Yitzhak Rabin’s First Peace Negotiation (and Necktie)

The twentysomething officer had never been abroad nor worn a suit

“I have had enough of diplomacy and politics,” declared Yitzhak Rabin.

Just prior to his 27th birthday, the modest red-headed lieutenant colonel was abroad for the first time, reluctantly part of the Israeli negotiating team on the Greek isle of Rhodes.

Dr. Ralph Bunche, who would receive the Nobel Peace Prize the next year for his efforts, had brought together Israeli and Egyptian military leadership on the island to work out an armistice agreement in early 1949.

Dr. Ralph Bunche, 1949

Two days into the talks, the Israelis realized they needed a representative from the southern front. Its commander, Yigal Allon, had refused to go. Allon’s protégé, Rabin, also strongly preferred to stay in Israel, where the fighting continued.

Both men had served with distinction as part of the Palmach, the elite fighting force which Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion had recently disbanded, its troops integrated into the newly formed Israel Defense Army (now more commonly referred to as the “Israel Defense Forces” or “IDF”).

Yitzhak Rabin (second from left) and Yigal Allon (center) with other Palmach commanders, 1948. Courtesy: GPO

Palmach fighters had prided themselves in a particular ideology that was in many ways antithetical to the “textbook” conduct of a professional military. In the Palmach, chains of command were blurred, the pageantry of military life nonexistent.

Even after ranks were introduced to the IDF in the summer of 1948, Rabin and others wore them sparingly. The concept of a dress uniform was foreign, unnecessary and disdained.

Despite his reservations, the young Rabin was sent to join the small Israeli delegation at the luxurious Hotel des Roses.

The Hotel des Roses

With the exception, perhaps, of Allon himself, Rabin was certainly the most qualified man to represent the interests of the southern front at the talks, possessing an intimate and battle-worn familiarity with the terrain.

Perhaps most importantly – from Allon’s perspective – Rabin would faithfully promote the strategic interests the two felt most critically needed to be represented and defended in such discussions, especially as they strongly disagreed with many of the opinions held by the others already in Rhodes.

As the front’s deputy commander and chief operations officer, Rabin was quickly stepping out of Allon’s shadow.

Deputy southern front commander and chief operations officer Yitzhak Rabin (left) with his commander and mentor, Yigal Allon (right). Courtesy: The Palmach Photo Collection

In Yitzhak Rabin: Soldier, Leader, Statesman, Itamar Rabinovich explains that around the time of the talks in Rhodes, Rabin “began to be seen on his own as a first-class military planner, the officer who meticulously mapped out the major operations in the south and then supervised their implementation.”

After years of dreaming of a return to the agricultural life for which he’d trained as a teenager, Rabin’s trajectory as a career soldier had now become quite clear. Still a few years shy of 30, he had already achieved one of the highest ranks in the IDF (even though he preferred not to wear it on his sleeve), and was now preparing for his first appearance on the international diplomatic scene.

Never having needed one, he had no dress uniform for the occasion, though, fortunately, one was procured for him.

Recently, another Israeli military official had needed formal attire for a meeting with King Abdullah of Transjordan. For that occasion, a soldier had been dispatched to a Tel Aviv thrift store where he purchased a used World War II American dress uniform, which – now all but threadbare – would be worn by Rabin to meet the Egyptians and United Nations mediators in Rhodes.

A necktie would also be necessary. This, too, Rabin had never worn, nor did he know how to tie (or untie) one.

Yitzhak Rabin, early 1940s. Courtesy: GPO

Walter Eytan, the director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry and head of its delegation to Rhodes had a spare British-knit khaki tie which he gave to the young officer. Though different stories about the necktie were told over the years, it seems that a number of people, including Eytan, fellow Palmach fighter Yeruham Cohen, and even Rabin’s driver, all tried to teach him the proper way to tie a tie.

Rabin was quite dexterous and had once intended to study hydraulic engineering, yet he famously had trouble mastering the necktie at the Hotel des Roses.

Ultimately, the story goes, his driver graciously tied it for him, leaving it loose so that it just had to be tightened in order to show up to meetings and dinner looking presentable.

“I was terrified of the prospect that the knot might come undone,” the future prime minister later recalled in his memoirs.

Despite the assistance, no one had explained how to properly loosen or remove a necktie, and when he went to the hotel’s barber and was asked to take the tie off, Rabin struggled mightily, eventually forcefully yanking it over his head.

