How My Grandmother Prevented a Civil War, by Haggai Segal, translated from Hebrew by Diana File and Len Schramm, 384 pages, Gefen Publishing House, 2014.

Grandma Front CoverFinal

How My Grandmother Prevented a Civil War offers a number of interesting anecdotes and stories about the author’s family going back to his grandparents, as well as touching reminiscences about his late uncle Yedidya, who was murdered by someone in shady circumstances in January of 1948, just before Israel’s independence.

But I read it looking for an exciting, if at least interesting, story about what the author’s grandmother actually did to prevent a civil war from breaking out in Israel and was left disappointed.

Haggai Segal is the editor of a conservative Israeli daily newspaper called Makor Rishon, which is popular with religious Zionist Israelis as well as other people on its right wing. He is clearly still living with the pain that his family felt at the loss of his uncle more than sixty five years ago and it shows in his writing. The author was a member of the Judea and Samaria regional council as well as the so called West Bank Underground of the 1980s about which he has also written a book.

Mr. Segal’s political affiliation is rooted in his family’s personal history. His uncle Yedidya was a young fighter with the underground EZL military movement just before Israel’s independence. That organization was led by Menachem Begin and followed the tenets of the Revisionist Zionist leader Vladimir Zeev Jabotinsky who had died in 1940. Its name was an acronym in Hebrew for Irgun Zava Leumi – The National Military Organization.

Haggai Segal

Haggai Segal

Yedidya was murdered at some point after having been taken prisoner by the rival Haganah, the precursor to Israel’s Defense Forces, at the height of a bitter dispute between the Labor establishment which ran the de facto pre-state government in Israel and the rival Revisionist camp.

I will not get into a whole history of that movement and the feud which raged between the Revisionists and the Labor establishment in Israel from the 1920’s through decades after Israel’s independence. Suffice it to say, the wounds of that conflict cut deep and are still felt by some to this day.

But Israeli politics have been completely transformed with its Labor Party having abandoned its socialist roots to become more like America’s Democratic Party. Not counting the Arab parties, the political left in Israel has less than 20% of the seats in the Kneset today, where it once maintained an absolute majority held by several socialist parties for decades.

Israel’s Conservative Likud Party was formed by Menachem begin and the acolytes of Jabotinsky on Israel’s political right who held to the mantra of “two banks of the Jordan River.” This meant that all of what is now Jordan should still become part of Israel simply because it was arbitrarily included in the mandate territory that the League of Nations gave the British after World War I in which to create a Jewish State.

Today, not only has Israel’s right wing given up on that dream, but the Likud itself has been transformed into more of an Israeli version of America’s Republican Party. Its leaders have even accepted the inevitability of a Palestinian state to be established in at least most of the West Bank.

For Israelis today to continue to keep the old feud alive is just plain silly. It is comparable to Americans continuing to hold animosities to one another over their country’s Civil War.

Unfortunately some still do and hopefully in the near future it will have all become ancient history.

Yes it is true that the Labor establishment used bully tactics to keep the Revisionist movement down, such as breaking up its political meetings in the country with violence. Yes it did unfairly characterize the right wing as thugs, fascists or even terrorists simply because it was not socialist and stood for pushing for independence from the British more and fighting over what type of political/economic system the country would have less.

And it is also true that the Labor establishment worked to keep the right down and even discriminated against its members in the workplace for the first thirty years after Israel’s independence.

Unfortunately, that became the focus of this book, rather than the story of Mr. Haggai’s family and his uncle’s murder.

It was necessary to provide the background and the context for what happened to his uncle. But Mr. Haggai goes too far, using terms like “demagogue” to describe David Ben-Gurion.

He also follows the right wing party line that the British only got fed up and left Israel because of the “revolt” against their rule, as Begin described it, which included attacks on military targets such as the blowing up of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem.

