Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Menachem Begin Number 4

Jabotinsky most popular street name in Israel

Not Ben-Gurion or Herzl, but rather Likud founder wins title of most commemorated historical figure in Israel, with 57 streets, parks and squares bearing his name. Only one woman makes top 20 list, and it's not former PM Golda Meir

While you may expect it to be David Ben-Gurion or Binyamin Ze'ev (Theodor) Herzl, the most commemorated historical figure in Israel is in fact none other than Ze'ev Jabotinsky, founder and leader of the Irgun and Revisionist Zionism.

According to data collected by the Mapa geographical database, 57 sites (including streets, squares and parks) in the country are named after Jabotinsky. Herzl, the founder of Zionism, lags behind, with only 52 sites across Israel named after him.

Meanwhile, Israel's first prime minister Ben-Gurion, the state's first president Chaim Weizmann and national poet Haim Nahman Bialik have each given their names to 48public sites.

The first Sephardi Jew on the list comes only at the fourth place: One of the greatest Jewish poets, Rabbi Shalom Shabazi of Yemen, who has 48 sites bearing his name.

The late prime minister Menachem Begin, who was known for his modesty and who specifically asked before his death not to be commemorated, has streets and parks named after him in no less than 43 communities.

Among the 20 most commemorated figures in Israel, there is only one woman, and surprisingly, it is not former prime minister Golda Meir, but rather paratrooper Hannah Szenes, who gave her name to 38 Israeli sites.

And Meir? The woman who has a Manhattan junction bearing her name is only commemorated in 12 streets in Israel.

"In the land of the Jews women do not count. This is a disgrace," said former Minister Shulamit Aloni. "Rachel Kagan signed the Declaration of Independence, was the first woman Knesset member and a WIZO leader. Where is she today?

"Everybody sings and memorizes poems by the poet Rachel, but she has also disappeared from the map," she added.

Begin Center Bulletin, Vol. 4, No. 7

Volume 4, Issue 7
November 28, 2007

Total Number of Visitors Since October 2004: 343,932

The Menachem Begin Prize 2007

The 2007 Menachem Begin Prize will be awarded at a festive ceremony on Tuesday, 11 December, the evening when the 8th candle of Chanukah is lit. The event will take place in the Reuben Hecht Auditorium at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center.

This year's prize is being awarded to the Bnei David Pre-Military Academy in Eli, which over the years has produced a number of great heroes of Israel, among them Major Ro'i Klein, who was honored by the Begin Prize Committee in 2006.

This year's personal recognition is extended to the former Chief Justice of Israel's Supreme Court Meir Shamgar, who in his early days was active in the Irgun Zvai Leumi and was exiled by the British to the Gilgil Camp in Kenya together with 250 other such detainees. There in the camp he started his law studies which he completed on the group's return after the creation of the State. Thereafter he rose rapidly in the legal profession to bec ome Chief Justice in 1983. He completed his term in 1995 and has since served on various public and private commissions.

Recognition will also be extended to the Ariel University Center of Samaria which this year had its status established as a University Center and now has 9,000 students from all over the country.

All the bodies concerned will celebrate this achievement with contingents of representatives and members at the ceremony.

The guest speaker will be General Iddo Nehushtan who heads the Planning Directorate of the IDF. He is the son of Ya'acov and the late Devorah Nehushtan. Ya'acov too was a detainee in Gilgil in Kenya.

In addition, the annual distribution of scholarships and other awards to students who are part of the PERACH program will take place.

Exhibition Video Available on the Internet

Many of the poignant moments of the Peace Process between Egypt and Israel were recorded on video. These were combined to make a very moving 6 minute video for the Begin Center's exhibition "No More War". Utilizing the int ernet to spread this message of peace, the video is available on YouTube and on our blog and is accessible to our readers by clicking here or here. We encourage you to pass this video on to all your friends and mailing lists.


Mrs. Hannah Evans of Johannesburg, South Africa, sister of Prof. Joe Borman of Jerusalem visited the Begin Center at the beginning of this week. She was most interested in the new exhibition recalling Sadat's visit to Jerusalem in 1977 and was greatly moved by the museum.

* * * * *

Dr. Thomas O. Hecht, member of the International Board of the Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation, and Mrs. Riva Hecht, were in Israel on a visit connected with a conference of BESA, which he founded and heads. BESA is the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. They were the guests of honor at a reception in Jerusalem of the Begin-Sadat Center.

* * * * *

Mr. Hart Hasten, President of the US Friends of the Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation, who was in Israel for two weeks with his wife, Simona, to visit his family, attended numerous functions arranged by the Menachem Begin Heritage Center. Before returning to the US, he held policy and programming discussions with Harry Hurwitz and Herzl Makov.

