So, you're in the army now

Daring missions, hostile troops... Ann Goldberg goes back in time, to fight for the foundation of Israel

November 9, 2010
Bunkered with your palmachnik peers, it all seems so real

Bunkered with your palmachnik peers, it all seems so real

Refugees from Nazi Germany, after their frightening sea trip on un-seaworthy, over-packed boats, arrive at the shores of Israel. Before they have a chance to mourn their massacred family, they are enlisted into the Palmach, the fighting force of the Hagganah underground army and start training to defend their new homeland.

This is the background to the Palmach experience designed by Orit Shacham Gover who, in her inimitable way, has created yet another powerful experiential museum which makes you, the visitor, part of the events you are watching.

Following a computerised path, you meet the seven young inexperienced recruits to the Palmach. You stand in a eucalyptus grove and listen to them discussing how to beat the enemy and watch them singing songs around a bonfire. Suddenly the heat hits you, as you follow them through the desert. At the same time you are watching real old news footage about events in which the real Palmach were involved.

You feel so involved with their life that when you sit around a radio listening to the UN vote on the Partition Plan for Palestine, it's almost as if you don't know the final result - the gathered crowd are all holding their breath together.

At one point you are on a boat carrying illegal Jewish immigrants and - flash! You're in total darkness and a strong British accent booms over the megaphone, telling you to surrender to the British forces who are boarding the ship.

If that doesn't shake you up, then wait until you are hiding with the Palmach on the Night of the Bridges when they blew up 11 bridges connecting Israel with her Arab neighbours...

Film displays incorporate genuine newsreels

Film displays incorporate genuine newsreels

As the War of Independence rages on, you sit watching screen after screen surrounding you, relating to all the different battles, returning all the time to your new friends, the Palmachnicks, as they contact each other, comparing battles stories and asking after missing comrades.

Inevitably not all our friends survive and the final scene is the funerals of those who fell, some with no known relatives to even inform of their death.

This new-style museum turns dry history into a real-life experience.

A section recently inaugurated shows even more of the true story behind the people who were recruited. Sometimes the hard, rough Sabra commanders didn't understand how the Jews of Europe could have allowed the Nazis to slaughter millions of our brethren without a real fight and this led them to be less than sympathetic to their European recruits straight off the refugee boats.They sometimes made light of the orphan refugees' nightmares and fears and there was often friction, fights and bad feeling that are not shown in the original museum experience.

This section was added to show the real problems that the fledgling state experienced among its fighting forces who came from such vastly different backgrounds. The museum directors are to be commended for going the extra mile for authenticity.

Book your tour on 00 972 3 643 8393

Last updated: 3:20pm, November 9 2010