Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Begin Book Review

Dr Sarah Schmidt, senior lecturer in modern Jewish history and Zionist history at the Rothberg International School of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, published in the December 2008 issie of Jewish Political Studies Review (20:3-4) this book review:

A Tragic Tale
Menachem Begin: The Absent Leader, by Ofer Grosbard, Strategic Research and Policy Center, National Defense College, IDF, 2007, 384 pp.

Dr. Ofer Grosbard, an Israeli-born and trained clinical psychologist who also holds a doctorate from the Institute for Conflict Management and Resolution at George Mason College in Virginia, is a research associate at the Strategic Research and Policy Center, National Defense College of the IDF. In addition he lectures at the Academic Arab College for Education in Haifa, as well as at Oranim College, a reflection of his multiple interests.

This biography of Menachem Begin has two sides. On the one hand it presents a sympathetic, almost hagiographic account of Begin's life; on the other, it provides a psychoanalytic analysis of Begin's successes and the personal and political defeats, which ultimately caused him to leave office reduced to a state of depression and isolation. As befits a book that began as a doctoral thesis, Grosbard heavily documents his factual information; in fact the book's most valuable contribution lies in the numerous lengthy quotes from Begin's speeches, Zionist Congresses and Israeli and American government protocols, and the recollections of those who knew or worked with him. This volume also contains an extensive bibliography to which Grosbard frequently refers, as well as a list of 32 interviews upon which he draws, and documents housed mainly at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center Archives.

Yet, while worshipful and seemingly supportive of numerous decisions Begin made during his life, Grosbard complicates his narrative by inserting lengthy, often repetitive, "diagnoses" of these decisions, relating to them as though Begin were on his psychoanalytic couch. Contributing to the hagiographic tone, Grosbard bases his first several chapters on Begin's two autobiographies, White Night and The Revolt, as well as the other sources which reflect the views of Begin's friends and confidantes. The exceptions are the observations of Americans involved in the negotiation of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty. This group tended to see Begin from a different perspective, one that reflected a pro-Arab bias and the personal friendship between Anwar Sadat and then American President Jimmy Carter and his associates.

Begin has been the subject of several biographies and reappraisals. His roles as leader of an underground movement that defined him as a terrorist during the 1940s and as a highly controversial leader of the opposition Herut and later Likud parties until 1977; his acceptance of the terms for peace with Egypt when he became Prime Minister, including his agreement to withdraw from the Sinai and evacuate settlements and settlers there; even his last years as a self-isolated leader who refused to lead -- all have been analyzed exhaustively. Grosbard, however, emphasizes four basic themes which affected Begin's life: the trauma of the Holocaust; his possibly abnormal attachment to his mother and other "mother figures," such as his wife, Aliza; his dependence on love and acceptance from a father figure (Ben-Gurion, Carter); his need to build a "family" to replace the one he lost in the Holocaust, and thus his focus on the collective unity ("Likud") of the Jewish people.

These themes are valid, but Grosbard's constant reference to them is redundant and often distracts from the more factual narrative embodied in Begin's life story. Nevertheless, Grosbard does an excellent job in using his biography of Begin to portray the history of Jewish life in Poland, the Irgun and its struggle during the 1940s against the British and Ben-Gurion, as well as the span of Israeli history until the time of Begin's death in 1992.

Behind The Scenes

Though most of the details of Begin's life are well known, including basic facts about the 1978 Camp David meeting with Sadat, one of the most enlightening sections of the book deals with the negotiations leading to Israel's peace treaty with Egypt. Grosbard quotes extensively from the recollections of the participants and provides an almost blow-by-blow account of the numerous ups and downs of the negotiation process. At times, Begin appeared to be suffering from bi-polar mood swings that made him dysfunctional, and Israeli insiders who were aware of his condition, such as then President Yitzhak Navon and Defense Minister Ezer Weizman, considered going public and calling for Begin's resignation.

As his doctors predicted, however, Begin's ability to function returned. According to Grosbard, this resulted from his adopting tougher negotiating positions. In light of Carter's recent book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, it is interesting to note Cyrus Vance and Zbigniew Brezinski's explanation of Carter's pro-Egyptian bias: he simply couldn't relate to Begin's persona and negotiating strategy. Grosbard suggests that Begin was aware of Carter's partiality and used his numerous changes of mind, which others interpreted as "paralysis," as a counter-balancing tactic.

It was Ariel Sharon who convinced Begin to evacuate the Israeli settlements in the Sinai. Sharon telephoned him from Israel, "authorizing" the evacuation if that meant securing a peace agreement. Though Begin was aware that the principle of evacuating settlements would set a precedent for the West Bank and Golan Heights, and strongly resisted linking the Sinai withdrawal to one from Gaza and the West Bank, he trusted Sharon and followed his advice but established a precedent which could be evoked in the future.