* * * * *

A group of military personnel visited the Begin Center on Monday and toured the museum. When they concluded their tour, the guide who had taken them through the museum informed Harry Hurwitz that this was a very special group. There was among them a great granddaughter of Ze'ev Jabotinsky, Halila, and a grandson of the late Yosef Kr emmerman, who was connected to the family of Ya'acov Meridor. Hurwitz approached the group, especially the above two, and thanked all of them for coming to the Center and the museum.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Yoel Marcus Recalls Begin's 'Vassal' Remark

Bush's baby - and ours

Israel's fate does not depend on whether a trip to the United States is successful, Menachem Begin used to say, in the days of the peace process with Egypt. Once, he even called into his office Samuel Lewis, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, and gave him an earful. "Are we a vassal of yours?" he famously asked.

But when Anwar Sadat and Begin landed at Andrews Air Force Base on September 5, 1978, on their way to the Camp David summit, Sadat praised America's involvement. Begin also applauded the U.S. administration as he disembarked from the plane. "The day will come and we will say 'habemus pacem' [Latin for "we have peace"] at Camp David," he said. Later, Begin's aides would join the journalists in singing "Habemus Pacem Aleichem" to the tune of "Heveinu Shalom Aleichem."

Unlike President Carter, a devout Christian from the South who was not a supporter of Israel, and who applied atomic pressure on Begin to give up all of Sinai and its settlements and made him sign a document recognizing the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, President Bush is a fan - even a groupie - of Israel.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Sadat's First Peace Agreement, Sort Of

Tom Segev claims T. Kollek made first agreement with Sadat:-

In 1977, I was the bureau chief for Jerusalem mayor Teddy Kollek. This week I found a few pages of notes I jotted down on the evening of November 20, the day of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's visit:

Teddy returns to the office after touring the city with Sadat. About two hours later, a call from Rehavam Amir, the chief of protocol [in the Foreign Ministry]. "Dr. Hassan Touhami, the deputy prime minister of Egypt, would like to meet with you." Teddy: "About what?" Amir: "I don't know, but he is ready to cancel his visit to Yad Vashem with Sadat if you come immediately." Teddy: "I'll come." Where is Nahum, the chauffeur? Where is Nahum? We drove in my red Fiat 127. By the time I managed to find a parking place and enter the King David [Hotel], Teddy had already found Touhami and heard what he wanted. Sadat wants to repair Al-Aqsa Mosque and also make a donation to the Coptic church. He wants Teddy to inform the press about this.

Puzzling - amazing - this is undoubtedly recognition of Teddy's status in the whole unified city, but also a gesture that means: I am protecting the eastern city. Teddy says he will consult. Touhami waits. Scurrying about; where is there a phone. Moshe Dayan agrees. We sit on the hotel balcony, autumnal sun, drafting a statement to the press. In English. Lots of nerves. There is no stenographer. Touhami wants different wording. A kind of negotiation takes place. Discussion of almost every word. Also present are Gabi Padon and Ziama Divon, Foreign Ministry.

A problem with the Copts. They have a conflict with the Ethiopians over some small room in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and Israel is taking the Ethiopians' side. Teddy suggests instead of a donation to the church - a donation to the Coptic school. Touhami agrees. A fat person joins us. Othman Ahmed Othman. Minister of construction and a big contractor. He is Sadat's strongman. Half a draft, a draft and a second draft - done. Teddy goes to dictate the text: he is the only one who can read his handwriting. I remain alone with Touhami.

He asks if I am Austrian. No, why? He spent a few years in Austria and I look like an Austrian to him. I am not, but Teddy is. Maybe you can speak German to each other. Touhami - not worth my while, he will win. Asked me for my opinion. My opinion is that this visit will bring war. Tried to persuade me that I am wrong. Touhami: Yes, I will persuade you.

Israel must compromise because it needs peace. Peace is vital for the country and it understands this. There is also international pressure on Israel and an opportunity to reach an agreement without the Soviets. Therefore Sadat believes that there is a chance that [Menachem] Begin will make concessions.

- Does he really believe that? After all, he didn't succeed in reaching an agreement even with [Yitzhak] Rabin and Golda [Meir]. Why with Begin?

Touhami: Precisely with Begin. We had no confidence in either Golda or Rabin. They are weak. We need someone strong.

- And there is a chance that Begin will make concessions?

T: Yes. There were contacts, already a few weeks, in America, in Europe, and there were even Israelis who came to Egypt. Yes, yes, yes, what you are hearing. They came from America and from Europe.

- Ah, you mean Jews?

T: I, thank God, am capable of distinguishing between Jews and Israelis. I tell you that they were Israelis. But for cover they came with American passports. They were disguised as businessmen. They heard what we had to say - we heard them - we passed information back and forth, and that is how this visit was prepared.

- So what will be in the end?

T: All will be well.

- Israel-Egypt? A separate peace?

T: No, not a separate peace, but a model for an agreement, a basis for negotiations between us, and afterward other states as well.

- What will be the basis?

T: Of course, full withdrawal to the 1967 borders.

- The 1967 borders? So why did you bother coming? There will be no withdrawal to 1967. What about the Gaza Strip?

