Sunday, August 31, 2008

New Book: Eldad's "First Tithe"

In the underground

Alexander Zvielli , THE JERUSALEM POST

The First Tithe
By Israel Eldad
Translated with a foreword and notes by Zev Golan
Jabotinsky Institute/Gefen
420 pages; $24.95.

The fire of the burning bush that wasn't consumed inspired Moses to free his people from Egypt, and it apparently inspired poet Israel Eldad's attempts to free his people from the shackles of the Diaspora and set them free from the foreign occupation of Eretz Yisrael.

Shortly before his death, Eldad quoted a talmudic debate between the School of Hillel and the School of Shammai: "Is it better for man to have been created, or not to have been created?" After three years of arguing, the rabbis took a vote and decided that man would have been better off not being created. But they added: "Since he was created, let him examine his deeds."

Eldad was enthusiastic about this directive. He believed that while everything is forced upon man while we are here, what is important is what we do. The First Tithe is a highly emotional account of his activities between 1938 and 1948, an inseparable part of Israel's history.

An English edition of The First Tithe (there have been five Hebrew editions) was Eldad's dream, and the Jabotinsky Institute published one on the country's 60th Independence Day, to mark his contribution to the emergence of the state and perhaps also to remind us all that we weren't offered our independence on a silver platter.

Eldad presents us with a most accurate description of the tragic situation of Polish Jewish youth on the eve of the crucial Third Betar Congress, which was held in Warsaw on September 10, 1938. He writes: "In the many cities and villages, the youth loiter, forces moving, but doing nothing. Strength is withering. Or spending itself on the nonsense of collecting pennies for Jewish National Fund charity boxes, or breaking JNF boxes in protest, or participating in old Jewish congresses, and then a new Zionist one, or organizing petitions, and then again holding congressional elections. Young men and women walk the streets of Zelva and Peski and Volkovysk and Vilna, fires burning within them and gnawing at their own flesh, for the flesh of real enemies is withheld from them."

Eldad ignores and perhaps unjustly denigrates other existing Jewish youth movements.

At the Betar Congress, Menachem Begin opposed Ze'ev Jabotinsky. He said that the time for words was over and the time of action had come. He pointed out that the good, liberal Western nations had abandoned Czechoslovakia without mercy, that the world was cruel and understood only force. Eldad comments that here someone had finally said what had to be said, and notes that Begin's challenge was greeted by wild applause. Betar's oath was changed from "I will raise my arm only in defense" to "I will raise my arm to defend my people and conquer my homeland." The Irgun became a challenge both to the British and to the policy of restraint against Arab provocations adopted by the vast majority of the Palestinian Yishuv.

ISRAEL Scheib (later Eldad) was born on November 11, 1910, in eastern Galicia, and graduated from the Rabbinical Seminary in Vienna. He attended Revisionist Zionist meetings, taught at the Jewish Teachers Seminary in Vilna and was deeply moved by the poems of Uri Zvi Greenberg. Following his miraculous escape from Vilna and arrival in Jerusalem, he became - together with Yitzhak Shamir and Nathan Yellin-Mor - a top commander of Lehi.

His motto was "Blessed is God my rock, who trains my arm for battle." His underground aim and conscience were clear: one had to get rid of the British occupation by all means available. He had warned his wife before their marriage that he needed a home like a boat needs a port, but he could not belong entirely to it. He would not become a sinner, not for a piece of bread, nor a wife or a home.

The vast majority of the Yishuv opposed Lehi and supported the policy of the Hagana and the national institutions. Lehi had actually split from the Irgun, due to its decision to volunteer for the Jewish Palestinian units of the British army. Eldad was critical of David Raziel, the Irgun commander, who died leading British troops against the French in Syria. In Eldad's opinion it was a vain sacrifice. Eldad was also critical of Jewish industrial and agricultural development and support for the Allied war needs, even if this policy greatly strengthened the Yishuv's postwar possibilities.

The majority of the Yishuv condemned Lehi's stand and supported Jews' enlistment in the Palestinian units of the British army and the eventual creation of the Jewish Brigade. It was, however, the slow and systematic British implementation of the 1939 White Paper, the sinking of the immigrant ship Patria, the deportations of Irgun activists and of "illegal" immigrants, the Exodus affair, which slowly gained for Lehi more fighters and a more general understanding and sympathy.

There were times when Lehi acted alone, others when it cooperated with the Irgun, and there was even a short period when British postwar betrayal of Jewish aspirations became so obvious that Lehi, the Irgun and the Hagana joined forces. During all these years, Eldad, who escaped from British detention in Latrun after two years of imprisonment, was the ideological father of Lehi and its underground press. He never participated in armed operations. Once offered a gun during his escape, he didn't accept it; he was afraid that he might use it the wrong way and cause more trouble. But it was his pen that had sustained and inspired others.

Eldad agreed that perhaps elected leaders and journalists were justified in asking: "Who are these few Lehi people who give themselves the right to dictate the policy of the entire Yishuv, who decide by themselves if the country will enjoy calm or super-military rule, constant British arrests and searches, who issue death sentences, kill people and declare war or peace? Don't they sit like madmen in hiding, and interfere with the entire life and prospects of the Yishuv?"

Eldad answered that while there were dozens of elected Yishuv institutions, it would have been impossible to get their complete support for any operation, because there would always be vested interests that would interfere. But years later he admitted that he favored democracy, but only to the point where it began to cramp his Zionism.

Lehi was finally dissolved together with the Irgun and the Palmah on May 29, 1948, and most of its members joined the IDF and the Herut political party.

Eldad never wrote his planned "Second Tithe," but for the next 14 years published his revolutionary journal Sulam. He also edited Chronicles, the newspaper of Jewish history, and from 1962 until 1982 lectured in humanistic studies at the Technion. He submitted occasional articles on Jewish values to The Jerusalem Post and other Zionist journals.

Eldad died in Jerusalem in January 1996. His late wife, Batya Washitz, was a well-known Jerusalem social worker. His son is MK Arye Eldad.

The book reads like the emotional political manifesto of a dedicated underground fighter, but Eldad moves us by the strength of his belief, his sincerity, the honest admission of his own doubts and weaknesses. He spares no one, even himself. The text is well illustrated by Eldad's rich references to the Jewish lore and traditions. There can be little doubt that his memoirs are indispensable to all wishing to learn both about Judaism and the history of the difficult years that led to Israel's independence.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Moshe Zak Article

Jerusalem Post - Jerusalem
Author: Moshe Zak
Date: Mar 13, 1992

The 'proud Jew' who led Israel for more than six crucial years made peace with Egypt and spoke as an equal to foreign leaders. He is movingly recalled by a veteran writer who followed his career closely from his pre-state underground leadership days to his death this week at 79.

On July 19, 1977, I was standing on the White House lawn when president Jimmy Carter received Menachem Begin on his first official visit to the US as prime minister of Israel. In his honor, 19 artillery salvos were fired.

President Carter, in his welcoming speech to Begin, praised Israel's gesture in absorbing 100 refugees from Vietnam. The president did not restrict himself to words of praise but also reminded his guest, in a delicate hint, of the refugees in the Middle East.

Begin registered that hint and in his words of greeting described at considerable length the forgotten story, from 1939, of a ship with Jewish refugees from Germany which was destroyed by the Nazis, and from which only a few survivors succeeded in reaching the Land of Israel.

The description was graphic and shocked the listeners; but Begin refrained from mentioning, by even the faintest of hints, that he was referring to the vessel St. Louis, which desperately sailed up and down the shores of America, where all ports were locked tight against its unfortunate passengers.

Begin's impromptu reply had its effect: when Cyrus Vance, then the US secretary of state, visited him in the official guest residence, Blair House, for a working discussion, he opened his remarks with: "Mr. Prime Minister, permit me to say to you that as an American I experienced a feeling of shame at my country's behavior in the incident of the ship with the wretched Jewish refugees."

Israeli professional diplomats were not happy at Begin's ad libbed reply. They followed with concern the campaign in the American media against Begin (including the emphasis on "Begin rhymes with Fagin," the negative Jewish character in the book by Dickens). They were worried by the threats emanating from the White House against Begin's declarations in favor of settlements in the territories ("There will be many more Alonei Morehs").

And they feared the prime minister's statements might further anger Jimmy Carter.

However, Begin's incisive and elegant reply had a totally different effect, as evoked in the confession by Cyrus Vance.

As for settlements, too, over which the Administration rebuked Begin during all of his visits to Washington in the following six years, Begin knew how to respond with unconventional replies. "Why is it permitted for a Jew to settle and live in Bethel or Shiloh in the US, towns named after places in Judea and Samaria, but forbidden to build his home in the original Shilo or Beth El?" he asked Carter, and added: "I shall not lend my hand to discrimination against Jews in the Land of Israel."

And not only with Carter, but at all his meetings with heads of state and government, Begin customarily replied with direct, frank words against anything he perceived as harming Israel's interests or honor.

In a conversation with Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, after a sharp confrontation in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the subject of the settlements, Begin defined himself as "a proud Jew who does not tremble with fear" when speaking with foreign statesmen.

During that committee hearing, at the height of the Lebanon War, Sen. John Biden (Delaware) had attacked Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria and threatened that if Israel did not immediately cease this activity, the US would have to cut economic aid to Israel.

When the senator raised his voice and banged twice on the table with his fist, Begin commented to him: "This desk is designed for writing, not for fists. Don't threaten us with slashing aid. Do you think that because the US lends us money it is entitled to impose on us what we

must do? We are grateful for the assistance we have received, but we are not to be threatened. I am a proud Jew. Three thousand years of culture are behind me, and you will not frighten me with threats. Take note: we do not want a single soldier of yours to die for us."

