Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Change in Currency

If you recall, it was suggested that Menachem Begin appear on a new printing of Israeli paper currency.

We now read:


In light of public reaction, the Governor of the Bank of Israel asks the Committee for the Planning of Banknotes, Coins and Commemorative Coins to reconsider its proposed list of personalities to appear on the planned new series of banknotes

The Governor of the Bank of Israel, Professor Stanley Fischer, has decided to ask the Committee for the Planning of Banknotes, Coins and Commemorative Coins to reconsider its proposed list of personages to appear on the new series of banknotes. This, in light of the public reaction to the list originally submitted by the Committee.

The Governor has advised the Minister of Finance accordingly, and has asked the chair of the Committee, Retired Supreme Court Judge Yaacov Turkel, to draw up a new list that will take into consideration the public reaction to the previous list.
The Bank advises that the new series of banknotes planned to be issued in 2012 is intended, among other things, to employ state-of-the-art technology to improve anti-counterfeiting measures; the new design of the banknotes is intended to increase the public's awareness of the personalities, symbols and values that played an important role in shaping the history of the State of Israel.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Visit of Youth From Abroad at the Center

Scenes of a visiting group of youth from South America photographed from the Hasten Family Library window overlooking the esplanade:

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Educational Initiative Attacked

New study unit on pre-state fighters proves controversial

By Or Kashti

The Education Ministry is introducing a study unit on the 12 underground fighters who were hanged or committed suicide in prison during the British Mandate in Palestine.

The 12, known as "Olei Hagardom" ("those hanged on the gallows"), belonged to the pre-state militias Etzel and Lehi.

The program, intended for eighth and ninth grades, will include lessons plus a national competition for essays, poems and drawings on subjects such as "an imaginary conversation I had with one of Olei Hagardom in his last moments in prison" or "the last letter of a condemned man to his family."

The new unit is already proving controversial.

"Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar is advancing ideological matters close to his heart in the education system," a ministry official charged. "His ideology is entering the curriculum."

"It's worrying that the Education Ministry is conveying a message sanctifying death and portraying it as sublime," added a senior university historian.

Until now, details of the 12 Olei Hagardom - nine Etzel combatants and three Lehi fighters - were taught as part of history lessons, ministry sources said.

In a letter announcing the new program, Sa'ar wrote, "I hope the program, recounting Olei Hagardom's devotion to the struggle for Israel's independence, will bolster the students' ties with their people and heritage ... and that their devotion will serve as an ideological model for our youth."

The ministry also instructed teachers to "encourage students to take part in the competition and guide them in presenting their projects."

The essays, poems and drawings entered in the competition will be evaluated by a committee comprised of Education Ministry officials and staffers from the Uri Zvi Greenberg Heritage Center and the Menachem Begin Heritage Center.

"It's important to learn about the ideology of Zionist leaders, like [Theodor] Herzl and [Ze'ev] Jabotinsky," said a veteran high school history teacher from Tel Aviv. "But in this program, the justification is the underground fighters' actions, and especially their end ... There are moral and philosophical questions that should be addressed when you teach 14-year-olds about people who chose to die rather than accept a pardon or negotiate with the British authorities."

"The new program embraces martyrdom and worships the victim for being a victim," added the senior university historian. "If they want to teach this subject, it must be in the context of the fight against the British. You can't start out by asserting that because they were hanged, they're martyrs. Their being victims does not justify turning them into a subject for study."

The education system intends to mark Jabotinsky Day next week, as required by a law enacted in 2005, the Education Ministry said Monday. Schools were instructed earlier this month to prepare ceremonies and special activities, including lessons about Jabotinsky's character and work. Sa'ar himself will give a civics lesson on Jabotinsky in a high school in the West Bank settlement of Ma'aleh Adumim.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

An Archaeological Discovery Near the Begin Center

DNA of Jesus-era shrouded man in Jerusalem reveals earliest case of leprosy

Burial shroud proves Turin Shroud not from 1st century C.E. Jerusalem

Jerusalem, December 15, 2009 – The DNA of a first-century C.E. shrouded man found in a tomb on the edge of the Old City of Jerusalem has revealed the earliest proven case of leprosy. Details of the research will be published December 16 in the PloS ONE Journal.

The molecular investigation was undertaken by Prof. Mark Spigelman and Prof. Charles Greenblatt and of the Sanford F. Kuvin Center for the Study of Infectious and Tropical Diseases at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Prof. Carney Matheson and Ms. Kim Vernon of Lakehead University, Canada, Prof. Azriel Gorski of New Haven University and Dr. Helen Donoghue of University College London. The archaeological excavation was led by Prof. Shimon Gibson, Dr. Boaz Zissu and Prof. James Tabor on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

The burial cave, which is known as the Tomb of the Shroud, is located in the lower Hinnom Valley and is part of a first-century C.E. cemetery known as Akeldama or 'Field of Blood' (Matthew 27:3-8; Acts 1:19) - next to the area where Judas is said to have committed suicide. The tomb of the shrouded man is located next to the tomb of Annas, the high priest (6-15 C.E.), who was the father in law of Caiaphas, the high priest who betrayed Jesus to the Romans. It is thus thought that this shrouded man was either a priest or a member of the aristocracy. According to Prof. Gibson, the view from the tomb would have looked directly toward the Jewish Temple.

No second burial

What is particularly rare about this tomb is that it was clear this man, which is dated by radiocarbon methods to 1-50 C.E., did not receive a secondary burial. Secondary burials were common practice at the time, where the bones were removed after a year and placed in an ossuary (a stone bone box). In this case, however, the entrance to this part of the tomb was completely sealed with plaster. Prof. Spigelman believes this is due to the fact that this man had suffered from leprosy and died of tuberculosis, as the DNA of both diseases was found in his bones.

Historically, disfiguring diseases - particularly leprosy - caused the afflicted individuals to be ostracized from their communities. However, a number of indications – the location and size of the tomb, the type of textiles used as shroud wrappings, and the clean state of the hair – suggest that the shrouded individual was a fairly affluent member of society in Jerusalem and that tuberculosis and leprosy may have crossed social boundaries in the first-century C.E.

Disproves Turin Shroud?

This is also the first time fragments of a burial shroud have been found from the time of Jesus in Jerusalem. The shroud is very different to that of the Turin Shroud, hitherto assumed to be the one that was used to wrap the body of Jesus. Unlike the complex weave of the Turin Shroud, this is made up of a simple two-way weave, as the textiles historian Dr. Orit Shamir was able to show.

Based on the assumption that this is representative of a typical burial shroud widely used at the time of Jesus, the researchers conclude that the Turin Shroud did not originate from Jesus-era Jerusalem.

The excavation also found a clump of the shrouded man's hair, which had been ritually cut prior to his burial. These are both unique discoveries because organic remains are hardly ever preserved in the Jerusalem area owing to high humidity levels in the ground.

Social health in antiquity

According to Prof. Spigelman and Prof. Greenblatt, the origins and development of leprosy are largely obscure. Leprosy in the Old Testament may well refer to skin rashes such as psoriasis. The leprosy known to us today was thought to have originated in India and brought over to the Near East and to Mediterranean countries in the Hellenistic period. The results from the first-century C.E. Tomb of the Shroud fill a vital gap in our knowledge of this disease.

Furthermore, the new research has shown that molecular pathology clearly adds a new dimension to the archaeological exploration of disease in ancient times and provides us with a better understanding of the evolution, geographic distribution and epidemiology of disease and social health in antiquity.

The co-infection of both leprosy and tuberculosis here and in 30 percent of DNA remains in Israel and Europe from the ancient and modern period provided evidence for the postulate that the medieval plague of leprosy was eliminated by an increased level of tuberculosis in Europe as the area urbanized.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

He Was Beaten

There is a famous anecdote describing a meeting between Hanan Porat and other prominent settlers and PM Menachem Begin in the late 70's. At the time, Begin was under pressure from the Carter administration to "freeze all settlements activities" (yes, this goes back decades), so he encouraged the settlers to rush and take the land and explained: "after that, it would be easier for me to say [to the Americans] 'I was beaten!'"

Found here

RIP: Edward Sanders

Edward Sanders, an attorney and leader in the Jewish community who served President Carter as a special advisor on Mideast policy, died Monday at his Los Angeles home. He was 87.

The cause was cancer, according to his son-in-law, Stanley Witkow.Sanders gained prominence during the 1973 energy crisis when, as president of the Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles, he challenged a letter from Standard Oil Co. to 300,000 stockholders that appeared to support a pro-Arab Mideast policy. He later became president of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

In 1976, he resigned the latter post to organize Jewish support for Carter's presidential campaign. In 1978 he was named to a new post as advisor to President Carter and Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance on Mideast policy and the Jewish community. He quickly became involved in planning the historic Camp David summit, which culminated in a signed accord between Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Street Rennovations

Nahon Street woorks:

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Begin As Party Leader

MK Tzachi HaNegbi recalls:

"The disengagement has leveled a harsh blow to the concept of unilateralism," said Hanegbi, who chairs the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. "The logic, if you are forced to look for one behind Sharon's decision, was that you're no longer there. You're no longer harassing [the Palestinians]. You're no longer the occupier.