T: The Gaza Strip is not ours.

- Sharm Al-Sheikh?

T: Sharm is ours.

(International force, also along the Jordan and on the Golan, peace within a year to five years.)

- Jerusalem?

T: In Jerusalem we are talking about East Jerusalem. We have no claims on the western city. We are thinking of establishing a separate administration in the eastern city.

- And the Israelis? For example, in the Jewish Quarter?

T: They will be able to keep their citizenship.

- And all the new residential neighborhoods?

T: We will be able to view the Jews' settlement as religious settlement - that will facilitate the question of sovereignty.

- But are you thinking of divided sovereignty?

T: Not to divide the city, but divided sovereignty, yes, definitely.

- And Sadat really believes he will succeed in this move?

T: He believes that if he fails - there will be war.

So that is the crux of the matter. Because it does not appear that Begin can make concessions, the sad conclusion is that the Sadat visit will likely bring war. There is something depressing in this whole festival - the biggest show of all - I want to run wild with enthusiasm - I have to pinch myself to believe that all this is actually happening - But it seems to me that it has no chance and therefore there is no averting war. It's impossible to know with certainty. An insane situation: me and the deputy premier of Egypt in diplomatic negotiations. A senior Egyptian official trying to persuade an Israeli left-winger that peace is possible and the left-winger turning up his nose.

Teddy returned with the paper; he almost got into a fight with the stenographers. In the elevator we met Walter Cronkite. Teddy gave him the scoop. The first agreement.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Center Bulletin, Vol. 4, No. 6

Volume 4, Issue 6
November 22, 2007

Total Number of Visitors Since October 2004: 341,877


Recalling Sadat's Historic Visit and Begin's Talks with Him

19 November 1977

The Menachem Begin Heritage Center is the focus of activities marking 30 years after the visit to Jerusalem of President Anwar Sadat of Egypt at the invitation of Prime Minister Menachem Begin. Unfortunately, neit her the government of Israel, nor the Knesset did anything to mark the occasion. Sadat's appearance in the Knesset and his address at the time was a rare event and should have been recalled by that august body.

Against this background, the initiative was taken from the beginning by the Menachem Begin Heritage Center which brought the event to the attention of the Israel media and the international media and organized two initial events to mark the occasion.

The first took place on Sunday evening, 18 November, in the Reuben Hecht Auditorium where a select audience of diplomats, Israel Foreign Office personnel, academia, and members of the Boards of the Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation and Center. Many media people from Israel and abroad were present. The audience also included the Israel Government Fellows whose program has been planned and organized by the Menachem Begin Heritage Center.

In opening the evening, Herzl Makov, Chairman of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center, spoke of the great significance in world history of what Menachem Begin had done to invite Anwar Sadat to Jerusalem and the Egyptian leaders courage in coming here.

Harry Hurwitz, founder and president of the Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation, said that what was most remarkable about Anwar Sadat's visit was that it took place at all since Egypt and Israel were still in a state of war at the time. Vi sionary leaders, strong men, experienced statesmen had found the key which was to agree on the termination of this state of war and so it was written in the preamble of the treaty.

"From my own contacts with him, I know that on numerous occasions in private and in public, Menachem Begin said that 'when I shall, with G-d's help be elected Prime Minister, I will invite the President of Egypt, the King of Jordan and the President of Syria to meet with me here in Jerusalem or in their capitals to start negotiating for real peace.'"

Hurwitz pointed out that the US was not the initiator of peace between Israel and Egypt, but a facilitator at best. He quoted the well-known journalist, Yoel Marcus, who recently wrote "it is not an accident that the Nobel Prize committee gave the prize to Begin and Sadat, but skipped over Carter."

Thinking aloud, Hurwitz said that if the Almighty had granted these two historic figures 5 or 10 years more to work together, the peace between Egypt and Israel which has held for 30 difficult years would be consolidated and would serve as an imperishable example for the region and the strife-torn world.

Israel's Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni spent half her speech on Sadat's visit and its consequences and implications. The second half was devoted to the forthcoming Annapolis talks that will take place in an entirely different setting and in entirely different conditions.

Because of illness, the Egyptian Ambassador Mr. Mohamed Assem Ibrahim cancelled his appearance at the last minute, but sent the Consul General Dr. Sameh al-Suwayfi to represent the Arab Republic of Egypt. In his address, Dr. al-Suwayfi recalled the courageous steps of President Anwar Sadat and of Prime Minister Menachem Begin—two men who between them have taken action to change the picture of the Middle East. He then spoke about the current situation and the need to fulfill Sadat's complete vision, which was for a comprehensive peace in the area involving the Arab States and especially the Palestinian people.

Following the addresses and some appropriate musical pieces by Gadi Shtern, on piano, and Adam Weingard, on the oud, the audience viewed the impressive exhibition marking Sadat's visit, which has been mounted on the second floor of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center.

