Member of Knesset Reuven Rivlin (Likud-Beyteinu) said, Sunday evening, that Irgun militia leader Menachem Begin was torn up by the fledgling Israeli government's shelling of the Irgun weapons ship Altalena in June of 1948. Speaking at a memorial event for those who died in the incident, the former Knesset speaker said that the future prime minister took a step that few leaders could take by saying, "There will be no civil war."
Rivlin said that Begin might be considered too soft and moderate and even irrelevant, with a Diaspora mentality by today's standards, but he understood that a civil war would have meant the end of the state of Israel. Rivlin concluded, "For me, the call 'Not another civil war' was Menachem Begin's declaration of the establishment of the state of Israel, and bowed to its laws, even at the price of his liberty and the freedom of many under his command. That is the legacy of the Altalena, a relevant and timely heritage which compels us now as much as ever."