Top Egyptian negotiator Colonel Seif a-Din, with whom Rabin had become friendly, witnessed the event with astonishment. The prime minister would later muse that the distinguished Arab officer probably thought at the time: “What kind of savages am I dealing with here?”

Members of the Egyptian delegation to the negotiations in Rhodes, including Colonel Seif a-Din (third from left)

Following initial coldness and Egyptian refusal to speak directly with the Israelis or even sit in the same room as them, the two sides would not only come to engage with one another in the context of the official negotiations and the barbershop, but would also socialize between meetings, often playing billiards, a game Rabin first learned (and reportedly mastered) at the Hotel des Roses.

Before boarding the UN charter flight to Rhodes, Rabin had been instructed by his mentor Yigal Allon to accept nothing less than a full peace and to not allow Egypt to retain the territory which would become known as the Gaza Strip.

In his first international diplomatic role, the man who would serve as ambassador to the United States before becoming prime minister reportedly said nothing in any of the official meetings between the sides, though certainly not because he didn’t have anything to contribute to the conversation.

In fact, he served as an active and critical adviser behind the scenes, so important in that capacity that when he asked to leave the island after becoming disillusioned with the direction of the negotiations, General Yigal Yadin refused to let him go.

Rabin (right) and other members of the Israeli delegation to Rhodes study a map, 1949. Courtesy: GPO

A number of factors likely contributed to Rabin’s mute presence at the official meetings.

In his comprehensive Hebrew-language biography of the Israeli leader, historian Yossi Goldstein proposes a few reasons, including Rabin’s introverted character, his poor English at the time, his respect for the more senior members of the delegation and – perhaps most significantly, according to Goldstein – the disagreements he had with his colleagues.

He himself recalled being “hardly enraptured by the charms of diplomatic ‘give and take'” at the time.

Nonetheless, according to Rabinovich, who served as Rabin’s ambassador to the United States and chief negotiator to Syria in the 1990s:

“This first experience in diplomacy and negotiations had a lasting effect on Rabin. The lesson he drew from the Rhodes negotiations was that it would be wrong for Israel to negotiate with a group of Arab states because the radical parties would force their line on the others. He would always try to negotiate with one Arab party at a time.”

Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin welcomes King Hussein of Jordan to Israel following a peace treaty between the two countries, 1994. From the Dan Hadani Archive, Pritzker Family National Photography Collection at the National Library of Israel (Photo: Gideon Markowicz)

As the agreement with the Egyptians was being finalized, it became clear that while some of Rabin’s suggestions made their way into the document, especially with regard to the demarcation of armistice lines, neither of Allon’s two primary objectives had been achieved.

Disagreeing with the prime minister and other senior members of Israel’s leadership, Rabin concurred with Allon in his prescient belief that without securing these demands, war would simply break out again in the not-too-distant future.

Prior to the signing, Yitzhak Rabin boarded a flight home, unwilling to be a part of something he viewed as strategically perilous for the future of Israel and eager to help Allon secure control of the Negev.

Continued border tension and four more wars would take place between Israel and Egypt before a comprehension peace treaty was finally reached 30 years later.


Many thanks to Ambassador Itamar Rabinovich for generously contributing his time and expertise.

This article has been published as part of Gesher L’Europa, the National Library of Israel’s initiative to share stories and connect with people, institutions and communities in Europe and beyond.

The Children of ’73 Write About the Yom Kippur War

Letters written by Israeli children during the 1973 war reveal how they experienced one of the nation's most challenging periods.

Photo by Eli Landau, the Dan Hadani Collection, the Pritzker Family National Photography Collection at the National Library of Israel

Today, forty-seven years after the Yom Kippur War, they are well into their fifties and sixties. Back then, in the fall of 1973, they were only schoolchildren, young boys and girls. To find out what they remember from that time, we can simply ask them, most are still with us. To know what they felt and thought in real time, when the events actually happened, we must read their letters.

The war caught not only the Israeli army and government off guard, but also the nation’s press. This included a number of newspapers and magazines intended for children. Two days after the war’s outbreak, on October 8th, Davar Leyeladim (a weekly children’s supplement of the Davar daily) published its Sukkot holiday issue. The only mention of the war was a short item at the top of the first page. It began with the words: “With the closing of this issue, on the eve of Yom Kippur, a fourth war broke out between Israel and its neighbors: the Syrian army crossed the border in the Golan Heights and the Egyptian army crossed the Suez Canal. Fierce battles are being waged on land, at sea and in the air.”