"But this logic dissipated when it turned out that you need two to tango, and that the other party does not play the game according to the rules, but instead tries to take advantage of the vacuum that was formed in order to empower itself."

Hanegbi, who voted against disengagement in 2005 as a Likud MK, on Monday focused on two major political outcomes of the disengagement: the split in the "right-wing world," and the "eventual fluctuation [in support] from the center-left back to the right."

"It had always been the norm of Likud to support their leaders, and in fact most supported Menachem Begin when he wanted to make uncharacteristic concessions in the early 1980s," said Hanegbi. "But here, with Sharon and the disengagement there was a split. It was no longer a debate, it was personal accusations against Sharon, such as the one that he was trying to save himself from various financial investigations. Most people believe that this was the true motivation behind Sharon's decision."

In the first general election following the disengagement, in March 2006, the Likud went from 40 Knesset seats to 12 - the largest decline in Israeli political history.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

When Begin Was Besmirched

"[Former Lord Mayor of London Ken] Livingstone is emblematic of many of the 1968 generation of leftist politicians for whom anti-Zionist and anti-Israel language is second nature. As editor of the Labour Herald, Livingstone published in 1982 a cartoon of the Israeli prime minister, Menachem Begin, dressed in a black SS uniform standing on a mountain of Arab skulls above the slogan, "The Final Solution? Shalom?"

Livingstone also accused the representative body of British Jews, the Board of Deputies, of being dominated by "neo-fascists" and argued that those Jews who supported Labour did so not "because they were Jewish but because the Conservative Party was anti-Semitic." Yet Reg Freeson, the Labour MP who was ousted and replaced as MP by Livingstone, said he didn't consider Livingstone "anti-Semitic."


Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Critical Look at Begin

Menachem Begin, Israel's prime minister from 1977 to 1983, tried very hard to present Abu Mazen's predecessor, Yasser Arafat, as being - how shall I put it? - "not really human," and even outright demonic. Begin not only referred to him as "the man with the hairs on his face" (although I and quite a few other Israelis have hairs on our faces), but he also used a ploy adapted later by many local officials, the present premier included: treating Arafat and indeed all our enemies as potential "Hitlers," like dots along an evil axis, or declaring that there is "no partner," that Palestinians are not worthy of negotiating with Israel.

Michael Handelzalts in Haaretz

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Begin as A MI5 Target

In a report, Cambridge Historian Writes Definitive History Of Britain's MI5, we learn that Christopher Andrew, a history professor at Cambridge University, has recently published the first authorized history of the domestic branch of the British intelligence establishment -- officially designated the Security Service and commonly known as MI5. It is entitled, "Defend The Realm".

In an interview with RFE/RL correspondent Ahto Lobjakas, he was asked, among other things:

...RFE/RL: The Security Service has over the past two decades become less concerned with espionage, and now mostly focuses on counterterrorism. Why is that?

Andrew: That's right. It's a comparatively sudden change. MI5 was founded exactly 100 years ago this month, solely as a counterespionage network. Nowadays, on its 100th birthday, it only spends 3.5 percent of its resources on counterespionage. Espionage is still going on. But espionage by, for example, Russia is plainly not as threatening to national interest now that the Cold War is over as it was at the period when people legitimately wondered whether the Cold War would turn into hot war.

So it's overwhelmingly a counterterrorist agency. But how it got into it is, I think, not generally known. The first major terrorist target of the Security Service was actually Zionist extremists -- Menachem Begin, for example, the future prime minister of Israel -- after blowing up the British headquarters in Palestine, the King David Hotel, after blowing up the British Embassy in Rome. They then planted a huge bomb in Whitehall [British government headquarters], which failed to go off.

Note, that second operation, at Whitehall, was not an Irgun operation.

According to Eli Tavin, Commander of the Irgun Abroad (Europe), there was only one planned operation, an attempt to assassinate Genral Evelyn Barker, in which Ezer Weizmann took part. Other operations considered were the bombing of underground telephone wires near the City of London; demolition of a tunnel under the Thames; an attack at the telegraph center at Cornwall; a recreation camp intended for veterans of the Palestine Police and the ocean liner Queen Elizabeth. None of these moved beyond the planning stage. See "The Second Front" (Hebrew), p. 173.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Letter to Editor Not Published


In Robert Irwin's review of "The Arabs: A History" by Eugene Rogan (31 Oct.), we are informed that "while Britain was at war with Nazi Germany, Menachem Begin, the leader of Irgun, and Yitzhak Shamir, the leader of Lehi, waged terrorist campaigns against the British in Palestine" and that "…Irgun operatives blew up the King David Hotel in Jerusalem". That is too sketchy a description and is factually misleading.

In 1939, Britain's White Paper policy of limiting Jewish immigration to 75,000 over the next five years sentenced millions of Jews to death at the hands of the Nazis. As Bernard Wasserstein has shown, in his "Great Britain and the Jews of Europe", among others, latent anti-Semitism and an inconceivable misreading of the political situation all throughout the World War by Colonial and Foreign Office ministers and clerks who acted in virtual collaboration with the German pursuit of the Jews brought about the horrific results of the Holocaust. The Jewish armed struggle against the oppressive Mandatory regime was just and proper.

On July 26, 1946, Irgun fighters detonated explosives in the southern wing of Jerusalem's King David Hotel which was requisitioned by the British Mandatory administration already weight years earlier as offices for the Mandate Secretariat as well as the Command for British military forces in the country. The section destroyed in the blast was not, as could be inferred, a civilian location populated by tourists. In addition, that a warning call made to alert the British of the impending blast was ignored, whereas the nearby French Consulate acted with alacrity upon receiving their call, was most unfortunate.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Begin - A True Ascetic

Found here:-

The corruption at the top of Israeli politics, now almost endemic, quite frankly started with the Rabins, Yitzhak and Leah. The previous prime ministers had been—how to say it?—well, they were actually true ascetics. David Ben Gurion, who lived out his life with his books on his Spartan kibbutz Sde Boker. The Zionist diplomat Moshe (Shertok) Sharett. Levi Eshkol who made Israel productive but not himself prosperous. Golda Meir, who had many passions (she loved music, actually cello music, and she had many lovers) but not for style or cash.

And, then, of course, Menachem Begin, a true ascetic (whom Henry Rosovsky, David Landes and Michael Walzer visited in 1970 in his three-room "English basement" apartment where he had hidden from the pre-state British Mandate police and where he died.) These were austere people.

And, then, suddenly came Leah and Yitzhak, high livers who in a country still alienated from high living cut their swath. Rabin's first term as prime minister was cut short by a petty (actually utterly insignificant) banking scandal. On this count, the rest is history. No one could swear that Israel has had a pecuniarily honest p.m. since.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Begin Criticized in Haaretz

In an op-ed by Ari Shavit:

...After the electoral upheaval of 1977, the right-wing governments built around 150 settlements, which were designed to make the occupation irreversible. Even after Likud withdrew from Sinai, the party was determined to prevent an additional evacuation. In an unprecedented display of arrogance, trepidation, and obliviousness to reality, Likudist Israel tried to consolidate its control over the territories, de facto. By employing anachronistic and illegitimate colonialist methods, the Israel of Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon defied international law and the demographic realities on the ground to swallow large swaths of land it was incapable of digesting. Intoxicated by power and tinged by messianic fervor, it tried to stop Palestinian sovereignty at any price, but in so doing undermined Jewish sovereignty...

Begin Recalled in the Remarks of Susan Rice in Jerusalem

At the end of her remarks addressed to the participants of the Israeli Presidential Conference 2009, Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations and of U.S. Mission to the United Nations made in Jerusalem on October 21, 2009, Ms. Rice recalled Menachem Begin:

We need cooperation among great powers and constructive contributions from all powers. We need alliances that work and partners that shoulder their share of the common burden. We need to work together to isolate spoilers. We need to join together to counter states that defy their international responsibilities even as we ensure that they have off-ramps should they choose a more responsible course. We need stronger mechanisms for conflict prevention and conflict resolution. And finally, we need more durable vehicles to promote economic development, democracy, and good governance. We need strong institutions, not strong men, to help lay a lasting foundation for global stability and sustainable growth.

To say the least, this is an ambitious agenda. But surely the State of Israel is one country that believes that human beings can and must do great things together—a country that has seen its extraordinary democratic institutions rise with miraculous speed—a country that knows that the trampled fields of war can shelter seeds of peace—a country that believes t in Herzl’s words, if you will it, it is no dream.

