Dahn Ben-Amotz

Dahn Ben-Amotz
Dahn Ben-Amotz

Dahn Ben-Amotz in Sdot Yam, 1946
Born Moshe Tehilimzeigger
April 13, 1924
Rivne, Poland
Died October 20, 1989
Jaffa, Israel
Occupation radio broadcaster, journalist, playwright, author
Nationality Israel Israeli
Period 1950s–1980s

Dahn Ben-Amotz (Hebrew: דן בן אמוץ‎, born Moshe Tehilimzeigger on April 13, 1924, died October 20, 1989) was an Israeli radio broadcaster, journalist, playwright, and author, as well as a former Palmah member. Despite having immigrated from Poland in 1938, he was often considered the epitome of the "Sabra", a native born Israeli Jew.[1][2][3]



Tehilimzeigger was born in 1924 in Rivne (then in Poland, now in Ukraine), and was sent to the British Mandate of Palestine by his parents in 1938.[1] His parents died in the holocaust.[2]

In Palestine he attended the Ben Shemen Youth Village, where his counselor was Shimon Peres. He changed his name to Moshe Shimony and later changed it again to Dahn Ben-Amotz, feeling the latter had the right sabra sound. Reinventing his personal history to portray himself as a true native sabra, Ben-Amotz claimed to be an orphan who had relatives in some of the older Zionist settlements.[1]

In the 1940s, he served in the Palmah and joined the Palyam during the 1947-1948 Civil War in Palestine,[3] but spent the years of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War in Europe as a national emissary. After the war he worked for a short while as a Paris correspondent for Israeli papers. He then traveled to the United States and went to Hollywood. He made friends with Marlon Brando and Blackie Dammett, Anthony Kiedis's father, and had a small part in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951).[1]

In the 1950s he returned to Israel. He was the star of the radio show "Three Men in a Boat", a weekly satirical review that became the country's most popular show, and wrote regularly for Israeli newspapers.[1] In 1956 he published A Bag of Fibs with Haim Hefer, a collection of tall stories from the Palmah folklore, which gained cult status.[4]

Parents Meeting (1962) was semi-autobiographical short story about the hardships of the new immigrants in an Israeli boarding school in the Yishuv. The screenplay for the movie Siege (1968), in which he also acted, dealt with the difficulties that a war widow faces in militaristic Israeli society. In 1972 he published his dictionary of Hebrew slang, which he co-wrote with Netiva Ben Yehuda. The novel Does Not Give a Damn (1973) told of a soldier who was wounded in battle and his rehabilitation efforts. His novel To Remember, To Forget (1968) revealed some autobiographical motifs – the protagonist is a young man who lost his family in the Holocaust and attempted (by changing his name) to re-create himself as a true sabra.[1]

In the 1980s he was diagnosed with liver cancer. When his disease became known to the public, he also brought to light the truth about his personal history. He made a much-publicized trip to Poland that included a tour of Auschwitz.[1] On April 8, 1989, he held a farewell party at the "Hamam" club in Jaffa, to which he invited 150 acquaintances. The invitees included Amos Keinan (a former rival), Amos Oz, Meir Shalev, Gila Almagor, Yaakov Agmon, Shlomo Artzi, Yosef Lapid, Yehudit Ravitz and Nurit Galron. After the party he made a trip to the US, to say goodbye to his children from his first marriage.[5] He died in 1989 in Jaffa and was survived by two sons and two daughters.[2] His funeral was held on October 22.[5]

On January 11, 1992, journalist Amnon Dankner published a biography of Ben-Amotz, in which he argued that Ben-Amotz had incest with his mother when he was thirteen. He also claimed that in his last years, Ben-Amotz had forced himself on underage girls he would pick up in Jaffa. These claims led to a police investigation against some of Ben-Amotz's friends. The book stirred a scandal. Some saw it as exploding the myth of Dan Ben-Amotz, while many of his relatives, who were also Dankner's friends, threatened to file a libel suit against him and broke off contact with him.[6]

In 2005, he was voted the 140th-greatest Israeli of all time, in a poll by the Israeli news website Ynet to determine whom the general public considered the 200 Greatest Israelis.[7]



  • Lizkor lishcoah. 1968; as To Remember, to Forget, 1968.
  • Lo sam zayin [Does Not Give a Damn]. 1973.
  • Ziyunim zeh lo ha-kol: Roman mafteah le-lo man'ul [Screwing Isn't Everything]. 1979.
  • Ziyunyune ha-derekh: Roman mafteah le-lo man'ul (sequel to Ziyunim zeh lo ha-kol ). 1980.