Impressive Exhibition

The exhibition takes up most of the foyer outside the Reuben Hecht Auditorium on the second floor of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center. The viewer travels along a series of panels that trace the events of the peace process through time, starting from the first murmurs of the possibility of Sadat's historic visit to Jerusalem and continuing on to the signing of the Peace Treaty itself on the White House Lawn and the famous three-man handshake. The exhibition culminates in a film showing archival footage from that time and highlighting the main turning points in the process. Another element of the exhibition is a number of panels introducing the viewer to Sadat, the statesman. The exhibition is in Hebrew, English and Arabic.


The Exhibit, "No More War: 30 Years of the Peace Process", is open for viewing for the next few months. It is not part of the regular museum tour and is free to the public during Center hours.


King David Hotel Hosts Reception

On Monday evening, 19 November (exactly 30 years after Sadat's arrival) another very special event was hosted by the King David Hotel management whose director Mickey Federmann recalled with pride that Sadat had stayed at the hotel and he held his main talks with Prime Minister Begin and other dignitaries at the hotel. The main guest was former President Ephraim Katzir who had welcomed Sadat on his arrival and accompanied him on the drive to Jerusalem.

President Katzir, in a wheelchair, spoke movingly about Menachem Begin's modesty, integrity, and love of the People of Israel and the Land of Israel. He referred to his conversation with President Sadat and the Egyptian leader's enthusiasm and joy on entering Jerusalem and seeing the flag-waving crowds welcoming him up to the King David Hotel.

Mr. Yechiel Kadishai, who was Begin's private secretary and Bureau Chief, used the occasion to quote from a Begin statement about his vision of the relationship between Israel and the Arab world.

Among the guests, as on the previous evening, were Hart Hasten, President of the US Friends of the Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation, and Mrs. Hasten, as well as Begin's two daughters, Chassia and Leah, representing the Begin family. The audience was comprised of people who were active in many capacities before and during Sadat's visit—Israel Air Force pilots who accompanied his plane; the Army; the police; the bands; the flag bearers, the drivers, the photographers; the management of the King David Hotel; Begin Center personnel and others. Special reference was made by Herzl Makov, Chairman of the Begin Center, to persons (now deceased) who played a major role in organizing Sadat's visit—Dr. Eliyahu Ben Elisar, who was at the head of the organization committee as Director General of the Prime Minister's office, and General Efraim "Freuke" Porat, who controlled all the security and other logistics.

High tribute was paid to Mr. Moshe Fuksman-Sha'al who planned and organized much of these two events.

Media Takes Note

The Israel media—TV, radio and print—had a field day with the 30th Anniversary of President Anwar Sadat's visit to Israel. All Israel's television channels had specially prepared programming including footage from the time and interviews with personalities of today. The heads of the Begin Center and Begin Foundation were interviewed over and over again by TV and radio programs and in the press.

A moving article by Yehuda Avner appeared in the Jerusalem Post on Sunday, November 18, [and can be accessed on our Blog here] described the night Sadat arrived reporting that before he stepped down from the plane, there were all kinds of speculation that something untoward was afoot.

"Notwithstanding, Prime Minister Menachem Begin stood solidly at the foot of the ramp looking at the sealed door with no hint of restiveness. His face was as impassive as a sphinx. Unbeknownst to most, it had been he, Begin, who had initiated the steps, overt and covert, that brought Sadat to Israel and he knew it was no ruse.

"A week later, in an address to the Knesset, Prime Minister Begin summarized his personal initiatives which led to Sadat's 36-hour historic visit and which would, in time, culminate in a peace treaty. Elucidating why eight o'clock was deliberately chosen as the hour for the Egyptian President's arrival he explained:

"President Sadat indicated he wished to come to us on Saturday evening. I decided that an appropriate hour would be eight o'clock, well after the termination of Shabbat. I decided on this hour in order that there would be no Shabbat desecration. Also, I wanted the whole world to know that ours is a Jewish state which honors the Sabbath day. Deeply moved, I read again those eternal biblical verses, 'Honor the Sabbath day to keep it holy…' These words echo one of the most sanctified ideas in the history of manki nd, and they remind us that once upon a time we were all slaves in Egypt.

"Mr. Speaker: We respect the Muslim day of rest—Friday. We respect the Christian day of rest—Sunday. We ask all nations to respect our day of rest—Shabbat. They will do so only if we respect it ourselves."

In an article on, Eitan Haber said:

"It should be noted again: The Egyptians don't love us, and I guess they have several reasons for that (wars, casualties, the ruined Egyptian economy as a result of the war, the unending Palestinian problem). So what?

In a country that, on average, fought Egypt every 10 years or so (1948, 1956, 1967, 1973) there have been no casualties on our side for 30 years now (and no casualties on their side either). About 30 Israelis were killed in terror acts, not by the Egyptian government. Or in other words: Thousands of Israelis (and Egyptians, of course) who are alive and well at this very moment, breathing and eating and working and having fun, owe their lives to Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin. Thousands of others (at least 6,000 on the Israeli side) were not so fortunate and today they lie under headstones at military cemeteries.