These responsibilities do not rest with leaders alone. Ordinary citizens must do their vital part—and heed the call to service and sacrifice. No climate pact will make the difference if consumers do not change the cars they drive or the way they insulate their homes. No peace will truly last if leaders are not held accountable for faithful implementation of their obligations and if citizens lose heart in the promise of a brighter future. Shared security rests on public resolve, common understanding, and united will.

Some will always scoff. Some will choose not to choose. Some will prefer drift to action. But history is made by those on the playing field, not those sitting in the cheap seats.

Decades from now, students sitting in classrooms from Jerusalem to Jakarta will learn about the life of Shimon Peres—and everyone will have forgotten those who grumble today from the sidelines or who are too caught up in short-term political interests to stand up for the interests of generations to come.

Decades from now, people in Egypt, Jordan, and Israel will still praise Anwar al-Sadat, Menachem Begin, King Hussein, Yitzhak Rabin, and other Arab and Israeli leaders who knew that peace is always possible.

And decades from now, people will remember the leaders from this historic moment who took responsibility for our shared destiny and they will remember the citizens who refused to allow differences to define them.

We can be remembered as a generation that evaded the hard choices, that looked away, and that left its children less safe and less secure. Or we can come together to advance our interests, to stand up for our values, and to strengthen our common security by investing in our common humanity.

The stakes are high. The choice is urgent. But America believes that, together, we can and we must rise to history’s call.

Dan Meridor on Menachem Begin

From an interview in Haaretz:

We won't be another Rhodesia

In a desk drawer of his room on the seventh floor of the Prime Minister's Office, Meridor keeps an old bundle of papers that are like his personal "Guide to the Perplexed." They are the records of the December 1977 Knesset session in which Prime Minister Menachem Begin first proposed an autonomy plan for the occupied territories in the framework of the peace agreement with Egypt. Begin also addressed the question of granting Israeli citizenship to Palestinians in the territories. "We will not become another Rhodesia," he grandly declared, referring to the African state, today's Zimbabwe, that at the time was ruled by a white minority. "Whoever desires Israeli citizenship shall receive it."

What he really meant is that Israel would not become another South Africa, an apartheid state.

"Begin didn't want to say South Africa openly, in the Knesset, but in closed deliberations of the Ministerial Committee on Security Affairs he said South Africa. In the Knesset he said Rhodesia, presumably because he didn't want to offend the South African regime. But what he clearly said was: This is not who we are. This is not the Likud. In the entire world there is no other country like this, where some of the territory belongs to it, and some is held, occupied, liberated, but not part of it."

Why do you hold onto those pages? Why do you find them so significant?

"We must disabuse ourselves of the illusion that the present situation between us and the Palestinians can be permanent, that it can continue into infinity. This is a grave mistake. We're essentially trying to normalize an anomaly. The proposals in Begin's autonomy plan of December 1977 were the first and most detailed Likud idea for a resolution of the conflict, which offered major concessions: We will not annex one millimeter, open sovereignty will prevail, security will remain in our hands and the independent administration will belong to the Palestinians. But Begin then asked a question: What about citizenship? And he answered: 'Every Arab who wishes to have Israeli citizenship shall receive it.' He said: 'We will not be Rhodesia.' This is a profound, moral matter. Not a technical matter.

"Likud is supposed to be a liberal national movement that is also concerned with equality among individuals, with human rights. I'll tell you something: In late 2002, then prime minister Ariel Sharon appointed me to prepare a peace plan along with senior aides Dov Weissglas, Amos Gilad and Ephraim Halevy. I sat down with him to understand what he had in mind, and we came to the issue of the Arabs voting. And then he said: 'Maybe they'll vote in Amman?' And I told him: 'Sure, and you'll vote in Jamaica.' He asked: 'Why Jamaica?' And I said: 'Why Amman? They live here. Voting is not a ceremonial thing. A person is entitled to shape the laws that govern his life in the place where he lives.'

"Begin understood this and said so, and moreover, he stated: Every Israeli can live in Judea and Samaria and every Arab is entitled to live anywhere in the Land of Israel. For many years, I could live with this. I didn't see a conflict between Greater Israel and liberal values, until it became apparent that the numbers just didn't work."

Are we on the fast track to a binational state?

"I don't want to reach the day when the two-state paradigm is replaced by a one-state paradigm. When the Arab demand is not for two states, but when someone comes and says: Does it make sense that for 40 years [West Bank settler leaders] Moshe Levinger and Elyakim Haetzni should vote on the question of what army should be here, who should have freedom of movement, who can judge, etc., and all the questions that a person votes upon, all the laws that apply there, and all the Arabs around don't vote?"

So what do you propose should be done now?

"I've come to a very painful conclusion, that a decision must be made. If we hold onto the entire land, we will not be able to remain a democracy, we will not be able to preserve human rights, equality, because the result will be a binational state. Even if we're not a minority, even if we comprise up 55 percent. That's no longer a Jewish state with an Arab minority, that's a state of two peoples who share the government. If we then want to maintain a situation in which only we have rights and they don't, that's what Begin meant by 'Rhodesia.'

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Begin's Funeral in a Photojournalism Story

Found in the Jerusalem Post:

As tens of thousands of mourners thronged the Mount of Olives cemetery to approach the shrouded corpse of Menachem Begin, Esteban Alterman stopped clicking his camera's shutter and took a step back.

From the other side of the sandstone wall enclosing Begin's grave, Alterman had found his shot: 21 men of all different walks of life rushing the stone embankment up to the wall and hurling themselves over to press themselves into the already congested crowd.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Uri Avnery Mentions Jabotinsky and Begin

In an article on the current state of affairs with the Palestinian Authority, Gush Shalom activist Uri Avenry mentions Ze'ev Jabotinsky and Menachem Begin:

Binyamin Netanyahu speaks about “economic peace” as a substitute for
political peace. Economic benefits instead of national independence. This, by
the way, shows how far removed he is from the teachings of his idol, Ze’ev
(Vladimir) Jabotinsky, who 85 years ago made fun of the Zionist leaders for
entertaining the illusion that the Palestinian people could be bought off. No
people, he said, sells itself for economic advantages....

...Abbas is supposed to confront Hamas in free elections – and this, too,
is hard to imagine. It is even harder to believe that the Americans would risk
allowing such elections. They have already announced that they are doing their
best to prevent the reconciliation. The Israeli media gleefully report that the
hatred between Fatah and Hamas is stronger than their hatred towards the
Israelis. That is not a unique phenomenon. When we were fighting against the
British regime in Palestine, David Ben-Gurion gave orders for Irgun fighters to
be turned over to the British police, and only the almost inhuman restraint of
Menachem Begin prevented a fratricidal war.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Begin's Humanitarian Gesture Recalled

In a story, "Minister Braverman: Grant foreign workers' children citizenship", the name of Menachem Begin and his humanitarian act is recalled:

Minister for Minority Affairs Avishay Braverman referred to the possible deportation of foreign workers' children within three weeks on Sunday during a swearing in ceremony of Islamic judges held at the President's Residence.

"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must do as Menachem Begin did. I can't envisage the children being deported," Braverman said.

His reference to Begin relates to a situation in 1977 in which late Prime Minister Menachem Begin granted Israeli citizenship to 179 Vietnamese refugees who escaped their homeland on boats after a regime change occurred in Vietnam. No country agreed to take the refugees in after being pulled out of the sea by an Israeli cargo ship...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Britain's MI5 Feared The Irgun - And Did Not Recruit Jews

From an item in The Jewish Chronicle:

Revealed: MI5's Jewish terrorism fear

MI5 for many years avoided recruiting Jews as spies out of concern about their potential loyalty to Israel, according to a new book published this week.

Its policy stemmed from the years of Israel’s struggle for independence when the security services feared terrorist attacks on Britain by militant Zionist groups.

The revelation comes in The Defence of the Realm, an authorised history of M15 based on its archives, by Chistopher Andrew.

...“As late as 1974,” Prof Andrew writes, “when it was agreed that there was ‘no general bar on the recruitment of Jews of British nationality’, there was still prejudice against particularly observant Jews and those of distinctively Jewish ‘physical appearance and demeanour’.”

His book devotes one chapter to the threat of Zionism extremism as the militant Irgun and Stern Gang launched attacks on British troops in Palestine. Reports circulated in autumn 1946 that the wanted Irgun leader Menachem Begin was intending to travel to the UK.

In 1947 the Colonial Office in Whitehall survived a Stern Gang bomb — only because the timer failed — and the same group sent letter bombs to British politicians that year.

Although most British Jewish organisations were opposed to terrorism, a few Jews were suspected of planning terrorist attacks here. In one case, in July 1947, grenades and detonators were discovered, by his chauffeur, in the boot of the car of Harry Isaac Presman of north London, but he pleaded ignorance and the police did not charge him.

The authorities were concerned about arms purchases for the Zionist underground and illegal Jewish immigration to Palestine to beat the tight British quota.