I’m sorry to burst anybody’s bubble, but those acts were only the tip of the iceberg, as it were. The Labor establishment had engaged for years in a tedious diplomatic campaign led by Haim Weizmann to get the international support needed for the U.N. to ultimately approve the establishment of Israel. The acts of violence committed by the EZL and its more violent offshoot called Lehi hurt those diplomatic efforts.

Also it was the Labor establishment which created the Haganah military force which became the corps of the Israeli Defense Forces after independence, without which the Jews in the country would never have been able to defeat the invasion forces of five different Arab nations.

As for the British, they were already giving up their empire. They had withdrawn from all over the Middle East and had granted independence to countries like Egypt, Jordan and Iraq before they left Israel. The British had also given up what was once known as the jewel in their monarch’s crown, India.

For the British, leaving the country was an inevitability. The only issue to be decided was if the world would support the establishment of a Jewish state there.

The reasons for Yedidya Segal having been abducted and held hostage by the Haganah In January 1948 dated back to what became known as the “Saison,” short for the French term “la saison de chasse” (The Hunting Season). It began in 1944, in response to the assassination of the British Lord Moyne in Cairo by members of an extreme group that had broken away from the EZL known as the Lehi, a Hebrew acronym for The Freedom Fighters of Israel.

They killed Lord Moyne, the British Resident Minister of state, because he opposed the establishment of a Jewish State. The murder, at the height of World War II, left the leadership of the Jewish community in fear that such acts would kill the Zionist movement. They therefore decided to take action against all of the fighters affiliated with the right wing EZL and Lehi groups, rounding them up and imprisoning them for various periods of time.

These roundups or arrests or kidnappings, depending on your point of view, continued over the next four years as EZL and Lehi continued to attack the British military in Israel. The Labor establishment saw itself as the democratically elected leadership of the Jewish community in the country and as such empowered to take action against the violence that was being committed, which they felt hurt the Zionist cause.

There was a genuine fear that killings and kidnappings of British soldiers and even the outright murders of innocent Arab civilians in some cases could have undone all of the hard work done by the Jewish community in Israel and the entire Zionist enterprise of the previous sixty plus years.

The followers of Jabotinsky, however, saw these arrests as a politically motivated vendetta enacted by a group that was, in their view, collaborating with the British occupiers. Also, while most of the people taken prisoner were held in underground jails by the Haganah, some were turned over to the British. This was an unconscionable act in the minds of many as the British had already executed a number of EZL and Lehi fighters.

Jews turning Jews over to a non-Jewish occupier to be imprisoned or even killed was seen as the ultimate betrayal. So in response the EZL took some Haganah members hostage. This of course led to more reprisals against its members by the Haganah. The country really was on the verge of a civil war before Menachem begin and the Labor government agreed to have the EZL forces join the country’s new army as independent units under their own commanders.

This was the backdrop for the death of Yedidya Segal. I won’t ruin the book for you by giving over too many details. In short, he was taken by the Haganah as a hostage in an attempt to force the EZL to release one of their prominent members who was held by the EZL. Yedidya died sometime thereafter. His body was found near an Arab village after the Haganah had told Yedidya’s family that he had been released.

Did the Haganah kill him? Did they deliberately leave him somewhere that they knew was unsafe for Jews in the months before the British left the country for good in May 1948?

Or did they honestly release him from custody and then something tragic happened thereafter?

Haggai Segal is convinced that the Haganah murdered his uncle. I, however, was not convinced by his book. Segal’s clear biases clouded his arguments. Also, the statements by people brought forward are far from proof.

If you can get past the political rhetoric and not mind the fact that the stories told here are disjointed and do not seem to be in any order, then you might enjoy the story of the Segal family. There are also some interesting stories about Yedidya himself.

Also, regardless of who did what, it is certainly undeniable that Yedidya Segal would never have been killed if he had not been held hostage by the Haganah.

I just wish that Hagai Segal had provided us with a more objective and more coherent account of his uncle’s death and life.