The bottom line: The Egyptians don't love us and are not coming to Tel Aviv, and still, we're very satisfied. Thank you Egypt, for this flawed peace agreement. Thank you.

Double Mazal Tov

We extend our hearty congratulations to Sharon (Hurwitz) and Dr. Jay Wohlgelernter on the birth of their second son, brother to Boaz. The baby is the second grandson of Dr. Hillel and Jennifer Hurwitz of Ra'anana and of Dr. Yossi and Debbie Wohlgelernter of Toronto and the great grandson of Freda and Harry Hurwitz of Jerusalem and Rhona Maisels of Johannesburg, South Africa. The baby has already visited the Menachem Begin Heritage Center! ! !

Just before the baby was born, his mother Sharon passed the Law Society Bar Exams—written and oral—and is now a full-fledged lawyer.

Israel Defense Seminar Day for IGF

The Israel Government Fellows, who are on a special program under the auspices of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center, were privileged to hear a number of top level lectures last week on subjects related to Israel's strategy and security.

The lecturers were very free and open with the young students and encouraged questions and discussions. The lecturers who spoke were: Prof. Yochanan Manor, President of the Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace; Major Gen. (res) Eitan Ben Eliahu, Founder and CEO of Sentry Technology Group, congratulated the Begin Center on its important programming and concepts and wished it great success; and Mr. Uzi Rubin, an Israeli defense engineer and analyst, one of the pre-eminent analysts of missile defense systems in the Middle East. Mr. Rubin opened his remarks by saying that both his parents had been active in the Irgun Zvai Leumi. His wife is the daughter of the late Dr. and Mrs. Wolfgang Von Weisel, prominent Revisionist leaders from the '20s through the '50s.


Milton (Mickey) and Frimette Snow of Toronto and members of their family who were on a visit to Israel included the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in their Jerusalem program.

On arrival, they were received by the Founder and President of the Foundation, Harry Hurwitz, and paused at the entrance to the Nathan Silver Boardroom. At that point they related how closely they were connected with the Silvers from the time Nathan Silver arrived in Canada from Poland. They were partners in various construction ventures.

During Hurwitz's briefings to the family, Mr. Snow related that when Menachem Begin visited Toronto in the first years after the establishment of the State of Israel, he, Milton Snow, was one of his drivers and aides in Toronto.

The family was much impressed by the Center, the museum and everything they learned about it.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Yehuda Avner of the Sadat Visit

Bygone Days: The night Sadat came


Nov. 17, 2007

At 7:58 on the Saturday night of November 19, 1977, a 72-man guard of honor, drawn from officer cadets of every branch of the IDF, dipped its flags and presented arms while buglers sounded a fanfare signaling the arrival of the president and the prime minister of Israel. The chatter among the multitude of the other high-ranking dignitaries lining the unusually long red carpet clanked with animated anticipation until all eyes turned to watch in silence the two approaching white lights suspended in the sky. The roar of the descending aircraft drowned out the scattered applause as the plane touched down, slowed, turned, and taxied toward the waiting throng.

The presidential Boeing arrived exactly as prescribed - eight o'clock - and on its fuselage were emblazoned the words ARAB REPUBLIC OF EGYPT. Even the dourest beamed with delight at the sight of it, like Mona Lisa breaking into a grin.

A marshal's voice barked, "ATTENTION! PRESENT ARMS!" and the officer cadets froze with choreographic precision, their weapons clasped rigidly upright as the aircraft drew to a halt at the red carpet's floodlit edge.

Never had Ben-Gurion Airport been more embossed and festooned than on that Saturday night, a sea of light and of color, hung with a hundred flapping flags, Israeli and Egyptian. Deep rows of parading troops, their regimental ensigns aloft, framed the tarmac, and at one end was arraigned a military band, its brass instruments flashing in the floodlights. (The conductor, unable to find a copy of the Egyptian national anthem, had hastily transcribed its notes from an end-of-day Radio Cairo broadcast).

A RAMP WAS quickly rolled into position and an expectant hush settled on the assembly. Even the air seemed to be holding its breath. For reasons unknown, however, the aircraft's door failed to be opened and the anticipatory adrenaline gradually gave way to people leaning their heads together along the length of the red carpet, their faces faintly unsettled, muttering softly about the inordinate amount of time passing by.

Might something untoward be afoot? A few knowing eyes cast speculative glances at the chief of staff, General Mordechai (Motta) Gur, who had publicly suggested that the Egyptian president's sudden impulse to visit Jerusalem might be a ruse, a subterfuge for an advantageous starting point for the next Israel-Arab war.
Might Egyptian commandos be poised behind that door readying to mow down the entire Israeli cabinet? (Four years later President Sadat himself would be assassinated in a not entirely dissimilar fashion when his own commandos mowed him down while taking the salute at a parade).

