed to the command of the Mobile Guards. He took part in the expulsion of Arabs who immigrated with their flocks to the Jewish fields. He also became known for the ambushes he planned for gangs that infiltrated the settlements.

During this period, Allon participated in several operations of the Special Night Squads (SNS), under the command of Orde Charles Wingate and Bala Bredin. In 1941, he became one of the founding members of the Palmach. From 1941 to 1942, he was a scout with the British forces of Syria and Lebanon.[7]

Yitzhak Sadeh (left) and Yigal Allon, 1948
Allon in 1948

In 1945, he became Commander in Chief of the Palmach.[8] On 22 June 1948, at the climax of David Ben-Gurion's confrontation with the Irgun over the distribution of weapons from the Altalena, Allon commanded the troops that were ordered to shell the vessel.[9] During the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, he led several of the major operations on all three fronts, including operations Yiftach in the Galilee, Danny in the centre, and Yoav and Horev in the Negev. His last major military roles as commander were in October and December 1948: Operation Yoav towards the Hebron Hills and Operation Horev along the Southern Egyptian Front. As Operational Commander of the Southern Command, he was responsible for security along the borders with Egypt and parts of Jordan. On 4 June 1949, he declared an 8 kilometres (5 mi) wide closed military zone along the border.[10] Allon's successes throughout the war have been attributed to his keen intuition and clairvoyance, although these traits at times begat military failures instead.[11]

On 18 October 1949, while he was in an official visit in Paris, Allon was told by his French hosts that Ben-Gurion had decided to replace Allon with Moshe Dayan as Operational Commander. Most of Allon's staff officers resigned in protest.[12] He retired from active service in 1950.[13]

Political career (1950–1980) edit

In January 1948, Allon helped form the left-wing Mapam party. However, Prime Minister Ben-Gurion, leader of the rival governing Mapai party, told Allon to dissociate himself from Mapam, as saw it as too left-wing and a threat to state security.[14] In December 1948, Mapam co-leader Meir Ya'ari criticized Allon's use of tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees to achieve strategic goals.[15]

From 1950 to 1952, he studied philosophy and history at St Antony's College, Oxford.[16]

After ending his military career, Allon embarked on a public political career. He became a prominent leader in Ahdut HaAvoda, which had split from Mapam in 1954, and was first elected to the Knesset in 1955, where he served until his death. He was a member of the Economic Affairs Committee, Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, Education and Culture Committee, Joint Committee on the Motion for the Agenda Regarding Sports in Israel, and the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

Right to Left: U.S. Secretary of Labor, William Willard Wirtz, Israeli Prime Minister, Levi Eshkol and Israeli Minister of Labor, Yigal Allon.

Allon served as the Labor Minister from 1961 to 1968. In this role he worked to improve the state employment service, extend the road network, and fought to get legislation on labor relations passed. From 1968 to 1969, he served as the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Immigrant Absorption. Allon served briefly as interim Prime Minister following the death of Levi Eshkol on 26 February 1969. He held office until 17 March 1969, when Golda Meir took over after being elected leader of the Labor Party. He became the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education and Culture in Meir's government, and served in that post until 1974.

During the September 1970 crisis in Jordan, he advocated supporting King Hussein in his conflict with the PLO.[17] In 1974 he was a part of the delegation to the Separation of Forces Agreement. He became the Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1974 and held this post until 1977.[18][19] At the time of his sudden death in 1980, he was a candidate for the leadership of the Alignment, challenging the incumbent party head Shimon Peres.

Allon Plan (1967) edit

Allon (right) with Golda Meir, 1969.
Foreign Minister Allon sitting with Joop den Uyl, Prime Minister of the Netherlands.

Allon was the architect of the Allon Plan, a proposal to end Israeli occupation of parts of the West Bank with a negotiated partition of territories.[20] The plan was presented to the cabinet in July 1967, right after the Six-Day War. The plan was never formally adopted, but influenced Israeli settlement for the next decade.