Oh, and in case you were expecting me to reveal what exactly Mr. Segal’s grandmother did to avert a civil war in Israel, what kind of jerk do you think I am?

Read the book if you want to know.

To order How My Grandmother Prevented a Civil War, click here.

About the author


Gil Tanenbaum made aliyah from New York after he completed college. He Has lived in Israel for over 20 years. He has an MBA from Bar Ilan University and is a contributor for various blogs.



    Discussion with Moishela (with his family)
    A Handicapped child
    16 Elul 5774 (Sept 10, ‘14)

    I Have Been Given Permission to Reveal to you Future Events

    Oy Mommy, Oy Tatti, what can I tell you? I’m sorry that I have made you in the last few weeks a little bit unnerved, but I must admit that the world is changing at the speed of sound, and from day to day or from minute to minute, we don’t know what’s going to be. We used to live in a world that was at least semi organized. We could predict, sometimes anyway, what the next day or the next minute might bring. Today we are all confused, never knowing where another tragedy, Shelo Naida, another bang will come from. Tatti, Mommy, the next few weeks are going to be very, very frightening. The next few weeks will be full of changes that will make our heads spin, changes all over the world, frightening changes and also frightening happenings.

    By the time we get to Rosh Hashana we are going to all be in a somber mood, a mood for Davening very hard, for begging Hashem to save us and declaring Him our King. So we must prepare ourselves not to be too blown away by the happenings of the near future and always remember the only way to steady ourselves and keep ourselves in a state that we can overcome spiritually and physically the times to come, is by holding on to Hakodosh Boruch Hu, so-to-speak, holding on to the rope, spiritual rope that connects us Am Yisroel to our Creator. So as I said, in the next few weeks until Rosh Hashana there will be amazing new news for all of us, for the whole world and there will be news that people will not understand. They will stand and wonder what in the world is going on, but as time goes on we will realize what the plan of the evil ones really is.

    After Rosh Hashana during the Aseres Yimei Teshuva will be a time of gathering our strengths together and crying to Hashem like we have never cried before. By the time that Yom Kippur comes around, I’m afraid that our tears might have been spent already from worrying what’s going to be, and we will try to squeeze out a few more in order to try to save ourselves. By the time Succos comes we will be quite worn out for our efforts, and I believe that Succos, at least for a short time, will bring a semblance of balance, a semblance of joy in the Yom Tov, but Simchas Torah will bring us back to the cruel reality, and we will dance with the Torah with tears in our eyes. We will hold the Torah close to us so it can’t separate from us, so we won’t separate from it. We will dance and we will dance and we will beg Hashem through our dancing to always keep us close to Him, and we will keep the Torah close to us, and when Simchas Torah is over the real wars will begin.

    Am Yisroel you know that there is something in my words. In the last two or three years you have seen such crazy tragic things happening. We know that the world has become an insane asylum and as Harav Dessler put it the people taking care of the inmates are the inmates themselves. So it’s a world of the mentally ill. There are some Jews which do try to separate themselves from the Sheker, from the lie and on those few Jews the world of the Geula Shelaima will be built by Hashem. We Am Yisroel must hold on and never let go.

    We will go farther. After Succos, Simchas Torah the world will become so so different, so horribly different that it will be absolutely unrecognizable. The only thing we will recognize is our Kesher with Hashem. The only thing that will be real will be our Kesher with Hashem, His Torah, and His Mitzvos.

    Am Yisroel, the ones in Chutz Laretz, the ones outside of Eretz Yisroel, pack your bags if you can. Pack your bags and come. Do so. It’s not an Aveirah. Coming to Eretz Yisroel is a great Zechus, but don’t come if you don’t really want to go higher in your Yiddishkeit. Don’t come just to save your lives, because it won’t work. You have to believe, believe that Hashem is Hakol Yachol. Ain Od Milvado. You have to believe it with all your heart and your soul. You have to believe that there is nothing greater than our Torah. You have to believe that Moshiach is going to come and there is going to be Techias Hameisim and you have to believe in every single one of the Yud Gimmel Ikrim. You must believe in that. That is your ticket to eternity. You must with all your heart and soul believe in it.