Prof Andrew writes: “The Security Service believed that, as a result of its
penetration of the Jewish organisations in London and other intelligence sources, ‘only one out of 30 ships carrying illegal immigrants reached their

Elsewhere in the book Prof Andrew records how the notorious double-agent Kim Philby, the first of the Cambridge Five, was recruited for the KGB by Arnold Deutsch, a Jewish Communist from central Europe who was studying in London and who was a cousin of Odeon cinema founder, Oscar Deutsch.

Many years later, Philby’s treachery was exposed after Flora Solomon, a Wizo activist, told Victor Rothschild, in a conversation at the Weizmann Institute in Israel, that Philby had tried to recruit her for the KGB.

UK Guardian Leaves Out Begin As A Nobel Prize Laurette

As The Jewish Chronicle pointed out:

Complaints to The Guardian newspaper over an incomplete list of Nobel peace prize winners have led to a hasty amendment on the paper's website.

The incomplete list was up for four hours, despite comments below the list which pointed out the omissions of Yitzak Rabin, Menachem Begin and Shimon Peres.

Immediately following the announcement of President Barack Obama's win of the 2009 Nobel peace prize, Guardian news editor Simon Rogers posted what he claimed was "every peace prize winner ever", stating that the information came from the website

But the Guardian list omitted Israeli winners Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin and Menachem Begin.

Menachem Begin, the sixth Prime Minister of Israel, jointly won the Nobel peace prize in 1978 for signing a peace treaty with Egypt with President of Egypt Anwar Sadat. Only Sadat was listed by the Guardian...

Stephen Pollard writes there at the JC:

The Guardian's ommission of the Israelis gets more bizarre.

They have told us that it was down to:

technical issue during the data transfer from the
site, which meant that many of the names of the joint winners of the Nobel Peace
Prize were accidentally omitted, although the country of origin of the winners
was not.

Eh? There are many, many other joint winners listed on the original, and they all transferred over to the Guardian's site. Somehow this technical issue only affected the three Israeli names.

I do not believe the Guardian's explanation.


Melanie Phillips writes:

Here is a little quiz. The Guardian has posted up a list here of everyone who has won the Nobel Peace Prize since its inception.

Q: Which three names are omitted from the Guardian list ( even though they do appear on the list which the Guardian has purportedly reproduced)?***

A: Menachem Begin, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin.

And what is the common link between these three names? Precisely.

It appears someone at the Guardian actually went to the effort of removing the names of the three Israeli statesmen who won the prize. Facts are sacred?

Here’s a further curiosity. If you look at the years 1978 and 1994, although the Guardian has air-brushed out the names of Begin, Peres and Rabin it has apparently added in the name of their country, Israel, which is given in a neighbouring column – thus managing to suggest that Sadat and Arafat represented Israel along with Egypt and ‘Palestine’ in winning the prize in those years. So what happend? Did the hand typing in the name of the country accidentally hit the keys three times so that the names that went with it were coincidentally all deleted?

Tsk – standards of censorship on Planet Bigotry are clearly slipping.

***Update, 1650: Lo and behold, the three Israeli names have now been added to the Guardian list.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Richard Goldstone Claims Begin As His Example

The chairman of the UN Fact-finding Commission has claimed Menachem Begin as his model!

As reported:

Goldstone: ‘If This Was a Court Of Law, There Would Have Been Nothing Proven.’

...Tellingly, in an interview with the Forward on October 2, Goldstone himself acknowledged the tentative nature of his findings.

“Ours wasn’t an investigation, it was a fact-finding mission,” he said, sitting in his Midtown Manhattan office at Fordham University Law School, where he is currently visiting faculty. “We made that clear.”

Goldstone defended the report’s reliance on eyewitness accounts, noting his mission had cross-checked those accounts against each other and sought corroboration from photos, satellite photos, contemporaneous reports, forensic evidence and the mission’s own inspections of the sites in question.

For all that gathered information, though, he said, “We had to do the best we could with the material we had. If this was a court of law, there would have been nothing proven.”

Goldstone emphasized that his conclusion that war crimes had been committed was always intended as conditional...

...Goldstone maintains that the burden is now on Israel to counter these findings through its own probe.

“If I was advising Israel, I would say have open investigations,” he told the Forward. “In that way, you can put an end to this. It’s in the interest of all the people of Israel that if any of our allegations are established and if they’re criminal, there should be prosecutions. And if they’re false, that should be established. And I wouldn’t consider it in any way embarrassing if many of the allegations turn out to be disproved.”

Goldstone rejected the credibility of the army’s secret investigation of itself. He noted that none of the Palestinian witnesses he had met reported having been contacted by the army to hear their account. Instead, he offered the example of the Israeli investigation into the Sabra and Shatilla massacres, commissioned by Menachem Begin, as a model to emulate.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Center Bulletin, Vol. 5, No. 49

Menachem Begin Heritage Center Bulletin Vol. 5, No. 49 | 1 October 2009


Table of Contents:

English website is live
Ad campaign for Sukkot
Hakhel Festival
Art exhibition
Contact us


Hoshana Raba Evening of Learning. To open the new year of the Rohr Family Parashat HaShavua, the Menachem Begin Heritage Center is sponsoring an evening of learning on October 8, 2009, for Hoshana Raba. The three main lecturers for the year will each present lectures that evening, including Dr. Shelly Goldberg, Mr. Baruch Barzel and Dr. Ido Hevroni. The evening will conclude with Yonatan Razel who will sing religious songs in the spirit of Hoshana Raba. This event is free and is in Hebrew.

October 15 at 7:00pm
First Parashat Hashavua with Dr. Ido Hevroni.


The English version of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center is live.

The site is still under construction, but we invite you to visit the site HERE and see what's new and what's happening.


As part of our advertisement campaign to increase attendance at the museum during Sukkot, we have a full billboard size poster near the Begin Center informing everyone of our extended hours. Additional advertisements are also posted several other busy intersections around Jerusalem.

The sign announces "An exciting trip through the life of a leader!" and that we have extended our hours until 7:00pm each evening of Chol HaMoed Sukkot.
We hope to see another week of stellar museum attendance numbers.


The Hakhel Festival has been in existence for the past thirteen years and for the first time, the Begin Center has been approached to participate. The Hakhel Fesitval is an event focusing on Jewish identity and Israeli culture. This year the Festival will be at Sapir College in Sderot on 4 October. The Education Department of the Begin Center will facilitate a workshop for participants titled "Between Judaism and Democracy". The Begin Center will also be represented with its own information booth at the Festival. Their English language website is HERE.


A sculptress, Bella Strifler, and a painter, Leora Benkel, have launched an art exhibition at the Begin Center. The theme is "Fluctuations" and the works explore the dialogue between open space and matter using wheel elements and utilizing the symbol of a clock as part of our lives.

The exhibit will be on view until October 19.


Please direct any inquiries to

Checks may be sent to:
US Friends of the Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation
3901 West 86th Street, Suite 470
Indianapolis, IN 46268

Canadian Friends of the Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation
One Yorkdale Road, Suite 601
Toronto, ON M6A 3A1

Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation
c/o Mr. Eric Graus
139a, New Bond St.
London WIS 2TN

Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation
6 Nahon Street
Jerusalem 94110

Begin and Osirak Recalled in a Op-ed

In The Tablet:

What Would Begin Do?

Seeing the Iranian nuclear threat through the lens of Osirak

By Seth Lipsky


The latest disclosures in respect of Iran’s work on an atomic bomb—the International Atomic Energy Agency says the mullahs have the technical data needed to make a weapon—has me thinking about what happened in 1981, when Israel sent a flight of American-built warplanes to destroy a reactor that Iraq was building as part of a suspected program to manufacture a weapon. The thing that stands out from that episode is that it came out of the blue, not just literally but also politically.

Certainly there was plenty of concern about what Iraq was up to, but the long public debate, the hand-wringing, the threats, the counter-threats, the journalistic chorus about what a terrible thing a pre-emptive attack would be, how dangerous, none of this happened. One day Iraq had a nuclear reactor. The next day it didn’t. The attack was met with the usual outrage, but then a funny thing happened, and the tide began to turn in Israel’s favor, in part because Menachem Begin had no apologies.

...The [Wall Street] Journal recognized that Israel “was not acting out of some abstract concern with nonproliferation.” It presumed that Israel was “pursuing its own interest” and conceded the timing of the raid was “no doubt” in Begin’s “political interest in the impending elections.”

...Today, everyone is more tense...Surely Iran is a more difficult military mission than Iraq was, though our weapons systems are also more advanced. But surely Iran is further along the road to a bomb-making capacity than Iraq was. Menachem Begin refrained from debating any of this in public before he made his attack, and then one day there was no reactor in Iraq—a fact that eventually came to be viewed with a great deal of relief by the rest of the world.