Plainly, there was an attempt to reassure young readers and present Israel as in control of the situation—even before the fog of war had lifted: “The Israeli home front has been called up and everyone has gone out to do their duty. At the time of writing, the IDF, with supreme heroism, is blocking the enemy’s advance and the both the Syrian and Egyptian armies are suffering heavy losses. News from the front lines is still vague, [and here there appears a quote from Defense Minister Moshe Dayan who predicts that “there is no doubt that the war will end in our favor!”].

The cover of the October 8th issue of the children’s supplement, Davar Leyeladim, made no mention of war…

The October 8th issue of the Haaretz children’s edition managed to update its readers further, but even there the news filled only a single page. In it, readers learned of the “small and insignificant” achievements of the Arab armies, “considering the fact that the enemy struck the opening blow.”

“Considering the fact that the enemy struck the opening blow, their achievements were small and insignificant.” – One page was dedicated to the war in the October 8th issue of the Haaretz children’s edition

Subsequent issues presented a more complete picture of the war’s events, in greater detail—with emphasis on the soldiers and their stories. Nevertheless, most of the issues maintained their pre-war format and regular sections, including serial fiction, children’s songs and even jokes. The section relevant to our discussion is “Haaretz Shelanu Readers Write” published in Haaretz Shelanu (“Our Country”), a children’s weekly.  There we learn that despite the intention of keeping up a routine even during the country’s most difficult moments, the war clearly consumed the thoughts of the nation’s children.

The first time we hear these children’s voices is the third week of the war, in Haaretz Shelanu’s October 22nd issue. In the letters from readers we hear the paralyzing fear caused by the fighting. Anat Gavrieli from Tel Aviv wrote: “Dear editor, I know there is a war. The Egyptians surprised us and ambushed us. I feel uneasy. There are real sirens, [not just drills]. Instead of going down to the shelter, I stay at home, seized with fear. On radio and television—all the time its war . . .  I am glued to the radio like a snail to its shell. I hope and pray that there will be peace and that the war will end in peace.”

Alongside the striving for peace, we find quite a bit of anger over the surprise attack: “Dear editor, the Arabs are cowards! We are not! Our enemies thought to defeat us during the day of fasting and prayer, but they soon learned that despite the fast we were ready to fight for our very right to fast and pray in peace. Our victory is assured, because our fight is a fight for life,” wrote 10-year-old Liora Binyamin of Haifa.

“…immediately, a siren went off. I put my sister Maya in the carriage and went downstairs. I played with her in the bomb shelter…Many thoughts went through my head. When the all-clear was given, they asked me: ‘Why are you always daydreaming?’ I didn’t answer…Hagit Kanev, #55 Tchernichovsky Street, Haifa”

Fear, longing for peace and anger also appear in later issues, alongside the simple questions and thoughts of the children. When the sirens sounded, Hagit Nakav and her sister went down to a bomb shelter in their apartment building in Haifa. To pass the time the two played, and “suddenly I thought: there in the north they are fighting, and here am I sitting and playing.” In the midst of the chaos of war and anguished concern for brothers and fathers fighting for their lives, Meirav Bieber, 10, from Raanana, sent a question: “In wartime, like now, what happens to the animals at the zoo? Are they put in shelters, or left in cages? And if they are left, what happens if a bomb falls on them? It’s animal cruelty!”

Comparisons between Israel and its enemies in the war focused on the question of sanctity of life. The children writing to the newspaper wrote decisively, as Anat Kasavi from Nahariya put it: “They, the Arabs, do not care at all about their people! If one falls, ten replace him. This is not the case with us! 658 dead after a week of fighting, from our very best! I don’t want our people to die, and I don’t want our enemies to die!”

”I don’t want our people to die, and I don’t want our enemies to die!… Anat Kasavi, #45 Herzl Street, Nahariya”

Many of the young letter writers wrote about life on the home front in the shadow of the war. Ella Tamar from Tel Aviv wrote about the war’s silent, overlooked heroine—the bereaved mother. Twelve-year-old Ella chose to link the figure of the bereaved mother to stories from the Bible, and held the patriarch Abraham’s heroism on a par with the grieving mothers, adding, “When the farmer sows his fields he knows he will soon reap the harvest. Yet these mothers will not reap theirs; they will not see their sons grow up and witness the fruits of their labor. The war prevented that. “

“When the farmer sows his fields he knows he will soon reap the harvest. Yet these mothers will not reap theirs; they will not see their sons grow up and witness the fruits of their labor…Ella Tamar, 12 years old, #47 Frishman Street, Tel Aviv”

With the announcement of the ceasefire, the country’s children turned once again to expressing their longing for peace. Gadi Marcus from Tel Hashomer wrote, “I think in my heart how awful war is. Apart from the many casualties, there is a lack of a workforce on the home front. Everything must be done for peace.”

