Wednesday, January 31, 2007
The Ghost of Menachem Begin
Carter's animosity toward Begin has grown with time. He blames Begin for refusing to negotiate over the West Bank. Not only did this deny Carter a more complete peace deal, but, Carter believes, it also institutionalized itself in Israeli policymaking, worsening the Palestinians' plight. Since Begin took office on May 17, 1977, ending the Labor movement's hegemony in Israeli political life, Carter has repeatedly blasted Israeli prime ministers for what he terms the creation of a "horrible" and "terrible" state of affairs for the Palestinians in areas of east Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip.
The mistrust was mutual and began to surface before Begin's election. According to Eliyahu Ben-Elissar, then Begin's bureau chief, "Begin did not like [Carter's] March 1977 statement that the Palestinian refugees needed a homeland. None of us liked it. We resented it ... Begin considered it a major shift in U.S. policy."
Indeed, skepticism of Carter's intentions may have convinced Begin to take a harder line about the West Bank, which, in line with biblical terminology, he called Judea and Samaria. During his tenure as prime minister, Begin forbade the negotiation agenda to include the West Bank and those portions of Jerusalem that the Israeli government annexed after the 1967 Six-Day war. This refusal to negotiate became Carter's core disagreement with Begin. Carter realized that with Begin adamant against further concessions, he had no tangible item to offer to the Palestinians or other Arab leaders to reach a broader peace agreement. With Begin not offering a fallback position, Carter could not initiate a conclusive Israeli-Palestinian negotiating process. He never forgave Begin.
Intertwined in the dispute over the West Bank was the issue of Israeli settlements. Samuel Lewis, U.S. ambassador to Israel at the time, explained, "Begin would never consider admitting that the [Israeli] right to settle wasn't a right, and Carter, basically, was asking him [Begin] to agree that settlements were illegal." Begin refused. The subsequent expansion of settlements has further embittered Carter's relations with Israeli leaders and with Israel's supporters in the United States, whom he believes are willfully silent on the subject.
While Carter lauds Begin for his intelligence, a point he has repeatedly made when speaking to my students, his animus toward the late Israeli leader is limitless. This became evident when we were writing The Blood of Abraham, and Carter insisted on asserting that Begin "wanted to expand Israeli borders to both sides of the Jordan River." In fact, this is anachronistic. True, this had been Begin's view prior to Israel's independence in 1948, but it was not, as Carter implied, Begin's position after his twenty-nine years in the Knesset (parliament) or during his premiership. During chapter editing, I brought the error to Carter's attention. He declined to correct it.
During the difficult negotiations between Egypt and Israel, Carter and his advisers tried to get Sadat to engage in a collusive scheme: They would encourage Sadat to make "deliberately exaggerated" demands. The White House would then intervene to "compel" Cairo to scale back its demands in exchange for Israeli concessions. Then-national security advisor Brzezinski explained that Washington would "apply maximum leverage on Israel to accommodate," by keeping the West Bank's political future on the table for future negotiations. That Carter risked possible Israeli-Egyptian peace in an effort to extract greater concessions from Begin underscores the tension in their relationship.
In 1983, the first time Begin met Carter after both had left office, Begin was icy toward the ex-president. Carter surmised that he may have "aggravated him [Begin] more than usual." Begin's personal secretary later said Begin was angry with what he had learned in the books by Brzezinski and National Security Council staff member William B. Quandt about Carter's behind-the-scenes maneuvering. This anger grew after he read the claim in The Blood of Abraham regarding his alleged desire to expand Israeli borders across the Jordan River. On our 1987 trip to Israel, Begin refused to see Carter, citing health reasons, but Begin's personal secretary told me it was because of the way Carter had treated Begin.
Carter also blames difficulties with Begin for undermining his re-election. In early 1980, with the critical New York Democratic primary looming, Mondale urged Carter to repudiate the U.S. vote for U.N. Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 465, which had condemned Israeli settlement activity. According to Brzezinski:
Jewish voters swung heavily over to Senator [Edward] Kennedy, ensuring Carter's defeat. The set-back prolonged the Carter-Kennedy contest. Sadat did not want a final showdown on the Palestinian problem prior to the return of the Sinai to Egypt. Without pressure from Sadat, our own incentive to push Israel hard was much decreased. Begin proved himself to be a skilled manipulator ... adroit at delaying tactics and in diversionary public appeals ... by mid-June it was clear even to Mondale that Begin wanted Carter defeated.
