Benjamin Telem

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Benjamin Telem
Born 1928
Dessau, Germany
Died 2008
Allegiance  Israel
Service/branch  Israeli Navy
Years of service 1950–1976
Rank Aluf
Commands held Commander of the destroyer INS Yaffo, Commander of the Israeli Navy
Battles/wars Suez Crisis
Six Day War
War of Attrition
Yom Kippur War
Other work Assistant to the Ambassador to South Africa, CEO of Israel Military Industries

Benjamin Telem (Hebrew: בנימין תלם‎) (1928 – June 16, 2008) was the 9th Commander of the Israeli Navy (1972–1976).[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Born Benjamin Blumenthal in Dessau, Germany, in 1928, Telem immigrated to Haifa, during the Mandate era, as a child in 1933. He attended the Haifa Naval School, joining the Palyam shortly after graduation. Later on in his career Telem would complete officer courses in England.

Career in the Navy[edit]

In 1956, during the Suez Crisis, Telem served as head of branch operations of the Navy, and shortly after the war, in 1957, was appointed commander of the destroyer Yaffo, a position he held for two years.

Telem also took part in the Six-Day War, the Cherbourg Project, and the War of Attrition as a Navy officer. In 1972 he was promoted in rank to Major General and elevated to Commander of the Navy.

Yom Kippur War[edit]

Telem's skill as Commander was quickly tested by the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Contrary to the opinion of others in the IDF intelligence, Telem insisted on preparing for the war, the outbreak of which came as a surprise to most in the Israeli establishment.[2][3] Although the war as a whole did not result in outright victory for either side, the Israeli Navy did not lose a single ship (while sinking multiple enemy ships) and only suffered three casualties.

After the Navy[edit]

Telem retired from the Navy in 1976. Then-Defense Minister Shimon Peres appointed Telem special assistant to the ambassador to South Africa, where he conducted several weapons deals.

In 1979 he left government service, and served as CEO of Israel Military Industries from 1980 until his retirement in 1991.

Telem died on June 16, 2008. An autobiography, "תלם בים" (A Trail ("Telem") at Sea), was published posthumously.[3]


  1. ^ Uri Dromi (June 29, 2008). הוליך את חיל הים לגדול בניצחונותיו [Navy leader to grow victories]. Haaretz (in Hebrew). Retrieved August 13, 2014.  Obituary.
  2. ^ Lerner, Adi (7 October 2011). "The Untold Story of Naval Heroism in the Yom Kippur War". Maariv (in Hebrew). Retrieved 7 October 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Oren, Amir. "First in war, last in peace". Haaretz. Retrieved 2009-10-07. [dead link]