Monday, October 5, 2009

New English Wed Site Is Up

Hoshanna Rabba Thursday Night

One Never Knows

From a profile piece on Margalit Tzanani, a famous singer and TV personality:

After each performance, she would return home to her Orthodox family in
Netanya. She is the eldest of seven siblings, the daughter of Lola, a housewife,
and Shalom, a diamond industry worker, who had a great influence on her. Her
father, a member of the Labor movement, also admired right-wing leader Menachem Begin. Alongside the sacred texts in his home were also volumes by Zionist thinkers Ze'ev Jabotinsky and Berl Katznelson, from two ends of the political spectrum.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Begin/Bush - Iraq; Netanyahu/Obama - Iran

Menachem Begin mentioned in an op-ed critical of the US Administration's position on Iran:-

Leaving Israel With No Choice?

By Michael Gerson
Friday, October 2, 2009

On June 7, 1981, Israeli F-15s and F-16s took off for the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq, after the pilots were emotionally briefed that "the alternative is our destruction." In fact, Prime Minister Menachem Begin had no idea whether the raid would stop the Iraqi nuclear program or merely slow it. But slowing it was reason enough.

Since the George W. Bush administration, the American military has estimated that an attack against Iran's nuclear facilities would only delay the development of its program. "The reality is," Defense Secretary Robert Gates said recently, "there is no military option that does anything more than buy time. The estimates are one to three years or so."

But for several months, high-ranking Israeli officials have been telling American visitors that buying time may be worth it. The Osirak raid, after all, turned out to be an unexpectedly decisive blow. And who knows what political changes might take place in Iran during a few years of nuclear breathing space? Not many Israelis would need to be convinced by this argument -- a recommendation would go from the chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, to Defense Minister Ehud Barak, to the security cabinet and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Perhaps a dozen people could shake the world.

Clues to Israeli desperation are now so obvious that many have missed them. Netanyahu's recent speech at the United Nations was generally reported as part of a rhetorical tit for tat with Israel's bombastic enemies. But perhaps Netanyahu's impassioned warning against the world's first Holocaust-denying nuclear state should be taken at face value. Former U.S. undersecretary of defense Dov S. Zakheim thinks Netanyahu might have been "setting the stage to say to the world after a strike, 'I told you so.' "

An Israeli strike on Iran is an outcome that no American administration would desire. Though an attack might be privately cheered by some Arab rulers, the public consequences would be broad and unpredictable. If Israeli planes were to fly over Iraq, the reaction against America in that country could get ugly. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas would probably be forced to step away from talks with Israel. Iran could escalate the crisis, with missile launches against Israel and attacks from terrorist proxies such as Hezbollah. In a global anti-Israel backlash, it is possible that the diplomatic and economic isolation of Iran would be eased instead of increased, making the reconstitution of its nuclear program more likely.

On Iran, the Obama administration, while differing in some diplomatic methods, has adopted the same basic approach as the Bush administration -- offering Tehran a reasonable way out of confrontation, building support among allies for crippling economic sanctions when the Iranians refuse, somehow persuading Russia and China to play along, and preserving a military option as the last of the last resorts. Many question the administration's skill and will, but there are few alternatives to the general strategy. A virtual blockade of the Iranian economy -- aggressively cutting off shipping, banking and refined petroleum -- would not be a half-measure. It would be an act close to war.

But one large threat to this strategy comes from the Obama administration itself, which may be unintentionally encouraging an Israeli military strike on Iran. Obama has injected considerable suspicion into the American-Israeli relationship, picking public fights on issues such as settlements and adopting a tone of neutrality in other controversies. If Israel thinks America is an increasingly unreliable partner, Israel will be more likely to depend on itself alone -- and let the bombers fly. "When someone is trigger-happy," says Zakheim, "the last thing you want to do is make them paranoid."

In the end, it is American leaders who can talk Israeli leaders off the ledge of military confrontation. This is possible only if Israelis trust American goodwill, competence and strength of purpose. The immediate precedent does not encourage confidence. Israelis look at the North Korean crisis and see an example of meticulous, multilateral cooperation resulting in spectacular counterproliferation failure. Why, they wonder, is Iran going to be different? Weak American credibility on North Korea has strengthened the argument for direct Israeli action against Iran.

Here is a paradox for President Obama to ponder while traversing the Iranian minefield: If the Israelis were confident that America would act decisively against the Iranian nuclear threat in the greatest extremity, they would be far less likely to act themselves. Lacking that confidence, they may conclude, once again, that delaying the threat is good enough.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A Letter on Arlosoroff in the JPost

No 'presumably' about it

Sir, - In an op-ed discussing the Transfer Agreement of 1933 with Nazi Germany ("When Zionists made a deal with the Nazis," September 24), Edwin Black asserts that Haim Arlosoroff was "assassinated... presumably by Revisionist Zionists of the Ze'ev Jabotinsky camp." He further claims that "the Revisionist Zionists... violently opposed the deal."

"Presumably"? The Bechor Commission that reinvestigated the matter in 1985 found no new evidence and insisted that the accused assassins, Avraham Stavsky and Zvi Rosenblatt, were not guilty. If the author possesses other evidence, he should submit it or publish it.

Moreover, the use of "violently opposed" is quite improper. There were no violent deeds, but rather strident and robust headlines in the newspapers.


Our New English Language Web Site is Up

Our new English-language web site is up:

Right here:

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Center's Street Sign Advertising

The slogan reads:

A Riveting Trip Into the Life of a Leader!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Center Bulletin, Vol. 5, No. 48

Menachem Begin Heritage Center Bulletin Vo. 5, No. 48 | 24 September 2009


Table of Contents:
Greeting for Yom Kippur
Calendar of Events
Yahrzeit for Harry Hurwitz z"l
Helping our Friends in Wheelchairs
Soldiers on Slichot Tours



8 October at 9:00pm
Hoshana Raba Evening of Learning. To open the new year of the Rohr Family Parashat HaShavua, the Menachem Begin Heritage Center is sponsoring an evening of learning on October 8, 2009, for Hoshana Raba. The three main lecturers for the year will each present lectures that evening, including Dr. Shelly Goldberg, Mr. Baruch Barzel and Dr. Ido Hevroni. The evening will conclude with Yonatan Razel who will sing religious songs in the spirit of Hoshana Raba. This event is free and is in Hebrew.

October 15 at 7:00pm
First Parashat Hashavua with Dr. Ido Hevroni.


On 21 September, ג' תשרי, the Begin Center marked the first anniversary of the passing of Harry Hurwitz z''l with a graveside ceremony at Har HaMenuchot cemetery and a memorial evening at the Center. Approximately 40 people attended the short ceremony at the cemetery. Prayers were led by Yosef Wittelson and Psalms were recited by other attendees. Family and friends returned to the Begin Center for a ceremony attended by many who were at the cemetery and joined by an additional 30 people. Additional attendees were Prof. Moshe Arens, former Israeli ambassador to the US and former Foreign Minister, and Dr. Benny Begin, a minister in the current government and Menachem Begin's son. A short film recounting Harry’s life was shown; Yisrael Medad, Director of Information Resources, read out Mishnayot. Moshe Fuksman, Deputy Director of the Center, said a few words and introduced all the speakers. Dr. Hillel Hurwitz spoke on behalf of the family, Ilana Brown spoke as Harry's assistant for the last six years of his career and Herzl Makov, Head of the Center, spoke on behalf of the Begin Center.


Last week 25 youngsters from Beit HaGalgalim (lit. translation: House of Wheels) came to the Begin Center for the closing ceremony of their summer camp. The Begin Center hosted the young people to a visit to the Begin Museum and provided a space for their ceremony on the Simon Family Terrace overlooking the walls of the Old City.
The Begin Center is an ideal location for visitors in wheelchairs or those who have problems with stairs. The museum is located on a single level until the Jerusalem Elevator dedicated to American Betar by Barry and Sindy Liben and all floors are accessible by elevator.

For the past 19 nights, thousands of soldiers have been using the Menachem Begin Heritage Center as a starting point for Slichot tours and a center for lectures about the holidays. As an initiative of the Jewish Consciousness unit of the IDF, soldiers are brought to Jerusalem around the High Holidays and visit synagogues and other special locations. Slichot tours in Jerusalem have been going on for at least 20 years and now the IDF has created this special program specifically for soldiers. The Menachem Begin Heritage Center has been full each night of these tours.