According to Brzezinski, Carter believed his disagreement with Begin to have both cost him critical primary victories and to have weakened his re-election bid. But other issues—high inflation and mortgage rates, the Iran hostage crisis, a national sense of malaise, and the third party candidature of John Anderson—may have contributed more to Carter's loss.
 Author interview with Eliyahu Ben-Elissar, Jerusalem, Nov. 13, 1992.
 Remarks by Samuel Lewis, The United States Institute for Peace, minutes of a study group session on Lessons Learned from Fifty Years of Negotiating Experiences, Washington, D.C., Apr. 16, 1991.
 Carter, The Blood of Abraham, p. 42.
 Brzezinski, Power and Principle, pp. 242-7.
 Carter, The Blood of Abraham, p. 107.
 Author interview with Yahiel Kadishai, Begin's secretary (1977-83) and confidante, July 5, 1993, Tel Aviv.
 UNSC Resolution 465: "Territories Occupied by Israel," Mar. 1, 1980.
 Brzezinksi, Power and Principle, pp. 442-3.
January 31, 2007
Total Number of Visitors Since October 2004: 255,640
15 Years Since the Passing of Menachem Begin
The fifteenth anniversary of the death of Menachem Begin will be observed at various events on and around Thursday 22 February.
* An all-day seminar will be held at the Bar Ilan University's Wohl Center in cooperation with the Political Science department. The seminar will be under the direction of Prof. Efraim Inbar, head of the Begin-Sadat Center of Strategic Studies founded by Dr. Thomas O. Hecht of Montreal, Canada. The seminar is divided into three parts: Peace and Security; Society and Economy; and Democracy and Justice. Each has a high level panel to discuss the subject.
* A highlight of the commemorations will be the publication, in Hebrew, by the Aba and Sisel Klurman Research Institute of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center of a booklet that has been out of print for more than fifty years dealing with the vision and basic principles of Menachem Begin. It first appeared in serial form in 1951 in the newspaper Herut. Subsequently, it was published in booklet form. This booklet is on display in the Menachem Begin Museum and has aroused interest in many thousands of visitors. When this annotated edition of the booklet is released, it will be made available to universities, colleges, libraries, research institutes and bookstores at a very reasonable price.
* Several pre-military academies will attend lectures here at the Center on the subject of leadership and ethics.
* Walking tours in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem entitled In the Footsteps of Menachem Begin visiting a variety of sites where Menachem Begin lived and worked. Details of these tours will be announced.
* The Student Union at Hebrew University will be sponsoring a lecture at the Mt. Scopus Campus on Menachem Begin and the ethics of government.
Junior Knesset Featured on Israel's Channel 1
The first in a series of six programs showing the Junior Knesset in session in the Menachem Begin Heritage Center will be screened on Sunday 4 February at 4:20pm on Israel's Channel 1. The chapter will be repeated on Saturday morning at 10:30am. The six programs were filmed in the Menachem Begin Heritage Center's Reuben Hecht Auditorium where the Junior Knesset takes place. The participants are from schools all over Israel—Jewish and Arab, religious and secular, boys and girls. The program is entitled "HaNoar LaShilton" (Youths on the way to leadership). The program host is Uri Bannai.
"Saturday Night at the Movies"
The two women's organizations Amit and Emunah had a fundraising event at the Begin Center on Saturday night. This is the second time they have used the Center for "Saturday Night at the Movies" and hope to make it an annual event. Amit and Emunah are committed to helping disadvantaged children all over Israel, from those as young as toddlers to those already in their teens. This event previews films from young film makers from Ma'aleh, a film school, who are completing their studies. On Saturday night, two short films were shown, "One Too Many" and "Blinker," followed by a short talk by the producer of "One Too Many."
We are happy to announce the birth on 24 January of a son to Carmel and Gali Ganach and grandson to Debra (Silver) and Yossi Karta. Debra's late parents, Lily and Nathan Silver, were on the first Board of the Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation.