The Absent Leader

Grosbard terms the years after 1979 and the cabinet approval of the peace treaty Begin's "not so good years" and, finally, his "bad years." Throughout his life Begin had experienced periods of depression and withdrawal, but now they became more frequent and pronounced. Between 1979 and 1992, the year he died, Begin experienced his third heart attack, a mild stroke, and a serious fall that left him with permanent hip damage. These were also the years when his wife's health deteriorated to the point where she frequently was attached to a respirator and, finally could no longer speak. Aliza had been Begin's closest confidante and advisor since their days in the Polish underground at the beginning of World War II, and in 1982 she urged him to go to the United States for a scheduled meeting with President Reagan. Begin was in California when Aliza died. Describing his state of mind, Grosbard cites another biographer, H. Z. Hurwitz: "He never forgave himself for having left her and from then onward...was enveloped in profound sadness."[1] This was exacerbated by the mounting number of casualties during the first Lebanese War.

When Begin was called to testify before the Kahan Commission investigating the Sabra and Shatilla massacres, reporters noted that his testimony was disorganized and frequently contradictory, reinforcing the impression that, almost from the beginning of the war, Begin had been an "absent leader," unaware of the details of the invasion, whom Sharon ignored and bypassed. After the Commission's report he became even more "absent." Indeed, one of the cabinet ministers likened cabinet meetings to that of "a ship without a captain."

Grosbard's conclusion reflects his dual perspective. He claims that the Lebanese War was not the reason for Begin's depression. On the contrary, Begin's mental deterioration resulted in an overreliance on Sharon which made him unwilling and unable to restrain Sharon's initiatives that disregarded government sanctioned policy. The book ends on a sad note, describing a tragic ending to a heroic life. Grosbard, the author of this "revisionist" biography has thus succeeded in giving the reader a sense of the complexity and the tragedy which have characterized much of Israeli history.

* * *

Notes

[1] H.Z. Horowitz, Begin, His Life, Words and Deeds (Jerusalem: Gefen Publishing , 2004): 225.

Jazz and Dancing Celebrating The Decade of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center

Thursday evening, August 27, 2009, part of the performance of the Dondorme Ensemble:

video

video

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Evans on Carter On Begin

From an op-ed in the Jerusalem Post:

Former President Jimmy Carter has just released a new book, We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land: A Plan that Will Work...

For Israelis only, Carter reserves the word 'radicals' in his book. He also calls former prime minister Menachem Begin by the same abjective and then describes him as the "most notorious terrorist in the region." Of course, he said the British said that, not him. Carter goes on to describe Binyamin Netanyahu as a "key political associate and naysayer" who was strongly opposed to Israel relinquishing control over the Sinai.

It appears that Jimmy Carter is revising history. The Binyamin Netanyahu I know was attending college during the Camp David meetings in the late 1970s. In fact, when I recommended him to Begin for a government job, the prime minister did not even know who Netanyahu was. I have no idea how Carter was so aware of Binyamin Netanyahu's political ideology; he was selling furniture at the time to help fund his schooling.

The former president also writes that at the time, Begin agreed to divide Jerusalem. I found that to be astonishing, especially since Begin had given me a copy of the letter he penned to Jimmy Carter on September 17, 1978, in which he wrote, "Dear Mr. President, on the basis of this law, the government of Israel decreed in July 1967 that Jerusalem is one city indivisible, the capital of the State of Israel." According to Begin, Carter informed him that the US government did not recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Begin told me he responded, "Excuse me sir, but the State of Israel does not recognize your non-recognition."

Carter further charges that Begin agreed to a freeze on building Jewish settlements but Begin told me he had not agreed to a total freeze; he only agreed not to build new settlements for three months, during the negotiations.

Carter also gives the impression that he and Begin were close friends by saying that Begin and then Egyptian president Anwar Sadat visited him in Plains to reaffirm the personal commitments each had made to the other, which I found quite humorous.

Begin told me he had refused to meet with Carter when the president traveled to Jerusalem. At that time, he was no longer prime minister but was outraged that Carter had misrepresented the events during their meetings...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Menachem Begin Was The Cause of Ben-Gurion's Declaring a State

In his latest column, The Makings of History, Tom Segev brings us the story of a new book to be published in the coming year dealing with:

Ben-Gurion's ulterior motive

Dr. Erez Casif, a political science professor at Tel Aviv University and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev...If he's lucky, [his new] book will cause a scandal. Its proposed title is "Why was the State of Israel 'Really' Established?"

The answer, according to Casif, is that David Ben-Gurion declared Israel's independence on May 14, 1948 because he was afraid his rival, Menachem Begin, was liable to do so himself. Ben-Gurion also feared that the Etzel (the Irgun - National Military Organization) would murder him, claims Casif.

Casif presented this theory at an interdisciplinary conference of researchers in Jerusalem, sponsored by Ariel College and Beit Morasha...

According to Casif, the British decided to leave Palestine due to the armed struggle by the underground right-wing Etzel and Lehi paramilitary organizations. As they prepared to withdraw, it was clear that a Jewish state would be established, but the real question was who would govern it. Ben-Gurion knew Etzel and Lehi enjoyed broad public support - and then came the attack on the Arab village of Deir Yassin, followed by a mass flight of Palestinians. This development was also credited to Etzel and Lehi...