After the meeting, Sen. Moynihan approached Begin and praised him for his cutting reply. To which Begin answered with thanks, defining his stand against threats.

This was the key to all his political contacts during the six years he was in office.

On two occasions, Begin was offered disguises to wear for his secret visits to King Hassan of Morocco, who had expressed readiness to meet with Israel's prime minister. But Begin turned down the disguises: "I shall travel only as the prime minister of Israel, and not in disguise."

Begin exchanged notes with the Moroccan king, but he preferred that his foreign minister, Moshe Dayan, should journey to a meeting with the king. Begin refused to disguise himself, and conditioned his visit to Morocco on being openly invited as the leader of a country with equal status.

That is how he acted, too, in responding to an invitation from the president of France, Giscard d'Estaing, for an official visit to the Elysee Palace. Begin condition his acceptance on a promise that in the address at the official reception he would hear no call to recognize the PLO. Without such a promise, he refused to go.

However, in December 1977, when Begin presented his autonomy proposal for the territories to president Carter, and to British premier James Callaghan, the French president wanted to be informed and invited Begin to lunch in Paris. The Israeli prime minister's reply was: "I prefer my wife Aliza's kitchen in Jerusalem to a banquet at the Elysee Palace in Paris." The French president had no choice but to send a high-ranking emissary to London, where Begin was visiting, to get details of the autonomy plan the Israeli government was about to submit to Egypt's president Sadat.

For Begin, this was no matter of mere protocol, but a defense of Israel's honor, which he represented. When he was in opposition, he had gone several times to visit Gen. De Gaulle, who was also in opposition, and even heard from him very flattering things about Israel and the Jewish people which "had again clung to its own land." The general even told Begin that Israel should never have withdrawn from the Gaza Strip after the Suez-Sinai Campaign of 1956. This occurred, as mentioned, when both leaders were in opposition.

At the cabinet meeting on June 25, 1967, when Begin was a minister in Levi Eshkol's national unity coalition cabinet, he surprised his fellow-ministers with a joke about a meeting he had with the British ambassador in Tel Aviv. The envoy had told him his British counterpart in Amman had heard from Jordan's King Hussein, "I thank God I have got rid of the West Bank!" (That was spoken a full 21 years before Hussein actually decided on a total break with the West Bank. )

Begin was thus trying to cool the enthusiasm of some ministers who had begun to press for an immediate accommodation with Hussein on that territory. Begin suggested informing the Americans that Israel was ready to negotiate with Jordan on economic cooperation between the two countries. But he opposed any mention of territorial concessions in favor of Hussein.

When he reached office as prime minister in 1977, he publicly mentioned his readiness to meet with King Hussein and the presidents of Egypt and Syria. But, as with David Ben-Gurion in his time, who preferred not to meet face-to-face with Transjordan's Emir Abdullah but to dispatch emissaries to him, so Begin preferred to have Moshe Dayan, his foreign minister, conduct the two conversations with the Jordanian king in London in August 1977. These meetings were meant to clarify whether the king was ready for territorial compromise with Israel. The reply Dayan brought home to Begin was negative.

On his first visit to Carter, Begin impressed the US president with his immediate positive responses to requests on such subjects as interrogations of Palestinian detainees, or Israeli overflights of Saudi Arabia. Reacting to Carter's accusation of General Security Services alleged methods of torture to extract confessions from Palestinian detainees, Begin took pains to telephone Jerusalem and order the GSS to cease these methods - if indeed they existed, as critics charged. "Big Brother's" monitoring ear heard this conversation, and Carter was pleased.

Begin was satisfied with his first visit to Washington. The compliments Carter paid him softened him somewhat, especially concerning the settlements. But immediately after he left Washington, he was told of a Saudi attempt to mediate between the PLO and the US Administration.

The "honeymoon" was over; when he was lying ill in Ichilov Hospital, Begin was informed of an American-Soviet deal to convene the Geneva Conference, with the participation of the Palestinians who had not been among the invitees to the original 1973 conference.

Begin ordered Dayan, then in the US, to start a campaign to foil this American-Soviet initiative, and it drove Carter furious, for in the meantime the US president had received a note from Sadat who also voiced reservations at the American-Soviet initiative.

Carter did not know that this coordinated stand between Israel and Egypt was not fortuitous: it was the fruit of behind-the-scenes negotiations between them. That dialog soon after bore fruit in Sadat's visit to Jerusalem. Carter was embarrassed, and at first refused to help that Israeli-Egyptian initiative. Only several days later and after hesitation, did he reconcile himself to it and even agree to participate.

But it was hard for Carter to forgive Begin for this exercise, and he searched for ways to pay him back.

At the beginning of 1978, when difficulties arose in the negotiations between Sadat and Begin, voices were heard in Washington calling for Begin's removal from office. Kol Yisrael even quoted a senior figure in Washington as saying to an Israeli leader that "Begin should be dismissed."

These words aroused the vehement reaction of the prestigious Wall Street Journal which wrote "we are actually stricken when we recall that the US has deposed the leader of a friendly government from power because he did not implement the policy conceived in the dreams of some brilliant bureaucrat in Washington."

The Carter Administration did not restrict itself to proferring advice; it also tried to apply pressure on Begin. Carter asked the Shah of Iran to impose sanctions on oil shipments to Israel to pressure the prime minister. To forestall this blow, Begin went to Teheran to meet secretly with the Shah. He brought an ancient map of Jerusalem and an antique dagger.

But it was not these gifts which determined the Shah's rejection of Carter's recommendation. The Shah later told The Washington Post that if the US wanted Iran to stop the flow of oil to Israel, it should itself first stop the flow of arms to Israel.

Begin sensed this tactic by Carter against him when he subsequently received a report from Bonn on a telephone conversation between the US president and West German chancellor Helmut Schmidt. Carter asked the chancellor to use economic pressure against Begin, since he himself was exposed to pressure from Jews in the US.

The Shah was worried by Carter's approach to him because he saw in it a troubling sign of the attitude of the Carter Administration to US allies. And indeed, not many months went by before Begin was compelled, in the midst of the Camp David talks, to intervene and appeal to Carter to help the Shah survive.

Those 13 days of complicated negotiations at Camp David were described by Carter's Middle East affairs adviser, Prof. William Quandt, who qualified Begin as undoubtedly the most professional negotiator there. He outdid everyone in understanding how to play his cards, Quandt wrote. He was meticulous in exploiting formulations to his advantage and effectively used the threat to end the talks in order to force concessions at crucial moments.

The description continued by saying Begin never for a moment took his attention away from certain issues; here and there, he conceded a point of symbolic but not substantive importance, to get something more concrete. He excelled in playing the game of walking a tightrope, Quandt wrote, holding back his final concessions until all the others had already laid their cards on the table for all to see.

This was the testimony of a member of the American team in the Camp David talks. In essence, it was an accurate evaluation, but in fact Begin never used a direct threat to end the talks. He proceeded with sophistication even when he wanted to signal the Americans he had reached the end of his tether regarding concessions.

He knew Carter's men were eavesdropping on his phone calls, so he called his deputy premier, Yigael Yadin, from Camp David, and reported to him the talks had run aground because of American stubbornness over the settlements and that he thought there was no more purpose in continuing to negotiate.

This was enough to panic the Americans into realizing there was no point in pressing Begin further.

There were many difficulties overcome - but the issue of the settlements continued to hold up the agreement. On the last night, the question of Jerusalem arose, which overshadowed the settlements issue. Begin announced decisively he would not sign any document in which Jerusalem was defined as occupied territory. Dramatically, he declaimed "May my right hand forget its cunning, may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth {if I forget thee, Oh, Jerusalem}."

When the question of Jerusalem was solved by an exchange of letters in which all sides set out their positions on the subject, everyone breathed a sigh of relief, and the signing ceremony took place.

Only on the morrow of the signing did the Americans remember that what remained unresolved was the issue of the settlements. Begin insisted that the freeze would not prevail during the entire negotiating period for autonomy, as Carter demanded, but for three months only, the time designated for negotiating the peace treaty with Egypt. He did not concede on this point.

Carter fumed. Begin had outsmarted him. But there was no choice except to acquiesce in Begin's legalistic arguments.

Carter's anger increased when the Academy in Oslo announced that Begin and Sadat were to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace, while he felt sure he deserved the prize. Begin became impatient at being preached at by the president of the US and at the humiliation over the methods of punishment Carter employed against him.

When the Administration leaked a report that, in protest against the issue of the settlements, Carter would not meet with Begin when he came on a private visit to the US, Begin replied calmly, contemptuously. The leakers thought he would be insulted, but he wasn't; on the contrary, when he reached the airport at New York and was asked if he would be meeting with the president, he said quietly: "No, I wasn't invited, and we will not meet."

It was an election year for the governor of New York State, and the Democratic Party feared this would hurt it in the polls; go-betweens immediately went to Begin to arrange a meeting with Carter in the New York home of the movie mogul, Arthur Krim. When Begin got to the meeting, he discovered it was a gathering of Jewish contributors to the Democratic Party. He was extremely angry at the trap he fell into.

This was one of three occasions when a US Administration surprised Begin. The other two occurred in the time of president Reagan, whose personal friendship toward Israel Begin greatly appreciated.

On August 12, 1982, he received an urgent phone call from the White House. President Reagan asked him to stop the massive bombing of Beirut, which he was viewing on TV. He added: "On my desk is the photo of a little Lebanese girl, with arms and legs amputated, who was wounded in your bombings."

