‘All right, we’re putting out a paper’

Mordecai Chertoff recalls the deadly bombing of ‘The Palestine Post.'

ChertoffMordecai311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski/The Jerusalem Post)
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski/The Jerusalem Post)
Mordecai Chertoff remembers the deadly bombing of The Palestine Post building in Jerusalem 62 years ago like it was yesterday.
That may be because, for the former Post staffer, who served in both the Hagana and the IDF while living here during the birth of the state, the ensuing years have melted away since he made aliya from the US two years ago, at age 86.
“At 24, nothing can happen to you. You’re immune to every illness, every bullet,” Chertoff told The Jerusalem Post this week, reminiscing about the time when his life story and Israel’s history ran on the same path without a road map.
That immunity includes surviving unscathed the deadly explosion of a five-ton British army truck planted by Arab terrorists on February 1, 1948, outside the Post’s offices on Rehov Hasolel (now Rehov Havatzelet), just off Zion Square. The blast killed four people, including three Post employees, wounded several dozen, and destroyed the two adjacent buildings.
“I remember that Marlin Levin, an editor, was sitting in someone else’s chair who had gone to Tel Aviv that day. When the explosion came, a piece of metal from the window came flying across where Marlin would have usually been sitting. It would have taken his head off,” Chertoff said.
One employee died immediately, and Chertoff said that two others later succumbed to their wounds.
After taking care of the wounded, he and other staffers made their way to Café Atara on Rehov Ben-Yehuda, where deputy editor Ted Lurie’s wife, Tzila, gave them hugs and coffee.
“Then she said, ‘All right, we’re putting out a paper.’
“The newspapermen came, shlepping typewriters, and we sat and wrote thepaper from memory. And it came out the next morning about six, seveno’clock, only two pages.
“By the end of the week we were back to normal size,” Chertoff said.
Read the full account of Chertoff’s experiences in the Hagana, the IDFand The Palestine Post, and his return to Israel 60 years later, inMonday’s Yom Ha’atzma’ut supplement.