    After Simchas Torah there is going to be a giant Birur and that Birur is going to be very hard, but it won’t be hard for those who understand the Truth, for those who cling to Hashem, for those who cling to the Truth. It won’t be hard. So please Am Yisroel please, please if you feel up to it, if you feel that you want to rise spiritually, come to Eretz Yisroel, not Medinas Yisroel, that’s going to fall very soon, but Eretz Yisroel, come to Eretz Yisroel, and even though it could be very difficult and even though you don’t know where you are going to live and even though you don’t know where your income will come from, still you are better off here than there if you truly want to be close to Hashem. If you truly want, for spiritual reasons to come close to Hakodosh Boruch Hu, to actually greet Moshiach Tzidkainu then come to Eretz Yisroel now. Anyone with Gashmiusdik ideas about the Geula, forget it. Stay where you are.

    I also want to reiterate that every Jewish soul will be saved. Every Jewish soul that stood at Har Sinai and said Na’ase Venishma, we will do and we will say, every Jewish soul will be saved. Hashem will make sure that even if a Jew thinks he doesn’t accept Emes, in the end he will. Hashem will force him to accept Emes, and he will become a great believer, but he will suffer on the way, but those who are close already, those who believe with all their hearts and souls in Hakol Yachol, in Hakodosh Boruch Hu, in the Ribbono Shel Olam, they will not have difficulties almost at all. It might be frightening to see what’s happening, but they themselves will not suffer. So Am Yisroel, we are coming to Rosh Hashana. Please do Teshuva. Please do Teshuva now. Get your heads straight. Get your minds on the right things. Teach your children how to react when the terrible wars really start. They have started already, but the really bad part is soon to come. Teach your children how to hold on to Hashem. Teach your children what reality is, what the Geula Shelaima means, what the Bais Hamikdosh means, what the Korbanos mean. Teach them not to be afraid because Hashem is Hakol Yachol. He took us out of Mitzrayim, which was an amazing, amazing Ness, and He will take us out of this terrible, terrible Golus and bring us to the Geula Shelaima.

    I want to tell you something else Mommy and Tatti. I love you all very much. I know how much you are doing for me and how you care for me. I know I sometimes make you both a bit upset with my moods. I go a bit crazy myself with the double life that I have been living. One part of my life, a little boy with little boy needs, and the other part of my life I am a greater person a much more adult person. So please I ask you Mechila for anything I have done to make it difficult for you and tell you how much I appreciate how you’ve taken care of me, and how I imagine you will continue to take care of me up to when Moshiach comes. At that time I won’t need your help anymore, Be’ezras Hashem. I know that very soon we are going to see the Truth. So don’t get discouraged and don’t get taken down. Just know that all of our troubles are going to disappear and really you shouldn’t be worried about all these things that are happening in the house, buying and selling apartments, taking care of me, and all the other grandchildren who have this problem, that problem, or the other problem, or my aunts and my uncles that have all kinds of problems. Just know that it’s almost over, almost over.

    To Am Yisroel I want to tell you that when we come to Chanukah we are going to have very great spiritual happenings that will remind us of the Maccabim, that will remind us of our greatness, will remind us of our Bais Hamikdosh, even though we will be very frightened and we will be such a tiny little group surrounded by huge amounts of wild people with terrible weapons, but still our hearts will be full of joy because we will feel again what the Maccabim felt even though we will be terribly afraid. It will seem impossible to ever get out of that situation, but Hashem will help us and we will, and after that will come Asara B’teves and we will mourn like we never mourned before. We will cry and beg like we never did on Tisha B’av, beg and beg Hashem to rebuild our Bayis our Bais Hamikdosh, and not let the Goyim do the most outlandish thing of destroying the Dome of the Rock and instead building Chas Veshalom there a temple to the Avodah Zorah of their new Religion Chas Vesholom, Yemach Shemam Vezichram. That is their plan to build on top of Har Hamoriah, Har Habayis a temple to the Avodah Zorahs, the worst Avodah Zorahs.

