P. 156

The Agency Executive had convened in order to make a fateful decision regarding "illegal immigration": Whether to permit the two largest Aliya Bet "illegal immigration" ships, "Pan York" and "Pan Crescent," which were about to depart Romania with 7,500 "illegal immigrants" on board each, to sail or delay them, since their sailing could undermine the political efforts to leverage the UN Resolution. The member of the Executive Moshe Shertok, who was in New York, firmly demanded that the ships be delayed, while his colleague Moshe Sneh along with all the heads of the "Mossad LeAliyah Bet" insisted that the flood of "illegal immigration" cannot be delayed and that the sailing must be permitted.
Following a preliminary discussion of a six-member subcommittee from among members of the Executive, a decision was finally made at the end of that dramatic day, November 30, 1947, to delay the sailing at present. The decision was supported by David Ben-Gurion, Golda Meyerson, Yitzhak Gruenbaum and Moshe Shapira. The two objectors to the delay were Moshe Sneh and Eliyahu Dobkin. We may assume that for Dobkin, who for years was the "Minister of Aliya for the Nascent State," the issue of Aliya to the Land of Israel was of paramount importance under any circumstances, including the current sensitive situation.
In the afternoon, while the expressions of joy continued in the courtyard of the National Institutions Building, Ben-Gurion left the building via the rear exit and travelled to the High Commissioner's mansion. The conversation with the Commissioner was quite cold. According to Ben-Gurion, Sir Alan Cunningham did not congratulate Ben-Gurion for the historic resolution, but reported dryly that the Arabs complained before him on the excessive joyousness of the Jews following the resolution of last night and that the British soldiers participated in these expressions of joy. Ben- Gurion made several requests from his interlocutor. For example, that the Jews be allowed to establish their own broadcasting station in Tel Aviv. The Commissioner denied the request. As for the other requests, he refrained from answering and said he must make consultations.
Ben-Gurion returned to his office in the National Institutions Building, dedicated an hour to writing down a summary of the meeting and then travelled to Tel Aviv. Anyone who examines the things he wrote in his diary in the following months, the first period of the War of Independence, could easily discover that as the war expanded, Ben-Gurion preferred to manage it from his Tel Aviv office and from his home. He seldom arrived in Jerusalem. His trips to Jerusalem in his car, which was accompanied by a convoy secured by Palmach members, provided fascinating reading material on the manner in which the convoys were organized, the shooting incidences in which they were involved and life in Jerusalem during the first period of the partial siege.
5708-1948 was one of the hardest years that Jewish Jerusalem experienced. For the entire year, the city was literally in the line of fire. It turns out that even before November 29, there was an atmosphere of war in the city. Parts of it had been turned into fenced and fortified "security zones" by the British, including the Rehavia Neighborhood, near the National Institutions Building. These areas were derisively called "Bevingrads" by the Jews, in honor of Ernest Bevin, the British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs who was hostile to the Jews and Zionism.

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