Please direct any inquiries to

Checks may be sent to:
US Friends of the Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation
3901 West 86th Street, Suite 470
Indianapolis, IN 46268

Canadian Friends of the Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation
One Yorkdale Road, Suite 601
Toronto, ON M6A 3A1

Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation
c/o Mr. Eric Graus
139a, New Bond St.
London WIS 2TN

Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation
6 Nahon Street
Jerusalem 94110

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Error in Jerusalem Post Op-ed

In a long article discussing the Transfer Agreement of 1933 with Nazi Germany so that Jews could immigrate, the author writes this:

DURING THE prewar years, the Transfer Agreement tore the Jewish world apart, turning leader against leader, prompting rebellion and even assassination within the Yishuv and Diaspora alike. Jewish Agency de-facto foreign minister Haim Arlosoroff, who had negotiated the deal on behalf of the Zionist Mapai Party, was assassinated on an empty stretch of the Tel Aviv beach (near where the Tel Aviv Hilton now stands), presumably by Revisionist Zionists of the Ze'ev Jabotinsky camp. The Revisionist Zionists, a minority at the time, violently opposed the deal with the Nazis. Today streets everywhere in Israel are named for Arlosoroff.

The commission that was appointed during Menachem Begin's premiership came to another conclsuion, that the Revisionists were not at all responsible for the shooting death of Chaim Arlosoroff. Moreover, the use of "violently opposed" was not reflected in deeds but rather in the press.

Slichot Tours

For the past 19 nights, thousands of soldiers have been using the Menachem Begin Heritage Center as a starting point for Slichot tours and a center for lectures about the holidays.

An initiative of the Jewish Consciousness unit of the IDF, soldiers are brought to Jerusalem at the High Holidays period and visit synagogues, the Kotel and other special locations.

Slichot tours in Jerusalem have been going on for at least 20 years and have proven popular with both religious and non-religious Jews.

And now the army has created this special program specifically for soldiers. The Menachem Begin Heritage Center has been full each night of these tours.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

MI5 Files on Menachem Begin

Menachem Begin
File refs KV 2/2251-2252

Menachem Begin was the sixth Prime Minister of Israel (1977-1983) and leader of the country's leading right-wing party, Herut, from 1948-1983. He came to prominence as an advocate of the view that mainstream Zionist groups were too accommodating with the British authorities in pre-1948 Palestine, and advocated the use of force to establish a Jewish state. He joined the militant Zionist group Irgun during the Second World War and eventually became its leader. The Irgun's attacks on British targets in Palestine made him one of the most wanted men in the region, with a substantial reward posted for his capture.

The Security Service file on Begin consists largely of a collection of reports on his movements, contacts and activities culled from various sources. The Service was interested in building a detailed picture of his career, and the file includes much detail about his early life.

There is debate in KV 2/2251 (1939-1949) as to whether or not he had been in a position to serve in Spain with the International Brigade. The file includes a photograph purportedly of Begin with comrades in Spain, but also information from other sources suggesting that he was elsewhere for the duration of the Civil War. The possibility of Soviet control of Begin's Irgun organisation is one of the key concerns of the file, which records but otherwise does not go into much detail about various terrorist acts attributed to that organisation. The file includes a Polish Security Middle East group report on Jewish terrorist activities, dated April 1945; and a report of intelligence sourced from Chilik Weizmann by the Secret Intelligence Service that Begin had undergone cosmetic surgery in February 1947 to conceal his identity. The SIS report suggests that he "had undergone a plastic facial operation and that his appearance is totally different to that displayed on police photographs", but notes dryly that "We have no description of the new face."

KV 2/2252 (1949-1955) continues with similar reports focusing on Begin's post-war travels and meetings in Europe and the Americas. There is an April 1953 case summary, including details of the possible connections between Begin and the Russian intelligence service at serial 121a: "...the answer would appear to be that Begin was probably not a Soviet agent in the sense that he was working for the RIS...but that there is some slight possibility that during 1947 he might have accepted or even sought Soviet financial assistance for the terrorist organisation."

File refs KV 5/34-41

This collection of files documents the Security Service's monitoring of the activities of Irgun, the Jewish organisation involved or implicated in numerous acts of terrorism in the closing years of the British mandate in Palestine. The file covering the pre-war and Second World War period (KV 5/34, 1938-1946) is largely concerned with tracking the changes to the leadership of Irgun, its relationship with Zionist Revisionist groups, and assessing the strength of Irgun. The file includes reports of Irgun terrorist activities, which were suspended for most of the war (Irgun leader David Raziel served with the allies and was killed in action in 1941) but resumed in 1944, around the time that Menachem Begin assumed the leadership. The file includes an Irgun propaganda leaflet which addressed Palestine's Arab neighbours (serial 33a) and shows that Teddy Kollek, the future mayor of Jerusalem, was in contact with the Defence Security Officer in Palestine (e.g serials 57c, 63zc and 67ab).

Subsequent files focus chiefly on Irgun's post-war terrorist activities. KV 5/35 (1946) includes reports on attacks on trains and the kidnapping of British servicemen. The attack on the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, including discussion on the conflicting claims as to whether or not a warning was given, is covered in KV 5/36. This file includes a message from Kim Philby to the Security Service of 9 July 1946 warning of possible Irgun attacks against the British legation in Beirut, just before the attack on the King David. KV 5/37 includes some discussion of the possibility that Irgun might accept assistance from the Russians and the implications of this. It also includes (at serial 142a) examples of stickers posted by Irgun activists in Montevideo that were forwarded to the Security Service by Kim Philby in September 1946.

The attack on the British embassy in Rome is covered in KV 5/38 (1946-1947) which also includes at serial 169b, a letter from the Defence and Security Officer in Palestine on the Jewish interest in "Atomic Fission". The absorption of Irgun into the Jewish Defence Army and Irgun's developing relations with Hagana is covered in KV 5/39 (1947-1948). The Service's interest in Irgun declines after its dissolution, KV 5/40 and 41 mainly consider historical discussion and analysis from 1948. For instance, there is a SIME report about David Raziel's wartime service and death in Iraq at serial 327a in KV 5/40.

Also found there:

Stern Group
File refs KV 5/29-32
This collection of reconstituted files on the activities of the Stern Group (or Stern Gang, known as Lehi in Hebrew) records the Security Service's interest in this group's activities from 1941 to 1951. The Group carried out a series of attacks against British officials, police and soldiers, most notably the assassination of the British Minister Resident in the Middle East, Lord Moyne, and the murder of 28 British soldiers in a bomb attack in February 1948. Perhaps its most notorious attack, though, was the assassination of the United Nations negotiator Count Folke Bernadotte (right) in Paris in October 1948.

KV 5/29 (1941-1946) covers the death of the Group's leader, Abraham Stern, in February 1942, and also the assassination of Lord Moyne in Cairo in November 1944. Government actions to try to counter the Group in the aftermath of the assassination are covered in this file and in KV 5/30 (1946). The files also record fears that the Stern Group was planning to mount assassination attempts in the UK; a telegram records a "reliable source" claiming that the organisation was "training to assassinate members of His Majesty's Government, especially [Foreign Secretary] Mr [Ernest] Bevin."

The murder of Count Bernadotte is covered in KV 5/31 (1946-1948), which includes evidence that the assassins received assistance from the Czech authorities. This file also includes photographs of damage to government houses in Jaffa caused by Stern Group actions, and (at serial 141) an analysis of Stern Group membership by nationality. The period of the winding up of the Group following the creation of Israel is covered by KV 5/32 (1948-1951).

File refs KV 5/33

This heavily weeded reconstituted file records the Security Service's collection of information about the Hagana, the Zionist defence force for Jewish settlements in Palestine. It includes a 1930 report by the Palestine CID on the Hagana's early history (serial 1a).

From the file, which spans the period 1930-1953, it is clear that the Service's main concern was possible Soviet support for or manipulation of the Hagana. The Service was also interested in the developing relations between the Hagana, Irgun and the Stern Group. The file includes (serial 90a) examples of Jewish propaganda sent to British soldiers in January 1946.

Center Bulletin, Vol, 5 No. 47

Menachem Begin Heritage Center Bulletin Vol. 5, No. 47, | 17 September 2009


Table of Contents:
Shana Tova
Upcoming Events
Yahrzeit for Harry Hurwitz z"l
In Memoriam: Capt Asaf Ramon z"l and Shirley Coblentz z"l
Fundraising: Highlight on the General Fund




August 30 – September 27

"Slichot" an art exhibition hosted in cooperation with M'mizrach HaShemesh (Jewish Traditional Social Responsibility – founded by Avi Chai and Kol Israel Haverim). For more information, please go to their website:

September 18
The Begin Center will be closed for Erev Chag. Chag Sameach!

September 20

The Begin Center will be closed for Rosh Hashanah. Chag Sameach!

September 21 at 5:30pm and 7:15pm
Yahrzeit for Harry Hurwitz z"l.

September 27
The Begin Center will be closed for Erev Yom Kippur.

September 28
The Begin Center will be closed for Yom Kippur.

8 October at 9:00pm
Hoshana Raba Evening of Learning. To open the new year of the Rohr Family Parashat HaShavua, the Menachem Begin Heritage Center is sponsoring an evening of learning on October 8, 2009, for Hoshana Raba. The three main lecturers for the year will each present lectures that evening, including Dr. Shelly Goldberg, Mr. Baruch Barzel and Dr. Ido Hevroni. The evening will conclude with Yonatan Razel who will sing religious songs in the spirit of Hoshana Raba. This event is free and is in Hebrew.

