Saturday, February 24, 2007

Yehuda Avner on Begin and the Kotel

Yehuda Avner has published another of his reminisce essays, this one entitled The Mughrabi Gate Incident, and we reproduce it below, together with two of the broadsheets Avner mentions in his article.

Up the alleyway he ran, a white-bearded man in a black caftan, his prayer shawl billowing over his head, scampering for his life, chased by a mob brandishing clubs, sabers and daggers, and howling, "Death to the Jewish dogs!" and "Save our holy places from the Jews!" and, "Allah Akhbar! God is great!"

The fleeing Hassid, his bony face chalk white, now visible, now not, hidden at times by narrow tunnel passages, was losing ground. He stumbled, sprang up again, and incredulously turned about and, head-first, drove straight into the phalanx of the chasing mob, hollering hysterically, "Sh'ma Yisrael - Hear O Israel," as they cut him down.

This testimony was given on Yom Kippur 1928, when an improvised, collapsible screen -a mehitza, to separate male and female worshipers - was set up in front of the Western Wall for the Sabbath of Sabbaths prayers.

"Jihad! Jihad!" flashed through the bazaars. "The Jews are trying to rebuild their Temple and destroy our al-Aksa Mosque."

In the months that followed hundreds were killed, culminating in the 1929 pogrom of Hebron, snuffing out an entire ancient Jewish community - and all because of that screen. Jews were allowed no quarter at the Western Wall.

Unlike today, the sacred Wall was then but one side of a narrow alleyway flanked by a profusion of ramshackle Arab slum dwellings that extended all the way westward to the edge of the sharp rise where the Jewish Quarter began. This ramshackle quarter, which wore an air of perpetual grime, stench and sulk, was called the Mughrabi, and a roughly-paved walkway led up to a nearby Temple Mount gate - the Mughrabi Gate.

As the riots escalated the British set up an inquiry commission and, stirred by Muslim sensitivities, decreed that the Arabs were the sole owners of the Western Wall, and that, henceforth, Jews would be forbidden to blow the shofar in its precinct.

Many in the Yishuv sat up and gasped. What are we - a myth? Are our sacred texts legends? This most sacred of shrines, where prayers are ceaselessly said, tears ceaselessly shed, and the dead ceaselessly remembered - is it all a fairy tale?

Some brave hearts defied the ban. Each year, as the Yom Kippur service ended - Ne'ila - a member of Betar, the youth movement of Ze'ev Jabotinsky and Menachem Begin's Irgun underground, would surreptitiously sound the shofar, and the police would move in and hit out in every direction. Menachem Begin was witness to one such Ne'ila on the Yom Kippur of 1943.

WHAT HE saw was a battalion of British policemen, armed with rifles and batons who, in starched, ironed uniforms, brassy parade-ground belts, navy-blue peaked caps and polished boots, looked invincible. With the cool confidence of jailers taking the measure of a prison yard's inmates, they scanned the worshipers cramming the Western Wall's narrow alleyway, trying to pick out who might turn out to be the blower. And when the sun went down and the shadows lengthened they squeezed in among the pious, elbowing their way towards the Wall, weapons angled and primed.

And then they heard it, and it drove them into a frenzy. A ruddy-faced sergeant, livid at the insolence, dashed toward a short figure clutching a shofar to his lips and, slapping the lad hard across the face, bellowed, "'Ere, stop blowing that thing." Other policemen set upon worshipers trying to defend him, clobbering them with their batons. The young blower kicked the sergeant away, and burrowed through the crush, spurting his way up the stairs trying to reach the murky warren of the Mughrabi.

"Kill him. Stop him. Kill him. Stop him," cried the Arabs.

"Keep going! Run! Run! Run!" cried the Jews.

The boy dodged and leaped through the alleyway, until an outraged beefy officer felled him with a rugby tackle and two more kicked him in the ribs and pinned him down with their boots.

Choked dumb with emotion, Menachem Begin was later to write: "Our ancient stones are not silent. They speak of the House that once stood here, of kings who once knelt here in prayer, of prophets and seers who declaimed their message here, of heroes who fell here, dying; and of how the great flame, at once destructive and illuminating, was kindled here. This House and this land, with its prophets and kings and fighters, were ours long before the British were ever a nation."

