Nimrod Lampert was the first child born on Kibbutz Maabarot, near Netanya. A few years before the massacre in Kafr Qasem, he decided to leave. He was 18 and "pleased to be drafted," says Lampert, now 74, "because I knew I would not return to the kibbutz, even if that was considered a betrayal." Lampert went into the army in 1953 and served in the Artillery Corps and the Armored Corps. "I had it pretty good in the army," he says. But Lampert acknowledges that he absorbed many values in the kibbutz, primarily from his father, which influenced his worldview.
Certainly, Lampert's moral conscience was functioning very well just after the outbreak of the Sinai War, on October 29, 1956. Then a lieutenant in the Border Police, he was posted with his platoon at Kafr Bara, an Arab village close to the Green Line. The unit's order was to impose an early curfew in the village and enforce it rigorously, shooting to kill any villagers found outside their homes. But when they encountered villagers who were on their way home from the fields and did not know about the curfew, Lampert and his men did not shoot. Their buddies, however, who were enforcing the curfew in neighboring Kafr Qasem, did open fire, murdering 47 innocent civilians.
"Why didn't I shoot? That is a question," Lampert says today. "After all, I was ordered to shoot anyone who violated the curfew and was outside. I didn't shoot because I didn't feel that these villagers were the enemy. Even though I was just a kid, about 22, it was clear to me that it was wrong to shoot civilians, and that the order was illegal."
In every conversation we had, he spoke about his late father, Fishel Lampert, who was one of the founders of the left-wing Hashomer Hatzair Zionist movement in Romania and a founder of Kibbutz Maabarot. "I was born in 1934 in Wadi Hawarath, a settlement site of the kibbutz founders in a malaria-ridden marsh area, next to the village of the Hawarath tribe [of Bedouin]. From childhood I remember my father's house as being rich in books. My parents set up the beehive in the kibbutz and worked there. Dad also taught and engaged in social activity, as a socialist who was not as extreme as others. My parents lived in the kibbutz until the day they died. They had two children: I am the elder, and I have a sister, Ada, who is a psychologist and a researcher."
After completing his army service with the rank of lieutenant, Lampert - who did not return to the kibbutz - worked in a tobacco factory. Afterward he worked with new immigrants on behalf of the Jewish Agency, and in the summer of 1956 decided to enlist in the Border Police. "I thought I would be able to rise through the ranks," he explains. "As an officer, I took a short course at Shfaram and became a platoon commander."
On the eve of the war, Lampert recalls, his company, under the command of Captain Haim Levy, was posted to the Ramle police station. "I was in Ramle with my buddies, the platoon commanders Arye Menashes, Binyamin Kol and Gavriel Dahan. We went on patrols, set ambushes and guarded the border. The border with Jordan was especially porous."
On October 29, a few hours before a battalion of paratroopers was airlifted to the Mitla Pass in Sinai as the prelude to an Israeli-British-French operation against Egypt, the commander of the Border Police battalion, Major Shmuel Malinki, called his officers in for a briefing. The time was 1:30 P.M. Malinki told his men that a war was imminent and that the battalion had been seconded to a brigade under the command of Colonel Issachar Shadmi. Its task: to impose a curfew on eight Arab villages beginning at 5 P.M. The troops were told to shoot to kill anyone who ventured outside after the curfew. Company commander Yehuda Frankenthal (later Talmor) asked, "What should we do with the casualties?" Malinki replied, "They are not to be treated." Platoon commander Menashes: "What about women and children?" Malinki: "Without sentiments, the curfew applies to everyone." Menashes tried again: "What about people who are coming home from work [and don't know about the curfew]?" Malinki replied: "Allah yarahmum ["God have mercy on them," in Arabic] - that is what the brigade commander said."
Lampert did not ask any questions, but understood the mission well. "Malinki was a right-wing extremist," Lampert says. "When he organized the briefing we knew there was going to be a war. He said the villages were to be placed under full curfew and that it would be desirable to have a few people killed in each village on the first evening, because that would make it easier to maintain the curfew and help us carry out the mission in the days ahead. I don't remember the exact words, but the idea was for 10 people to be killed in each village."
The sector assigned to Levy's company included Kafr Qasem, where the officer in charge was Lieutenant Gavriel Dahan; Arye Menashes was responsible for Tira and Binyamin Kol for Jaljulya. Frankenthal's company was responsible for four villages: Taibeh, Kalansua, Bir al-Sika and Ibtan. Like all the country's Arab citizens, the residents of these villages had been living under a military government regime since Israel's establishment and were under night curfew from 9 P.M. until 6 A.M.
