Thursday, August 30, 2007

They "Hated" Him and With Wrong Reasons

Uriel Ben-Ami, born and raised in Moshav Nahalal, the pride of the Mapai labour movement where Moshe Dayan grew up, published an op-ed today. Ben-Ami, who used to be a correspondent for the Davar Histadrut newspaper, recalls Menachem Begin in the article entitled, Are we beautiful or ugly?:-

And so, we hated Menachem Begin, a modest and wonderfully decent man, but not one of us – because he truly aspired for law and order, security, and peace, in that order. He proved it when he first dispatched Air Force planes to bomb the settlement of Elon Moreh and transferred it from private Palestinian land to state-owned land. Then, he dispatched fighter jets to bomb the Iraqi nuclear reaction. Later he evacuated the Sinai, using IDF bulldozers, to the last grain of sand in the peace deal with Egypt.

We couldn't forgive him for being the most genuine adherent to the law in our country, which is so accustomed to winks. We couldn’t digest his Polish pathos and impeccable manners. We, the influential Israelis of yesteryear, preferred to burp in public in true Sabra charm. We saw life only through the covered sights of Left or Right – an endless series of subjective arguments.

Academic Studies

In an academic research article published in Contemporary Security Policy, Kate Utting deals with the British experience in Palestin 1945 -1948 and writes there:-

The terrorist campaign [by the Jewish resistance undergrounds] had been successful in confronting Britain with 'a direct choice between total repression and total withdrawal' (according to Ian Beckett, "Modern Insurgencies...", 2005, p. 89)


General Sir Alan Cunningham, ,the High Commissioner after 1946, recognised that Britain faced a different type of military challenge with 'sophisticated Zionist irregulars, who practiced modern guerrilla warfare" (according to Tim Jones, "The British Army and Counter-Guerrilla Warfare in Trasition, 1944-1952", 1996, p. 89)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Center Bulletin, Vol. 3, No. 46

Volume 3, Issue 46
August 29, 2007

Total Number of Visitors Since October 2004: 323,241

Pre-Holiday Lull in Begin Center Programs

With the big summer vacation ending, much of the holiday program of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center is being replaced by routine work.

For the next few weeks, until the schools settle in and the parents are no longer on leave, there will be fewer public events but more concentration on the resumption of routine programming.

For example, the very popular and exciting Rohr Family Parashat HaShavua program is now on a few weeks break and it will resume in September with parashat Bereshit, when Dr. Micha Goodman, the dynamic lecturer, will be back at the mike. Before his break of several months, the weekly lectures were attended by up to 500 people, religious and secular, young and old, men and women, who rushed to the building long before 7pm on Thursday to be seated in the Rosh Hashana Auditorium and not in the overflow section, which, nevertheless, was filled to capacity.

Work is now proceeding on the preparation of the first book of lectures that have taken place in the Begin Center on the Parashat HaShavua.

During the vacation period this year, the Begin Center was crowded with visitors from all over the world and all over Israel. Strangely most came as individuals and not through groups. There were days when the Center was packed from early morning until the last group went into the museum. In the months of July and August, nearly 30,000 people visited the Center and were mainly attracted by the outstanding hi-tech museum.

And now preparations are being made to receive the large number of visitors that are expected during the days of Chol HaMoed Sukkot. Many have made reservations for museum tours from overseas. In the three previous years, Sukkot was one of the busiest periods in the museum calendar.

Rose Family from Toronto at the Center

Mr. and Mrs. Jack Rose of Toronto, their sons and their grandchildren spent Tuesday morning at the Begin Center by prior arrangement. The were met and welcomed by Harry Hurwitz, Founder and President of the Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation, who accompanied them for the first part of the museum tour and then met them inside the museum at the end of the tour when he explained the essence of Menachem Begin's life philosophy. On the way out of the museum, membe rs of the Rose family entered the Beit Midrash Menachem—the small synagogue—where they were given an explanation of the Rohr Family Bible study circle which is modeled on the weekly discussion groups that met at the official residence of Prime Minister Menachem Begin every Saturday evening.

After discussions on the background of the creation of the Begin Center, Mr. Jack Rose, who was one of the heads of the United Israel Appeal in Canada and held other top position in the community, led his family into the White Nights restaurant where they had a relaxed lunch before proceeding with their other tours.

Begin Prize 2007 Nominations Due

Numerous recommendations have been received for the 2007 Menachem Begin Prize and Awards of Honors. The closing date for nominations is tomorrow 30 August. The committee to consider these nominations, which is headed by Adv. Moshe Nissim, will meet between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur in Jerusalem for the first round of discussions. The Awards will be announced closer to the date of the ceremony, which will take place during the Chanukah week.