And so he resolved to confound and frustrate the knavish tricks of his people's enemies who defiled this scared site. With audacious nerve, on the New Year that followed - 10 days before Yom Kippur - he instructed his pamphleteers and poster-stickers to splash it about that any British policeman disturbing the service at the Western Wall "will be regarded as a criminal and be punished accordingly."

As the Day of Atonement drew near his warnings grew ever more strident, generating ever more grisly rumors as to what punishment Begin's Irgun men had in mind.

"Criminal lunacy!" cried the Hebrew press, fearful of innocent casualties at the Wall. "The blowing of the ram's horn at the close of the fast is a mere custom, not an obligatory act," declared a tremulous rabbinate. And British intelligence speculated as to what casualties their police at the Wall might sustain if fired upon from unseen directions.

Came the Ne'ila climax of Yom Kippur and in the ever-deepening twilight the white-clad cantor, facing the gigantic shadowy blocks of the antique Wall's weathered stones, chanted in a voice that swelled and soared, "Sh'ma Yisrael… Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One." and the whole congregation affirmed this declaration with single-minded intensity.

And then, thrice he trilled: "Baruch shem Kavod… Blessed be the name of His Glorious Majesty for ever and ever," and thrice the assembly responded in emotional and dramatic confirmation.

And now, seven times he, the cantor, in a voice that ululated higher and higher, his hands stretched out and up, intoned with trembling fervor, "The Lord is God. The Lord is God…" and seven times did the congregants avow this invocation.

And as the cantor concluded the service with the final words of the Kaddish - "Oseh shalom bimromav… He who creates peace in his celestial heights, may he create peace for us and for all Israel; and say, Amen," the British policemen looked on, tense, edgy, crouched in confrontation, waiting for the order to pounce at the sound of the shofar.

And the shofar sounded.

Rising on tiptoe, arms stiffened, eyes closed, hands trembling in excitement, the boy who had blown the shofar the year before blew a sustained, robust, soaring, exalted, single blast, reaching heights of pure perfection - and not a policeman stirred.

"Fall out," barked the ruddy-faced sergeant to his men. "Return to barracks. At the double - one, two, one, two, one two…"

"L'shana haba'a b'Yerushalayim habenuya," hollered the crowd triumphantly after them. "Next year in rebuilt Jerusalem."

And they danced their way through the Mughrabi to their homes in the Jewish Quarter.

When Menachem Begin was told what had occurred he could not contain a smile when he said, "It was never our intention to start a clash at the Wall, for fear of inflicting casualties. Our attack was planned elsewhere - against British police fortresses in different parts of the country, and those we carried out."

That episode of 1943(*), and the one that preceded it in 1928, and the one occurring right now in 2007 over the restoration of the walkway to the Mughrabi Gate - all are a composite of the Israel-Arab conflict in a nutshell.

The Wall is the cutting edge. How goes the Wall so goes Israel. It is the heart and soul of the matter. Thus it was, thus it is, thus it shall ever be. To grasp that one does not have to be a biblical diehard or a rabid nationalist. All one has to be is a Jew.


(*) should be 1944

Activities Advertisement

Here is the ad the Begin Center published in the Hebrew press regarding our activities marking the 15th anniversary of Begin's passing:

Article by Anshel Pfeffer

Anshel Pfeffer published in The Jerusalem Post this analysis article entitled: Suddenly Begin is beloved by all on Feb. 22, 2007

As anniversaries go, 15 isn't usually an especially significant number. But for some reason, this year's commemoration of prime minister Menahem Begin's death has generated a lot more interest than in past years. This is, of course, no coincidence.

Everyone is talking about "the loss of leadership" so often that it has become a clich . But when the prime minister and the Defense Ministry are receiving single-digit approval ratings and the only serious candidates to replace them are both failed prime ministers who were resoundingly kicked out of office by the electorate, it's hard to find another name for it.

Naturally, at time like these, the public and media begin to feel nostalgic and begin casting back to a time when we seem to remember real leaders.