With the fighting ended, the young writers were able to think about their enemies’ motivations for going to war. Talia Nur, 12, from Bat Yam, thought the surprise attack by the Egyptians and Syrians stemmed from a sense of loss of confidence after Israel’s decisive victory in the Six-Day War of 1967, and claimed that the “arrogance and dismissiveness” that characterized the Israeli attitude ahead of the Yom Kippur war was “not the right way to estimate the Arabs.” Eleven-year-old Ronit Hagai from Ramat Gan wondered: “Maybe most of the Arabs did not want to fight, and it was only the leaders who incited them?”

“Arrogance and dismissiveness is not the right way to estimate the Arabs….Talia Nol, 12 years old, #22 Rabbi Kook Street, Bat Yam”

Some of the writers responded to other children’s letters, such as seventh grader Galil Ben-Dor from Gvat: “Even though the Arabs were forced to retreat, they were not broken. Do not think, Liora, that we are braver than the Arabs.”

“Even though the Arabs were forced to retreat, they were not broken. Do not think, Liora, that we are braver than the Arabs…Galil Ben-Dor, 7th grade, Gvat”

The contributions of the Israeli youths themselves to the war effort were also occasionally mentioned, such as in this letter published in the November 26th issue:

“We worked in the gardens, washed cars and more, and collected 1210 Israel liras. We hope such acts will help us win this difficult war…Shani Herzberg and Yonah Davidovitch, 8th grade, Brandeis School, Herzliya”

With the war’s end and the rise of public debate on what was immediately dubbed “The Fiasco,” the youth displayed an impressive engagement in current affairs. Was it Dayan’s fault? Should the entire government take responsibility? Should the ruling party receive the blame? The figure of Motti Ashkenazi soon came to the forefront. Ashkenazi was a reserve officer whose personal campaign against the Israeli leadership’s failures surrounding the war became a public protest movement. Who was in the right—Dayan or Ashkenazi? What were the limits of legitimate criticism? These questions riveted the attention of children who were only ten or twelve years old. Even if their words echo those of their parents and other adults around them, their preoccupation with and articulation of the issues appears very mature today. Here are some excerpts:

“Motti Ashkenazi is nothing but a chatty parrot, who shouts and screams as he marches around the Knesset. And it is shameful for the State of Israel that a man who speaks so much nonsense is not stopped!… Ilana Zohar, Beer Sheva”

“It is possible that Moshe Dayan is culpable for what happened, but in fact we are all flesh and blood, every person can make a mistake, but he certainly didn’t do it on purpose. Therefore we must understand him and logically consider his actions in the correct way…Melli Herbst, #30 Uziel Street, Ramat Gan”

“Ruthi, you yourself wrote that Israel is a democracy, and that includes freedom of expression. So why shouldn’t Motti Ashkenazi express himself publicly?…Varda Harif, #22 Tirza Street, Ramat Gan”

“The people elected Moshe Dayan 6 years ago, and now, because of the war’s fiascos, support for Moshe Dayan has waned. Motti Ashkenazi demands that Dayan resign, and rightfully so. Moshe Dayan, as the minister responsible for state security, must bear the consequences…Noam Ben-Ozer, 10 years old, Kibbutz Gan-Shmuel”



This article is based on a previous article by Ioram Melcer.

When David Ben-Gurion Met the Chazon Ish

A summary of the ideological debate between Zionism and ultra-Orthodox Judaism can be found in one meeting held in Bnei Brak way back in October of 1952

Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion at the entrance to the home of the Chazon Ish in Bnei Brak. Press photographers were not allowed to enter the meeting room.

This morning I went to Bnei Brak for a meeting with the Chazon Ish. The press thought it to be a sensational visit, and I encountered crowds along the way and around his house. A group of his followers waited outside and in the nearby rooms. Yitzhak Navon was the only one who came in with me. I asked him the question to which I have yet to receive a sufficient answer from my observant friends. We are divided in different ways; in the matter at hand we are divided by our views of religious tradition. There are Jews like you and like me, how do we live together? How will we become a unit?