Notwithstanding, prime minister Menachem Begin stood stolidly at the foot of the ramp looking up at the sealed door with no hint of restiveness in his demeanor, his face as impassive as a Sphinx. Unbeknown to most, it was he, Begin, who had initiated the steps, overt and covert, that had brought Sadat to Israel and he knew it was no ruse.

AND THEN the door swung ajar and out of it burst an unruly horde of journalists who jostled each other for strategic positions at the base of the ramp. This caused the mass of correspondents, television crews and photographers contained behind the barriers of the official press pen to holler their frustration, their line of vision of the impending first handshake of the first meeting between the leaders of Egypt and of Israel being entirely blocked by the just-landed Cairo crowd. So they surged forward through the police barrier causing such a crush along the red carpet that numerous VIPs were pushed back into the second and third rows of the receiving line.
But still, the plane's doorway remained empty and dark, and the hubbub continued to swell, until, like a dazzling firework, a thousand camera shutters sliced the night with a blazing light engulfing the lone figure who had just stepped into it.

Tall, erect, groomed, mustached, hair short and black on a balding brown skull, nose Semitic, cheekbones sharp, eyes black and deep-set, president Anwar Sadat stood there blinking in the glare and basking in the fanfare of trumpets and fervent applause which greeted him.

As if in extreme slow motion he descended the steps amid the popping camera bulbs, like paparazzi at a premiere, accompanied by the chief of protocol, Rehavam Amir, who formally introduced the president to president Ephraim Katzir and prime minister Begin, waiting at the foot of the ramp.

Stampeded by the crush of the pressmen I ended up at the side of Golda Meir, who remarked sarcastically to Yitzhak Rabin, "Now he comes! Couldn't he have come before the Yom Kippur War and save all those dead, his and ours?"

Rabin's reply, whatever it was, was drowned out by applause as premier Begin introduced his guest to his ministers lining the carpet. Reaching Ariel Sharon - the commander who led the Israeli counter attack across the Suez Canal in the Yom Kippur War - the Egyptian president paused, and bantered, "Aha, here you are! I tried to chase you in the desert. If you try to cross my canal again I'll have to lock you up."

"No need for that," laughed Sharon. "I am glad to have you here. I'm minister of agriculture now," and they shook hands warmly.

To foreign minister Moshe Dayan I heard him say, "Don't worry Moshe, it will be alright." But someone in earshot claimed he had also quipped, "You must let me know in advance when you are coming to Cairo so that I can lock up my museums" - a dig at Dayan's penchant for helping himself to ancient relics.

To the chief of staff General Motta Gur, he grinningly said, "See, general, it is no trick. I was not bluffing," The general's response was a formal salute.
And now he stood face to face with Golda Meir. They looked at each other solemnly, he half bowing as he took her hand. "I have wanted to talk to you for a long time," he said. "And I have been waiting for you for a long time," she answered. "But now I am here," he said.

"Shalom. Welcome," she said.

HE CONTINUED along the carpet, shaking the hands of the rest of the ministers and of the other notables, until, at a given signal, a young captain of the guard, head high, chest out, marched forward, and with a whirling salute reported to the president that the guard of honor was ready for his review. Walking with measured steps, president Sadat inspected the serried ranks, semi-bowed to the flag, and then, side by side with president Katzir and premier Begin, heard the band play his national anthem followed by "Hatikva," their discordant notes punctuated by the thumps of a twenty-one gun salute.

A burnished black armored limousine pulled up alongside the Egyptian president, but yet again, a pack of pugnacious newsmen of every sort mobbed the vehicle, overwhelming president Katzir, Sadat's intended traveling companion. He, being an elderly, genteel man, slow of gait, was pushed aside and almost left behind, had it not been for the quick wittedness of a security agent trotting alongside the car who saw him safely inside.

And thus did the presidential motorcade set off for the drive up to Jerusalem where excited, flag-waving, cheering crowds were gathered along the route.

A WEEK later, in an address to the Knesset, prime minister Begin summarized his personal initiatives which led to Sadat's 36-hour historic visit and which would, in time, culminate in a peace treaty. Elucidating why eight o'clock was deliberately chosen as the hour for the Egyptian president's arrival, he explained: "President Sadat indicated he wished to come to us on Saturday evening. I decided that an appropriate hour would be eight o'clock, well after the termination of the Shabbat. I decided on this hour in order that there would be no Shabbat desecration. Also, I wanted the whole world to know that ours is a Jewish state which honors the Sabbath day. Deeply moved, I read again those eternal biblical verses, 'Honor the Sabbath day to keep it holy…' These words echo one of the most sanctified ideas in the history of mankind, and they remind us that once upon a time we were all slaves in Egypt.

"Mr. Speaker: We respect the Muslim day of rest - Friday. We respect the Christian day of rest - Sunday. We ask all nations to respect our day of rest - Shabbat. They will do so only if we respect it ourselves."