Ariel Sharon, though wildly popular only 14 months ago, is not a good candidate for these memories. With the engulfing charges of corruption, Sharon is suddenly being seen in a different light, as the source of much of this sleaze. Besides, his coma - not dead but not really alive either - makes us uncertain about how exactly to commemorate him. Yitzhak Shamir has also retreated from the public view and, anyway, was a colorless figure and too partisan to become widely beloved. Yitzhak Rabin, an icon to some, is too controversial to serve as a figure of consensus. Golda Meir is tainted with the trauma of the Yom Kippur War. Sharett and Eshkol are too far in the past to resonate with most of the public, and Ben-Gurion is already a demigod and therefore hard to identify with.

Menachem Begin, though vilified for almost all his political career by the establishment, is suddenly the prime minister whose reputation is most widely agreed upon. He has something for everyone. For the right-wing, he will always remain the ultimate father figure, leading the Irgun in days of revolt and danger, and afterwards, leading Herut, the party of outsiders, for three decades in the political wilderness until the unbelievable victory in the 1977 elections. The left-wing will always be grateful to Begin for setting the historical precedent of trading territories for peace in the Camp David Accords. The religious camp will remember him as a leader with the deepest Jewish historical feelings, and the haredim for being the prime minister who brought them in from the cold, making them equal coalition partners with spending budgets.

How easy it is for the leftists to forget, now, the first Lebanon War and for rightists to overlook the destruction of Yamit and other Sinai settlements, the chronically unstable coalition, the crumbling of the Israeli economy and hyperinflation, the lack of control Begin exercised over his ministers - especially Sharon - and how ultimately he disappointed all his allies. Above all, how he clung on to the office for long months of deep depression and disconnection from events, shielded by a few aides who lied about his real condition, until he finally admitted he could no longer go on.

But all of this has now been put aside because Begin still had two qualities so lacking today. He wasn't the kind of leader whose followers lose confidence after one failure. They followed Begin through thick and thin, from the years of the underground and in eight electoral defeats. They were prepared to die for him, and in the days of the Irgun, some did. He inspired the members of Herut to sacrifice and persevere, infusing them - through the power of his rhetoric - with the enduring ideal of Jabotinskean greatness. Even for ideological opponents, it is a bracing memory, with no parallel since.

But above all, it was Begin's personal humility and simplicity. In an age in which the last four prime ministers are all wealthy men of property, the subject of corruption investigations, Begin seems almost an extra-terrestrial. It's no coincidence that the IDF Radio's special feature on Begin this week was titled The Man from 1 Rosenbaum Street. Ever since he emerged from the underground and until his elevation to the premiership, Begin lived and raised his family of five in the same one-room apartment in Tel-Aviv.

Despite winning two election campaigns, Begin was rarely popular during his lifetime, and even in power he was under constant pressure from friends and foes. Fifteen years after his death and almost a quarter of a century after leaving power, Begin suddenly has a new legacy which, more than reflecting the man that was, highlights what we feel we so sorely lack today.

Friday, February 23, 2007

"In the Footsteps of Menachem Begin" Tour - Jerusalem

As part of the activities sponsored by the Begin Center marking the 15th anniversary of his death, the Center invited people to come in the footsteps of Menachem Begin in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

In Jerusalem, some 60 persons took advantage and saw his first apartment on Alfasi Street in Rechavia, Deir Yassin, the old Knesset building, Zion Square, the Museum of Underground Prisoners and the King David Hotel.

Here are some photographs of one of the Jerusalem tours, led by Yisrael Medad:

Listening to Yaakov Yahalom, a former Lechi fighter

who participated in the Deir Yassin operation, at the village

Walking towards the former Central Jerusalem Prison, now a musuem

In the Museum grounds after visiting the gallows room

and the cell where Meir Feinstein and Moshe Barzani blew themselves up

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Begin Memorial

The memorial for Menachem Begin upon the 15th anniversary of his passing was conducted yesterday at the gravesite in the presence of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu, and other Ministers, MKs, public personalities and Irgun veterans as well as members of the general public.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Center Bulletin - Volume 3 Number 19

Volume 3, Issue 19
February 21, 2007

Total Number of Visitors Since October 2004: 260,253

"We served in the Government"

A well-known journalist Lili Galili, who writes regularly for the HaAretz newspaper, made comparisons between the attitude of some of today's leaders and the conduct of Menachem Begin.

