Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Center Bulletin - Volume 3, Issue 22

Volume 3, Issue 22
March 14, 2007

Total Number of Visitors Since October 2004: 266,304

A Glimpse Ahead at 2007

Multiple Anniversaries, Special Events: Where were You when…?

As announced last week, attention is now being focused on four major anniversary events in 2007, during which will be marked:

1. Menachem Begin's dramatic election as Prime Minister in 1977;

2. The visit of Anwar Sadat to Jerusalem and the start of the Peace Process in November 1977;

3. Menachem Begin's service in the government of National Unity from the eve of the 6-Day War in 1967 and for three years thereafter including the liberation and reunification of Jerusalem.

4. 60 years after the execution by the British of Dov Gruner and the remarkable escape from the Acre Prison.

Various departments of the Begin Center are already collaborating with Universities and other bodies to create very interesting programs.

For a start, this News Bulletin is asking YOU to recall and tell us where you were on the day Menachem Begin was elected Prime Minister of Israel, May 17-18, 1977. How did you react? What was your family's feeling, etc.?

Annual General Meetings of the Boards

A very successful gathering of the Boards of the Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation and the State appointed council of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center was held on Sunday 11 March.

The Boards heard a brief analysis of the main achievement of the Begin Memorial Project and future plans from the founder and head Harry Hurwitz. He urged the Board to approve intense efforts for an Endowment Fund to add to the State's budget for the running of the Center. Herzl Makov, the Director General, highlighted some of the major activities. Hon. Treasurer "Smoky" Simon presented a Financial Report.

The meeting was preceded by a luncheon provided by the White Nights restaurant at which Prof. Moshe Arens was an honored guest.

Nathan Silver z"l Anniversary

On the tenth anniversary of the death of Nathan Silver, the first president of the Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation, members of the Silver family and friends gathered with Board members of the Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation and Center in the Nathan Silver Executive Boardroom for a memorial tribute. In his remarks, the head of the Foundation, Harry Hurwitz, said that Nathan Silver was one of the first people with whom he discussed the establishment of a living memorial to Menachem Begin. He recalled that Begin had, after the 1977 election, paid high tribute to Nathan Silver as one of the people whose efforts has helped his electoral success. Yechiel Kadishai also spoke on Begin's great appreciation of the Silver family's help in 1976.

At that point, a sculpture created by Silver's daughter Debra was unveiled by the family in the Boardroom.

Earlier that day the Nathan and Lily Silver Community Center was dedicated at the Menachem Begin elementary school in Rehovot. At that ceremony, Dr. Z.B. Begin spoke of the close relationship between the families and Mr. Shoel Silver spoke of the great admiration and friendship which his parents had for the Begins.

On Monday family and friends gathered at the Eretz HaChaim cemetery in Beit Shemesh to honor Nathan Silver's memory. This was followed by a reception at the Lily Silver Educational Center in Herzog Hospital in Jerusalem.

Featured in the Jerusalem Post

Following the appearance of an important article by the Op-Ed editor of the Jerusalem Post, Elliot Jager, about the life and background of Menachem Begin, Harry Hurwitz submitted the following letter which was published in full by the paper.

The important article by Elliot Jager that appeared in the Jerusalem Post on March 6 was a vivid reminder of an experience I had in the US in July 1979.

At the time, I was Prime Minister Menachem Begin's advisor on External Information and he had sent me to the US to explain the Settlement program of his government to Jewish and general audiences. The Embassy in Washington, DC and consulates in different parts of the US organized the tour, meetings and interviews on TV, radio and in the print media.

In New York, I had a meeting with the editorial board of Time magazine whose editor-in-chief was Henry Grunwald. A short while earlier, full page advertisements had appeared in the New York Times and other papers denouncing the settlement policy of Begin over the signatures of about forty prominent Jewish personalities including Nobel Prize winning author Saul Bellow, composer-conductor Leonard Bernstein, violinist Isaac Stern and, of course, Leonard Fine, who was a well-known Leftist.

Grunwald welcomed me to the meeting and asked whether the Prime Minister was not concerned that the leaders of the American Jewish community were against his policy. I asked to which leaders of the American Jewish community he referred. He then pointed to the New York Times advertisement and mentioned some of the signatories. I responded by saying that while we highly admired Leonard Bernstein, for example, as a great musician, he was no "leader" of the American Jewish community. Who elected him? On what platform? What policy does he represent? And the same applied to the others. "While we take account of the opposition of our friends in the Jewish community, the guiding principles that have to influence the government of Israel are the interests of the people of Israel, their security and safety."

The discussion continued. Grunwald was rather more subdued than when he opened. I then proceed to tell the group that my barber in Jerusalem had a sign on the wall which said that he had an agreement with the bank. "I don't change checks and they don't cut hair!"

"The same could apply to this discussion," I said. "We don't play the piano or the violin or conduct orchestras and they, these great virtuosos, cannot lead the nation of Israel as the Prime Minister and government do, who were elected by the majority of the people of Israel."

The discussion then switched to other topics and we ended as good friends.

In the following weeks, Time magazine reported on this discussion and quoted some of the above remarks.


Pastor Ulf Eckman of the Word of Life organization in Sweden and his wife Birgitta, who were on a brief visit to Israel, took time out from their program to spend a few hours at the Begin Center with Mr. and Mrs. Hurwitz. They had wide ranging discussions, including the subject of programs to bring more groups from Sweden to the Begin Center.

* * * * *

Eli Reef and a friend from South Africa, Shirley Smith, visited the Begin Center on Monday to renew acquaintance with Harry Hurwitz and to visit the museum and other features in the building. They were greatly impressed by all they saw and heard and said that never before had they seen such a hi-tech Institution. Eli Reef and Harry Hurwitz had worked together for many years in the ZRO (Zionist Revisionist Organization) of South Africa.

Visitor Comments:

v I'm privileged to visit the Begin Heritage Center 68 years after I boarded an immigrant ship, the Astor, from Romania. The tour was exciting and brought back memories of all that happened in the country from the days we planted the eucalyptus avenues in Netanya. – Netanya, Israel

v I was one of the happy crowd who first saw Menachem Begin in Zion Square 57 years ago in Jerusalem giving an unforgettable speech. No other leader is comparable to Menachem Begin. We all miss him. – Israel


by Davsil said...

Admittedly, I was not in Israel during the late 70s and early 80s but this is what I know. Begin ripped the Sinai away from Israel, destroyed many Jewish lives in the process, and abandoned the local bedouin who threw in their lot with Israel. So you'll excuse me if I hardly consider Menahem Begin a hero.