J'lem City Event in the Reuben Hecht Auditorium

The Jerusalem city has arranged one of its evenings of entertainment for citizens and visitors at the Reuben Hecht Auditorium on Wednesday evening, 29 August. It will be an evening of Piyutim, which is religious liturgical poetry, with the participation of artists and well-known interpreters of this unique liturgical singing.

Archeological Site Featured

The Al Reich Archeological Garden served this week as an outdoor film studio for the popular television series, "The Naked Archeologist."

The famous archeologist, Dr. Gabi Barkai, was interviewed for an upcoming segment dealing with the Center's archeological garden with its First and Second Temple finds, as well as Roman and Turkish remnants.

Beautification Project

The Jerusalem Municipality has been engaged in a beautification effort that is also beneficial to the Begin Center. In its last stages is the construction of a new sidewalk on both sides of David Remez Street that leads from the Old Train Station above the Center to the Pierre Mendes France Square, at the top of Nahon Street where the Center is located. The sidewalks are not only an aesthetic improvement, but are an added safety feature for pedestrians. They will make the approach to the Center more pleasant.


Annie and Rick Weisbrod with their children and their friends were welcome guests on Sunday. Annie is the daughter of Harry and Florence Taubenfeld who now live in Westchester. The family was met by, and spent time with, Freda and Harry Hurwitz. They were all greatly impressed by the building, the museum and its location.

* * * * *

Fred and Nora Rothstein of Portland, Oregon, visited the museum last week and thought it was a wonderful and inspiring institution. Mr. Rothstein is the director of a large, Conservative synagogue in Portland.

Caricature Competition

On Tuesday, September 11, a special caricature competition will be held at the Begin Center, sponsored by the student movement, “Im Tirtzu” (If You Will It), on the subject: Fundamentalist Islam and the Iranian Nucleur Program.

The entries may be viewed starting from 6:30 PM and at 7 PM, the short-version of the film “Obsession” will be screened followed by a panel discussion with the participation of the competition judges General (Res.) Uzi Dayan, journalists Erel Segel and Adv. Ben-Dror Yemini, political cartoonist Shai Tzerka, Dr. Micha Goodman and Ronen Shoval, Im Tirtzu chairman.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Center Bulletin, August 22, 2007

August 22, 2007

Total Number of Visitors Since October 2004: 321,892

Yemenite Aliyah To Be Celebrated

An unusual evening celebrating the 60th anniversary of the State of Israel and the aliyah from the exotic Jewish community of Yemen in the early 1950s will be held on 1 October. The program will include songs and stories about the Jews from Yemen, their customs, their culture, their food, their dress, etc. Further details will be published in the next few weeks.

The Druze Will Celebrate Menachem Begin

Members of the Druze community will celebrate the life and work of Menachem Begin on the 19th of September at a large event which will take place at Daliat El Carmel. The event is upon the initiative of former MK and chairman of the Druze Yad L'Banim Amal Nassr al Din.

A series of lectures and recollections will be given by well-known persons who worked with Menachem Begin and studied his thoughts and deeds.

Mazal Tov

A hearty Mazal Tov to Frank and Florence Dimant whose son, Ari, was married at Atlit at a wonderful site overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Frank Dimant was a leading member of Betar in Montreal and has been for many years the Executive Vice-President of B'nai Brith Canada.

In Memoriam

We deeply regret to record the death of Rabbi William Z. Novick of Chicago who was for many years the representative there of the Weizmann Institute. Among other things, he was also a member of the International Board of the Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation. He is survived by his wife, Eda Bess, his children and grandchildren.

* * * * *

Mr. Moshe Shnitzer, the founder and long-time head of the Israel Diamond Exchange and the World Diamond Exchange, passed away at the weekend and is deeply mourned by his son, Shmuel Schnitzer, and his two daughters, Mrs. Gartler and Mrs. Ne'eman. Moshe Schnitzer received the Israel Prize for his contribution to the Diamond Industry.

* * * * *

Mrs. Vera Wald, who was the administrative secretary of the Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation in South Africa in its early fundraising efforts, passed away last Thursday. She is survived by her children. Her late husband Herman Wald was the famous sculptor who created the large monument to the Six Million Jews at the cemetery in Johannesburg. He also did other important public sculptures.


A distinguished visitor to the Begin Center at the beginning of this week was Dr. Shevach Weiss, one of the heads of Yad Vashem and a former ambassador of Israel to Poland. He is also a former Speaker of the Knesset.