Visitors

'Only in Jerusalem' is a phrase many visitors to the city repeat but this time, it was 'only at the Begin Center'.

This past Thursday, NY State Assemblyman Dov Hikind and his wife, Shani, with their son, visited the Museum. By the time they emerged, Helen Friedman of American for a Safe Israel had arrived, accompanied by Batya Medad, wife of Information Resource Director Yisrael Medad. They were coming to meet the sister and brother-in-law of Yisrael, Debbie and Dr. Tzvi Briks.

As it turned out, Tzvi had driven Dov to the airport in New York back in 1973 when Dov set out to visit the Soviet Union and so they had a bit of a reunion.

Here are, from l-r, Helen Friedman, Shani Hikind, Dov Hikind, Yisrael Medad, Debra Briks, Dr. Tzvi Briks:



Photo credit: Batya Medad

and here is the Hikind Family with Yisrael Medad:

Photo credit: Ilana Brown

A Upcoming Event and Courses (in Hebrew)

There will be an event at the Center on September 9 on the Kol Nidrei prayer as reflected in cinematic treatment, going all tyhe way back to The Jazz Singer of Al Jolson.



In addition, the Center is offering courses for the upcoming study year:


Begin Compromise Recalled

Professor Shlomo Avineri wrote:

Prof. Shimon Shamir is right ("Ask Mustafa Khalil," August 17) in stating that, "It is not our concern if Egypt defines itself as Islamic, Arab, African or pharaonic. We recognize Egypt as a political entity..." Based on this premise, Shamir makes the case that we are not to demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people. Yet the analogy is not valid for a number of reasons.

First, Israel has never called into question the existence of the Egyptian political entity. On the other hand, the Palestinians, through their rejection of the UN Partition Plan, refused to recognize the Jewish state and embarked on a war to destroy it. This is, after all, the root of the conflict. Indeed, the Palestinian narrative is based on the rejection of the existence of a Jewish nation state in any part of the territory they call Palestine.

If you declared war against the Jewish state, does not the signing of a peace treaty with that state obligate you to accept it? This does not mean the Palestinians are asked to accept the Zionist narrative, but it is incumbent upon them to alter their narrative, which rules out the existence of a Jewish state.

This is exactly what Israel did at Camp David and Oslo. Under the terms of binding international agreements, Israel has committed itself to recognizing "the legitimate rights of the Palestinian Arab nation." Menachem Begin was the first to do this. For many Zionists, and not just those who were schooled in the ideological camp of Herut, this was difficult. In contrast to what is thought in extreme rightist circles, this is not tantamount to relinquishing the Zionist narrative, it is a willingness to accept the legitimacy of a competing narrative and to seek a compromise.

We only ask of the Palestinians that which we ourselves have done in the past.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Restaurant Partition

The Terassa Restaurant at the Begin Center has affixed a partition that can be used when events at the restaurant coincide with tours or other events at the Center in order to avoid unnecessary interference:









Thursday, August 20, 2009

Near The Begin Center View - in 1948

A picture found here, photographed by Paul Schuster of LIFE Magazine in 1948, from, we would surmise, from the roof of the David Bros. building at the corner today of Jabotinsky and Keren Hayesod Streets:


The Begin Center has been built just to the right outside the frame of this picture.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

On the Death of Dudu Topaz

Entertainer Dudu Topaz (David Goldenberg) took his own life this morning.

It was Topaz who, at an election rally on behalf of the Labour Party in then Kikar Malchei Yisrael in Tel Aviv on the eve of the 1981 election, made disparaging remarks in slandering the military bravery of members of Herut and Likud when he said,

"Good evening to the true people of this land, you and not the 'tzachtzachim' [a derogatory word alluding to Israeli Jews of Middle Eastern background] of the Likud who will be here tomorrow night. It's a pleasure to see the crowd here, and it's a pleasure to see that there are no tzachtzachim here who ruin election gatherings...the tzachtzachim are at Metzudat Ze'ev [Likud Party headquarters]. They are hardly gatekeepers, if they at all serve in the Army. Here are those who serve as soldiers and commanders in the elite frontline units."

Mr. Begin's speech in response is highlighted in the Begin Museum and recognized as one of the most famous of his speeches, one that most probably turned the tide in that election campaign, bringing victory to the Likud by one seat.

Uri Avnery: Amos Kenan Asserted Deir Yassin No Massacre

In his eulogy of Amos Kenan, Uri Avnery touched on Deir Yassin:-

Like many leftist youngsters at the time, he joined the Lehi (Stern Group) underground, which then had a pro-Soviet orientation. With the founding of the state, all Lehi members were drafted into the new Israeli army.

Before that he took part in the atrocious Irgun and Lehi action in Deir Yassin. He had a problem dealing with this – and he always asserted that the massacre was not intended, or that it did not take place at all. He maintained that the commander was killed and that the control over the fighters was lost.