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We extend our warm Mazal Tov to Efrat and Elkana Efrati on the birth of their second daughter, Shaked. Elkana is on the staff of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center, where among other duties he organizes the Rohr Family Parashat HaShavua program.
We deeply regret to record the death at an advanced age of Yehuda Bilu, a leader of the Betar, fighter in the Irgun Zvai Leumi and a prominent figure in the Jabotinsky movement. He is survived by his wife Hana, his daughter Karni and son-in-law Dan Kav, by his son Dudi and his daughter-in-law Yael, and his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Yehuda and Hannah Bilu were among the early schlichim of Betar in South Africa where they had a profound influence on a significant number of young people who came on aliyah.
On the Radio
A very happy and excited radio listener informed the Begin Center that by coincidence she was listening to a Sunday night radio program and heard a Vietnamese man named Mr. Long speaking from the US in excellent Hebrew.
He said he was one of the "boat people" stranded in the Pacific Ocean whom Prime Minister Menachem Begin had ordered to be brought to Israel on the first day of his premiership in 1977. Mr. Long said that he and his family were running a "glatt kosher" restaurant and that they consider themselves Israelis.
v All memorial institutes around the world can come to learn from the Begin Center, Jerusalem, how to commemorate a great leader and keep his legacy alive. What you are doing here is absolutely unique. – Israel
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Heritage Center, Jerusalem
Volume 3, Issue 15
January 24, 2007
Total Number of Visitors Since October 2004: 253,465
Yitzhak Navon, 5th President of Israel,
Visits the Center for the 6th PM of Israel
President Yitzhak Navon, Israel's fifth President and his son Ophir, visited the Menachem Begin Heritage Center on Friday. They were received, briefed and accompanied on the tour of the museum and other facilities of the building by Herzl Makov the Director General.
President Navon was very impressed by the building and asked many questions about its development. He saw the Beit Midrash Menachem, the synagogue which is the basis for the Rohr Family Parashat HaShavua program and they saw the Reuben Hecht auditorium and were informed about the Junior Knesset program.
At various stages during his tour in the museum, where President Navon appears with Prime Minister Begin, there was an animated discussion as he recalled the episode and the events surrounding it.
At the conclusion of their tour, President Navon wrote the following message in the Visitors' Book:
A center rich in content and wonderful in form. A riveting project worthy of a magnificent personality. Begin's life story is intertwined with the chronicle of the nation's struggles, presenting his endeavors, his burning faith and his acts in a tangible and informative way. Thanks to those who initiated the project and to those who direct it. A special thanks to Herzl Makov for his informative explanations. With deep gratitude, Yitzchak Navon
The 2nd Annual "Elitzur" Memorial Lecture
The Reuben Hecht Auditorium of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center and an overflow area was filled to capacity for the 2nd annual "Elitzur" Memorial Lecture. In introducing the evening, the Chairman, Herzl Makov, Director General of the Begin Center and Harry Hurwitz, Head of the Center, paid tribute to the family of "Elitzur" Izchak Friedman for sponsoring this annual lecture thus keeping alive the tradition of heroism of Irgun fighters and leaders as an example for future generations.
He described "Elitzur" as a real "Unknown Soldier" as was Yoni Netanyahu, who served with great distinction in Israel's Special Commando unit, and rose, meteor-like, to international fame after the Entebbe Rescue operation.
That was the subject of a long, detailed lecture by Dr. Ido Netanyahu whose new book of nearly 800 pages has just been published by Yediot Ahronot. Dr. Netanyahu based his book on documents and interviews which captured the atmosphere and spirit of the time. He was critical of distortion in the media both about the actions of Yoni and about his own later writings about Entebbe, which he sought to clarify and to establish the historic truth.
Dr. Jonathan Friedman gave a brief introduction to the memorial lecture in honor of his father and Mr. Dov Eichenwald of the Yediot Book Publishing Division said it was a great honor for them to publish this important book.
Present in the audience were Prof. BenZion Netanyahu, the famous historian, and other member of the Netanyahu family, and members and friends of the Friedman Family. Prof. Moshe Arens, his wife Muriel and some guests were also in the audience.