* * * * *

Ami Gluska, a former director of the President's office under President Itzhak Navon, visited the Begin Center this week. He thoroughly enjoyed the museum and discussed matters with Yisrael Medad.

He has recently published his book on Prime Minister Levi Eshkol in the period of the 6-Day War.

Monday, August 20, 2007

A New Book on Zionism

Haaretz has reviewed the Shalem Center's new collection, "New Essays on Zionism", edited by Michael Oren, David Hazony and Yoram Hazony in an article entitled Making an impression by Nissim Calderon.

Here are some excerpts:-

"New Essays on Zionism" is an anthology of articles from Azure that sum up the main ideas promoted by the Shalem Center...The Shalem Center's declared objective is to provide the Israeli right with a solid ideological underpinning. But we are talking about a new Israeli right, different from the various right-wing movements that have traditionally been active here.

Shalem is attempting to inject American neoconservative ideas into the conceptual world of Israeli politics and merge them with Israeli sensibilities, thereby replicating here the great success of American neoconservatives. (William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, and one of the dominant American neoconservatives today, and Ron Lauder, one of the movement's chief financiers, are among the Shalem Center's trustees).

Why is it doing this? I believe it has to do with the State of Israel's "old" right wing. Until the 1970s, the secular right wing had ideological strength, profound thinkers, effective literature and intellectual drawing power. Ze'ev Jabotinsky, Yonatan Ratosh, Uri Zvi Greenberg, Natan Yellin-Mor, Yisrael Eldad and even politicians like Yohanan Bader came up with ideas, ideological arguments and cultural nuances that could not be ignored.

The emotional excitement created by real ideological tension is not something that can be dismissed. Passion is an important asset in politics. But all this was lost when the settlement enterprise came into being. As this enterprise grew and expanded, the Israeli right paid a price: the loss of intellectual respect among the secular community, as well as among sectors of the religious public that were not partners (in ideology or theory) to the settlement movement.

Settlement was an act of force backed by a meager secular rationale. The rhetoric employed to cover up the use of brute force was limp and ineffective. The endeavors of Natan Alterman and Prof. Yosef Ben-Shlomo to lend the settlements spiritual validity did not measure up to the imprint left by Jabotinsky and Ratosh. And even though the religious Zionist community, which supported settlement, had intellectual energy and creative passion, it remained a closed circle. Secular Israelis were not impressed intellectually.

Shalem is attempting to change this state of affairs, to restore ideological energy to the Israeli right and earn back this lost respect. At the same time, those involved in the enterprise fully recognize that unless the right learns from the failures of the past, there is no hope of moving ahead and providing intellectual answers.

...Ever since the days of the Irgun and Lehi pre-state militias, the Zionist right has had an advantage over the left, because it based its world on the dichotomy between "reality" and "redemption," while the latter combined the two.

Menachem Begin, unlike secular right-wing ideologues, was a master at fusing the two. In this way, the Israeli right won hearts in both the secular and religious communities.
This advantage was drastically eroded when the religious dimension of right-wing ideology led to the settlement enterprise and its messianic justification.

The new right is more careful in this respect: The book contains two or three calls to support the settlers (explicitly in the article by Ophir Ha'ivri, and implicitly in the article by Yoram Hazony), but this is swallowed up in the broader context of a moral project touted as vital for humanity.

Israelis are thus advised not to give so much weight to occupation and settlement, but rather to view this component as a small detail in the grand scheme of faith, justice and higher mission.

...Likewise, the essays in this collection never mention Jabotinsky's "Iron Wall" or Uri Zvi Greenberg's hate-filled diatribes against Arabs. Such a tone would be unacceptable to Israel's political center.

So what is there instead? The institutionalized discrimination against Arabs in Israel is simply passed over in silence, and the authors write about spiritual missions, visions and the redemption of the entire human race. With regard to feminism, the Shalem Center again wisely avoids blind imitation of the American neoconservatives.

...The Zionist left, on the other hand, refuses to see the nation-state as holy. This group considers it a tool, and only a tool. Yoram Hazony makes no effort to conceal his repugnance when he quotes a remark by Amos Oz: "Herzl's book is called 'The State of the Jews' [generally translated in English as 'The Jewish State']. A state cannot be Jewish, in the same way that a chair or a bus cannot be Jewish."

This refusal to subordinate everything to the nation-state, especially while recognizing the need for it, is fiercely attacked by many of the book's contributors, including Zeev Magen, Arieh Morgenstern and Natan Sharansky. They claim the left is demolishing the wall of communal responsibility that safeguards Israeli citizens, and say its stance is a reflection of individualism and a withdrawal from the Israeli collective.