"Everyone went to his village. I and the soldiers in my unit came to the village of Bara," Lampert recalls. "The first thing, at 10 minutes to 5, I went to the home of the mukhtar [the village headman]. He was an elderly man. He heard me out when I said a war was going to start and that from that night the curfew would be moved up and would start immediately. He told me that people from the village would be coming back later. He mentioned an old man who was due back at 7 that evening. I did not promise him anything on that occasion, but in my heart I decided that I would not open fire. I thought it was inhuman to shoot innocent people. An old man arriving in a cart from Petah Tikva - how could I shoot him? It was clear to me that this was contrary to Malinki's order. It was also clear to me that Malinki's order was effectively to murder people in cold blood. I could not countenance that, and when the time came to implement the order, I couldn't do it."
Lampert was summoned to testify at the trial of the murderers who gunned down the Kafr Qasem residents. He agonized over that, he says now. "I had to prettify my testimony a little and not attack my buddies. You have to understand, it wasn't pleasant for me. They were my friends and I knew that what I would say would hurt them and that I would be sending them to jail. It was very hard for me."
Who were your buddies?
"Gavriel Dahan was a friend, and like me was a platoon commander in the same company. I knew his men and their sergeant, Ofer, and suddenly I was facing them in a courtroom, with their lawyers cross-examining me. It wasn't easy." The judges in fact believed Lampert and termed him an "honest and reliable witness." In his testimony he stated that he delayed the start of the open-fire order until 5:15 P.M. and allowed all those returning to the village and others to enter their homes. At 5:15 he ordered the squad commanders "to open fire at anyone who leaves his house and at anyone who returns to the village."
But at 6 P.M., the soldiers brought him a 15-year-old boy who had returned to the village with a few sheep. The soldiers wanted to know if they should kill the boy. Lampert decided not to shoot the young shepherd, and sent him home with an armed escort. The old man on the cart arrived at 7 from Petah Tikva. Lampert went out to meet him. According to his court testimony, he "agonized severely" over whether to kill him, but in the end sent him home, again with an armed escort. "There was an order that it was my duty to implement, namely the order to kill anyone who was discovered outside his home," he told the court. Why, then, did he not follow the order? Lampert explained to the court that this was an elderly man whom the mukhtar had asked him to spare, and he had pondered the matter, because "feelings change, and what can I do."
The court president, Judge Binyamin Halevy, noted in the judgment that Lampert's honest testimony showed that "his decisions were not the result of an ordinary decision over executing an order, but the result of human inhibitions and feelings that clashed within him over the battalion commander's order to kill everyone who was outside."
You say now that you prettified the testimony for the sake of your friends. In what way?
"When I was asked in the trial why I did not shoot, I replied that I had the feeling that these people were not an enemy. How dangerous could a boy coming from the fields be? In the trial I had, as it were, to justify myself for not shooting. I was told, 'No one was killed in your village - how do you explain that foul-up?' The defendants' lawyers pressured me: 'After all, your order was to shoot.'"
Lampert says that his direct superior, Levy, the company commander, walked a tightrope: he did not repeat Malinki's order, but he also did not change it. "Levy may have been smart, he just made the rounds of the platoons. When he got to me he asked, 'Well, not one person has been killed here? In other places people have been killed.' I replied: What to do - should we take people out of their homes and shoot them? 'No, no,' he replied. 'Act at your discretion.' He told Binyamin Kol, who was in charge of Jaljulya, the same thing."
Between 8 and 9 that evening, Levy spoke to Lampert over the radio. "He asked me, 'Did you hear what happened in Kafr Qasem? Something terrible. There are many dead. Get over there and report your findings to us.' He is the company commander, but he sends me to see what happened there. I got in the jeep and drove to Kafr Qasem. When I got there I thought I was going to pass out. There was no one there - only dozens of bodies scattered everywhere. The local Arabs were afraid to leave their homes and treat those among the wounded who still had a chance of being saved. They were afraid because the curfew was still in force and they were not allowed to go out."
Where were Dahan and Shalom Ofer and the other soldiers?
"The army took them that same evening. I walked around alone in the village with dozens of bodies all around. I called Arye Alexandroni, Malinki's deputy, who was in Ramle. He was a charming person. I told him what had been done in Kafr Qasem and he said, 'Stay where you are, I'm on my way.' And he arrived and dealt with the matter."
