Thursday, March 1, 2007

Center Bulletin, Vol. 3, Issue 20

Volume 3, Issue 20
February 28, 2007

Total Number of Visitors Since October 2004: 262,454

Israel Government Honors Menachem Begin

In his opening remarks at the last Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert recalled and paid tribute to Prime Minister Menachem Begin on the 15th anniversary of his death. The head of the Begin Center, Mr. Harry Hurwitz, and its Director General, Mr. Herzl Makov, had been specially invited for that part of the meeting. The Prime Minister spoke of Menachem Begin's great contribution to the Jewish People, the struggle for freedom, the internal political debates and Begin's great contribution as Prime Minister of the state.

In a few remarks, Herzl Makov spoke of Begin's unique leadership and his influence on generations of young people. He thanked Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for his role as mayor of Jerusalem in enabling the Begin Center to be built on the marvelous location where it now stands. He announced that 260,000 persons had already visited the Begin Center and invited all member of the government to visit at an early opportunity.

A few days earlier, Begin was recalled in the Knesset by MK Gidon Sa'ar of Likud, who said:

"We sense the fondness that wide-spread groups of the public feel for Menachem Begin…When was the last time we heard a public official say, as did Menachem Begin, that it is incumbent to serve the people?...This dimension is missing today…All the behavior, the humility, that you come to public service not to improve your own standing but as a way of life.

"Politics, when it breaks down, when the ideological element disappears, becomes a combat zone between interests and nothing more. The willingness to pay a price for your beliefs and opinions and to serve in the Opposition as a result…the charisma that comes not from power or force but from one's personality and from the belief in an idea that you represent…"

MK Sa'ar went on and discussed at length a 1961 article by Begin on democracy, emphasizing the immediacy of his analysis of the workings of parliament, a free press, elections and the supremacy of law and the civilian echelon of society over the defense forces and police. He also noted that Begin's social-political coalition has actually survived all these years, that of the national-religious, the Haredi and the Sephardi communities.

Mr. Ruby Rivlin, the former Speaker of the Knesset, added:

"Please take note, 15 years after the death of my mentor Menachem Begin, there is not one media outlet, television and radio, that is not devoting multiple programs of all kinds, creating a unique public echo. Should we not contemplate why? Is it perhaps because of the longing, even on the part of his opponents, for a leader who knew what he wanted, who knew how to lead, how to act in peace and war with the correct moderation of knowledge and wisdom, or how to alter positions, these and others?"

Minister Edri recalled that Begin broke through the walls of animosity and made peace with the largest of Israel's enemies. He especially stressed Begin's contribution in assuring the internal socio-economic solidarity of Israel's citizens.

Beloved By All

One of the special articles that appeared on the 15th anniversary of Menachem Begin's death was by Anshel Pfeffer of the Jerusalem Post entitled Suddenly Begin is Beloved by All who said:

"At times like these the media and public begin to feel nostalgic and cast back to a time when we remember real leaders… 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… He wasn't the kind of leader whose followers lose confidence after one failure. They followed Begin through thick and thin, from the years in the underground and in eight electoral defeats. They were prepared to die for him… Even for ideological opponents, it is a bracing memory with no parallel since. But above all, it was Begin's personal humility and simplicity [that endeared him to the nation]."

In the Footsteps of Menachem Begin

Scores of people in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv found the walking tours that the Menachem Begin Heritage Center arranged on Friday, 23 February, most interesting. The people moved about by bus and walked from place to place connected with the life and work of Menachem Begin. They saw where he lived in the days of the Underground and they saw the building in which he lived in Tel Aviv before moving to Jerusalem and the official residence of the Prime Minister.

Such tours had been organized previously but the leaders of the groups noted that this year's participants were, in the main, new to the program. They were younger, individuals who had not previously visited these sites. They were very grateful to the Begin Center for having made it possible for them to have such an experience.


Dr. Gerald Glick, a retired cardiologist, and his wife, Sharon, from Chicago visited the Begin Center with their daughter, Caroline, the well-known journalist whose important articles appear in the Jerusalem Post. They were greatly impressed by the building and museum and congratulated all responsible for this rare institution.

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One of the oldest people ever to visit the Begin Center came last week accompanied by his daughter and son-in-law. They saw the impressive building and were greatly moved by the museum. 98-year-old Rabbi Yaakov Nayman of Long Island, who had grown up in Brisk and was in cheyder with Menachem Begin, who was a few years younger than he. Rabbi Nayman told Harry Hurwitz that he remembered Menachem Begin as a very bright young man who was already a passionate Zionist in those days.

Visitor Comments:

v This was a superlative documentation that I shall suggest to all those I know who come to Israel. – Fort Meyers, Florida, USA

v I appreciate what I've learned about Menachem Begin from this presentation. – Spring Valley, New York, USA

v Exciting, impressive, most important. This museum is worthy of this leader who will never be forgotten. An important layer in the history of Israel. – Moshav Tikuma, Israel