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Center Bulletin, Vol. 4, No. 5

Volume 4, Issue 5
November 14, 2007

Total Number of Visitors Since October 2004: 339,113

From a Position of Strength

Yoel Marcus, a well-known Israeli journalist, who later this month will receive a life-time achievement award at the Eilat journalists conference, wrote in HaAretz last Friday that when Prime Minister Olmert said that, like Menachem Begin, he preferred the risks of peace to the agonies of war,

"he forgot to mention that when Menachem Begin cooked up Anwar Sadat's visit to Jerusalem in secret and later signed the Camp David Accords, he did so from a position of strength, benefiting from the prestige, power and mythical status of the Israel Defense Forces. That was the same IDF that recovered from the surprise of the Yom Kippur War, deployed its troops within 40 kilometers of Damascus and surrounded Egypt's Third Army, forcing Sadat to face the reality of Israel's indestructibility.

The U.S. administration was not the initiator of peace between Egypt and Israel, but it provided the parties with the tools and formulas to solve the bundle of problems that came with moving from a state of war to peace. It is no accident that the Nobel Prize committee awarded the peace prize to Begin and Sadat but skipped over President Jimmy Carter."


Hot off the Press—Begin's World Outlook

Fifty-six years after the original publication of the booklet in Hebrew containing Menachem Begin's speech at the Herut movements second National Conference which took place on February 26, 1951, the 72-page booklet has now appeared for the first time in English with annotations through the sponsorship of the Samuel Aba and Sisel Klurman Research Institute of the Begin Center and the efforts of many people.

The booklet is now being distributed to present lawmakers in Israel, judges, academia and the media. In his introduction, the Founder and President of the Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation, Harry Hurwitz, records special thanks to Hila Ben-Lulu, Ziv Rubinovitz, Elkana Efrati, Dafna Shkedy, Yuval Bar Or, Moshe Fuksman-Sha'al, Yonatan Silverman, Ilana Brown and Yisrael Medad for their editorial and translation efforts and especially to Mr. and Mrs. Paul Wallach for their financial sponsorship of this publication.

IGF Program Featured

The Israel Government Fellows program which is being run by the Menachem Begin Heritage Center has received extensive publicity in Israel and was featured in the magazine of MASA, which is a publication about long-term programs in Israel conducted by the Jewish Agency and the government of Israel.

The last edition highlighted the fact that the program is operating under the auspices of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem established to commemorate the legacy of Israel's 6th Prime Minister. The Israel Government Fellows internships fall in line with the Center's emphasis on ethical government. The program also includes intensive Hebrew language classes and mentoring sessions.

This week the students are participating in a very important day of study of Israel's security problems and outlook. The program is directed for the Center by Tamar Darmon.

How Much More is Possible?

The biggest attendance so far at the Parashat HaShavua program sponsored by the Rohr Family of New York and Florida was on Thursday night, 8 November, when more than 500 people were present. They crowded the Reuben Hecht Auditorium and filled the Izzy Asper Foyer which had been set up to accommodate 200 people who watched a simultaneous broadcast of the lecture by Dr. Micha Goodman. Some were even sitting on the floor. This is indeed one of the most successful Parashat HaShavua programs in the country.

"No More War" Displays "Peace is Great"

After Sunday, when the exhibition marking the historic visit to Jerusalem of President Anwar Sadat of Egypt, visitors will be able to see on display a copy of the specially produced book Peace is Great which was published at that time. The beautiful book is encased in a magnificent olive wood cover and was donated to the Center by Mr. Morris Kahn, who was one of the original sponsors of the book.

Photogenic Center

The Menachem Begin Heritage Center has become a popular venue for brides and grooms to have some of their wedding photographs taken around its walls, on its terraces and facing the walls of the Old City across the Ben Hinnom Valley.

Visitors to the Center may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of these happy couples during these memorable moments.

Mr. David Rothberg who lives in Toronto and Jerusalem and his sister Laila Rappaport from Toronto visited the Begin Center last week and toured the museum. They came upstairs to greet the Founder, Harry Hurwitz.

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Naomi Pollack of Chicago and a group of friends visited the Center and the Begin Museum on Wednesday morning. They are all here for a wedding which will take place in Jaffa at the beginning of the week.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Exhibit in Progress

Next week, an exhibit dedicated to commemorating the beginning of the Peace Process
between Israel and Egypt will open at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center, to run for a half year.

We thought we'd give you a look at what goes into preparing such an exhibit:

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Begin Center - A Venue for Wedding Pictures

In addition to its role of preserving the legacy of Menachem Begin, the Begin Center heads were delighted to discover that the building and immediate vicinity is being used by wedding photographers as a backdrop to pre-Chuppha photogrpahs of young couples, such as this one:-

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A Story about Menachem Begin

From a blog entitled The Spine by Marty Peretz over at The New Republic:-

Which reminds me of a true story about Menahem Begin. The fundamentalist Christian courtship of Israel began about when he became prime minister. One of the early signs that it was meshing was the meeting between Begin and the president of the Southern Baptist Convention, Bailey Smith, who had said that God doesn't hear the prayers of a Jew. That's a big theological rift already. But Begin tried to finesse the history. When questioned, he said, "Look, about religious truth, we'll wait and see. When the Messiah comes, we'll ask him, 'Is this your first visit or your second?' He'll surely be honest with us."

