Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Begin Center Bulletin

Menachem Begin Heritage Center Bulletin, Vol. 5, No. 22 | 19 March 2009



Four events will take place over the next ten days to commemorate the historic occasion of the signing of the Peace Treaty between Israel and Egypt and the courage of two leaders, Prime Minister Menachem Begin and President Anwar Sadat, to change the political dynamic in the Middle East.

First, the Truman Institute in cooperation with Hebrew University, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Israel's Government, are hosting a conference on 25 March. The event will be opened with remarks from the US Ambassador to Israel, Mr. James Cunningham. The first panel will be chaired by Prof. Menachem Milson of Hebrew University and the panel participants will be Dan Pattir, who was on the negotiating team and was a media advisor to Begin, and Dr. Meir Rosenne, who was a legal advisor to Israel's foreign ministry and was subsequently Ambassador to the US and France. The second panel will be chaired by Moshe Arad, former Ambassador to the US, and the panel participants will be Egypt's Ambassador to Israel, Mr. Yasser Reda, and Israel's Ambassador to Egypt, Mr. Shalom Cohen. The third panel will be chaired by Prof. Steven Kaplan and panel participants will be Prof. Eli Podeh and Prof. Ya'acov Bar-Siman-Tov, all of whom are of the Hebrew University. This event is open to the public, is in ENGLISH and reservations can be made by phone at 02-588-2329 or via email at trumanevents@huji.ac.il

On March 26, the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University will hold a conference on "Israel's Peace Treaty with Egypt: Thirty Years Later." Among the guest speakers: Justice Elyakim Rubinstein; Mr. Oded Granot; former US Ambassador to Israel Dr. Dan Kurtzer; and Maj. Gen. (ret.) Amos Gilad. The conference (in HEBREW) will be held from 9:00-16:30. Please refer to their internet site for more information: www.inss.org.il

The Begin Center is joining together with Israel's government for two special occasions.

The Begin Center will join the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for an event for the Diplomatic Corps and other people who were at the signing of the Peace Treaty in 1979. In addition to the ceremony, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs requested to set up the "Making Peace" exhibition that had been at the Begin Center. This event is by invitation only and is closed to the public.

The Knesset confirmed the date March 30 for their commemoration—a special session where the Prime Minister, the leader of the Opposition and the leaders of the parties will all speak. After the session, Members of Knesset and other VIPs will attend a reception in the hall where the Making Peace Exhibition will be situated. The Speaker of the Knesset will speak. It is also by invitation and closed to the public.


In addition to commemorative events, the Begin Center is committed to teaching future generations about the life, words and accomplishments of Menachem Begin. After some discussions with the Ministry of Education, the Ministry will send a special memo to all the schools in Israel inviting them to the Menachem Begin Heritage Center's website to download and view the text of some of the historic documents in Hebrew for use by teachers across Israel. On the website are: Menachem Begin's speech at the signing of the Peace Treaty, his speech at the Nobel Prize ceremony, his speech before the Knesset when Sadat visited, the text of the Treaty itself, Anwar Sadat's speech at the Knesset and Sadat's speech at the signing of the Peace Treaty.

We have also added the movie "Making Peace" which was part of the exhibition at the Center. While it is not entirely in English, the footage is extremely moving and can be enjoyed by everyone. Please visit our site at http://www.begincenter.org.il/.


On Sunday, an unusual press conference was held at the Begin Center regarding a kidnapping and murder that took place in 1947. On May 6 1947, Alexander Rubovitz of the Lehi was snatched off a Jerusalem street by one Roy Farran, a member of the British security forces, seconded to the Palestine Police Force. Farran was eventually brought before a court martial but was acquitted. Farran went on to be one of the most decorated British servicemen of the Second World War, recipient of the DSO and three Military Crosses and eventually moved to Calgary, Canada where he became Solicitor-General and died in 2006.

The press conference, held by Steve Rambam of Pallorium detective agency, brought to light evidence of foul play, missing memos and personal testimony by Yael Ben Dov who was Rubovitz's commander in the Lehi and was present at the press conference. The goal of the investigation is to try to find the remains of Rubovitz, to definitively show that certain secret Q squads in the British Police during the Mandate Period used excessive force and committed crimes and to get some sort of closure for the Rubowitz family for whom Alexander is still listed as Missing In Action.


Yedidiyah Segal, columnist for the Makor Rishon newspaper has just published a book on the murder in Haifa of his uncle, Yedidya Segal, entitled "Rak Lo Milhemet Ahim" ("Just Not Civil War"). Historians know that Menachem Begin did everything possible to avert even the possibility of civil war during the Altalena tragedy and during the Saison when Haganah members turned Irgun and Lehi members into the British Police Forces. Here again in this story, Menachem Begin's influence is felt. "This was thanks to the general guidance of Begin," Segal said, "and thanks to the forceful position adopted by my grandfather and grandmother who ruled out revenge and did not raise their voices saying 'we will not forget and not forgive.' My grandfather, Yosef Segal, who is the hero of this story in my eyes, was a person who did not take sides and was fond of everyone. He greatly admired [David] Ben-Gurion, the commander in chief of the Haganah, and considered him almost a messiah; he corresponded with him (and this correspondence is published in the book). He and my grandmother prevented a civil war. They convinced my uncle, Benayahu Segal, to relinquish his plan to avenge his brother's blood."


On April 1, 2009, there will be an event commemorating Rabbi Aryeh Levine at 7:00pm at the Begin Center. This event is in cooperation with the Ministry of Defense and the Etzel Veterans Association. This event is in HEBREW. Please call 02-565-2020 for reservations.


It was announced this week that Nahum Heyman, the well-known composer and, additionally, star of the Begin Center's series called "Chapters in the History of Israeli Poetry" that include sing-alongs and multimedia presentations about a poet in the history of Israel, will receive the Israel Prize on Israel's Independence Day in honor of his lifetime of work in the music field.

We wish him all the very best on this great honor.

The next program in the series is on March 24 in which Nahum Heyman will feature the poetry of David Zahavi and Matityahu Shalem. This event will be in HEBREW. Tickets are 40 NIS and reservations can be made at 02-565-2020.


We extend our heartfelt condolences to the family of William Davidson of Detroit, Michigan. Mr. Davidson was a businessman, owner of the Detroit Pistons, a community leader and a great philanthropist who gave significant contributions to many foundations all over Israel, including the Menachem Begin Heritage Center. He leaves behind his wife, Karen, his children, Ethan and Marla, three step-daughters and numerous grandchildren.
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