Junior Knesset Fills the Begin Center
Last week, 260 students of Daphna Junior High in Kiryat Bialik, a suburb of Haifa, came to the Begin Center in Jerusalem to complete their semester-long Junior Knesset program.
After learning about the process of legislation, including preparation and the passing of a law and understanding the principles of debate and parliamentarism, the participants came to the Begin Center to engage in a "Knesset session" in which they debate and pass a law. This session was a simulation on the topic of freedom of the press.
The youngsters were well-prepared and enthusiastic throughout the process. During the committee discussions they were very animated and deeply involved. They were very passionate about the topic which encouraged lively debate in the Knesset session.
Dozens of young representatives of schools participated in debates under the auspices of Sia'h vaSig—The Israel Debating Society whose leaders, Asher Wyle and Ann Kirson Swersky, were present and judged the debating.
The best debaters will participate in further stages of national competition and winners will go on to represent Israel in English debating in South Africa for the World Schools Individual Debating Championship, in Seoul, South Korea for the World Schools Debating Championship and for places on teams in other competitions world-wide.
AIPAC Delegation Tours the Center
Part of a delegation from AIPAC, which was visiting Israel, came to the Menachem Begin Heritage Center last Thursday. They were received by the Head of the Center, Harry Hurwitz, who briefed them on the structure of the building and its various features and accompanied them through the museum.
It appeared from their remarks that the participants found the tour most interesting and said they would advise their colleagues and members of their community to visit the Center next time they are in Israel.
On Friday, Herzl Makov met with a group of journalists who were in Israel as guests of AIPAC. He spoke to them about Begin and answered questions about the current situation.
We deeply regret to record the death at the beginning of this week of Bella Kass, the mother of Danny Kass who was on the Menachem Begin Heritage Center Building Committee. We extend our heartfelt sympathy to Danny, his sister Naomi, his brother Marty, and all their families. Bella and her husband Boris, who predeceased her, grew up in Latvia and were active in the Zionist youth movements and the Jewish community. As a young woman, she worked on the staff of Ze'ev Jabotinsky after the founding of the World Betar Movement. They immigrated to Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) where they raised their family and were leaders of the Jewish community. Bella Kass had been ill the last few years, but made the effort to visit the Begin Center with Danny and his wife about a year ago. She was very moved by what she saw and heard.
Rabbi Jay Abrams, who heads a rabbinic education institution in Jerusalem visited the Center last week and met with the head of the Center after touring the museum
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Mrs. Lynn Himelstein of Indianapolis, Indiana, and her daughter Allyson came to the Begin Center accompanied by Mr. David Zwebner who is on the Board of the Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation. They were most impressed by the whole concept, structure and presentation of the Center.
v To the museum team, well done! Congratulations to the planners of the Center. It is a masterpiece, magnificent. You can't describe the personality of Menachem Begin better than that. – Ramat HaSharon, Israel
v The visit here was inspiring and sent chills down our spines. No doubt that he was a great, unique man! One of the greatest sons of all the generations. May his memory be blessed and be chiseled on our hearts forever. – in the name of the Tax and Customs Office of Jerusalem, Israel
v The power of Vision. May we know how to use it for the small things and the big things in our lives – Israel
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Heritage Center, Jerusalem
Volume 3, Issue 13
January 10, 2007
Total Number of Visitors Since October 2004: 249,858
Well, we have made it. By the time this bulletin reaches you, dear reader, the Menachem Begin Heritage Center number of visitors will have passed 250,000
The Menachem Begin Heritage Center has become one of the most popular, "MUST" attractions in the capital city. Visitors from abroad reserve their time slot weeks in advance from wherever they are. The reservation system is becoming more and more sophisticated. The translation system is already more and more developed. Groups have gone into the museum listening to the English translation, while others listen to the Russian and others still to French or Spanish. There are more ideas for improvement and advancement.
"Elitzur" Memorial Lecture: 23 January
Two weeks ahead of the event, reservations are already being made by persons wanting to attend the "Elitzur" Friedman Memorial Lecture on Heroism to be given this year by Dr. Ido Netanyahu, brother of former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and of the late Yoni, who was killed in the Entebbe Rescue in 1976.