The Flyer for the Landmark "Decade Event"




The Menachem Begin Heritage Center will celebrate 5 years since the building on Ketef Hinnom was opened to the public and having welcomed over half a million visitors. The event will be on August 27.
This momentous occasion will be celebrated with a number of activities open to the public. In the Reuben Hecht Auditorium, two lectures will be held by the Begin Center's most popular lecturers. At 7:00pm, Dr. Micha Goodman, of the Parashat HaShavua lecture series, will speak about Philosophical Aspects of Biblical Heroes. At 8:00pm, Dr. Udi Lebel, author of Road to the Pantheon will speak about Coming out of the Underground: The Right Wing in Israeli Memory, Then and Now. At 9:00pm, there will be a screening of the award-winning Israeli film The Band's Visit (subtitles in Hebrew). For more information on this film please see here. On the Simon Family Terrace, the Dondorme Youth Orchestra will play rousing tunes at 9:30pm. Free tours will be available for those who are interested. The Menachem Begin Museum, with tours every half an hour, will be free and will run from 6:00pm until 9:30pm. A special tour outside the Center called Two Blasts that Shook Jerusalem will take place leaving every hour from 6:00pm to 9:00pm. This tour will visit the Old Train Station and the King David Hotel. All events are in Hebrew.

Details of Location, Time and Event:

Reuben Hecht Auditorium 7:00pm Dr. Micha Goodman
Philosophical Aspects of Biblical Heroes

8:00pm Dr. Udi Lebel
Coming out of the Underground: The Right Wing in Israeli Memory, Then and Now

9:00pm Screening of The Band's Visit (Subtitles in Hebrew)
Simon Family Balcony

9:30pm Dondorme Orchestra

External Tour to the Old Train Station and the King David Hotel 6:00pm to 9:00pm, leaving every hour - "Two Blasts that Shook Jerusalem"

Museum Tour 6:00pm to 9:30pm, leaving every half hour
The Menachem Begin Heritage Museum


PLEASE NOTE: All events are free and entrance will be on a first come, first served basis EXCEPT museum tours and tours outside the Center. The tours are by RESERVATION ONLY and SPACE IS LIMITED. Reservations will NOT be accepted before August 20.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

An Appreciation of Sidney Zion

We mentioned the death of Sidney Zion and highlighted his appreciation for Menachem Begin and the Irgun.

Here is from Gary Rosenblatt's apprecition of Sidney Zion:

...I took the train up from Baltimore (where I was editing the Baltimore Jewish Times) to spend a long afternoon with him in his Upper West Side apartment. Ostensibly, I interviewed him, but more precisely I listened to him hold court on a wide variety of issues, from his affection for underdogs — like Revisionist heroes Ben Hecht and Peter Bergson, Israeli “tough guys” Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon, and Jewish gangsters (especially Meyer Lansky) — to his corresponding contempt for the Establishment, including Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the Supreme Court and American Jewish defense organizations.

Only a few months before we met, Sidney’s 18-year-old daughter, Libby, died during an emergency room visit to New York Hospital, and he had already begun a relentless legal battle that lasted years and resulted in sweeping reforms regarding hospital resident working conditions. It was that chapter of his life that headlined the obits for Sidney in the local papers last week, but I think he would have preferred being remembered equally for the enterprising reporting he did throughout his long career, especially when it came to defending Israel and needling American Jews about what he consider their enduring inferiority complex about being accepted.

“They’re so shreklich, so afraid,” he told me. “That fear in them is always there. Always. It’s terrible. They worry about anti-Semitism. They worry about what the goyim will think of them. Maybe Jews really believe they’re not as good as the next guy. But I sure as hell don’t feel that way. Jews shouldn’t be scared anymore. Never scared. They should be mad.”

Sidney was mad about so many things, but that’s because he believed in the pursuit of the truth and had no tolerance for those who compromised.

In a remarkable journalism career that didn’t start until he was 29 (having first been a trial lawyer and assistant U.S. attorney for New Jersey), he was a fixture here, working for The New York Times, Daily News, New York Post and New York Magazine. It was Sidney who in 1971 revealed that Daniel Ellsberg, a hero to those who opposed the Vietnam War, was the source of the leak of the Pentagon Papers, making Sidney an outcast to the press. But he dismissed angry colleagues as jealous hypocrites and insisted he was only doing his job, shedding light on a hot story.

Among his most memorable pieces were a lengthy 1979 critique of the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Burger, a 20,000-word, behind-the-scenes story in 1978 on the Camp David peace accords (both written for the New York Times Magazine) and a 1983 “political obit” of Menachem Begin in Harper’s, which appeared shortly before the prime minister resigned. That piece was a tribute to Begin as a microcosm of the Jew in the 20th century, an outcast, but, above all, a survivor.
Like Sidney.

...For all his toughness, Sidney was a family man and shul-goer, and I would see him from time to time at weekday services, saying Kaddish for his wife, Elsa, who died in 2005.

An Article on Begin and Reagan

Reagan, Begin, and the dustbin of diplomacy

by Douglas M. Bloomfield

August 13, 2009

The last thing Bibi Netanyahu wants from Barack Obama is what Mahmoud Abbas and his Arab brethren are praying for: a comprehensive American Middle East peace plan.