What did he do?
"He spoke with the mukhtar and allowed residents of Kafr Qasem to leave their homes and treat the wounded. Alexandroni called in more Border Police personnel and also got help from the army. Ambulances arrived and took the wounded to Beilinson Hospital [in Petah Tikva], and trucks came to load the dead. It was very difficult to shake off the sights. Dozens of wounded and killed. It was absolutely horrible. I stayed in the village until 11 P.M., until the wounded had been evacuated and until people were brought from Jaljulya to dig graves.
"Next morning I went back to Kafr Qasem. The army allowed one representative from each family to be present at a kind of funeral. The burials were held under controlled and restricted conditions, and guarded by soldiers and members of the Border Police."
Why didn't you shoot, if that was the order?
"These people were residents of the country. Maybe it had to do with my kibbutz education, which [emphasized] a humane approach. It was a left-wing education of Hashomer Hatzair. Nowadays I don't like the extreme leftists; I have the feeling that that they are against the state. Still, when I look at the education I received - for equality, honesty and decency, and to help and look after others - it definitely came into play in that horrific incident. I am not capable of killing a fly, so am I going to shoot human beings?"
How did your father react?
"He thought that my action was enlightened and honorable, and that this was not surprising behavior coming from kibbutzniks. But Menashes and Kol did the same, and they were not kibbutzniks. The most extreme behavior was that of Gavriel Dahan."
Why didn't you talk about the episode all these years?
"People who do the right thing do not deserve a prize. People should act properly by their nature. The others should get hell. That is my approach. I don't think I was an exception. The exceptions were those who laid into the Israeli Arab citizens out of hatred. Hatred for Arabs. They were the exceptions. But I don't want to flaunt what I did, or boast. It was absolutely not an act of heroism. The truth is that I repressed the event. I was not in contact with anyone in all the years afterward. I was invited as a guest of honor to a memorial event in Kafr Qasem, but I didn't go."
Did Dahan and your other friends forgive you?
"During the trial they were very angry with me for not doing what they did. I felt that, and they also told me so to my face. During the trial we spoke during the recesses. Dahan said I had acted wrongly. You are not a real man, he said. In the sense that I did not shoot. I also received threats on my life. For two years after the trial I received telephone threats. I did not go to the police or do anything else. You can't judge people who have been hurt."
After witnessing this terrible massacre, what did you do?
"Nothing special. I was already married, and I told my wife about the atrocity. The truth is that I wasn't very pleased with the Border Police anyway, and after the Kafr Qasem incident I wanted to leave immediately, but they wouldn't let me. It took a year before I left."
Lampert's dream was to make money. He opened a car-rental company in Tel Aviv with the assistance of bank loans. In the 1970s he worked for a bank, and after taking a course became an investment consultant. He advanced to the position of director of the bank's investments unit and from there it was a short step to opening his own consulting firm, which he managed until he retired. "I made money," he says. "I would not describe myself as a millionaire, but I have reserves."
The good German cop
Binyamin Kol, a widower of 77, lives alone in a spacious apartment in Ramat Gan. He is a chiropractor. He has friends, and he likes to host them and cook for them, even though he is not in peak health. Hanging on the kitchen wall is his Border Police combat ribbon, framed. But the photographs from that period are in an old cardboard box, unframed and unbound. In one of them he is seen in uniform next to his commander at the time, Haim Levy. In another, dated 1957, he is seen in the annual Israel Defense Forces (IDF) parade, with the unit being led by Yehuda Frankenthal. Kol was only 25 in 1956, but already had a rich life behind him. He was born in Germany to a Jewish mother and a Catholic father. When his father refused to divorce his mother after the Nazis came to power, he was sent to a labor camp on the Rhine. Binyamin remained with his mother in Cologne and attended a Jewish school, part of a complex that included a teachers college and a synagogue. He recalls Kristallnacht ("Crystal Night") well.
"It was in November 1938. I remember smoke covering the city. When I came to school there was a German, or rather Nazi, policeman at the gate. He was not a fanatic, and you could say he was actually a good person. He looked at me and ordered me, in a tough but also soft tone of voice, 'Run home fast, boy.' From that moment my whole life went awry." Kol also remembered that moment on the night of October 29, 1956, when he was the commander of a platoon in Jaljulya.