She wrote:

We wanted to draw your attention to an interview with Menachem Begin, which was broadcast to mark the 15th anniversary of his death. The details with which he described the diplomatic and political processes of that time, which may not even have been to your liking, are not what's important. We wanted you to pay attention to the way in which he spoke. First of all, he spoke about his party by using the word "we." When, in recent times, have you used the word "we" when speaking about your workplace – aside from the moment when you wanted to turn personal responsibility into collective responsibility?

But the strangest thing was hearing Begin say in the interview – twice – "when we served in the government." What a surprising turn of phrase! Not "sat" in the government, but "served" in it! That is the entire difference. Serve us. We'll do the rest on our own.

50 Years Ago…

Alexander Zvielli has reported in his From Our Archives column in the Jerusalem Post that 50 years ago, on February 15, a rare meeting between Menachem Begin as Head of the Opposition and Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion took place. Zvielli wrote: "The meeting, the first of its kind, touched on many subjects, but its primary objective was to discuss the Opposition's wish for a national referendum on the nation's preparedness to face international sanctions."

New in the Hasten Library

On Tuesday, the 20th of February, Bruriah Ben-Senior, the Center's Librarian, walked into the office of the Head of the Center, Harry Hurwitz. She showed him a book, bound in leather-like material and marked Edition Speciale. The book, in French, is entitled Salam. Shalom, was published in 1978 as the observations of the first Arab journalist to visit Israel while accompanying Anwar Sadat on his visit to Jerusalem.

The author, Mohamed Maradji, inscribed the book to Menachem Begin on 20th February 1978 – 29 years ago to the day. In his inscription, Maradji express his hope, "with all my heart, for peace with dignity, for all mankind".


Justice Christopher Nicholson of South Africa's Supreme Court, who was in Israel last week for the first time, paid a special visit to the Menachem Begin Heritage Center and its hi-tech museum, which impressed him very much.

He was the guest of the Head of the Center and his wife, Freda.

Judge Nicholson's book about the influence of Richard Wagner on Hitler was a major attraction at the Jerusalem International Book Fair. It received widespread recognition in Israel's media and is much talked about. Judge Nicholson spent 15 years on research to write the book which shows clearly the direct influence of Wagner on the Nazi philosophy.

Before leaving the Begin Center, Judge Nicholson wrote in the visitors' book: "A deeply moving experience—it will be an inspiration to us all in the future!"

* * * * *

The newly elected Chairman of the Irgun Veterans Association, Mr. Ephraim Even and two leading veterans, Haim Korfu and Yehoshua Lender had a meeting in the Begin Center with its Head Harry Hurwitz and Director General Herzl Makov. They discussed cooperation in various areas in the year to come starting this week, the 15th anniversary of the death of Menachem Begin.

* * * * *

Brisk, where Menachem Begin was born, was of special interest to the Grant family, who came to Israel to celebrate a bat mitzvah this Monday. The respectable elder of the family originated in Brisk and was intrigued to come to the Begin Museum and to look around the first exhibit which is of Brisk, and to hear Menachem Begin's descriptions of the town during World War I.

Part of the tour of the Grant family included a dinner with Yehuda Avner, one of Menachem Begin's advisors, who gave a talk about the man on whom he has written numerous articles over the last few years.

Naomi Homnick, a friend of Mark Hasten of Indianapolis, Indiana, came to the Begin Center with members of her family. They were very impressed by both the Center and the Museum.

Earlier this week, Tom Peleg, grandson of Smoky and Myra Simon of Tel Aviv, Israel, visited the Begin Center and Museum.

Visitor Comments:

v This was a wonderfully moving tribute to one of the great leaders of the Jewish people and the country of Israel. – New York, New York, USA

v A wonderful Prime Minister whose dreams should and will become reality. – Brooklyn, New York, USA

Monday, February 19, 2007

Academic Conference at Haifa University

Jointly sponsored by Haifa University, the Herzl Institute and Yad Ben-Tzvi Institute, a special academic conference devoted to the theme - "Menachem Begin: A New View" will take place on Tuesday, March 6, 2007 at Haifa University's Ofer Building.