The Memorial lecture coincides with the publication and launch of a new substantial book about Yoni by Dr. Netanyahu, who will discuss his brother, his deed and the Entebbe Operation.
Not to be confused with the science fiction movie, The Blob, the Begin Center Blog is an additional way for the community to find out about the activities of the Begin Center. The blog was accessible last week via this news bulletin to view pictures about the scholarship awards. The blog is being posted in both Hebrew and English and as events unfold the information and pictures are posted. Please view the English site at: http://begincenterdiary.blogspot.com/ Or to view the Hebrew site: http://begincenterhebrew.blogspot.com/
In the Archives…
A Minute of a Herut Party Council Meeting on 17 July 1978 was recently discovered in the archives of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center. It contains a substantial extract from a speech given on that occasion by the head of the party, Menachem Begin, who was already the Prime Minister of Israel.
In his speech, Menachem Begin said:
We can visualize the courtroom, the judges, the prosecutor and the empty defense
table because there is no defense the accused has given up the court- appointed
defender knowing that the words said by the defense will be a hollow echo of the
words of the prosecutor. The accused stands there isolated for 16 months in which he has no connection with his family, with no visit of the defense attorney and with no connection to the outside world. Day after day, night after night, he is interrogated with only one demand, "Give us your confession. Confess you are a traitor in your homeland working for the United States. Proof - your best friends told us that you were connected to the CIA and the KGB is never wrong. We tell you that you are guilty, we know everything about you. Do you want us also to put in prison your mother and arrest your brother? You are still a young man, talented, a scholar, a wonderful future in front of you. Just confess and you will be free."
This is going on night after night for 16 months, and this man doesn't break, doesn't weaken and he scorns his interrogators and their truth. He says to them. "I wasn't a spy…you signed the Helsinki Agreement and promised to give freedom of speech and thought. I educated myself and others to know our ancient language, Hebrew. I studied the love of Israel. And my will, like others, is to return to the historical
homeland of the People of Israel."
A lonely man stands there, all around him a jeering audience, applauding the sentence, enjoying the suffering, a rare mass sadism, in front of his judges who send him to a place knowing what will happen to him there. And in that situation the man stands and says "Although for many years I have been apart from my wife and family. Next Year in Jerusalem!" And we will say "Amen and amen." And who is this brave man? One of the bravest people that ever stood for justice and liberty, Natan
We deeply regret to record the death of Mrs. Rivka Burg, the widow of the late religious leader, Dr. Yosef Burg, who was a member of Menachem Begin's governments and subsequently a member of the International Board of the Begin Heritage Foundation. Mrs. Burg's family, the Slonims, were victims of the Arab terror attack in Hebron in 1929. She survived and raised a family in Jerusalem. Her son, Avrom, was the Speaker of the Knesset and the head of the Jewish Agency.
Mr. Barry Zalmanowitz, his wife Judge June Zalmanowitz, and their daughters Anna and Becca visited the Begin Museum and other features of the Begin Center last week. The family is from Edmonton, Canada. Mr. Zalmanowitz is the uncle of Dr. Jay and Sharon Wohlgelernter of Jerusalem. They enjoyed the visit very much.
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Moshe Nir, his wife, Dvora, and members of their family from Israel and abroad spent several hours in the Begin Center last week and were most impressed by what they saw. Mr. Nir was on the leadership of the Betar movement of Israel from even before the establishment of the State and was a high-ranking official in the Kupat Cholim Leumit until his retirement.
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Mr. Jonathan Egdes of Johannesburg and his son Eitan visited the Center and the museum on Sunday. Jonathan's late father, Morrie Egdes, was the head of Betar in South Africa, a Machal volunteer in the war of Independence and a prominent businessman in the Johannesburg area.
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Prof. Aage Jasnes from Oslo visited the Begin Museum accompanied by associates from Israel and Norway. He was most impressed by all he saw and heard and indicated that he would come back for a further visit at an early date.
* A most emotional and outstanding few hours telling the life story of a very dedicated Jew. – Netanya
* A wonderful story very well told. Kol HaKavod! – Sydney, Australia
Wednesday, January 3, 2007
The function was presided over by Moshe Fuksman-Sha'al, who is in charge of the Academic Affairs of the Center