Begin was moved; only later did it become known that Reagan was looking at a faked photo distributed by a certain news agency. The child was not wounded at all by Israeli bombs. But when Begin was told of a wounded child, he was embarrassed and promised Reagan to stop all bombing of Beirut at once.

Only in the evening, when the chief of the general staff came to report on the day's events, it became clear to him there had been no massive bombing of Beirut that day. The smoke clouding the TV screens was from archive photos.

The third surprise for Begin was Reagan's note of August 31 1982, on the plan he was about to make public the next day for a settlement between Israel and Jordan. Begin asked him to delay it for a few days to permit a prior discussion between Israel and the US. Reagan refused. That hurt Begin deeply.

Even before that, Begin had not withheld criticism at certain steps taken by the Reagan Administration. "We are not a banana republic, nor a state of vassals," he asserted in a message to the president, a strong reaction to the third time within six months that the Reagan Administration applied punitive measures against Israel for defying Washington.

For bombing the Iraqi nuclear reactor and the PLO arms dump in Beirut, Washington punished Israel by suspending shipments of planes to Israel; and in response to the Golan Law, by suspending the agreement on strategic cooperation.

"What kind of talk is this, of punishing Israel? Am I a boy of 14 who, if he doesn't behave properly, has his knuckles rapped?" said Begin in a message to Reagan in December 1981, through Ambassador Samuel Lewis. But his frankness did not push Reagan away; on the contrary, the friendship and strategic cooperation grew deeper when Reagan was convinced of the integrity of the prime minister.

Leonid Brezhnev also sent a secret emissary to Begin's home; he was Yevgeny Primakov, today head of Russian intelligence. Late one night in September 1977, he brought a proposal that the Soviet Union would restore diplomatic relations with Israel in return for Israeli agreement to PLO participation in the Geneva conference.

Begin totally spurned the Brezhnev proposal and asked that he be informed that Israel would lay down the conditions for diplomatic relations, and not Moscow. Israel's condition was the release of all Prisoners of Zion and opening the gates for Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union.

If these two conditions were met, he told the emissary, he would be ready to go to Moscow to meet with the heads of the Soviet regime to discuss other matters at issue between the two countries. In this conversation with the Soviet envoy, as in his talks with Carter, Begin was meticulous in correcting the term "West Bank" whenever it was mentioned and stressing that the correct usage was Judea and Samaria.

There was much better personal chemistry between Begin and Sadat than between Begin and Carter: in the relations with Sadat, too, differences became apparent, but the relations remained correct. They both kept the rules of the game. They played well on the stage. The crises in their talks are well remembered, but few recall that on December 25, 1977, the two men closeted themselves in Ismailia, emerging with a joint declaration of a common effort to resolve all problems.

After Sadat read the statement, the Egyptian diplomat Ismet Abdel-Majjid (today the secretary-general of the Arab League) commented, "But Mr. President, this declaration is altogether not acceptable to us."

Silence ensued, and Sadat and Begin returned to their meeting room and re-formulated the announcement, establishing two joint committees: a military one which would meet in Alexandria, and a political one to meet in Jerusalem. The impression left by the "veto" of the first announcement deterred anyone from objecting to Sadat's stand on having one committee meet in Jerusalem.

But later, when the committee met in the Hilton Hotel in Jerusalem, Sadat looked for a way to retreat and bring his delegation back from Jerusalem. He felt Begin had "had" him and searched for a pretext to renege. From then on, Sadat's visits to Israel were only to Haifa, Beersheba, Ofira, not again to Jerusalem.

Begin also spoke frankly with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, to the point where he was able to relate after a while to a member of the Indian Parliament some piquant remarks Mubarak had made to him about his talks with Saddam Hussein of Iraq. Mubarak once came to Saddam in his palace in Baghdad; Saddam drew his loaded pistol and laid it on the table. Mubarak wondered why he did this, and the Iraqi ruler replied: "That's our life ..."

Begin's direct style embarrassed many leaders of foreign countries. When at an official banquet in London Margaret Thatcher, then British premier, told him that if she had been prime minister during World War II, it was doubtful whether she would have ordered the bombing of the railway carriages on the way to Auschwitz, Begin did not let that pass. He voiced his grievance at the indifference of the Allied powers at the ovens of destruction at Auschwitz.

Only one head of state ever had Begin dumbfounded: Bashir Jemayel, the elected president of Lebanon, on the night of September 1, 1982, told the Israeli prime minister he would not sign a peace treaty with Israel. Begin felt betrayed. Soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces had spilled their blood to help Jemayel, but when he attained his goal, he violated his promise.

Begin knew how to argue with the great ones of the world. But that night, in a military camp near Nahariya, he lacked the words to rebuke adequately the man who had led Israel astray.

That pain was what led, less than a year later, to his retirement.

Investor's Business Daily Bio of Menachem Begin

Investor's Business Daily

Begin's Noble Aim For Peace


Posted 8/26/2008

Nobody could doubt Menachem Begin's commitment to his cause: Jews and Israel.

Of all the country's leaders, he seemed the least likely to compromise for peace. Nobody was more of a hawkish hard-liner in the Israeli government than Begin, as life experiences shaped his worldview.

He was born in 1913 into the anti-Semitism of Brest-Litovsk, Poland. He endured the pogroms of the 1930s, when locals attacked Jewish communities. He then lost his parents and a brother to the Nazi death camps amid the Holocaust.

He said in "Menachem Begin" by Richard Amdur: "There are times when everything in you cries out; your very self-respect as a human being lies in your resistance to evil."

He was no stranger to armed conflict. In 1943, Begin became commander of the Irgun, the underground Jewish army. Its aim was to drive Britain's military from Palestine on the path to building Israel.

During his career as an Israeli politician, Begin displayed "an uncompromising belief and deep care to many citizens that were neglected throughout the years," Eitan Haber, an Israeli military affairs expert and Begin biographer, told IBD.

*Grasping The Prize*

After 30 years of war had taken 80,000 Egyptian and 14,000 Israeli lives, Prime Minister Begin made peace with Egypt when the chance came in the form of its president, Anwar Sadat. Begin, with his hard-line resume, had the credentials to pursue Sadat's overtures.

For becoming the first Israeli leader to sign a peace treaty between his country and an Arab one, Begin shared the 1978 Nobel Peace Prize with Sadat.

Three years later, radical Muslims assassinated Sadat. Begin died of natural causes in 1992 at age 79.

Jehan Sadat, widow of the Egyptian, told IBD that "despite obvious differences, Begin and Sadat had much in common: Both had resisted and fought against British occupation, (both) made tremendous sacrifices for independence and spent time in prison and labor camps for their cause. Both were courageous leaders, patriots and soldiers who had waged wars long before each began to work together for peace."

The first great influence in young Begin's life was his father, Ze'ev Dov. He instilled in his son the dream of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, along with strict adherence to his Jewish religion.

"From my early youth, I had been taught by my father, who went to his death at Nazi hands voicing his faith in God and singing 'Hatikvah,' that we Jews were to return to the land of Israel — not go, travel or come, but return," Begin said in "Menachem Begin," by Virginia Brackett.

Begin's dad also set an example for his son when it came to standing up to everyday injustices. Growing up in a hotbed of anti-Semitism, Begin and his friends faced daily harassment from Polish students. They fought to maintain their dignity.

"When we were attacked we would defend ourselves," Begin recalled. "We never consented to bow down and flee. We would return home bloody and beaten, but always with the awareness that we had not been humiliated."

Begin wasted little time jumping into politics. He joined the Zionist Revisionist movement, called Betar, at age 15 and headed up the Polish branch of the movement at 25.

Begin was willing to put his freedom and life on the line for his principles. He was imprisoned by Polish police for organizing a demonstration near the British Embassy in Warsaw to protest the treatment of Jews during the Palestine riots of 1936-38. He helped European and Polish Jews emigrate to Palestine to flee persecution.

In 1940, Soviet authorities arrested him in Vilna, Lithuania, for his Zionist activities and shipped him off to Siberia. In prison, Begin's resolve stayed strong. He refused to confess to crimes he didn't commit, even under psychological and physical abuse by his captors.

He was released in 1941 because he was a Polish citizen and could join the country's free army to fight the Germans.

The next year the army sent him to Palestine, then held by the British, and he served there until his release in 1944.

Staying in Palestine, Begin picked up his political activism through guerilla warfare as the commander of the Irgun.

In 1946, the Irgun blew up Jerusalem's King David Hotel, which was British headquarters. Included in the 91 killed were Britons, Arabs and Jews. Haber writes that the Irgun made three warning calls to the hotel, but the British ignored them. After the carnage, many blamed Begin, and the British put a $50,000 bounty on his head.

Begin survived and saw his dream come true with the founding of Israel in 1948. The Irgun turned into the Herut political party, and he became its powerful spokesman.

After resigning from a Cabinet post in 1969 in protest of a U.S.-Arab-Israeli peace plan, he founded the Likud Party, even more hard line than Herut.

By 1977 the party, with its hard-line security position and opposition to giving up territory Israel had won in the Six-Day War, struck a chord with Israelis and Begin was elected prime minister that May.

"Begin had lost seven elections in the period of about 30 years, but did not let go and believed all these years in the rightness of his way," Haber said.

Begin, who was in his 60s, proved that he wasn't locked into his refusal to deal at a peace table with Arabs.

Haber said Begin "changed his mind in regards to the peace with the Arabs issue. . . . In all the years Begin was in the opposition, it was said about him that if he took government, there will be a war. He was depicted as an
Arab-hater all the years. When he met the rare opportunity of peace making, he jumped on that carriage and savored the embarrassment that was caused to his opponents."

