Netiva Ben-Yehuda

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Netiva Ben-Yehuda
Netiva Ben-Yehuda, 2008
Born(1928-07-26)26 July 1928
Tel Aviv
Died28 February 2011(2011-02-28) (aged 82)
Occupation(s)Author, Editor, and former soldier of the Palmach

Netiva Ben Yehuda (Hebrew: נתיבה בן-יהודה; July 1928, Tel Aviv – 28 February 2011) was an Israeli author, editor and media personality. She was a commander in the pre-state Jewish underground Palmach.


Netiva ("Tiva") Ben-Yehuda was born in Tel Aviv, in Mandate Palestine, on 26 July 1928. Her father was Baruch Ben-Yehuda, director general of the first Israeli ministry of education.[1]

Ben-Yehuda joined the Palmach at the age of 18 and was trained in demolition, bomb disposal, topography, and scouting.[2] Her duties included transferring ammunition, escorting convoys, and training recruits.

The Palmach generally opposed women fighting at the front, however Ben-Yehuda was a commander and participated in several battles by performing sabotage operations.[3] On February 11, 1948, Ben-Yehuda and her comrades planted a mine for a busload of Arabs. This event and the ensuing death impacted Ben-Yehuda psychologically.[3]

Ben-Yehuda considered competing in discus throwing at the Olympics, but a bullet injury to her arm kept her from pursuing an athletic career.[1] She studied at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem and Jewish philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Photo of Netiva Ben-Yehuda with Dahn Ben-Amotz from Palmach Archive

Ben Yehuda worked as a freelance editor, and in 1972 published The World Dictionary of Hebrew Slang. Between 1981 and 1991, she published her Palmah trilogy, a series of three novels based on her own experience in the War of Independence (see "Published works").[4] She wrote over 30 books, including a Hebrew slang dictionary, coauthored with Dahn Ben-Amotz.

She was the host of a late-night Israel Radio show for 14 years where she played old-time Israeli songs and spoke with callers.[5] She was a resident of Palmach Street in the capital, and the local cafe she patronized on that street became known as "Cafe Netiva."[5]

Ben Yehuda died on 28 February 2011 at the age of 82.

Awards and honours[edit]

In 2004, Ben Yehuda received the Yakir Yerushalayim (Worthy Citizen of Jerusalem) award from the city of Jerusalem.[6]


On the subject of the Palmach: "I don't think that there has ever been any other underground movement in the world in which 'male chauvinism' triumphed so powerfully and so proudly".[7]

Published works[edit]

  • The World Dictionary of Hebrew Slang (with Dahn Ben Amotz), Zmora Bitan, 1972 [Ha-Milon Le-Ivrit Meduberet]
  • 1948 – Between Calendars (novel), Keter, 1981 [Ben Ha-Sefirot], part of the Palmach trilogy
  • The World Dictionary of Hebrew Slang, Part 2 (with Dahn Ben Amotz), Zmora Bitan, 1982 [Ha-Milon Le-Ivrit Meduberet II]
  • Blessings and Curses (writings), Keter, 1984 [Brachot U-Klalot]
  • Through the Binding Ropes (novel), Domino, 1985 [Mi-Bead L'Avotot], part of the Palmach trilogy
  • Jerusalem from the Inside (novel), Edanim, 1988 [Yerushalayim Mi-Bifnocho]
  • Autobiography in Poem and Song (folk songs), Keter, 1991 [Otobiografia Be-Shir U-Zemer]
  • When the State of Israel Broke Out (novel), Keter, 1991 [Ke-She Partzah Ha-Medinah], part of the Palmach trilogy


  1. ^ a b Feldman, Yael (1 January 2000). "Hebrew Gender and Zionist Ideology: The Palmach Trilogy of Netiva Ben Yehuda". Prooftexts: A Journal of Jewish Literary History.
  2. ^ Pennington, Reina (2003). Amazons to Fighter Pilots: a Biographical Dictionary of Military Women. Westport: Greenwood Press. p. 51. ISBN 0313327076.
  3. ^ a b Pennington, Reina (2003). Amazons to Fighter Pilots: a Biographical Dictionary of Military Women. Westport: Greenwood Press. p. 51. ISBN 0313327076.
  4. ^ Feldman, Yael. "Netiva Ben Yehuda". Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. Jewish Women's Archive. Retrieved 4 April 2011.
  5. ^ a b Hasson, Nir (28 February 2011). "Radio Host Netiva Ben Yehuda Passes on at 83". Haaretz.
  6. ^ "Recipients of Yakir Yerushalayim award (in Hebrew)". Archived from the original on 2013-10-22. City of Jerusalem official website
  7. ^ Feldman, Yael S. (1 January 1999). No Room of Their Own: Gender and Nation in Israeli Women's Fiction. Columbia University Press. p. 177. ISBN 9780231111461 – via Internet Archive.

External links[edit]