October 15 at 7:00pm
First Parashat Hashavua with Dr. Ido Hevroni.


On September 21, ג תשרי, it will be one year since Harry Hurwitz z"l, former Head of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center and President of the Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation, passed away. Because it is also the Fast of Gedaliah, the timing of the memorial events have been pushed toward the end of the day and in coordination with the breaking of the fast. The short ceremony at the cemetery will be at 5:30pm. At 7:15pm, the fast will be broken with light refreshments at the Begin Center and a memorial ceremony will take place afterwards. Hillel Hurwitz, Harry's son, will speak on behalf of the family and Ilana Brown, Harry's former assistant, will also speak. Herzl Makov will speak on behalf of the Center.


Captain Asaf Ramon, son of the late Israeli astronaut Col. Ilan Ramon, was killed in a tragic F-16 plane crash over South Mt. Hebron this week. Ilan Ramon posthumously received the Begin Prize in 2003 for being the first Israeli astronaut and representing Israel in such an honorable way. Ilan Ramon also was the youngest pilot in the mission to bomb the nuclear reactor at Osirak in Iraq in 1981. His son, Asaf, followed in his father's footsteps graduating this past June with honors from the Israel Air Force pilots' course. Our hearts grieve with Rona Ramon and her family. The Menachem Begin Heritage Center sends its deepest condolences to the Ramon family and hopes that they should know no more sorrow.

* * * * *

Shirley Coblentz

Shirley Coblentz, long-time secretary of the late Harry Hurwitz, passed away last week at the age of 89 and was buried in Gush Etzion. She also had been for a time the secretary of the Chief Rabbi of South Africa, L.I. Rabinowitz. She spent much of her career working with Hurwitz including in the Revisionist Party in Johannesburg, South Africa, and after her aliyah, at the Prime Minister's Office as the only typist in English.

She stayed at the Prime Minister's Office even after Hurwitz left working through the Begin, Shamir, Rabin and Peres administrations. The final position in her long career was as Hurwitz's secretary at the Begin Foundation. She is survived by her daughter Barbara and her son Cecil, seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. We send our condolences to the Coblentz family.


We have spent the last few weeks focusing on specific programs at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center, all of which are important and worthy of dedicated funding. But individual programs cannot exist in a vacuum separated from the Menachem Begin Heritage Center itself. This week we will focus on general funding.

A General Fund limits our dependency on the government and protects us from the fluctuations of the government's budget. Over the years we have faced budget cut after budget cut from the government and this year, because of the global economic situation, our budget was cut to the extent that it has jeopardized our ability to maintain the building and staffing requirements and has limited the quality and quantity of our programming. A General Fund would allow us the freedom to expand our services and maintain our physical structure without requiring an extensive bureaucratic process for additional funds.

Day-to-day maintenance for the building and replacing furnishings worn out by normal use is a minimal requirement to continue to function as a cultural center in Jerusalem and even this too is at risk. The legacy and heritage of Menachem Begin resides in the Center and, while modest, it requires upkeep to maintain a level of dignity on par with Presidential Libraries in the US.

General funding can be used for capital projects such as developing and building additional exhibit space or additional meeting rooms. Our central feature, the museum, requires technical upgrades and exhibit adjustments to continue to draw individuals to the museum.
The museum, in addition to being upgraded, could be made accessible to many more people by extending its hours if additional staff and other associated expenditures could be approved. To enhance the main exhibition in the museum, we would have funds available for temporary exhibitions, such as the one launched to commemorate 30 Years Since the Peace Process, to expand on various elements of the museum, such as Begin's speeches, events at 1 Rosenbaum, the Lebanon War, etc. General funds could also be used to launch an Information Center so that visitors to the museum would have access to source material to help them research questions that they may have after visiting the museum.

General funds might also be used to promote the Menachem Begin Heritage Center locally and internationally by having a webmaster to continually update the website in Hebrew and also one in English as well as have funds for dedicated marketing campaigns within Israel and internationally.

Contributions to the General Fund are not limited to these ideas, but are a sample of additional projects that can be undertaken that do not fall within the guidelines of other programs. We hope that you will consider contributing to the General Fund so that we can operate independently, promoting the heritage and legacy of Menachem Begin to future generations.

Please direct any inquiries to
Checks may be sent to:

US Friends of the Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation
3901 West 86th Street, Suite 470
Indianapolis, IN 46268

Canadian Friends of the Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation
One Yorkdale Road, Suite 601
Toronto, ON M6A 3A1

Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation
c/o Mr. Eric Graus
139a, New Bond St.
London WIS 2TN

Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation
6 Nahon Street
Jerusalem 94110

Center Bulletin Vol. 5, No. 45

Menachem Begin Heritage Center Bulletin Vol. 5, No. 45 | 3 September 2009



On 27 August, 2009, the Menachem Begin Heritage Center celebrated in grand style the tenth anniversary of the Center, the 5th anniversary of the permanent building and passing the 500,000 visitor mark. Approximately 1,400 people attended the variety of events that evening. The auditorium was full, in addition to the overflow seating, for the lectures by Dr. Micha Goodman and Dr. Udi Lebel and nearly full for the movie, The Band's Visit. All the museum tours were fully booked and eight walking tours, necessitated four guides, around the neighborhood to the King David Hotel and the Old Railway station were fully booked almost totaling almost 250 participants on the walking tours alone.

Everyone enjoyed the music provided by the Dondorme orchestra, including many who spontaneously broke out dancing. (Video can be seen on the Begin Center blog here, as well as on our YouTube channel here.) In addition to all the exceptional events, special night lighting highlighted the building and lit up the sky, including a special light with the Begin Center logo.


August 2009 was a stellar month in terms of number of visitors to the Museum. 8,237 visitors came to the museum from August 1 to August 31. In comparison with last year in August, a traditionally busy month in the museum, there was a 32% increase in visitors. The difference between July 2009 and August 2009 is even greater, showing a 50% increase in visitors.

This news is especially exciting given that on August 27, 2009 we held our great celebration to mark ten years of the Center, five years of the permanent building and 500,000 visitors to the Center.


Alex Grass, founder of RiteAid drugstores, prominent philanthropist and one of the Begin Center's early supporters, passed away this week at the age of 82 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. We send our condolences to his family.


August 30 – September 27
"Slichot" an art exhibition hosted in cooperation with M'mizrach HaShemesh (Jewish Traditional Social Responsibility – founded by Avi Chai and Kol Israel Haverim). For more information, please go to their website:

September 9, 8pm
"Mystery of Kol Nidre: Kol Nidre in Film." This lecture reviews the elements that make this prayer so mysterious as reflected in its cinematic treatment. Video clips will be shown from 'The Jazz Singer' and 'The Chazzan of Vilna' as well as other movies that highlight Kol Nidre.

The lecture will be given by Dr. Moti Friedman, who produces the Traditional Chazzanut concert at the Tower of David Museum, is a lecturer in the History of Traditional Music and Prayer and is the director of the Herzl Museum. Yohanan Henning will be the chazzan and Michael Lukin will play the flute.

Reservations can be made at (02) 565-2020. Cost of the show is 40₪ and will be in Hebrew.

October 21
Open House for new courses at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center. Seven new courses will be taught on subjects ranging from Judaism, the History of Israel, Promoting Israel, etc. The courses will be in Hebrew. This is the second year of courses at the Begin Center and we look forward to another successful year.


The heart of the Begin Center's connection with the general public is our activities. Ariel Cohen plans and coordinates events and activities for the Begin Center based on the mission of the Begin Center. Our events and activities are sometimes about Menachem Begin himself, but also about his legacy, his life story, his interests and others people connected to him. The Activities Department has initiated many projects this year increasing both the number of activities, the variety of activities and the attendance at each event.

One of the ways we encourage attendance is to offer free events or events at very low cost. This makes all events accessible to all people. This is very much in line with the Begin Center's mission of passing on the legacy and ideals of Menachem Begin.
Our first and longest running program has been the Rohr Family Parashat HaShavua following in the tradition of Menachem Begin's joy of learning the portion of the week, a tradition he maintained in his home at 1 Rosenbaum and continued when he was Prime Minister in the Prime Minister's residence. This is a hugely popular program, with sometimes up to 500 attendees. It is especially unique in that it is attended by such a diverse group of people. Men and women, religious and secular, young and old, all come together for an hour of study together. This program is free to the public every week and for special sessions like the all-night study for Shavuot.

This past year, the Activities Department has created several series, in cooperation with other organizations, both of which were very successful. The National Movies series, which ended this week, was a series of six movies that focused on different cultural elements in Israel. The Nahum Heyman series brought music to the Begin Center in the form of national poetry that had been turned into musical songs.