This opposition to Israeli occupation is a rejection of the same collective Jewish "angel" whose mission is not to redeem Beit Hadassah, the settlers' stronghold in Hebron, but all of mankind, they claim. The human rights debate is a shift away from the issue of Jewish rights (collective) to citizens' rights (individual).

Demanding equal rights for Israeli Arabs is giving preference to poor who live somewhere else over those in your own city. Allowing a gay pride parade is granting priority to sexual minorities over solidarity with the heterosexual majority. The secularity of the Israeli left is a rejection of a muted religiosity meant to unite both religious and non-religious.

...Israel's political right continues to cling to the vestiges of its old ideology, and the new ideology has remained on paper. Benjamin Netanyahu's sporadic efforts to inject neoconservative ideas into Israeli politics have ended in failure, at least for now. Tomorrow, though, they could succeed.

...The Shalem Center has a different agenda: moving 20-30 Knesset seats from the left and center to the right led by Netanyahu and Lieberman. I think it is high time for the left, both Zionist and post-Zionist, to stop expending so much energy on who rules the roost in the humanities departments and devote more thought to who forms the next government, and the one after it.

Friday, August 17, 2007

After the Begin Museum, You Can Visit Another

Going underground
Aviva Bar-Am
Aug. 16, 2007

One Friday evening in 1946, British guards carrying out Binyamin Kimhi's sentence dragged the 16-year-old from his cell in Jerusalem's Central Prison and lashed him 18 times.

But instead of flogging him in the exercise yard in front of the other inmates, prison authorities thrashed him in private. This in the futile hope that they could keep it secret: Palestine's Jews were already enraged that young Kimhi had been condemned to 18 long years in prison for carrying a weapon.

Menachem Begin, leader of the Irgun Zvai Leumi underground, was livid when he heard about the incident. Jews had been continually shamed and degraded
in the Diaspora, and he was not about to permit the same kind of humiliation in the Jewish homeland. Earlier, the Irgun had published a warning whose upshot was "a lash for a lash" - but it was ignored by the British. After the Kimhi beating, IZL fighters kidnapped an officer and three sergeants, whipped them 18 times and released them. Flogging was never again carried out under the British Mandate.

For decades after the founding of the state, its history forgotten, the prison provided office space and storage for different institutions. Later, former inmates transformed the building into a shrine for Hagana, IZL and Lehi fighters hanged by the British and called it Heichal Hagevura (Hall of Heroism). Eventually, recognizing the underground's significant part in the establishment of the state, the Defense Ministry restored the prison. Today, as the Underground Prisoners' Museum, it tells the spellbinding story of the underground's relentless struggle to oust the British and help create a Jewish state.

A two-hour circular tour of the Underground Prisoners' Museum takes visitors
to the bleak cells from which patriotic young fighters - desperate to
participate in the struggle for a Jewish homeland - dreamed of escape. View
the flogging corner in the courtyard, examine the prisoners' unique artwork,
discover an exciting escape, and enter the somber chamber that held the

...Now enter the Hall of Heroism to view photos of Jews executed during the Mandate and afterwards in Arab countries. Then go into the cells for condemned prisoners. First, gaze at the red uniforms they wore. Examine the memorials, then view the gallows.

The British caught 19-year-old Meir Feinstein after the Irgun blasted the Jerusalem Railway Station, and they caught 20-year-old Moshe Barazani with a hand grenade on his way to an assassination. Until that time they had executed Jews only at Acre prison, for they were afraid of Jewish riots in the Holy City. Now, however, worried that the transport would be attacked on its way to Acre, the British decided on a Jerusalem hanging. Since Feinstein had lost a hand in the railway attack and needed assistance, the two were locked up together.

But Barazani and Feinstein had no intention of giving the British authorities the pleasure of watching them hang, and were eager to carry out a plan hatched together with other inmates. Outsiders smuggled explosives inside a hollow club (the one in the warden's quarters). An inmate constructed two hand grenades - one for the hangman and warden, a second for the boys - and smuggled them into their cell inside two hollowed-out oranges.

On the eve of the scheduled execution, April 21, 1947, Reb Arye was temporarily replaced by Rabbi Ya'acov Goldman - in charge of all the prisons in Israel. Immensely touched by the boys' dedication and spirit, he insisted on being present at the hanging so that the last face they saw would be that of a Jew. Nothing would change his mind and he remained in the prison, ready to return early next morning.