Rumors abound that one is in the works, but they appear based more on fear and hope than on any hard evidence. So far the administration can’t even get the two sides to agree on the first step back to the negotiating table: a settlement freeze in exchange for reciprocal gestures by the Arabs.

The Saudis, Jordanians, and Kuwaitis have publicly rejected the incremental approach, but Obama’s special envoy George Mitchell is still hoping to produce some kind of package that will give the parties the cover they need to return to negotiations. The president may give some clues about his plans when Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak comes to Washington next week, but details are still a few weeks away, according to a State Department spokesman.

The administration is said to be divided on its approach to Mideast peacemaking, no doubt because so many cooks are stirring the pot. In addition to Mitchell and his nominal boss, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, there are Dennis Ross and Dan Shapiro at the National Security Council and their boss, Gen. Jim Jones, plus top White House aides Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod, and Vice President Joe Biden.

The first Mideast peace conference may have to be a White House staff meeting.

Despite the speculation they’re drafting a major peace plan along the lines of those produced by Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton, administration policy-makers know all of those failed.

Obama is more likely to opt for a PR campaign featuring him and top aides in interviews with Israeli and Arab media — plus a presidential visit to the region — to define the administration’s vision of peace and how to achieve it. That is likely to be followed by an all-parties conference if there’s a solution to the settlements imbroglio.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak, one of those predicting an American peace proposal, advised his colleagues, “Israel must take the lead in accepting the plan.” He knows what happened in 1982.

When Ronald Reagan offered a comprehensive peace proposal 27 years ago, it was doomed by “flawed tactics and timing,” according to Sam Lewis, the American ambassador who presented the plan to Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin on Aug. 31, 1982, the day before Reagan was to unveil it.

Reagan had cleared his peace plan in advance with the Saudis, Egyptians, and Jordanians, but not with Israel, which had no opportunity for any input.

That “stunned” and infuriated Begin and “hardened the Israeli reaction and converted a probable failure into a certain one,” Lewis later wrote.

Whether the United States offers a conflict-ending peace plan or a series of bridging proposals, both Obama and Netanyahu can learn from Reagan’s mistakes. Netanyahu was personally involved as the deputy chief of mission at Israel’s Washington embassy at the time, and more than most, he should know that how the two sides respond initially will be critical.

When Lewis briefed Begin, Netanyahu’s boss, Moshe Arens, was back in Jerusalem, and so it was Netanyahu who was in charge of the embassy.

Netanyahu’s advice to Begin, according to a source in close contact with the future prime minister that week, was to keep calm despite his feelings of betrayal. Netanyahu advised Begin to say that there are positives and negatives in the plan and the two leaders needed to sit together and discuss it. Meanwhile, he suggested saying Reagan had put the proverbial ball in the Arabs’ court and Israel was awaiting their response.

Netanyahu, like some others around Begin as well as leading pro-Israel lobbyists in Washington, was confident that the Arabs would eventually reject any proposal for a conflict-ending peace with Israel, so Israel should mute its response and let the Arabs play the role of spoiler.

But Begin was too deeply offended by Reagan’s snub and wanted to make sure his rejection came through loud and clear. One of the Likud’s young princes later told me he advised Begin, “If you have to say no, coat it with as much sugar as possible.” Begin rejected that advice as well. He wanted no misunderstandings.

Begin called it “the saddest day” of his life as prime minister. Reagan’s treatment of Israel — particularly his letting the “anti-Israel, Islamic fanatics” of Saudi Arabia “determin(e) our future” while concealing the plan from Israel — was “entirely unacceptable,” Begin said. The Reagan plan, he said, “would endanger our very existence.”

Netanyahu’s advice to Begin was sound and prophetic. Begin, with his hasty, angry rejection, wound up taking most of the blame for the failure of the Reagan plan. The larger portion of responsibility belonged to Reagan for his mishandling of the proposal, which included attempting to pressure Israel by cutting aid. And plenty of blame goes to the Arabs who kept Reagan dangling for six months before refusing to give him the backing he expected.

There’s a lesson here for both Obama and Netanyahu: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Douglas M. Bloomfield is the president of Bloomfield Associates Inc., a Washington lobbying and consulting firm. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.

Comment: comments@njjewishnews.com

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Center Bulletin, Vol. 5, No. 41