Short Stories

  • Arba'ah ve-'arba'ah: Sipurim [Four and Four: Stories]. 1950.
  • Sipurim poh sipurim sham. 1982.


  • Tefos kamah she-atah yakhol (Seret-metah-meforash) [Catch As Much You Can] (screenplay). 1975; as Mishak yeladim [Nothing to It], 1982.
  • Tel-Aviv ha-ketanah: Hizayon [Little Old Tel-Aviv], with Hayim Hefer. 1980.
  • 'Al 'akhbarim va-anashim, with Ehud Manor, adaptation of a novel by John Steinbeck (produced 1990).


  • Matsor [Siege], with Gilberto Tofano, 1968
  • Sheloshah yamim ve-yeled, with Uri Zohar and Amatsia Hiouni, adaptation of a story by A. B. Yehoshua, 1976.


  • Yalkut ha-kezavim, with Hayim Hefer. 1956.
  • Mah nishma' [What's New]. 1959.
  • Ekh la-'asot mah [How to Do What]. 1962.
  • Milon olami le-'ivrit miduberet [The World Dictionary of Hebrew Slang] (2 vols.), with Netiva Ben-Yehuda. 1972, 1982.
  • Yofi shel milhamah. 1974.
  • Keri'ah tamah; Sifrutek [Reflection in Time]. 1974.
  • Nashim kotvot le-Dan Ben-Amots: Bi-teguvah le-sefer "Ziyunim zeh lo ha-kol," with Varda Rasiel Jackont (correspondence). 1980.
  • Sipure Abu-Nimer [Stories and Fables from the Arab Folklore]. 1982.
  • Sefer ha-felots veha-shikhehah, with Donald Wetzel and Martin Riskin. 1985.
  • Kelil tif'eret ha-melitsah (dictionary and reader of 19th century Hebrew). 1986.
  • Ten hiyukh: Metav ha-kezavim she-lo hikhzivu ba-'itonut hatseva'it, with Ze'ev Anner and Dani Kerman. 1989.
  • Editor, with Shlomo Shva, Erets Tsiyon Yerushalayim. 1973.
  • Translator, with Amnon Dankner, 'Adif melafefon 'al hagever mi-pene she, by M. L. Brooks. 1985.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Kaplan, Eran (2002). "Ben-Amotz, Dahn". novelguide.com. http://www.novelguide.com/a/discover/rghl_01/rghl_01_00034.html. Retrieved September 5, 2008. 
  2. ^ a b c "Dahn Ben-Amotz, Israeli Author, 65". New York Times. October 22, 1989. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=950DE5DA133DF931A15753C1A96F948260. Retrieved September 5, 2008. 
  3. ^ a b "Dahn Ben-Amotz". The Institute for the Translation of Hebrew Literature. http://www.ithl.org.il/author_info.asp?id=46. Retrieved September 5, 2008. 
  4. ^ Rubinstein, Danny (June 12, 2007). "A Jersalemite enters a restaurant in India and orders a cup of tea". Haaretz. http://www.haaretz.co.il/hasite/pages/ShArtSR.jhtml?itemNo=866854&objNo=60104&returnParam=Y. Retrieved September 5, 2008.  (Hebrew)
  5. ^ a b Prosch, Tahel (October 20, 2008). "Dahn and I". Haaretz. http://www.mouse.co.il/CM.articles_item,1050,209,28829,.aspx. Retrieved October 20, 2008.  (Hebrew)
  6. ^ Gadot, Yifat (January 11, 2008). "On this day – The biography of Dahn Ben-Amotz". Nfc. http://www.nfc.co.il/Archive/001-D-151194-00.html?tag=13-52-09. Retrieved September 5, 2008.  (Hebrew)
  7. ^ גיא בניוביץ' (June 20, 1995). "הישראלי מספר 1: יצחק רבין – תרבות ובידור". Ynet. http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-3083171,00.html. Retrieved July 10, 2011. 

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