With the Yom Kippur War having raged in 1973, Begin spoke out in an attempt to stop more killing. He quickly invited King Hussein of Jordan, President Hafez Assad of Syria and Sadat to meet with him.

"Too much Jewish and Arab blood has been shed in this region," Begin said in a speech to the Knesset, Israel's legislature.

Recognizing a Sadat overture, Begin arranged for secret talks between his foreign minister and the Egyptians. That led to an invitation for Sadat to speak at the Knesset.

"May I assure you, Mr. President, that the parliament, the government and the people of Israel will receive you with respect and cordiality." Begin said in a message to Sadat.

Sadat answered with his historic speech in November 1977.

*On To Maryland*

Coming to the particulars of peace wasn't easy for Begin when the two met at Camp David in Maryland's mountains the following year to hammer out a peace plan.

"While Prime Minister Begin wanted to analyze and debate every detail, President Sadat wanted to discuss and agree upon the general issues, thus leaving the details for his ministers," Jehan Sadat said.

President Carter, who brokered the talks, observed that Begin was "an extremely courageous man who made decisions for the well-being of Mideast peace that sometimes were in contravention of his long-standing political alignments."

The result was a peace framework between Egypt and Israel. Begin and Sadat also agreed to negotiate over an Arab self-governing authority on the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

After Sadat's murder in 1981, Begin joined the funeral march in Cairo during the Jewish Sabbath.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Commentary's Blog Comments on Senator Biden and Begin

(with UPDATE below)

Did Biden Call for a Cut-Off in Aid to Israel?

John Podhoretz - 08.26.2008 - 12:06 PM

A friend in Washington e-mails a quote about a confrontation between then-Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Joseph Biden, that would have occurred in the summer of 1982. The quote comes from a piece by Moshe Zak, one-time editor of the Hebrew paper Ma’ariv, that appeared in the Jerusalem Post on March 13, 1992 (sorry, no link; yes, we have an updated link):

In a conversation with Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, after a sharp
confrontation in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the subject of the settlements, Begin defined himself as “a proud Jew who does not tremble with fear” when speaking with foreign statesmen.

During that committee hearing, at the height of the Lebanon War, Sen. John Biden (Delaware) had attacked Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria and threatened that if Israel did not immediately cease this activity, the US would have to cut economic aid to Israel.

When the senator raised his voice and banged twice on the table with his fist, Begin commented to him: “This desk is designed for writing, not for fists. Don’t threaten us with slashing aid. Do you think that because the US lends us money it is entitled to impose on us what we must do? We are grateful for the assistance we have received, but we are not to be threatened. I am a proud Jew. Three thousand years of culture are behind me, and you will not frighten me with threats. Take note: we do not want a single soldier of yours to die for us.”

After the meeting, Sen. Moynihan approached Begin and praised him for his cutting reply. To which Begin answered with thanks, defining his stand against threats.


See here as for Begin's later words.



More material has come our way:


From the New York Times, June 23, 1982:

At the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, however, both Mr. Begin and several senators were said by participants at the meeting to have been bristling with anger….The bitterest exchange was said to have been between Mr. Begin and Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., Democrat of Delaware, who told the Israeli leader that he was not critical of the Lebanon operation but felt that Israel had to halt the policy of establishing new Jewish settlements in the West Bank….

After the meeting, Mr. Begin said: ”I enjoyed the session very much. I believe in liberty, that free men should freely discuss problems and if they have differences of opinion they should voice them in sincerity.”

”I said it was a lively discussion,” he said. ”If you want to use other adjectives. …” He paused, then said, ”Lively is enough.”

From the New York Times, June 24, 1982:

Reporting on his meetings with the members of Congress, Mr. Begin said one of the senators had threatened to cut off aid if Israel continued creating settlements in the West Bank. The senator is reported to have been Joseph R. Biden Jr., Democrat of Delaware,

Mr. Begin cited the incident to give voice to a feeling that is held in his entourage - that Israel has rendered military service to the United States in battle-testing American arms.

”Sir, do not threaten us with cutting aid,” Mr. Begin said, in recounting his reply. ”First of all, you should know that this is not a one-way street. You help us, and we are very grateful for your help, but this is a two-way street. We do a lot for you.”


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Biden Threatened to Cut off Aid to Israel

This may give some insight into Joe Biden's approach to Israel. Back in March 1992 Moshe Zak recounted that the Senator made the mistake of Confronting Prime Minister Menachem Begin (June 22 1982) during his Senate foreign relations committee testimony. After Biden threatened to cut off aid to Israel. Begin just let him have it. Read this report of their confrontation, that was published by Soccer Dad almost two years ago (way to think ahead Dave) and another recount of the issue from Time Magazine 7/5/1982:

When Jewish Leaders Could Stand Up To The US

But Biden is a politician, and while he may make a show of his support of Israel now, Daniel Freedman recalls an encounter between Joe Biden and Prime Minister Menachem Begin, when Biden was somewhat less vocal in his support of Israel. When hearing the name Biden, we always think of the famous exchange between Biden and Prime Minister Begin.

As Moshe Zak recounted in a March 13, 1992, piece in the Jerusalem Post:

In a conversation with Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, after a sharp confrontation in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the subject of the settlements, Begin defined himself as "a proud Jew who does not tremble with fear" when speaking with foreign statesmen.

During that committee hearing, at the height of the Lebanon War, Sen. John [sic] Biden (Delaware) had attacked Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria and threatened that if Israel did not immediately cease this activity, the US would have to cut economic aid to Israel.

When the senator raised his voice and banged twice on the table with his fist, Begin commented to him: "This desk is designed for writing, not for fists. Don't threaten us with slashing aid. Do you think that because the US lends us money it is entitled to impose on us what we must do? We are grateful for the assistance we have received, but we are not to be threatened. I am a proud Jew. Three thousand years of culture are behind me, and you will not frighten me with threats. Take note: we do not want a single soldier of yours to die for us."

After the meeting, Sen. Moynihan approached Begin and praised him for his cutting reply. To which Begin answered with thanks, defining his stand against threats.

Time Magazine had a similar recap of the incident, this is from the July 5, 1982 Issue

Senator Joseph Biden, a Delaware Democrat, jabbing his finger at Begin, warned that U.S. support for Israel was eroding. Begin shouted back: "Don't threaten us with cutting off aid to give up our principles!

POSTED BY YID WITH LID AT 8/27/2008 12:36:00 PM

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Center Bulletin, Vol. 4, No. 46

Volume 4, Issue 46
August 26, 2008

Total Number of Visitors Since October 2004: 432,510

"You are a Jew"

The magazine Azure, published by the Shalem Center, contains an article by Jeremy Suri (No. 33, Summer 2008) entitled "Kissinger: The Inside-Outsider". In it, the writer says (p. 80):

Israeli and American Jews were concerned that Kissinger was overcompensating for his background by making excessive concessions to the Arabs. He was, they feared, trading Israel's security for his own international influence. Menachem Begin, the leaders of Israel's Likud party and future Prime Minister, reminded Kissinger: "You are a Jew. You are not the first [Jew] who has reached a high position in one's coun try of residence. Remember the past. There were such Jews, who out of a complex feared non-Jews would charge them with acting for their people, and therefore did the opposite." Begin further warned that "Dr. Kissinger should be careful about such a distortion in his seemingly objective thinking."

In fact, some years later, when Kissinger had already achieved a high international reputation and Menachem Begin was Prime Minister of Israel, the two met on various occasions and exchanged views on Middle East and international affairs.

Begin's Decision - "I Cannot Go On"

Harry Hurwitz, Founder of the Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation and its President, was advisor to Prime Minister Menachem Begin on Diaspora Jewry at the time of his resignation. He wrote in his book:

It was Sunday morning, 28 August, and time for the regular weekly cabinet meeting. As always, the Prime Minister arrived at the office at 8:00am. He passed me in the anteroom and nodded slightly. He was looking paler than usual as he called out, through gritted teeth, "Yechiel!" His trusted secretary and confidant followed him into his room and emerged a few minutes later, pale as a sheet. He beckoned to me to follow him into his own adjoining office as he called Dan Meridor, the Cabinet Secretary, on the intercom. "Dan," he said, "the Prime Minister has decided to announce his resignation at this morning's meeting."

A few minutes before nine, Menachem Begin stepped out of his office and began his last walk upstairs to the Cabinet room. There, after dispensing with some formalities and preliminaries, he told the assembled ministers simply: "I cannot go on any longer." The stunned reaction gave way to a loud "No, No," and a clamor to reconsider.

A few minutes later he was back in his own office. He took my hand and said: "I'm sorry for what I'm doing to my friends but, you understand, I cannot go on."

Begin's announcement was followed by endless attempts to dissuade him from his course—from the members of his Government, his supporters and critics alike, from the Likud faction, the Government Coalition, from rabbis, from personal friends, from delegations from all parts of the country. There was an endless stream of people going into his office.

A group of settlers from Judea and Samaria came into appeal to the man who was primarily responsible for the remarkable fact that some 70,000 people were now living in the 200 villages in the "disputed" areas.

Rabbis urged him to withdraw the resignation in order "not to cause darkness and gloom in these days of the month of Elul before Rosh Hashana." I heard the son of the late Reb Aryeh Levin, whom Begin loved and revered, tell him that he had visited his father's grave that morning and "had received a message" urging Begin to reconsider. For a few brief minutes, Freda, my wife, and I found ourselves alone in the room with Menachem Begin. We said: "Menachem, dear friend, you are not well and you are exhausted. Why don't you take a month's break from everything to regain your health and strength, and then decide finally."