Menachem Begin Heritage Center Bulletin Vol. 5, No. 41, 6 August 2009

TOTAL NUMBER OF VISITORS SINCE OCTOBER 2004: 508,109


MARKING TWO MILESTONES:
FIVE YEAR ANNIVERSARY AND HALF A MILLION VISITORS


The Menachem Begin Heritage Center will celebrate 5 years since the building on Ketef Hinnom was opened to the public and having welcomed over half a million visitors. The event will be on August 27.
This momentous occasion will be celebrated with a number of activities open to the public. In the Reuben Hecht Auditorium, two lectures will be held by the Begin Center's most popular lecturers. At 7:00pm, Dr. Micha Goodman, of the Parashat HaShavua lecture series, will speak about Philosophical Aspects of Biblical Heroes. At 8:00pm, Dr. Udi Lebel, author of Road to the Pantheon will speak about Coming out of the Underground: The Right Wing in Israeli Memory, Then and Now. At 9:00pm, there will be a screening of the award-winning Israeli film The Band's Visit (subtitles in Hebrew). For more information on this film please see here. On the Simon Family Terrace, the Dondorme Youth Orchestra will play rousing tunes at 9:30pm. Free tours will be available for those who are interested. The Menachem Begin Museum, with tours every half an hour, will be free and will run from 6:00pm until 9:30pm. A special tour outside the Center called Two Blasts that Shook Jerusalem will take place leaving every hour from 6:00pm to 9:00pm. This tour will visit the Old Train Station and the King David Hotel. All events are in Hebrew.

Location Time Event
Reuben Hecht Auditorium 7:00pm Dr. Micha Goodman
Philosophical Aspects of Biblical Heroes
8:00pm Dr. Udi Lebel
Coming out of the Underground: The Right Wing in Israeli Memory, Then and Now
9:00pm Screening of The Band's Visit (Subtitles in Hebrew)
Simon Family Balcony 9:30pm Dondorme Orchestra
External Tour to the Old Train Station and the King David Hotel 6:00pm to 9:00pm, leaving every hour Two Blasts that Shook Jerusalem
Museum Tour 6:00pm to 9:30pm, leaving every half hour The Menachem Begin Heritage Museum

PLEASE NOTE: All events are free and entrance will be on a first come, first served basis EXCEPT museum tours and tours outside the Center. The tours are by RESERVATION ONLY and SPACE IS LIMITED. Reservations will NOT be accepted before August 20.


5TH MOVIE IN THE NATIONAL MOVIE SERIES

Next week, on Thursday, 13 August, the National Film series, co-sponsored by the Begin Center and the 12 Tribe Foundation, will play the film "With the Strength of his Spirit" ("B'Oz Rucho"). The film is a documentary about Colonel Dror Weinberg who was killed in the fighting in Hebron in 2002. The film focuses on Dror's character and courage. The film was directed by his son, Yoav Weinberg, but the lecture after the movie will be conducted by Dror's father, Uri Weinberg. The movie is in Hebrew with subtitles in English. The lecture will be in Hebrew. The event takes place at 8:30pm on 13 August. Tickets are ₪30 and can be reserved at (02) 565-2020.


FROM THE PAGES OF HISTORY

This week we quote from Harry Hurwitz's book, Begin: His Life, Words and Deeds:

"On 1 September 1982…the US administration announced a peace plan which became known as the Reagan Plan. It was apparent that while the people in the State Department had consulted various Arab elements before announcing the plan, they presented it to Israel as a fait accompli…
The American plan was, in essence, an endorsement of the principle of Israel giving up territory for peace and of "self-government for the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza in association with Jordan."…
In a letter to Reagan, Menachem Begin explained that the plan contradicted and deviated from the Camp David Accords and he protested "the omission to consult us prior to forwarding your proposals to Jordan and Saudi Arabia, the former an outspoken opponent of the Camp David Accords and the latter a complete stranger to, and an adversary of, these accords." Begin continued:
As there was not prior consultation, the United State government could have taken the position that the "West Bank" should be reassociated with Jordan. What some call the "West Bank," Mr. President, is Judea and Samaria; and this simple historic truth will never change. There are cynics who deride history. They may continue their derision as long as they wish, but I will stand by the truth. And the truth is that millennia ago there was a Jewish Kingdom of Judea and Samaria where our Kings knelt to God, where our prophets brought forth the vision of eternal peace, where we developed a rather rich civilization which we took with us, in our hearts and in our minds, on our long global trek for over eighteen centuries and, with it, we came back home.
By aggressive war, by invasion, King Abdullah conquered parts of Judea and Samaria in 1948; and in a war of most legitimate self-defense in 1967, after being attacked by King Hussein, we liberated, with God's help, that portion of our homeland. Judea and Samaria will never again be the "West Bank" of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan which was created by British Colonialism after the French army expelled King Feisal from Damascus.
Mr. President, you and I chose for the last two years to call our countries "friends and allies." Such being the case, a friend does not weaken his friend; an ally does not put his ally in jeopardy. This would be the inevitable consequence were the "positions" transmitted to me on August 31, 1982, to become a reality.
I believe they won't.
"For Zion's sake, I will not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest" (Isaiah, Chapter 62)."

Center Bulletin, Vol. 5, No. 40

Menachem Begin Heritage Center Bulletin Vol. 5, No. 40, 30 July 2009


TOTAL NUMBER OF VISITORS SINCE OCTOBER 2004: 506,748


MARKING TWO MILESTONES:
FIVE YEAR ANNIVERSARY AND HALF A MILLION VISITORS


The Menachem Begin Heritage Center will celebrate 5 years since the building on Ketef Hinnom was opened to the public and having welcomed over half a million visitors. The event will be on August 27.