The two youths wouldn't discharge the grenades at the execution, for the rabbi would be hurt. Instead, they handed their guard a Bible and asked him to go outside and pray for them. Almost immediately, an explosion rocked the prison: the courageous young men had blown themselves up! Although they had been eager to take a British guard with them to the next world, this one - Thomas Goodwin - had been kind and they decided he must be spared. A few months ago, Goodwin's son met with members of Meir Feinstein's family in Israel and returned the Bible. It contained a message written by Feinstein 60 years earlier on behalf of both young men. Part of it read, in Hebrew, "Remember that we stood with dignity and marched with honor. Better to die
with a weapon in your hands than hands raised in surrender."

Sunday to Thursday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission: NIS 10/5; includes a rare
photographic exhibit of Israel from the years 1850-1950.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Center Bulletin, Volume 3, Issue 44

Volume 3, Issue 44
August 16, 2007

Total Number of Visitors Since October 2004: 320,595

Maj. Ro'i Klein to be Honored Again

Maj. Ro'i Klein z''l is one of the heroes of the Second War in Lebanon and his family is to receive his posthumous state medal for bravery at a special ceremony in the near future.

In fact, Maj. Ro'i Klein z''l received the Begin Prize award of honor for exceptional courage leadership and tenacity last year. "Just as Menachem Begin was throughout his life." At last year's ceremony, Harry Hurwitz, the founder of the Menachem Begin Commemoration Project, said that it was decided to award the prize and the awards of honor to heroic soldiers "the likes of which have not been seen by the people of Israel from the time of the Maccabees to the time of the Underground heroes that sacrificed themselves to protect their comrades and the State of Israel."

Maj. Ro'i Klein z''l led a group of soldiers when a grenade was flung their way. He was killed when he threw himself on top of the grenade thus protecting his soldiers.

Begin's Birthday Commemoration

There are not many events at which the audience is reluctant to leave when the curtain comes down finally. This is what happened at the evening of song, recollections and stories organized to celebrate the 94th birthday of Menachem Begin.

The Reuben Hecht Auditorium was filled to capacity with people who came to recall the great days of Menachem Begin and others who just love to sing in public. The organizers of the event covered the history of reborn Israel for almost the entire past century. The stories were told in songs whose words were on the screen complimented by additional historic photographs. The Chairman of the Management Committee of the Begin Center, Gershon Stav joined Edia Skulsky Gilad in presenting a number of songs by her father Shlomo Skulsky. The compeer Yehuda Blecher and his associates Uzi Rosenblatt and Lior Yanai kept the story going from beginning to end. It was an evening of nostalgia, joy and pride and, as the founder and President of the Begin Foundation, Harry Hurwitz, said: "It was an evening of thanksgiving to the Almighty that he sent a man to the Jewish people who made a monumental contribution to the change of the history of our people, the future of our people and the spirit of our people."

October Release Date for White Nights

The contracts have been signed between the well-known publishers Steimatsky and the Menachem Begin Heritage Center for the publication of a new edition (in English) of Menachem Begin's book White Nights. Like the special Hebrew edition that was published in 1995, this version contains extracts of the NKVD protocol of their interrogation of Menachem Begin in the Vilna prison which went on for days and nights, before he was sentenced to eight years in a correctional labor camp on the trumped up charged of being an agent of British imperialism.

The NKVD protocols were found after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the people in charge of the prison handed the files over to an Israeli journalist who, in turn brought it to Ze'ev Binyamin Begin, the son of the late Prime Minister. As he is not able to read Russian, he asked his friend Natan Sharansky to go over the files and eventually the material was cleverly incorporated in a new Hebrew edition of White Nights which was one of the first publications of the newly established Menachem Begin Heritage Center. After an interval of 12 years, this new version, with all the original material, will appear by the end of October.

30 Year Anniversary Plans

A representative body of personalities who were connected with the Peace Treaty between Israel and Egypt met at the Begin Center last week to consider plans to observe the 30th anniversary of this whole process. Among those present were two of the early Israel ambassadors to Cairo, Mr. Ephraim Dubek and Mr. Zvi Mazel. Mr. Dov Segev-Steinberg represented the Foreign Ministry, while Dan Pattir (who was Menachem Begin's media advisor) and Yechiel Kadishai represented members of Begin staff who were at Camp David with him. The Menachem Begin Heritage Center, which is initiating an elaborate program of activities covering the events from Sadat's historic visit to Jerusalem till the signing of the Peace Treaty in March 1979, was represented by the Founder and President, Harry Hurwitz, and the Chairman of the Center, Herzl Makov, and the Academic Coordinator Moshe Fuksman-Sha'al. Dr. Meir Rosenne, who was a legal advisor at Camp David, will participate in future meetings.