The first session, 10-11:15, will feature lectures by Aryeh Naor (A 15 Year Perspective) and Ofira Gravis-Kowalski (Begin's Silence During the Altalena Incident). The second session, 11:30-13:30, will have Yehiam Weitz (To Where Did Begin Disappear in 1951), Amir Goldstein (Begin's Route to Legitimization: Begin and the Six Days' War) and Shlomo Nakdimon (Begin's Decision to Bomb the Iraqi Reactor).

The invitation is reproduced below:

Details: 04-8240674

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Evening Devoted to Israel's Welfare Policies

This is the invitation to a Begin Center-sponsored event devoted to the welfare policies of Israel over the past decade.

It is being held in honor of the 75th birthday of Nissim Baruch.

Among the presenters: Yigal Cohen-Orgad, Prof. Avraham Doron, Dr. Yigal Ben-Shalom, Moshe Bar-Siman-Tov, Prof. Yaakov Kopp and Yaakov Lipschitz.

Wednesday, February 14 at 6:15 o'clock.

Center Bulletin - Volume 3, Issue 18

Volume 3, Issue 18
February 14, 2007

Total Number of Visitors Since October 2004: 258,316

Many Events in Honor of Menachem Begin

More than in previous years, there is widespread recognition of the significance of the 15th Memorial Day for Menachem Begin. From the top level of government circles to local councils, to the press, the radio and television, in universities and colleges, the occasion will be marked by many programs and features.

Although the State observes such memorials only every ten years, there will be various informal state commemorations.

On Sunday 25 February, the government will recall the 6th Prime Minister of Israel during its weekly Cabinet meeting. That afternoon, Israel's television Channel 1 will air the 4th episode of the 6-part series HaNoar LaShilton ("Youths on the way to leadership") featuring the Junior Knesset program taking place in the Reuben Hecht Auditorium of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center.

By that time, the family memorial service will have taken place at the graveside and the weekend papers, presumably, will feature some articles, including recollections and interviews.

The main television channels have been working on special programming and Galei Tzahal Radio will be presenting numerous features as listed below.

· 16 February: At 5:05pm will be Books, Gentlemen, Books, a replaying of a special program that was made for Begin's 90th birthday including words from Yechiel Kadishai, Dan Patir and others.

· 17 February: At 9:05am will be a replay of a personal interview with Menachem Begin from 1974.

· 22 February: At 2:05pm will be The Man from Rosenbaum Street an interview show with Eitan Haber, author of several books about Menachem Begin.

· 22 February: At 10:05pm will be Intellectuals at Night a discussion program with Eitan Haber and Prof. Shlomo Aharonson.

· All through the week of February 18-22: At 11:05am every day, a small item in remembrance of Menachem Begin.

Reshet Bet, another radio station, will broadcast an hour about Menachem Begin with host Arieh Golan on February 22 at 6:00pm.

On March 13, the Hebrew University Student Union will be presenting a seminar about "Ethics in Government" in Mexico Hall in honor of Menachem Begin.

Hot Off the Press: Begin's Famous Principles

The long-awaited booklet of Menachem Begin's vision and basic policies came off the press on Tuesday and will be available for distribution among the highest groups of national, political, academic, judicial and press circles. The booklet was produced by the Begin Center's Samuel Aba and Sisel Klurman Research Institute. The work of compiling it and adding meaningful footnotes was done mainly by Ziv Rubinovitz and Moshe Fuksman-Sha'al.

It is a very attractive, modern publication, although there is not one change in the text of Menachem Begin's writing in 1951. The publication has a foreword by Zvi Harry Hurwitz, head of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center. (View a picture of the cover at:

Gifts to the Library and Archives

This has been gift week for the archives and library of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center.

The Hasten Library received eight cartons of books, journals and other publications from the collection of the late Nechama and Mussia Elran, who grew up in China and came to Israel in the early 1950s. Nechama was the sister of the late Eliyahu Lankin.

The collection includes important books and the journals of the Betar in China.

Secondly, the Archives, named in Honor of Yechiel and Esther Kadishai, received a DVD of a Betar Camp which took place near Cape Town in South Africa at the end of 1953 and the beginning of 1954.