The curfew had taken effect at 5 P.M. "The workers started to arrive from the fields," Kol relates. "It was already after 5. I informed the soldiers over the radio that I would fire a few bursts in the air. There was quite a large group of workers there. I fired in the air and shouted in Arabic - 'Yallah, go home fast' - just like the German policeman who warned me on Crystal Night. I shot in the air and they ran. It was like that the whole way. My soldiers copied me, but without shooting, because I forbade them to shoot. They shouted, 'Imshi, yallah, al-beit' [go home right away]."
From 1939, Kol attended school in a Catholic monastery and took part in the prayers there. He and his mother also ate there in return for a token payment. Cologne, an industrial city, was bombed heavily by the Allies. Buildings in which Kol and his mother lived were destroyed and they had to find other apartments, but somehow they managed to hide until 1943, when two policemen showed up and ordered them to start packing for a transport to a concentration camp the next morning.
Kol, who was not yet 13, took the initiative and started to plan their escape. He and his mother left the city separately. After reuniting they lived at first in the home of a farmer, then continued their odyssey and lived and worked on another farm. "We wandered through Germany like that until 1945 and reached the Czech border." Toward the end of the war they were reunited with his father.
Binyamin's parents wanted to stay in Germany, but he wanted to leave, even though he was not a Zionist. He thought of going to the United States, but a Jewish soldier in the British Army piqued his curiosity about Palestine. He joined a preparatory group of children and youth, and reached Palestine in May 1947. The group was housed in Kibbutz Hulda, near Rehovot. When the War of Independence erupted, Kol left and joined the Palmach commandos. After completing his army service in 1950, he married. His parents, who immigrated to Israel in 1949, lived in Pardes Hannah, and the young couple moved in with them until they managed to buy a place of their own in the Ramat Amidar neighborhood of Ramat Gan. Kol joined the Israel Police in 1952, served as a policeman on the beat in Tel Aviv, then took a course and was appointed an official investigator, authorized to appear in court. At this point, Yehuda Frankenthal suggested that he join the Border Police.
On October 29, 1956, Kol was present at Malinki's briefing. "When he gave the order to shoot anyone who violated the curfew and so forth, Alexandroni got up and said that the villagers in the fields would not know that the curfew had been moved up, but Malinki silenced him. Alexandroni was older than the others, about 45, and he had been friendly with Arabs from the time he was on the Petah Tikva police force. He was connected with intelligence and was experienced."
When did you and your unit go to Jaljulya?
"In the afternoon. I took my squad commanders, we got into a jeep and went on patrol. We had to safeguard the road to the east, so I was given two British-made Humber Armored Cars with guns. We patrolled and we divided the forces. After I got back from the patrol I told the soldiers: You open fire only if someone opens fire at you."
In other words, you violated Malinki's order.
"I am a gentleman of the court; after all, I appeared in courts."
Kol sent the villagers who arrived from the fields to their homes. "All this took about an hour, maybe more. By now it was dark. At some point, Haim Levy, the company commander, gave me an order over the radio: 'Take your platoon, go to Kafr Qasem and impose order there.' The first thing I saw was a boy hiding between tires on the back part of a truck. I took him out of there, hugged him and told him in Arabic, 'Don't be afraid.' I saw people's bodies lying next to the truck. Shalom Ofer was standing off to one side. As far as I could make out, there were no wounded people there, and after a time the police arrived and took command."
Kol recalls Gavriel Dahan as an affable, good-looking young man whom no girl could resist. "I was in his mother's house," he says. "They were a good family, cultured Moroccans, and they also spoke good French. Dahan lost control. There are moments like that in battle. In fact, a whole platoon lost control there. Even the Circassian soldiers, who are Muslims, shot Arabs there. Some of Dahan's soldiers abhorred Arabs. There were rumors that Shalom Ofer had been raped by Arabs as a boy and that everything spilled out of him that evening. Otherwise, Ofer was nice, a good guy."
Is that what you thought then, too, when you arrived in Kafr Qasem and saw the bodies?
"I understood that something had gone badly wrong in Kafr Qasem. During the briefing I already had a feeling there was something amiss, something that had come from above. Attorney Asher Levitzky [Malinki's lawyer] asked me what I had thought, and I replied that the police education I received helped me make a decision not to shoot innocent people, because that was against the law. Maybe it was my intuition."
Dahan's lawyer, Yitzhak Oren, put Kol on the stand. Like Lampert, Kol also chose to blur the facts in order not to hurt his friend Dahan. "I didn't lie, but I didn't tell the whole truth," he reveals. "I wanted to testify out of fondness for Dahan, so he would not be hurt."