Readers of this bulletin will be apprised of events as they are finalized. The historic Sadat visit to Israel which was initiated by Menachem Begin took place on November 19, 1977.

Film on Disengagement

A film called Mishak Beiti or Home Game was screened in the Reuben Hecht Auditorium on Friday marking the Disengagement two years ago. The film is a documentary following the basketball team of Netzer Hazani, a community that was in Gush Katif. The movie begins at the annual basketball tournament which is the night before the disengagement begins. One viewer found it difficult to describe her feeling while watching the movie. She said it was "Amazing. Painful. You have to see this movie."

After the screening there was a discussion with the director and producer.

Junior Knesset Ready for the New Year

Snir Zaidel, the Educational Coordinator, presented the completed new manual for the Junior Knesset program to the heads of the Begin Project at the beginning of this week. It is a detailed presentation of all aspects of the preparation in schools by the teachers and pupils before they come to Jerusalem for the Junior Knesset session.

The outline of the program was prepared by Herzl Makov, Dr. Ann Kirson Swersky (the initiator of the program), Yisrael Medad, Director of Information Resources, and Snir Zaidel. As soon as the new school year opens, schools will start preparing their visits to Jerusalem as part of the Junior Knesset program.

Recently, a plaque was unveiled at the entrance to the section of the Reuben Hecht Auditorium where the Junior Knesset takes place. The plaque recognizes the special contribution of the Asper Foundation and of Jane and Larry Sherman to the Junior Knesset. This week, an additional contribution was received through Mr. Hart Hasten, President of the US Friends of the Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Ben-Gurion and the Altalena

Professor Yechiam Weitz exploits the example of the Altalena in a ploemical article:-

Democracy or terror?

Ben-Gurion insisted on rule of law and need to stand up to insubordinate minority

Prof Yechiam Weitz
Published: 08.13.07

In the country's nascent years, first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion shaped its patterns of governance.

One crucial aspect was the need to respect and accept the authority of state institutions, such as the army and Knesset. He viewed this as a major tool for the prevention of anarchy, particularly in an ideological society such as our own at the time.

In order to apply this principle, which was sacred in his view, he did not hesitate to adopt an iron fist and even resort to physical clashes. An example of this is the Altalena affair. In the summer of 1948, the Irgun organization dispatched a ship carrying arms from Europe to Israel and demanded that some of those weapons be transferred to its units in Jerusalem, which at the time was not a part of the State of Israel.

The provisional government and its leader objected to this demand, yet despite this Irgun attempted to unload the ship on the Tel Aviv shore. Ben-Gurion's response was decisive. He ordered the army to bombard the ship and the result was tragic: Dozens of people were killed.

Irgun veterans viewed Ben-Gurion as a murderer of Jews and a figure that is capable of spilling Jewish blood. Ben-Gurion himself viewed this in a completely different light. He saw the severe step he adopted as required for reinforcing the young country's sovereignty. In his view, the domestic enemy was just as dangerous as external ones. He referred to the cannon that bombarded the ship as "the sacred cannon."

Poet Natan Alterman even wrote about the incident, saying that the cannon served an important purpose and constituted a victory for the urge of a nation over the urge of a herd.

More dangerous than Altalena

Today, ahead of the upcoming 60th Independence Day, this phenomenon is back on a grand scale. Its buds appeared many years ago, when the first Yitzhak Rabin government gave in to the pressure exerted by the "Gush Emunim" settlement movement and approved the establishment of a community at the heart of the West Bank. Since then, this approach worked vis-à-vis all governments, which to a large extent turned into puppet governments acting in accordance with the Yesha Council's caprices.

Following the disengagement, this approach turned into a sophisticated system – mass insubordination with the approval of eminent rabbis and senior politicians, in order to torpedo the moves adopted by the elected government.

What we are seeing at this time dwarfs the Altalena affair, which was a single incident that took place in the country's nascent years and became a tragic story by coincidence. Yet this time around we are talking about acts that are undertaken in a calculated and conscious manner in order to show the world who the real master is in the West Bank in general, and in the city of our forefathers, Hebron, in particular –the Israeli sovereign or the people of the fist from Beit Hadassah.

The damage they are causing is immense, and it is hard to exaggerate its scope. They undermine the authority of the fragile Israeli government and the prestige of its institutions every day and every hour. Thus, they join the overall phenomenon taking place at this time: Stoning, with catapults, our democratic structure. In practice, they form an unconscious alliance with the great destroyer of our country's institutions - the distinguished professor from Tel Aviv appointed as justice minister by the prime minister.

