Ze’ev (Venia) Hadari-Pomerantz

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Ze'ev (Venia) Hadari-Pomerantz was one of the founders of the Dimona nuclear reactor.

In a 14 November 2004 email titled "Nazi-Judeocide abused to justify Israel's nuclear capacity", written as a comment on this Ha'aretz article, Shraga Elam wrote of Hadari as follows:

Venia Hadari knew that the Zionist leadership actually abandoned the European Jewry during the Nazi era. He was e.g., very frustrated because the Jewish Agency leadership sabotaged the Joel Brands mission in 1944 and with it the chances to save a large part of the Hungarian Jewry. Hadari had a direct knowledge about this scandal as he brought personally Brands message to Ben Gurion. It is a great pity that the lesson out of one crime was to create another one.

The Ha'aretz article cited above described Hadari as follows:

Ze'ev Hadari ... was born in 1916 in a small village near Lodz, Poland. He immigrated to Israel as a pioneer in 1935 and joined the Labor Battalion, an attempt to promote the development of the Jewish state through establishing a workers' commune. He worked at a potash factory at the Dead Sea and was one of the first people to join the Palmach strike force of the pre-state army, the Haganah. In 1942, when he was 26, Hadari was sent by the Haganah to Istanbul to make contact with Jewish communities in Europe and try to save them from the Nazis.

Hadari was also involved in a failed attempt at rescuing 1 million Hungarian Jews by making a deal with Adolf Eichmann, the senior SS official, to provide trucks in exchange for saving the Jews. Since then, Hadari struggled with his conscience over whether he could do more to save the Jews of Europe. "The two years he spent in Istanbul marked him with a tragic personal seal," said Hadari's son, Yuval Hadari. "It was a wound that didn't heal. These were the roots of his future actions."

Those actions are primarily related to Israel's nuclear initiative. After Ze'ev Hadari returned to Israel in 1944, he was sent to Marseilles, where he was one of the leaders of the Mossad's Aliyeh Bet operation, which organized illegal immigration of Jews from Europe to Palestine and purchased weapons. In the 1948 War of Independence, he served as a regular soldier and was wounded in his hand. After the war, Hadari told then-premier David Ben-Gurion that he intended to dedicate himself to what he thought would assure the existence of Israel: nuclear technology. To that end, Hadari began studying chemistry at the Sorbonne in Paris in 1950, when he was 36. "Within four years, he went from having a certificate of completing yeshiva to earning a doctorate in chemistry, with honors," said Prof. Ze'ev Tzahor, one of the conference initiators.

International pressure

Between Hadari's return to Israel in 1955 through 1970, he was one of the central figures in establishing the Nuclear Research Center in the Negev - the Dimona reactor - and recruited young students, who were sent to learn physics, chemistry and engineering in France. Hadari was one of three people on the nuclear reactor's planning board, and in 1957 he returned to Paris to study more about "what is permitted and what is forbidden," said his son. From 1960 on, Hadari worked at the reactor and ran its chemistry and metallurgy laboratory. It was as though Israel's nuclear policy were cast in the image of Hadari and his colleagues: daring and audacious, visionary and cunning, and above all, secretive.

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