What did you not say?
"I talked about how a commander can get into a situation of what Dahan did, and attorney Levitzky shouted that I was talking like a Jewish murderer. He threw his glasses to the floor. He had special glasses for this scene, in order to create drama. I said in my testimony - in order to cover for Dahan - that I did not know why I myself had not opened fire. I added that I too would have shot Arabs if I had been able."
Kol also testified that he "shot to kill in the village lanes, in accordance with the battalion commander's orders, but happened to miss." Concerning his testimony, the judgment said that he had gone far with conjectures replete with "verbal bloodthirstiness." He also testified that when he heard on the unit's radio about the growing number of dead in Kafr Qasem, he felt "envious" of Lieutenant Dahan, who had had the opportunity to execute the battalion commander's order. "It appears to us that Mr. Kol behaved with greater responsibility in implementing the curfew than in giving his testimony," the judges wrote.
"I wanted to help Dahan," Kol says now. "I was hardly envious of him. Gabi Dahan was a friend and I wanted to make things easier for him. You have to understand that had it not been the bit of experience I had, the same thing would have happened to me as happened to Dahan, because we received an explicit order to kill everyone after 5 o'clock. I remember that people came back from the fields and I let them go home."
Maybe you were envious of Dahan because he was handsome and liked by the girls?
"Nonsense. Dahan was a nice guy and I was like one of the family there. I did not consider what he did murder. As members of the Border Police, we shot Arab infiltrators trying to cross the border every day - we did not sit in front of typewriters and write tickets. On the one hand, we killed infiltrators and got prizes, but on the other we were tried as soldiers for murder."
Kol left the Border Police in 1968 and served in the regular police. He took a correspondence course in law from a college in Chicago, and in the 1980s went to Germany to learn methods for curing orthopedic problems.
An officer of stature
Platoon commander Arye Menashes also tried to evade executing the order he received. "I did not accept the order," he testified in court. Accordingly, in the briefing, he asked Malinki about people coming back from the fields. "I hoped the answer would be that they should be allowed in because they did not know about the curfew, or that they should be arrested outside the village." But Malinki replied, "Allah yarahmum."
Menashes said in his testimony: "I understood that the returning people were to be killed like violators of the curfew - 'Allah yarahmum' meant they had to be killed." When Menashes asked if the order also applied to women and children, he received a positive reply.
Nevertheless, as the judges put it, Menashes "behaved responsibly and with great sagacity, and allowed the very large number of people who returned to the village of Tira - the largest village in the southern sector - after 5 P.M. to get to their homes safely. Until dusk, the platoon commander acted on his own, but at 5:25, seeing that the flow of returnees to the village was not stopping, radioed the company commander, Haim Levy, to ask how to proceed. Levy replied that he should act in accordance with his judgment and understanding." Menashes took that as a go-ahead to violate the battalion commander's order. "I did what I wanted," he said in his testimony.
Of these moral decisions, the judges wrote that Menashes was "an officer of stature who did not submit to an inhuman order and did not implement it 'verbatim and in its spirit.' Menashes reached the conclusion that the primary goal was to impose the curfew and not to execute people."
Binyamin Kol remembers Menashes fondly. "He killed himself in 1974," Kol says, "but not over the affair. From what mutual friends told me, his personal life became entangled. He parted from his wife and then took his life."
Sweetening the order
The true hero of the story was Yehuda Frankenthal. This fact is also reflected in a 1994 play by the journalist Ruvik Rosenthal, entitled 'Malinki,' which was staged by the Habimah theater company. The play is about three days in the life of the battalion commander who gave the illegal order, over which a "black flag" flew, as the court put it. Rosenthal drew on the trial transcript and an in-depth study of his own, the results of which he published six years later in a book he edited, "Kafr Qasem: Events and Myths" (in Hebrew).
In the book he revealed details of "Operation Mole," a file in the IDF archives that is not yet open to the public. A few days before the war, the IDF considered the possibility of attacking Jordan as a diversionary move aimed at concealing the true plan - an invasion of the Sinai Peninsula. At the order of the chief of staff, Moshe Dayan, the IDF drew up a secret contingency plan, code named "Mole," to evacuate Arab residents from the homes in the Little Triangle - a group of Arab towns and villages near the Green Line in the center of the country - from Kafr Qasem in the south to Kalansua in the north, and place them in detention camps. According to rumors in the Border Police, if the need arose, the roads from the villages into the heart of Israel would be blocked and the Arabs directed eastward, into the West Bank, which was then part of Jordan. The ground, then, was ripe for war crimes, but in Frankenthal's sector the illegal order was not implemented.