By sheer chance, I was witness to a rare moment which revealed what might have been the reason for the timing of his resignation precisely that week. It was not the reason for his resignation, but could have determined why he made the announcement on Sunday, 28 August, and had not done so a week earlier, or was not prepared to wait another fortnight or a month or two. If he was going to resign, the timing was significant to him.

After many people had gone into his office to appeal to him to reconsider his resignation decision, I was left in the office along with the Prime Minister for a few minutes. Suddenly, he looked out the window and the slightest sign of a smile appeared at the corner of his mouth: "So, now this too is resolved," he whispered. He was referring to a subject that had obviously weighed on him for some time and had reached a peak in that last week.

Germany's Chancellor Kohl was due to arrive in Israel the next day on an official visit. As Prime Minister, Begin would, obviously, have to receive him, meet with him and tender a dinner in his honor. He would be expec ted to welcome the guest at the airport and hear the Israel Band play the German anthem and "Hatikvah". As is customary, the national flag of the country of the visiting head of Government was displayed in a number of places in Jerusalem which the guest would visit, including the Prime Minister's Office. Such flags flying side by side with the flag of Israel were visible from Menachem Begin's office.

The sight added to his pain.

New Session of Government Fellows Starts

Twenty-two young Jewish leaders from eight different countries started their 10-month internship journey in Israel this week. The young people came from the US, Canada, Switzerland, Finland, Russia, France, Venezuela and Mexico to participate in the Israel Government Fellows Program initiated by the Begin Center in cooperation with MASA. The young leaders will intern in various government ministries includin g the Prime Minister's Office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Immigration and Absorption, the Office of the President and the Office of the Government Secretary, to name only a few. After a one-month orientation, the Fellows will begin their internships on September 21.

The young people can look forward to four-day work weeks with the additional day of the week dedicated to learning about Israel, Israeli culture, Israel's and Jewish history, current events and trips to learn about Jerusalem and the rest of the country. They will also attend intensive Hebrew classes.

This is the third session of the Israel Government Fellows Program and the first session that is ten months long. The previous two sessions were five months long. A few participants from earlier sessions have continued work in the framework of the Israel government at embassies and consulates abroad as well as in government offices here in Israel.

Very Exciting Visit to the Center

Reut Nave — the subject of last week's story regarding the letter from Menachem Begin that took 30 years to arrive — her husband and two children came to visit the Begin Museum this week and were excited and impressed, especially to hear and see the recordings of Begin's famous speeches in the museum. When they came out of the museum, they were met by Moshe Fuksman-Sha'al, Deputy Chairman of the Begin Center, and Harry Hurwitz, Founder and President of the Foundation. After chatting a while, the family received two books as a gift: one a book for children about Menachem Begin (in Hebrew) and another, a special edition of The Revolt (in English) which Begin had signed. This is in recognition of the lady's patience and tolerance.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Street Memorializing: Eliyahu Hakim

Streetwise: Hero on the outskirts

As an explosion sent the Patria to the bottom of Haifa Bay in November 1940, an impressionable young man watched the dramatic event unfold from his family's balcony.

The blast was the work of the Hagana, which had only intended to disable the ship so it would be unable to leave the harbor. Its interest was in keeping the almost 2,000 Jewish illegal immigrants on board from being deported by the British. But the plan backfired, and hundreds of the immigrants who had squeezed into the ship's bowels drowned. The error not only killed innocent people, it also created another enemy for the Hagana.

The teenager, Eliahu Hakim, went on to become a member of Lehi and the assassin of Winston Churchill's good friend and British minister of state for the Middle East, Lord Moyne. Hakim's name lives on today, ironically, as a tranquil residential street in Jerusalem's East Talpiot neighborhood where even in commemoration his position remains controversial, just over the Green Line.

Rehov Eliahu Hakim lies at the southern end of a tangle of roads leading from the area's main artery, Rehov Daniel Yanovsky. The strictly residential area sits in the fold of a Jerusalem hilltop where Israel's pre-1948 underground fighting organizations have finally found peace with one another. The storied names of young radicals, most of whom barely reached 25 before dying at the hands of British soldiers and Arab fighters during the Mandate period, now title the area's streets.

Called "no man's land" from the War of Independence to the Six Day War, the area was annexed following the war.

East Talpiot begins at the eastern edge of the Haas Promenade, where Rehov Yanovsky withers away into a deserted road, crowned at the end by the Hill of Evil Counsel, now a UN enclave. The castle-like barricaded building that flies the signature baby-blue-and-white UN flag was once the British high commissioner's home, giving the neighborhood its other name, Armon Hanatziv (the commissioner's palace). The troubling name of the hill comes from a Byzantine tradition that the Roman-appointed high priest, Caiaphas, and his colleagues supposedly decided there to arrest Jesus.

Heading south and downhill from the palace to the very edge of East Talpiot is Rehov Eliahu Hakim, which faces a panoramic view of the other side of the hill - a dusty wadi separating the neighborhood from Sur Bahir and Ramat Rahel. Along the outer ring of the street, a row of flat-roofed duplexes lines the block like a barrier to the empty valley on the other side. The architecture mimics the Arab-style homes and apartments one hill over. But for the black water heaters on the Arab roofs and the white ones in East Talpiot, it would be difficult to distinguish the neighborhoods from one another.

Here, the rebellious son of a Hagana-affiliated immigrant family from Beirut is remembered for refusing to obey his parents' request not to join Lehi. His act, one of the more horrific during the fight for independence, led to a violent internal battle between the Jewish underground and the Hagana.

"He was so quick to give his soul that I was afraid and told him not to go," Hakim's mother said in a documentary on her son and fellow assassin Eliahu Ben-Tzuri on Channel 1's That's How It Was. The family was initially able to convince Hakim to join the British army instead, only to hear that he had disappeared from its ranks sometime later. They feared he had been killed or had deserted to join Lehi. To no avail, they desperately placed a notice in the paper asking him to come home, saying that his father was sick.

Lehi was focusing at the time on downing meaningful targets, calling Lord Moyne "a No. 1 target" and "a symbol of imperialism." It considered him to be responsible for the deportation of Jewish immigrant ships from Palestine.

On November 6, 1944, just four years after the Patria incident, Hakim and Ben-Tzuri were crouching with guns in the bushes outside Lord Moyne's spacious villa in Cairo. As he and his driver got out of their car, they were shot at point-blank range. The two assassins tried to escape, but were tracked down by a policeman on a motorcycle who happened to be passing by and had heard the gunshots.

Lehi commander, and future prime minister, Yitzhak Shamir lauded Hakim's devotion to the cause. "He was born to carry out grand operations like this," he said in the Channel 1 documentary. "He was loyal, determined, dedicated, aggressive and technically an excellent sharpshooter."

The mainstream leadership of the Jewish community of Palestine was appalled by the operation, calling it "despicable" and using it as ammunition to promote smothering the "terrorist gangs." It was propaganda that turned quickly into action as the Hagana and the underground movements entered a phase of intensified conflict, dubbed "The Hunting Season," that included kidnapping one another. In some cases, the assaults ended in death.

Meanwhile, the two young men were charged with murder. After an unbroken silence throughout the trial, Hakim rose to his feet at the end of the proceedings and told the court: "We accuse Lord Moyne and the government he represents of murdering hundreds and thousands of our brethren. We accuse him of seizing our country and looting our possessions. We were forced to do justice and to fight."

After being sentenced to death, the assassins sang "Hatikva" together. They were hanged on March 23, 1945, in Cairo. Dressed in the red burlap suit of a condemned man, Hakim, just before reaching the gallows, looked down at himself and said: "This is the finest suit of clothes I have ever worn in my life."

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Saison, Lechi and Chaim Weizmann

On the Saison period, this time against the Lechi.

Solving a 64-year-old mystery

On April 7, 1944, the eve of the Passover holiday, a British military convoy entered Yavniel, a moshava south of Tiberias. The soldiers and police, equipped with submachine guns, went directly to the home of Menachem Luntz ("Elazar," according to his underground code name), searching for a wounded fighter from the pre-state underground organization Lehi - short for Israel Freedom Fighters. The man, Shabtai "Zion" Drucker, was hiding there. The British surrounded the house, positioned their weapons and began to shoot. Only feeble fire was returned from inside the house.

In his book about the Lehi, a former member of the Irgun pre-state militia, Natan Yellin Mor wrote that the wounded Zion was hit by the British bullets, and asked Elazar to be merciful and kill him. Elazar acceded to the request of his comrade-at-arms and then fired the last remaining bullet into his own mouth. The British waited for several hours and only after no sign of life came from the besieged house did
they burst into it and find the two men sprawling there, lifeless.

For 64 years the Lehi people were convinced of the rumor that the British had arrived at the house in Yavniel as a result of collaboration with the Haganah, the rival underground organization, but they had no proof of this. The inhabitants of Yavniel denied, and still deny to this day, that anyone from the veteran agricultural
village had been involved in this. However, a film produced recently by the Association for the Perpetuation of the Legacy of the Israel Freedom Fighters and its Dead, provides the Lehi people with the proof that they wanted: The film, entitled "Gvorat yahid" ("Heroism of an Individual"), reveals for the first time a letter that the president of the Zionist federation, Dr. Chaim Weizmann, wrote to the prime minister of Britain at the time, Winston Churchill, in which he declares that the success of the police in the incident in Yavniel was due to the collaboration of the public, which gave valuable information to the police.