According to the plan, Israel would retain one-third of the West Bank and protect itself from invasion from the east by a strip of settlements and military installations along the Jordan Valley. The mountain ridge west of this strip, which was populated by Arabs, would be confederated with Jordan. A strip of land flanking the Jericho-Jerusalem road, Gush Etzion and a large part of the Hebron Hills area, would be annexed. Minor territorial changes would be made along the Green Line, specifically in the area of Latrun. Allon also called for the development of Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem, the rehabilitation of the Old City's Jewish Quarter, and the annexation of Gaza, whose Arab inhabitants would be resettled elsewhere.[21]

Death (1980) edit

Allon died of heart failure in Afula on 29 February 1980.[22][23] He was buried in the cemetery of Kibbutz Ginosar in the Northern District on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.[24] The funeral was attended by tens of thousands of mourners, with condolences extended by many world leaders, including Egyptian president Anwar Sadat.[25]

Legacy edit

Explaining the growing admiration for Yigal Allon three decades after his death, Oren Dagan of the Society for the Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites said, "people wish to live in the kind of state Yigal Allon dreamed of, for example on the Arab-Jewish issue. This isn't a post-Zionist approach, neither hesitant nor apologetic. It's an approach of safety and security that says, 'Our place is here,' but still emphasizes the importance of dialogue, and never through condescension or arrogance. Allon extended a hand in peace, and that's the approach we want leaders to adopt today."[26]

Personal life edit

Allon was married to Ruth, who immigrated to Palestine from Germany in 1934, a year after the installment of the Machtergreifung. They had three children together. Their eldest daughter Nurit (Hebrew: נוּרִית) was on the autism spectrum and could not speak until age 5. After years of consulting medical professionals in multiple continents on how to treat her, Nurit was eventually institutionalized in Scotland. Allon visited her once a year.[27][28]

In 1948, after the proclamation of the state of Israel, Allon changed his surname from "Peikowitz" to "Allon" (Hebrew: אלון), meaning "oak tree".[29]

In the 1950s, the Allon couple helped their neighbors adopt a child, Tziona Heiman, from a Jerusalem hospital. This became associated with the wider Yemenite Children Affair of the time, in which thousands of Jewish babies, mainly from Yemen, appeared as candidates for adoption in Israel. Heiman said she was treated well and lovingly by her adoptive parents and by Allon.[30] In an interview, Allon's wife stated they had no knowledge of Heiman's origin.[31] As of 2016, Heiman's origins remained unclear.[30]

Published works edit

  • Allon, Yigal (1970). Shield of David. New York: Random House. ISBN 0-297-00133-7.
  • Allon, Yigal (1970). The Making of Israel's Army. London: Vallentine, Mitchell. ISBN 0-853-03027-8.
  • Allon, Yigal (1975). My Father's House. New York: W. W. Norton. Archived from the original on 16 February 2013.