Police Superintendent Yehuda Frankenthal died of a heart attack in 1973 at his home in north Tel Aviv. He was 49. Frankenthal was one of the two company commanders in the Border Police battalion, and in that capacity was present at Malinki's briefing. In his testimony, attorney Levitzky asked him whether an understanding of Malinki's order depended "on the comprehension and educational level of each of the listeners," to which Frankenthal replied bluntly, "Higher education was not necessary to understand that they [the Arabs who violated the curfew] were to be killed."
The judges noted that at the conclusion of the briefing Frankenthal sensed "excess enthusiasm by soldiers to carry out this mission." Accordingly, he immediately restricted the authority to open fire to commanding officers only, told his troops that the curfew would begin at 5:30 and not at 5, and prohibited shooting until late at night. In his testimony, he emphasized that his actions were dictated by conscience and by a fair attitude toward the Arabs as citizens of the country. "In a further briefing I changed the order, I sweetened it," he told the court. "I made it clear that since these people, who are returning [from the fields] are unaware [of the curfew time], we will get them into their homes and will not hurt them all through the night."
Frankenthal's deputy, Zvi Shtahl, testified that if Frankenthal had not changed the order, "the same thing that happened in Kafr Qasem" would have happened at Taibeh or Kalansua, Ibtan or Bir al-Sika. The judges complimented Frankenthal, noting that if the other company commander, Captain Haim Levy, had behaved the same way he did, the Kafr Qasem tragedy would have been averted. (Levy was not one of the accused in the trial, and his part in the affair did not adversely affect his career: after rising to the rank of commander of the Border Police, he became commissioner of the Prisons Service.) In three of the four villages in Frankenthal's sector, no one was hurt. In Taibeh, whose population was three times that of Kafr Qasem, an elderly man who did not heed an order to stop and instead started running through the lanes, was shot dead.
Frankenthal, who was born in Haifa in 1924, attended a state-religious school in Haifa, where, his widow says, he became a total heretic. He went to the prestigious Reali High School - he was in the same class as Ezer Weizman, the future president of Israel - and at a young age volunteered for the Haganah, the pre-state army of Palestine's Jews. He also married young, and by 1945 was already a father. The marriage did not last, and five years after his divorce he met Sara Carmeli, a widow whose husband, Binyamin, had been killed on the eve of Israel's proclamation. She had two daughters, who Frankenthal became father to, and in 1955 the couple had a son of their own, Avi.
Thirty-five years after her husband's death, Sara Talmor still gets emotional when she talks about him. "Yehuda was good-hearted, a warm, gentle person," she says. "He had a rare capacity to listen to others. He made decisions in an instant and stood behind them. The workers were late in returning from the fields, so does that mean they have to be killed? That is what bothered him. He deterred his soldiers from running amok against the Arabs. He was a great humanist, and not only because of the education he received in the Reali [school]. His father, Arye, influenced him a great deal."
After the massacre, she relates, her husband concealed "the trauma of Kafr Qasem. It was a masculine thing. He was not one of your whiners." Malinki threatened to sue him for failing to execute an order, she reveals. "The families lived in Netanya and were on friendly terms. We saw each other a lot and went out together. That all ended after the affair."
Avi Frankenthal confirms that his father rarely spoke about the Kafr Qasem episode. Osnat Masok, Sara's elder daughter, recalls the shock in the days after the massacre. "He was overwrought, but not depressed. He did not talk about it at the table, but there was a tsunami in the house."
In 1959, after the trial, Frankenthal joined the Mossad espionage agency and passed an intelligence course with flying colors. He was loaned out to the Prime Minister's Office that year and Hebraized his name, as was required at the time, to Talmor. "He took the 'tal' and added 'mor' and we were among the first with the name Talmor," his widow says. The family went to London, where he was posted, and afterward to Ethiopia, Italy and Greece. They returned to Israel 10 years later, and Frankenthal left the security sphere for the insurance business. According to his son, what others do in a lifetime his father did in three years. He then bought their home in the Dan neighborhood, in which he died.
The philosopher Martin Buber said of Frankenthal (in an interview with the newspaper Maariv) that he had saved Israeli democracy. Nimrod Lampert put it in a nutshell: "Frankenthal had extraordinary self-confidence. He saved a lot of people by preventing his men from shooting."W
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now