P. 155

We had a very clear picture of what was going on with them," Herzog summarized in his memoirs. At the beginning of the War of Independence, a network was operated from the building for listening in on Arab leaders, which provided important information regarding the preparations of the Arab side. In the interest of proper disclosure, it should be noted that back then "everybody listened to everybody" and it was known that the British were wire-tapping telephone calls to and from the National Institutions Building, and that they had at least one "mole" in the building. We know from British sources that they used to wire-tap the calls of Moshe Shertok – the Head of the Agency's Political Department, who was staying in New York during the struggle for the establishment of the state - to his office in Jerusalem and were able at least once to tap an important conversion between him and the Chairman of the Executive, David Ben-Gurion.
Even before the November 29 Resolution, the National Institutions Building bustled with activity. Meeting and discussions were held upon the assumption that the UN resolution would be affirmative and that they must prepare for the establishment of the Jewish State. A big headline from "Haaretz" read on November 12, 1947: "Preparations for Managing the Affairs of the State." The news item reported that the Executive of the Jewish National Council had convened the Council Plenum at the National Institutions Building in order to plan, jointly with the Executive of the Jewish Agency, the interregnum period towards establishment of the state, assuming the British would depart and that there may be an emergency period.
The Jewish National Council Plenum also approved a special fundraising campaign to finance the special expenses that would be entailed in establishing the state, or as the Chairman of the Jewish National Council, David Remez, put it: "for fortifying the defenses." The campaign received the name "the Mobilization and Rescue Campaign." It was also decided to establish a "Security Committee" with the Jewish Agency. The two chief rabbis, Rabbi Herzog and Rabbi Uziel, also participated in the discussion. Rabbi Herzog called for good relations between the underground organizations and Rabbi Uziel encouraged "the doubters and those standing on the sidelines" to join those who believe that redemption was nigh.
Among the decisions made was an appeal to Agudat Yisrael to join the unified effort to establish the state: "On the verge of establishing our independence, we call upon all circles of the Yishuv and invite Agudat Yisrael to reexamine its position. The unity shall be established and none should be excluded – as this is the day we have hoped for!"
After the historic resolution of the UN and the tremendous joy in the courtyard of the National Institutions Building, Ben-Gurion ordered Yisrael Zabludowski (Amir), Commander of the Jerusalem District on behalf of the "Haganah," to pay special attention to the security of the National Institutions Building, as it was the nerve center of the Jewish Yishuv in the Land of Israel and of the "Haganah". However, life – so it seemed – had returned to normal. That is how we can explain the special discussion that was held in Ben-Gurion's office on November 30, 1947, which was related and unrelated to the historic UN resolution.

   153   154   155   156   157