The guest of honor at the opening of the camp was none other than Menachem Begin on his first visit to South Africa. He is in a happy mood as he meets hundreds of members of Betar, sees various activities at the camp, joins in the group dancing and addresses the campers and visitors.

The DVD is based on 8mm and 16mm movies that were salvaged from the records of the late Morris Egdes, who was head of the Betar in that period. Later he came to Palestine among the early Machal volunteers and on his return to South Africa he entered business and later local politics as the mayor of Sandton.

His son Jonathan, who brought the movie to Israel, recently collaborated with Hertzel Katz, also a former head of the South African Betar and now a prominent leader of the South African community in Israel and a well-known lawyer in Ramat HaSharon.

In Memoriam

We deeply regret to record the death of Uri Porat last week at the age of 71 and extend our heartfelt sympathy to his wife Tzipa, his children and his grandchildren. Uri Porat was a leading journalist on the Yediot Ahronot newspaper and served as the media advisor to Menachem Begin from 1981 to 1983. Thereafter, he was appointed as the head of the Broadcast Authority where he served altogether 6 years in two different periods. He was an active supporter of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center and participated in numerous events dedicated to the memory of the great leader in different parts of the country.

* * * * *

We extend our heartfelt sympathy to Gordy Zacks of Columbus, Ohio, whose mother, Florence Zacks Melton, passed away last week at the age of 95. She was well-known in business and education circles having invented the world's first foam cushion slipper and co-founded the RG Barry Corp., one of the world's leading developers and marketers of accessory footwear. She also invented and held patents on some twenty other items.

Throughout her life, Mrs. Melton was a leader and organizer of quality Jewish education and at the age of 70, she pioneered the Florence Melton Adult Mini-School program. Her surviving son, Gordy who is well-known in American pro-Israel circles, is a member of the International Board of the Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation.


Mr. Mendel Kaplan, member of the Board of the Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation, visited the Center last week and held discussions with the Head of the Center, Harry Hurwitz, and its Director General Herzl Makov.

* * * * *

Hart Hasten, President of the US Friends of the Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation, visited the Center on Monday when the opportunity was taken for a meeting with Harry Hurwitz and Herzl Makov on the current state of the Foundation and future plans.

* * * * *

Mr. Milton Jawno and his wife, Beulah, visited the Center and for the first time toured the Begin Museum, which moved them deeply. Mr. Jawno came to Israel many years ago from Kimberly, South Africa, where his late father, Mr. Lionel Jawno, had been the mayor. In that capacity, he welcomed to Kimberly Ze'ev Jabotinsky and Menachem Begin.

Visitor Comments:

v It was a privilege to see the Menachem Begin Heritage Center and to honor our great leader and for me to represent my late father, Lionel Jawno of Kimberly South Africa, who was honored to know the Rosh Betar, Menachem Begin. – Ra'anana, Israel

v A memorable and moving tribute to an inspirational man. Thank you.

The Begin Center's Newest Publication

In 1952, Menachem Begin published a pamphlet entitled "Weltanschaung - National Outlook - Fundamental Outlines".

For many years it served as the clearest statement of the national-liberal ideology of the Herut Movement as developed by Ze'ev Jabotinsky, the Revisionist Movement and Menachem Begin himself.

It has long been out of print but ever since it was encased in the Begin Museum, at the beginning of the Roth Family "Avenue of the Heritage", thousands of people have asked for it.

It is now available and below is a picture of the cover:

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Center Bulletin, Volume 3, Issue 17

Menachem Begin
Heritage Center, Jerusalem

Volume 3, Issue 17
February 7, 2007

Total Number of Visitors Since October 2004: 256,886

Mark Your Calendars:

Events on the Occasion of the Begin Anniversary

* 22 February Members of the Begin Family will have a graveside memorial

* 23 February In the Footsteps of Menachem Begin Tours at 9:30am

* Tel Aviv: Meet at Beit Jabotinsky

* Jerusalem: Meet at the Begin Center

* 26 February Haifa University lecture on "15 Years After Menachem Begin"

* 27-28 February Seminar in conjunction with Bar Ilan University

* 27 February: Opening at 6pm at the Begin Center

* 28 February: 11:00am at the Wohl Center, Bar Ilan University The seminar is divided into three parts: Peace and Security; Society and Economy; and Democracy and Justice.