The letter, dated December 4, 1944, along with a memo that was appended to it and sent through Churchill's private secretary, are revealed in the film by former journalist Shlomo Nakdimon, a researcher of the underground and the period of the British Mandate. Nakdimon photocopied the documents at the British national archive in London. Weizmann, who was among the biggest supporters of cooperation with the British, complains there to Churchill about how the British were making up stories about the leadership of the Yishuv (pre-state Jewish community in Palestine), and accusing it of non-cooperation. He mentions the incident at Yavniel as evidence of the help that is being given by the Jewish public as a whole, as noted by a senior police official in Haifa.

In his book Yellin Mor relates that several days after the incident, "We began to receive information that one of people who lived there, who held a rank in the Haganah, and from its information agency, was the person who had informed the British that a suspicious fellow had come to Menachem Luntz's home, and it was he who gave them the precise information."

Luntz and Drucker, who were killed at Yavniel, are memorialized to this day thanks to a modest plaque...: "In this house, on April 7, 1944, before the nation came to despise a mechanism of oppression, alone and besieged in a final desperate battle facing many of the oppressor's troopers, stood fighters for Israel's freedom."

The events that led to the deaths of the two men began three weeks prior to that Passover eve. This was the time of "the saison" (the struggle conducted by the Haganah against insurgency against the British Mandate), and the Lehi was the most persecuted underground organization in Palestine. Its people decided that in encounters with the British, they would do everything to avoid being arrested, and
they began to conceal their personal weapons in their clothing.

On the morning of March 19, 1944, Yerachmiel "Elisha" Aaronson of the Irgun got off the bus at the corner of Mazeh and Petah Tikva Streets in Tel Aviv. A vehicle of the British undercover police, which was suspicious of him, stuck close by; in the end he was shot in a the stairwell of a building on Mazeh Street. His comrades wanted to avenge his death and during the coming days, they opened fire on British police in various places in Tel Aviv, killing several.

The two men given the task of printing the mourning notices for Elisha's death in Haifa were David "Ami" Holiansky and Yosef "Baruch" Rosenboim. On Saturday, April 2, Ami and Baruch came to a small garage on Tiberias Street in the city, which served as a storehouse for their organization. As Baruch leaned over the duplicating machine, his pistol slipped from the holster that held it under his armpit, and a
bullet was released and hit him in his abdomen. Ami went off to bring help.

He returned to the storehouse on Tiberias Street with Moshe "Yisrael" Bar Giora and "Zion" Drucker, but to their surprise they did not find Baruch. After investigation it emerged that he was nearby, getting medical attention from a nurse.

When he saw his comrades Baruch called out to them: "Run. They've called the police!" The two refused to abandon their comrade and then two British officers and a Jewish sergeant appeared on the scene. Yisrael, Ami and Zion ran to a balcony and fled. Baruch was seriously wounded in the exchange of fire.

In his book, Yellin Mor described what happened during those moments: "With the last vestiges of his strength Baruch cried out to the sergeant who was firing his weapon: 'Stop shooting. You are a Jew, lest I hurt you ...,' he warned. When the sergeant did not obey his warning, Baruch pulled out a grenade he had hidden in his pocket, pulled the pin and threw it at the sergeant by the window, who was
wounded in all parts of his body ... With blood dripping from his arteries, [Baruch] leaped from the bed, got to the balcony and jumped out."

He died of his injuries after he was tortured by British police. Zion, who was wounded in the leg in the shoot-out, was taken to the home of "Elazar" Luntz - in Yavniel. A few days later, as noted, the British police arrived there and the two men met their deaths.

...In his book, Yellin Mor relates that on the day after the events at Yavniel he was summoned to Eliahu Golomb, the commander of the Haganah, and heard details from him about the incident. Golomb, according to the author, described the dramatic occurrence and summed up: "I am very thrilled and excited. If you have managed to raise such fellows, no weapons will overcome you and no one will defeat you."

Center Bulletin, Vol. 4, No. 45

Volume 4, Issue 45
August 19, 2008

Total Number of Visitors Since October 2004: 429,591

Letter from Begin Arrives 30 Years Late:

Reported by Newspaper, Radio, TV

During the new conservation scanning project going on in the archives of the Begin Center that will soon allow researchers to review digital copies of many items, a letter was found that was written, but apparently never made it to the mailbox. Some thirty years ago, a 9-year-old girl wrote a letter to Menachem Begin requesting an autographed picture. The autographed picture was prepared, but never actually sent.

The staff of the archives found first the family of the girl, and then were directed to her. She still lives in Israel and was delighted to know that Begin had indeed replied to her letter. In an additional happy coincidence, Reut (nee Ben David) Nave works at the Assaf HaRofeh Hospital in the Aliza Begin Wing. She is quoted as saying: "I am still in shock. Begin impressed me very much as a child and I was disappointed when I didn't hear from him. Since I heard from the Center, the expectation and excitement of the days after I sent the letter returned. This definitely closes the circle."

This heart-warming story was highlighted in the Ma'ariv newspaper, featured on the Galei Tzahal radio station and this morning, Channel 2 television picked up the story and interviewed Herzl Makov, the Chairman of the Begin Center about this touching turn of events.

1948: Begin's Interview with the New York Times

In the days between the cessation of the Irgun Zvai Leumi and the beginning of Menachem Begin's long political career, he was naturally much sought after by the international media. One of the first interviews he gave was to the Tel Aviv correspondent of the New York Times to whom he explained his and his future party's general political outlook. As reported in the Jewish Herald on August 27, 1948, he said:

"We do not intend to seek to gain power by a coup and will work to achieve authority by electoral means. … Our aspirations concerning the entire territory of Eretz Israel are in no way dependent upon developments. This is the historic aspiration of the entire people of Israel and our strength lies in that we represent this claim of our people. … Our members were educated on the principle th at arms are to be used only against an external enemy. This principle still stands. We shall most certainly try to set up a new government in the State of Israel—a government which will pursue faithfully the people's aim. This, however, we intend to do, not by bullets, but by ballots."

Discussing his organization's political philosophy, Mr. Begin said it aspired towards social justice, which required changes in the present regime. He added: "Certain elements of the theory of Socialism or of Soviet planning are needed in order to right the wrongs and the lack of economic equality which are connected with the present regime. But the criterion for us is the entry and absorption of the maximum number of repatriates into the country and its economy."

"But such absorption cannot come about without planning and without equal distribution of the financial burden. Nor will it be possible without the erection of industrial and agricultural institutions with the aid of private initiative. As for the political regime, we shall continuously stand guard over the rights of man and the citizens and government of the people, by the people and for the people."

Mr. Begin said that his group's foreign policy was based on reciprocity—"aid for aid and enmity for enmity. … We favor agreements between the State of Israel and any other State on condition that the full independence and freedom of our country is recognized and safeguarded."

"We do not recognize partition nor consent to partition. We consider both to be illegal and in no way to be binding on our people."

(We also remind our readers that copies of the 1951 booklet outlining Menachem Begin's vision of Herut [in English] are available at the Begin Center.)

60 Years Since Herut and Begin's 95th Birthday

A large gathering participated in all sessions of the all-day symposium in the Begin Center marking 95 years after the birth of Menachem Begin and 60 years after the creation of the Herut Party.

The lecturers were experts at various aspects of the subject and an interesting feature was the appearance of a group of young lecturers who had written various dissertations on these subjects. As reported last week, Prof. Yechiam Weiss, Herzl Makov and Yechiel Kadishai chaired the various sessions.

There were some very important personalities in the audience headed by the fifth President of Israel, Mr. Yitzhak Navon, who had inducted Menachem Begin as Prime Minister of Israel for his second term following the election in 1981.

Mr. Ruby Rivlin, the immediate past speaker of the Knesset and now Likud Knesset Member said in some personal remarks that he came from a family of long-time devoted supporters of Jabotinsky, the Irgun, Herut and its leader Menachem Begin. He had some warm personal recollections of his own concerning Menachem Begin from the time he launched the Herut Party in 1948.

In greeting the symposium, Harry Hurwitz, the Founder and President of the Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation said that the birth of Menachem Begin in Brisk 95 years ago was an important date for the history of the State of Israel. The young Begin showed his special talents at school in the Betar Organization, in the study of Law in Warsaw and, of course, as the commander of the Irgun before he was 30 years old.


Songs of Betar in a New Musicological Study

Songwriter Nachum (Nachma) Heiman, who is the founder of a society for the advancement of Israeli music, was at the Center this week to begin work with Gershon Stav on a serious musicological study of the songs of Betar. Heiman is well-known for his previous collections of Palmach and Halutz songs. He is not merely a collector, but he makes a special effort to include the history and musicological importance of the song.

Museum at Full Capacity

It must have been some kind of record when 492 individuals visited the Menachem Begin Museum on Wednesday of last week. This means that the museum was working at full capacity with full group following full group. High numbers were maintained in the week thereafter. The participants were largely Israeli families and also some groups from overseas as well as members of the IDF.

Monday, August 18, 2008


Rahm Emanuel, US Congressional Representative, is the son of an Israeli father, a Chicago pediatrician, who passed secret codes as a member forr Menachem Begin's Irgun underground.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

A New Yehuda Avner Piece

The SAMs of Suez


The overture to the 1973 Yom Kippur War came in the form of a now all but forgotten conflagration called the War of Attrition. It was orchestrated by the thousands of Soviet instructors in Egypt who were rapidly retraining and re-equipping that country's battered army after the Arab debacle of the 1967 Six Day War.