This momentous occasion will be celebrated with a number of activities open to the public. In the Reuben Hecht Auditorium, two lectures will be held by the Begin Center's most popular lecturers. At 7:00pm, Dr. Micha Goodman, of the Parashat HaShavua lecture series, will speak about Philosophical Aspects of Biblical Heroes. At 8:00pm, Dr. Udi Lebel, author of Road to the Pantheon will speak about Coming out of the Underground: The Right Wing in Israeli Memory, Then and Now. At 9:00pm, there will be a screening of the award-winning Israeli film The Band's Visit. For more information on this film please see here. On the Simon Family Terrace, the Dondorme Youth Orchestra will play rousing tunes at 9:30pm. Free tours will be available for those who are interested. The Menachem Begin Museum, with tours every half an hour, will be free and will run from 6:00pm until 9:30pm. A special tour outside the Center called Two Blasts that Shook Jerusalem will take place leaving every hour from 6:00pm to 9:00pm. This tour will visit the Old Train Station and the King David Hotel.

PLEASE NOTE: All events are free and entrance will be on a first come, first served basis EXCEPT museum tours and tours outside the Center. The tours are by RESERVATION ONLY and SPACE IS LIMITED. Reservations will NOT be accepted before August 20.

Location Time Event
Reuben Hecht Auditorium 7:00pm Dr. Micha Goodman
Philosophical Aspects of Biblical Heroes
8:00pm Dr. Udi Lebel
Coming out of the Underground: The Right Wing in Israeli Memory, Then and Now
9:00pm Screening of The Band's Visit
Simon Family Balcony 9:30pm Dondorme Orchestra
External Tour to the Old Train Station and the King David Hotel 6:00pm to 9:00pm, leaving every hour Two Blasts that Shook Jerusalem
Museum Tour 6:00pm to 9:30pm, leaving every half hour The Menachem Begin Heritage Museum


TISHA B'AV: A FEW WORDS FROM BEGIN

Tisha B'Av recalls the extraordinary action by Prime Minister Menachem Begin in New York on his first official visit after his election victory.
He was being interviewed on the Meet the Press program on Sunday, July 24, 1977. When asked to comment on his meeting a few days earlier with President Carter, Mr. Begin said to Bill Monroe of NBC News:

"With your permission, before I answer this very important question, I would like to say a few words about the day we now meet, because of its universal importance. Today, in accordance with our calendar, it is the Ninth of the month of Av. It is the day when 1,907 years ago the Roman Legions, the Fifth and the Twelfth, launched their ultimate onslaught on the Temple Mountain, set this temple ablaze and destroyed Jerusalem, subjugating our people and conquering our land.
Historically, this is the beginning of all the suffering of our people dispersed, humiliated and ultimately now a generation physically destroyed. We remember that day and now have the responsibility to make sure that never again will our independence be destroyed and never again will the Jew become homeless or defenseless. Actually this is the crux of the problems facing us in the future."



A FEW MORE WORDS FROM BEGIN ABOUT JERUSALEM

Yoram Ettinger wrote an Op-Ed in Ynet this week about Jerusalem and to readers of his personal email missives, he wrote: What would have been Prime Minister Begin's "Jerusalem-Response" to President Obama's aim to repartition Jerusalem?
He quoted from Ambassador (ret.) Yehuda Avner, who served under five Prime Ministers, who writes in his forthcoming book (summer 2010), The Prime Ministers – An Intimate Portrait of Leaders of Israel:

"At the very end of [Prime Minister Begin's] successful Camp David talks with Jimmy Carter and Anwar Sadat in 1978, literally minutes before the signing ceremony, the American president had approached [Begin] with "Just one final formal item." Sadat, said the president, was asking that Begin put his signature to a simple letter committing him to place Jerusalem on the negotiating table of the final peace accord.

"I refused to accept the letter, let alone sign it," rumbled Begin. "'If I forgot thee O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its cunning,' said [Begin] to the president of the United States of America, 'and may my tongue cleave to my mouth.'"

"Admonishment of the British foreign secretary, [Lord Carrington], telling him in almost so many words to mind his own business, and… saying [Carrington] should open his Bible 'and read the First Book of Kings, chapter two, verse eleven, where you will find that King David moved his capital from Hebron, where he had reigned for seven years, to Jerusalem where he ruled for another thirty-three years, and this at a time [3,000 years ago] when the civilized world had never heard of London.'”

"[Addressing US Jewish leaders]: 'Jerusalem is an epic. It is the wellspring of a civilization. Without Jerusalem's civilization the spiritual history of the world would be stagnant. To us Jerusalem is family. Has anyone ever heard of a daughter or a son of a Saladin ever fasting each year in memory of ancient Jerusalem's anguish? Not a one! Has anybody ever heard of a son of a Crusader who breaks a glass at his wedding ceremony in memory of ancient Jerusalem's torment? Not a one! How could you have heard, when throughout its three thousand year-long history Jerusalem has been capital to no one but to the Jews. So it was. So it is. And so it shall ever be.'"