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Center Bulletin, Vol. 4, No. 4

Volume 4, Issue 4
November 8, 2007

Total Number of Visitors Since October 2004: 337,364

View from Begin Center is Part of Ad Campaign

The Israel Government Tourist Ministry has placed a special advertisement in the New York Times, the New Yorker Magazine and other publications in the US. It features a close-up shot of the Tower of David and the Citadel which, according to the caption in the advertisement, was taken from the balcony of the restaurant in the Menachem Begin Heritage Center.

The terrace and the restaurant area are favorite spots for photographers to take pictures of the view which the Begin Center faces across the Ben Hinnom Valley. This advertisement has already elicited numerous phone calls and casual visitors who would like to photograph the scene from the building.

A Visit From Israel's Ambassador to the US

Ambassador Sallai Meridor, Israel's Ambassador to the United States, met with the students from six countries who are part of the Israel Government Fellows program. The meeting was held in the Silver Executive Boardroom at the Begin Center. He gave them a general review of the situation as seen from Washington, DC, and answered many questions. The students, who are all doing internships in various government offices, were thrilled at the opportunity to exchange views with such an important representative of the State of Israel.

A Personal Brush with History

In preparation for next week's exhibition opening to commemorate President Anwar Sadat's visit to Jerusalem, the staff of the Begin Center came across remembrances from people who recalled those historic events. One such story belongs to Reuven Gargir, who visited the Begin Center in March 2005 with a group from Yad Sarah.

Reuven Gargir, a former policeman, said that "soon after I joined the police force, one of my assignments was guarding Begin at the time of the visit of Anwar Sadat. This was very exciting for Jerusalemites and many came to greet him when he arrived at the Knesset. I also remember that Sadat's daughter had given birth in Egypt and Begin sent one of his assistants to buy a doll at Mahane Yehuda."

After concluding the museum tour, he said, "I will never forget this visit. Begin was such a simple person and, really, just an ordinary citizen of our nation."

We invite our readers to send their remembrances of this historic visit to us for possible publication in the Bulletin.

Reuben Hecht Autobiography Added to Library

The Begin Center's Hasten Family Library has been enriched by receiving a copy of the newly published autobiography of the late Dr. Reuben Hecht, formerly advisor to Prime Minister Menachem Begin as well as a long-time personal friend and comrade. This autobiography is in Hebrew.

The book of over 300 pages is entitled The Last Gentleman, An Autobiography and is published by the Moledeth Development Company. It covers Hecht's life experiences from early childhood in Antwerp, Belgium; Basel, Switzerland; and Haifa, Israel with many way-stations along the road including meetings with Ze'ev Jabotinsky and activities in the Irgun operations across Europe as well as his personal business successes.

Dr. Hecht, for whom the Begin Center's auditorium is named, served as Prime Minister Begin's personal advisor for six years, accompanying him to meetings with Presidents and other heads of state as well as the United Nations and other international bodies. The book's observations and testimony provide a rich addition to the information resources of the Center and will well serve students and researchers.

In Memoriam

It is with profound regret that we record the death of Mr. Josef Jaglom at the age of 104. He was buried at the Trumpeldor Cemetery in Tel Aviv. We extend deep condolences to his wife Raya, their children, grandchildren and great grandsons. Josef Jaglom was a well-known financier a generous supporter of many causes. His wife Raya was for many years the president of World WIZO and is now the honorary Life President. She is a member of the International Board of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center and serves on its various committees, including the Board that selects the individual or organization who receives the annual Begin Prize.

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We deeply regret to record the death of Ann Roth of Sydney, Australia, and extend our heartfelt sympathy to her sons Stanley and John Roth and their families.

The two brothers established the Avenue of the Heritage in the Menachem Begin Museum at the Begin Center, Jerusalem, in honor of their parents Ann and Henry Roth. Stanley and John are devoted supporters of the Begin Center among all their other prominent activities on behalf of Israel and on behalf of the Jewish community of Australia.


Mr. Harry Taubenfeld, a member of the International Board of the Begin Center, and his wife Florence visited the Begin Center on Monday where they met with the founder Harry Hurwitz and the Chairman of the Center, Herzl Makov. They had been to the museum previously, but went back especially to see some of the new developments such as the Jerusalem Elevator and the archeological garden at the back of the building. Mr. Taubenfeld was one of the early supporters of the project and is one of its founders.

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Sixty children from the Menachem Begin School in Beit Shemesh visited the Begin Center and the hi-tech museum at the beginning of the week. They were very enthusiastic about what they saw and heard. The children will receive one of the new Menachem Begin t-shirts selected in a recent public competition.