In 1952, after a violent protest organized by the Herut movement in Jerusalem against the reparations from Germany, Ben-Gurion asked some incisive questions: "Are we a democracy or not? Will the law and elected officials rule, or will terror and the fist?"

This question, which was asked 55 years ago, can be asked again today regarding the conduct of the insubordinate IDF soldiers, their rabbis, and their supporters at the legislature.

The writer heads the Land of Israel Studies department at the University of Haifa

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Center Bulletin, Vol. 3, No. 43

Volume 3, Issue 43
August 8, 2007

Total Number of Visitors Since October 2004: 317,968

Menachem Begin's Birthday Celebration

There has been so much interest in the casual form of celebration of Menachem Begin's birthday on Wednesday, August 15, that there is simply no more seating available. People are coming to the event from near and far. Some enthusiasts are organizing buses from Tel Aviv, Haifa and the costal area.

There will be no formal program of speeches but the evening will consist of songs, some stories and movie clips.

Menachem Begin was born in 1913 and would have been 94 this year. He died at the age of 79.

Mazal Tov to Moshiko

We are happy to extend a hearty Mazal Tov to Moshiko Sharon who celebrated his Bar Mitzvah last week. It will be recalled that in 2004 this little boy was in very critical condition suffering from a kidney disease and requiring an urgent kidney transplant. All attempts to find a suitable donor in Israel proved unsuccessful. And then, miraculously, an American, Eric Swim, from Kansas City, decided to offer one of his kidneys for this purpose.

At the Begin Prize Award ceremony in 2004, Eric Swim was called upon to accept a certificate marking his honorary award. When he came on to the stage, the large audience rose to give him a standing ovation and did so again during his short remarks when he broke down with emotion. He said it was an honor beyond imagination for him to receive a recognition bearing the name of one of the great leaders of Israel and the Jewish people.

Eric Swim arrived in Israel last week specially to participate in Moshiko's Bar Mitzvah celebration. Moshiko has done well in his health and education and offered a prayer of thanksgiving to his mother and father who brought him to this stage in life. And then added: "I thank also Eric Swim who saved my life."

This advertisement appeared in last week's press calling for nominations for the Begin Prize 2007.

Letter in the Jerusalem Post

A reader of the Jerusalem Post Lily Polliak has recalled that Menachem Begin praised the Bergson group (Hillel Kook) for its extraordinary efforts in the United States to highlight the German plan to destroy the Jewish people. In The Revolt, Begin lauded Bergson for having the ingenuity to "keep the fierce light of publicity" upon the vicious German plans and that his group's persistent efforts ultimately contributed to establish a Refugee Rescue Board. This Board's national efforts warned the Germans of dire consequences if they did not desist from their plan.

Congratulations to Ariel University Center

We congratulate the leadership of the Ariel University Center of Samaria which last week changed its name and its status from "The College of Judea and Samaria." The Institute was authorized to announce this upgrade as part of a five year time table.

The move immediately received the blessing of Prime Minister Olmert.

University Center President Prof. Dan Meyerstein has stated that this unprecedented move in Israel's history marks the first time that a "college," originally established to provide only undergraduate education, has made the transition to "university" status.

In Memoriam

We deeply regret to record the death on Monday of Ida Kaplan, a prominent leader of the World Betar Organization from her early youth in Lithuania to her University days in South Africa and in Israel after her aliyah in the early 1950s. In Israel, she became a leader of the Herut Women's organization which was actively involved also in establishing kindergartens in needy areas. For this she was recognized as a "worthy citizen" of Ramat Gan.

She is survived by her husband, Julius Kaplan, who too was a leader of the world Betar an active supporter of the Irgun and one of the founders of the Jabotinsky Order.

She is survived by her son and daughter-in-law, Shmuel and Michal Kaplan, and her daughter and son-in-law, Ilana and Moshe Navot, and by her brother and sister-in-law, Leon and Menorah Charney, by her grandchildren and a great granddaughter.

Water Available

In these very hot August days, many visitors to the Center find the need to drink water when they enter the building and before they go to the museum. This will advise visitors that the White Nights restaurant sells bottled water and there are a number of water fountains situated on the third floor near the elevators.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Begin Recalled in Context of the Kastner Affair

In Elliot Jager's article on the Kastner Affair, we found this:- April 1944, Eichmann allowed Relief and Rescue Committee member Joel Brand to leave Occupied Europe with a stunning proposal: The Nazis would trade a million Jews for 10,000 trucks to be used only against the Soviets on the eastern front. Rather than facilitate the mission, Hecht wrote, Mapai leaders conspired with the British to have Brand detained.