And from our own museum, we bring you the text of Menachem Begin's speech in 1978 at the Jerusalem Day ceremony on Ammunition Hill. This excerpt is played in the Barry and Sindy Liben Jerusalem Elevator dedicated to American Betar, which is the final dramatic station of the Menachem Begin Museum:

Once again, we are gathered here today to honor the men, thanks to whom we were able to say 11 years ago: “Our feet are standing inside your gates, O Jerusalem; Jerusalem, which is built as a city rejoined.”

And thanks to them, every generation in Israel will be able to say again these eternal words of Israel’s beloved Singer of Songs.

We are here. In the name of the brave and saintly warriors, and upon agreement with all the People of Israel, we declare: Jerusalem was liberated, Jerusalem was redeemed. Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and the Jewish people. Jerusalem will be forever one, united and free!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Correction on That 'Defeated Nation' Remark

No, not by me.

By, among other, the Toronto Star.

They explain:

Damaging Israeli misquote finally corrected TheStar.com - World - Damaging Israeli misquote finally corrected

It was a hot day in summer – or so they say – when Moshe Yaalon delivered a harsh, unyielding verdict on the fate of a thwarted nation. "The Palestinians must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people," the Israeli officer said – or is said to have said.

The year was 2002,..There's just one problem. Yaalon did not say what he is supposed to have said.

Certainly, Yaalon did not speak these words during a 2002 interview with Ari Shavit, a reporter with the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, in whose pages the now-notorious remark is widely supposed to have originally appeared.


...in January, after Columbia University professor Rashid Khalidi repeated the quotation in an op-ed piece for The New York Times, attributing it to Yaalon.

That finally set the wheels of editorial clarification in motion.

...the error originated with Henry Siegman, a pundit and academic formerly associated with the Council on Foreign Relations, a Washington-based think tank.

In a piece for The New York Review of Books in December 2003, Siegman referred to Yaalon as "the official who had formerly talked of how war would `sear deep' into Palestinian consciousness that they are a defeated people."

In that instance, the only words that appeared in quotation marks were "sear deep."

But in August 2007, in an article for the London Review of Books, Siegman repeated the passage almost word for word and, this time, he placed the entire phrase in quotation marks, once again attributing it to Yaalon.

This past February, Time magazine printed a version of the quote similar to Siegman's – "It will be seared deep into the consciousness of Palestinians that they are a defeated people" – and credited Yaalon for the remark...

...In the 2002 Haaretz interview, in which he is supposed to have uttered the offending words, Yaalon actually seems to have been trying to make a very different point.

Attempting to define what would constitute an Israeli victory in the Palestinian conflict, he said the following:

"I defined it from the beginning of the confrontation – the very deep internalization by the Palestinians that terrorism and violence will not defeat us, will not make us fold."


But Daniel Pipes has another opinion:

With the record now clear that Ya'alon did not say this in 2002, I would like to say it on my own behalf in 2009. Here goes: The Palestinians must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people.

There, I did it.

It sums up my understanding of the Arab-Israeli conflict and accurately represents my views. The world may quote me on it without fear of contradiction. (August 8, 2009)

For the Record and For Reflection

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ruled out dismantling West Bank settlements, seen as an essential part of any final peace deal with the Palestinians.

Mr. Netanyahu told his Cabinet that the Israeli pullout from the Gaza Strip in 2005 did not bring peace or security. Israel dismantled 21 settlements back then and removed 8,000 settlers from their homes. But a year later the Islamic militant group Hamas seized control of Gaza and stepped up rocket attacks across the border.

Mr. Netanyahu said Gaza is a Hamas terror base controlled by Iran.

"We will not repeat this mistake," he said. "We will not create new evacuees."

Source


Ah, but:


"Should we achieve a turn toward peace with the more moderate partners," Netanyahu continued, "we will insist on the recognition of the State of Israel and the demilitarization of the future Palestinian state."

The Deir Yassin Video Clip

Many people hold negative views of Menachem Begin and the Irgun based on horror stories about an alleged massacre of Palestinian villagers at Deir Yassin in 1948.

As Maurice Ostroff has written:

The incontrovertible fact is that the story was a complete fabrication by Hazem Nusseibeh, editor of Palestine Broadcasting Service's in 1948, on the direct instructions of the secretary of the Arab High Committee, Hussein Khalidi. Incontrovertible, because during a 1997 BBC TV interview, Nusseibeh himself, admitted that he was instructed by Khalidi to falsify claims of atrocities at Deir Yassin so as to encourage Arab regimes to attack Israel. You can view a video clip of this interview (here) and if you have any doubts about its authenticity, you can check it out with the BBC.

Nusseibeh, told the BBC that the fabricated atrocity stories about Deir Yassin were "our biggest mistake," because "Palestinians fled in terror and left the country in huge numbers after hearing the atrocity claims" adding a new facet to research about the reasons so many Arabs fled in 1948.


All the stories about an alleged massacre that were rapidly circulated around the world were based on this fiction.

A New Banner Unfurled


The Celebration of A Decade - August 27, 2009

10 Years to the Founding of the Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation

5 Years since the Opening of the Permanent Site of the Museum and Center

500,000 Visitors and Guests