Eckstein Zeev, Shemer Dan, Menkes Yosef
much was heard about the two assassins and the people behind them, Menkes
and Cheruti. Eckstein, Shemer, and Menkes served jail time, until
Ben-Gurion pardoned them in a high handed, unconstitutional manner.
According to Israeli law, only a president can issue pardons. It is not
the purview of a prime minister. It was an intriguing tale of a
proprietary behavior that long-term power spawns. Barnea, a prominent
Israeli journalist reported that a new member of Kibbutz Sde-Boker latched
on to Ben-Gurion on his walks along the Kibbutz paths and pleaded to free
Menkes who otherwise would lose his sanity. Ignoring the vehement
objections of the then Justice Minister Joseph, through whose office such
requests must be by law channeled first and then recommended to President
Ben-Zvi. Ben-Gurion after cajoling Kastner’s young daughter and securing
her agreement in principle to free the three, disregarded all procedures,
high handedly shoving the law aside and arbitrarily stepping over all
safeguards and considerations involved in the clemency procedure. A
question arose whether Menkes’ violent and vengeful nature may kill again,
for example the judge who sent him to jail may be his next target.
Ben-Gurion battled with his reluctant Justice Minister who refused to put
his signature to the mockery, but who surrendered at the end. President
Ben-Zvi soon died in office and was replaced by Zalman Shazar, a willing
collaborator ‘who gladly’ legitimized the application. Thus Ben-Gurion
plowed ahead and had his way in setting the three free.
Within five months they were all out, not bad for a murder rap and a
political one at that. Eckstein, a former Shin-Bet operative, is known to
have worked in a Tel Aviv printing plant; there is no reliable information
about the others, including Cheruti who was practicing law at one time.
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