In March 1968 the Egyptians launched a massive bombardment of Israel's fortifications along the Suez Canal, from which time on the greasy black puffs of bursting shells rained ever more relentlessly and lethally upon the IDF's forward positions - the Bar-Lev line. Casualties mounted and Israel hit back with escalating and deep-penetrating ferocity. Yet the Egyptians pounded on, intent on compelling the IDF to abandon the canal line while pushing forward their umbrella of sophisticated Soviet surface-to-air missiles - SAMs - to neutralize Israel's overwhelming air superiority. The one hope the Egyptians ever had of regaining the Sinai by force was by first knocking IAF aircraft from the skies so as to enable their amphibious forces to cross the canal. The Soviet-manned SAMs were designed to do just that.

The War of Attrition went on for more than two years until, in August 1970, the Americans, under president Richard Nixon, and through his secretary of state William Rogers, brokered a cease-fire. The Rogers initiative was a political-military package in which both sides agreed to stop shooting and start talking under a UN umbrella. The envisaged talks were to be essentially based on the famous Security Council Resolution 242, which called for "withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent [1967] conflict." This, to Menachem Begin, was anathema.

After much wrangling, prime minister Golda Meir finally accepted the US initiative, whereupon Begin and his party quit her government. As they saw it, Israel was being asked to commit itself to a withdrawal even before a concrete peace proposal was in sight.

Worse was to follow when, hours after the cease-fire came into effect, Egypt brazenly violated it by rushing its SAM umbrella into the designated standstill zone adjacent to the canal, achieving by stealth what it had failed to accomplish by attrition. Cairo now had the means to clear the skies of Israeli aircraft whenever it resolved to strike across the canal.

Golda fumed. She demanded the missiles be removed forthwith, but Nixon, embroiled in his losing war in Vietnam and fearful of a direct confrontation with the Soviets, procrastinated. He showered the prime minister with hopeful reassurances until she succumbed, igniting Begin's outrage. When Washington refused to even officially acknowledge that a violation had taken place, indignation launched him into a barrage of dire prophecy, predicting with uncanny prescience the inevitability of the Yom Kippur War.

He told the Knesset: "The Egyptians, with the aid of their Russian advisers, have violated the cease-fire in a manner so gross it threatens our security, indeed our very future. They have deployed batteries of enhanced SAM missiles capable of penetrating to a depth of 10 to 15 kilometers over our side of the canal. Hence, whenever Egypt decides to reopen fire - and knowing the realities we have to assume that such a day shall surely come - it will have a decisive advantage over us. Given its expanded missile umbrella, it will be very difficult for our air force to hit back without sustaining substantial losses. This is the reality, and our people must know it."

WITH THIS crescendo of indignation, Begin wound up his speech and stepped down from the podium into a crowd of admirers who showered him with their fervent praise, to which he responded with thanks full of grace. He made his way to the Knesset dining room where Golda was conversing with Yitzhak Rabin, then ambassador to Washington.

"That was some fire and brimstone," hissed Golda derisively as the opposition leader walked by.

"And I hope you took note of my every word, Madame Prime Minister," commented Begin with an air of impudence and gravity in delicate balance.

"What you don't seem to understand," she scolded, "is that we have a new situation on our hands. There would be no cease-fire unless we accepted all the conditions of the Rogers initiative. We couldn't choose half the package without the other."

"But they hardly consulted us," countered Begin. "Rogers gave us a letter to sign. You initially rejected it. You had reservations, and you rightly sought to insert changes. But in the end, it was all but dictated to us."


"Is it? In my view there is a smell of an imposed US-Soviet solution brewing. Nixon is going to sell us out!"

This irked Golda so much she raised her voice: "You know very well I've totally rejected any whiff of an attempt to impose a solution on us. I will not go back to the 1967 lines, and I've made this plain both to Rogers and to the president. I told them both that Israel will neither be a victim to American appeasement of the Arabs nor to their big power politics with Russia."

"True, but you should never have given in to their appeasement over the cease-fire violations, which they themselves brokered. We shall pay a heavy price for that one day. Moreover, I genuinely believe your acceptance of the 242 language of 'withdrawal' is the beginning of a major unconditional retreat from all of the cease-fire lines."

"Goodness gracious, Begin" - Golda's eyebrows were arched provocatively - "how you get carried away by your own rhetoric! If only you stammered or hesitated occasionally."

Unperturbed, Begin bayoneted, "No, Madame, this is an instance when you have gotten carried away by your own wishful thinking. Nixon is playing chess with the fate of Israel. This could be a Middle East Munich. America seems to be more interested in Arab oil than in Israel's secure future."

"With all due respect, Mr. Begin," interrupted Rabin, his voice deferential but terse, "only recently president Nixon told me the very opposite. I believe we have a good friend in Richard Nixon."

"A good friend? People tell me the man's an anti-Semite."

Rabin smiled, but the smile didn't reach his eyes: "Confidentially, I'd say yes, he is an anti-Semite," he said in his characteristic baritone. "He doesn't like the way Jews overwhelmingly vote Democrat, and he certainly doesn't like the way liberal Jews are at the forefront of the anti-Vietnam War campaign. Moreover, he probably believes Jews control the press, and he suspects many are more loyal to Israel than to America. However, this hasn't stopped him from appointing individual Jews to high places, like Henry Kissinger, based on their exceptional competence. I think he has the highest regard for our leaders" - this with a nod toward Golda - "and admires our guts in defense of our national interests. Certainly he recognizes Israel as an American asset in the Cold War."

Begin sat down uninvited. "So how does that square with Rogers cease-fire initiative, which is tantamount to appeasing the Russians and the Arabs?" he asked.

"It squares," said Rabin, sinking his teeth into the argument, "because all along Nixon and Kissinger have known that in the War of Attrition the Soviets and the Egyptians were putting us both - America and Israel - to a test. They know the Soviets are feeding and manipulating the entire Egyptian war effort. That's why I was the one to advocate deep penetration raids into the heart of Egyptian territory, to prove to the Americans that we have what it takes to stand up to the Soviets. Those raids not only changed the balance of power along the fighting front, they tipped the scales of the superpower confrontation in America's favor. And thanks to that it ensures our American arms supplies. But Nixon, nevertheless, has to strike a balance."

TO MAKE his point he extracted from his pocket a sheet of paper, and said, "Let me quote Nixon's own words to me." He read: " 'If it were just a question of Israel against the Egyptians and the Syrians, I'd say, "Let 'em have it! Hit 'em as hard as you can." Every time I hear you penetrating deep into their territory and hitting them hard on the nose, it gives me great satisfaction. But it's not just a problem of Egypt and Syria alone. The other Arab states are watching, too, so we have to play it in a manner that we won't lose everything in the Middle East. We want to help you without harming ourselves by losing the Arabs.'"

Here, Rabin paused, and when he read on there was a touch of triumph in his voice: "'Damn the oil! America can get it from other sources. We have to stand by decent nations in the Middle East. We will back you militarily, but the military escalation can't go on endlessly. We must do something politically.' And that," concluded Rabin, "is the meaning of the Rogers initiative."

To which Golda, brimming with gratification at her ambassador's first-hand analysis, said, "I, personally, don't think any American president has ever uttered such a pro-Israel statement before. Add to that, in return for our accepting the Rogers cease-fire package Nixon has promised me we will not be expected to withdraw a single soldier from the cease-fire lines except in the context of a contractual peace agreement which we would regard satisfactory to our security needs. Moreover, had we not accepted the Rogers initiative we would not be getting any more American arms. Surely you understand that!"

Begin dismissed this clincher with a perfunctory wave of the hand. "What do you mean we wouldn't be getting American arms? We would demand them."

"You know, Begin," said Golda sarcastically, "you sometimes make me think you're a mystic. You've convinced yourself that all we have to do is to go on telling the United States that we won't give in to pressure and that if we do this long and loud enough, then one day that pressure will vanish."

"My good lady," responded Begin in a similar patronizing vein, "you trivialize Israel's importance to the United States of America."

"Do I? I think that though the American commitment to Israel's survival is certainly great, I'm afraid we need Mr. Nixon and Mr. Rogers much more than they need us."

"I disagree!" said Begin with a vigorous shake of the head. "The Americans don't give us arms out of the kindness of their hearts. Israel is doing more for America in keeping the Soviet Union at bay in the Middle East than what America is doing for Israel to defend itself, and I dare say Mr. Nixon is well aware of that. Besides, you must not underestimate the voice of American Jewry."

"Oh, I don't. But I'm afraid our policies can't be based entirely on the assumption that American Jewry either would or could compel Mr. Nixon to adopt a position against his will and better judgment, especially when he doesn't like liberal-minded Jews."

"We shall see," said Begin rising, and turning to Rabin said with a becoming smile. "I beg of you not to misconstrue my argument with the prime minister as something personal. Mrs. Meir and I differ on many issues, but I assure you that I regard her as a proud and courageous Jewess."

"Stop being a schmoozer," snapped Golda with a grin that greatly softened her craggy and aging features.

"No, no, madame, I say this not in flattery. I shall always oppose you whenever I believe you are in error, as I do now. But on the personal level my respect for you shall never waver. I simply pray that my reservations with regard to your present policy will prove unfounded, but I fear they won't."

Whereupon, he semi-bowed and moved off to join a table of fellow oppositionists for a glass of lemon tea.