On the Radio

The Army Radio station, Galei Tzahal is organizing an elaborate program on and around 22 February. On 22 February they will rebroadcast a Question and Answer interview with Menachem Begin recorded in 1977. On 23 February the station will rebroadcast another show about books dedicated to Menachem Begin. There will also be a one-hour radio show by Eitan Haber which will feature interviews and speeches by Menachem Begin and in their weekly program by Prof. Aronson, a section will be devoted to Menachem Begin.

Menachem Begin Nobel Speech Most Popular

In a poll conducted by Channel 1 and the internet site (Click here to see the article and hear the speech), Menachem Begin's Nobel Prize acceptance speech at Oslo was chosen to be the most beloved of the nostalgic TV moments shown on the television show "The Way it Was" from among 20 different clips covering a wide array of topics. Menachem Begin's speech won 16.8 percent of the vote and was followed in second place with 10 percent by a clip from the 1970s Israeli children's show "Sami and Susu." Other political figures were further down the list. Mirav Kristal, the author of the article, wrote about the significance of the choice:

Today, when leadership appears fragile—the Chief of Staff has been forced to resign and the President is suspected of rape and slinging insults at the law enforcement institutions—we miss Menachem Begin, his leadership with honesty and charisma and the simplicity of the common man.

Tu B'Shvat at the Center

The personnel at the Begin Center—full-time, part-time, volunteers and especially sherut leumi girls—continued the tradition of celebrating Tu B'Shvat at a special gathering where different dried fruits of the season were served.

Yisrael Medad gave a dvar torah and the young staff led community singing. Director General Herzl Makov and the Head of the Center Harry Hurwitz each made appropriate remarks.

25 Years ago Begin Acts to Help Very Ill

In his important column appearing in the Jerusalem Post, Alexander Zvielli reports from their archives that twenty-five years ago, on 1 February, the question of special medication for terminal patients was already a serious problem.

"Prime Minister Menachem Begin said in the cabinet that the case of Reuven Ma'ayan (who had died of cancer) was a "shocking case of a sick man, who had sought and been denied a High Court order because of legalistic formalities." Health Minister Eliezer Shostak said that he was giving the "green light" for the future use of the DMBG drug, developed by Dr. David Rubin. Begin had persuaded the cabinet to authorize the Health Minister to examine the question of a change in regulations with regard to new medicines prescribed by qualified doctors for terminal patients."

Improvement to the Reuben Hecht Auditorium

At last, the Reuben Hecht Auditorium of the Begin Center has railings on the stairs going from the top to the bottom. Since the opening of the building two years ago, there have been complaints and requests from members of the public for such a banister to be installed. Older people have found it difficult to navigate the stairs without something to hold on to.

We wish the persons using this facility easier and safer passage to the top or bottom of the Auditorium.


Mrs. Sisel Klurman of Miami and her daughter Tzipora Ben Aviv from Long Island visited the Begin Center on Sunday. They were received and briefed by Harry Hurwitz, Head of the Center, and were accompanied on their tour by Herzl Makov, the Director General. They were very impressed by the building and its numerous facilities and its programs and were moved by the museum, its state-of-the-art technology and its content. The Klurman family have endowed the Aba Samuel and Sisel Klurman Research Center at the Institute.

* * * * *

The mayor of Eli, Lior Shtohl and his wife, Nehama, accompanied Mrs. Klurman and her daughter on their visit to the Begin Center and were likewise much impressed by all they saw and heard.

Visitor Comments:

v We very much enjoyed the museum. It was very emotional and thrilling. It was a great experience to stroll down memory lane. – Rehovot

v The visit was a great experience. The museum is interesting, impressive and fascinating. It's a pity that we don't have more leaders like Begin today. – Ra'anana

v I had a tremendous time at the museum. No amount of money could buy this kind of experience. It's a wonderful and exquisite masterpiece. – Israel

v I was very impressed by the museum. I wish that we had such leaders today who think of the people and not of themselves. – Israel