References edit

  1. ^ The name Yigal or Yigael Allon is Hebrew, translates as "he redeems ...under the burning bush" has multiple contextual references in the Old Testament in the books of Genesis, Isaiah, and Ezekiel
  2. ^ Separate and Unequal, Chapter IV. Human Rights Watch, 19 December 2010
  3. ^ "Gush Emunim". GlobalSecurity.org. Retrieved 17 February 2023.
  4. ^ a b Miller, Ylana (1 July 2008). "ISRAEL-Yigal Allon, Native Son: A Biography". The Middle East Journal. 62 (3): 523. Archived from the original on 13 June 2020. Retrieved 13 June 2020.
  5. ^ Gold, Herbert (6 June 1976). "A son's homage;. My Father's House By Yigal Alton. Translated from the Hebrew by Reuven Ben-Yosef. Illustrated. 204 pp. New York W. W. Norton 8c Co. $7.95". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 17 February 2023.
  6. ^ "Haapalah / Aliyah Bet – Places". www.wertheimer.info.
  7. ^ Yigal Allon (Peikowitz), 1918–1980
  8. ^ "Yigal Allon, Native Son | Anita Shapira, Evelyn Abel". www.upenn.edu.
  9. ^ Bar Zohar, Michael (1978). Ben-Gurion. A Biography. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. p. 174. ISBN 0-297-77401-8.
  10. ^ Morris, Benny (1993). Israel's Border Wars, 1949 – 1956. Arab Infiltration, Israeli Retaliation, and the Countdown to the Suez War. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 126. ISBN 0-19-827850-0. Quoting Weitz, Yomani, iv33 entry 4 June 1949.
  11. ^ Tal, David (July 2004). "Between Intuition and Professionalism: Israeli Military Leadership during the 1948 Palestine War". The Journal of Military History. 68 (3): 885–909. doi:10.1353/jmh.2004.0147. ISSN 1543-7795. S2CID 159891562. Retrieved 14 October 2023.
  12. ^ Dayan, Moshe (1976). Story of my Life. New York: William Morrow and Company. p. 150. ISBN 0-688-03076-9.
  13. ^ "Yigal Allon". Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Israel).
  14. ^ "Israel's 'Golden Boy': A New Biography Explores How It Is We Came To Forget Yigal Allon". Jewish Daily Forward. 11 July 2008. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  15. ^ Morris, Benny (1987). The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947–1949. ISBN 0-521-33028-9, page 211
  16. ^ 'Allon for London' in Jewish Observer and Middle East Review (Volume 16, William Samuel & Company Limited, 1967), issue dated 29 December 1967, p. 1
  17. ^ Shlaim, Avi (2007). Lion of Jordan: The Life of King Hussein in War and Peace. London: Penguin Books. pp. 330–331.
  18. ^ "Allon, Yigal (1918–1980)". Junior Judaica, Encyclopaedia Judaica for Youth. Jewish Agency for Israel. 1992. Archived from the original on 24 June 2012. Retrieved 19 October 2012.
  19. ^ "Yigal Allon". Jewish Virtual Library. The American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise. 2012.
  20. ^ The Jordanian Option: The plan that refuses to die, Haaretz
  21. ^ "'Allon-Plus' – A rejected plan is resurrected – Jerusalem Post | HighBeam Research". 25 February 2016. Archived from the original on 25 February 2016.
  22. ^ Times, Special to The New York (1 March 1980). "Yigal Allon Is Dead in Israel at 61; War Hero, High Cabinet Member; 'Fidelity and Devotion' Death Near His Birthplace Period of Study at Oxford". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 17 February 2023.
  23. ^ Yigal Allon (Israeli politician). Britannica Online Encyclopedia. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
  24. ^ 1st Century Galilee Boat (29 February 1980). "Yigal Allon | Jesus Boat Museum, Israel |". Jesusboat.com. Retrieved 29 January 2013.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  25. ^ "Tens of Thousands of People Attend Funeral of Yigal Allon". 3 March 1980.
  26. ^ Three decades on Yigal Allon still inspires youth, Haaretz
  27. ^ Shapira, Anita (30 June 2015). Yigal Allon, Native Son: A Biography. University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 978-0812203431 – via Google Books.
  28. ^ "The special Torah: A haredi rabbi's call for inclusion". The Jerusalem Post | JPost.com. Retrieved 17 February 2023.
  29. ^ Masalha, Nur (2015). "Settler-Colonialism, Memoricide and Indigenous Toponymic Memory: The Appropriation of Palestinian Place Names by the Israeli State" (PDF). Journal of Holy Land and Palestine Studies. Edinburgh University Press. 14 (1): 3–57. doi:10.3366/hlps.2015.0103. ISSN 2054-1988.
  30. ^ a b Yehezkeli, Yehudit; Aharonot, Yedioth (17 February 2002). "Ziona Heimann". חטיפת ילדי תימן, מזרח ובלקן. Retrieved 17 February 2023.
  31. ^ Hatuka, Shlomi (25 January 2014). "The tragedy of the lost Yemenite children: In the footsteps of the adoptees". 972 Magazine. Retrieved 17 February 2023.

Further reading edit

External links edit