Several memorial events took place over the past few months including for Rabbi Aryeh Levin, Yair Stern and Ze'ev Jabotinsky, all of whom were connected in some way to Menachem Begin.

For the second year the Begin Center will be offering courses that meet over several weeks. The open house for the new year's courses will be on October 21.
Whenever there is an occasion to commemorate a historic event, the Begin Center also sponsors conferences, lecture evenings and other kinds of special events which could be as diverse as evenings of songs, films or family-friendly entertainment.

Contributions designated to Activities could be used for increasing the variety of activities and quality of each event, advertisement to increase attendance, continuing to offer free or heavily discounted admission fees to allow all members of the public to attend, recording events (audio/video) for possible posting on the internet to introduce the world to the activities of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center, etc. Larger contributions would allow the Begin Center to dedicate an activity in your name.
Your tax-deductible donation can help us to continue to provide these effective, dynamic, successful programs to a wider audience.

Center Bulletin, Vol, 5 No. 46

Menachem Begin Heritage Center Bulletin Vol. 5 No. 46 | 10 September 2009





On 27 August, 2009, the Menachem Begin Heritage Center celebrated in grand style a number of landmark events. Following is the translated text of the speech given by Herzl Makov, Chairman of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center:

I am pleased and privileged to personally update you on a special celebration that we held on 7 Elul, 27 August, 2009, in the Menachem Begin Heritage Center marking ten years since the establishment of the Center, five years since the opening of the permanent building and having over 500,000 visitors to the Center since then.

Ten years have passed since the government established the organization and appointed the public council in accordance with the Menachem Begin Commemoration Law adopted by the Knesset by the initiative of then Member of Knesset Reuven Rivlin. Over the next five years, we dedicated ourselves completely to the planning and construction of the building as well as designing and initiating commemoration and education activities which would be the foundation of Center activities.

In the summer of 2004, in the presence of the heads of the State of Israel, the contributors and followers of Menachem Begin, we inaugurated the building. We remember that many of the guests admitted then that they had doubts about bringing forth the dream of the Begin Center into reality. They were happy to be proved wrong.

With much excitement, we opened the doors to the public. And the public indeed came. More than 500,000 visitors came to the Center in its five years of activity. They walked in the footsteps of Menachem Begin through the museum. They were moved to tears from the strength of his image. They experienced his leadership. They were uplifted by his speeches. They admired his personality. School students participated in the Junior Knesset program and through role-playing activities learned the parliamentary process. IDF soldiers participated in leadership workshops; workshops focusing on Israel as a Jewish and democratic state; and they learned the history of the Zionist struggle to establish the State of Israel. Additionally, the general public participated in a wide variety of lectures, tours, events, each of which was another brick in building Menachem Begin's heritage. We have tried to carry out all the activities guided by Menachem Begin the man and in his spirit – with modesty, with integrity and with a strong sense of commitment to Am Israel.

Success is not achieved alone and we have many partners – the many contributors whose generosity built the building and help to maintain activities; members of the Foundation and the Public Council; the Executive Committee that gave us its support and backing; and especially our staff whose devotion, love and abilities assist us in achieving our goals. We also remember with affection a man who we greatly miss, our dearest Harry Hurwitz z''l, who as early as 1993 was recruited by the founders of the Foundation in a professional and full-time capacity to raise the funds that enabled the fulfillment of the dream. From the beginning, and until his last day, Harry had the chance to see the Center become a reality, grow and thrive.

I want to take this opportunity to thank you personally for your support and thank the Almighty for allowing me the immense privilege and incredible honor of being a partner in this great endeavor of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center.

The video of highlights of the evening including entrance to the event, interviews and excerpts from the speeches through the evening (in Hebrew) is available for viewing at the Begin Center's YouTube Channel.


On September 21 it will be one year since Harry Hurwitz z"l, former Head of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center and President of the Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation, passed away. Because it is also the Fast of Gedaliah, the timing of the memorial events have been pushed toward the end of the day and in coordination with the breaking of the fast. The short ceremony at the cemetery will be at 5:30pm. At 7:15pm, the fast will be broken with light refreshments at the Begin Center and a memorial ceremony will take place afterwards. Hillel Hurwitz, Harry's son, will speak on behalf of the family and Ilana Brown, Harry's former assistant, will also speak. Herzl Makov will speak on behalf of the Center.


Last week, the Jerusalem Post published an opinion piece by Shalom Hammer in which he lamented that the Israeli school system failed to teach young people values and encouraged a quantity of knowledge, not a quality of knowledge. (To see the article, please see this link.) Using this as an opportunity to highlight the values-driven leadership workshops created by the Begin Center, Herzl Makov, Chairman of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center, wrote a letter to the editor that was published on September 3. The text of the letter is as follows and can be read here.

Sir, - In "Back to school" (Shalom Hammer, August 31), the author states: Israeli education is predicated upon quantitative education as opposed to qualitative education... They program our children to amass volume as opposed to embracing values, and this breeds a society of ego-centricity."

This insight into the pedagogic problems that exist in Israel is at the heart of the educational workshops offered by the Begin Center, including one on "Value-Driven Leadership."

Much of the thrust of the Begin Center's projects, in formal and informal education as well as the rationale behind the museum, is to suggest to participants and visitors that beyond the historical facts, Menachem Begin sought to influence the Jewish people on the basis not only of benefits for the individual, but, more importantly, in values such as joint responsibility, Jewish heritage, concern for the life of the nation and the need to assist Jews in difficulty.


August 30 – September 27

"Slichot" an art exhibition hosted in cooperation with M'mizrach HaShemesh (Jewish Traditional Social Responsibility – founded by Avi Chai and Kol Israel Haverim). For more information, please go to their website:

October 21

Open House for new courses at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center. Seven new courses will be taught on subjects ranging from Judaism, the History of Israel, Promoting Israel, etc. The courses will be in Hebrew. This is the second year of courses at the Begin Cente r and we look forward to another successful year.


This week on September 9, 2009, the fourth session of the Israel Government Fellows (IGF) Program began with 25 Fellows from the US, Canada, Germany, France, Serbia, Russia and Venezuela. After a month-long orientation session, they will begin their internships in various government ministries, including the Prime Minister's Office, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Finance, Tourism, Justice and at the President's Residence.

4th Session of the IGF

The Israel Government Fellows Program is endorsed by the Prime Minister's Office and its mission is to strengthen the connection between Israel and the Diaspora and to promote Jewish leadership globally, inspired by Menachem Begin's commitment to Jewish unity and his model of value-driven leadership. Throughout the program, the Fellows will attend seminars as well as their internship placements, learning from experts in their fields about Israel's history, its place in the world today and the challenges it faces, as well as topics as diverse as Zionist history, security issues, economic issues, Jewish identification, the environment, Israel in the media and Israeli culture and arts, etc. In addition to full days of work, they will attend classes in the evening to learn Hebrew. The Fellows will also tour the country on monthly trips.

Jason Reinin, from California, participated in the IGF in the last session (2008-2009) and who currently works in the Ministry of Finance after his internship, said this:

My year in the IGF was the most educational, inspiring and interesting year of my life. I would recommend this program to anyone who wants to use their full potential to contribute to this amazing country while at the same time take away once-in-a-lifetime experiences they will never forget.

Other past participants have found work in Israeli consulates, working with the Jewish Agency or other work in which they help promote Israel. Many former participants were so inspired by their experience, that they made aliyah to be a part of Israel directly and work for Israel here, rather than in their home countries.

The Menachem Begin Heritage Center, in fulfilling its mission to pass on Menachem Begin's heritage to future generations, has initiated the Israel Government Fellows Program to start to build the next generation of leadership in the Diaspora. Begin also believed very strongly in building ties between Israel and the Diaspora and in this program, Fellows spend ten months living in Israel learning about Israel as a democratic state in the Middle East which gives them deep, first-hand knowledge of Israel as opposed to an academic understanding of Israel.

Funds directed to the IGF Program can be used in a variety of ways. Funds for the program can increase the quantity and quality of programming including seminars, trips and courses outside the internship experience. More significant contributions can be used for scholarships for participants. MASA provides scholarships, as well as grants to those with financial need. However, the cost of the program and its associated cost of living in Israel for ten months without income is still prohibitive for qualified participants from Eastern Europe or Latin and South America, as well as qualified participants who simply cannot financially afford to dedicate a year to Israel.

We invite our readers to visit the Israel Government Fellows website at and view the video online here.

For a more precise breakdown of costs associated with the program, tuition, MASA grants and for other questions, please direct your inquiries to

Checks may be sent to:

US Friends of the Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation
3901 West 86th Street, Suite 470
Indianapolis, IN 46268

Canadian Friends of the Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation
One Yorkdale Road, Suite 601
Toronto, ON M6A 3A1

Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation
c/o Mr. Eric Graus
139a, New Bond St.
London WIS 2TN

Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation
6 Nahon Street
Jerusalem 94110