(From the diaries of David Ben-Gurion, October 20th, 1952)

There are some battles that seem to last for an eternity. Such was the meeting between two of the most prominent figures of the Jewish people in their generation. The encounter took place on October 20th, 1952, between Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, and one of the leaders and shapers of ultra-Orthodox Judaism in Israel, Rabbi Avraham Yeshaya Karelitz (commonly known as the Chazon Ish).

On that fateful evening in the rabbi’s humble and austere Bnei Brak apartment, the prime minister, his assistant (and future Israeli president) Yitzhak Navon and the leader of the tiny ultra-Orthodox community in Israel crowded into the living room and sat down for a discussion. The prime minister opened with the ever so pertinent question: “How will we, religious and non-religious Jews, live (together) without exploding from within? We have different views. How do we live together?”

Rabbi Avraham Yeshaya Karelitz, the Abraham Schwadron Collection at the National Library of Israel

It seemed the answer given by the Chazon Ish was prepared ahead of time. He referred to a well-known Talmudic parable about two camels travelling down a narrow path, one carrying a large burden and the other carrying nothing. According to Halacha, Jewish law, the rabbi explained, the unburdened camel was to make way for the one carrying the burden. The Chazon Ish left no room for interpretation and explained the parable himself: We, the ultra-Orthodox community, bear the burden of the Torah and its commandments. Therefore, the non-religious Zionists must defer to us and move out of our way. Ben-Gurion, not exactly the leader to cower in front of anybody, promptly replied: “And what of the absorption of immigrants? What of security? What of establishing the State? Are these not burdens?”

It soon became clear that the two men held completely different views. Though Ben-Gurion acknowledged the grave importance of studying the Bible, he wanted the ultra-Orthodox community to contribute to and become integrated with the state in the making. The Chazon Ish was appalled at what he saw as the desecration of the Sabbath and the Zionist rejection of the yoke of the commandments – the burden of the practicing religious Jew. He believed that recreating the world of the Torah that was destroyed in the Holocaust was the only thing that could save the Jewish people.

At the end of that meeting, the Prime Minister’s Office issued the following press statement:

PM D. Ben-Gurion met privately with Rabbi A. Y. Karelitz (“The Chazon Ish”) in Bnei Brak yesterday. The purpose of the visit was to exchange general views regarding the following issue: How can observant and non-observant (Jews) live together harmoniously in the State of Israel? The question of recruiting women (to the army) was not discussed and the visit had no relation to current political matters.

“Ben-Gurion Meets With the ‘Chazon Ish'” – A report in Maariv on the momentous meeting, published on October 20th, 1952

Contrary to the report, the meeting was much more than a “general exchange of views.” The prime minister made a gesture towards the ultra-Orthodox community by agreeing to continue the exemption of a limited number of Torah scholars from military service. As early as February 1948, before the State of Israel had even been formally established, a limited number of young ultra-Orthodox men were exempted from being drafted into the armed forces, which were already fighting in what would come to be known as Israel’s War of Independence. On January 9th, 1951, the prime minister ordered the Israeli army’s chief of staff to exempt yeshiva students from regular service. Ben-Gurion’s meeting with the Chazon Ish did not set the ground for the current ultra-Orthdox exemption from military service, but it did give the controversial early arrangement a substantial political boost, and equally significant – symbolic support.

When Jews From the Land of Israel Vacationed in Lebanon

There was a time when Lebanon's coastal cities and snowy peaks were leading tourist destinations for the Jewish residents of Mandatory Palestine

From the Ephemera Collection at the National Library of Israel

As a result of the famous Sykes-Picot agreement, a line was drawn in the Middle East, separating Israel, Transjordan and Iraq, which were given to the British, and Syria and Lebanon, which were given to the French. This border wasn’t as inflexible as the modern boundaries we know today. Though tensions certainly existed, these were mainly felt between the various ethnic and religious groups of the region, Arabs and Jews among them. When it came to relations between the respective governments that ruled Mandatory Palestine and Lebanon (and Syria), ties were in fact quite cordial: merchandise was sent from one place to the other, the railways laid down by the Ottomans connected distant lands, and most importantly – people traveled freely across the region.

As a result, just as Jewish merchants moved between Jerusalem, Damascus, Halab, and Beirut during the days of the Ottoman Empire, citizens of Mandatory Palestine – both Jews and Arabs – continued to visit their northern neighbors while living under British rule. The local tourist industry in particular, flourished during this period. Lebanon was considered a fascinating and attractive destination: its southern shores, the vibrant metropolis of Beirut and the beautiful snow-capped mountains – a rare sight in the Middle East. The Hebrew press and bulletin boards were filled with advertisements appealing to the Jewish readers to come and relax in Lebanon.