Three years later, in October 1973, under the umbrella of the SAM missiles, Egyptian armies massively crossed the Suez Canal and so ended the cease-fire and so began the Yom Kippur War.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Center Bulletin, Vol. 4, No. 44

Volume 4, Issue 44
August 13, 2008

Total Number of Visitors Since October 2004: 427,560

World Zionist Organization Meeting at the Center

A special meeting of the World Zionist Organization headed by its chairman, Ze'ev Bielsky, was held at the Begin Center this week to mark the 95th birthday of Menachem Begin.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Bielsky spoke movingly of the great impact that Menachem Begin had upon the Jewish People from the time he commanded the Irgun Zvai Leumi and the political evolution of Israel as leader of the Opposition until he was elected Prime Minister of the country in May 1977.

Harry Hurwitz, the founder of the Begin Center and now the President of the Foundation, welcomed the Executive and pointed out that according to the Begin Law passed in the Knesset in 1998, one of its goals is to stud y and research the Zionist struggle for the creation of the State. He made brief reference to the highlights of Menachem Begin's main political actions and urged close cooperation with the World Zionist Organization.

Herzl Makov, Chairman of the Begin Center, is the Honorary Secretary of the World Zionist Executive.

60 Years Ago: The Herut Party

The creation of the Herut Party in Israel in August 1948 by Menachem Begin and his associates in the command of the Irgun Zvai Leumi was one of the major events in the development of the State of Israel. For 29 years, the Herut Party, and later its partner the Liberal Party, served in Loyal Opposition until they were elected to the Premiership and leadership of the State of Israel in May 1977.

At the time of the launch of the party, Mr. Begin outlined the party's main objectives among which he stressed the need to:

"safeguard the sovereignty of the people, abolish discrimination between Jew and Jew, the system of the party key and the system of 'protexia' poisoning the national life of Israel today.

Dealing with problems of the constitution, Mr. Begin said it was not sufficient to construct a document with fine formulae laying down democratic principles. It was the task of the Constituent Assembly to make democracy safe in practice for the people of Israel. The Herut Party, therefore, would insist upon the essential division of the power of the State. The concentration of power in the hands of one person or in one group of persons presented a dangerous threat to the libe rty of the individual citizen. A Prime Minister or any other members of the Government could not, in a free State, be at the same time legislator and judge.

But, continued Mr. Begin, the separation of the executive, the legislature and the judiciary would not by itself solve the problem of securing the people's freedom.

"A form of parliamentary government can be maintained but it can, in practice, operate as a totalitarian machine with power firmly in the hands of the ruling party and that party is in a position, in effect, to defy the will and abolish the liberty of the people. To meet this grave danger, which is very real indeed in Israel, the people themselves must be equipped with the legal right and the political machinery to make known their will when vital problems confront the nation. This can only be done by making proper prov ision for a referendum, with clear rules and arrangements for its use, so that Parliament can never be turned into a glorified party conference.

In pursuance of the exercise of democratic control in fact and not merely in theory, Herut will strive to assure the democratic control of all local authorities and institutions and will fight against the pernicious system whereby controllers are nominated by the central government. Local government must be responsible to the local masses and not to some Party secretary, Party boss or Central Government authority."

"If the present disastrous economic position in Israel is not radically altered we shall not only be doomed to poverty and inflation but be deprived of the opportunity of establishing agriculture and industry as the sound foundation of the State. Internal and foreign loans will not solve our economic problem, which is the problem of vast and speedy construction. Loans will melt away in the war effort and little if anything will be left for constructive work. The solution lies in a maximum mobilization of productive investments. This can be achieved with the help of the Jews in the USA, but barring the way to this solution stands Monopolism, which in accordance with the iron law of economics, seeks the maximum concentration of capital and the destruction of every rival factor which threatens to engage in those constructive spheres. Herut will fight against Monopolism and monopolies. We shall demand laws to prevent the establishment of monopolies in the future."

By 1951, Menachem Begin concentrated his vision for the Herut Party into a speech that was published in the Herut newspaper and subsequently published as a booklet "Basic Outlines of Our Worldview and Our National Outlook." The Menachem Begin Heritage Center republished this booklet in Hebrew and translated it into English. It is currently available for sale at the Begin Center.

Words Echo from the Past for ₤1,600

A rare pamphlet issued by the Irgun Zvai Leumi in 1947 was sold at the British auction house Mullock's for ₤1,600. This is one of the highest prices paid for such a document. The sale of the pamphlet aroused a great deal of interest in the British media and also attracted attention in other countries, including places in the Arab world.

The English language pamphlet was addressed as follows: "The Soldiers of the Underground to the Soldiers of the Occupation Army." It was distributed to British troops at the start of 1947, just after the Irgun blew up a wing of the King David Hotel.

Dr. Beny Begin Speaks at Parashat HaShavua

On Thursday, August 7, the Reuben Hecht Auditorium was filled to capacity and the overflow seating in the Seminar Room was filled as well with persons who came to hear a special lecture by Dr. Ze'ev Binyamin Begin and Dr. Micha Goodman on the Parashat HaShavua for Tisha B'Av, the parasha before Shabbat Nachamu, which is Menachem Begin's birthday.

Dr. Begin spoke about the letters written on clay that were found in 1935 at Tel Lachish. The letters were in Hebrew and date back from before the First Temple that was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE as they refer to the defense of Jerusalem. The interesting thing about the letters is not that they exist at all, but rather that expert opinions had suggested that these letters contradicted the biblical account in the Book of Jeremiah, calling into question the written account. Until now. In the letters, the guards at Lachish claim that they cannot see the signal fires at Azakat Fortress. Experts had assumed that the lack of signal fires suggested that the fortress had already fallen which is not the account given in the Book of Jeremiah. Dr. Begin, using geological findings, shows that because of the topography of the land, the guards at Lachish would not have been able to see Azakat. Thus, there is no contradiction of the Book of Jeremiah.

Dr. Micha Goodman spoke about the importance of Tisha B'Av and its contrast to Tu B'Av, the 'holiday of love' in Israel.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Jabotinsky Law - No More?

Jabotinsky's been expelled

Only one week separated Jabotinsky Day, which commemorates the vision, legacy and work of Ze'ev Jabotinsky, from the decision of the education minister to exclude the founder of the Revisionist movement in Zionism from the list of 100 personages studied at Israeli schools. Three years separated the passing of the Jabotinsky Law (2005) and erasure of his philosophy from local textbooks.

A rationale for this bizarre decision was provided by the chairwoman of the Education Ministry's Pedagogic Secretariat, Prof. Anat Zohar: Instead of studying specific figures, schools will teach certain fundamental texts, which will broaden horizons and encourage independent thinking.
For a moment, one might have imagined that the higher-ups in the Education Ministry were guided by lofty ideas. But decisions made there in recent years suggest that what is presented as educational principle is really a matter of leaving one's political mark - or perhaps even of taking political vengeance.

Four years after she helped lead the process of amending the Flag Law (1997) as communications minister, former education minister Limor Livnat made it mandatory for Israeli educational institutions to put a national flag on prominent display. Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) institutions recognized by the ministry are exempt from this. When Yuli Tamir became education minister, she brought the 1967 borders (the "Green Line") back into textbooks, from which they had evaporated.

The importance of these decisions renders their political aroma less distinct: Each of them touches on the conceptual foundations of Israel's establishment, its history and its geopolitical location in the Middle East.

However, there is no evident reason for the decision to exclude Jabotinsky from the curriculum. Livnat brought it in and Tamir is taking it out, a moment before a more right-wing, more nationalist minister is appointed in her place. The next change will not be made for another two or three years, a hiatus during which no Revisionist thinker will be able to corrupt the minds of Israel's students.

Even if he is "expelled" from the curriculum, no one can take away from Jabotinsky his central place as an important contributor to the narrative of the Zionist movement. The expulsion itself is yet more evidence of the shallowness that guides the decisions of Israel's top education officials.
The ease with which recent education ministers decided to include or exclude curricular materials is a symptom of what Israeliness has become: Nothing matters except who has the last word, and who speaks it the most loudly. If the students make enough noise, maybe they'll even be excused from studying the Bible and Bialik, because the Education Ministry is not afraid of making populist concessions. Livnat undercut the teachers' authority when she gave students their own bill of rights, and Tamir waived the need for universal education when she granted Haredi schools an exemption from the state's core curriculum.

Perhaps this is the Education Ministry's way of teaching post-modernism: Everything is important, and nothing is important. When they embark on their adult lives, students will remember the message. They will allow themselves to scorn any tradition or tenet that is not their own and to promote only their narrow interests. To reflect on the society in which they live, on principles, on a culture of debate and disagreement - that will not be part of their educational legacy.

And this:-

Left-Wing Ed. Min. Responds: I Didn't Touch Jabotinsky

( Ze'ev Jabotinsky, the grandson of the famous Revisionist ideologue of the same name who inspired Menachem Begin and the formation of the Likud party, charges that Education Minister Yuli Tamir has removed the study of his grandfather's philosophy from Israeli school curricula.

MK Gideon Saar (Likud) says that Tamir - a founder of the radical left-wing organization Peace Now - "is a post-Zionist who consistently fights against Jewish and Zionist values." Left-wing commentator Dan Margalit went one better, saying on Army Radio that Tamir is a "post-Zionist, if not an anti-Zionist."

Tamir replaced the education program "100 Jewish, Zionist and Democratic Concepts," instituted by then-Education Minister Limor Livnat (Likud) in 2003, with a new one called "Jewish Culture." The new program relies less on by-heart learning, according to an Education Ministry spokeswoman, and more on in-depth learning.

...Tamir's new program took most of these concepts and incorporated them into other aspects of the school curricula. Jabotinsky says, however, that his grandfather's teachings were effectively removed altogether.

The Education Ministry says that Jabotinsky will continue to be taught in Israeli high schools, and that the Jewish Culture program gives even more emphasis to Jewish topics than Livnat's program did...