    Then we will come to Purim and we will beg Hashem to save us from Haman and we will have a Haman here, a Haman that we will have to be saved from and we will have to fight, fight our fears, beg Hashem to save us from this awful terrible horrific person and his armies and his police. We will have to beg very hard. Hashem will save us.

    He will save us, and then will come Pesach and we will be a tattered bunch of tired people when we sit around the Seder table, with Matzoh and wine miraculously provided for us by Hashem and we will beg Hashem to save us. We will beg Hashem. We will beg Hashem to bring the Geula Shelaima. On Shvii Shel Pesach we will hear the Shofar. We will hear the Shofar and on Leil Haseder each house will see Eliyahu Hanavi, all the Jews that are Emesdik will see him and it will give us strength, but it still won’t be the time of redemption. I can’t go on farther than that to explain, but when we see Eliyahu Hanavi we will know that very soon this terribly long Golus will be over, and we will be finally free. From that moment on, there will be more and greater wars. There will be false prophets and false messiahs, but we will hold on to Hakodosh Boruch Hu and to the seed of Dovid Hamelech, to our Moshiach Tzidkainu, our true Moshiach. He will reveal himself and we Motzai Shviis will walk into the Bais Hamikdosh and be Makriv Korbonos and be happy and be dancing with the greatest joy ever felt in the whole world, even though around us two thirds of the world will have been destroyed, and very few Yidden and even fewer Goyim will survive.

    I have been given permission to reveal to you these future events in order to give Am Yisroel strength and courage to get through these very difficult times. I beg Am Yisroel from the bottom of my heart to feel that every Jew is responsible for the other Jew. Every true Jew feels responsibility for another Jew, feels that he wants to do Chessed for another Jew. That’s how you know he’s really a Jew. I love Am Yisroel so much that just saying it makes me cry, and I beg you please make it easy on yourselves. Come back to Hashem. Take away the Gashmius which is so senseless, all the toys, all the adult stupid toys, all the videos, all the things that make us waste our time and instead put our efforts into growing spiritually. The best way to grow spiritually is when times are difficult. We don’t want times to be difficult, but we must use the future hard times to help us grow. Please let us put our hearts and our souls and our strength, into growing even though around us will be death and destruction. Please keep growing. Please keep coming closer and closer to Hakodosh Boruch Hu.

    Q: Do we have to be afraid of the ISIS?
    A: That group of murderers were created by the Reshoim to frighten the world. They have no real tangible strength. It’s all a farce and the Europeans definitely don’t want them around and probably will try to get rid of them as fast as possible. However they will go underground and they will cause destruction in the world because they as individuals can blow up hundreds of places in Europe, America, not only the Mideast. As an army they aren’t an army. They are just a group of vicious people. They are using the scare tactics of chopping peoples’ heads off, Lo Aleinu, or murdering them in other terrible ways to make people afraid, but don’t pay attention to them. It’s all not something real. Yes people are killed and they are very vicious, but they have no strength and Hashem will destroy them.

    There is nothing to add right now. I’m giving you kind of a preview. Up to now we the autistics, have written many things and they’ve all come true, however, we never really gave a timeframe because people still had to schlep through many years without this kind of Chizuk. There was no point in giving a timeframe, because people would say, “Oh well we still have ten years, so let’s just party until then. We have time to do Teshuvah!” There’s no time now, so let’s do it now now, now!

    There is one more thing I want to say. In the next near future the State of Israel, the Medina is going to crumble. It’s already crumbling from its own decadence. That is what’s going to happen IY”H. Very soon the chaos is going to rage here until the Goyim take over. Then Moshiach will take control from the Goyim and the Geula Shelaima will begin Be’ezras Hashem.