As if all this weren't enough, the Mapainiks betrayed Irgun and Lehi fighters to the British both during and after the war, culminating, in their relentless duplicity, in the sinking of the Altalena and the attempted murder of Menachem Begin.


Center Bulletin Vol. 3, No. 42

Volume 3, Issue 42
August 1, 2007

Total Number of Visitors Since October 2004: 316,205

Begin Prize 2007

Preparations are now underway to invite nominations for the 2007 Menachem Begin Prize which will be awarded during Chanukah, according to the precedent set in previous years.

As a first step, advertisements will appear in the media shortly inviting nominations of individuals or organizations who performed extraordinary deeds to the benefit of the people of Israel, or the Jewish people, or Eretz Israel.

Thereupon, the special committee, which in recent years has been headed by Mr. Moshe Nissim who was a senior Minister in the governments of Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir, will be convened to start the considerations.

Publications in Progress

There has been significant progress in the preparation of a number of books and brochures in Hebrew and English connected with the monumental events that occurred 30 years ago—Prime Minister Begin's invitation to President Sadat to visit Israel; the Peace Process; the signing of the Peace Treaty between Israel and Egpyt; and related events.

From a production point of view, the most advanced books are the new edition (in English) of White Nights, incorporating extracts from the NKVD interrogation records and secondly, Menachem Begin's famous "Outlook" on personal and national issues.

Also, a number of documentary movies being made by private producers are known to have advanced in recent weeks.

Begin's Birthday Celebration

A festive evening to celebrate the 94th birthday of Menachem Begin will take place in the Reuben Hecht Auditorium of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center on 15 August 2007 at 8:00pm.

The evening will comprise songs, recollections and stories about Menachem Begin and will recapture the atmosphere that prevailed in the Begin home when his birthday was celebrated by people from the "fighting family"—his comrades of the Irgun, his political associates and friends.

The evening's program including music and short movies will be conducted by Yehuda Blecher. The musical portion was arranged by Uzi Rosenblatt with singing by Lior Yaini.

Troy Family Celebrates at the Begin Center

The bat mitzvah of Lia, daughter of Prof. and Mrs. Gil Troy of Montreal was the occasion for a family gathering in Israel this past week.

Two grandfathers were the honored guests for the celebration. They are Mr. Marcel Adams from Montreal and Mr. Bernard Dov Troy, who, in his younger days, was first the Secretary of the American Betar and later the head of American Betar. He has three sons. Dr. Tevi Troy, who has recently been nominated to be Deputy Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, his brother Dan Troy who was Chief Counsel of the Food and Drug Administration and, of course, Prof. Gil Troy who is a professor of history at McGill University in Montreal.

They and their families all joined together at the Begin Center for a special tour during which they met and heard from Harry Hurwitz, the founder and President of the Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation and from Yisrael Medad and the various guides who showed them different features of the building.

For Bernard Dov Troy, this was his first visit to the Begin Center and he was greatly impressed.

Jewish Republican Coalition Visits Center

A large group of the Jewish Republican Coalition of the USA was on an intensive tour in Israel last week and among other things visited the Menachem Begin Heritage Center. The senior personality of the group was former US Senator Rudolph E. (Rudy) Boschwitz who represented Minnesota from 1978 to 1991. He was warmly greeted by Harry Hurwitz and they recalled their meetings when Hurwitz was the Minister of Information at the Israel embassy in Washington, DC (1980-1983). Boschwitz described Menachem Begin in most laudatory terms and said he was a "strong and courageous leader of the people of Israel." His oratory was "unique", he said.

At the end of the visit, Senator Boschwitz wrote in the Visitor's Book: "To my friend Harry Hurwitz who preserves the memory of the greatest Prime Minister. Senator Rudy Boschwitz (1978-91)."

In Memoriam

We deeply regret to record the death of Yehudit Heilberg, a well-known partisan in World War II, an officer in the Irgun Zvai Leumi and the head of the group of women on the Altalena.

She was a close friend of many of the veterans of the "fighting family"—especially Esther and Yechiel Kadishai.

Her funeral was attended by a large number of Irgun veterans who assembled at the Irgun section of the Holon cemetery.

In Brief

On Saturday night, the Begin Center's Reuben Hecht Auditorium was filled to capacity for a night of Carlebach singing. The event was organized by the Jerusalem City Council.


· Joseph Neuman, Roby and Poussy Spiegl, their families and friends came to the Begin Center this week. Roby is the former head of Likud in Belgium and is now in charge of Israel Bonds in Belgium. Everyone in the group was very impressed by the museum and took time to meet with Harry Hurwitz and Herzl Makov. The family is visiting Israel from Brussels.