From the Ephemera Collection at the National Library of Israel

Hundreds of enticing illustrations and advertisements were frequently published in the papers. Ads promoting the country’s many hotels emphasized the cool, almost European weather and the cedar trees viewable from one’s window. These tourist establishments were often given French names to increase their prestige in the eyes of the holiday goers. Just like ads common to this day, they emphasized the short distance from the hub of Beirut, and promised lavish accommodations at affordable prices.


“Gather strength and health in Lebanon – Gaiety and comfort at low cost”, from Do’ar Hayom, June 14th, 1935


An ad promoting the Grand Hotel Casino at Ain Sofar, promising the latest modern appliances – an elevator, central heating, kosher European cuisine, 5 o’ clock tea – all supervised by “Viennese management”, for just 55 francs per day. From Do’ar Hayom, July 29th, 1934

What else attracted potential Hebrew tourists? Ski! In the arid Land of Israel, there weren’t many snowy places to engage in this popular European hobby, but in Lebanon, winter sports flourished, even in springtime. Ski instructors were brought in from Europe, and the promise of enjoying snow so close to home attracted many.

An ad promoting ski trips to Sofar, Lebanon, with two Swiss ski instructors, from Do’ar Hayom, March 5th, 1935


The snowy peak of Jabal Al Barouk in the Chouf Mountains, Lebanon, 1929. From the archives of the Hebrew Reali School of Haifa, the Bitmuna Collection

So let’s say you decided to spend your summer vacation in Lebanon. How would you get there? You could take the train of course, but why settle for that? Tourists were invited to board one of the ships departing from the port of Haifa and stopping at various ports en route to Beirut, and beyond. You could also choose to travel by bus – these departed from the central bus station in Tel Aviv. The Egged Museum still holds travel tickets to these exotic destinations. And for several hundred Palestine pounds (liras), you could even take a taxi from Haifa.

From the Ephemera Collection at the National Library of Israel


On the way to Baalbek, 1929. Photo: Jenka Ratner, the Bitmuna Collection

Of course, you could choose to spend your vacation on an organized trip. The travel company would take care of everything. That way, you could be sure not to miss any significant destination or attraction. Where did these tourists visit? It was unheard of to complete a trip to Lebanon without a tour of the coastal cities, driving up to the Lebanese mountains, and last but not least, visiting the ancient ruins of Baalbek.

An ad promoting a 10-day organized trip to “Lebanon, the Alawite State and Syria”, including stops in Beirut, Tripoli, Aleppo and Damascus. From the Ephemera Collection at the National Library of Israel

Without doubt, Lebanon was considered an attractive, intriguing destination for many. In the 1930s, competition was so fierce, that hotels even enticed Jewish holidaymakers with the promise of kosher food. Hebrew newspapers published advertisements for acquisitions or partnerships in these hotels, and lectures on the geography of Syria and Lebanon were often given by senior lecturers, educators, and geographers of the Hebrew community in Mandatory Palestine.

An ad listing Lebanese hotels offering kosher meals, from Ha’aretz, July 1st, 1935


Apparently, the practice was so widespread, that summer trips to Lebanon were still being promoted during the early days of the 1936–1939 Arab revolt.  However, it seems as though during this period, some of the hotels went bankrupt. A hotel in Metula at the northern tip of the Land of Israel named itself “The Snows of Lebanon” (Sheleg-HaLevanon) and invited the local holiday-goers to its premises, instead of spending money abroad, in such times of hardship.

The Snows of Lebanon Hotel in Metula, the Bitmuna Collection

Adverts about trips to Lebanon were advertised even during World War II, although after the Germans conquered France, enemy soldiers were stationed in Syria and Lebanon. However, after Lebanon gained independence in 1943, travel resumed, although to a lesser extent, due to the escalation of the Jewish-Arab conflict in what was still Mandatory Palestine.

An ad from 1945 advertising an organized week-long trip to Syria and Lebanon. From the Ephemera Collection at the National Library of Israel

Of course, the War of Independence and the establishment of the State of Israel brought an end to this popular practice. And until we can resume skiing down the slopes of the Chouf Mountains, or sunbathing on Beirut’s beaches, we invite those of you who may recall a family trip to Lebanon, to tell us about it here in the comments, on Facebook, or Twitter.